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REVIEW: Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean - 4/5/14 thru 4/12/14

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Before I get started on the actual review, I’ll go ahead and introduce ourselves. On this cruise is my DH, who is 51, and myself, 49. We do not have any “D-Little ones” (DS or DD’s) so it’s just the two us. This is our sixth cruise and our fifth on Carnival. We love Carnival and love the cruise experience Carnival provides and it’s been a great fit for us and our personalities. We prefer a laid back, yet lively atmosphere (fun) over an atmosphere that is quiet and reserved (boring) and I really can’t see that changing any time soon…or ever. Carnival is the cruise line that has the “Fun Ships” that provide what we want in a cruise.

 

Our cruise was on Carnival Liberty out of Miami, FL on the April 5th – 12th sailing and it was to the Western Caribbean with an itinerary of Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras; and Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. The last time we did a Western Caribbean cruise, we sailed on Carnival Miracle out of Tampa, FL, which was in March, 2006. The only difference in the itinerary is that Roatan would be new for us because we went to Costa Maya, Mexico on the Miracle cruise. At the time of our cruise, we had no idea that it would be one of Liberty’s last sailings from Miami before being moved to Port Canaveral, FL.

 

I’ve been on the fence debating whether I should do another review or not and with some friendly encouragement from a couple of others, I decided to go ahead and share our latest cruising experience on Carnival Liberty. I finally took a crack at a review (my first) a couple of months after our cruise on Carnival Valor out of San Juan, Puerto Rico to the Southern Caribbean last year. I will admit, I had been a lurker, but would at least answer questions (mainly on the Port of Call section) that I felt I could answer, but had never written a review. I knew it would be very time consuming and just didn’t know if I wanted to commit to it. I’ve read and enjoyed many reviews and got a lot of great tips and ideas from reading them and I appreciate all of the time and effort that goes into them. I will also admit that there are so many great reviews that I was a little intimidated. I finally decided to go ahead and do that review (Valor – Southern Caribbean out of San Juan) because it was a port heavy itinerary and there is so much to see and do on each of the islands. I’ve never seen any two reviews of that itinerary that are the same and I read many that I really enjoyed. I thought by doing one myself that it could help others in planning for or considering an upcoming cruise on Carnival Valor, just as the Victory and Valor reviews I read before our cruise helped me. There are several ports of call that were new to us and I knew they would be new to others as well. Several years prior to our Valor cruise, I feel in love with the scenery after reading one review from a Carnival Victory sailing from February 2011 (Dirkgun’s “My 2011 Superbowl Victory review), and I was sold on the itinerary and knew that would be our next cruise. Well, that cruise has been planned, booked, sailed, returned, and review finally done.

 

That brings us to this year. We normally have a family vacation to South Carolina or a beach vacation, usually North Carolina’s Outer Banks, with friends. Last year my family had other plans and our friends were going on a cruise…with a competitor! I just can’t believe they abandoned Carnival like that!!! In January we were waiting to hear from my family about whether the annual beach trip was back on again this year or not. Not. They are thinking of doing something else. OK??? We already knew our friends that we go to the Outer Banks with (yes, the ones who cruised with a competitor) will be going to Hawaii this year. Definitely jealous here, but they are great friends and I really do hope they have a wonderful time. I plan to get to Hawaii one of these days. That left our vacation plans open for this year. We were thinking about going to the Outer Banks this summer, but I don’t have to tell anyone about the long, crazy, freezing, repeatedly dumped on by snow…winter from “you know where”…that we had on most of the Eastern half of the USA. My DH and I are both from Western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh area to be specific (yes, we’re “Yinzers” and proud of it) and this winter reminded me of a winter typical of Western PA. But we’re in Virginia now, supposedly the south, but it sure didn’t feel like it. Before I get “flamed”, I know those of you in areas farther north and in the upper mid-west had it worse, much worse, and I sure hope you are all thawing out by now in the warmth of spring. Back to planning our vacation. Our area will usually start showing some signs of spring in late February but not this year. Winter was never ending and enough was enough….I could not wait until summer. We needed sun, warmth, beach…but I could not wait until summer. DH let the “C” word slip from his mouth. “Hon, did you just say…..cruise”? Could a cruise be possible??? We splurged last year for our Valor cruise (with no regrets of course) and let’s just say that the current economic situation has not worked in our favor, so we’re definitely on a budget this year. But a cruise? That would get us somewhere with guaranteed warmth in early May. It was late February so we decided to check our options. We’ve noticed cabin prices drop about a month before cruises in the past, at least this has been the experience from our 2010 Glory cruise and last year’s Valor cruise). DH’s theory is this: travel agencies buy up blocks of cruise ship cabins but then release back to the cruise line what they aren’t able to book themselves, which happens to be his same theory on concert tickets sales. We started checking into prices, but a balcony was a must. Once you’ve had a balcony, you never go back. OK, I was willing to settle for ocean view but DH wanted balcony. We also wanted to cruise March – May, so we looked to see what was available and what the cost would be. The cruises with the best prices were in April. We went on a Western Caribbean cruise on Carnival Miracle in March of 2006 and had beautiful, sunny, hot weather the whole time, so April will work. There were about 10 cruises we were looking at, including Carnival Valor out of San Juan again, but the airfare prices ruled that out AND DH also wanted to do a Western Caribbean since it’s been a while and we did the Southern last year and the Eastern Caribbean on Carnival Glory in 2010. We were also looking at the Carnival Dream repositioning cruise and seriously considered that one but it was nine days, throw in airfare and the fact that it left from Port Canaveral and ended up in New Orleans. New Orleans!!! We’ve been to New Orleans and LOVE New Orleans. I was ready to jump for that one but if we did that, we’d be adding on a few more days plus the cost of a hotel room. Not an option this year. Getting off the ship in New Orleans and heading straight to the airport would be too depressing. We will eventually get back to New Orleans, just not this trip. We also considered Carnival Pride out of Baltimore since we could drive but considering the time of year and the fact we needed a quick escape to warm weather, we ruled that one out since it would be quite chilly sailing out of the Chesapeake Bay and back in April or May. It also only had three ports of call and I prefer at least four since we need to consider the possibility that at least one or more port(s) could be missed due to weather conditions. That left a couple of Liberty, Glory and one Conquest cruise out of Miami. We ruled Legend out of Tampa early on since airfare to Tampa was more than the airfare to San Juan, PR, and it was even more than the price of the cabin!!! We’d love to go on Legend, it’s a Spirit class ship like Miracle and I’ve always loved the layout of Miracle. By comparing airfare and also looking for one way flights (no flying down the day before the cruise this time…that budget issue), the decision was finally made...Carnival Liberty out of Miami on the April 5, 2014 sailing. Once we got that figured out, we booked the cruise and the airfare right after.

