ABOARD CARNIVAL LIBERTY — It’s just after 6 a.m. Liberty’s captain is making the final approach to Port Canaveral. You know what that means … the cruise is over.
For the 3,700-plus guests onboard, they grab breakfast one more time and begin the wait to leave the ship.
The fastest way off the ship is take your own luggage when your deck is called. The other option is check your bags the night before and wait for your luggage tag to be announced. We do the latter and fall into group “17.” The first leaves by deck; the second by a range of tags. It’s a longer wait for us, but then we don’t have to wrestle our bags all over the ship, either.
Last night at dinner Gobi, the maitre d at the Olympian Dining Room and a 26-year Carnival veteran, summoned his wait staff for a farewell send-off. But instead of the standard parade of chefs, we were treated to a sizzling song and dance revue that could hold its own in the Venetian Palace Theater. They had the room rockin’. And it underscored the “fun” factor that runs throughout the ship.
So here are a few observations to wrap the week:
* With its focus on fun, family and value pricing, many first-time cruisers choose Carnival, including a number of people we met on this cruise. As a matter of fact, our first cruise was on a Carnival ship. With the new Fun 2.0 features on Liberty, it’s likely most newbies will come away satisfied.
* On the “needs improvement” list, include the muster drill. Yes, all muster drills are a pain and a necessary evil, but many ships now conduct them indoors in large public spaces where guests can at least take a seat. On Liberty, everyone is herded into tightly-packed lines on an outdoor deck. If you are adversely affected by heat or claustrophobia, be prepared.
* With lots of kids and young adults aboard, the fun can sometimes be noisy and frenetic. Expect some traffic jams on Lido and Promenade, where most of the action is centered. If you need a buffer to get some sleep, we recommend one of the “white noise” machines or apps.
* And speaking of apps, major kudos to Carnival for the “Hub” app. It works on your phone when set on “Airplane Mode” using the ship’s WiFi. You have the daily planner and more right at your fingertips, including a real-time update of your spending. Check “What’s Happening,” Food and Drink, shows, deck maps — even menus.
* Liberty, launched in 2005, was madeover in 2011, and boasts some eye-catching architectural touches in the big rooms, along the decks and in the atrium lobby — a mix of art deco, fantasy and industrial tech. It’s a design mash-up that is both odd and interesting.
* Thumbs up to the staff, who were uniformly friendly and attentive, and well-schooled in keeping the fun theme going.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a quick getaway to the sun and sand of the Bahamas, and love to party, Liberty has a stateroom waiting for you.