April 24, 2019

That Time I Cruised on The Carnival Liberty...

For Husband’s and my first wedding anniversary, we booked a little 4-day cruise on the Carnival Liberty.
This was actually the second cruise we ever booked even though it ended up being our 7th cruise. This one went to Nassau, and Freeport, Bahamas.  

We got engaged shortly after our first cruise ever on the Carnival Vista, which we loved so much that once we set a wedding date, we booked this anniversary cruise. It ended up being our 7th cruise by the time we got to it...

We decided to just do a 4-day cruise because we also wanted to go to Universal Studios…. Wait, sorry… The “Universal Resort Orlando.” Husband wanted to go to Harry Potter World, and I wanted to go on the Back to the Future Ride, Jaws, Dueling Dragons, Terminator… man what rides did they not replace? Spiderman, I guess?

We also considered Disney World, of course, but are waiting to go there until they’ve built the TRON roller coaster in Orlando, that we loved so much in Shanghai (this is actually happening, not a weird requirement we set). Star Wars Land Galaxy's Edge will also be open when we go there next year.

We chose the Liberty because of the shorter itineraries that are offered on her, and the incredible prices! The prices were so low, booking nearly two years in advance, that we decided to splurge on a junior suite. Cut to a year later, we were offered an upgrade to a Grand Suite for about a million dollars $400, a bit more than we really should have agreed to, but decided to go for it. It was at least significantly below sticker price.

Our vacation started in Pittsburgh. We got married at a Marriott in Pittsburgh and one of the  perks we got was a one-night complimentary anniversary package. This included a junior suite at the Marriott we got married at, a bottle of bubbly, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries, and breakfast the next morning. We chose to use our package the night before our flight to Florida from the Pittsburgh airport which worked out really well.

At the airport we ate at a Penn Brewery restaurant which has locally brewed beer and it was expensive but good.  Husband got buffalo wings and I got the Jaegerschnitzel.
 The schnitzel was delicious, particularly the mushroom cream sauce.
The wings were good after we got a side of sauce to add to them.
Husband also ordered a beer called "Alt'er Ego" which is a pun that he got, that I do not. It's one of Penn Brewery's "small batch" beers. Oh and he really liked it.

We flew Southwest, which was fine. I was surprised about how much leg room there is since we got a really good price for our flights. The weird thing Southwest does that I was not aware of is that you board in the exact order that you check-in to the flight - which you can do online starting 24 hours before the flight.

Why this is important, is because seats are not assigned, so this is the order that you pick your seats in. Seems backwards to me. I did not know this, and Husband forgot, so we were the 3rd- and 4th-to-last to board. We were lucky that the flight was not completely full and a guy overheard us and offered to move from his aisle seat to a window seat so that we could sit across an aisle from each other.

We arrived in the Orlando Airport, got our bags and found our hotel’s shuttle. We had an overnight hotel near the airport and would be taking the shuttle back to the airport in the morning, renting a car and taking it one way to the Cape Canaveral cruise terminal.

We stayed at the Comfort Suites which I expected to be gross because we got a good price on it on hotels.com, but it was actually very nice. I’ve stayed at a Quality Inn which is the opposite of “quality” (maybe I’m defining the word quality differently than them) so I expected the Comfort suites to be the opposite of “comfort.” But I was pleasantly surprised.

In the morning we got our rental car from the airport, which did add a bit of time to our journey, and then the drove to the port was pretty painless, aside from the toll booths without an EZ Pass.

We stopped at a Walmart and liquor store along the way (in Cocoa Beach, FL) to get a 12-pack of Diet Coke for me and our 2 bottles of allowed carry-on wine which would have been even easier if the wine store in Walmart opened earlier on Sundays (it opens at 1pm).
Instead we drove a few minutes down the street to the ABC liquor store and were able to get our wine. 

We found our rental car drop off, and that process could not have been easier. There is an Enterprise, National, and Alamo location right next to all the cruise terminals, and you just drive in, there’s a person waiting to check your car in, and then there are shuttles waiting to take you to whichever ship you’re on.

