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MisterMom

Liberty “Funship-Two-Point-'WHOA'!” Review; Eastern Caribbean; 31 March 2012; Pics

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This is my first time posting a review of one of our cruises, the Carnival Liberty sailing the Eastern Caribbean on 31 March 2012. I’m a huge cruise fanatic and really appreciate the detailed reviews so maybe it’s my turn to return the favor. Props to Froufie, Chris (Anung Un Rama) and Cassie (ardnassac79) for their EXCELLENT, recent Liberty reviews. Please bear (bare?) with me as I like the idea of sharing our experiences with you as well as keeping memories of our fantastic family vacation.

 

We are a non-traditional family of four – two dads, Dan (me) & Derrell, and two boys, Cameron & Malik. (You won’t see Malik in most of our pictures as he flaked on us this year and went on a high school band trip to Disney World instead. He was missed!) By the way, my screen name is “Mister Mom” as that is the name of our boat. It fits our family!

 

Cameron with the Mister Mom….

 

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You’ll also meet our travel companion, Funship Freddy! While we are not strict Carnival cruisers (sailed the Oasis OTS last year), Freddy sails with us and keeps us out of trouble (and vice versa).

 

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Freddy was a gift to us from 2 couples who sailed the Carnival Dream with us in 2010. That’s me on the left and Derrell on the right.

 

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We all raced the “Amazing Cozumel Race,” which we won! Freddy sports the winning gold medal.

 

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My planned outline (which may change as I compose this!) –

1. Pre-cruise planning and travel from Atlanta to Miami, with a “special” family tradition stop

2. 3/31 Embarkation Day in Miami

3. 4/1 Day 1 – Half Moon Cay (HMC)

4. 4/2 Day 2 – Fun Day at Sea (FDAS) 1 (Ship and cabin highlights)

5. 4/3 Day 3 – St Thomas, USVI (Paradise Point Tramway and Champagne Catamaran Sail and Snorkel)

6. 4/4 Day 4 – San Juan, Puerto Rico (Zip Line Canopy Tour and Forts)

7. 4/5 Day 5 – Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos (Margaritaville, Flowrider and Jack’s Shack)

8. 4/6 Day 6 – FDAS 2 (Alchemy Bar Mixology Class!)

9. 4/7 Day 7 – Debarkation in Miami and travel back to Atlanta (with a “wrench” thrown in)

10. Closing and/or Random Thoughts

 

Overall, we had a great time but there will be a couple “rants” thrown in – some issues we had. I’ll label them so you can skip over those if you wish. If I have a recommendation, I’ll label them as well. There will also be several food and ship shots for those that need/want them!

 

Also, I’m using Photobucket to upload these photos on a free account. If you see a square that says, “look who’s popular,” that means I’ve exceeded the number of views per month. This’ll reset each month. Blech.

 

We weren’t able to do everything on the ship as we were “wore out” by the end of each day. However, I can try to answer what questions you have but may wait to answer until I complete the review. Please enjoy!

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Booked a couple months ago via travel agent. Cabin 7341 balcony mid-ships. I prefer cabins with cabins above and below to limit noise from Lido above or clubs below. Researched heavily using Froufie’s and Anung Un Rama’s reviews referenced above.

 

Even though it’s a 12-hour car trip, we prefer travelling this way as we can over pack as much and as sloppily as we want without incurring airline baggage fees. Freddy wonders below, why do 3 people need so much cr…, I mean, stuff for a week?!?

 

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We said goodbye to Malik as he left for his band trip and we were on our way.

 

This leg of the trip was odd for us because we seemed to encounter unhappy people when we stopped. At one gas station, it was a crabby man who needed phone cards loaded. He was “shut down” by the station manager. For lunch, we stopped at McDonald’s which was overcrowded with Spring Break travelers like ourselves and contained some crabby folks. We skipped McD’s and went to Wendy’s where a family was begging for food or money because their car broke down. When we got to Miami (I skip ahead), a lady was complaining about not having an ash tray in her room. Another man complained that his reservation was messed up. Was all this displeasure a sign of things to come on our trip? Well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out!

 

On our road trips, I have a little family travel tradition (that annoys the bejeezus out of Derrell and our kids). If you’re travelling by car, I recommend visiting the site roadsideamerica.com (if the link doesn’t work, that’s roadside America (one word) dot com).

 

Three years ago, we visited the “World’s Largest Peanut.”

 

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A couple years ago, we visited the “Confederate Nuclear Missile” in Cordele, GA.

 

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Just when Derrell and Cameron thought they’d be spared another roadside attraction this year, I surprised them with a stop at an innocent-enough looking rest area on I-75S just north of Gainesville.

 

Freddy wonders why I’m taking a picture of him at a rest stop….

 

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There’s a wall/viewing platform shaped like a giant snake!

