Carnival Liberty Review With Pictures: Our Bahamas Cruise from Port Canaveral, FL
The following Carnival Liberty review is a 100% authentic, 100% real review. Dadtography.com was not provided compensation in any way for this review.
All of the photos in this review are Dadtography.com originals. Please don't use our photos without permission.
Our family absolutely loves to cruise - but some ships and itineraries can be hit or miss. This cruise review aboard the Carnival Liberty represents my fourth time sailing with Carnival, but the first time together on a family cruise.
How did Carnival do on our December holiday sailing? Overall, it was a great experience, but there were some bumps along the say, too. Here is our review of the experience we had aboard the Carnival Liberty cruise ship sailing out of Port Canaveral, Florida in 2016.
Related Video: Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean - A Direct Comparison
We've updated our review because we sailed on the same ship with a different (shorter) itinerary again in September, 2017. Be sure to check out our latest experience aboard the Carnival Liberty below!
I've had the opportunity to travel to many parts of the world, but going on a cruise is one of my favorite ways to travel. My wife and I had been on a cruise together solo, but we hadn't yet taken a family cruise. In December of 2016, we decided to book our first family cruise vacation and take our two children with us.
We booked a 4-night Carnival cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty ship. This cruise left out of Port Canaveral, FL and sailed to Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas before returning back to Port Canaveral. We liked that it was a relatively short cruise since it was our youngest son's (7) first time on a cruise ship.
This post is a thorough and honest review of our experience as a family on this vacation, and while I still firmly believe cruising is one of the best, most economical family travel options, this particular cruise left something to be desired.
Carnival Liberty Cruise Review Contents
This is a pretty thorough review, so we've created a topic menu if you want to skip to a specific section of the review. Here's what this review of our Carnival Liberty Cruise out of Port Canaveral, FL will cover.
Cruise Itinerary Map
See a map view of the ports of call on this cruise.
Video Tour Slideshow
See a video showing a photo tour of the ship.
Review of the Ship
See an overview and vital stats on the Carnival Liberty.
Liberty Cabin Review
We review our interior cabin (stateroom) on the Liberty.
Pool & Waterslide
We spent a lot of time at the pool and waterslide.
We went during the holidays. Here's more info.
Liberty Staff Review
Here are some thoughts about the cruise staff.
Food & Dining
Learn more about our dining experiences onboard.
Ship Photo Gallery
Check out a ton of photos from the Liberty.
Overall review of the cruise with a category break-down.
Review Update - September, 2017
My family went on our second sailing of the Carnival Liberty to the Bahamas out of Port Canaveral, FL. The ship departed September 14, 2017. We stayed in a balcony room this time, and have some additional thoughts, photos and video to share of our most recent experience.
Carnival Liberty Cruise Itinerary & Map
First, just a little bit more information about where this particular cruise visited. As mentioned, we started out in Port Canaveral, just a 40 minute drive or so from Orlando. We love cruising out of this port. It's so easy to get in and out of for us and definitely beats the 4-hour drive for us to Miami.
The Carnival Liberty itinerary had the ship visiting two ports of call in the Bahamas and then one day at sea before returning to port. Here's the itinerary and map:
- Sunday - Leave Port Canaveral
- Monday - Freeport, Bahamas
- Tuesday - Nassau, Bahamas
- Wednesday - Day at Sea
- Thursday - Return to Port
Carnival Liberty - Bahamas Itinerary & Ports
The ports and itinerary were one of my least favorite part of the cruise. Granted, I know that the Bahamas were hit by Hurricane Matthew not that long ago. I'm definitely trying to take that into consideration.
Click any tab below to learn more about that day's port or itinerary.
The condition of the ports wasn't really my issue. Especially in Freeport, there's very little to do in the way of activities. Yes, you can do shore excursions that offer some entertainment value.
There's also a small market where the cruises dock, but like many other ports, the items sold are of questionable quality and the high-pressure sales tactics of the merchants are enough to justify most families just staying on the ship.
Carnival Liberty Review - The Ship
The ship you're on is a very important part of the overall experience you'll have on your family vacation. When we originally booked the trip, the ship assigned to the sailing was actually the Carnival Valor. We received an email before we departed that the ship had been changed to the Liberty. Here's the email we received:
November 11, 2016
Dear Carnival Valor Guest,
We know you must be looking forward to your vacation, so we'd like to inform you of an important change to your cruise.
Carnival Valor will be changing her homeport to Galveston, Texas next month. This change is being made since Carnival Valor is better suited to operate at the higher speeds required for the four and five-day Mexico itineraries from Galveston.
