Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by LostInWoods
- Sail Date: September 2017
- Destination: Bahamas
- Cabin Type: Ocean View
Ports of call:
We booked our excursions through Carnival, which I think was a smart thing to do during hurricane season. A week before that the port was closed down due to Irma. Had the trip been cancelled we would have been covered.
The Freeport excursion (http://goo.gl/jnbydt) was to kayak through the mangroves, then some time at the beach. Everybody had a great time. Despite a delay due to a flat tire on the trailer with the kayaks, the only ding on the excursion was a sub-par lunch of ham or turkey and cheese on nature's grain wheat bread - vegetarians are SOL. But the mangroves and beach were terrific. My only advice is to understand that you will have to PADDLE the kayak at times, and also to bring bug spray in addition to sunscreen. But it was wonderful and I highly recommend the excursion. We were tired by the time we got back to the ship and I was ready for a fruity rum drink.
The Nassau tour (http://goo.gl/5MPc2w) was less than it might have been. What was billed as a sort of scavenger hunt was actually a 20 minute mad dash competitive survey of Fort Charlotte to try to answer a bunch of questions. I would have liked an hour or more to stroll through, look around, and actually LEARN something, rather than fill in as many blanks as possible in the time allotted. That was followed by a series of Field Day team competitions like filling a bucket with sponges, tossing coconuts into a bucket, and ending with pitiful attempts to get a sound from a conch. The conch blowing humiliated us all but was fun; a trumpet player would win easily.
The sky opened up just as we sat down for the food sampling part of the event, and they quickly moved us indoors to a rather dank smelling (but dry!) room with a couple of tables where we tasted several dishes like pea soup (tasty!), conch fritters (not so much), and jams (mixed bag) that they just happened to offer for sale. We passed on purchasing anything. Then came the rum tastings, which were interesting - I think my favorite was banana. As for the overall evaluation - knowing what I know now I'd pick something else. It rained the rest of the day in Nassau, so we opened a bottle of champagne we had brought with us.
The purpose of this trip was to be a fairly short and cheap trip to see whether the girls enjoyed cruising. So we all four booked into an ocean-view room on deck 2 aft. The reasoning was that it was a short trip up to the dining room and just around the corner to the elevators. The location was actually very good, but not because of the dining room. Several things we wanted to go to were on 5 aft, which did not require waiting for an elevator. But if we wanted a quick bite on the Lido, it was right there. Nice.
Inside, it was about what we expected, but the shower was surprisingly large. It worked pretty well for the four of us. When one of the girls needed to change in the room, I was relegated to the "isolation chamber" of the portal with the drapes drawn. It was actually kind of neat being close to the water when we were moving. My only previous cruise experience was in a balcony suite (see http://goo.gl/TuAgba on my wife's account) and you don't get that same feel for the water sitting higher up, even if you are outdoors. I wouldn't want to be in such close quarters for a long cruise, but for this it was just fine.
My main complaint about the room was that there was only ONE (count 'em on a single finger) AC outlet in the room, and there were no USB ports built into the room. There was no AC socket in the bathroom at all. It looked like there was perhaps another socket in the room which had been hard-wired to a hair dryer, and there was no way to get to the power supply for the TV. We had a solo AC plug, and it was installed in such a way (close to the desk) as to make the USB ports on our Belkin 3-1 port adapter unusable. So we all shared a single AC outlet for our devices. It worked - barely. But this is a serious deficiency in the cabin, IMO, and a far cry from the Oosterdam, which had USB ports on the desk and bedside tables, plus several AC sockets. Lesson learned - bring a short extension cord with multiple outlets so that the Belkin can be fully accessible.
Alas, we left our magnetic hooks behind. They stick to the walls and are great to have for hanging up damp swimsuits and such. And they needed to be on the packing-up checklist.
This is supposed to be a cruise highlight, right? Well, with a couple of minor exceptions, not so much. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants - short & "cheap" cruise with kids, remember. The burgers and fries at Guy's on the port side next to the pool were consistently good. And the burrito bar was also tasty, but the hours didn't work if you had an excursion. The much lauded Pizza Pirate that my wife had told me about was OK, but nothing special and not worth the wait in lines that never seemed to go down. My wife agreed that it was not as good as her cruise last fall on the same ship, and the notion that they make you what you want is laughable - they made cheese and pepperoni pizzas, period; I did not try coming to them at 4 AM to see whether they could do something else on the menu. We did not get the BBQ, which I heard was good, but it had the same lunch hours as the burrito bar and was kind of hidden on deck 10 above the main Lido food bar, so it was easy to overlook.
