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Pellaz

Liberty 9/29 review -- Good, but alas, not great

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Enjoying your review, we sailed on the Liberty last year but went to the Western ports. Isn't having a balcony the best? We had an interior and were upselled a balcony on Liberty, my first balcony! Now I have an aft-wrap on our Victory cruise next month! You do get spoiled ... once you go balcony!!

Edited by ibcnusoon

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We didn't have any complaints about the food. We were in the Golden Olympian with anytime dining. The first 2 nights we didn't care much for our waiters. They just didn't have any personality and didn't seem to interact with anyone. We also didn't really care to be seated so close to other people. We're not snobs but we like more of an intimate dinner. Everyone seemed to be too uncomfortable to carry on a conversation with the person they were with. The third night we asked for a more private table for 2 and had Francisco as our waiter. We really liked him as he tried to get us to go out of our comfort zone and order things we hadn't tried before. He brought us extra appetizers so we could try them. We asked for his area every night after that.

 

At St. Thomas we decided to go to Sapphire Beach. If you want a beautiful beach that's not overly crowded, this would be the place. We took a taxi there with a very nice driver, taxi number 903, and she arranged a time to come back and pick us up. We had her drop us off at K mart so we could pick up a few things and then we walked back to the ship area for some shopping. We were still disappointed about missing Half Moon Cay but this kind of made up for it.

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Thanks for a great detailed review. Brings back the memories of the ports. Looking forward to the rest of it.

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Just having such a good time reading your review..you all just have the right outlook and enjoyed yourselves with all the pros and cons..thanks sooo much..Sarah

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Just having such a good time reading your review..you all just have the right outlook and enjoyed yourselves with all the pros and cons..thanks sooo much..Sarah

 

Thanks. My sister was wheelchair-bound as little as 3 weeks before our cruise in January, but thanks to some injections she was able to walk with a cane on that cruise (although she was really leery about the sand on the beach at Cozumel). For this cruise, although she still has a lot of medical issues, a total inability to produce saliva in her mouth among them, she was walking unaided the entire time except once when she wrenched her hip. She helped my mom a lot, too, since SHE had to use a cane on this cruise. My sister has a certain "take each day as it comes" mentality and with all the adversity she has triumphed over, I thought adopting the same attitude was the least I could do.

 

We didn't have any complaints about the food. We were in the Golden Olympian with anytime dining. The first 2 nights we didn't care much for our waiters. They just didn't have any personality and didn't seem to interact with anyone. We also didn't really care to be seated so close to other people. We're not snobs but we like more of an intimate dinner. Everyone seemed to be too uncomfortable to carry on a conversation with the person they were with. The third night we asked for a more private table for 2 and had Francisco as our waiter. We really liked him as he tried to get us to go out of our comfort zone and order things we hadn't tried before. He brought us extra appetizers so we could try them. We asked for his area every night after that.

 

I'm probably going to switch to anytime dining on my next cruise. (Sorry, Mom!)

 

For me, I didn't think the food was all that bad, but I did think that the same food items weren't as good on Liberty as they had been on Imagination. For example, I was really looking forward to the lasagna bolognese this time and it didn't quite measure up to Imagination's, which was really good. (I'm a bit of a lasagna fiend. My mom and sister both make excellent lasagna and I play them off eachother mercilessly. :) )

 

Similarly when chocolate-covered strawberries were delivered to the cabin the evening after my Behind the Fun tour (coming up in the review, don't go away!), they were...strawberries with some chocolate heaped on one side. Or something.

After the tour back in January on Imagination, I was sent a larger tray with more treats, plus the strawberries had been painstakingly 'clothed' in detailed chocolate-and-icing tuxedos and there was a "compliments of the chef and Behind the Fun" card with it.

Maybe the staff on the larger Liberty is overworked...or more accurately, MORE overworked. I dunno.

