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Carnival Liberty Trip Report: Day 1 – Embarkation

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Ever since I sailed my first Carnival LIVE sailing, I knew I wanted to do another one. When I saw that Tim McGraw was headlining two shows, I knew I HAD to go – but which ship? Since I’m in northern Florida, the only obvious choice was Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral. This is my three-day trip report from Carnival Liberty.

It’s been said that I’m a cruise addict. There’s no denying it. I go to the port to watch ships leave, I take massive amounts of photos (to the tune of over 100,000 now) and will book a cruise 18 months out, just so I have something to look forward to. Not to mention, countless amounts of weekly texts from friends and family members asking every cruise question in the book. So it’s no surprise that when I saw a cruise on Carnival Liberty for $199 and it was a Tim McGraw concert sailing, I had to book it.

photo: Carnival

Being that I live two hours from Port Canaveral, I drove down there the morning of the cruise. I made it in two hours flat! Parking at the pier was $64 for three nights; a bit of a rip off if you ask me. I’d suggest using an offsite parking lot like GoPortCanaveral for half the price and efficient shuttle service. Port Canaveral is known for sticking it to the cruiser, and the latest price increase is more proof.

Once I checked my bag, entered the cruise terminal, and made my way through security, I went to the check-in area with the rest of the platinum, diamond, and Faster to the Fun guests. The check-in process was flawless and I waited for about 15 minutes before boarding. Once they started boarding, things moved very quickly. Almost no one stopped for photos. From checking in to boarding the ship was 30 minutes.

The ship was a throwback to what I remember back in 2011, after her Fun Ship 2.0 renovation, and then again in 2014 when she first came to Port Canaveral. Interesting decor with colorful chandeliers and lights. A lot of dark colors in the atrium. The first stop was to the main theater to see the layout for the Tim McGraw show. Then it was off to the stateroom – an oceanview room on the second deck, midship. Since I am platinum, my stateroom was ready. I ordered two cases of bottled water for the voyage ($4.50 per case). Normally that is in the room waiting for you, but it didn’t wind up arriving until later that night.  

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The ship had a BBQ joint upstairs where the old fish and chips station used to be. I was excited, but not excited enough to skip Guy’s Burger Joint. I grabbed a burger there and then went upstairs to check out the BBQ joint. This isn’t a Guy’s branded BBQ yet, though I expect it to be in the future. They have the same sauces and meat selections as Guy’s Pig & Anchor BBQ on Carnival Vista. The burger and BBQ were both awesome.

The lifeboat drill was about 30 minutes and then it was time to cruise! We started moving as soon as we were released from the muster station. That’s when I went up to the top deck to get some sailaway pictures. The last few times I was at Port Canaveral, it was to watch the sailaway from Fish Lips, so it was nice to be on the ship itself this time. Disney Cruise Line had a ship there and they sailed after us, so we had the harbor to ourselves.

Carnival has this special where if you book the steakhouse on the first night of the cruise, you get a free bottle of wine, so that we did. The steakhouse reservation was at 5:30, and it was excellent as always. Even though the menu is the same across the other Carnival ships, this steakhouse had a darker feel to it. The food was delicious as always. Instead of going for the 18 oz cowboy cut, I went with the petite filet and lobster tail.

Dinner was over by 7:30 and it was off to Dr. Seuss’ birthday party. Hosted by the cruise director Donkey, they had a balloon drop in the main atrium followed by a ton of cupcakes, cookies, and cakes. Even The Cat in the Hat made a special appearance. There seemed to be a lag of things to do between dinnertime and the first welcome aboard show because after the birthday celebration, there were no activities until 10:45.

Not gonna lie, I was in bed by 9 pm after going non-stop all day. Am I getting old or what?


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Inside The Party For Carnival Horizon [PHOTOS]

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Given that Queen Latifah is the Godmother of Carnival’s newest ship, you had to know a good time was going to be had by all at the Carnival Horizon’s official naming ceremony. Held in New York City on a picture-perfect afternoon, the event featured plenty of food, lots of drink, singing, dancing and even a pretty substantial charitable donation.

