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  #61 (permalink)  
Old November 5th, 2005, 06:38 PM
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The "powers that be" want it to "stick" to the top. So you don't have to search for it.
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  #62 (permalink)  
Old November 5th, 2005, 10:19 PM
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Default Sea Day 5

The amazing weather continues to please all of us on the Liberty. Today was as nice a day at sea as anyone would ever want, as we made our way toward St. Maarten doing about 17 knots most of the day.

Today I went to work as a social host-in-training, hosting or helping to host a number of events throughout the day, and had quite an interesting day. You’re going to have a bit for that story though.

Almost two years ago I had wrote a review of the Carnival Victory, and talked about line ups at the breakfast buffet, because two buffets lines in two areas, converged on a center omelet station. This problem continued with the set up on the Liberty, as the entire line was held up as people waited for their custom made omelets.

Today someone finally took some action to correct the situation. They roped of the omelet area, and posted a sign noting it was for omelets, allowing those not looking for omelets to “cruise through? the buffet line fairly quickly. A simple solution, that seems to have had a positive effect.

The breakfast buffet menus are very basic, and don’t change much from day to day, aside from alternating each day from pancakes to French Toast and back each day. Not a huge concern to me, as I’m not much of a breakfast eater… Though the French Toast has been very good!

The service issues we had in the dining room, near the beginning of the cruise, have smoothed out pretty nicely as the cruise continued as well. The food in the dining room has mostly been quite good. My only real complaint is the lack of imagination with the accompaniments with the main entrees. Other than a baked potato with prime rib, or steaks, there’s not much in the way of vegetables served.

Tonight’s entertainment in the showroom was a comedy magician, who Mrs. Kuki tells me was quite good. I was there, but had a lovely nap during the show.

Tomorrow we see land again, in St. Maarten, and also get the last of seven 25 hour days.
While this cruise may seem to long to many of you who have been reading along, those of us onboard can’t believe how fast the time has flown by, and that we have only 3 days left.
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Old November 7th, 2005, 12:04 AM
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Anxiously awaiting my daily "cruise fix" from Kuki...
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Old November 7th, 2005, 01:17 AM
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Default LAND HO!!

Land Ho!

Today we saw land (St. Maarten) for the first time in 5 days. We’re a bit in shock that it’s already day 14 of this cruise. Two more sea days, and this party will sadly end.

I think most everyone onboard was happy to see solid ground. That was certainly true of many of the crew departments, who work “double time? during sea days. As passengers I don’t think we realize all the logistics involved in a cruise with a lot of continuous sea days. It affects everything from having extra stores onboard (supplies, not shops), because everyone is always on the ship, to staffing issues, to extra work required by the entertainment staff.

With virtually all the passengers rushing off the ship to feel “terra firma? again, Philipsburg just about exploded in a volcanic eruption of consumerism. People were buying everything in sight! I got a bracelet for Mrs. Kuki today, and I thought it was a pretty good trade (OLD joke).

Mrs. Kuki had got a bracelet here on a previous visit, which she wasn’t all that crazy about. We took it back to the store where it was purchased, and they gave us a full credit of the purchase price towards a new bracelet. Happy 25th anniversary to Mrs. Kuki!

I don’t think there’s real shopping bargains on high ticket items in the islands, like there used to be several years back, but the selection is quite good.

I think everyone’s buying frenzy may have been accentuated by the situation of missing time to shop in Barcelona. I did notice the ship’s onboard shops have been very busy during this crossing as well.

After seeing nothing but ocean for the past 5 days, we had no desire to go to a beach and look at water, so we just took the water taxi into town, wandered, and shopped, and stopped along the boardwalk to have a drink and people watch.

Phillipsburg has been cleaned up very nicely in the past several years. It used to be that most everyone went over to the French side to go to the beach, or shop, or just have lunch in a nice “European style? café. With the changes made to Philipsburg, if you’re not going to the beach, and have seen this island before, a trip to the French side is not so necessary anymore.

Tonight was the ship’s “Legends? show, where they use passengers and some cruise staff to imitate singing stars. There was only one show at 10:30. I didn’t attend tonight. This cruise has been a bit strange, in that the theater fills up a long time before each and every show in the showroom. Yet, the other entertainment venues on the ship are VERY quiet.

No doubt this will all change once the Liberty begins its Caribbean itinerary, and starts carrying its normal age demographic.