At the terminal, we were not checking our luggage because we just don’t care to wait for it to be delivered. We had priority boarding because we were in a suite, but we weren’t really able to take advantage of it because we got there kind of late.

And then FINALLY we were on board!. The Atrium was beautiful.


I can see why people complain about the lack of glass elevators and skylight on Carnival’s newest ships (Horizon and Vista), but if putting cabins in that space makes my cruise less expensive, I’m okay with it.

We dropped our bags off and went exploring (yes we were there before 1:30pm, but we were told at check in that our cabin was ready).

Three things I liked most about the Liberty was 1) the Italian theme throughout the ship, 2) The stadium-seating main pool deck; ideal for watching Dive-In Movies, and 3) the two-deck seating area for the lido buffet.

Looking at the Funtimes for all our food options, we decided to have lunch at the Old Fashioned BBQ station.
It was basically the same as the Pig and Anchor Smokehouse lunch food on Vista and Horizon.
 They did even have Guy Fieri’s bbq sauces.
On our way back to our cabin, we spotted a Sushi-At-Sea counter and decided that we would get that for dinner that night.

We went to the safety briefing, which for us, was outside for the first time. It was obviously normal for this ship. Pros were that because we had to stand and ability to hear anything was low, they didn’t make us wait with they tried to find the people that didn’t attend as they did on Vista/Horizon.
The cons were that it was hot, we couldn’t really hear anything, people in the back probably couldn’t actually see the life vest demonstration, and we had to stand the entire time. I’m bad at standing still and have been quite spoiled by all my previous safety briefings.

Once it was done we suited up and finally hit the pool! It was freezing. I couldn’t even sit on the edge and put my feet in. Lucky there was room in the hot tub.
We hung out in the hot tub until we were thoroughly pruny and then got dressed for dinner.

Husband suggested that we bring our sushi back to our cabin and eat it on our balcony which had comfy cushioned chairs and watch the sun set. I know. Awwwwwwww. I thought this was a great idea and we rushed to get our sushi.

Not enough apparently. We expected to be the only people getting sushi and to be back in like 10-15 minutes, but not only were there people in line when we got there, but because they give out buzzers like at a restaurant, we didn’t see that there were a handful of other people waiting for their sushi ahead of us.
It was fine, the sun had set by the time we got back to our cabin, but the sky was still pretty. The sushi was not as good as on the Horizon, but we enjoyed it. We got a bunch of nigiri, an spicy tuna roll and the Bang Bang roll. The Salmon nigiri and the spicy tuna were my savories.

I wish they didn’t use plastic cups for the soy sauce.

After dinner we headed to the Lido deck for one of the Dive-In Movies, one of our favorite things to do on Carnival cruises, and watched Crazy Rich Asians. It felt kind of like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, except the characters aren’t getting married.

What’s important to know is that the title should have been “Crazy-Rich Asians” not to be confused with how it reads which is “Crazy, Rich Asians.” It was a fun time even though the popcorn machine wasn’t working so I didn’t get to have free popcorn with my movie.

We raced to the last stand-up comedy show of the night after the movie ended, and were lucky to find seats. The comedian was a dude named Russ Nagel who was… okay. His jokes were a series of one-liners and it was annoying how long he promoted his comedy CD at every show (we saw him again the next night).

Day 2 was our sea day. We ordered some breakfast to be delivered at the latest possible time, so that we could have coffee on our balcony. If you get a balcony room, and don’t order something from room service to consume on your balcony, you are doing it wrong. And then we headed to Sea Day Brunch. We were weirdly sat with other people, which was fine, it’s just never happened to me before. I will have to remember to specify in the future, just in case. It’s not that I don’t like people, but I wasn’t prepared to be friendly, so it was a bit of a struggle.

The Fun Squad was hosting Michael Jackson trivia which I expected to be harder because it didn’t occur to me that they would just be playing songs that we’d have to name. I didn’t win or anything, but I got more right than I expected. I don’t know the songs from his last album, okay?.