 

At St. Thomas we decided to go to Sapphire Beach. If you want a beautiful beach that's not overly crowded, this would be the place. We took a taxi there with a very nice driver, taxi number 903, and she arranged a time to come back and pick us up. We had her drop us off at K mart so we could pick up a few things and then we walked back to the ship area for some shopping. We were still disappointed about missing Half Moon Cay but this kind of made up for it.

 

Sapphire Beach will definitely be on my itinerary the next time I go to St. Thomas...unless I do the snuba excursion again. (And THIS time I'll bring my own equipment, damnit. ;) )

 

If it's daytime, click http://www.sapphireinthesun.com/ and wish you could teleport through your monitor.

 

(If it's nighttime, it won't be quite as inviting but I'd still teleport. :D)

 

 

The rest of the review should follow today. Huzzah!

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(It's still today somewhere in the U.S., heh)

 

 

Day 7: San Juan, PR

 

To be honest I wasn't too jacked up about the port-call at San Juan. I'm more of a beach and snorkeling guy, plus with an early arrival and departure by 2:30pm I wasn't too thrilled about getting up early in the morning. Nevertheless I ventured out with my sister, my mom and her husband and, armed with some info about the free trolley system, we set about trying to find Trolley Stop #1. We finally found it (it's around a corner from the main dockside roadway) and I decided to accompany my family on the shorter "shopping route" trolley instead of my first inclination, which was to make a beeline right to the two forts. It's a good thing I did, because my mom needed some serious help ascending the steep stairs up into the trolley (it's like a bus) and I had to assist her up the stairs.

 

We rode the entire route while my sister and mom noted possible shopping destinations, and we did see some of the sights. By random chance, Pat and Bob from our dining room table were on the same trolley and they gave us a lot of background info on San Juan since they'd lived there at one time. Looking out at San Juan I could certainly understand now the warning that many of the streets look alike and that it was surprisingly easy to lose your bearings!

 

After riding back to the pier area my sister and my mom decided they needed to go to the CVS for a few things and so our tour of San Juan ended...with shopping at a CVS. My sister was happy, though, since she was able to find t-shirts for her sons three for $10 at the CVS (the same price she'd seen elsewhere on the trolley ride). By this point my mom really needed to get off her feet and we sauntered back along the pier to the ship, stopping to pick up a few trinkets from one of the vendors along the quay.

 

After lunch on the ship (another glorious burrito from the cantina for me, I think) my sister and I went up on deck to watch sailaway. After backing away from the pier the ship briefly blocked the approach to the airport runway just to the east of the port, and we saw a jet aircraft have to abort his approach because we were in the way. About a minute later a prop plane buzzed over us right near the ship and dropped down to land on the runway. Sorry we got in the way, guys!

If I'd realized we'd be sailing so close to El Morro Fort on the way out I'd have had a camera handy, but unfortunately I didn't. The view from the ship, no more than a few hundred yards away, was almost as good as going there in person, and the next time I go to San Juan I'll be sure to go there for a tour!

 

I can't remember too much now as to what we did the rest of the afternoon and after dinner, but I know that we did spend some time enjoying the sun upstairs and also the view from our balcony. We were cooking along pretty fast, and no surprise there since the distance from San Juan to Grand Turk is pretty far to do overnight (it's why we had such an early departure from San Juan). We clocked 21 knots a few times and Liberty's reported max is 22. I have to add here that, although we could often feel the ship rocking, especially during this leg, it was never too bad on this cruise and we never felt nauseous. I think we had a bumpier ride at times aboard Imagination in the Gulf of Mexico!

 

Here are a few pics from San Juan:

 

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US Coast Guard vessel approaching dock

 

 

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Looking past the port terminal building at the ferry pier and government complex.

 

 

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Liberty at San Juan pier

 

 

Day 8: Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos

 

 

After booking along at nearly flank speed overnight, the captain actually got us to Grand Turk about a half-hour early! We had a nice view of the approach from our balcony and it looked gorgeous. Nice beach, pretty blue water... It wasn't Half Moon Cay, but it looked wonderfully inviting!