Not to worry, Carnival Liberty will be sailing year round from Port Canaveral beginning December 15, 2016 and will take over scheduled itineraries given that she is well equipped to handle our short duration cruises from Central Florida. Prior to repositioning to Port Canaveral, Carnival Liberty will have just completed a dry dock and will be refreshed for our guests.
Built only one year apart, Carnival Liberty is a sister ship to Carnival Valor and has similar accommodations, public venues and Fun Ship 2.0 features including Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.
As a result of this repositioning, your reservation will be moved to a comparable stateroom aboard the beautiful Carnival Liberty. Your departure date and scheduled itinerary will remain the same.
Sit back and relax...we'll be doing all the work. Affected sailings are now temporarily closed in the system as our team prepares to make the necessary changes. This means that you, nor our contact center, will be able to make modifications to your reservation until it has been moved over to Carnival Liberty.
We will do everything possible to match your current accommodations. Fly2Fun flights, transfers and other vacation components such as dining, pre-paid gratuities, shore excursions, Fun Shop items and Spa reservations will be maintained on your booking.
We anticipate our work will be completed by the end of November. A confirmation with your stateroom assignment will be sent to you as soon as we have finished.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your understanding.
We're looking forward to welcoming you aboard the beautiful Carnival Liberty for a FUN and memorable cruise!
Sr. Director, Guest Services - Contact Centers
Comparing the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Valor
I had traveled on two other Carnival cruises in the past (2005 and 2007), but wasn't all that familiar with the ships. Given the Valor and Liberty were in the same class, I didn't expect many differences. Here's a quick comparison (data via Wikipedia):
The stat that stands out in the ship-to-ship comparison is the renovation date difference. The Valor had undergone a refurbishment in May of 2016, while the Liberty's last overhaul was back in 2011.
After spending a few days on the ship, this became somewhat apparent to me. The ship was dirty in many places. While out on the deck during the departure, I'm pretty sure I saw a spot on the side of the ship where someone on the previous sailing had a bit of an accident and vomited over the side. Pretty gross and not the best first impression once again.
Year Built: 2004
Renovated: May, 2016
Year Built: 2005
The ship was in need of a paint job, showing some of its age in places. It could also use a thorough cleaning. One of the most obvious areas were the windows along deck 9 - Lido. All of the windows on the deck were extremely dirty - so much so that taking any photos through the window was impossible.
Overall, I wouldn't say the ship was in "disrepair", but it definitely could have been in better condition and been more clean.
How are the cabins on the Carnival Liberty?
We have a simple philosophy when it comes to traveling as a family on cruises - splurge outside of the room.
To us, that means we don't care all that much about balconies in our stateroom, or trying to simulate an on-shore experience at sea.
Rather, we prefer smaller and simpler. We don't mind an interior stateroom with trundle beds that fold out for the kids. We'd rather take the money we would have spent on an upgraded room and spend it on excursions or other experiences on the trip.
I have no complaints about our interior stateroom on this particular cruise. Our room was on deck two - yeah, pretty low. When it comes to cabin preferences, everyone's preference is likely different. Some prefer dark cabins so they can sleep in. Others prefer cabins in the middle of the ship to help reduce the effects of the ship movement.
Our king bed stateroom was equipped with the expected items - a television (I'd guess 19 or 20 inches) that we rarely watched, a small (but private) bathroom with a stand-up shower, a small desk and chair with a mirror, and as mentioned, two trundle beds that folded down from the ceiling on either side of the bed below.
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How are the pools and waterslide on the Carnival Liberty?
Great pools and slides are a must-have when traveling with children. On-board amenities like these are great for both kids and adults. They occupy children while the parents are able to relax - especially if your kids aren't into staying at "Camp Carnival".
There are three pools aboard the Carnival Liberty (well, technically four if you include the wading pool in Camp Carnival). All pools on the Liberty are salt water.
The Main Pool - Tivoli
The main pool is called The Tivoli Pool, and is located on the Tivoli deck (9). This is the pool that sports the 270 sqft LED TV called, "Carnival's Seaside Theater". We watched our fair share of late-night movies on this screen. I can confirm the TV itself is pretty good, but audio can sometimes be a challenge. The Tivoli Pool hours are usually 8am until 10pm ship time, but those times may vary.
Pool #2 - The Versailles
The second pool aboard the Liberty is called "The Versailles Pool". The Versailles is smaller than the Tivoli and is located further back on the same deck (9). The Versailles sports a retractable roof and has two pretty good sized whirlpool spas on either side of the pool. The Versailles Pool area is supposed to be "adults only", however it's only loosely enforced by cruise ship staff, in our experience.
Pool #3 - The Coney Island
The third pool on the Liberty is called "The Coney Island Pool" and is located on deck 10. The Coney Island is just above the Tivoli Pool and right next to the end of the water slide (the "Twister"). The Coney Island also has one oversized whirlpool spa.
