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Review of our Spring Break '12 Cruise on Carnival Liberty

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Cruisers were myself (Paul), DW Karen, DSs; Bryson 17, Spencer 15, Britt 11, and Janet AKA Mawmaw.


Janet has been our babysitter since Bryson was born and kept each of our sons on days when Karen and I both work. She's no longer our babysitter, but will always be our son's 'Mawmaw' and will always be a part of our family. We were all very excited to have Janet come with us and have her spend time with the boys all together again. Our youngest still goes to visit her frequently and she helps out with the two older boys when something comes up and Karen and I aren't available. I call it 'help out,' but the fact is that she considers our boys to be her boys too. She was always there to see them off to school, greet them when they came home, as well as diaper their bottoms when they were younger.


We sailed from Miami on April 7 and had port stops in Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman. All four are ports we have been to several times. This was our fifth cruise on Carnival Liberty and for sure won't be our last; in fact it's looking like we'll be sailing her again in 2014.


We had origionally booked Carnival Paradise for a B2B cruise over Spring Break, but airfare into the Tampa area was thru the roof so when we found decent prices on airfare into Fort Lauderdale we checked itineraries we liked and discovered Carnival Liberty was due to call in the port we were most looking foward to; Cozumel and Paradise Beach. Paradise Beach is our boys' favorite place to visit and our B2B was to call there twice. It had been a few years since our last visit to Paradise Beach and it's safe to say it has changed a LOT! (Not bad changes, just different).


For our past cruises we always used self laminating baggage tags, but earlier this year I bought a laminator from Amazon when it showed up at a steal in my 'Gold Box.' We have a lot of things we'd like to laminate, but never do get around to, but luggage tags have to survive rough handling so we always laminate them.


Britt is the official baggage tag laminator;





(Yes I know the times are wrong on that camera and were wrong for half the cruise) The correct date should be April 4.


We flew out of Huntington WV on April 5 via Allegiant Air. Allegiant Air offers direct flights, friendly crews, and great prices. They do charge for checked bags (and carryon now) and we again packed too many things and had five to check;







It's a good thing Karen has a Ford Expedition EL because our car service, Larry's Limo, sent a Ford Expetion EL for us for a couple of the transfers and we knew where everything would fit!


The flight to Fort Lauderdale was quick and smooth even though we flew above storms that had devistated Texas with Tornados just a day earlier. Of course our bags took a while;





Bryson was waiting by the luggage carousel and when I went to check on him I discovered he wasn't watching too closely for our bags;







Our driver from Larry's Limo called on my cell just as soon as I stepped into the terminal and was waiting after we had claimed our bags. Sometimes I think they position themselves in sight of the airfield because they always know exactly when we get off the plane and always call immediately. This car wasn't an Expedition EL, but the driver found room for all of our bags;





The ride from Fort Lauderdale to our Hotel (The Savoy) on South Beach gave the boys time to catch up with their FaceBook friends and update their FB status / locations;



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We had booked The Savoy shortly after booking Carnival Liberty and by the time we asked Janet to come with us the Savoy was booked solid. Luckily the Ocean Five Hotel across the street had rooms available so we booked a room there for Janet and Spencer opted to stay with her. The Ocean Five rooms are spacious;






After making sure Janet and Spencer were all checked in I returned to The Savoy and found Karen checking out the pool. Can you tell she's pleased the water was warm?







Again I'm sorry the times are wrong on that camera; it was around midnight and not early morning.



Since we're from the Mountains of West Virginia, we also had to go check out the ocean immediately;






Our suite at The Savoy was all we've come to expect from them; large, clean, comfortable, and beautiful. Mine and Karen's bedroom as seen thru my fisheye lens;






For those of you who do not like fishey pics I am sorry, but there's a lot more of them to come. I can make them look like normal wide angle pics with LR4 editing s/w, but I've found I like the fisheye effect more. I definately should have tweaked the exposure in this one and many others.....



Looking back thru to the other bedroom;






Huge bathroom with double basins and to the right is a shower room;



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Love me some PaulMedik reviews! And.... anxiously awaiting pics & info on that aft wrap you were in as we have that same one booked for our next Liberty cruise.:D

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Our first night in South Beach was very restful. The Savoy has bedding similar to Carnival's Comfort Collection and the pillows are exactly the same so we all slept well. Perhaps too well; I'm normally up before dawn while on vacation, but I slept like a log and awoke refreshed and just a little annoyed that I missed sunrise. We had one full day of South Beach and I wasted some of the best of it by sleeping in, but as would become the norm on this vacation, it was very relaxing...


