Carnival Liberty -- 5-Day Mexico Cruise
We flew into Houston Hobby airport and arrived at 9:50am, grabbed the first Carnival shuttle bus, and off we were to Galveston. We had picked the 11-noon checkin time and arrived just before noon. We only had to wait in line for 15 minutes before we were checked in. The ship was already being boarded by the Priority groups, so we were soon to follow. Onboard the ship, we climbed the stairs up to Lido for lunch.
This ship is basically the same as our two previous cruises on the Freedom and Glory. They all had the 2.0 upgrades of Guy's Burgers, Blue Iguana Burrito bar, and the Fish N'Chips upstairs from the buffets. We all grabbed lunch, either Guy's or Mongollian Wok, and lines were getting crazy. After eating, we grabbed our carryons and went down to deck 7 to see if our rooms might be ready. It was 1pm, and we saw that the room stewards were working down the hall, so we ducked into our rooms. Yeah, ready! We dropped our carry on bags, and off we went to explore the ship before the mandatory Muster drill.
As I said, this ship is same class as the Freedom and Glory.... but the decor of each ship is different. The Freedom decor drove me crazy, it was a paisley swirl purple and green nightmare from the 60s, like an acid trip gone bad. The Glory was very light and Nautical theme with sailboat and ship ropes and anchors everywhere. This ship, the Liberty, is now my favorite. It is top to bottom decorated like a European garden... lattices and green leaf designs, stonework like castles, glasswork like Murano glass in a mosaic of colors. I absolutely love it, and couldn't quit looking up and around every corner, every table, every wall. Just lovely. The Theater was of special note -- if you have every been to Venice, you will be dazzled! It was Venetian masks and spirals and glass chandaliers of multicolors. Wow. Nice job, Carnival.
After yet again, a horrible Muster Drill... why can't people just go and get it done in 20 minutes rather than forcing everyone to wait on them? Uggh. The Sailaway began, and we headed down to our rooms to freshen up for dinner. We were assigned to the Golden Dining Room, Your-Time-Dining. Dinner was fantastic and we had the BEST serving team ever. More about those guys later. After dinner we went to check out the music around the ship. This was a HUGE improvement over the crap entertainment in Alaska on the Legend. We had a Country girl duo, two different guys playing acoustic guitar, a rock band, a funk bank, and a latino duo, as well as the steeldrum pool band. Wow, it was going to be a great 5 days of music!
After dinner we did go to the Theater to see the show by the Liberty Performers. Wow... that was bad. The bad accompaning them was good, Dave and the Funk Factory, but that is where the talent ended. It was a painfully bad hour show. What's worse, but the time the show ended we had to run to the opposite end of the ship for the first Comedy show, and arrived just as the last seat was taken. We won't make that mistake again! Oh well. We instead went back out to the Lobby to see the Those Girlz, Country duo, perform, and then the Hispanola latin duo. Both were fantastic.
Cozumel is one of our favorite travel destinations and we had decided to try something new... the Fury Catamaran Snorkel and Deluxe beach excursion through Carnival. Yeah, it was $90 per person, but it was 4 hours of fun. We LOVED it and would do it again in a heartbeat. I shot video in between snorkeling and relaxing on the beach... Ron went nuts on the beach toys and never sat down. Good excursion, worth every penny. Margaritas and beers were free, and good. Oh, and sodas and water were free too. Crew was fantastic and there were plenty in water and out to help everyone. The newbie snorkelers were given floats to hold onto and given special attention, too. VERY well run operation.
Our excursion - Fury Catamaran and Deluxe Beach Party! We met them at the pier and boarded the large catamaran, were all given masks, snorkels, fins, and a snorkel vest. Within 15 minutes the boat was loaded and we left the dock. We were all instructed on the use of the vest, and procedures for exiting the boat. The propellers are always moving, so it is critical to stay to the front of the boat at all times. Sodas and water were given to everyone while we motored to our snorkel spot, Paradise shallows. We would be snorkeling the area for 40+ minutes. There was a bit of current, and a leader pulling a large white bouy tried to keep everyone together. A photographer was in the water taking photos of everyone. We snorkeled for awhile, but I got back on the boat in order to shoot some video and photos as everyone returned. The boat kept moving with the current so it was never far away.
After everyone was back onboard, the boat motored off to Fury Beach, a private beach area owned by the company. Margarites, beer, sodas, and water were provided for everyone, all included in the price. As soon as you finished one drink, someone was handing you another. The beach area was gorgeous and we all exited by the staircase into waist-deep water to walk to shore. There we would spend 90 minutes. On shore was another bar was set up and drinks there were free also. A grill was cooking burgers which cost $11, with all the fixins and pasta salad. We had worked up an appetite so I purchase one of these huge burgers and we split it. Ron ran out to try out all the toys. He had a blast. He even tried the stand-up paddleboards. In no time, it seemed, it was time to leave. There was a souvenir shop and massage tent on shore but we never checked them out. The beach was so beautiful, the weather was beautiful, what a great excursions!