Then we had 4 hours with nothing that sounded that fun, so we came back to our cabin to relax and watch a movie. Don’t judge me. I’m not a big, sit outside and get skin cancer kind of person. And the pool was still cold.

At some point I found a Cruising Duck, which I chose to re-hide instead of keep.

Around 3pm we went to Guy’s Burger Joint for a salad. Just kidding. They don’t have salad. We obviously got burgers. We weren’t hungry, but I felt like it would be the only time we would be able to get one since the last two days of the cruise were port days. And in case you were wondering, yes, we did have to go to Sea Day Brunch also. Husband needed his lox-and-bagel and steak-and-eggs, which is not on the regular breakfast menu.

We went back to our cabin again - it was a suite we paid a lot for, can you blame us? - and Husband napped and I watched another movie until it was time to get ready for dinner which was the formal night menu in the Main Dining Rooms. We dressed up fancy because why the heck not.
The menu did not have lobster on it because our cruise was less than 6 days long, but it did have prime rib which was delicious. It was served with an au jus that was more like gravy - but good.

I also got the mushroom bisque and Caesar salad as appetizers, and Husband got two crab cakes appetizers. The mushroom bisque was really good. Carnival was previously using a cream-of-mushroom soup recipe which was good, but not worth getting more than once.

The bisque we would get again. I also ordered us the pasta with creamy mushroom sauce as an entree to share, which was okay, but not nearly as good as the prime rib. I would have enjoyed it more if we didn’t have two lunches.
We had to get dessert of obviously, but we were really full so we split a Carnival Melting Cake since it was the only thing we could agree on.

Also. I picked assigned dining for this cruise. It was going to be the first time for us until we booked our cruise on the Inspiration last year. I figured it would be fine, and it was, but two of our table-mates came to dinner 1/2 hour late (the others didn’t come, which was better), which was fine but kind of awkward. Also they came not following the dress code for formal night at all - the girl not following the casual dress code for the dining room even. Which put a damper on our date night for which we dressed up more than is required requested.

We were about to get up and our server brought us a teenie anniversary cake! They sang the birthday song, substituting "anniversary" for "birthday" and made us make out the whole time. That was weird, I'm not gonna lie. I'm sure out dining companions hated it.

We saved the cake because we were so full already and ate it the next day. It's so good! I'm glad we're celebrating our next anniversary on a Carnival cruise also.

We headed back to our cabin to put our cake in our mini fridge. Our steward had tidied our room and left us our complimentary cookies I didn’t know we would be getting and two  $12 coupons we could use towards photos taken by ship photographers - one because it was our anniversary, and one from the spa because husband got his hair cut which is a spa service. He also got a $50 coupon for the spa, but there aren’t any services that are worth having (for us, not judging) even if they’re $50 off.
The cookies are pretty meh. I ate them with my morning coffee the last day like biscotti.

I did want to use the photo coupons so we headed down to the atrium to take some photos with one of the photographers. I already knew which one I wanted because I saw it being set up.
We were told we could only use one coupon per photo so we got two.

We finished up the night with another comedy show and the Motown Music Trivia Party, where you don’t get anything for getting the most answers right.

After the trivia part, everyone was invited to the dance floor, and the songs were played again for us to sing and dance to. Some cruise directors will do a side contest and still give out a prize. You just have to be lucky enough to get randomly selected to participate. Our cruise director “No No” didn’t give out any prizes, which I maybe like better because it does seem unfair that some random person who was just an onlooker can win a prize because the CD decided to pick on them.


Day 3 was our Nassau day. This was our second time in Nassau, we went there previously on the Norwegian Breakaway in 2017. I can’t believe how long ago that sounds now. I ordered some room service to be delivered again, but this time had no intention of getting more breakfast later from the dining room. I mostly wanted coffee again.

After breakfast we hung around for a while, then finally left the ship. We took a couple of photos with a ship photographer and the Nassau sign Carnival puts out because we might want to get a second, different photo. This kind is priced differently (aka LESS). The rest of the day I already wrote about in my post about this trip to Nassau!

