Over the next few weeks I am going to feature ships I have sailed on over the past couple of years. Including the stats about the ship, features, what I liked and disliked and the itineraries it currently or will sail. So lets get started with the Carnival Liberty which I have sailed on twice.
The Liberty is a Conquest class ship, coming in at 110,000 gross tons, holding almost 3000 passengers based on double occupancy and has 14 decks.
The Carnival Liberty sails 3 and 4 Night Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral as far as I have seen will continue this into the future. The 3 Night itineraries are a visit to Nassau and a day at sea. The 4 Night can vary with stops in Nassau and Freeport and a day at sea or Nassau and Princess Cay and a day at sea. Currently the 3 nights leave on Thursday and the 4 night leave on Sunday but this will change in May when the departures change to Friday for 3 night and Monday for 4 night.
Dining i plentiful on the Liberty with Guys Burger Joint and Blue Iguna Cantina located on Lido deck. Also on Lido is the Lido Market Place Buffet where you will also find the deli. A little secret about the Lido Marketplace, if you go one deck up above the marketplace, you will find the barbeque place and extra seating. In the aft of the ship on Lido is Seafood Shack which is al a carte but great prices and the 24 Hour Pizza Pirate.
Located on the Panorama Deck you will find Diamonds Steakhouse. The steakhouse does have a per person charge but well worth the extra. And of course for your more formal dining, this ship has 2 dining room both located on deck 3. Traditional late and early seating plus My Time Dining.
There are plenty of locations on the Liberty to get your drink on. On Lido Deck is the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and the Red Frog Rum Bar offering a variety of drinks made with tequila and rum. Down on Promenade is one of my favorite bars, Alchemy. Alchemy looks like an old apothecary where the bar tenders wear lab coats and mix up craft cocktails either from the men or upon request. Also located on Promenade is the Sky Box Sports Bar featuring numerous screens allowing you to watch all the games.
Outside Deck Areas
There is so much open deck space on this ship and some of it is for adults only. The Serenity Deck located in the front of the ship split between decks 12 and 14 (no 13). Here you will find comfortable lounges, hammocks, clam shells and sofas to bask in the sun or enjoy the shade. There are also 2 hot tubs with a view of the front of the ship. And if you need a drink, there is a full service bar located on deck 12 of the Serenity Area. This area is 21 and up.
There are three pools on the Liberty all located on Lido Deck. There is a small pool, primarily for kids under the slide, a larger pool in the center of the ship and an aft pool in the back of the ship. The aft pool does have a retractable roof which makes it nice when maybe the weather is not cooperating. This pool is for the most part adults only as well.
Located near the main pool on lido are two hot tubs and at the aft pool, there are two hot tubs.
Throughout decks 9 and up you will find lounging areas with plenty of chairs. The Lido deck near the main pool is tiered like a stadium.
Now one of the places passengers like to seek out are the secret decks. There are secret decks and I will only give you a hint on where they are. Passenger coridors will take you there and its forward. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know how to get there.
The Coney Island Waterside is located on deck 10 with the entrance being on deck 12. Its pretty fast which makes it fun even for adults.
Located on deck 12 near the funnel, there is a mini golf course. Now this can be a lot of fun on a calm day or while in port but is tough when its windy.
Also located on Lido is Movies Under the Stars. A large LED screen will feature movies primarily at night but some during the day. Each night will typically have a theme and they will be first run movies. They will also show major sporting events here as well.
Throughout the promenade deck you are going to find all sorts of entertainment options ranging from the Hot and Cold Night Club for late night dancing to the Victoria Lounge for comedians. There is also a full casino with slots and table games plus the Skybox Sports bar where you can catch all the games.
And of course covering 3 decks is the Venetian Palace Main Show Lounge. Here there will be nightly shows including Epic Rock, the Hasbro Game Show and the Love and Marriage Game show. Here you also will play bingo, see shore and shopping talks during the day.