 

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Per the description, The design, in the shape of a snake, features … a “bunny bulge” or mid-point stopping place to enjoy a prairie view… and will prevent snakes in the prairie from entering the rest area grounds.

 

A panorama view…

 

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There’s a retaining wall meant to represent the snake’s tongue…

 

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Freddy enjoys the “prairie view…”

 

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While we were there, this ominous looking creature showed up…

 

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Show-off…

 

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Hopping off I-75, we entered the Florida Turnpike which, according to Google maps, would save us about 30 minutes of travel time rather than staying on Interstates. However, travelling this way to Miami before, we knew there were toll plazas every 5 minutes, it seemed. I recommend purchasing a Sun Pass at one of the first service plazas for $25 on your trip to speed through the toll plazas to get to your cruise faster! Otherwise, have plenty of change on hand.

 

Begin rant: I was amazed at the number of anti-abortion billboards along the Turnpike. These were in contrast to a seemingly equal number of strip club billboards! This was a lovely way to welcome visitors to Florida! End rant.

 

We arrived in Miami and stayed at La Quinta Airport North. The hotel and room was nice enough. I had hoped for free parking for the week and free shuttle to the Port. However, the shuttle was $10pp each way ($60). I had researched one of the parking lots near the ship with shuttle service for $8 per day ($56). Decided to use this lot. Another guest told me she parked for $4 per day. Recommendation: Do some research on parking and avoid the cost of $20 per day at the Port of Miami.

 

That ends our travel day. Embarkation on the Liberty for Funship Two-Point-WHOA tomorrow!!!

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We skipped the hotel buffet and walked to Denny’s for breakfast. To kill some time, we drove to Miami Beach and saw, for the first time, the Liberty!

 

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I couldn’t quite get the shot I wanted of the Liberty and Valor back-to-back, but here’s a try…

 

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The Epic and a Celebrity ship were also in port.

 

We navigated to our parking lot as we wanted to get on the ship ASAP to start enjoying those 2.0 upgrades (and a Guy’s burger)! We arrived at the port and unloaded the luggage from the van to a porter. Recommendation: Bring many singles for tips as you’ll get hit up for them all the time! However, I believe in tipping, to a degree, so we come prepared.

 

Getting through the security line was a challenge. Somehow, we got behind two families – one didn’t have passports and another seemed to be challenged to find their passports. Have your ID ready and together before you reach the security agent! Recommendation: even though the cruise line says to arrive around 1:00pm, arrive as early as 10:00 and you may be able to start boarding. We arrived around 10:15. I was looking forward to trying the new self-check-in kiosks but a Carnival agent operated the kiosk for us. We went to another line to get our room key. Within a couple minutes, our boarding group was called and we were on the gangway. Check-in happened so fast, I wasn’t able to capture any photos until we got on board at 10:41.

 

On board, there was a back-up at security taking photos so we were lined up on the outside lobby deck.

 

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We chatted with a newbie family from Indiana whom we ran into several times during the trip. (They had a blast!) We asked if they had brought a (recommendation) power strip to use in their room with the one outlet. We also recommended that, if they like drinking, to keep an eye out for the last day Farewell party… free drinks!

 

It probably took 10 minutes to get to the lobby.

 

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Time to head up to Lido for that first drink and a Guy’s burger!!!

 

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Cam and me enjoying our burgers…

 

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I have stopped at the Payne's Prairie rest stop many of many times and have never noticed the snake wall. We're going to have to check it out next time we're down that way.

 

Thanks for the great review!

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I'm in!! GREAT GREAT GREAT start!!! Love your family!

 

I totally agree with your observation about all the billboards. I drive my family nuts. There is a little "store" that we pass when we get off of I-75 to go home called "Bada-Bing". Of course....when we pass it...I start with the "Bada-Bings". I just can't help myself. I always look for familiar cars in the parking lot :eek:. It's gonna totally freak me out if I actually see someone I know!

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Great review so far. More more more!!!! :) I can tell already that I'll really enjoy the rest of your review.

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Great start on your review! We will be on Liberty this Thanksgiving so I am happy to see your beautiful pics and recommendations. Looking forward to more....

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Great start on your review!! My boyfriend and I are going on the Liberty in May, so it's nice to see a review from your perspective! :)

 

 

 

-Paul

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You cannot go wrong with these burgers. I’ll show several more. Freddy was a fan!

 

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The menu…

 

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The condiment bar (Recommendation: Chipotle sauce… yum!) …

 

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Other burger combinations at the condiment bar…

 

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Recommendation: You’ll be tempted to hang out with the crowds in the buffet or near the main pool. If you prefer a place a little less crazy and loud, head far aft (the rear of the ship) to the Versailles Pool. Several tables and lounge chairs.