 

When I got on Carnival’s website for the VIPF Club to “Manage My Cruise”, Carnival already had it in there and I noticed the number of days left till cruising…39. We’ve booked cruises three months out in the past, but never with just over a month until sail date. We had a lot of planning to do and thank you to everyone on Cruise Critic, whether its reviews or information provided in the “Ports of Call” section, because we had a lot of planning to do and Cruise Critic, to me, is the best resource when planning a cruise. We finally decided what we’d like to do in each port, made those arrangements and reservations then the rest was getting ready, but we didn’t want to start packing too soon. Finally with all planning finalized and excursions booked, it was time to start packing. In the meantime, we had to shovel snow several more times. Each time we just kept thinking that soon, very soon, we’d be in warmer weather on a cruise. We even had snow flurries the Sunday before we left. At this point, I was really starting to worry about our decision to fly down the day of the cruise. Again, being on a budget, we didn’t want to have to pay for an extra night in a hotel and I let DH make that decision. All kinds of things can happen with flights and weather…even though we booked a direct flight from Washington Dulles International to Miami International. He insisted it would be fine so I told him if we didn’t get down there on time, he’d be paying….for a long time!!! Fortunately the week before we went we finally started getting hints of spring...warmer weather, snow piles where we shoveled disappearing more and more each day, and FINALLY…the sound of peeper frogs. I just love that sound, but this is about cruising and not peeper frogs.

 

Packing was an issue since we hadn’t pulled our summer clothes out, but we got cracking on that. I’m also one of those who is always on the verge of having an “overweight” check-in bag and I wanted to avoid the extra fees (or fines) that come with that. I ended up packing most of the clothes and necessities I’d be needing in my carry-on to avoid overweight luggage and as a “just in case” my check-in didn’t make it to Miami with us. I had my snorkeling gear and a few other things that I didn’t consider necessities in the check-in bag, so it was well within the weight limit. I also use my camera bag as my personal item. Since the airlines are charging $25.00 for each check-in bag and cracking down on the size of carry-on bags, we decided to leave the formal clothes at home and skip the formal dinners on this cruise. We had everything packed and ready to go the night before and made sure we went to bed earlier (tried for 10:00PM, but it ended up being 11:30PM) because the next morning we’d be getting up early, as in “crazy dark thirty” (4:30AM) since our flight to Miami was at 9AM. So here begins my review.

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Looking forward to the rest of yinz review ,I am a Steeler fan also,Lived in PA .,but in South Carolina now.We are Carnival loyal cruisers and going on the Liberty in September ,so will be reading your review intently.

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Day 1 - Saturday, April 5, 2014 (Miami, FL)

 

The alarm clocks went off at 4:30AM (we had three set, just in case) and rolled out of bed. Ugh, I don’t want to get up but remembered why the alarms were set to go off so early…we were going on a cruise! We got ready, loaded up the car, made sure our cats had food, water and clean litter boxes. We left them in the care of our neighbors who would be checking in on them every day. Two of our boys are five and have been though the “trauma” of us being away but now realize we will be back. We also have two eight months olds who have never experienced us being away for that long. They are still kittens and kittens get into things, so that was another preparation I had to make before we left – kitty proofing. After we said our “good byes” to the “boys”, we headed out. Our neighbor who was caring for our boys is a postal carrier and she was on her way to work, so she came over to assure she’d have everything covered and to wish us a great time. Always nice to start a vacation with a friendly face.

 

We have three airports that we can fly out of, but choose to fly out of Washington Dulles International since its only 20 minutes away, during the non-rush hours. Since we were leaving early on a Saturday morning, we weren’t expecting any issues with traffic and there weren’t. We were thinking about stopping at a local fast food for a quick breakfast but decided we’d rather just get to the airport, through check-in and security and then to our gate. There are several places to eat where the gates are. We left the house at 6:15AM and had the car parked by 6:45AM. We flew United and the check-in counters are at the opposite end from where we parked in the garage. The walk itself isn’t bad, but I’m hauling my suitcase, extra heavy carry-on duffle bag (filled with most of what would normally be in my suitcase) and my camera bag. That’s a long haul for that early. We were at our check-in counter by 7:00AM (we did pre-check in the night before) and heading toward security. Before we go down the escalator to security, DH went to get his passport out of his carry-on and couldn’t find it. Uh oh! He had it at the check-in counter but he couldn’t locate it. Holy crap!!! Well, I had his birth certificate just in case. We needed to find his passport so I started heading back to the check-in counter to see if he dropped it along the way or left it there. He told me to wait, he’d go through his carry-on again. We get down on the floor and start pulling everything out but still can’t find it. We’re starting to panic now. He had a couple of magazines with him, so he checked inside those before we made the trip back to the United counter and that’s where it was! Whew!!! All of that took about five minutes but it seemed more like 15 or 20. We went down to security and the lines seemed long, but they moved quickly. Going through security was a breeze and we were on our way to the gates by 7:30AM. I do have to hand it to the TSA employees at Dulles, they get things moving and are actually friendly. I know there could be a few “bad apples” but we’ve never had a problem or a hint of attitude from any of those we’ve dealt with.

