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  #1  
Old August 3rd, 2005, 10:58 PM
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Default Liberty Review from Canada

Hi I know there are reviews already but I when planning my cruise, the more info I could get the better. I would also like to thank all those Carnival cruisers who were so selfless with their time answering my questions. First some background info about us. We are a family of 4, 2 40 somethings and 2 boys 11 and 15. We have cruised before on RCL and Celebrity. This itinery with an overnight in Venice was perfect for us. We left Toronto on 13 July and did a land tour, hired a car and did Florence, Cinque Terre and Orvieto. Cabin: Balcony, Empress Deck 7392, port side, perfect for Venice. Reasonable size , enough space under the bed for 2 Huge cases and 2 overnights. Decor was nice , I still cannot understand why the baby pink trim around the ceiling as it did not match anything else. Enough closet space for the 4 of us. Laundry facility was on th starboard side and for us having done a 6 day land trip prior to sailing it was great. Machines only took US quarters tho and you have to get them from the pursers desk/ casino. So if you want to be first in line take your quarters with you(some very savvy cruisers came prepared, my boys stood in line for 45 mins and then were only given 10 dollars worth). Embarkation: very efficient we boarded around 2.45 after a 20 minute wait in line. The Ship: Huge, not very pretty from the outside I am partial to a darker bottom like Celebrity and the Glass and Round Bar as on RCL. The atruim as well was ok nothing spectacular. The decor was in my opinion more Las Vegassy(my own word ) rather than European. Colours were vibrant, murals were in greens and pinks and blues. Fushia flowers(silks)in terracotta urns in public areas. Wherever one glanced there was something to appreciate. We were in the Silver Olympian late seating 8pm. Initially on a table of 10. We were the only family. I had requested table for 4,10 mths ago. We asked Chander the Maitre D for a 4 seater or at least with another family with kids and the following day we were informed of a table change. Right by the door , but a booth for 4 so we took it. He only stopped by our table once in the 12 twelve days even tho we did tip him for the switch .Late seating worked well as tours return late. On quite a few.nights early seating ran late, so even if you got there at 8.15-8.30 you would be fine. Surprisingly some people in our section would show up at 9pm and still be seated.Dress code ran the gamut from elegant to shorts and jeans. Only on formal nights there were no jeans or shorts. Food was ok,not gourmet, but a variety of choices. Appetizers were good every night. Salad was always 2 choices , one of which was always Mixed greens and veges, with chice of dressing and the 2nd choice varied.Entrees on most nights was ok nothing really inspiring but not bad either. My view tho is, if I do not have to cook or work for a few days I am happy. On few nights tho the seafood was really blah and I filled up on bread , and stopped by for a midnight snack on the Lido deck. Midnight snacks were mainly fast food with a choice of 2 desserts sometimes 3 and fruit. I forgot to mention breakfast, for those Carnival regulars this is probably old news to you, but for those looking to experience other lines as I was, I hope this helps. Breakfast was ample the smae things everyday for 12 days , but enough choices so as not to get bored. A tip for Emiles, seating is easier and readily availabale upstairs.Everyone seems to stay downsatirs. Lunch was great at the Fish and Chips place, not sure if I should say this as for the first few days we had no line -ups there and once word got out the place was popular. We had a sampling there at least every day. We did not have lunch in the dining room only at the buffet. Food was mediocre and desserts were awful. Yes I still ate there at lunch either Thai or deli sandwiches as it was time-effective, but usually at the fish and chips place.Dessert was either cheesecake or some type of Napoleon with a different cream filling or choc cake with cream or vanilla cake with. Nothing imaginative, except for the last day when 2/3 of the ship was in Florence there was a Heavenly assortment of choc. desserts. Harrys Bar: we ate there once on the 2nd sea day , not a formal night. Service was spotty, wait staff are new and not experienced to be working at what Carnival considers a superior dining experince. I had Escargot starter, tasty and well presented in a variety of ways, lobster(I love seafood) oops forgot the Caesar salad with soft croutons , I prefer them a little more crisp, these were like stale sponge fingers.The chocolate based desserts were awesome, lobster was good as well. Altho waitstaff were obviously new at their jobs they were very pleasant and polite. Wong cutlery for the wrong diner, serving food to the wrong diner. While these sre not huge problems my point is that this was touted as an extarordinary dining experince and it is not. It is still however worth going even tho it is an extra $30 , it is of a higher calibre than the food in the dining room and to me was of the same standard of food served daily on celebrity. Carnivals food was basic , good value for money. My 11 year old found something every night on the menu and only ordered pizza once from the kids menu. I have to do some laundry now and will continue later. Note this is my opinion and others may have a totally different viewpoint. Our dining experiences were not horrendous , there just was nothing very interesting about their food although it was always plentiful.
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  #2  
Old August 3rd, 2005, 11:11 PM
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Thank you Dock for the review. But I have to admit . . . it was extremely hard reading your review . . . a couple paragraphs as opposed to one very long paragraph would have been a tad easier on the eyes . . .
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  #3  
Old August 4th, 2005, 12:07 AM
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Sorry about that Ladycaveat, that was an oversight.