 

I had booked one of the poolside cabanas at Margaritaville for the family, and those have to be reserved first-come first-serve at Margaritaville. I wanted to get one as far away from the music and noise as possible, so I tried to be among the first people off the gangway. While waiting in the Deck 1 elevator lobby (we couldn't go down to the gangway yet on Deck 0) I noticed that some people were coming down the stairs, seeing a pretty big crowd...and then sitting ON THE STAIRS. Pretty inconsiderate since others were still trying to come down the stairs in large numbers....

 

After a quick walk (for me, anyway) down the pier and over to Margaritaville I was following the cabana guy ("cabana boy" doesn't sound quite right) to get a cabana; I was the second person to arrive. It turns out that, of the ten cabanas, #6 through #10 along the back are pretty much the same distance from the bar and the music, and since #6 has a ramp instead of stairs -- one of only two cabanas with ramps -- I figured it'd be easier for my mom to negotiate with her cane. With cabana key in hand I went to enjoy the big pool there, talking with some members of our Cruise Critic roll call and watching out for my mom and sister (my mom's husband wasn't feeling good and stayed on board).

My choice of a cabana with a ramp proved to be a fortuitous decision because when my mom arrived with my sister, she was being pushed by one of the Grand Turk port guys in a wheelchair; apparently the length of the dock had proved to be too formidable for her.

 

After getting them established in the cabana and experiencing a brief tropical downpour -- which almost justified the purchase of the cabana all by itself! -- I went off to the beach, maybe 100 yards away past the flow-rider, and did some snorkeling. As expected, the snorkeling wasn't that great but I got a few underwater pics and also some shots of the ship, which docks amazingly close to the beach. I went back to the cabana after a while and we ordered some food through our cabana guy. Pretty expensive ($12 for a burger and fries, etc.) but it was really good.

 

My sister and I walked over to the shopping area but her quest for dirt-cheap souvenir t-shirts was in vain: with no real competition, prices were pretty high.

 

We headed back to the cabana and I went off to do some more snorkeling. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera that time, so of course I saw more fish, plus I went out a bit further by the rope that marks the end of the snorkeling area and the beginning of the drop-off, from about fifteen feet to maybe forty feet deep. I was hanging out with some kids from Kentucky and their dad and we tried moving some artifacts that had been placed on the bottom in about 15 feet. There was an old anchor, which we shifted a little, and an old cannon, which we didn't. I don't recommend this because I got a small coral cut and one of the Kentucky kids got cut bad enough to bleed some ("Let's get away from him before the sharks come!") I also dove down about thirty feet, past the drop-off, which was the deepest free-dive I've done in many years. The guys from Kentucky were pretty impressed since I'm older and, to put it politely, "have some extra baggage."

 

Alas, it was getting late and time to get back onboard the ship. We had been given an extra hour at Grand Turk due to missing Half Moon Cay so we were scheduled to depart at 7pm. My sis and I had already seen the dinner menu for the evening and weren't thrilled with it, so with my mom's agreement we got back on board a little after 6pm, having decided to skip our scheduled dinner seating in the MDR (and it was the second formal night, too!)

 

We sailed away from Grand Turk a little earlier than 7pm, too, so I guess everyone must have reboarded by then. We got dinner in the buffet and it was a lot better than we were expecting...and not cold, either.

 

 

Here are a few pics from Grand Turk:

 

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Can't get too much closer to the beach with a ship at ANY port!

 

 

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Margaritaville pool area seen from the entrance -- bar is to the left, cabanas to the right and dead ahead

Edited by Pellaz

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Here's a few more pics from Grand Turk because, well, it really IS that nice! (Next time I want to do more exploring up and down the beach, drop by Jack's Shack and maybe go snorkeling at Governor's Beach.)

 

 

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There's that anchor I mentioned....

 

 

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This is the drop-off from about 15 feet deep to about 40 feet. You can't see it underwater, but the hull of the ship itself is about 100 feet further out from here.