 

Now that we’re through security, it’s onto our gate. To get to the gates you either need to take the underground train or one of the “people mover” cars, depending on which concourse your gate is in. Right before getting to the train and the people movers was a Dunkin’ Donuts and we thought about grabbing a drink and a bite to eat there but decided to just get to the gate in case there was a last minute gate change. We ended up being one of the first groups on the people mover and they will wait until those vehicles are packed like sardines until they leave for the other concourse. We finally started moving and then stopped almost half way. A plane was backing out of the gate and the plane has the right of way. Once the plane was backed out and headed to the runway we continued on to the concourse where our gate was. For some reason, we ended up at the gate at the very end of the concourse. I’m getting tired of hauling around that dang carry-on at this point and my shoulders were aching. It was about 15 pounds (I weighed it before we left thinking most of it would be in the check-in bag on the return flight home) and 15 pounds is nothing until you have to haul the thing around for miles through the airport. OK, I’m exaggerating but it felt like we walked several miles.

 

We were starved by now so we started looking for somewhere to eat and the only option besides a sit-down restaurant was a very small Dunkin’ Donuts that was basically a “hole in the wall” that offered basic coffee and the specialty coffee/caffeine drinks that take a few minutes to make, unless we wanted go to the opposite end of the concourse to see if we’d find another option. We decided to stick with Dunkin’ Donuts and got in line. Since it is basically a hole in the way, there was a cooler stocked with a variety of bottled drinks and food options were donuts, bagels and maybe a few other selections but that was it. No sandwiches. Did I mention I was starved at this point? The next obstacle, a line of about 15 other people in front of us. It was about 7:50AM and our plane would be boarding around 8:30AM so we thought we had plenty of time. The airport is busy at this hour but there was only one person working at this Dunkin’ Donuts and it seemed that everyone in front of us was ordering the specialty coffees, you know the ones that need blended and have all the foamy stuff on top? Yeah, those. They seemed to take forever to make. Then there were customers who were ordering for other travelling companions who were waiting at the gates in addition to themselves. Some of them had members of their traveling groups come up and tell them “so and so wants this”, so the line was growing in front of us even though no one was actually cutting in line. We’re both standing there, starved, watching the clock tick closer to that boarding time. DH finally hands me his carry-on and told me to go over to the gate and he’d get what we wanted and bring it to the gate. I told him we didn’t have much time as we’d both need a pit stop. I took our stuff and got a seat at the gate and a few minutes later others on our flight are getting into lines. They hadn’t announced boarding for our flight – yet.

 

Finally, DH gets back with the food (bagels with cream cheese) and a bottle of Mountain Dew for each of us. As soon as he sat down they started the boarding process so we put the bagels in our carry-ons, take turns for a pit stop, then get in line to board. I normally get pictures of the plane we’ll be on and would have posted a picture but since we were at the gate at the very end of the concourse, we were in that spot that had no windows that offered a view of our plane.

 

We boarded our plane and found our seats. I’m one of those who has to have a window seat since I enjoy watching out the window on flights. I also enjoy taking pictures. We have friends who are die-hard Miami Dolphins fans and I told them if I was able to see Sun Life Stadium I’d try to get a picture of for them. I was also hoping to get a view of the Port of Miami cruise terminal, with Carnival Liberty in port, waiting for our arrival. We put the larger carry-on bags in the overhead bins and my camera bag under the seat in front of me then took our seats. As the plane is filling up, we had the “good fortune” to have “Mr. Gas” seated in front of us. “Mr. Gas” isn’t anyone we know but the nickname I gave him because he really had a problem. I don’t know if it’s a fear of flying and nerves or something he ate, but he definitely had a problem. Why do we always end up with a “Mr. or Mrs. Gas” when flying??? Anyway, the “problem” presented itself even before that plane left the gate. Not much we could do about it but seriously, does he not realize that everyone else around him would notice??? We definitely were not the only ones. I could see the boy in front of us in the seat next to “Mr. Gas” making faces and saying something to his dad while he was giggling. ***Not trying to offend anyone with the complaints about “Mr. Gas”, but seriously it’s just plain disgusting and offensive and most of the passengers around can figure out exactly who is doing the offending*** Everyone was finally in their seats with carry-ons put in the overhead bins and right on time, at 9:00AM, our plane was backing away from the gate as the flight attendants were going through the routine “mime session” on flight instructions and the pilots were doing the pre-flight checklist before moving on to the main runway to take-off.

 

Views from the plane of the gate we just departed from:

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Other planes are arriving:

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I can see the pilots of the Aero Mexico plane:

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We'll be taking off next. This is a view to the west and it looks like a great day for flying:

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Our seats were on the right side of the plane and I could tell that the planes were taking off toward the north and soon it was our turn. I’m not afraid of flying and generally don’t get nervous, but once our plane was off the ground it seemed a little shakier than normal and seemed to struggle some while getting airborne. Didn’t see anyone else worried or starting to panic so I settled in for the ride. As we were taking off I noticed a few highways I’m familiar with and landmarks (a quarry and the Potomac River).

 

The other runways and Washington Dulles International Airport just after takeoff:

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Routes 28 (highway that Dulles is located off of) and 7 (two major roads in our area with that we have travelled (and sat in traffic on) many times.

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Loudoun Quarries - Sterling, VA

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This is the Potomac River, which divides the states of Virginia and Maryland. We were now heading over Maryland.

