Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Liberty
Sailing Date: October 23rd, 2005
Carnival Cruise Lines
Transatlantic - Rome to Miami
My wife and I boarded the Carnival Liberty in Rome after a transatlantic flight. The transfers purchased from Carnival for the airport-ship were satisfactory. Bags arrived in time, although we found one bag down the hall in front of someone else's door.
First, the plus's about the Carnival Liberty: The food was excellent, as good or better than three other cruise lines. The food choices were noteworthy. Besides the dining room and Lido deck, the ship offered a sushi bar, Chinese bar, Thai/Mongolian BarBQue line, fish and chips bar, gourmet deli bar, pizza bar, ice cream and yoghurt stations. The drink waiters were always courteous and helpful, but never hounded anyone to buy drinks!!
The stateroom was very nice and spacious, with a very large bed, couch and adequate shower. Cabin stewards were exceptionally courteous and friendly. Only thing wrong in the cabins is the heavy comforters. They are so heavy, they spend most of their time on the floor.
Now the downside: Perhaps our biggest disappointment was the layout of the ship. Except for the 3rd deck, underneath the lifeboats, there were few quiet places to read, expecially in the shade. The ship erroneously believes everyone wants to lay/sit in the full sun. A billboard size TV screen, similar to a football stadium, arises above the main pool. On it were old movies, some concerts and clips. Fortunately, there were 25 lounges beneath the lifeboats on deck #3 on each side of the ship. Deck 10 offered about 15 on each side of the ship. There was no place to sit and eat overlooking the stern or the water. Everything is glassed in. Our first impression after 3 out of 16 days was the ship is uncomfortable, noisy and boring.
The cruise director might believe the billboard TV screen is going to entertain the guests. Until the last 3-4 days, there was no band around the pool to entertain the guests. They finally put a duet up there to sing and play. The cruise director spends his time in front of a camera reading fan mail and this was displayed on the TV screen 1-2 times per day. The cruise director and his staff were out of touch with the needs/desires of the guests. Events were frequently cancelled and there was no cruise staff in sight. The cruise director gets on the intercom with the volume twice as loud as it needs to be and greaty irritates the passengers. (The captain's intercom volume is just right). We expected to dance and enjoy a band in a lounge, but there was nothing in the lounges for the baby boomers. The ships entertainment staff of 8 females and 4 guys was great, but that occupied only 3 days. The ship's band was excellent. There was no lecture series on the ship, a point I heard discussed among many folks.
The service and food quality in the dining room was outstanding, with super nice waiters and bus personnel. The MaitreD' insisted in taking up time each night with his talk, jokes and entertainment. Several times, the wait staff sang and put on a nice show, but, by in large, the MaitreD's program only succeeded in making dinner two hours and causing us to miss some events beginning at 7 and 7:15. On the Lido deck, the only significant problem is the eggs-to-order/omelet stations hold up all the lines. People waiting in line block the rest of the food (fruit, cereal, scrambled eggs, bacon, etc.) while one person at the head of each line waits on the eggs. Big problem!
The library has some nice books, but no travel books on the ports we were to visit. Unlike other cruise lines, Carnival only published daily info on their excursions, nothing about the history and sites to see in the ports we were to visit. The ship had a very short stay in Barcelona due to a protest in the port, so we did not think 2-3 hours was worth the trouble of going ashore. The island of Majorca was nice and we enjoyed a walking tour of the old city. Malaga was of little value. We took an open air bus which did little more than ride around the city (30 Euros). The walled fort on the top of the hill was of minimal value. On the contrary, the island of Madeira was very nice and scenic. We arranged our own taxi tour for 70 euros and saw many of the scenic points. Highly recommended--too bad the ship did not stay in Madeira for 2 days. On St. Maarten we took the Pinel Island snorkling trip which was very nice. St Maarten was well worth going downtown for shopping as there were many bargains.
In summary, except for the exceptional dining choices, the nice cabin, the quality of the food, the ship's entertainment company/band and friendliness of the wait and cabin staff, I would not sail on the Liberty again. The ship is laid out poorly and the TV billboard is no excuse for lack of poolside entertainment. The cruise staff missed the boat.