Service: was impeccable in the dining room. Both waitress and her asisstant were excellent. Room steward was great as well and everywhere the staff were pleasant, always greeted, smiled and were constantly cleaning. Everywhere you went there were people cleaning tables, polishing the chrome/ brass on the stairs or doors, cleaning up the pool decks. This ship is clean.


Spa Services: Staff were great , massage wonderful. I booked my 2 hair (curly hair that frizzes with any hint of humidity) appointments as soon as I got on board and by 6pm when I tried to change one all the time slots were booked for the formal days. Every evening in the Capers the spa offers ,for the following day are advertised, book them asap. There are some good deals especially on port days. Days like Dubrovnik, Messina or even Barcelona if you have late seating for dinner you can get in a spa service. eg A wash and set cost me $45 on a formal day and on a port day I went at 5.30pm and a Deep oil treatment, scalp massage and wash/ set was $59. I will continue tomorrow and if anyone has any questions I willing to answer them.
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  #4  
Old August 4th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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Ports of Call: I pre-booked 2 tours, Naples- Pompeii/ Amalfi Drive. This was a long tour and our only full day tour. The drive was awesome provided you sit on the Right side of the bus, ie not on the drivers side. For those sitting on the left side it would have been rather frustrating and many fell asleep. The views are on the right. Lunch was in a great spot rest. perched on a cliff. Food ok. Lunch was about 1.45 hours. Our tour guide tried to keep to a tight timeline in order to maximise our tour but off course there were the usual culprits who would go to the bathroom while a busload waited rather than when we first got to the rest stop,( this same individual and her family also tried to jump the line at the bus stop in Barcelona and amidst boos and jeers the bus driver promptly turfed them out, so you know the type) or shop while everyone waited.Pompeii- we spent about 1-1/2 to 2 hours and this was ok for me, as the heat and crowds was phenomenal. Next time I would like to go back and just do Pompeii. Our guide did give us a good overview.Overall tho this tour was great. My kids loved Pompeii ,but found the Amalfi a bit tiring.Price $169 pp, 155 for 11 year old. Price was actually
cheaper than Salvatore, for a family of 4 and included lunch. Considering the distance and traffic involved we preferred the security of a ship tour.


Dubrovnik: If you plan on just seeing the old city there is no need for a tour. We took the ships shuttle to the old city and walked the ramparts. We spent about 3 hours meandering stopped for cappucinos and went back to ship.


Venice: My favourite stop. As others have mentioned we docked downtown, our cabin was portside. What could be better than a view of Venice from your balcony. The Venice Card- 24 hour is worth it if you plan on more than 2 trips down the Grand Canal. It is not a long walk from San Marco to Rialto thro the shopping area. I had pre-booked the Doges Palace Secret tour by phone. Tour is great. Guide was an authoritarian "Dont Touch" was a very frequent utterance to adults and kids alike. Even advised one mom to keep her 2 kids close to her to supervise them. Tour was fun tho and both my kids enjoyed it.There is no need to book this thro the ship. Also the opera tour for $175 is not worth it thro the ship, you can purchase these show tickets yourself at the box office for a fraction of the cost as our companions did. Venice was good for shoe shopping, masks and off course glass.The number 1 and 82 vaporettos went the entire canal.