We’ve spent most evenings, after the shows, in the Piano Bar. Each night it draws a small but enthusiastic crowd, and over the length of the cruise those of us who have become “regulars? truly have had some fun. I’m surprised more people haven’t found this spot in the evening. Once again, I’m sure it will be hopping, once the ship starts its regular sailings. Cameron, the entertainer here at the moment has a very dry sense of humor, and since I enjoy that humor, I enjoyed him a lot.

If you’re sailing this ship soon, go have some fun, and tell Cameron Kuki sent you.


For this cruise we’ve been at 5:45 PM dinner seating, and I must say this is simply too early to dine. They have four seating times, 5:45, 6:15, 8:00, and 8:30. Ideally we would have liked 6:15 dining (with the evening free to enjoy the ship), however there was a group onboard of over 400 people, so they got the 6:15 dining room seating.

There are some empty tables for two located right near us. Four nights during this cruise, there’s been two people, who are normally on late seating, but have chosen to come to early dining. Not a problem, if there’s room. The problem has been each time they arrive an hour late.

I am VERY surprised that they’ve been admitted to the dining room, and served. Each time they’ve done this, we’ve witnessed the strain this has put on the serving staff. It’s not that they’ve just got two more people to serve, but the kitchen is already set up serving different courses. The late arriving, out of sync couple, causes the service staff to have to wait in different lines in the galley… and this, unfortunately, causes delays in serving their guests who arrived on time.

This is an example of self centered behavior by two passengers being allowed to go on, and adversely affecting many other passengers, and putting undo stress on the staff. And allowing it to happen is a big mistake by management. By not wanting to offend two passengers, they offend 20.
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  #65 (permalink)  
Old November 7th, 2005, 07:58 PM
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Default Kuki - When is the surprise?

Posted by you on 2nd November.........

"was talking to John Heald today, and we’re working on a little surprise for our CruiseMates readers, who are following along on the message board. As soon as the details are finalized, I’ll let you know."

Did I miss it? Or is this one of John's stories! I know John VERY well - having cruised with him 9 times and 3 times in the last 2 years and he does not necessarily fulfill ALL his promises..........

Anyway Kuki.........Prove me wrong!!!

Glad you and the Cruisemates team are having a great cruise........
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  #66 (permalink)  
Old November 8th, 2005, 12:46 AM
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Default The second last day

Second Last Day

Day 15, and more sunshine and beautiful weather were the order of the day. The Debarkation Talk was scheduled for 11 AM today, but before we knew about it we had scheduled a CruiseMates get together, for a wrap up to the dinner team trivia’s we’ve been doing. We gave all the answers, and of course in most cases people shook their heads, thinking they should have known that answer. But I think everyone enjoyed the nightly sheets at dinner, and on a long cruise like this, gave people something to have fun with over coffee and desert in the dining room. We handed out the last of the prizes, and now Mrs. Kuki and I have one entirely empty suitcase to spread things out in for a return flight home.

After the trivia final, many cruisemates returned to their cabins to get an early start on their packing. It’s really hard to figure out where all the days have disappeared.

As usual, the people in our group are what made this such a wonderful cruise. It really is special to meet new CruiseMate’s group cruisers, and to meet up again with old friends, who we first met on CruiseMates group cruises. It’s going to be very difficult saying goodbye to everyone, after spending a fun-filled 16 days together.

This afternoon Stephanie and Becka hosted the Fear Factor game poolside. I thought with this crowd it might be difficult to find participants for these types of events, but they haven’t had any problems finding fun people to give the games some life.

Over the course of the cruise I’ve heard a few people voicing complaints about the lack of activities on the sea days during the crossing. Carnival does not offer such things as “enrichment lectures? or computer classes, but in my view there were still quite a number of activities offered, with dance classes, passenger games etc.

The real key, in my mind, is while the cruise staff can plan, initiate and jump start activities, the passengers bear a lot of responsibility to enjoy themselves, and make their days fun.
To simply sit back and say “entertain me? all day will rarely produce satisfactory results.

Last night we were up fairly late with a small, but fun, group of people in the Piano Bar. As I made my way to the Piano Bar, I noticed the disco was completely empty.

Perhaps oddly, the busiest bar area onboard each evening was the Promenade Bar, just outside the casino, where Ron Kites played country music.

The showroom however was totally full for pretty much every show during the cruise.

Again… I think the fact many of the bars were quiet many nights had to do with the demographic of the passengers; not really what one would think of as “Carnival? passengers. It really was more like the “stereotypical? Holland America passenger (not to say the stereotype is accurate though).

