Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Vincent & Mary
Finelli Western Caribbean January 29, 2006
The Liberty joins the Conquest Class of Carnival's Fleet of 21
ships. She is the first Carnival ship to cruise the Mediterranean
Sea and Europe. From July to October 2005 the Liberty sailed out of
Civitavecchia, Rome, Italy offering eight twelve day round trip
cruises to Naples, Messina, Venice, and Livorno, Italy; it also
sailed east to Dubrovnik, Croatia and west to Cannes, France and
Barcelona, Spain. From these ports of call passengers were offered
over 80 different excursions to famous destinations such as Capri,
Venice, Pisa, Florence and even Monte Carlo, Monaco. This was the
Liberty's maiden cruise itinerary, which Carnival augmented with
pre or post cruise packages of one to three additional days in
Rome. This is very attractive since Rome, the Eternal City, should
never be a one day trip! We know this for sure after living in
Rome, while on sabbatical in 1981. We found the academic year (9
months) not sufficient for the many beautiful attractions of Bella
Roma. Three extra days will at least provide an overview of the
grandeur that is
Significantly, on October 12, 2005 (Columbus Day), the Liberty
made its first transatlantic crossing and began it inaugural season
in the Caribbean. April 2006 the Liberty will return to the
Mediterranean and her European cruise itinerary. This new Carnival
itinerary is an exciting one for Americans and the Liberty was
designed for it. Its decor celebrates artisans and their wonderful
EMBARKATION With Sunday Traffic on I-95 at a minimum, Ft.
Lauderdale is only twenty-five minutes from our home in Boca Raton,
Florida --- an excellent place to live for "Frequent Floaters." The
baggage drop off was peculiar; even though our auto was clearly
marked handicapped, we were directed to the left; even though there
were right side drop offs. After depositing our luggage, we had to
cross over through traffic to get to the entrance. This was
harrowing. Once on the other side, we were sent through the VIP
entrance with the wheelchair. From here on boarding was a cinch. We
were given assistance with the wheelchair after check in, and we
were in our stateroom in twenty minutes. This was our third cruise
on a Conquest Class ship in the past five months, so we are very
familiar with its layout.
Thus, our first bit of business was to change reservations from
the Silver Olympian Dining Room, which was all the way aft, to the
centrally located Golden Olympian Dining Room. This would make our
dinners more pleasant, since the only wheelchair accessible
staterooms with balconies are located all the way forward in the
prow of the ship. More on these logistics later. Our reservations
were easily adjusted for us by the dining room staff, we went
directly to the excellent buffet.
THE SHIP The Carnival Liberty, launched the summer of 2005, was
christened by Mira Sorvino (Hollywood and Oscar fame). The Liberty
was built at the venerable Fincantieri Shipyards in Italy. She is
hull number 6,111 and is a beauty. Among the largest cruise ships
in the world, she is equipped with 22 lounges and bars; a stunning
1,500 seat Venetian Palace Theater, plus a Seaside Theater for
watching films and concerts under the stars (featuring a 270 sq.
ft. Jumbo screen and a state of the art 70,000 watt sound system
providing concert quality sound), a novelty at sea first seen on
the Caribbean Princess. This cruise featured concerts by Tom Jones,
Placido Domingo, and James Taylor among others.
The Liberty is 952 ft. long, and 116 ft wide and weighs 110,000
tons. She has 1,487 staterooms of which 60% are ocean view and 60%
of these have balconies. Capacity is 2,974 (two passengers per
cabin) and a maximum of 3700. Joseph Farcus, Carnival architect,
commissioned a group of artists to create pieces which celebrate
"great artisans and their works." In a series of 6' X 9' aluminum
panels, made specifically for the ship's central staircases, artist
Calman Shemi features iron workers, sculptors, glass blowers and
jewelry designers at work. Artist Virginia Ferrara created 6' X 15'
tropical views of South Florida with palm trees, floral and water
allusions, which were placed by the stair landings. Luciano
Vistosi's colorful blown glass pieces are illuminated from the
rear. Placed near the swimming pools on Deck 9 are the bronze
sculptures of Susanna Holt: an Anhinga bird drying its spread out
wings in the sun; Sea lions lounging; and a standing Stag and Doe.