 

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The swim-up bar at Margaritaville. Hope they accept wet money or ruined credit cards!

 

 

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Pool area looking back toward the entrance and the bar. The pier entrance/exit is through the DuFry shop, rooftop at the far left

 

 

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Pool, flowrider, beach and the ship. It's amazingly close.

 

 

 

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This is part of "Cabana Row." Ours, #6 with the ramp, is at the left.

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Great review. Thanks for sharing it and your pictures!

 

 

Hi Stacy! I see you're sailing the Liberty again - same time as this year :) We're counting down the days too! Hope you are well.

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Hi Stacy! I see you're sailing the Liberty again - same time as this year :) We're counting down the days too! Hope you are well.

 

Hey Sharon! I so wish we were sailing in March. I changed the signature before I had it booked. lol We are changing schools next semester and our spring break is different, so we decided to look at May instead. Darn it, I am going to get on the Liberty sooner or later.

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Hey Sharon! I so wish we were sailing in March. I changed the signature before I had it booked. lol We are changing schools next semester and our spring break is different, so we decided to look at May instead. Darn it, I am going to get on the Liberty sooner or later.

 

May should be great - sounds "late" for a spring break - but anytime is a good time for a cruise :) Keep in touch!

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Day 7: Revisionist History

 

 

Ooops, I forgot that the "Latin Sounds" Lido Deck Party happened at 10pm on the day we left San Juan. I actually thought it happened on the last sea day, but a check of my copies of Fun Times revealed the truth. So, time for a quick flashback.

 

I'm not really one for all the hoopla and the pool-deck parties, but some people from our CruiseCritic roll call had invited me to an informal gathering they were planning at 10pm to coincide with the deck party. I remember thinking "a big, crowded deck party is probably not the place to arrange another meet'n'greet" but I dutifully showed up on schedule and after a while, found some other members of the roll call drinking at one of the bars. (Honestly it was hard to keep the Red Frog and the Blue Iguana bars distinct in my mind. It's a bit like the interchangeable Silver Eel and Golden Lamprey taverns in the Lankhmar fantasy novels by Fritz Leiber.) We hung out for a while and, after some urging by other members of the roll call, and WITHOUT any liquid encouragement from the Wizard of Booze, I actually joined the conga line that formed up. I gotta say, it was a lot of fun and it gave me new appreciation for the cruise director, "Karl with a K," who did a great job encouraging the crowd.

 

Anyway, we now return to your regularly scheduled cruise itinerary....

 

 

Day 9: Fun Day At Sea (although not all THAT much fun because the cruise is coming to a close)

 

 

It's a bit depressing to wake up on your last full cruise day and realize that all of the cool port-visits and stuff are now behind you, but I did have something I was really looking forward to......

 

 

Behind the Fun Tour

 

I had booked the Behind the Fun tour when I first went to the Shore Excursions desk upon embarkation, and finally the day had arrived to take the tour! For those who don't know, Carnival offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the crew areas of the ship on every vessel they sail. It isn't mentioned prominently on their website and it cannot be booked via the site, but only in person aboard the ship. For smaller ships without a steakhouse, the tour is $75 and is supposed to last about 3 hours, while on larger ships with a steakhouse, like Liberty, the tour is $95 and is supposed to last 3.5 hours. I'd had a great time on this tour aboard Imagination back in January and was really looking forward to it on this cruise, too.

 

Our tickets for this tour gave the location and time for meeting up -- the Antiquarian Library at 8:45, with the tour starting at 9am -- so after getting dressed and not having any real breakfast, I wandered down to the library at the appointed time. Much like last time there were some refreshments, like juice, cookies, and pastries set out for us and after being wanded by a security officer (no cameras or cellphones are allowed on the tour and they are VERY strict), off we went.

 

This tour had some differences from my first one aboard Imagination and a few extra stops and extra perks (for $20 more, it should!) There were also a few surprising similarities. I'll go ahead and compare them:

 

-- This tour had fifteen participants; on Imagination we had twelve. I think fifteen was too many and twelve was really pushing it since it was sometimes hard to get close enough to hear our guide and the various crew-members.

