This month, my family took our first cruise ever. We decided on Carnival due to the bad experience I had recently had with Royal Caribbean (read more about that here).
We booked a 3-night cruise on the Liberty from Port Canaveral to Nassau, Bahamas. We live about 45 minutes for Port Canaveral which is so convenient.
Booking the reservation was super easy. I had some issues on Royal Caribbean’s site but Carnival has a very user-friendly online reservation system. Although, I did eventually call in and have a customer service rep complete the booking to avoid any issues. We paid a down payment and had to pay the balance off about a month prior to cruising.
Managing Your Booking Online
- Online Check-in
After your reservations are booked, you can go online and complete your online check-in. You will need to provide the names, dates of birth, address, etc. for all members of your party.
You will also need everyone’s passport number if you have it. There are some destinations that you can use a birth certificate and license as identification. I don’t recommend this option because if there is an emergency and you need to fly back home from another country, you will be required to have a passport.
- Children’s Program Sign up
If you have children, I recommend signing them up for the children’s program in case you would like to attend any of the many adult-only shows onboard. There are different children’s clubs for different age brackets. I ended up not using the children’s club but if I did, I was already signed up and ready to go.
If you are doing any excursions, it’s best to book them through Carnival directly. Not only will you get your money back if the ship doesn’t dock at the port (sometimes the ship will skip a port due to weather and safety concerns) but, if you do end up late due to an excursion booked through the Carnival, the ship will wait until you’re onboard prior to leaving. That’s right. If you are not on the ship and you’re at a 3rd party excursion, the ship will not wait for you. It is common for transportation buses to get flat tires or break down in some of the countries due to the terrain and the vehicles being older. Don’t risk it!
You can purchase any in-room treats and decorations online. There are options to pay extra to have your cabin decorated for birthdays, have treats waiting for you like chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne, and even packages of bottled water. All of these and more can be purchased online and ready for you when your cabin is ready.
- Print Your Documents
Print your boarding passes and invoices online. If you book any excursions, be sure to print the papers AFTER so you have proof of everything you’ve paid for. Not that Carnival would intentionally not give you something you paid for, however the crew members are dealing with thousands of people on every cruise. There is always an opportunity for information to get lost in the shuffle. Be prepared by printing proof of everything you’ve paid for already.
Faster to the Fun (FTTF)
When you are searching for excursions online, you may see an excursion called Faster to the Fun. If this is available for your Carnival cruise, I highly recommend purchasing it. First, it’s one of the few options that you pay for by cabin, not by person. The price ranges from $49.95 – $99.95 per cabin depending on the length the cruise and the boat.
If you buy FTTF, you receive VIFP benefits such as:
- priority embarkation
- priority debarkation
- priority tendering if you’re visiting a port that has tender
- a separate guest services desk (you will be able to use the same desk as platinum VIFP members.
Carnival offers a limited number of FTTF packages for each cruise. The reason why is so they can offer these benefits to the platinum and FTTF guests which they would not be able to if they sell it to too many people.
Another benefit of FTTF, your room is ready when you check in.
Another benefit of FTTF, your room is ready when you check in. You can choose your check-in time online. The earliest that was available when I booked was 11:30am-12pm. If you are not purchasing FTTF, your room will not be ready until 5:30pm. If you are planning on checking your luggage and hanging out on the Lido desk, you may not mind that. Personally, I do not like checking my luggage. I also do not like carrying it around for 6 hours. With FTTF, our cabins were ready at 11:30am. We did not check any of our bags. We just went directly to our cabins and unpacked. Then went on to enjoy the boat.
Again, if FTTF is available, GET IT!!
Speaking of checking in…. This process couldn’t have been smoother. FTTF really came in handy when I got to bypass all those people sitting around waiting to check-in. I didn’t have to stand in one area more than a minute. I was directed past the waiting area to a secured area where your passport and boarding pass is checked, your picture taken, your Sail and Sign card given to you and finally, your luggage is scanned. The whole process took less than 5 minutes. And then I was on the gangway making my way to the boat! Of course, the only reason this didn’t take long is because I purchase FTTF. If you choose not to, your check-in process will probably take longer.
I’ll start with this disclaimer… The Liberty is the only boat I’ve been on so I don’t have any others to reference. However, I was very impressed with the decor and most of the facilities onboard.
Ceiling decor on deck 5 of the Carnival Liberty.
The entire ship is beautiful.
There are different types of elevators. Not all elevators go to all floors. I didn’t ask what different floors each went to; I just stuck to using the ones in the front and the back of the ship as these were the elevators that went to all the decks.
Ok… I heard the restrooms on a ship are small but nothing prepared me for this. The restrooms are TINY. The ones in the room are small. The public restrooms on the decks remind me of the the rooms you see in houses that are over a hundred years old, back when people weighed 75lbs and grew no taller than 4’8″. My goodness.
We only used the pool on the Lido deck. There is an adult only pool in the back on the ship. Since I was traveling with kids, we only went over that way to get food since Pizza Pirate and Seafood Shack are located over there. The adult only pool was a small pool but it looked nice enough. The pool on the Lido deck was full of kids but there is a smaller pool by where the slide empties you out at. Yes, there is a slide. The kids had a blast on it. There are also 2 hot tubs.
I had read reviews saying that there aren’t enough chairs and people try to hog the chairs all day. I found there to be plenty of chairs and saw many sitting empty each day I went up. Maybe the cruise wasn’t full when I went but I never had a problem finding a chair. I did have a problem finding a chair in the shade on sea day since everyone was out at the pool that day. There were plenty open in the sun though.
The Lido deck is also where you will go to watch any movie the cruise is showing. They showed 2 movies a day. We caught Daddy’s Home 2 and Black Panther.
There are also stands that have towels for you to borrow while you’re at the pools. You need to return them before you leave to avoid being charged for them. There are also beach towels provided in your room if you want to bring those to the pool. You need to make sure to bring them back to your room otherwise you’ll be charged.
I also read a bunch of blogs that recommend bringing towel clips to clip your towel to your beach chair. I brought some but never used them. There are high sides around the Lido pool and I did not find it to be breezy at all. I did not visit the Serenity 21 & up area which is on a higher deck. I didn’t get the opportunity to go there so I’m not sure if the breeze picks up more there. If you plan on going there, bring clips just in case.
I can’t believe this cruise only last 3 days… I have so much more to review!! Stay tuned. I will be posting part 2 of my Carnival Liberty review. I will tell you about the entertainment, the food, the cabins, and disembarkation. I will do a 3rd post on Nassau alone.
Have you been on the Carnival Liberty? Comment below and let me know!