The Anhinga is very appropriate to South Florida, but we wish it
had been much larger like those over the El Rio Canal in our back
Mr. Farcus carries out his homage to true craftsmen by exploring
a particular craft in each room on board, which then is combined in
the whole ship. The first expression of this is found in the Grand
Villa Garden Lobby (9 decks tall) with the black wrought iron
around columns and balconies in a "curlicue" pattern design. The
same pattern is repeated in the 20 feet in diameter black wrought
iron chandelier with torch lights which constantly change colors.
The chandelier is best viewed from Deck 5 while the changing colors
add ambiance. It is a tour de force of iron working! The potters'
world is also displayed here with hundreds of terra cotta
medallions and wall pottery jardinieres filled with lavender
bougainvillea vines. The extensive use of marble and tile flooring
throughout this ship make it easy going for those in
Deck 0 houses the Medical Center and the tender facilities.
Riviera Deck 1 and Main Deck 2 are all staterooms.
Lobby Deck 3 forward has the beautiful Venetian Palace Theater
with two gigantic Harlequin clowns flanking the stage. Decorations
include classic Venetian masks worn during carnival season. There
are Murano red and gold glass tiled walls and of course, the
traditional striped poles where gondolas are moored. Excellent
theater, except for those seats behind several columns which
contribute to passengers playing "musical chairs" in order to
locate seats with a clear view of the stage. Midship are the
Information & Excursion Desks, and the Lobby Bar in the Atrium.
Next, there are two small Dining Rooms ---- the Persian and Satin
Rooms. The Golden Olympian Restaurant is located here with three
huge Venetian Murano Crystal Chandeliers with interesting lavender
flowers (daffodils?). There are 16 smaller matching chandeliers on
each floor of the restaurant. There is a golden balustrade circling
the room and a double staircase to Deck 4. Accent lighting above
the chandeliers gives a warm red glow to the room, as if it were a
red and gold 18th century theater! Fine flatware are showcased in
vitrines around the walls. Next, going toward aft, is the galley
followed by the Conservatory Atrium (three decks tall) and then the
Silver Restaurant, decorated as the Golden, only the colors match
Atlantic Deck 4 forward is the theater, then, toward midship is
the Photo Gallery & Studio. Next is the Antiquarian Library
only open two hours per day. After which is the Empress Club and
the balcony of the Golden Restaurant. Aft are three highly
individual rooms The Tapestry, Web and the Cabinet (this last
features Cabinetry in the German Biedermeier style) and finally the
second level of the Silver Olympic Restaurant.
Promenade Deck 5 forward is the balcony of the theater; midship
are the Fashion Boulevard Shops, Formalities and the interesting
Sports Bar featuring leather gloves worn in all sorts of sports
(the many red leather boxing gloves are great). There is the
Origami Sushi Bar (Excellent! Serving daily from 5:30 to 8:30pm).
Aft there are three more bars each unique: Hot & Cool Disco,
features body art and tattoos on body parts: hands, arms and legs.
There is the Paparazzi Wine Bar with a series of Leica M-3 Cameras
lenses, like those used by the Paparazzi of the 1950s. The Piano
Man Bar has the undulating piano keys around the ceiling of the
room and modern white leather chairs. WOW!
Upper Deck 6, Empress Deck 7 and Verandah Deck 8 are all
Lido Deck 9 has staterooms forward, then the Stage, Tivoli Pool,
and aft Emile's Buffet Restaurant, an excellent Pizzeria (pizza
made on order too) & Grille and finally the Versailles Pool and
Bar with a sliding dome.
Panorama Deck 10 forward has staterooms and midship the Coney
Island Pool and Harry's Club, an upscale restaurant with a menu by
the well known French Chef Georges Blanc. There are not enough
positive adjectives to describe his contribution to the Liberty's
cuisine. In Harry's (named after Harry Winston, jeweler to the rich
and famous) neatly displayed in vitrines are dozens of copies of
Mr. Winston's highly prized designs. Aft there is the Fish &
Chips; away from the crowd, this is a nice area frequented by very
Spa Deck 11 forward has some suites and the Spa and Gym; aft is
the Sports Deck and the Jogging track.