We were all called back to the catamaran and the party back to the dock began. The margaritas and beer were flowing again, the music turned up loud, and some people got up top to dance. The photographer walked around and showed everyone their photos. They were all quite good and we bought our two for $26.
We arrived back at the pier, decided to go back onboard and change into dry clothes, then return to Puerta Maya shopping area for an hour or so.
Back onboard the ship.
One of the reasons we picked this cruise was the fact that it went to Progreso, a tiny fishing town on the western tip of the Yucatan. This meant that excursions to various Mayan ruins were available to us, and we were dying to go to Uxmal. We had been to Chichen Itza several years ago while vacationing in Cozumel, so Uxmal was our choice of excursion.
The ship docked right on time, and we headed down to the gangway with another 2000+ people. It only took 10 minutes to get off the ship and our excursion sign was right next to the gangway. We lined up, and they head counted over and over until everyone was there. Then they walked us through the shopping mall area right to a bus. It was a gorgeous bus, big and new, and had A/C. Yeah. We were all handed a water bottle and a bag lunch as we got on. The bag had a banana, a small cheese and ham sandwich and a package of cookies. No biggie, just a snack on the way to the ruins.
The bus then proceeded down the long pier which is really more of a road for 4+ miles, through the town, and off to the highway. Uxmal is one hour and 45 minutes south of the cruise dock.
As the bus drove to Uxmal, our tour guides took over. Jose, spoke to us for over an hour, teaching us about the Mayans as well as teaching us Mayan words. It was very informative as entertaining. Before we knew it we pulled into the Uxmal parking lot. From there, we were taken inside, and our other tour guide, Pedro (I think, can't remember his name for some reason), took over. He led us up and around through passages as he spoke and showed us various artifacts and items he had brought with him. It was very informative and nice to see the source of some of the paints used to decorate the structures.... yes, they were originally painted.
View from the top
View from the bottom
After about an hour, we reached the back of the site, at a large pyramid, where our guide led most of the people to the top. Those who were tired or afraid of heights, were encouraged to wait at the bottom under the trees. That is where I stayed as my knees are not what they used to be and the steps are very large. They snaked their way up to the top where my DH took some spectacular photos.
Then the group came back down and our guide told us to meet back at the bus at 3pm. Yeah, we had over an hour to explore on our own. Then... it happened... the skies opened up and rain came down. Hard.
The weather report had said there would be thunderstorms today, and we had heard thunder rumbling the whole tour. Now, we got to see the showers. Wow, did it RAIN! People were dashing off under trees and inside some structures. We tried to do the same, but we were so drenched it really didn't matter. We found a restroom about halfway back to the entry area, so we stopped there for a few minutes to use the facilities. The rain continued... We eventually made our way back to the shopping area as others followed us. Some went into the restaurant. We decided to shop as we knew we would have very little time back at the port. One small shop had a great selection of wooden carvings. Jackpot! We collect them and this is what we intended to buy. Prices were 1/4 of what they ask for the same type of thing in Cozumel! After making our purchases we went out to the walkway to sit and wait for 3pm, have a drink, and chat with others. Soon enough it was time to leave. Our bus pulled out at 3pm on the dot. The ride back went fast and soon we were parking right at the shopping area on the pier.
It was everything we had hoped for! And it was NOT crowded like Chichen Itza, we were the only 2 tour buses there, and maybe a dozen people who were there on their own. It was glorious. If you haven't been there, you must go. Wow wow wow! I shot video and Ron shot still photos. We had weather concerns for this day due to the tropical storm brewing the ocean just off the Yucatan and Cuba, so thunderstorm s were threatening... and we did have rain the last half of the tour.
With that tropical storm forming just to our east, we had to cruise right through the outer edges to return to Galveston. Our ships captain kept us safe, though we had intermittent rain and some rough water. The ship did rock a little, but nothing major. It was a nice day on the way back, hot and sunny with the passing clouds and spritzes of rain.
After dinner, we decided Comedy Club was our priority and we would only sit through half the Show performance in the Theater. The show was supposed to be Rock, but honestly, once again it was bad. The dancers are just not good, and the lead singers struggled to sing songs by Elvis and others they considered "Rock". No way baby... Playlist Performers on other ships is so far superior! These folks were the skill level of a high school theater group at best. Sad.
We stayed for 20 minutes, and then headed to grab seats at the Comedy Club just as the previous performer finished. Yeah, great seats and Comedy. The comedian was great, very R rated and insulted just about every race, gender, sexual preference, and religion in the room. Just perfect.
We were off the ship in 20 minutes flat, since we were doing Self-Assist. We grabbed the first bus back to Hobby airport and were home in Albuquerque by 2pm. It was a quickie trip, but a fun one. We loved the Liberty, the staff, the ship decor, the itinerary. Our only complaint was that horrible stage show production group. Really amateurish in choreography, music choices, and performers. Nothing good to say about it... except that at least they only did 2 shows.