 

-- One of our suggestions back in January was for the tour guide -- the ship's training coordinator in both instances -- to carry a portable powered mic and amplifier. THIS time the tour-guide carried one, but unfortunately she was a soft-spoken Asian woman whose English was sometimes spotty and even with her voice amplified, it was sometimes hard to make out what she was hearing.

 

-- As advertised, this tour included a final stop at the steakhouse where we also saw its small, separate galley and met the head chef. Champagne and orange juice was provided (separately, not as screwdrivers) as we completed the post-tour survey. My suggestion: smaller group sizes!

 

-- This tour included a walkthrough of the captain's dining room whereas the other one did not. Both tours included the other crew dining and 'mess' areas.

 

-- This tour included a look at the dressing room behind the Venetian Palace (main show theater); the other tour didn't only because it was locked at the time.

 

-- This tour included a glimpse into an open crew cabin whereas the other tour didn't.

 

-- This tour included individual photos with the captain taken on the bridge as well as a group shot, plus a group photo taken on the prow with the ship's bell (yes, it has a bell) in the background. The tour on Imagination only included the group photo with the captain on the bridge. (All photos are delivered to your cabin the same night.)

 

-- This tour lasted...about as long as the last tour, even though it was supposed to be longer. The reason: that first tour ran late because we had a more active group asking (usually) good questions; we were about a half-hour behind schedule when we finally got to the bridge. The Chief Engineer on Imagination was more outgoing and gave us a lot more information, plus we asked a lot of questions in Engineering Control. Overall, we got more information during the first tour than the second.

 

-- This tour, being more expensive, also comes with more freebies. In addition to the Behind the Fun lanyard, you get a BtF Carnival baseball cap, a wristband and a BtF "backpack" which is more like a stuff-sack, but wearable as a small backpack.

 

-- Both tours included the galley (although it was a longer visit the first time), ship's laundry, Engineering Control (but, as stated beforehand, not the engine room itself), waste-disposal area (not as gnarly as you'd think), soda and wine storage room (but not hard liquor, which per regulations is kept in a separate locked area) and the linen folding machines.

 

-- The bridge and Engineering Control seemed almost identical between Imagination and Liberty. Both ships were built in the same shipyard but you'd think there might be more differences. Still, both are highlights on the tour.

 

After the tour I went to look for my mom and my sister on the aft pool deck, but didn't see them, so I went to go enjoy a last bowl from the Mongolian Wok. (Sad to contemplate, really.)

 

 

Hot Time on the Pool Deck

 

Back in the stateroom I heard an announcement from the main corridor paging my mom's husband to call Guest Services. A bit puzzled, I called their stateroom but there was no answer. A few minutes later HE called; he'd heard the number wrong. I corrected him and he called Guest Services. Strange, but I figured I'd hear about it from them later.

 

I went back to the aft pool deck and didn't see my sister or my mom there, so I shrugged and laid out for a while. Back in the room I saw there's a message waiting, but after trying several times, I couldn't retrieve it. I called Guest Services, who sent up a technician to try to figure it out. He was able to retrieve the message for me but still couldn't identify the problem with the message system. The message was from my mom's husband; she had been taken to the Medical Center but was on her way back to their cabin by that point. (!) (I'd like to take this moment to say that Liberty's onboard phone system is lousy! Confusingly, the dial tone, ringing tone and busy signal are all the same sound.)

 

I went down to my mom's cabin and it turned out that she had blistered her feet on the aft pool deck and had been treated and bandaged by the ship's doctor. There was another woman there who'd had the same thing happen to her, too! Carnival had provided a wheelchair, and for the rest of the cruise and their flight home, my mom had to use it.

