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Marci Ridley

Age: 38

Occupation:Administrative Assistant

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Liberty

Sailing Date: December 31st, 2005

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Liberty Cruise Review
7 Day Eastern Caribbean

Marci Ridley

First Time Cruiser – As a first time cruiser, I was disappointed with the information that I received from the reviews I had read, and found most of them incorrect in light of my experience. Then again, what you receive from your experience will depend on your expectations and past experiences. We cruised on the Carnival Liberty (Jan 1 – Jan 7, 2006) and my vacations was nothing less than spectacular. My biggest complaint would be the rudeness of the other passengers, which was unbelievable! It’s too bad that standard manners are not a prerequisite to booking a cruise.

We had a group of (8) traveling from Idaho, and the flight arrangements had much to be desired. We weren’t even all on the same plane. Upon arrival in Ft. Lauderdale, we checked in to the hotel and took a shuttle to go get an uneventful dinner (New Years Eve). In the morning, we all met outside with another very large group from Canada while waiting for the busses to transport us to the pier. This was a very disorganized process that could be easily fixed by Carnival if they chose to do so. Four Greyhound busses and a couple of hours later, we arrived at the Pier. Point of Order: You need to get on the bus that your luggage is put on, and then you will not be allowed to get off the bus until your luggage has been unloaded. They load the luggage by Carnival color-coded tags. Suggestion – Patience. It all works out! Once you get off the bus, you simply check to make sure that your luggage is accounted for, and they do the rest. Then, the line starts! The line was long, and I believe we waited 1-1/2 hours before we reached the ticket agent, but the line moves very quick…it’s just 3 buildings long. (And there are chairs and restrooms in the terminal) The ticket agent was professional and personable. This is when you give them your credit card…Automatic 150.00 pp – Make sure you are prepared for that. You then go through security – Point of Order: You are allowed (1) bottle of champagne or wine; no spirits. They will go through your carry on and confiscate any. I did watch a person carry in two cases of bottled water…? For the Embarkation process, I can’t think of any improvements that they could make.

We had a balcony room, and I must say, for myself, it was worth the extra money! If you have ever seen a dog with his head out the window of a vehicle, then you know what I looked like! Everyone in my group had their luggage by 6; I saw mine about 8pm. Don’t stress about the luggage – It will get there. The first night, the dining room allowed us to come dressed as we were because some of us didn’t have the chance to change! We were in the Silver Dining room (seated together!) at the early 5:45 dinner time! Perfect for us. Richard was our waiter and Vit was his right-hand man and they are phenomenal. What a wonderful dining experience. We had three young men with us that weren’t used to the “fu-fu” food, but they always found something good. You order appetizers, soup, salad and the main entrée. Don’t be afraid if you want to order two – there is a night that surf & turf consists of two entrees. Dessert is very good, exquisite in fact. But they always have the good old stand by of ice cream if all else fails. Service, menu options, presentation, taste – not much that could’ve been improved on. There is also some entertainment – singing and dancing! Just plain fun! We purchased the soft-drink cards – unlimited supply of fountain soft drinks – for like 40 bucks. Pepsi drinkers beware – only Coke products served. That being said, I didn’t partake of 40 bucks worth of soda on the trip – there is always water, juice, coffee, tea and hot chocolate in the Buffet restaurant, Emily’s. I would not have purchased one if I’d known. The buffet restaurant, Emily’s was good. Variety up the wazoo. There were hamburgers/hot dogs, deli sandwiches, stir fry, Chinese, 24-hr pizzeria, and Fish and Chips (upstairs towards the back of the ship – hard to find, but worth the effort) in addition to the regular fare of food. If you are unable to find something with that in mind, you may be in trouble. Room service is also available, and we did use continental breakfast service one day due to an early stop in Freeport, Bahamas.