I really like the Conquest class ships from Carnival. I like the size, the layout and amenities. My favorite area on the Carnival Liberty has the be the Aft Pool Area because it tends to be a little quieter than the main pool mid ship.
Without comparing to other ships and looking at the ship alone, there is not much I can say I dislike. The only thing I can really thing of is the location of the mini golf course at the funnel. It’s a great view but difficult to play with the wind.
If you would like more information about the Carnival Liberty, email me at email@example.com or fill out my contact form.
This week Carnival Cruise Line announced some exciting news about the brand new ship Mardi Gras. Emeril Lagasse will open his first at sea restaurant called Emeril’s Bistro 1396 located in the French Quarter. The restaurant will feature French and creole cuisine. There will be an al a carte charge but will range about $2 for appetizers and $12 for entrees. This is a far cry from what you would pay at say his location in Orlando. Of course pricing can change as we get closer to sailing.
Every month it seems we get more information about the Mardi Gras and people are getting excited. She will debut in Europe in August 2020 and will sail its first Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral on October 31st. From there, she will sail year round from Port Canaveral and will have a brand new terminal has her home.
Nassau Bahamas has always been a popular port of call for short cruises and even is included in some long cruises. The proximity to the Florida coast has been its saving grace but in recent months. It has taken a public relations hit due to travel warnings on safety and the overall complaints about the downtown port area.
If you are not already aware, there has been a new warning issued by the US State Department regarding safety in Nassau. Robberies and some violent crime has been reported even in tourist areas, but primarily areas like Fish Fry and Over The Hill. But really, there is no reason for cruise passengers or other tourist to visit those areas.
The State Department provided these tips when traveling to Nassau either by cruise ship or flying in.
But not to worry, Nassau is in the midst of planning a complete re development of the port. Right now, its not a bad port to visit but complaints have been about run down buildings, pushy locals and uneven sidewalks. The plan is a $250 Million project to make Nassau a great destination.
Global Ports Holding is the worlds largest operator of cruise ports and they recently received approval from the Mistry of Tourism in the Bahamas for the project. It will increase the current 6 berths to 8 berths allowing more ships to visit at one time. They will also be building a new terminal building, adding event space and bring locally owned shops and restaurants to downtown.
I would expect this to be similar to maybe Cozumel where you have entire area at the port loaded with shopping, restaurants, bars, entertainment and transportation options. All without going far from the ship. Although there appears, in my opinion, to be a trend towards building up the port areas enough to provide plenty to do there, I think you would be missing out if you don’t explore away from the port area. Just in places like Nassau, at least for now, don’t wander too far without being on an excursion booked either through the cruise line or a trusted third party.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great areas in Nassau, like the Atlantis on Paradise Island, Cable Beach. I still say go and enjoy Nassau but take the tips from the state department and these as well. Although this post is about Nassau, the tips are great for any cruise port or destination.
If you have questions about Nassau or any other destination, don’t hesitate to email me or call me at the number below. Happy Traveling. firstname.lastname@example.org
Grand Cayman is one of my favorite cruise ports of call. Its clean, getting around is easy and its just simply beautiful. So today The tips I have are primarily for cruisers but can be for those staying on the island as well.
Grand Cayman is a tender port so you will take a water shuttle or tender into the port from the ship. This is due to a barrier reef that makes it too shallow for ships to dock. Don't worry though, its a short ride, probably shorter than the walk in Nassau.
One of the most popular shore excursion in Grand Cayman is Stingray City. This is a sandbar located on the west side of the island. Its about a 20 minute ride to the dock by taxi or bus and about a 20 to 30 minute ride by boat out to the sandbar. There you get to get in the water with these amazing animals and if you want feed them and even hold them. I did this excursion in 2017 and it was awesome. I will tell you, make sure you book it a head of time because it fills quick.
If you are looking for a beach day, Seven Mile Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. White sand and blue water await. There are resorts and beach clubs who over day passes but there is a public beach. Once you are off the tender, there will be taxis available to take to your desired spot.