Back on board, we relaxed for a bit and got ready for dinner. I’m starting to feel like the early assigned dining time is too early for us. I think 6:30 is perfect, which means we need to start picking anytime dining. I’m going to try it one more time before I commit to changing all my dining times though.

Dinner was great but we rushed a little to get to a Dive-In Movie since they were showing Ocean’s 8 which I really wanted to see.

Husband ordered the Ox Tongue appetizer which he said was delicious and I refused to try.
We skipped dessert to make sure we got good seats.

Ocean’s 8 was enjoyable, and the popcorn machine was working this time! It started to rain during the last 20 minutes of the movie. It was light enough rain that we stuck it out then ran as soon as we saw credits.

We were planning on going to the Mega Deck party and Serenity Nights party later that night but the rain caused them to be moved inside. Decided to go to bed early instead.

Don’t worry, I didn’t get completely lame. I didn’t go to bed at 9pm. We stopped by Alchemy Bar for a drink first. Their drinks are so good that we can’t go on a Carnival cruise without getting at least one. I did not care for our bartender. The other two bartenders seemed fine, but ours was infuriating.

She did ask what we wanted right away when we sat down, but we didn’t know, so she walked away for a minute. And never came back. It’s not a big bar.

We closed our menus to indicate that we were ready and she ignored us for what felt like forever. She just kept talking to the customers who’d already been served, and one of the other bartenders and some guest who she was apparently best friends with who walked by. That guy came back a couple minutes to get a drink and came up to the bar next to us. She was 100% going to serve him first and continue to ignore/not notice us but he saw that we didn’t have drinks and he told her to serve us first. Thank you random stranger, we might not have gotten a drink there at all if it wasn’t for him.
I got a chocolate martini. 
Sigh. Can’t win ‘em all.

Day 4 was Freeport day. I again used the order form to get coffee and a small breakfast from room service. We were originally thinking that we would rent a scooter and go to a nearby beach, but when we got up we kind of felt like we just wanted to relax all day. After all, we will be back in Freeport next year.

When I looked out our window, I could see a Senor Frog's that was spitting distance from the ship.  I'd remembered the day before that we liked their guacamole, so we did get off the ship and go there for lunch.

Once we were back on board we headed straight to trivia. I was hoping by some kind of magic we could win a ship on a stick (we didn't) even though none of the categories sounded like something we could win.

After not winning, I had a few things to check off our two do list.

First we changed into our bathing suits and headed to the water slide. The Liberty only has one, but it was so much fun. And because everyone was still off the ship for the most part, there was no line. We went twice.
I was pleasantly surprised at how warm the water was.
After the slide we needed to try the Mongolian Wok. This is only open at lunch time so it was good that we skipped going to the beach in Freeport or we would have missed it.
You're right this photo basically shows nothing. One guy
is restocking, one is dishwashing, and one is the guy who cooks. 
The line was forever taking but we enjoyed our snack. I'm not sure it was worth the 30 minute wait.

Then we just hung around until dinner time.

We were very much hoping that our dining companions from two nights ago would no-show again. And hoping somewhat that our dining companions that we didn't meet would also no-show yet again. It's nice to have the table to ourselves.

Lo and behold, we did end up eating solo. I don't remember much of the dining room food we ate because  it's been too long my short term memory is bad, but I do remember that we loved the mushroom bisque, the roast beef, and husband loved the ox tongue - which I refused to try.

At some point when we were returning to our cabin, our steward spotted us and returned our bag of laundry to us. We had bagged it up the day before - as much as we could fit.
We don't normally send laundry out, but we got one bag of laundry for staying in a suite and we had another 5 days ahead of us so it was a good idea to get it done in a machine instead of our bathroom sink.

After dinner we went to the Mardi Gras party in the atrium for our last attempt to win a Ship on a Stick. Husband actually got an opportunity to compete for it, but was not able to bring home the gold. 

We then went to the last comedy show of of the cruise and then we went to bed because we were going to have an early morning because they were going to kick us off early the next morning.