Messina: We had planned on a do-it yourself to Taormina, however after I heard about the honeymooners left behind in Dubrovnik when their rental car broke down , I chickened out. We booked the Taormina/ Greek Theatre as we did not want a full day tour. We enjoyed touring for the better part of the day and heading back for some pool time. What can I say this tour was a RIP-OFF. Tour was listed as 41/2 hours.We had to meet at 8.15. Bus left the harbour at 9.15 , it took an hour to get there and then at least 15 minutes to get everyone in elevators to get to the town. Bear in mind there were 9 Buses, over 500 people descending at the Same time to a one street town , nothing but organised choas. The buses should have been staggered or some gone in the morning and some in the afternoon.This was exceptionally poor plannin on Carnivals part. Tour should have also been at least 5-5.5 hours.Tour guide Rita was not good. Repeated every sentence 3 times at least. We could have got a lot more info if she did not repeat herself so much. Started our crawl down the main street as the crowds were huge , finally get to the Greek Theatre, where many from our tour ditched her and just wandered around ourselves. Meeting time was 11.30 so really there was no time to really meander the village or shop, lots of stores, many shoe shops.We got back to the ship and 12.45. So yes the tour was 4.5 hours, but the actual tour was literally from 10.10 to 11.10 with 20 minutes to stroll back down the main street to the meeting point. I felt this was a wasted morning. Taormina was a great spot but retrospectively we should have taken a cab from the dock. A lady I met in the laundry room paid 220 dollars between 6 of them for roundtrip and waiting time to Taormina. Cost of ships tour $59 pp. Money not well spent. I would gladly have paid the 220 for just our family of 4. Personally we did not enjoy this day and in future I would likely avoid a cruise that does stop here. Not a necessary stop in my opinion.


Barcelona, a great city. Not as well laid out as Madrid. Again I think our day here was mishandled, by the city and ship. Only 2 shuttle buses provided by the city and people started getting impatient and cutting lines and nerves got frayed. Carnival should have anticipated a problem and using the excuse that the city provides transport doe not excuse them.Surely they could have hired private transportation and negotiated better transport considering the amount of tourist dollars they would be bringing into the city. I cannot believe the city of Barcelona is so independent they would rather inconvenience tourists. The Hop-on-Hop -Off buses were popular but the lines to board horrendous. We had done research and took a cab to La Sagrada Familia , climbed the towers. This was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us. We climbed every tower we came across on this cruise, kinda helped with the weight control. Had a paella lunch on Las Ramblas and then the awful trip back to the ship.

People in line were really out of control, shoving pushing. A woman told us they missed 3 previous shuttles due to the crush to get on the shuttle. We tried to get a cab to take us in but they were very up-front, trip to ship was not a big enough fare ,but would do it for 50 Euros. This we got from 3 drivers. So it appears they are aware of the transport nightmare and were more than willing to capitilise on it. We chose the 20-25 minute walk to the ship. Quite an accomplishment in the heat. Ship sailed later that day than scheduled.



While my report is not a glowing one. I have to say we really did enjoy this cruise. Having meals ready when we needed them, no work, no housekeeping , nightly entertainment, this was really a holiday in itself. I will continue later on today, Hopefully someone will read this and get at least one or two tips that will help them in their planning.