 

Dinner that night in the MDR was a bit sad since we'd gotten to know our dinnermates somewhat during the cruise. This was the night my mom's husband Gaylord didn't care for his first entree and left his plate basically untouched...and our waiter never came by and asked if there was a problem. Our desserts took so long to arrive we thought they'd forgotten us and we were getting up to leave when, miraculously, they arrived. Yet more strikes against the Silver Olympian Dining Room on this cruise, and none of us were heartbroken about leaving it behind.

 

The last night is also, unfortunately, packing night, and we raced against the deadline to get our checked luggage out into the corridor by 11pm. (My sister, a former cosmetologist, travels with at least 30-40 hair- and bodycare items -- packing all that stuff takes TIME!) Thanks to the F2F program we were given Zone 1 luggage tags, and we debated whether we should try to leave early or take our time since we didn't know what time the shuttle picked up for the ride back to the La Quinta.

I almost fell asleep out on the balcony after packing. :)

 

Day 10: Debark Day and Drive to Baldwin, FL

 

I wish I could say I slept nice and late, but for some reason I awoke just as the ship was halfway through Government Cut and approaching the dock. Since we were both up, we decided to go ahead and leave early.

 

To our surprise the lobby area wasn't too crowded (they had just called Zone 3) and debarkation was swift. In the baggage claim area it took us a while to get all of our bags (they had to rotate around again) and then, thanks to recommendations on Cruise Critic, we quickly summoned a

porter to help us since that was reportedly the ticket to breezing through Customs. For whatever reason it worked well, and we were through the checkpoint in less than five minutes.

 

Outside we had to look for people wearing the same shuttle stickers we had been given and we found a group going back to the hotel, including the Allen family. Amazingly, their missing suitcase had shown up THAT morning in front of their cabin, with all clothing and jewelry intact! The shuttle showed up after about fifteen minutes -- a big passenger van and orange baggage trailer, just as it was in January -- and we were soon on our way back to the La Quinta by way of the airport first.

 

The trip was uneventful until we got to the hotel, where one of the other cruise passengers mistakenly picked up one of the Allens' OTHER pieces of luggage! It was retrieved quickly with a "Hey! That's ours!" but we all got a (slightly nervous) chuckle over it. This just wasn't their cruise for luggage!

 

My sister and didn't want to waste any time getting out of Miami and so we got on the road heading north as soon as we got the car loaded. Even on a Saturday there was some traffic getting over to I-95 and then north of there due to construction and a car-wreck, but eventually we were rolling north on I-95 toward Jacksonville. We stopped at a Denny's about halfway up and had a really good meal (most of the Denny's in the Atlanta area have closed, so it was a bit of a treat) and we got to the Best Western in Baldwin, west of Jacksonville, by around 6pm. I was glad because I was reallly tired by that point. I felt that I could have driven all the way down to Miami from Atlanta in one trip, but not the way back; that early morning wake-up and debark was really getting to me!

 

We relaxed at the hotel and I caught up with Facebook and my email thanks to their fast Wi-Fi. They also have a small pool in back and I jumped in for a bit. (It might have been my last chance to swim until next summer!)

 

 

Day 11: The Drive Home to Atlanta from Baldwin, FL

 

I made sure we had enough gas for the ride through the swamp on I-10, as it had been a close call on the drive east ("22 miles to E" on the dashpanel display when we finally got to an exit!) and we were on our way by around 11am after a nice, restful night. The drive home was pretty much uneventful, with no unusual traffic delays and (sadly) no rainbows touching the highway in front of us. We stopped at a McDonalds near Perry GA that had some of the slowest service I've ever seen (seriously, fifteen minutes waiting inside...it's as if they'd never heard of an Angus burger before) and even so, we were back in Kennesaw, Georgia at my mom's by around 6pm.

 

I returned home to my house in Auburn, GA fearing the worst, since my two cats had been alone in the house for 11 days, but everything was great, they had not left any unusual 'deposits' anywhere, and they still had some food and water left. (The litter box was a candidate for an EPA SuperFund clean-up site, but that was to be expected. :) )

 

To my surprise I also discovered some clothes I had left in the washer when I left, so I'll need to add "Check washing machine for unfinished load" to my pre-departure list of things to check at the house. (Washing with vinegar appears to have taken care of the mold and mildew...finally.)