Sun Deck 12 has the children's areas, the Kid's Pool and Camp
Carnival. There is no Deck 13.
Sky Deck 14 has the entrance to the water slide. This is a big
ship with many beautiful venues and lots to do.
SERVICE & FOOD Naturally, the most important person on board
is the Captain because he spearheads the service on board. Captain
Marco Nogara (Italy) is a very active and friendly commander. His
bearing is one of an excellent host, but also one of authority. He
has the appearance of just stepping off the cover of "GQ" Magazine.
Hotel Director Guna Chellan (India) is very knowledgeable about the
ship and her many amenities; he graciously answered all of our
questions. Guest Relations Director Leslie Baland made herself
available to all passengers. Her assistant Christine Budaha was a
whiz at making our cruise a pleasure. When we just asked of a
possibility --- it was done! Fantastic.
We dined the first evening on the main floor of the Golden
restaurant with wonderful service from our waiters Dan and Ivan.
However, Maitre D' Suresh, in order to accommodate a large family
group, requested if he could moved us to the balcony of the Golden.
Must be Karma, because we now had a beautiful table for two
overlooking the grand staircase and two of the nicest servers: Lady
The dining staff Manager Branimir Plovanic (Croatia)
enthusiastically told us about Monsieur Blanc's contributions to
the new menus on board, and we certainly approved of the French
influence and style. Magnifique! The portions and presentation were
much improved. Carnival President & CEO Bob Dickinson has made
a special effort to improve the level of cuisine on board, and we
feel he has achieved it with the world-renowned Chef Georges Blanc,
who has had for many years a three star rating by Michelin. We feel
this was a great move since the Carnival Liberty spends her summers
in Europe. President Dickinson has also started a new Presidential
Wine Club which is for both novices and connoisseurs. It is sort of
a Wine of the Month Club aimed at introducing members to various
famous and new wines. Vincent believes that Carnival has an
excellent wine selection.
The food on board is fresh, delicately seasoned and elegantly
presented. Food and service in the main dining rooms and in Emile's
Buffet and elsewhere on board is very good. In this review we will
give the specifics on Harry's Club, Panorama Deck 10 ($30 per
person fee). This is a must do for passengers on the Liberty. We
have only seen one other restaurant at sea that was as elegant as
this one: The Olympic on Celebrity's Millennium, which had the
original wood paneling and wine cellar from the White Star Lines
Olympic (sister ship to the doomed Titanic). At Harry's we had a
wonderfully special evening: wined and dined and the lovely Hostess
Isabella filled us in on the fabulous Harry Winston jewelry
featured in the many vitrines and pointed out the gigantic
"diamond" light necklace which surrounds the room and displays huge
emerald cut "yellow diamonds" as pendants. Beautiful music,
delicious food and excellent cuisine, it was just perfect!
There are two menus, a traditional A La Carte that Vincent
enjoyed and the special "Degustation Menu" which Mary savored
immensely. While the Sommelier Ciprian (Romania) and the excellent
waitress Tina served us so elegantly, the eight courses from
Georges Blanc's menus just kept coming. This is more of a taster's
presentation: small portions of exquisitely prepared delicacies. If
this is not your cup of tea, there is always the 24 oz. Porterhouse
steak! Having dined in the degustation manner many times in Italy,
we know it is for gourmets who really want to taste, not gorge.
Here we go, the eight courses are as follows:
1. Chilled Asparagus soup. 2. Shrimp and salmon appetizers. 3.
Creamy Lobster Bisque Veloute` with Brandy. 4. Succulent Chilean
Sea Bass and olive cake. 5. Campari and Citrus Sorbet to cleanse
the palate. 6. Chicken with Fois Gras, oyster and mushroom sauce.
7. Filet Mignon, and Beef Tartar with chilled Bernaise cream. 8.
The Grand Finale, Chef's special dessert Chocolate Tartufe with
fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and
raspberries) with sherbet.
Vincent's appetizers, sides and veal chop were also perfectly
prepared and served. But, every night in the main dining rooms the
food and service were also wonderful. The new Georges Blanc
contribution to Carnival is a culinary triumph. It brings new food
opportunities to Carnival passengers, but still maintains some
classic American standbys.