Shopping is plentiful in Georgetown, where the tender docks. You will find the Caribbean staples like Diamonds International, Del Sol and Sharkeez plus some interesting local shops.
Finally, time. Most stops in Grand Cayman are shorter than most ports so be mindful of your time. This makes it important that you plan your stop in Grand Cayman so you don't waste a lot of time making decisions. Remember, you have to make the last tender which is usually around an hour before the ship leaves but consult your daily activity sheet.
This is video from my visit to Grand Cayman in 2017 on the Carnival Glory
For more information on cruises or fly and stay package to Grand Cayman, be sure to contact me at the number below or email me email@example.com.
Back in January I sailed a 5 night cruise on the Carnival Elation. Here are 5 things you need to know about the ship.
One of the questions I get is “why don’t you ever take land vacations? The answer is because I love cruising. There are so many reasons so I decided to list my Top Five.
The Ocean Being out on the ocean can be so peaceful. When you are out there and think how big it is and how small we are, its will set you straight.
Food This is probably one of the most talked about topics when it comes to cruising. But for me, its trying different things and the atmosphere. One of my favorite meals is breakfast. Grab a plate of pancakes and eggs, plop down on a chair outside overlooking the ocean and a port and enjoy. Not much better than that.
Ports of call. You can visit some amazing destinations on a cruise. Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean even Asia. You board the ship, unpack and let the captain do their thing.
Activities There is so much to do on the ships now a days, its hard to get bored. From water parks to IMAX theaters to planned activities like trivia and shows. You can always find something to do.
The View Whether it be starting the day with a cup of coffee watching the sun come up or relaxing on a deck chair and watching the sunset, it is beautiful. Even just sitting and watching the wake of the ship from the back is peaceful. Every cruise, I take the time to appreciate these views.
So if you are considering a cruise vacation, give me a call or drop me a line at the contact information below. Happy Cruising.
I know, I never like using the D word but unfortunately if you start a cruise you have to end it. But at the very least you can make it as smooth as possible. This a mixture of information and tips for debarkation to hopefully take away some of the stress.
During the cruise
Depending on the cruise line and sometimes the ship, you might start preparing for debarkation a few days early. Some examples of this might be:
Day Before Debarkation
The day before is when you will really start preparing for debarkation. But don’t worry, if you do it right, it won’t take up much of your time on your last day on the ship.
They will typically place the debarkation information including instructions and possibly luggage tags in the cabin that morning or the night before. Read this information even if you are an experienced cruiser because processes can change and you don’t want to miss a flight or cause a delay for yourself.
Go to the debarkation talk. The entire family can go or at least one person from each stateroom or group should attend the talk. They will provide some great information and sometimes they have some giveaways.
Luggage. This is one of the most important topics because making a mistake here can be a hassle .
First, there are usually two options for getting your luggage off the ship. Carrying the luggage off and allowing the crew to take it off for you. The one you choose is based on your preference and what your plans are after the cruise.
Self assist is carrying the luggage off of the ship yourself. They will usually call for those using self assist by deck number but this can vary by cruise line.
You will be the group let off the ship first so if you are trying to make a flight or just want to get on the road early, this can be a great option for you.
You have to carry ALL of your luggage off at one time and cannot be assisted by crew. Remember, you will need to be out of your stateroom by around 8:30 AM so you will need to drag the luggage with you to where ever you go.
Luggage taken off by crew. In this case, you leave your luggage outside your cabin the night before and it will be picked up overnight and held downstairs. You will be given or you will pick up luggage tags for your luggage and then the numbers on the tag are called after self assist has debarked.
Remember, you will need to hold on to a carry off bag with items you might need that night or in the morning because you will not see your luggage until you get into the terminal. Don’t forget clothes for the next day, they will not let you keep the robe.
If you are not in a hurry and just don’t want to deal with all that luggage, this is a great option. I used it off and on, depending on the port and if I need to get on the road.