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Flying east over Maryland with a view of the Potomac River and Virginia in the distance:

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This is FedEx Field where the Washington Redskins play:

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I loved how the sun was shining on the Potomac River that morning. I had my camera and got pictures of that. We headed north over the Potomac and then over the state of Maryland for a few minutes then the plane started banking toward the right to head south toward Miami. We’ve been on that same flight pattern before but there have been too many clouds on past flights to be able to recognize anything. Not this morning. There were a few clouds but it was mostly clear and I noticed a large city…could it be Washington, DC??? Nah, planes can’t fly over DC because of the restricted airspace. A few years ago I heard jets. Hearing jets is nothing new, we live under the landing pattern for jets flying into Dulles when the winds are out of the north or west, but this wasn’t an ordinary jet I was hearing, it was LOUD and shook the house and our cats (just the two older ones at that time) were scared and went into hiding behind the couch until dinner time, which was several hours later. That was a fighter jet. NORAD will occasionally have training in our area, but that is usually at night and this was right around 2:00 in the afternoon. Occasionally a plane, and it’s usually a privately owned smaller plane, will end up within the restricted airspace around Washington, DC. They’ll send up fighter jets to “escort” them out AND escort the invading plane until it's landed elsewhere. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen occasionally and that was the case when I heard this fighter jet. So I’m thinking we would not be flying anywhere near Washington DC. Wrong…it WAS Washington, DC. I don’t know exactly what the restricted area is, but technically we weren’t right over the city, I just had a good view from my window. We were also at a higher altitude at that point since it wasn’t immediately after we took off. I was able to see the whole city from the window so I was able to get pictures. After reviewing the pictures I was awed at how much we saw: The Capitol Building; the Washington Monument; the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Nationals baseball park, the Washington Redskins’ stadium (the current and the former); the Pentagon; Smithsonian; the National Mall, and etc. Here are the pictures.

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This is Andrews Air Field at Andrews Air Force Base:

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Washington, DC: I think I got everything in this picture.

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More Washington, DC pictures: close-ups of the Washington Monument, the National Mall, & the Capitol

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A few more:

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Yay!!!!!! So glad you are doing a review!!!!

I LOVED your Valor review!!:D:D

Great pictures.

 

I, am not a fan of flying at all. White knuckles the entire trip. Although, the Bloody Mary's on Southwest DO help.....lol

Now I have learned to just look at other people and see if they're panicking.

If they're not, which they never are, I just take a few deep breaths.

Despise flying.

 

Thank you again. Cannot wait to read more.

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Thanks for posting review. Looking forward to our cruise on the Liberty.

 

Sent from my HTC One mini using Forums mobile app

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Looking forward to your review!!

We loved the Liberty.. one of our favorite ships!

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Looking forward to reading more , thanks .

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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After all that excitement, well for me anyway, I grabbed the “Air Mall” magazine that’s kept in the pouch in the back of the seat in front of me and started to check that out. Oh, what the heck is that???? Oh yeah, “Mr. Gas”. This was about the third time but would continue every 10 – 20 minutes throughout the flight. Anyway I can get hold of that mask that’s released if the cabin pressure drops? I’m not even going to try. I took several more pictures out the window because we were flying over water, the southern portion of the Potomac River where it widens before reaching the Chesapeake Bay, which I confirmed on Google Maps when we got home.

 

Southern part of the Potomac River. This is just south of Colonial Beach, VA

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This is the Chowan River, near Edenton, NC with the Rt. 17 Bridge going over the river (Thanks Google Maps!)

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This is near Jacksonville, NC, shortly before we flew out over the Atlantic:

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The flight attendants were coming around offering drinks and drinks only. DH and I each had a coke and they actually gave us each a whole can!!! They usually fill up a small plastic cup which is filled with ice and not much bigger than a shot glass. I felt hungry again and remembered I had that bagel, so I got it out and had it with the coke. When getting a bagel with cream cheese, cream cheese normally comes on both sides. Nope, they only put it on one side so I ate it like a sandwich. At least it would hold me over for a while. I had visions of “Guy Burgers” dancing in my head. At least “Mr. Gas” gave me a break while I was eating. Soon after that I noticed we were finally heading out over the beaches of southern North Carolina and then over the Atlantic. We’re over ocean now, nothing to look at. Boring. Ah yes, the “Air Mall” magazine. They’ve really got some cool stuff in there. Not interested in purchasing, just fun to look at.

 

Flying out over New River Inlet, NC

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Southern NC beaches

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Cape Fear, NC (the point). This is the last land we'd see until we were flying near Florida's coast:

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After a while (and more blasts of “not so fresh air” from “Mr. Gas”), I finally noticed the Florida coastline in the distance that got closer as the flight continued toward Miami. The color of the water was also a prettier blue.

Approaching Florida's coastline

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Getting close but still not sure exactly where we were yet:

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We were about a half hour from landing in Miami and were on our descent pattern. I didn’t recognize anything at first because I’d never really spent any time in south Florida except for sailing out of Miami in May 2010 on Carnival Glory. We flew into Fort Lauderdale and took the Carnival shuttle to POM for that cruise. I could see an airport in the distance since we seemed to be going parallel along Florida’s coast. I knew that Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades was pretty close to the airport. I kept looking and finally saw cruise ships. One was pretty large and I also noticed the Carnival “Whale Tail” on another. There were two others but the only one I knew was the Carnival ship. I didn’t know which one it was when we were flying over but found out that it was Carnival Freedom, which is the same class (Conquest) as the previous two ships we’ve been on, Valor and Glory. Could that large ship be one of RCI’s “Behemoths of the Seas”, Oasis or Allure??? Of course I took pictures, so I zoomed in on the picture display and it was definitely one of the two (looked it up once we got home and it was RCI’s Oasis of the Seas). It sure dwarfed Carnival Freedom.

Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale international Airport and Port of Ft. Lauderdale/Port Everglades:

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Cruise ships!!! These are Carnival Freedom; RCI Oasis of the Seas; Celebrity Constellation and Celebrity Eclipse (don't know which is which with the two Celebrity ships):

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Quite a size difference between Carnival Freedom and RCI's Oasis. I knew Oasis was bigger but didn't realize it was that much bigger:

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Another view of Ft. Lauderdale/Port Everglades:

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I’d actually love to sail on Oasis or Allure one of these days but it would be more just to see and experience the ship itself, but I’d also be a “traitor”. The price would have to be within reason as well. As the flight continued we turned to the right and headed inland. No view of POM and Carnival Liberty since we were on the wrong side of the plane. As we headed inland I noticed a few horse racing tracks that I looked up on Google Maps once home. The first of three was Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino.