When we did make it out to the beach the first thing we did was;





I'm not sure how much time Britt and I spent splashing in the surf, but I know my hands were more water logged than they've been for a long time;






There wasn't a lot of 'surf' to speak of, but the lack of surf got Karen into the water too;






It did rain a couple of times during the day, but we stayed on the beach the whole time and enjoyed the cool mist provided by the rain. Even when it rained the view was sunny;






Looking North up South Beach from our loungers you can see the grey bottomed clouds that would drop some rain as they passed over. The end result of the occasional rain was that the beach was extra calm since the majority of sun worshipers headed indoors or to shopping locales. The Savoy is in the 'SOFI' (South of Fifth) section of South Beach so there's not a lot of crowds that far South to begin with.






I switched camera types / brands last year from Kodak point and shoots to Canon DSLR and Canon point and shoot. I needed a DSLR for sports pics of the boys and while my sport shooting has improved dramatically, my scenery shooting skill is still lacking. Hopefully you will notice an improvement from the begining of the review to the end; I feel I got better, but the main thing was that I had a blast taking pics and seeing what all I could capture with my new cameras. My DSLR is a Canon EOS 60D and I brought several lenses to try out too; Canon 70-200 F2.8L II, Canon 24-70 F2.8L, Canon 15mm F2.8L, Rokinon 8mm Fisheye, and Canon 1.4x & 2x teleconverters. My new point and shoot is a Canon SX23HS with GPS.


I was very comfortable with my Kodak point and shoot cameras, but after buying a DSLR last year I discovered I didn't have a clue. Since then I've read a ton, practiced even more, and shot countless sports and action pics, but no practice at all getting the kind of shots I want on cruises. Luckily I had read and studied enough to know what would need to be adjusted and when, but I still fell back on auto a few times on the DSLR.


My underwater camera is the Olympus I've used for a few years now. Next year I'll have a Canon for underwater too. I am definately a convert to Canon cameras; it's just as well since Kodak has since went bankrupt and is exiting the camera business.


The lifeguard tower just North of our hotel as seen from THREE FEET away thru my Rokinon fisheye;





I know that's not the best picture of that lifeguard tower, but from three feet away? I love that lens! It captures so much all in one photo.

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Thank you all for your comments; I'd be posting faster, but Fotki (my online picture host site) seems to be taking a bandwidth hit this afternoon. I guess I should crop my photos down to reasonable sizes before uploading, but personally I like large pics....




With the fisheye lens, the earth really is round;







Two of Miami Beach's officer's on patrol (gotta luv a job with benefits like these);






Britt found some shade under my lounge chair;






One of the nice things about South Beach is watching the ships come in and out of Government Cut and Port of Miami all day;





South Beach during one of the brief showers;





It was wild watching some of the clouds pass over harmlessly then dump their water on the ocean;



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When the rain would hit this is as much shelter as I would seek;






Karen would put her hat over her face, but other than that she'd stay put too;






I uploaded this pic to FaceBook via my iPhone from South Beach. My friends back home in WV just luv to see pics of warm places when it's freezing there;





We ordered a couple of Pizzas from The Savoy via their ocean side wait staff. The pizza arrived and looked like just any other pizza. Mawmaw held it up for me to get a picture and I noticed she was making a bit of a humming noise as she ate; I soon discovered why she was making the noise because I found myself making the same noise as I ate the absolute best pizza I've ever had in my life! Karen had ordered a pepperoni pizza for herself and Britt and she said it was great, but as soon as she tried the one MawMaw and I had she left the pepperoni pizza alone and helped us enjoy our awesome pizza. I thought it looked a little odd at first with what looked like links of sausage cut up on it and crispy veggies, but once I tasted it I forgot about the thoughts that it looked odd. I can't say enough about that pizza; saying it was the best I've ever had really is saying a lot because I've eaten more pizza than most humans can imagine. It didn't have thick bready crust that I normally prefer, but rather was thin, crispy, and had a very distinctive charcoal flavor. The entire trip to South Beach was worth every penny spent just to savor that pizza. Seriously it's worth a flight down just to eat it!


Here's an iPhone pic of the best pizza of my life;





From the look on Janet's face you can tell she doesn't want to take time out from savoring the taste to pose a pizza for a picture. :D



Karen's first and last piece of the pepperoni pizza;





I'm just now uploading the iPhone pics so they may be slow to display. I can't believe I forgot to upload them earlier!

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Love me some PaulMedik reviews! And.... anxiously awaiting pics & info on that aft wrap you were in as we have that same one booked for our next Liberty cruise.:D






Here's a sample of the balcony. I took this one on the say we boarded and then a lot more later in the week after I got better at adjusting for the light;





The Fisheye lens captures the entire balcony, but somehow makes the balcony look smaller than it is?


