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Old January 9th, 2007, 10:10 PM
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Jan 9 - from the Liberty

With the Celebrity Century sitting at the pier in San Juan with us, after having just cruised her last week, it naturally led to some thoughts comparing the two.

Perhaps it will come as a surprise to some, but I think the cabins are more comfortable on the Carnival Liberty. We had a Category NS (Century Suite) on the Century, which though not a true suite, does comes with butler service. On the Carnival Liberty we have a standard balcony on Deck 7 (Category 8A I believe). The cabin on Liberty is larger, brighter, and laid out very well, and perhaps also surprising, I think the bedding on the Liberty is superior to that on the Century, with more comfortable beds as well.
Though we certainly miss the size of the balcony, and the location, on the stern, from the Century.

Our cabin steward on this cruise may be the very best we’ve ever had, and on his own, so far, is doing at least as well, if not better than the combination cabin steward and butler team we had on the Century.

I think the differences between the two cruises and ships may be worthy of an article of its own when this cruise ends. Certainly in some areas we found our Century experience to be superior to what we‘ve experienced so far on the Liberty, but in a number of cases, we’re finding Carnival wins out. Within the industry Celebrity is considered a “premium? brand, and Carnival a “mass market brand?, so once this cruise is done, comparing the two could be fun, but for the moment “love the one you’re with? is the mantra.

As we had booked an early tour to St John this morning we pre-ordered room service breakfast. It arrived 15 minutes before our requested time, which is pretty good, and better than late, when we have an excursion to catch. I rarely book ship’s excursions in St. Thomas. To go to St. John you can do it quite easily by yourself, with a taxi to Red Hook Ferry- ferry over - taxi to Trunk Bay. But we had decided to go with the Leylon Sneed excursion this morning, which leaves from pier-side, goes directly to Trunk Bay, and returns directly to the pier. It was an 8 A.M. tour, and we were back at the pier by 1 P.M. Tweety and Da Coot joined us on the tour.

As we were leaving the port RCI’s Voyager of the Seas was arriving, and gave us a nice photo op.

Having left the pier shortly after 8 A.M. Trunk Bay was nearly deserted when we arrived…. And the view was breathtaking!!

The Leylon Sneed anchors just off of the beach, and you can snorkel right off the back of the boat, or if you want to lie on the beach, they use a couple of dinghies to run passengers back and forth from the beach.

After a couple of hours on the beach you get back on the boat, and the free rum punch flows, the crew entertain as you head back to the ship. They give the alcohol a bit of time to kick in and then the Limbo contest starts.

The tour was most enjoyable, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to spend half the day snorkeling or on the beach, and the other half maxing out the credit cards!

Arriving back to the ship at 1 P.M. left plenty of time to get back onboard, clean up, have some lunch, and take Mrs. Kuki to infamous “honey I shrunk the bank account? downtown St. Thomas - to make up for not giving her gifts for our anniversary in November and her birthday in December.

The Caribbean really isn’t the bargain hunter’s dream it was a decade ago when it comes to big ticket items. There are just so many cruise ship’s visiting, bring too many “hard done by wives? like Mrs. Kuki, or “trying to get out of the dog house? husbands like me, for the merchants to be really hungry. I believe the prices actually go down when the ships leave port.

But what St. Thomas does offer is incredible selection and variety. If you know your prices WELL, you can generally shop in St. Thomas for some unusual items that you may not find at home. Knowing your prices is VERY important if you think you may be a serious buyer, and so is the willingness to bargain hard! Though the tradition of offering less than half the asking price really doesn’t work here anymore, you should still be able to bargain firmly enough to get at least 25% off whatever they initially tell you is their lowest price. We ask… How much is this? Then say… We don’t want to waste any time, what’s your best price? Then… we waste time negotiating to a price we can live with, or walk away.

As a result today I am officially out of the dog house for my actions in November and December!

Everyone must have enjoyed themselves in St. Thomas today, because the ship seemed to have a very jovial atmosphere about it tonight. With most everyone back in the dining room tonight, service was very good… making last night’s “aberration? seem even odder.
But our waiter Beda did remember to save me some Key Lime pie that I missed last night, and it was delicious!

The headline act tonight was Marc Anthony, another long time Carnival entertainer, who I’ve seen many times before. An excellent act, but I passed on seeing him again. I’m still trying to figure out how these entertainers can be on every Carnival ship.

Cruisers new to Carnival would think the entertainment on this cruise is wonderful, and for the most part it is; but personally I wouldn’t go to Las Vegas to see Barbara Streisand over and over again either.

I spent some time in the casino (still hate the automatic continuous shuffling machines), and some time in the Piano Bar, before returning to the cabin to find Mrs. Kuki sleeping; no doubt recovering from overwhelming love she felt for her husband today.
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