 

 

Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino:

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I was still on the lookout for Sun Life Stadium and saw what looked to be a stadium about a minute later and was pretty sure that was it. Then great, we were going through a cloud, my view and photo opportunity were blocked. Once we passed through that cloud, I had one quick opportunity to try for a picture of the stadium and got it. It’s not the best, but our Miami Dolphins fan friends will be happy.

 

Sun Life Stadium (home of the Miami Dolphins):

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As we continued on our final descent, we flew out over the Everglades and I got a few pictures of that before the plane made the wide left turn to loop around in order to line up with the runway at Miami International Airport, where we were due to land at 11:40AM. I got a few more pictures before the actual landing and once landed the plane continued to the gate.

The Everglades:

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Right when we arrived at the gate as we were coming to a stop, we felt a “thunk”. OK, what the heck was that? We were on the ground and I noticed one of the guys who directs the planes to the gate just busting out laughing so I wasn’t really worried about it. A few minutes later they started letting us off. It would be a few minutes until we could get off since we were toward the back of the plane but it didn’t take too long and soon we were getting our carry-ons out of the overhead bin and heading off the plane. When we got close to the exit door while passing the cockpit area, one of the pilots was thanking everyone getting off for flying United. I wanted to ask him “What the heck did you hit?!?!” but they did get us safely there with no problems, so I decided not to be a smart alec and politely smiled and thanked him.

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One last picture coming into Miami just before our plane landed:

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Once inside we made our way to baggage claim. There are two baggage claim areas but we didn’t, or were unable to, hear an announcement letting us know which baggage claim area we were to go to before we got off the plane. We looked to see if it was posted anywhere, but didn’t see anything for our flight so we went to the left and downstairs to the baggage claim on that side and waited, and waited and no luggage. OK, let’s go to the other area. Halfway between the two baggage claim areas we spotted the Carnival check-in kiosk area. Thankfully for cruise critic, I discovered before our trip that Carnival has a check-in area at Miami International Airport where we’d be able show our boarding passes and passports to check-in, get the pictures that are tied into the Sail & Sign cards taken and get our Sail & Sign cards which would enable us, once at Port of Miami, to go through security then board the ship right after. For any first time Carnival cruisers, the Sail and Sign card is the card that is used as your cabin key and also tied into a major credit card for all onboard purchases, including excursions. We continued past the Carnival check-in area and onto baggage claim, where our luggage was already on the turnstile waiting for us. We got our luggage and went back to the Carnival desk to check-in. Passengers for ships in Miami and Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades could both check-in there. Very convenient. There was a line but it moved pretty quickly. There were three Carnival ships that passengers were checking in for: Carnival Liberty & Carnival Victory, both at Port of Miami, and Carnival Freedom at Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades. That’s how we found out that it was Carnival Freedom that we saw from the plane.

 

They had three people checking passengers in and once we got up to the counter, the couple in line behind us got to the person right next to us. She asked how he was and if he was ready to start vacation and he said it didn’t start off too well…the airline had lost their checked-in luggage! I felt so bad for them. That was one of the main reasons I had all of my necessities in the carry-on. We also purchased the transfer from the airport to POM ahead of time so once we checked in, there is seating right there to wait for the transfer. The transfer heading to Fort Lauderdale was just leaving and we’d have about a 20 minute wait. We ended up talking to the couple whose luggage was lost. They were traveling with another couple. She was similar in size to me so I asked her if she needed to borrow any clothes. She thanked me and said they had enough in their carry-on to last a couple of days. They arranged through the airline to have their misplaced luggage sent to our first scheduled port of call, which was Cozumel, Mexico. We never saw them during the cruise, so I don’t know if their luggage got to them or not. At this point I lost track of time because I wasn’t checking the time. My guess was that it took us about 45 minutes for each of us to have a pit stop, make our way to baggage claim and check-in at the Carnival desk then about a 20 minute wait for our transfer.

 

Soon they were calling us for our transfer to Port of Miami. We followed the Carnival representative out to where our transfer bus was. Our driver asked each of us whether we were on Liberty or Victory and had us set our luggage in the appropriate spots, one side for Liberty passengers and the other for Victory passengers. After leaving our luggage on the Liberty side, we boarded the bus. I knew that we’d be approaching Port of Miami, the cruise ships would be on the right so I took the window seat on the right and had my camera ready for the our first view of Carnival Liberty, which would become our home for the week. Once all of the passengers were seated and luggage loaded into the bus, our driver got back on with simple instructions that those going on Carnival Liberty would be the first stop. Once at that stop, we were all to remain seated until he got all of the luggage out and he would get back on the bus and let us know we could get off. I can’t remember if that was an airport or Port of Miami law, but it was a law and he and all of us had to comply. The ride to Port of Miami was between 10 and 15 minutes long and our driver welcomed us to Miami and pointed things out along the way and also did his best to get us in a “fun” mood. Most of us were just tired from flying and hauling luggage around but he had a way of getting us livened up. We started heading through the downtown area of Miami and right after that (and sitting at a few traffic lights), we were crossing the bridge over the Marina and heading toward the Port of Miami.

 

The maria in Miami just before arriving at POM cruise terminal:

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As we made that left turn to enter the Port of Miami we saw her! Carnival Liberty. I was able to get some pictures that aren’t the greatest quality but they are my “first view of the ship” pictures. This was at 1:15PM (according to the time on my pictures of our first view of Carnival Liberty).

 

Our first views of Carnival Liberty, our home for the next week:

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Our driver pulled into the area where we’d be getting off and handing our luggage over to the luggage porters. We all followed the instructions and remained seated while he unloaded all of the luggage belonging to Liberty passengers. Before I go on, our bus driver was one man doing all of the work (loading/unloading the luggage for a bus full of passengers), by himself, and it was hot. That is hard work and several of us commented on it. It took him about five minutes to get all of our luggage unloaded then he came back on and told us we were able to get off. He also made sure to thank us and also told us to have a great cruise. I don’t know about the passengers getting off behind us, but all of those that were in front of us tipped him and we tipped him. He definitely earned and deserved the tips.