Last edited by dock; August 4th, 2005 at 08:12 AM.
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  #5  
Old August 4th, 2005, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dock
Venice: My favourite stop. As others have mentioned we docked downtown, our cabin was portside. What could be better than a view of Venice from your balcony. The Venice Card- 24 hour is worth it if you plan on more than 2 trips down the Grand Canal. It is not a long walk from San Marco to Rialto thro the shopping area. I had pre-booked the Doges Palace Secret tour by phone. Tour is great. Guide was an authoritarian "Dont Touch" was a very frequent utterance to adults and kids alike. Even advised one mom to keep her 2 kids close to her to supervise them. Tour was fun tho and both my kids enjoyed it.There is no need to book this thro the ship. Also the opera tour for $175 is not worth it thro the ship, you can purchase these show tickets yourself at the box office for a fraction of the cost as our companions did. Venice was good for shoe shopping, masks and off course glass.The number 1 and 82 vaporettos went the entire canal.
I'm so glad you enjoyed your cruise--I'm booked on the Oct. 12 sailing. We'd like to do the Secret Itinerary tour at the Doges Palace, too. What's a good time to book? Do you remember what time you were actually able to get off the ship and into town? We'd like to do the tour on the afternoon we arrive, but I don't want to book it so early that we can't get there in time. I'm don't think we're docking in the place as your ship did. The Venezia port schedule says we're in Marittima berth 20.

Thanks!
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  #6  
Old August 4th, 2005, 08:04 PM
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OhJinkies we booked the first tour on the 2nd Venice day. There are 3 tours in English per day. Tour lasted about 1.5 hours and then you could do rest of palace by yourself. We could see Venice from aboyt 12.15 but docking was around 2pm and people started getting off I think just around 3pm. I forgot to mention sitting in San Marco listening to the orchestras playing. An evening to remember. Bill for 2 cappucinos, 1 coke and 2 scoops of gelato was 38euros, included 4.50 per adult cover charge.


Cannes: my suggestion is to book an early ships tour as preference for tenders, rightly so is for the tours.Our tender number was called at 9.50 but we only reached shore at 11.30 so as soon as you can get your tender nos. do not wait only when you want top go ashore as there is a waiting time.Cannes was great.

As our St. Paul tour was for 2.30 and we only got ashore at 11.30 we did not have any beach time. Cannes is a lovely city and now on our shortlist of places to visit. We strolled around, shopped and had lunch. Next time I will choose an early morning tour time in a tender port. Ships tour for 4 cost us $220 and was really more of a transport only tour, altho Tina our guide was rather informative and provided info. Note the views to St;Paul from the pier is on the right side of teh bus. Return is not along the coast but by motorway.St. Paul is a quaint hillside ton, nice stores a few viewpoints, good photo-ops. A very enjoyable tour. Private taxi to St. paul was 150euros so for a family of 4 in this case I feel the ships tour was a good choice.Also unlike Taormina there were only 2 buses from the ship and the place was not congested.

Livorno: We had already done Florence and I had booked Pisa tower Entrance on-line for 11.40am. We initially thought we would take the train,however the taxi driver quoted a flat rate of 40 euros so we ended up 1.5 hours prior to our tower tour in Pisa and as earlier slots were booked we ambled around ,kids bought souveniers, and we visited some of the other monuments. The tower climb was awesome and the highlight of our trip for our 11 year old.

Afterwards we could not get a taxi. All that were there, were with people on private tours. Fortunately we saw our morning cabbie and he phoned for one for us. So be prepared. This cab driver preferred a metered run and as we knew taxis were difficult to get we agreed. Cost was 45 euros. Total cost for this day was 68 euros for monument tickets, 85 euros for cab rides. Also as there were people stranded at the train station and the ship kindly waited for them I really think it is cost effective and wiser to just pay the cab fare, if you are only going as far as Pisa. Ships tour prices, $109 per adult and $99 for 11 year old. So we saved a considerable amount.

Disembarkment: We had private transport booked to our Rome hotel and as we were only leaving the following day direct to Toronto we expected to leave the ship last so slept till 7.15 and had a leisurely breakfast. We were surprised to hear our number called at 8.30. So for us it was great. Little did we know what was to transpire the next day. Flight left Rome 1 hour late and en-route to Toronto we were diverted back to Montreal due to the plane crash. We then sat in the plane for 3.5 hours before finally getting to Toronto. Got home at 1.30am Wed. morning. Driving on the 401 at 12.30 that night the plane was adjacent to the highway and still smouldering. It was an eerie sight and rather than complain about the delay we are thankful that everyone on board was safe.
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Old August 4th, 2005, 10:44 PM
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Thanks Docks for the review. My three children (11, 13, & 16) will be sailing with us. Did your children take part in any of the Carnival 'kid activities', and if so, what did they think?