Let me say, that “our group? is by no means the young party hardy type. In fact I think we go from possibly mid 40s to mid 80s. However, we have had a great time on this cruise, having fun with ship’s activities, friendly staff, and making our own fun!
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  #67 (permalink)  
Old November 8th, 2005, 12:54 AM
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Default

Quote:
Anyway Kuki.........Prove me wrong!!!
Norm.. the plan was to put some pictures of the CruiseMates Halloween up on the jumbo screen, hoping they could be seen on the web cam.

John definitely came through, and had them put up on the screen. Unfortunately the timing was off a bit, and I don't think anyone from CruiseMates got to see them. I do however have several pictures of it to post.

But it was kind of cool to see 15 ft us (or whatever the actual dimension of the screen is )
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Old November 8th, 2005, 12:59 AM
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Kuki, I have really enjoyed your cruise diary. It has been fun to feel like we were along with you. I heard tonight you are meeting a very special lady at the port. Are you going on that Liberty cruise too, to Nassau? I hope the rest of the cruise is a safe and enjoyable one. Hurry home soon. All of you have been missed.

Luanne
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  #69 (permalink)  
Old November 8th, 2005, 06:33 PM
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Kuki, makes me look forward to our Get Lei'd cruise even more -- been lovin' all the posts!

Harry
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Old November 8th, 2005, 08:04 PM
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Antlerhead, thanks for the information on the Liberty as we're sailing her on Jan. 7th. I was unhappy to hear John Heald will not be on the ship then. I've always heard good things about him but have never been on a ship he was working.

Reading your input on the dining rooms now has me in a dilemma because our cabin is an aft balcony, but to dine when we prefer we'll have to book the Golden dining room at the front of the ship.

Oh darn, guess i'll just have to rebook the cruise..................Nah, not really.

Regards,
Thomas
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  #71 (permalink)  
Old November 8th, 2005, 08:09 PM
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Default Thanks........

Kuki for the reply and glad everyone had a great time.

Still consider JH the "best in the business".........

Again thanks for your daily updates.......it has been a pleasure reading all of them.

I hope one day to cruise with you and Mrs. Kuki.........I think we would definitely have an awesome time on board a ship! With our combined cruise history, we must have a lot of stories to share......
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  #72 (permalink)  
Old November 8th, 2005, 08:10 PM
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kuki,awesome,diary of a good time,I have a small group going on this saturday,also cruisemates mikee and others will be there also,we will make sure we break her in right,during this first carib,sailing,thanks,greg,former USMC,OOOHHHH RAHHH
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Old November 8th, 2005, 10:33 PM
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Kuki,
Awesome job with the daily accounts of the cruise!! I will be on the Liberty on 12/10 and counting down ....thanks for bringing the new "lady" to port. One day I hope to get to sail with the Cruisemates!

Thanks again for the vicarious cruise!
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Old November 9th, 2005, 01:52 AM
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Default It's all coming to and end :(

Day 16

What a wonderful life it is when waking up to wonderful weather and clear blue skies becomes routine. Today was a superb day in the Caribbean, with the Liberty sadly making its way towards Miami, and the end of the cruise.

This morning John was kind enough to have me as guest on his Morning Show TV show. We had a few chuckles, and talked a bit about the CruiseMates web site, and the future of the cruise industry.

After the show we were talking privately, and John explained (and approved us sharing with Cruisemates) that he’ll be leaving the ship soon for vacation, returning Jan. 21/06 until June 1, and at that time it seems it’s most likely he is going to retire. He's threatened several times in the past, but I think this may truly be the end of the career for a truly marvelous man, and CD.

Though some people may not realize it, almost all of the Cruise Directors (who you love) on all the other Carnival ships, have likely been trained by John. I think it’s somewhat difficult for all of us to understand all the demands and strain put on Cruise Directors by passengers(we are a DEMANDING lot), not to mention head office. The fact that John still has the patience to deal with we cruise passengers after all these years speaks volumes about his character!

This evening at dinner we were all shaking our heads with disbelief that this cruise is ending. It was most certainly a bit of a melancholy evening, for most, saying goodbye to all the new and old friends.

We ended the cruise tonight, together with some of the CruiseMates gang, and new friends in the Piano Bar. Over the course of the cruise the Piano Bar became our evening hangout, after the shows. It developed into a very social core of people, where joking with each other became just as integral to the evening as singing along with Cameron.

This morning, while on the Mourning Show, I invited more people to join the fun in the Piano Bar, and we did end up with a larger crowd; A bit unfortunate, for them, that they hadn’t found this place earlier in the cruise.