 

We took our luggage over to the luggage porters but kept the carry-ons and camera bag with us. We also had our passports and Sail & Sign cards out. When entering the cruise terminal we were directed to the area for passengers who checked-in at Miami International airport and got in that line. The passengers who didn’t do airport check-in were directed to another line. When we got to the desk, we had to show our passports and Sail & Sign cards. We had our passports handy, even though we were already checked-in, because we were told to keep our passports handy by instructions given by the lady who checked us in at the airport letting us know that we would need it to show them again once in the terminal and after that we’d just have to go through security then right onto the ship. Once we showed the gal at that desk our passports and Sail & Sign cards, we went over to the security check-point and put our carry-ons and camera bag on the belt to go through the machine. We had no problems, and no worries, because we didn’t have anything that we weren’t supposed to. After security we continued into the terminal and went through the section where everyone else was waiting in line to check-in, bypassed that, went up the escalators to get in line for our embarkation pictures, which only took a couple of minutes.

Views of Carnival Liberty from inside the cruise terminal, just before heading up the escalators for our pictures:

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After that we made our way down the walkway along the windows and above the check-in area that appear to be right next to Carnival Liberty.

Stopped for a couple of pictures from the walkway along the windows above the check-in area:

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I stopped for a few pictures there before we went over the glass enclosed “bridge” leading toward Liberty and down the other walkway to join the line to get onboard on Lobby Deck 3 near the atrium.

The walkway "bridge" that will take us to Carnival Liberty:

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There was a large group of people with a lot of kids that had on some kind of lime green “Spring Break 2014” T-shirts on. We weren’t sure if it was college kids (we thought most college spring breaks were in March) or if it was just a large family group on spring break vacation. As we inched along closer, the excitement grew…we’d be on Liberty within minutes. The line moved quickly and soon it was our turn to hand our Sail & Sign cards to our greeting Carnival staff member so he could “Ding” us in. “Ding”…DH is on the ship. “Ding”…I’m on the ship. At this time it was about 1:40PM so we decided to head directly to our cabin to see if it was ready.

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I am loving your review and definitely subscribing. I knew you would change your mind and do a review and I am happy that you did.

 

Love your pictures from the plane. It was as if I was flying right along with you

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Our first impression of Carnival Liberty was good, we loved how the atrium lobby was done. Beautiful décor. It also felt familiar to us because our last two cruises, as mentioned earlier, had also been on Conquest class ships, Carnival Glory and Carnival Valor. They have same layout but the differences are in the décor of the ships. We knew exactly where we had to go.

 

We made our way up to Upper Deck 6 where our cabin was located. We were in cabin #6389, which is a balcony cabin on the starboard (right) side of the ship and located in the middle of the ship, or “mid-ship”. This is the first time, recently, that our cabin has been ready and we were able to get right in, but this was also the latest that we’ve gotten on a ship. It was 1:45PM. I took a few pictures of our cabin, the bathroom and then we went to the balcony.

 

First views of our cabin, #6389

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The bathroom:

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Our Fun Times and Welcome Aboard/drink coupons and Gold VIFP Pins:

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Since many people ask about the gift basket in the bathroom, there was one but it only had a bar of soap and a trial sized tube of toothpaste, so I didn’t bother getting a picture. This was also a cabin with an adjoining door to the cabin next door, #6387. We weren’t traveling with anyone else, so we did know our next door neighbors. We just kept that door locked. Since we booked slightly more than a month from our actual sale date, and wanted a balcony, there weren’t many left to choose from. We are aware that balconies on Upper Deck 6 can get a lot of noise at night. Most of the ones that were still available were on Upper Deck 6 with a location right above the “Hot and Cool Nightclub”, which can be a problem with the noise volume for anyone trying to sleep. Thanks again to other comments and reviews on Cruise Critic, we knew to take this into consideration when choosing our cabin. Our cabin was fine at night, for the most part, but the few times we were woken up during the night had nothing to do with Liberty or Liberty’s crew. I was very happy in that it was conveniently located for us. To get to the Lido deck, it was a short walk down the hall past two cabins on our right, one on the left and one of the laundry rooms. Right around the corner were the stairs/elevators. Once on Lido Deck 9, a quick walk around the corner puts you right in the buffet area (very convenient for me to grab my morning coffees) and also very close to the doors that lead to the main pool area. Great location. The only thing I really disliked about the cabin was the adjoining door. The woman in the room connected to us wore perfume, too much perfume and so much that the smell made its way through the adjoining door, even though it was closed the whole time. Even though it was closed, there is still enough space for the smell of perfume find its way into our cabin. I know there are many people who complain about smoking and the smell and what it does to them. My issue isn’t so much with cigarette smoke, but perfume, which triggers inflamed sinuses (stuffed up), creating major sinus pressure/major headache. A little dab of perfume that can only be noticed when I’m right next to the person wearing it normally won’t bother me, but when it’s used in excessive amounts, there’s a problem. Fortunately we only noticed the smell right around that door, but it was most of the week. We’re also out on the water and salt air, so that probably what saved me from the sinus issues. The things I kept on the shelves closest to the balcony (souvenir cups, zip log baggies, and my beach bag) came back with the smell of that perfume all over them. I brought this up for anyone with issues or allergies that may be triggered by perfume to keep this into consideration when booking a cabin with an adjoining door if you are not going to know who your next door neighbors are. If anyone is concerned about smoking and the smell of smoke coming from adjoining doors, that should not be an issue since all cabins are non-smoking. It’s allowed on most balconies but not in the cabins.

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I am loving your review! Liberty is my favorite ship, followed closely by the Freedom, but I have loved them all.

 

I really enjoyed your photos taken from the plane.