We went to the main dining room twice for dinner, on the first two nights, which included the elegant evening. None of the four of us were impressed by what we ate. Not one dish was memorable except perhaps a caramel dessert that my wife liked. The Creme Brulee had a nice crust covering a disappointing broken custard. The duck I had was rather dry. And we went once for breakfast, but that was essentially the menu from the Lido, waiting at a table rather than a queue - same food. Overall it was not worth the effort to dress appropriately or deal with a late fixed dinner hour when we had other stuff to do.
The wife and I intended to go to a show (Flick, I think) at 10:30 one evening, but a bottle of bubbly and our advanced ages/early bedtimes interfered - I was out like a light as soon as I set down "for just a second". So we only saw the R-O-C-K in the USA show on the main stage. It was OK, with choreography that was a bit too wild for the dancer's talent. Some of the performers could really sing, but at other times the instruments washed out the vocals. It would have been OK to turn the knobs down a bit from 11 to get a better sound balance. The people playing instruments were obviously very capable.
The best thing by far that we saw was the 80's music trivia show in the Deck 3 main lobby on the last night of the cruise, hosted by the Aussie Cruise Director, Donkey, in a ridiculous wig. The lobby was packed and we watched from the 4th floor atrium. The entire atrium was lined with onlookers singing along with the songs as the Fun Crew danced with some of the audience. It was great.
If you read the other review of the honeymoon trip on the Oosterdam, you know we enjoy trivia, so we hit several on this trip. But they were never general trivia. The topics were always on something specific, like movie music, TV shows, or Harry Potter. What was billed as US History trivia was actually more about oddities of the states, like where a museum is, or the state bird. What HOMES means. In that sort of trivia, the buffs will always beat the generalists, so we never won. No biggie.
But I have to give a shout out to Picachui (I probably massacred that spelling), who is from Indonesia and has a smart-ass sense of humor that I loved. She said she was the only member of the Fun Crew who was also a Pokemon Go prize. She could troll and heckle the audience with a terrific smile on her face.
Beyond that we caught a couple of movies on the big screen above the pool. The popcorn machine was way too slow and the line too long for us to get any - another thing Carnival could improve on - but the movies (GoG V2, Kong Skull Island, Beauty & the Beast) were fairly recent and fun with the kids, plus when the boat was rolling the pool water would slosh around for added entertainment.
Meh. Maybe I shouldn't expect much from a short party cruise like this, but I was not terribly impressed by anything that Carnival brought to the party. My wife said that the food and entertainment was not as good this time as about a year ago with her girlfriends, so maybe it's just hit and miss. By far the highlight of the trip was the kayaking through the mangroves and then the beach on Grand Bahama island. The rest felt like a desperate attempt to find something fun to do, or a quiet place to sit and read a book, punctuated by waiting in line to be served institutional food or waiting until our assigned turn in the dining room.
As for the quiet place - the outdoor chairs on Deck 3 were a reasonable place to read as long as the smokers were far enough away, but I never found a decent hangout indoors on this ship. Sometimes an empty venue would work, but availability was hot and miss. The library was actually usually pretty noisy with people playing board games. I was looking for something like the Crow's Nest bar on the Oosterdam (sans metal grinding) and never found it. I was also perplexed by the lack of open bars on the ship. There would be a packed room for trivia in a venue that had a bar in the back that was never open. The only bars I found to be consistently open were at the Lido pools and at the casino, which utterly REEKED of smoke. I always held my breath when I had to hurry past that part of the ship.
We took this cruise to see whether the girls would enjoy it, but what I learned more about was what I enjoy on a cruise, which is primarily destinations. I didn't think that the food or entertainment was so great that the cruise was an end in itself. I don't understand why people (local Floridians, for the most part) would book a cheap cruise and just stay on board all day, not getting off at the ports of call that they have already seen a bunch of times. To me the boat is just not that interesting, no matter how cheap it might be. The value I see in cruising is going to places and seeing new things and not having to worry about packing and unpacking, or where to eat. This leads me to think that longer trips are more my thing.
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