We were afraid that a 5-Day cruise might see too short but it actually felt like a real vacation. We were pooped by the end of the trip, but had a blast and great memories.
And we booked our NEXT CRUISE while onboard..... the Carnival Magic in late March 2017. Woo Hoo.
FOOD: The Liberty is on American Table Menu
Day 1 - we enjoyed the Calamari appetizer, the Indian Vegetarian Entree, and the Mahi entree. Desserts were good but not worthy of photo.
Day 2: Elegant night - Scallops with Rissotto, Glazed Duck entree were highlights.
Day 3: I am a huge fan of the grilled Salmon so I get it at least once every cruise. The lamb shank was fantastic and fell off the bone tender.
Day 4: The chicken breast was just okay, ditto the grilled mahi, but Ron got the Ports of Call Chili Relleno which was huge and he said delicious.
Day 5: Ron decided to order the strip steak from the Steakhouse selection menu $20 upcharge and said it was pretty good and cooked Medium as he requested. The mussels appetizer was just okay. I ordered the Pepper Pot appetizer and it was delicious.
Our waitstaff was PERFECT in every way. They were efficient, they were warm and smiling, they were funny. I cannot recommend them enough. They greeted us by name, they knew what we liked and wanted without asking, and were always available if needed but not too pushy. Carnival - you have some winners here!
Cruise Director: Frankie
Not the best CD we have had on our past 4 cruises, but not horrible. He is just not as High Energy as I would like. He was okay, got the job done, but a little boring. I understand he is new, and maybe he will grow into the part. Not a bad guy, just a bit low energy. His staff was around, a girl from England and a guy from Australia, I think. Both were funny and ran all the Trivia contests all over the ship. There was Trivia every day of the cruise, if you are into that. And the questions were tough! We have watched on other cruises and the questions were pretty easy, not these! I am sure there were other members of the staff, but we really didn't see them much. The whole CD crew seemed to be a bit low key. Maybe it is because this is just a 4-Day or 5-Day itinerary, so they feel people don't need it. Not sure.
The Main Stage Entertainment -- where to begin. We normally love all the shows. This time we were disappointed. The show consists on one Male singer and one Female singer, with backup dancers. There is a live band, for our week it was Dave and the Funk Factory. The band was awesome, the rest were not. The dancers, 8 female and 4 male, struggled. They struggled with the choreography and staying in sync with each other. Some were tall, some were short, some were think, some were not. It just looked like a high school production. Costumes were horrible and cheap looking. The Male singer did good on some songs, and struggled with others. The female singer was very good but very stiff and awkward when trying to dance. It was really a hot mess. The choreography ranged from song to song - very good to very weak. And as I had mentioned, there were dancers who just could not perform some of the moves so they stuck out like sore thumbs. It just made you feel uncomfortable to watch them. I hate being so critical, but Carnival really dropped the ball with this show theme.
They did two shows, "A Wonderful World" and "Just Rock". Wow... both could have been great, but they weren't. One night the stage was taken over by the Live Band Funk Factory and their lead singer with a "Motown" show. THAT was very good. They pulled people out of the audience to do backup singing and dancing. One guy stole the show, so they let him stay up on the stage and sign a duet with the show singer. It was fantastic. This was great for one night, but would not work every night. Carnival needs to come up with better entertainment. We weren't the only ones dissappointed.
Comedy: We did catch the Comedian one night, Johnny Millwater, and he was hilarious! He did go R-rated, and very current with topics. I am sure some people in the audience were very offended, but they warn you at the beginning of the show. I think the Carnival Comedy Shows are fantastic.
Alchemy Bar was always hopping, every seat filled at times with two bartenders going full steam. We sat and watched them a few times, just to see the magic we had heard so much about but never did order drinks as we were always on our way to something and didn't have time.
Lobby Bar was good, bartenders and waiters very good. It was always busy, too.
Pool bars, Blue Iguana and Red Frog - both were always busy and bartenders good. I know I keep saying this, but the staff on this ship is really good!
The Jazz bar is located right across from the Alchemy and it was dead every night. It was pretty inside, but just not a happening place. I hope at the Liberty dry dock in December they put in a Red Frog Pub in that spot. It would work well with this crowd (most people on the ship are from Texas). A Jazz bar, with guitar music every night didn't work for this crowd.
We had a BLAST. The only hiccup in the whole operation start to finish was that stage show disaster. Luckily - WE DON'T GO ON CARNIVAL CRUISES FOR THE SHOWS! WE GO ON CARNIVAL CRUISES FOR THE FUN FACTOR AND TO VISIT PLACES, DO EXCURSIONS, and TO SEE NEW THINGS AND HAVE ADVENTURES ON SHORE. The Liberty whole crew was fantastic, our room steward was fantastic, our waitstaff was fantastic, and our Captain kept us safe from the storm! Live music - Country, Acoustic, Bands - all Fantastic! Shore excursions - Fantastic! Would we do this ship and itinerary again - ABSOLUTELY!