 

Looking forward to more of your review:)

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After going through our cabin and getting pictures, we went to see our balcony and since Liberty was backed in, our view was of the cruise terminal. To greet us when we arrived was our first “Fun Times” of the cruise and the “Welcome Aboard” page with an attached “VIFD” (Very important fun drink) coupon for free drink, which we never did use since it was to be used at breakfast or brunch in the main dining room, which we have yet to do. We became VIFP Gold on our last cruise on Carnival Valor and got our Carnival Pins for entrance into Gold Level then. We weren’t sure if those are only given once, upon entrance into Gold Level, or on each cruise. Pleasant little surprise…we also had Carnival Pins waiting for us. These pins are a little different than the ones we received last year, this time they had “2014” on them as well. I know Platinum Pins have the year and ship name. We got changed into shorts and T-shirts right after that and I remembered I needed to take sea sickness prevention. I’m prone to that and it’s also the reason we go on cruises during non-hurricane season. I heard so much about Ginger Root pills and you can supposedly get them anywhere but our local grocery stores and WalMart didn’t seem to have it so I ordered it on-line. I did pick up the non-drowsy Dramamine (just in case) because that’s what I’ve used in the past and it works, if I remember to take it. If not, I start feeling it but will take it immediately and usually feeling good to go in a half hour. I got the Ginger root out of my carry-on, took two of them, then we were on our way to go up to Panorama Deck 10 for the views and a “Funship Special”. When we opened our door, my suitcase was there waiting and we’d only been in there for about 15 minutes. That was fast. DH’s hadn’t arrived yet. We put my suitcase under the bed to unpack later then headed out again.

 

Before I continue with the review, I’ll just post some brief information about the cabins in general for any of you reading who haven’t been on a Carnival Cruise before. Shower gel soap and shampoo are provided in dispensers in the showers. I always bring my own conditioner since the shampoo can be harsh on hard to work with or dry hair. Small bars of soap will (or should) be provided at the sink (one in basket, the other on a shelf). There are also tissues in the bathrooms, under the counter. A small hair dryer is provided and it will be located in the top, left drawer in front of the mirror in the cabin. There is only one outlet which is right by the mirror. We always bring a power strip because we have several cameras that have batteries, I-Pods, and DH’s electric razor that need recharged. There is some speculation on Carnival’s rules regarding power strips. If they are in good condition and newer, they will be fine and not subject to confiscation.

 

We went up to Panorama Deck 10 for the views, a “Funship Special”, and we also wanted to see who else (other ships) was in port with us. Carnival Victory was right behind us and I really wanted to see her. As I mentioned toward the beginning of my review, I had been wanting to do the Southern Caribbean itinerary out of San Juan, which we did last May. Originally, Carnival Victory was the ship doing that itinerary so I always thought we’d be on Victory. Victory was replaced by Valor on that itinerary in February 2013, so we never got to go on Victory. We have good friends who live out of state who were on a Carnival cruise out of Miami in January and I thought for sure they were on Victory, so I was getting a lot of pictures to email to them. More on that later.

Carnival Victory was in port with and docked right behind us:

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Also in port with us were Celebrity Reflection and Norwegian Getaway but we weren’t able to see them from Liberty. I think both of them were behind Victory. We walked around and got pictures of Miami and the causeway that goes over to Miami Beach (South Beach) and the islands along it.

Views of Miami, FL:

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More views of Miami, FL:

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Gotta get pictures of Liberty's "Whale Tail" funnel:

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The Versailles pool and hot tubs (back of the ship and adult only):

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The main pool area, Seaside Theater seating, and water slide which are located mid-ship:

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Now it was definitely time for a “Funship Special”, the former “Drink of the Day” or “DOD” as it was referred to on all of our other Carnival cruises. The “DOD” is not called the “Daily Special” for $1.00 off, in the “Fun Times”. On past cruises there were always bar tenders walking around with trays of drinks, but we didn’t notice any. Plan B…find a bar.

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We went down to Lido Deck 9 and went to the Blue Iguana Bar, which is right next to the mid-ship pool “Tivoli Pool” where the Seaside Theater and stage areas are on the port (left) side of the ship. We ordered our “Funship Specials” expecting them to be in the plastic hurricane glass. I know Carnival is doing away with those, but they had them last year on Valor and it was explained to us then that the first DOD, “Funship Special” was still served in the plastic hurricane glasses but that would be the only day. On Liberty, they didn’t have those, only the regular plastic bar glasses. Nonetheless, they were “Funship Specials” (my favorite) and tasted just the same.

 

First things first..."Funship Specials" (I've been waiting for these):

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I noticed that they had the “Blue Iguana” Tervis tumbler mugs but decided to wait to get one. Before our cruise I read that it was the “Red Frog” Tervis tumblers that seemed to run out after the first day or two and that the “Blue Iguanas” were always available, so I waited. Now that we had our drinks, it was time for a “Guy Burger”. We walked back over to the starboard side where “Guy’s Burger Joint” was and got our burgers. Finally!!! These burgers are so good, so great addition Carnival. In addition to hamburgers and cheeseburgers, they have a burger that is actually ground bacon. I’m thinking it’s called the “pig patty” but I’m not positive on that. Neither of us ever tried one so I can’t give an opinion on it. When you get your burger it’s served with fries, which are also good. There is another section right across from “Guy’s Burger Joint” that has all kinds of toppings in addition to ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce (which DH really liked). I can’t remember all of the toppings but there is shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, sautéed mushrooms, onions (and maybe sautéed onions as well) and a few others.

 

Now it's time for one of these:

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Once we finished our Guy Burgers, I went over to the “Red Frog Rum Bar” to purchase a Tervis tumbler. The price was about $14.00 and includes the lid. I was going to get the “Blue Iguana” one the following morning, which was a Sea Day, so we could fill them with ice and water to have while lounging in the sun.

 

After walking around some more, we decided to go back to our cabin to see if DH’s luggage had arrived yet but it hadn’t. We could tell that a lot more luggage was arriving since they had it all in the carts in the aisles and thought DH’s would be arriving soon. I wanted another “Funship Special” but know they are generally stronger than the other “Daily Specials”, as they’re now called, and we still had Muster Drill before sail away and I know my limits.