Day 5. After we got off the ship we headed to where the rental car shuttles would be picking us up. We had to wait a little bit for the shuttle. It was probably not as long as it felt, but it was like a little chilly, so it felt long to me. A shuttle arrived, took us back to the rental car place that was right nearby, and then it was a bit more of a wait to get our rental car to go back to Orlando .

It was about an hour drive to our hotel that was near Universal Studios (which I will be writing about and I separate blog post). We stayed at the Residence Inn which I love because we got a kitchen... not that we used it.

We had an amazing time, and then we after two and a half days of Universal Studios, we drove about 2 hours to visit my aunt and uncle who live semi-nearby.

My aunt and uncle live near Jupiter Beach, which is close-ish to West Palm Beach. Our primary objective was just to visit, but we also finally went to the beach for the first time on our trip. 
We also took advantage of being so close to the water, and picked up some very excellent local mahi-mahi that husband made into fish tacos.

Our flight home was on Southwest and this time we remembered to do the online check-in as soon as it was available. This means that we were able to board the plane earlier and get seats next to each other.

Sorry this photo is terrible, but see the column things that have numbers on them? When you check in they assign you a number in the order you checked in.
You then stand next to your assigned number when boarding begins and that's how everyone lines up to board.

We had a pretty easy trip home although there was a layover in Atlanta. We were able to get dinner at a pizza place (Verasano's) in the airport that Husband was hoping would have really good pizza. The guy who owns it reviews pizzerias in Naples and NYC and has articles about making pizza at home.
It was okay. Husband surmised that it would have been better if the restaurant was bigger.

I got into the Pittsburgh Airport around 12am, which I kind of forgot about. We picked this flight to avoid me using another vacation day, while getting a good price. But it was okay even though the next day was a little bit of a struggle.

I managed it well enough, and overall we had amazing vacation!


17 comments :

  1. This sounded like a fun trip. I have yet to go on a cruise but now I want to go on one.

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  2. That food looks incredible! I've always wanted to go on a cruise. It looks like you had a blast. One day, I hope.

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  3. I haven't been on a cruise in years, but I really do love a good Carnival cruise. I want to go on another one very soon!

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  4. oh this definitely sounds like so much fun! I've never been on a cruise yet but it is def on my bucket list.

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  5. What a fun vacation and beautiful ship! Those sushi have sold me!!

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  6. I would love to go on a cruise too soon- can't wait to have an experience at the sea. Anyway, what I love about Liberty is the BBQ joint, and the water slides. Any time for BBQs and water fun!

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  7. Your attitude was great for a "pro-cruiser". I worked on Carnival for many years. It sounded like there were a number of hiccups during your cruise. I am glad to see, that despite some disappointment, you had a great time!

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  8. I've never been on the Liberty before, my favorite ship (thus far) is probably the Conquest and my favorite cruise ever has been on the Magic.

    Sounds like you had a few hiccups but in general had a good time!

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  9. We love cruises and Carnival is our preferred company. They have it all. Seem you also had a blast.

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  10. I have a friend who loves to cruise and I am definitely recommending her this one.

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  11. I never been to a cruise but one on my bucket list. Yours is such an experience!

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  12. That looks like such a delicious buffet! My cruise was awesome with all their food.

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  13. Looks like a lovely cruise! the food does look yummy! and the turtle shaped towels are so cute

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  14. Sounds like you made the best of everything that the Liberty had or didn't have to offer. At your 50th you won't remember that the cookies weren't as good as grandma's or that you had to wait for so-so sushi. All you'll remember is all the fun you both had spending time together.

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  15. I’ve never done a cruise before - I’m currently debating it as flying w/ a toddler isn’t great fun so was looking at them from Brissie. This article gives me such a good rundown on everything to expect - thanks

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  16. I've done cruises before and they're mostly great for the most part, but definitely have their mishaps along the way. I do love the choices that they offer. Happy you guys had a good time for the most part.

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  17. I've never been to cruise after reading your blog I am planning to spend some time on cruise. BTW many congratulations to both of you

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