ABOARD CARNIVAL LIBERTY — Outside our stateroom balcony door a brilliant afternoon sun reflects on the deep blues of the Caribbean Sea. We are just underway on a 4-night cruise to the Bahamas, departing from Port Canaveral, and it’s a beautiful day for cruising.
We normally make our departures from Miami and Fort Lauderdale; this is our first experience with Canaveral. I’m happy to report it was all positive.
The port is a two-hour-plus drive from our home base of North Palm Beach. Rather than park at the cruise terminal ($20 a day), we opted to try a near-by service we found on the Internet called “Park N Cruise.” The rate is $6.95 a day and includes a shuttle to and from the ship. Their personnel was both friendly and efficient,exceeding our expectations. In fact, we paid the extra $10 for valet to have our luggage taken care of and our car waiting when we return.
A woman riding with us on the van said she is so impressed with their service she opts to cruise out of Canaveral even though other ports are closer.
The boarding process itself was a breeze, thanks to the Priority Boarding status Carnival gave us — thank you, Carnival! Seriously, if you can swing it, do it.
Liberty was the first ship in Carnival’s fleet to get the “Fun 2.0” makeover, which added new dining and entertainment options. Over the next few days, we’ll sample as many of those as we can.
“FUN” is the three-letter mission statement and mantra for the Carnival brand, which accounts for so many young people and families onboard. And trust me, fun was in full swing on day one, especially on the Lido pool and party deck, where a mass of gyrating humanity lined-danced to a pulsating Caribbean beat.
As is customary on the first day, you spend time exploring and getting your bearings. Here are some quick first impressions:
* Our stateroom is 6445, a balcony room near the aft elevators. It’s tastefully furnished with an impressive amount of storage options for its size. With only one 110 outlet available, it’s a smart idea to bring an extension cord for your phone chargers and electronics. One minor glitch was the mini-frig, which was not working.
* Definitely download the Carnival app. You can use it with the ship’s WiFi and it provides all the info you need to plan your cruise, including detailed menus, for your entire cruise, as opposed to the daily printed planner.
* Speaking of WiFi, the ship’s Internet service so far has been fast. Offering better connectivity at sea is quickly becoming an industry standard, thank goodness.
* Looking for a late night drink spot, we considered the Piano Bar, a whimsical retreat where piano keys wrap around the ceiling and a Billy Joel-style singer holds court at a round table. But Pam opted — somewhat surprisingly, I might add — for the SkyBox sports bar, which I think is a first. She liked the red leather wraparound booths while I enjoyed the room-length wraparound TVs. The SkyBox Special martini proved a delicious choice.
Tomorrow is a sea day. While our Bahamas destination is not that far away, we are taking it slow and easy, which is perfectly fine as we enjoy gently gliding through the waves.