You mentioned you took cabs at several ports - would a family of 5 have fit in those cabs?

Thanks!
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Old August 4th, 2005, 11:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dock
OhJinkies we booked the first tour on the 2nd Venice day. There are 3 tours in English per day. Tour lasted about 1.5 hours and then you could do rest of palace by yourself. We could see Venice from aboyt 12.15 but docking was around 2pm and people started getting off I think just around 3pm. I forgot to mention sitting in San Marco listening to the orchestras playing. An evening to remember. Bill for 2 cappucinos, 1 coke and 2 scoops of gelato was 38euros, included 4.50 per adult cover charge.
Thanks, dock! I'll take a look at the options on the booking site. Do you know how early they'll let you disembark the morning after they arrive?

Re: the bill you paid in San Marco--you're not just paying for the food, but the privilege of enjoying it IN San Marco! I refuse to shortchange myself that experience just because it's so much more than I would pay to eat it elsewhere. I think the memory is worth it!!

I'm also booked on the St. Paul de Vence tour (in the afternoon). I was dismayed to find out how much time it took you to get into Cannes!
How long is that tender ride??
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Old August 4th, 2005, 11:15 PM
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Oh yes...was seasickness an issue, or was the water calm?
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  #10  
Old August 5th, 2005, 08:24 AM
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Hello Learning the ropes. When is your cruise? Re: Kids Club, my 11 year old joined and went as he pleased. He did not spend everyday there and just went for activities that interested him. He did make a good friend there(now he wants us to move to LA) and often times they would swim or play ping pong together. Activities were good and everyday there was at least one activity that he wanted to do. The teens have their own Capers which you pick from the pursers desk. MY son went for 3 different activities during the sea days that were of interest to him but there were only a handful of kids that turned up. At night there often was a dance and I always saw Security in there. There is a Games Arcade as well, no supervison.

Re: Water, It was calm. Tender was smooth. Our morning tender was from the ship and I sat right at the entry and not much sray. Afternoon was a port ferry and we stood out along the side. There was a bit more spray but it was wonderful.

OhJinkies, I could see people walk off the ship from as early as 7.30am in Venice. Re: Tender, the ride was not long, maybe 10,12 minutes max. It was the process, ie waiting in Venetian once called then waiting along the stairways as we made our way down. I am not sure why it took that long. They did call 3 numbers at once and this could have been why, as it was alot of people at once. Also our tender on the way in to Cannes was not full, not sure if this is standard for tender transfers I cannot remember the one we did in the Carribean years ago. Return was a breeze walked off bus and onto a boat.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 09:30 PM
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Thanks for all of your time and effort in the review and follow up.
You mentioned a table for 10 was it round or retangle. I have a group of 10 and would like to be able to sit together. We have requested the Golden dining room but will make the request for the Silver if that table is available.
Thanks
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Old August 5th, 2005, 10:44 PM
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Hi Frequent Floater, the table for 10 we were initially assigned was Round and there were a few of them.

I also forgot to mention that on the night we left Cannes , dinner was Open seating in the Silver Olympian from 6pm- 8.30pm. According to our waitress they hoped to have more people eat at the buffet. When we went down at 7.30pm the place was a zoo, people lined up at the doors. We opted to enter from the upstairs as most people congregated around the Maitre D. So if you cannot get in early on open seating nights check the line-up upstairs it may be shorter. Our waitress said they found it extremely stressful especially on that particular open seating as people just did not want to eat on Lido deck and were very insistent on being seated.Kudos to the wait staff tho, despite some really cranky guests they still provided good service. They only finished serving at 11.30pm , later than they had anticipated. I hope Carnival rethinks this idea as really after a long day touring very few wanted to dine cafeteria style.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 11:36 PM
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Thanks Dock, when I sailed on the Glory it was hard to find those tables 10 as well. Good idea to try the upstairs entrance on the open seating nights. Thanks.
Renee
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Old August 7th, 2005, 12:04 PM
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Thank you for such a great review. This is my first time using cruise critic. Your review was so thorough that I am almost embarassed to ask more questions...