Our room was very comfortable. The beds are twin size, but the comforters are cozy and they give you two pillows. The only two suggestions I would have is the phone is too far from the bed and there is no clock. Set yourself a phone-alarm one morning and you will understand about the phone, and I know you are on vacation, and may not want a clock – but with specific departure times for ports-of-call, shows, and activities, it would be nice to know what time it is. On the television, there is a channel that shows the direction of the ship, it’s speed, the wind speed, temperature, etc. Very informational! There is also a way to see what the menu for dinner is, along with excursion information, room charges, messages, etc. We were even able to catch an episode of our NBC soap opera while at sea!

Our ports of call were Freeport, Bahamas, Grand Cayman, and Montego Bay, Jamaica. (Jamaica was a pleasant surprise substitution for Cozumel). Freeport was nice – not a lot to do if you don’t book an excursion – lots of shopping! We arrived at 7am and left at 2:30pm. And the sand on the beach is so-o-o fine and the water is so-o-o blue! Do your homework, and book an excursion here. Grand Cayman, is a tendered stop. You have to ride a smaller boat to get to shore. There is a lot of money in the economy, and they haven’t built a dock for the large cruise ships, yet. Some doubt they every will… GO PLAY WITH THE STINGRAYS! – You won’t be disappointed! Even if you are a bit squeamish, they are easy to see and you can avoid them most of the time if you chose. If you go on a good excursion, your tour guide will catch one and you can touch them and even hold them if you choose. Don’t worry – they are safe except their tails! An opportunity of a lifetime. The snorkeling is phenomenal! The tropical fish are so colorful, the coral and other marine life are amazing. You may get lucky and see a lobster, or even a turtle! PS – salt water helps you float, but the tour people should give you a small blow-up life vest that helps keep you afloat. There is so much to see here, and so little time, do your homework on the excursions so you know what is available. In Jamaica, which was not our originally scheduled port-of-call, we spent the day at the beach and at Margaritaville! I am not a drinker, and loved the atmosphere and entertainment at Margaritaville! They have this 100’ slide that shoots you in the bay, and what a hoot! Food is good, too! There is a lot to do here, even if it’s just a sightseeing tour. The more you know about the area, the better prepared you will be. Jamaica is a very big island, and a trip to the falls (very popular) was an all-day affair.

As you walk along the shoreline, there are not many shells, but there are pieces of “coral” everywhere! Lots of good shopping, here! Days at sea were filled with lots of activities. The shows with the Carnival dancers were excellent – the costumes are so very colorful, choreography was wonderful and well executed, pit band/orchestra did an outstanding job. We saw a ventriloquist that was great, the ship talent show was ok, and the village idiots were entertaining. Hard to believe all this happens on a gigantic moving piece of steel…They had camp Carnival – a day camp for the small ones that appeared to be lots of fun. I wouldn’t bring my small children on a cruise; I’ll reserve that for Disneyworld. They had a spa/gym with outstanding facilities. And the message chairs aft of the casino – worth the 1$. There are many activities – from Bingo, hairy-chest contest, not-so-newlywed game (not to be missed), fear factor, etc. Lots of dance lessons – and Butch, Ass’t director, is amazing! There will be people taking pictures of you every time you turn around – let them take as many as they want! Go have your picture taken – formal or informal. You only purchase what you like, and you’re bound to find a picture that you will like somewhere. You don’t have to buy them all. Point of order: Be patient, you will stand in many a line.

Remember, you are on vacation, and so are the other 2499 people on the ship. No worries, mon! Disembarking was pretty simple – Put your luggage outside your room by midnight, and they will take care of it from there. All you have to do is get up, eat breakfast and wait for them to call your tag color. It is explained very well in a meeting the day prior. You make your way down the gangplank, go through customs (show your passport), find your luggage, and make your way to the busses that take you to the airport. Overall, I had an amazing experience, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have at marci4tony@yahoo.com. Out of five stars, the Carnival Liberty would receive 5-1/2!
 

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