My wife and I just completed our first cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty, with a port itinerary of Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica and these are some impressions and a few tips which potential cruisers may find useful.
Overall, the cruise was pretty much as expected thanks to prior experience and great advice from both the owner of this site and others. I have been to both St. Thomas and St. Maarten before and touristy places in the Caribbean are all much the same from a visitor’s perspective. In fact, they don’t really differ that much from Palma de Mallorca, Rhodes, or Corfu during the summer. I expected the foo-foo drinks to cost a lot, and that they would be pushed at every opportunity. This is correct. We had our pictures taken seemingly every 5 minutes, this got quite annoying. Same on a couple of the ship’s shore excursions. We bought a few pictures, and in at least one I’m scowling because by that point I was pretty sick of being stopped to have my picture taken. But for most of my quibbles, there’s really little the ship can do about it; at least without losing considerable revenue. And they are really minor. But here goes.
For one, at lunch and dinner you had two drink choices free of additional cost (possibly three – coffee may have also been available ): lemonade and tea. [Editor’s note: coffee and milk are also available at no cost] The lemonade was pretty good, but I got a bit tired of it. Hot tea was available in many good varieties – oolong, darjeeling, Earl Grey, and your standard orange pekoe/black. Or you could have unsweetened iced tea. The latter I can hardly drink. Growing up in the South, unsweetened iced tea is almost blasphemy. I wish on the lido deck restaurants they would have at least a window where soda and juice could be purchased as a meal drink without having to traipse off to one of the bars and bring it back. Or at least have sweet tea.
Bathrooms were in a few places rather inconveniently located, or located pretty far from where people congregate.
In the theater, a lot of seats were rendered kind of useless because there are big fat brass pillars blocking the view of the stage.
Lounge chairs are like gold, they are hard to get unless you snatch one up early in the morning. This is not the fault of anything but lack of consideration from other passengers however. People will put their belongings on one to ‘save’ it and then take off for hours. Despite a rule saying that after 30 minutes of you being gone a crew member can remove your stuff and give the chair to someone else, one cannot expect them to keep up with it due to the sheer number of guests.
If you are going on a cruise to get away from it all, you will really only partially achieve this unless you stay in your cabin a lot. There are a helluva lotta people, some of whom are jerks. Of course you’re not packed together like you’re on a slave ship or something, but I distinctly got the impression some people’s patience was wearing thin toward the end.
Don’t let any of this discourage anyone though, it’s all minor stuff really. It still was the best vacation I’ve ever had. The crew was absolutely outstanding, the performers amazing, and the food wonderful. If your ship has a steakhouse you owe it to yourself to go. For a mere $30 per person I had a porterhouse almost 2″ thick and as large as a Frisbee…the best steak I’ve ever eaten. My wife had a ‘Surf and Turf’ to die for. The Cruise Director was incredible. The ability to set temperature in the shower was awesome. And everything was spotlessly clean at all times. You will get to meet some really cool people and do things you have never done. Plus be the envy of all your friends. I will definitely go again.