 

 

And that's about it. There were some really glorious high points and some really low points, but overall it was fun and I want to do it again. Maybe next time with friends and not with family so I have a bit more freedom to do what I want, but there WILL be a next time!

 

Here are a few pics from the last days:

 

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Harbor tug Dade has finished pushing the fuel bunker up against the ship

 

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Venetian Islands and South Beach in the morning sun

 

 

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Looking northwest from the Port

 

 

Things that went well and I'd recommend:

 

-- For those who'd like to break up their drive down to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, I can recommend the Best Western in Baldwin on I-10 Exit 343 as a good stopping point. It's about midway between Atlanta and Miami, reasonably priced and a decent hotel for the money, in what looks like a safe area with nearby fast-food restaurants and walking distance to a Waffle House and a TA truck-stop. It's just far enough west of Jacksonville to be inexpensive, at $50 (advance internet rate) per night.

 

-- For those who'd like to arrive the day before their cruise, I can recommend the La Quinta Airport East as a place to stay. They do significant cruise business and the shuttle to the port is free. The return ride was only $10 apiece for this last cruise (I thought it was $20 back in January). For those driving, like we did, the hotel offers free parking for cruise guests for up to a 7-day cruise, so with the Port of Miami charging $20/day it's as if we paid $75 to get a good night's sleep and save $140 in parking. That's a no-brainer. Just don't go to the Bennigan's right in front of the hotel and don't order from Franco's!

 

-- Faster to the Fun. Bypassing the lines at embarkation and having quick access to the stateroom is nice, but being able to bypass the line at Guest Services was absolutely critical on that first day and easily saved me an hour of waiting. On some ships and sailings it's been reported that F2F guests also get to bypass the line for Your Time Dining in the MDR, but apparently this is not an official perk. Priority tendering would also have been a great plus if we had made the port-stop and hadn't already booked a cabana at HMC.

 

-- The FunShip 2.0 improvements made up for a lot of the other problems we experienced on the cruise. Good alternative dining options are always a plus and Guy's Burger Joint and the Blue Iguana Cantina were both great.

 

-- The 24-hour pizza was surprisingly good! I was expecting lousy pizza based on CruiseCritic reviews but it was crispy, flavorful and tasty.

 

-- Not every Cruise Critic roll call group is fun and active, but THIS one was. The smiles, the waves, the "Hi Paul!"s from other members of the roll call really helped pick up my spirits sometimes when problems came up or family issues intruded. Really a highlight of the cruise to have others to talk to, since I'm somewhat shy. Be sure to check if your cruise has a roll call on Cruise Critic and if it doesn't, consider starting one!

 

 

Disappointments

 

 

-- That first oceanview stateroom, for its non-air-conditioned air. I pity anyone who books Liberty Room 1355 until they get it fixed. Kudos to Carnival, especially Guest Services officer David Meza, for eventually moving us to an air-conditioned stateroom, but they've spoiled me forever by giving us that bonus balcony!

 

-- The Silver Olympian Dining Room, for slow/nonexistent service and sometimes cold/lukewarm food. Can't really sugarcoat this one.

 

-- The aft pool deck was apparently hot enough on that last sea day to blister feet, as my mom and at least one other cruiser found out.

 

-- Missing Half Moon Cay, apparently due to rainy weather and maybe seas too high for tendering. (I meant to ask the Captain during the tour which was the most critical factor, but forgot.) Not Carnival's fault but still a disappointment.

 

-- The Liberty's phone system, for reasons detailed above.

 

-- The Serenity hot-tubs closing at 9pm each night, the aft pool and hot-tubs closing at 11pm, and the main pool and hot-tubs at midnight. Seems a bit early for a "Fun" ship.