We went out onto our balcony and watched the action outside below us: transfer busses were letting other passengers off, the guys loading boxes of supplies onto Liberty, more luggage arriving and being loaded on to the ship, and passengers lining up to board.

The walkway from the cruise terminal to the ship:

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This is where we got off our transfer from the airport:

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Supplies to be loaded onto Liberty:

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Luggage still needing loaded onto Liberty. Wonder if one of these is DH's?

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But dang, the sun is beating down (it does feel good) but after a few minutes it gets hot. I went back into the cabin and got my suitcase out from under the bed, pulled my carry-on out from the cabinet and started to unpack my stuff. While I was unpacking, I heard a knock at the door and answered it. DH’s luggage has arrived so I thanked they guy who delivered it and brought it in for DH to start unpacking. While we were unpacking there was another knock at the door. This time it was our cabin steward, Eduardo, who came to check on everything and to introduce himself. We talked to him for a few minutes before he had to continue on to his other cabins.

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It was getting close to 3:30PM, muster drill time, and soon enough we heard the “announcement chimes” as I will call them then the actual announcement that they were getting ready to start calling for muster drill. We no longer have to wear our life preservers, but they are provided in the cabinets in your cabin and there should be one for each person in the cabin. If not, there will be instructions on how to get any additional needed. Our muster station was “E”, which was on Atlantic Deck 4, starboard side. If it’s your first time cruising with Carnival, your assigned muster station will be on your Sail & Sign card. There are also diagrams with the locations of the muster station in your cabin, usually inside the cabinet where the life vests are kept. If you aren’t sure where you are going, there will be plenty of crew members to guide you in the right direction. It’s easy. But you must go down and if you don’t, they will hunt you down and find you. I don’t know what happens but I sure don’t want to find out. I’ve heard different stories but never tried it myself and I’ve never actually witnessed it so I won’t speculate. When they make the announcement to report to your muster station for the muster drill, they call everyone at once and you just head down to your muster station. Since we’ve been on several prior cruises, we know not to go down for muster drill immediately. If traveling with kids, kids under a certain age will be issued a wrist band that they must keep on for the entire cruise. I believe it has the muster station location so that if your child is not with you if an actual emergency were to happen, the crew members will get the kids to their appropriate muster station where they’d be joined by their parents. I forget what that age is since we don’t have any kids and I didn’t pay attention to the age. I’m thinking younger than 12, but I’m not certain. If anyone else knows for sure or has kids and wants to share the details, please feel free to.

Now for the reason we don’t go down early or right away is because they line everyone up in rows along the decks and those rows are about five people deep. If you get down early, you’ll be stuck in the back and packed in like a sardine. It also gets hot and muster drill can go anywhere from 15 minutes to a half an hour. We went down a few minutes after we were called and there were plenty of crew members making sure we were all headed to the correct locations.

Waiting for the Muster Drill to begin:

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See how everyone is packed in? This is why we wait a few minutes instead of rushing down when they first announce Muster Drill:

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Once everyone is there, the actual muster drill begins. It can seem like an inconvenience but pay attention anyway. It’s not likely that anything will happen but if something does, you want to know where to go and what to do. Our muster drill lasted around 15 or 20 minutes. Before it actually started, we started chatting with a few others who were very nice and we saw the one couple several times throughout our cruise. We exchanged names but I will not be using anyone’s name in my review. There was another guy next to the couple that really had some good “one liners” but he was quiet about it. There was a small boy, about four years old, who was bored and cranky. He wasn’t crying but could not stand still and had a beach towel with him and was pouting. He wasn’t being really bad or anything but he was getting on the nerves of some people because he was getting his damp towel all over them and bumping into them. His father was working with him and I respect that. But in the defense of the little boy, he has no idea what is going on or why, he’s hot, bored, wants back in the pool and maybe even tired from traveling. But he was annoying some people and the one guy’s jokes were starting to crack me up. Right after that we heard the horns for two ships that were already sailing out and the same guy had a funny comment about that. I started laughing a little but keeping it stifled, then the next comment would come and I’d snicker again. I felt an elbow and looked at DH and was getting “the look”. Not the look of “I’m bored, let’s just get this over”. This was “the look”…the one that I used to get from my mom when I’d start laughing in church at something some of my friends were doing or that time I laughed because I observed a little two year old boy watching a fly then shouting “Mommy, an airplane!!!”. Yes, I am laughing, but quietly, and I certainly wasn’t the only one cause I heard a few others behind me laughing too. The more you try NOT to laugh is when you’re going to laugh, regardless, but I kept it quiet and bit my lip a few times to help with that. One of the guys was getting “would you stop” from his female companion. Oh, this is going to be a long muster drill…. But it went pretty quickly and it was over. They started letting people go by their assigned muster stations, but it was those on the port side of the ship that go to go first, so we still had to wait about five more minutes. We resumed our conversations with the others and were all able to laugh. The guy in the couple we were talking to asked the “jokester” if he was one of the ship’s comedians (he wasn’t) but we were all free to laugh and carry on then. DH told me he was trying to keep from laughing himself and the rest of us weren’t helping, thus “the look”. We waited about 10 minutes before our muster station was released. It was time to head up for sail away and the deck party.

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We took the stairs up to Panorama Deck 10. We usually take the stairs and I don’t know if the elevators are shut down right after muster drill or not, but I can’t remember for sure. Many others were also taking the stairs too. Once we got up to Panorama Deck 10 we went to the port (left) side of the ship to get the best views for sail away. We noticed that Celebrity Reflection and Norwegian Getaway were already on their way out.

 

Celebrity Reflection (closest to us) and Norwegian Getaway heading out:

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The fuel barge was still next to Carnival Liberty but starting to move away.

 

Fuel Barge:

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Victory, behind us, was starting to move away from the dock so I was getting a lot of pictures of her.

 

Victory's turn to leave:

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