 

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After lunch, I wanted to get some sun and swim, so I checked out two towels from the towel hut, changed into my swimsuit (recommendation: wear or pack your swimsuit and sun screen in your carry-on bag) and swam a bit. After a few minutes (and a few Long Island Teas from Paul, the Versailles Pool server; recommendation: if you get a server you like near a location you’ll frequent, TIP THEM! Tip in cash, even! I get multiple $2 bills. Paul was great!), we heard that rooms were opened so off we went. Again, room 7341, mid-ships right off the mid elevator lobby. We had a guest laundry room right outside should we need it. If you want to know which rooms are close to laundry, here’s a handy list:

 

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Time for Muster/Safety Briefing! After the Splendor and Concordia issues, we pack flashlights (recommendation).

 

Freddy KNOWS where his muster station is!

 

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Before the briefing, a new bride, still frocked in her wedding finery, appeared at muster to the applause and catcalls of several guests! She must have had a long way to walk to her muster station because I could hear the cheers multiple times far down the deck!

 

During the safety briefing, it started POURING! At least we were under cover. Folks were generally more quiet than safety briefings in the past. It was spoken in both English and Spanish.

 

Time for Meet and Greet! We bolted to make it up to Lido. We were to meet near the Red Frog Rum Bar by the main pool but, uh…

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Thanks for posting your review of the Liberty. You are off to a great start, looking forward to reading more. Great pictures.

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I got our high top behind the bar under cover and wasn’t going to give it up.

 

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Lucky we were at a high top as the floor was flooding!

 

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Well, this was sail away for us! (shoe and all in the glass reflection)

 

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Our port neighbor….

 

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We briefly said hi at the M&G but wanted to explore the ship and get somewhere dry. I’m bummed about the rain.

 

We headed back to the room to check on luggage. Some had come in and I’m the kind of person that needs to “nest” ASAP so I can start enjoying my vacation. About this time, there was a knock on the door. I had another surprise for Cam and Derrell – chocolate-covered strawberries AND a canapé tray! I had ordered both as a sail away surprise through Bon Voyage. What I didn’t realize, though, is that a medium canapé tray can feed, like, 10 people!!!

 

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Derrell and Cam just laughed at me. I went to the balcony and passed the tray around to neighbors. We only got halfway through it and had to set it out in the hallway.

 

I made a beeline for the Alchemy Bar as I had read extensive reviews about it and, especially, its prize-winning bartendress, Adri! When I spoke to her, I apparently made an impression that stuck with her for the cruise. You MUST stop by Alchemy. More to come about Adri later.

 

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Closeup (note the vodka infused with strawberries. More to come on that later.)…

 

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We headed out to explore some more. The aft pool cover was closed so there was one place on Lido that was dry. We found our table in the dining room. It was literally the “No one puts baby in the corner” table. We were in the port, aft corner of the Golden (mid-ship) dining room at a 3-top. I was looking forward to some fun tablemates, but, alas, it was not to be. I enjoyed my time with my family, though!

 

Tiles from the corner….

 

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Odd blue lights resembling something…

 

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Cam with silverware display in background….

 

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Headed back to room, unpacked some more and chilled on the “damp” balcony. Dressed for dinner and met Peter, our head waiter, and Gusti our assistant.

 

Hopefully, you can read this, if you like:

 

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Time for some food close-ups! Derrell got fried chicken. Not up to his standards (he IS from Alabama)…

 

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Cam got the brisket.

 

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I got the sweet and sour shrimp. Quite yummy. (I think the leftover shrimp made a repeat appearance at the sushi bar a few days later!)

 

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We went to the Welcome Aboard Show and were surprised that the Cruise Director wasn’t, as expected, Karl with a “K” but a female CD, Jaime Dee. She had a great stage presence. More about her later.

 

The show was your typical welcome aboard show with some singing, dancing, and embarrassing some guests. It ended with one of the comics, Larry Omaha. We were, true to form, wiped out so headed off to bed. We wanted to be very well-rested for Half Moon Cay tomorrow!!!

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I'm really enjoying your review so far! Thanks for taking the time to do such a detailed review - and I love the kitchy roadside stops - they do break up the drive and you're making great memories for your boys --- they may complain now, but years from now, they'll tell their kids about the goofy road trips they took with their Dads and I bet they won't be complaining -

 

We complained bitterly about egg salad or baloney sandwich picnics in cemeterys with my Dad on our road trips, wishing we could go to McDonald's instead - but now we joke about them ... and MY kids think that sounds like fun ... I prefer a park over a cemetery, but Dad had a good point - cemeterys are quiet, free of charge, and usually there is plenty of room to move around and stretch those road-weary lege. Plus, we did see some pretty cool headstones.

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GREAT review!!! this itinerary on the Liberty has been my favorite we've done so far! So fun to relive it through others eyes! Can't wait to read HMC day!!!

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