The theme of the evening group in the Piano Bar became the song Green Alligators, complete with animated arm and hand actions to represent the various animals in the chorus. Words describing it don’t really do it justice, but it set a great mood. As Cameron, so ably described it; it was awesome! And so was this cruise.

For those lucky enough to be sailing the Liberty in the next few weeks, be sure to go to the Piano Bar, tell Cameron Kuki sent you, and help him get the place hopping EVERY night. He's had a long stretch of quiet time with the European cruises, and no doubt he'll be ready to party with you.

And while you're at it, tell him to teach you the actions to "Green Alligators" if you don't already know them!
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Old November 9th, 2005, 08:34 AM
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Kuki - great review! I'm glad you had a great time with our "friend" John Heald, he is the best!!!
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Old November 9th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Default Waiting do disembark

Leaving…


I’m presently sitting on Lido Deck waiting to disembark. Today they are using what they call “relaxed? debarkation. While everyone got luggage tags, they do not denote time of debarkation. Once debarkation begins, everyone will be allowed off at their own pace.


I know, since we don’t have an airplane to catch until tomorrow, we’ll avoid the “relaxed rush? to the gangway. The ship hasn’t yet been cleared by Customs & Immigration, and there are already people yelling at the crew about having to get off the ship to catch early flights. This is pretty strange behavior from people who don’t have the sense to avoid booking any flights before noon!

The Wi Fi service throughout the ship has worked very well for me. It’s not near as slow as I expected it might be. The Internet Café onboard does rent out laptops btw. The cost is $20/day, plus the cost of your internet time.

We’ll try and post a wrap up of the entire story in the next few days, and we’ll see if any returning Liberty passengers hop on to discuss their opinions of experience.

Having dinner with friends in Ft Lauderdale tonight, and then home tomorrow. If you're in Ft Lauderdale.. come join us!
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Old November 10th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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Default The Liberty Ass't CDs and Social Hosts

Dominika, Butch, Becka, Guess, Stephanie and Brent. If you see this.. Thanks guys!!
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Old November 13th, 2005, 02:52 PM
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Default Post Cruise Wrap Up

I’m home now, and have had a few days to reflect on the Liberty cruise.

First off, I had forgotten to thank Tweety for making all those cute life-saver name tags for the CruiseMates group, and Linda Griggs who made onboard phone books for everyone. I certainly appreciated your help!

“Relaxed debarkation? turned out to be mayhem! Not sure what happened, but the ship didn’t begin disembarking passengers until almost 10:30 A.M. and from what I understand there were some very angry people worried about making their early flights home.

We were staying in Florida for a day, so were in no rush to get off the ship, so personally weren’t too concerned. Others who had tried to get off, came back up to Lido Deck where we were waiting, saying things were just too chaotic on Deck 3 by the gangway exit.

At about 11:30 John made an announcement that remaining guests should leave the ship now. We had little difficulty at this time getting off the ship, but once inside the terminal, long lines of people were still winding their way through customs/immigration, towards the luggage warehouse are. From comments of immigration officers, it was obvious that the situation had been pretty out of hand for the past hour or so. It will be interesting to see if we can learn how these problems developed.

Back to the ship. I wrote and submitted my full review of the ship, and it should appear on the CruiseMates site sometime in the not too distant future.

I will say here, as a wrap up, that we found the crew onboard to be friendly and helpful, but found service in many areas of the ship just out of sync. Our dining room wait staff, for example, tried very hard to please, but were still just out of sync. I believe some of this probably had to do with the organization in the galley, and the fact that dining room tables are placed very close together, creating a bit of a maze for the staff to get through to the galley and back again. Not an easy task, when carrying a dozen or more plates on those large serving trays.

I do have to wonder if the ship was short staffed in certain areas.

Overall, we met some great people, enjoyed many old friends, and enjoyed the ship. There are some issues that Carnival will hopefully get worked out with the start of their Caribbean season. But overall, if you’re cruising on the Liberty you should enjoy the cruise experience on her.

Hope you've enjoyed "cruising along" with us. I'll be doing the same thing in Jan. while sailing the Island Princess. So invite you to check out the Princess Message Board, beginning Jan. 6/06
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Old November 13th, 2005, 11:08 PM
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Default What a treat..........

From one Cruise-a-holic to another........

Thoroughly enjoyed your updates Kuki.........

Easy to read and very informative! Keep up the great work!
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