To me, the only con would be the waiting for your number to be called. But you can always grab a cup of coffee and just and enjoy the view of the port. Of course, if you are in a hurry to get off the ship, this is might not work.
One thing of note, whether you carry the luggage off your self or have crew do it, you will still need to carry luggage through customs. That brings me to the next step for luggage.
Once off the ship.
First off, make sure you have your sail and sign card to get off the ship. Don’t make people wait while you dig.
Next, make sure your passport or other proof of citizenship paperwork is easily accessible. You will need if for customs.
Once in the terminal, if you left your luggage outside your room the night before, you will go to a collection area. Some terminals have a carousel like at the airport but some (like Jacksonville) are just a warehouse and your luggage is separated into different areas based on your number. But don’t worry, they have huge numbers marking the section and its an easy process. You will need to collect your luggage and proceed to the customs line. If you carried off your luggage, proceed directly to customs.
Now, here is a trick only good in Port Canaveral. Grab a porter as soon as you get your luggage and they will take your through customs. In Port Canaveral, they have their own line so you can be out quick because its usually very short. Might be worth the few dollars to tip.
If you did not park at the port and no one is picking you up then you will probably need transportation to where ever your next stop is. Ports have plenty of options but try to plan ahead.
Cruise lines offer shuttles to the airports and can be booked ahead of time. Most will go to the closest but in places like Miami and Ft Lauderdale, they will service both airports. And if your flight is later in the day, you can book it as a tour in some ports. You can usually book these online before your cruise, set it up prior to getting off the ship or in some cases after you get off the ship. I recommend setting it up ahead of time.
I recently found out that Uber does not come in to the Jacksonville Cruise Port because they are charged an extra $10 by the JaxPort but in other ports, Uber and Lyft are great options. I took one to the airport in Fort Lauderdale and it was quick and think only about $10 with tip.
You will encounter plenty of options for taxis once you are outside the terminal. They will be lined up in a certain area so look for the signs or just ask a member of the terminal staff.
Most of the time there are shuttles to hotels but you will need to call them. But watch out for this. When I was in Miami, I found out the hotel that dropped me off could not pick me up. Never could get a reason why. So if you are dropped off by a hotel or staying at a hotel after the cruise, be sure to inquire.
I hope these tips will help on your next cruise vacation. Embarkation and Debarkation can be very stressful because everyone is going where you are going at the same time. But planning ahead and being prepared can take away a lot of the stress. Be sure to check out my blog on Embarkation Day.
During my cruise on the Carnival Elation, I visited Half Moon Cay. HMC is the private island owned by Carnival Corp located in the Bahamas and visited by Carnival and Holland America. It gets its name because the shoreline is shaped like a half moon. This, like many private islands, does not have a pier so you take a tender boat over from the ship. The ride was only about 8 minutes and was pretty smooth.
You arrive at the island and dock at an arrival area full of shops and information booths. I of course stopped and got my magnet before heading to the beach. It’s a pretty short walk to the beach but if you want to hang out at the pirate ship bar, you will have about a 10 minute walk if that.
Once you are on the beach, you are met with probably the softest sand I have ever felt and crystal clear water. And when I say crystal clear, its like swimming in a pool. The beach is lined with lots of lounge chairs and some with covers for a charge. I did not go over to the island until around 10 AM and the ship was cleared at around 8:30 so lots of people had a head start. Plus, a rare situation happened where another ship, the Carnival Pride, was in port with us. Princess Cay, their scheduled stop, had a fire the day before so no ships were visiting that island. So the Pride joined us at Half Moon Cay which did make it very crowded. But normally you would have only one ship on so the crowds would be a lot less.
There are a lot of activities to participate in on the island from just sitting on a chair, swimming or even water toys like kayaks, float mats, paddle boards, water bikes and more to rent. I have uploaded a copy of the pricing but remember, they are subject to change.
The most crowded area is over by the On the Rocks Bar (pirate ship) which is actually a bar with seating down stairs and upstairs. In addition, they have a DJ playing and activities like tug a war, musical towels and the men’s hairy chest contest are held here. There are bathrooms and also a station to rent the water toys.