 

-- The Behind the Fun tour wasn't as well-handled this time as on Imagination. The group was too large, the tour guide and other presenters could often not be understood, etc. There was another BtF tour also taking place, on a different schedule -- in part because one of the show dancer's family was on board -- and their tour guide had a more commanding voice and presence. Oh, well. I won't be taking the tour again for a while, having now taken it on a small and a large ship.

 

 

---And that's all, folks! :D

Edited by Pellaz
spacing and line-breaks

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Paul, what an outstanding review! Thanks for taking the time to post your comments and photos! It was very nice to meet you.

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Great review Paul and it was indeed a pleasure to cruise with you. Hopefully we can meet up again in the future.

 

I don't want to hijack your post but you did mention us in your review so I'll quickly add a little...

 

My wife is the one whose luggage was lost. She went all week without her clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc... Thanks to others we met on the roll call, she had some borrowed clothes to work with. Donna was very excited when walking around Old San Juan she found a Marshall's clothing store. She was able to buy some more clothes to get her through the rest of the week. Guest Services worked with us almost to our satisfaction and they did give her some on board credit to try to replace some things but the gift shops have very limited stock. What really sucked was that the luggage was on the ship the entire week because it was sitting in front of our cabin door on debarkation day when we came back from having breakfast. Go figure. We both would've been without our clothes all week if I had gone on vacation from the get go but we discovered that I had an aneurysm and the doctors wouldn't let me go. But I actually decided at the last minute to buy a one way ticket to Miami and join up with the rest of the family who had already left home two days earlier. Heck, why not...if it's my time to go then so be it.

 

Other than all that, I have to agree with you Paul that the MDR left a lot to be desired. Service was slow and the food just wasn't as good as it has been in the past. Grand Turk was our favorite stop and if you get a chance to go there again, be sure to go down the beach about 500 yards to Jack's Shack and have the Jerk Chicken...you won't be disappointed.

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Paul, what an outstanding review! Thanks for taking the time to post your comments and photos! It was very nice to meet you.

 

You, too! The Roll Call really helped 'make' this cruise for me. There were some really trying moments and the friendly greets from fellow members of the roll call meant a lot! :)

 

Great review Paul and it was indeed a pleasure to cruise with you. Hopefully we can meet up again in the future.

 

I don't want to hijack your post but you did mention us in your review so I'll quickly add a little...

 

 

Heck, I'm glad you're adding some perspective!

 

My wife is the one whose luggage was lost. She went all week without her clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc... Thanks to others we met on the roll call, she had some borrowed clothes to work with. Donna was very excited when walking around Old San Juan she found a Marshall's clothing store. She was able to buy some more clothes to get her through the rest of the week. Guest Services worked with us almost to our satisfaction and they did give her some on board credit to try to replace some things but the gift shops have very limited stock. What really sucked was that the luggage was on the ship the entire week because it was sitting in front of our cabin door on debarkation day when we came back from having breakfast. Go figure.

 

I had a weird thought.....what if it had been found at the pier and then they brought it out on the pilot boat? Nahhhh, it was in someone's cabin the whole time. Boggles the mind, really....

 

Other than all that, I have to agree with you Paul that the MDR left a lot to be desired. Service was slow and the food just wasn't as good as it has been in the past.

 

What dining time and room did you have, and where were you seated? We were in the very back of the Silver Olympian, and one oft-mentioned hypothesis has been that "The farther you are from the maitre'd, the slower your service might be." We were apparently on Mars.

 

Grand Turk was our favorite stop and if you get a chance to go there again, be sure to go down the beach about 500 yards to Jack's Shack and have the Jerk Chicken...you won't be disappointed.

 

Yep, next time I don't expect to be tied to a cabana or to family, so I'd like to check out more of the island, Jack's Shack, Governor's Beach, etc. Heck, I'm eyeing this same itinerary for NEXT year! (Or maybe Carnival Victory's which is similar.)

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I've finally got my videos from this cruise posted in the following playlist on YouTube:

 

 

 

:D

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