Welcome To Flavortown

Things got under way with a ribbon-cutting ceremony as celebrity chef Guy Fieri welcomed guests to the latest outpost of Flavortown, the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse. With live music playing, servers dished out hearty helpings of the venue’s signature foods, including trashcan nachos, dragon chili cheese fries and a pecan pie that was, according to the genuine Southern belle at our table, “to die for.”

Guy Fieri and brewmeister Colin Presby, doing the honors.

After that, the traditional naming ceremony kicked off with Brand Ambassador John Heald offering up a tip of the hat to “the one man to blame” for the fact that “I now have X’s in the back of everything I’m wearing,” Fieri.

Next up was the traditional prayer of blessing, followed by Carnival president Christine Duffy welcoming everyone aboard before discussing the very special bond between the cruise line and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Speaking proudly of the $16 million dollars raised by Carnival since the partnership first began in 2010, Duffy then presented the hospital with a check for another $100,000 and directed everyone’s eyes to the 24-foot Dreamscape, which anchors the atrium and now features among it’s displays 33 pieces of art created by St. Jude patients.

Artwork done by St. Jude patients lit up the Dreamscape.

Next up was the ship’s Godmother, Queen Latifah, who also happens to be a major supporter of St. Jude. After thanking the crowd “for looking so good,” Latifah asked everyone to take another look at the artwork-adorned Dreamscape. “My mom was an art teacher,” she said of her recently-deceased parent, “so I appreciate what the kids do. I know what it does for a child’s heart to create like that.”

Of being Godmother to a cruise ship, Latifah admitted it was “one of the coolest things I’ve ever been asked to be a part of in my life!” She was then joined on stage by Captain Luigi De Angelis and, together, they poured an oversized bottle of champagne (“This is the only time the captain will hold a bottle of champagne like this,” quipped Heald) over the ship’s inaugural season bell.

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“Only at Carnival Cruise Line,” quipped Heald of the ceremony, “do we water the plants with Moet.”

With the official business of the day out of the way, it was time for the fun to start in the Liquid Lounge, where Latifah battled Philadelphia Eagles player Jake Elliot in an epic Lip Sync Battle hosted by popular Carnival cruise director Matt Mitcham. But before the main event could begin, the crowd was in for an unexpected treat when Duffy was joined on stage by Carnival Corp’s President and CEO, Arnold Donald, for a lip synched performance of The Black Eyed Peas’ party anthem “I Gotta Feeling.”

Duffy and Donald proved they definitely choose fun.

With Duffy cheering on Elliot, and Donald firmly in the Queen’s corner, the main event began. And while footballer Elliott took the pumped-up crowd back to the days of MTV’s Headbangers Ball by donning a massive wig to perform Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” this was Latifah’s battle to lose. And if you know anything about the singer/actor/businesswoman — who also happens to be a past Lip Sync Battle champion — it’s that she does not come to lose. The moment she and the Playlist Productions performers took to the stage to perform “It’s Raining Men,” it was all over but the cheering. Of the stripping background dancers, Mitcham joked that Latifah’s performance was “like Baywatch and Magic Mike went wild,” while Donald said that the dancers “inspired me to keep my shirt on!”  

Elliott put up a good fight, but he couldn’t dethrone the Queen.

Before being crowned the winner, Latifah admitted there was one thing about her new role which she’d found disappointing. “Shouldn’t Godmother’s have a wand?” she asked… only to promptly be presented one, with which she sprinkled “love dust over the crowd, even my sworn enemy Jake.”

The evening ended with a bang… or, more precisely, a whole lot of bangs.

With the scheduled events of the evening over, invited guests dispersed to enjoy the live entertainment taking place all around the ship, as well as movies in the Imax and Thriller Theaters, a party on the Lido deck, a midnight buffet and an impressive fireworks display that was, appropriately enough, set in part to the tune “New York, New York.” 

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Carnival Horizon Makes Inaugural Call in Canadian Port

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Carnival Cruise Line’s brand new Vista-class ship Carnival Horizon made her first-ever call in Halifax, Nova Scotia yesterday.