A short walk away from the beach is the Barbeque area where you can grab a burger, some chicken along with sides and desserts. The area is really open so its easy to get in and out and the line moves pretty quick. Scattered in the area are picnic cabanas with picnic tables so there is plenty of seating even at the businest time. I had a burger and some fruit along with a couple of cookies and it was awesome. To me there something about having a burger on a beach day that just makes your day.
After lunch, I spent a little time on the beach watching the games and swam a little despite the water being a little cool. Could not resist the beautiful water. I did some snorkeling but unfortunately my waterproof camera stopped working before I left for the cruise so no underwater pictures. I did see a few fish but I think I was in an area with too much activity to see a whole lot. My understanding, the snorkeling is outstanding at Half Moon.
Around 2 o’clock I headed back to the ship and there was no line for the water shuttle. The line for the pride was long so this was one of those times I felt the benefit of a smaller ship.
There was so much to do on Half Moon Cay on top of what I have mentioned. Stingray experience, bike tours, kayak tours and more. A suggestion would be is once you are on board, talk to the shore excursion desk and get some suggestions so you can make the most of your day on the island.
Such a great port of call and I cannot wait to go back. Next time I will have a working underwater camera and explore a lot more. Be sure to watch the video below for a brief view of the Half Moon Cay
My Visit to HMC
This past weekend I returned from my cruise on the Carnival Elation to the Bahamas. Today I am going to review my ocean view cabin for you. This will begin the series of reviews on my cruise that will include Half Moon Cay, Nassau and the overall ship review.
First though we are going to start with the cabin. I was in cabin M48 Ocean View on the Main Deck.
One of the hardest things to do when booking your cabin is finding the right location. For this cruise I was on the Main Deck, Deck 5 about 6 cabins forward of the forward elevators. I was concerned about movement but that was only an issue the first night which it was all over the ship. The Promenade Deck was on Deck 9 and Lido on Deck 10 so I had a little bit of a climb to go anywhere but it was not bad since this was a smaller ship. For perspective, on say the Carnival Vista, I would have been on deck 2 with Lido on Deck 10.
The cabin was smaller than what I am used to but really just missing the sitting area that I really do not use that often. Typical layout though with a king bed convertible to twins if I wanted, bathroom 2 closets, a desk and shelving for storage. This room was also a quad stateroom so there were two pull downs in the room but of course they were never down.
The bathroom was the typical with a few differences than on newer ships. The vanity was smaller with just one shelf. Although that was enough for me, it might have been a challenge for say 3 or 4 people. The shower had the provided shower gel and soap in the wall dispensers which is nice to have incase you just don’t want to pack it.
Now this is going to sound like a small thing but to be honest I liked this. On every ship there is a clothes line in the shower so you can hang up bathing suites or clothes that need to dry. Normally though it crosses diagonal across the shower. This is a pain because you can’t have it open and hang anything while in the shower. In this shower, the line went across the back so much more useful.
There was lots of storage in the cabin with 2 closets, and a shelving area with 2 drawers. Both closets have plenty of room for hanging clothes and one had a shelf with a second hanging area for pants. I think even for 4 people in the room, it would be plenty of space.
One of the questions I get is how many outlets are in the room. Well, for the cabins on the Elation, I have exciting news. There is an outlet and 2 USB ports at the vanity and wait for it, a USB outlet next to the bed. I know this comes in hand and cruisers have been asking for this for years so I was happy to see this. Maybe it will be a trend.
Overall, I really liked this cabin and its location. It was clean with no real signs of wear. Of course, it stayed clean because of my cabin steward Erlande who did a fantastic job. I am so glad I went with an ocean view. Being able to see what the weather is before going out or watching us sail into port is a huge benefit. But of course, a balcony is my favorite.
I hope you enjoyed this review and check out my video cabin tour below. More reviews on the way.