I am sailing on the Liberty with my 2 teenage boys (15 and 16) August 25. I have booked private tours in Venice and Livorno and looking into booking private tours in Cannes, Sicily and Naples.. I know I will be paying more but I like the idea of a smaller more intimate, do what 'WE' want kind of tours. Were any of the ships excursions exceptional? What do you think about me booking privately for the other cities I mentioned? Some of the other reviews don't make the excursions sound very appealing.

Were there any 'must see' or 'must do' that my kids would like? What about shopping? Any great finds?

Tell me more about the other teens on board? American or European? I really want my kids to have a great time and would love some pointers.

Were there any ports that leant themselves to a 'beach' day or was touring more in order? This is our first cruise that is not beach oriented.

What about Harry's? Should we book and when?

I hope you will have some great info for me as I am very open to suggestions.

Thank you.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 08:48 PM
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Hi, 2boyzandamom. Most teens were American. The passengers were at least 90% American. Re: Private Tours, I think they certainly have their pros. One of the popular ones is with Salvatore, Driveamalfi (Naples). You will get more accomplished than with a ships tour. With regards to Sicily we did the ships tour to Taormina and you know my views on that. i would definitely look into a private tour here. I am not sure what you would like to do in Cannes. I have noticed that many people did take full day tours if you do want to I suggset going onto the Europe forum where you will pick up info on the private tours like with Sylvie. We did not want to do a full day to Monaco as we felt there was enough to keep us busy for the day in Cannes witha short tour in the area. Cannes certainly lends itself to a beach day and there are private beaches walking distance from the pier where you can rent loungers and umbrellas for a fee. Re:Harrys we booked on the 2nd sea day which was not a formal night. I think any day that has an early sail away would be fine. Dubrovnik, Barcelona. You could book for around 8/8.30 and still not feeel rushed.
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  #16  
Old August 7th, 2005, 08:51 PM
dock dock is offline
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To Frequent Floater I neglected to mention that Silver Olympian has 3 walls of windows ,but Golden due its internal placement only has 1 wall.
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  #17  
Old August 7th, 2005, 11:14 PM
2boyzandamom 2boyzandamom is offline
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Thank you SOOOOO much!!!!

Sylvie was booked but she put me on to someone else. Beaching it is very tempting but you can do that anywhere. Touring may be the thing to do!
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  #18  
Old August 7th, 2005, 11:40 PM
Let's Sail Let's Sail is offline
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Default I thought your comment to be very Rude!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladycaveat
Thank you Dock for the review. But I have to admit . . . it was extremely hard reading your review . . . a couple paragraphs as opposed to one very long paragraph would have been a tad easier on the eyes . . .
You know what ladycaveat I think your remark was very rude. This person took a lot of time to type out this great review. Next time do not bother straining your eyes! [img]http://smileys.******************/cat/23/23_4_151.gif[/img]

Dock, thank you for taking the time and effort to tell us about your cruise. You can write it anyway you like. [img]http://smileys.******************/cat/23/23_3_23.gif[/img]

Jim
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  #19  
Old August 8th, 2005, 01:52 PM
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Default Dock

What did you pay for the Secrets tour?
Thanks again for all the valueable info. I too did not mind the text style and am thankfull for the time you took to type it.
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  #20  
Old August 16th, 2005, 10:01 PM
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Question Question For Dock Re: Venice

Venice: My favourite stop. As others have mentioned we docked downtown, our cabin was portside. What could be better than a view of Venice from your balcony.

Hi Dock - first - thanks for the very information review. We are just making our booking on the Liberty for October 2006 - have a really dumb
question.

Several reviews of the Liberty talk about the "view of Venice from the Ship" -
those on the first sailing say that the Portside is the best - others say that the Starboard side (right) side is the best - is it possible that the docking location in Venice was different for different dates?

Am trying to book our room on the VERY BEST side for "Venice Viewing"
(call me silly...)

Thanks
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