The day was a welcome change for cruise passengers; it was the first port stop after six days at sea crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean. Ship officers as well as local officials held a traditional plaque ceremony in the Library onboard, where a plaque was given to the ship by the Port of Halifax and other tokens were exchanged, including a model of the ship given to the port by Carnival Cruise Line.

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Carnival Horizon is the sister-ship to Carnival Vista, which pioneered a number of new concepts for Carnival including the SkyRide bicycling attraction and the Dreamscape LED sculpture in the atrium. Some of Horizon’s unique new features include a sit-down barbecue smokehouse and brewery as well as a Cat in the Hat themed WaterWorks water park.

Click here for a video of the ship headed into the Port of Halifax.

Click here for our article on all of the free food found aboard Carnival Horizon.

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Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 10: Before You Disembark

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Hard as it is to believe, our time together exploring Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ships is coming to an end. But before that can happen, we need to take one last spin around the Carnival Horizon… just to make sure you aren’t missing anything!

How Do You Spend That Final Day?

Nobody likes to think about disembarkation, yet that seems to be what the mind winds up focusing on during those final 24 hours of any cruise. You’re not even off the ship yet, but the mind begins wandering to the work that will be waiting on your desk or the unmowed lawn waiting to be tended.

Our best advice: Given that you are on a Carnival ship, do as they advise and Choose Fun for as long as you possibly can.

Sure, you’ll have to pack your suitcase eventually… but the last day of your vacation is when you should slow down enough to soak it all in. Give yourself a little extra time to sit in a quiet spot, staring out at the sea and taking mental photographs. Have a long, leisurely brunch (during which you allow yourself to have a second, and maybe even a third, Bloody Mary. Head to Cherry on Top and get one more of those amazing ice cream sandwiches, which you know you’re going to have cravings for once you get back home.

Choose your cookie. Choose your ice cream. Choose your toppings. Eat. Could anything be simpler?

One thing we’d definitely recommend you do in advance: If you have a specialty restaurant you want to enjoy that final dinner-at-sea in, make a reservation. For many people, dining at the Steakhouse, for example, is a perfect capper to their cruise. Tomorrow, they’ll be back to making their own dinner and clearing their own tables, so why not have one final high-end meal?

Go ahead, live a little… it’s the last night of your cruise!

Another thing you definitely want to make sure to do on that final evening is head to the casino to cash in any winnings you might have! One of our favorite ways to make sure we go home with a little money? Cashing out whenever we have a decent win on a slot machine, putting a fresh $20 bill in the game… and sticking those tickets into the safe in our stateroom and not touching them until the week is over. When it’s time to head upstairs on the final night and pack our bags, we grab those tickets and cash them out.

One way we fight the melancholy that can often set in on the final day is by booking another trip, which on the Carnival Horizon can be done by visiting the future cruise desk on deck 10. Then, having put it off as long as we possibly could, we finally head back to the room and pack. After spending a fair amount of time deciding what to bring and what to leave behind during the days building up to the cruise, the packing-to-disembark process is a lot quicker and easier. You know the drill: Throw everything into the suitcase, don’t even bother folding it, taking as little time as possible.

The saddest thing on a cruise ever? Seeing all the suitcases lining the hallways, waiting to be collected on that final night.

If you need any information at all about the disembarkaton process, make sure to check the Fun Times or ask at Guest Services. But don’t leave this until the last morning… trust us, the staff will have their hands full trying to get everyone off the ship so that a whole new group of passengers can board and begin their vacations! In fact, if you have anything at all you need to deal with Guest Services about, try not to wait until that last evening, because the place can become a bit of a zoo!

And remember that there is no room service available on that final morning, so if you want to grab one last free meal, you’ll have to actually leave the room… or at least convince one of your traveling companions to do so! Again, consulting the Fun Times will tell you where you can go for that final meal, whether it’s a sit-down breakfast or just grabbing some coffee to get yourself going.

Sadly, it is here that we, too, must part ways. Here’s hoping that you’ve enjoyed our special, in-depth look at the Carnival Horizon. Keep checking back for more information on not only this ship but the upcoming Carnival Panorama, which we’re already excited to explore!

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