CABIN Stateroom #6208 is one of only two wheelchair accessible
cabins with a balcony on board. All other wheelchair accessible
cabins are obstructed view or inside. It is situated in the prow of
the ship; even more forward than the Bridge. From our balcony we
looked toward the rear above us to see the Bridge. This was most
obvious when checking the Liberty Deck Plan. This cabin is as far
from the elevators and ship activities as possible; needless to say
it is not physically appropriate for people with limited mobility.
Recently, we have cruised on three ships of this class and have
decided that in the future the best way for us to cruise on these
ships would be in a cabin close to the elevators, near the center,
possibly a suite.
This cabin has an automatic door, which is very convenient. Upon
entering on the left is a single armoire and straight ahead is the
huge bathroom with an oversized shower with safety rails all
around. There is a single sink with a mirror, but not enough
shelves for toiletries. There is a queen size bed with two night
stands. On the right side is a double armoire, a personal safe,
refrigerator, TV, and a lighted mirrored vanity/desk with an
upholstered stool. There are two coffee tables and an upholstered
arm chair. The far wall is glassed with a door that opens onto the
minuscule balcony with two chairs and a table and not much room for
anything else. Fortunately, Alla our wonderful stewardess removed
the table, so that we could more easily utilize the balcony.
The colors were red, orange and gold, the walls were decorated
with two brightly colored Shemi paintings of artisans practicing
their craft of printing. Alla surprised us with hand made towel
animals and wonderful white puff quilts and linens with romantic
maps and designs --- very chic! Thank you, Alla.
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Brent Mitchell has a busy group.
The main show "Wonderful World" on the first formal night was a
terrific review of music and dance from around the world. The
costumes were sumptuous and the featured singers Adrian Hull and
Jassen Allen sparkled. The John Piazza Jr. Big Band sound is full
and very enjoyable. During the cruise there were two featured
entertainers, who were funny and worthy of mention: Comedienne
Carol Hughes as the average house wife, and Jerry Goodspeed a
clever ventriloquist. The variety of entertainment was a good mix.
The "TODAY" at a glance is a list of events, times and places on a
small handy tear out sheet. The "Fun Ship" lived up to its
DEBARKATION The procedure was made simple and painless. Friday
night, we put our luggage out at 11pm with VIP tags; we were told
we could debark whenever we were ready after 8:00am. We had
Continental breakfast in our cabin, and at 8:30am we called down to
the Guest Relations Desk and a crew member came up to help us with
the wheelchair. We were off, collected our luggage, through
passport check and customs in less than fifteen minutes. We had an
uncomplicated ending to a lovely cruise.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. FT. Lauderdale, FL Sail Away 5:00pm
Day 2. Freeport, Bahamas Arrive 7:00am Depart 3:00pm
Day 3. At sea
Day 4. Grand Cayman Arrive 8:00am Depart 4:30pm
Day 5. Costa Maya, Mexico Port was closed due to high Seas.
Day 6. At sea
Day 7. FT. Lauderdale, FL Disembarkation begins at 8:00am
SUGGESTIONS This was our fifth cruise on Carnival ships and
every time we have returned we have found improvements. This time
the upscale restaurant Harry's Club is definitely a plus in the
rating of the ship. We had a wonderful cruise and we'll definitely
cruise again on Carnival ships. However, the location of our
stateroom was not optimal, since it was the first cabin at the bow,
far from the elevators and the center of the ship which is an added
problem for those of us with limited mobility. In addition we could
not use the balcony much due to exposure to strong wind especially
when the ship was in motion. In the future, if we book again on
this class ship, it will be in a suite, since the location of
wheelchair accessible cabins is inappropriate for us. We feel that
Carnival, as well as Costa, have to put some effort in designing
appropriate accommodations for disabled passengers in regard to
comfort, location and number of wheelchair accessible cabins by
emulating those lines, such as Princess and RCI, which offer more
user friendly accommodation to the growing number of cruisers with
limited mobility. Our next cruise will be on the Costa Mediterranea
on March 5th, and since this will be our third cruise on her, we
know that the only wheelchair accessible cabins on this ship are
either inside or obstructed view, thus we have booked a suite.