This was our first deck seven aft wrap; our preference would be deck six, then deck eight, then deck seven. My preference is based only on the fact that deck seven has very little actual aft and is more corner and side. Given that we had the aft balcony beside us for the boys we had aft to spare though. The balcony had two loungers and we used the lounger from the boys' cabin to prop open the divider because it doesn't latch to anything and will hit their door when the wind blows.


When we first booked Liberty (Right after the Early Saver option ended :mad:) we booked two balcony cabins on Lido and an inside across from them. I checked frequently for price drops even though we didn't qualify and discovered the aft wrap opened up so I grabbed it immediately. Luckily our PVP was working late that night when she got my email and called back with the news that she booked it, the aft beside it, and the interior across the hall. My price checking habit sure paid off! :cool: I did quit checking prices after they started lowering several times per week about a month and a half out....:o


The cabin location is convenient to walk up to Lido or down to Promenade and the casino. Food and BlackJack!

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Great review so far.


I am really looking forward to the cruise review part because I was just on the Liberty. I actually got off the day you got on.

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Great review! Loving your photos too! Looking forward to reading and seeing more!:)

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We enjoyed a nice relaxing day on South Beach. It rained enough to cool us off, but never enough to run us off or make us seek shelter. Basically it was typical Florida weather of 'If you don't like the weather, wait fifteen minutes.'


I missed three ships coming into port Friday morning and wanted to watch them sail out that evening so we headed back to the hotel around 3:45 (the time is right now on the camera). Most other sun worshipers to our South had already fled the rains;






At this point we had planned to work out every day so I stopped in The Savoy's weight room while Karen got ready for our stroll to Government Cut;




The pic above is half of my workout for that day.....


Here's the other half;





Workout for day one complete!



As we were walking South to Government Cut I looked ahead and noticed we were missing one of the ships;






She might be one of the smallest ships to sail from Miami, but she's still quite large when you see her leaving the Cut;





While exciting to see, she didn't sport the Carnival Whale Tail we were looking for;



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When we arrived at Government Cut we could see a cruise ship spewing smoke from her stacks so we knew it wouldn't be long before she sailed;






Karen found a nice hot cut stone perch to lay on while we waited;






Britt explored the rocks along the Cut;






I always wondered why they fenced off and gaited the pier along the Cut. It would be a great vantage point for watching the ships. Apparently others never noticed it was gaited off;






Britt presented Karen with a ball he found floating in the water's edge;





The ship that had been spewing exhaust had pushed away and began sailing down Government Cut. In the distance behind the graffiti ship we spotted the famous Carnival Whale Tail;



Edited by PaulMedik

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I have to confess that the Sky has better looking graffiti than the rest of the NCL ships I've seen, but I like the bird flying toward the ship better;






I wonder what the sealife thinks when looking up from the depths and they see they flowers trailing along the sides....






She does have some nice looking afts, but no wraps?







If you look closely you can see the seaweed stream along the shore kinda matches the graffiti;






The sun is directly behind the ship in this pic which makes it look black;






As she passes I can see she has exactly what I'm looking for;




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iPhone4s almost has enough wide angle view to capture the entire ship when she's right in front of us, but not quite;





It may just be my preference, but the Whale Tail makes a cruise ship look like a cruise ship;





When the other ships passed, people stopped and took notice. When the Carnival ship passed people stopped and watched the people on deck and listened to the party going on and revelers yelling and whistling back and forth;





Even after she passed you could hear people talking about their cruise on Carnival or when their next cruise would be;






Britt got a picture of us and uploaded to FB of Karen smoking my cigar;





The three ships are now out to sea all headed to different ports;



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On the walk North along the beach I got a pic of this vessel and wondered what it must be like to cruise in style like this;






After taking the picture of the yacht I didn't have much time to think of how it would be because I looked back and noticed a much older ship easing of the Cut;





As it came closer I realized that it was quite large too;






I sure wish we had waited another fifteen minutes or even five minutes to get some close up shots of this beautiful old gal






What must it have been like?






In much simpler times this was what it looked like when ships approached.....well except that they'd have at least a few sails up;



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While we had been down at Government Cut, South Beach had came back to life after all the grey clouds were gone;







A Nikki Beach checkin for Facebook was on the agenda for our walk back;






The walk back to The Savoy from Government Cut is too short to call excercise. It only takes ten minutes or so and that is with several stops to take pics;





We found MawMaw lounging by the pool, but dressed and ready to hit the shops and Bryson and Spencer out and about too;




Britt of course had to fill MawMaw in on everything he had seen;



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