The Carnival Liberty "Twister" Waterslide
Last, but certainly not least, is the Twister waterslide. It's not fancy, or particularly tall. It's decently fun, but I'm sure other ships' slides are more impressive.
But it's a slide, and it has water and it's free, so my boys went down the slide on our sailing no less than 100 times. I went down it a few times as well!
Carnival Liberty Christmas Cruise Decorations & Activities
One of my family and my favorite aspects of the ship was that we were cruising during the holidays and that meant holiday-themed decorations and activities.
The holiday (Christmas) decorations weren't extensive, but they were noticeable - mostly in the main lobby and atrium on decks 3, 4 and 5. The decorations really added a nice touch to the ship.
In addition to a few seasonal decorations, the ship also had a number of special activities including a Dr. Seuss breakfast, holiday crafts and a "snow fall" event in the main atrium where snow (bubbles) fell from above. We all really appreciated this part of the cruise and can't wait to go on another this time of year.
Carnival Liberty's Cruise Ship Staff Review
The staff and crew of the Carnival Liberty was the best part of the cruise, in my opinion. It's easy to forget how hard the staff of a cruise ship work while you're on vacation. They're on the ship for up to 6 months at a time, away from their families and sometimes working 16+ hour days.
The entire staff of the Liberty treated us like we were "part of the Carnival family". Our cabin steward knew our first names and did a great job of picking up after two boys (no small task). Our main dining room server (pictured above) was the best crew member we encountered on the sailing. She really took to our youngest son, and he to her. She even signed his cast! She was great the entire time and we'd go again just to see her.
Carnival Liberty's Restaurant and Food Review
While the service was very good, the food on the Carnival Liberty wasn't nearly as impressive. Cruise brands have somewhat of a reputation in the market, and that reputation held true on our cruise. Carnival isn't known for its food. It's generally more of a party boat with less emphasis on culinary quality and that was definitely the case with our experience on the Carnival Liberty.
Click any tab below to learn more about a particular dining experience.
The Lido Restaurant buffet available on the Carnival Liberty during our sailing was pretty good. Not great, but good.
My primary complaint actually relates to our ship's departure. We were told the ship arrived late from its previous sailing, so we boarded late. Well, they started the first buffet at the original scheduled time, which meant that we had (a lot) less time to eat because we weren't on board until around 4pm. It was a relatively minor inconvenience, but one that made for a bad first impression.
Carnival Liberty's Cruise Review Update - September, 2017
My family and I went on our second sailing of the Carnival Liberty. We live in Florida, and our power went out due to Hurricane Irma, so we decided to escape the heat (and lack of air conditioning) and go on a last-minute cruise to the Bahamas.
We booked our trip on a Wednesday evening and the ship left the following day at 4pm. This section of the review relates to that specific experience and includes additional photos and videos as well.
Carnival Liberty Bahamas Cruise Mini-Review
Our mindset for this trip was much different than the previous sailing. We were "escaping" a house with no power and just wanted to get away for a few days.
The ship departed September 14, 2017 and visited the port of Nassau, Bahamas and had one day at sea. It was a 3-night sailing for the Liberty. The Liberty alternates 4-night sailings and 3-night sailings, so we've now been on both versions for this ship. The main difference in the itinerary is the lack of a stop in Freeport, Bahamas, but we were definitely okay with that.
A Review of Our Balcony Stateroom
We decided to stay in a balcony room for this trip. Well, that's not exactly true. We booked so late that only balcony rooms were available. I'm pretty sure the only rooms available the evening before the ship sails are cancelations, but I think we got lucky with our selection. The balcony room was a nice change from our interior room on the last sailing, but it wasn't perfect.
The balcony was awesome - we loved enjoying coffee in the morning on our balcony. We also enjoyed our own private outdoor space. I spent each port arrival and departure out on our balcony. Below is a small gallery of our balcony stateroom.
Click any photo to view a larger version.
Carnival Liberty Review - Additional Thoughts on the Mongolian Wok
The Mongolian Wok is one of the most popular spots in the Lido buffet area. Here, chefs prepare dishes for you while you watch. The food is prepared hot, which is a big draw for many. The line has always been long, but I was able to experience the Mongolian Wok on the first afternoon of our sailing.
Check out this video of my custom dish being prepared.
Carnival Liberty Bahamas Cruise - December, 2016
- Love sailing from Port Canaveral
- Lots of stuff for kids to do on board
- Relatively inexpensive and a good value
- Ship needs some attention to detail
- Not impressed with the Bahamas ports of call
- Rocky day at sea made us ill
- Mediocre food quality below other cruise lines
- Pool water was very cold and unheated