And I am back from another fun-filled vacation. This time it was 8 days on the Carnival Liberty out of Miami Florida. Over the next 7 weeks of #TravelThursday I’ll blog about this cruise, so let’s get started.
In order to get started we need to go all the way back to a time shortly before we all knew what COVID was.
I actually booked this 8-day cruise out of Miami to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao on February 10TH 2020. And then COVID shutdown the world a month later.
I booked this cruise 1 year and 1 week after returning from my last cruise on the Carnival Glory out of Miami. That was my 14TH Carnival cruise (in early-2019) and 22ND cruise overall since 1991. I love Carnival cruises, and I’ll share the many reasons why over the next 7 weeks.
I booked this cruise on the newer and bigger Carnival Horizon (in-service since 2018). It would’ve been my first cruise on a new(ish) cruise ship since October / November 2007 when I sailed on the Carnival Freedom out of Civitavecchia Rome Italy for its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to Miami. That Carnival Freedom cruise over the course of 14 days remains as my favorite cruise of all-time.
I’ve actually sailed on the Carnival Freedom more nights (29) than any other cruise ship. I sailed 2 more times on her in 2010 and 2014. That 3RD Carnival Freedom cruise in 2014 was not such a great experience, and I thought that it would be my final Carnival cruise ever.
I gave Carnival another chance almost 5 years later in 2019 on the Carnival Glory, and that turned out to be an excellent cruise; hence, my booking of the January 2021 cruise on the Carnival Horizon.
Well COVID canceled that cruise, and in lieu of getting my money back from Carnival I simply rebooked it for exactly a year later with a generous financial incentive included.
This past November the Carnival Horizon began experiencing propulsion problems with its maximum cruising speed. It was pulled from service and sent to an urgent extended dry dock over in Palermo Italy so that it could be repaired and also freshened-up a bit. It was replaced by the Carnival Sunshine for some of its December sailings – and the Carnival Liberty for some of its January sailings. Again – I could’ve chosen to cancel this cruise (due to the ship change), but I chose to sail on the replacement ship for even more financial incentives. I could’ve canceled this cruise at any time up to the day of sailing for no penalty at all (due to the CDC’s warning against sailing on cruise ships), but I kept this vacation intact.
And so I sailed on the 16½-year-old Carnival Liberty with an embarkation date of Saturday January 08TH 2022. I arrived at PortMiami shortly before 10:30 AM EST, and I stepped foot on the ship less than 45 minutes later. (It took less than 15 minutes to actually check-in at the terminal, but customers weren’t allowed on the ship until just after 11 AM.)
As this was my 7TH Carnival cruise in a row on the mid-2000s Carnival Conquest-class cruise ship (Glory, Valor, Liberty, Freedom) I knew where everything was on the ship. Of course it’s been almost 3 years, so I was confused at times. That just increased my steps on my Fitbit.
The ship set sail at 6 PM on that first night (about 2 hours late due to an unspecified maintenance issue that was awaiting a part). At that time I was already halfway into my dinner at the upscale steakhouse on deck 10. It’s a $38 upcharge to eat there, and that’s a bit steep, but they do serve the best food on the entire ship (and the biggest portions). Check out my cheesecake dessert !
After dinner (and that ENORMOUS slice of cheesecake) I enjoyed playing my first round of BINGO (3 games) – followed by the main show in the main lounge (which seats 1,400). I actually attended (and enjoyed) every main show in the main lounge during the course of this 8-day cruise, and it was never more than about 25% full.
This was a cruise for the fully-vaccinated, and you had to present proof of a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of cruise embarkation in order to get on the ship. I believe that the cruise ship sailed at about 40% to 50% full. It’s my first cruise ever that wasn’t at or near 100% full. It was at less than half capacity more so for the change (downgrade) in ship rather than the strict COVID vaccination and testing rules. Nobody booked this ship. Carnival rebooked everyone (who didn’t cancel) from the Carnival Horizon. The Carnival Liberty was actually out-of-service for almost 22 months during COVID, and it was brought back into service a month earlier than planned to fill-in for the Carnival Horizon. After almost 22 months of inactivity there were most certainly maintenance and repair issues on this ship. I’ll explain some of those issues next #TravelThursday.
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