Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Essence of The Escape - Carnival Liberty 7 Day Caribbean Cruise

The energy you feel the moment you hit any port of call, prior to boarding a cruise ship is an astonishing feeling. No matter whether your boarding in Los Angeles, Miami, New York or Puerto Rico, to watch as the teams of porters & cruise ship staff members prepare that weeks guests for a “Bon Voyage” is like watching an action packed play unfold right before your eyes.
click to enlarge
The effortless process that Carnival has created for the thousands upon thousands of guest’s who pass through their numerous ports around the globe every few days, helps to set the tone for what everyone hopes will be an exciting, smooth running and relaxing trip. Once you go through the check in process you are given a sign & sail card (which alleviates having to carry cash everywhere you go while on the ship) and it is off to the races for just about everyone from that instant on.
 With so many culinary options to choose from, it shouldn’t take long to realize that the skilled and thoughtful staff that oversee the kitchens of this massive operation have everything under control. Every last detail, down to where they must stop and grab some quick produce while in the middle of the ocean should they be unpleased with this weeks melon and fruit selection has been carefully thought out.
If instantly getting to eating isn’t in your plans, you should slide on by the shore excursions desk. There you can get yourself properly informed about all of the amazing activities to do in each port (as well as score some cool promotional items that first day, many of which people know nothing about.) 

Guests who are hesitant to book a cruise because of a restrictive diet needn’t have any fears. Consider this fact; 3,500+ guests and 1,600+ crew members from every single walk of life imaginable, are onboard the Liberty 52 weeks a year. That being said, every form of dietary need, whether for allergic or religious reasons are going to be met (with plenty of options by the way) day in and day out.
The Alchemy Bar
The Carnival Liberty was going to be our home for the week and we wanted to make the best of it, even with Hurricane Sandy’s ugly presence looming off in the distance. The  Liberty underwent a slew of 2.0 upgrades  last year that included the addition of Guy’s Burger Joint, The Alchemy Bar, The EA Sports Bar, The Blue Iguana Taco & Burrito Bar, The Red Frog Rum Bar and the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. 
Unlike cruise ships in the past that have made additions to their ships, only to create more of the same mundane "variety" they already have, these different lounge and dining areas each have their own unique feel and vibe to them.

Guy's Burger Joint
Starting with Guy’s Burger Joint as our first stop, it was amazing how this place stood apart from the rest of the ship. People around the world obviously love Hamburgers, no matter what you put on them. Hamburgers are a staple for many people and in some instances considered to be a special food, strictly because the price of beef in their respective regions can be quite expensive. At Guy's they were steadily dishing out perfectly seasoned patties on delicious buttered & grilled buns, served up a myriad of ways which was located on the back end of the Lido Deck.

After you have a couple of burgers the obvious next move is to have a few drinks and relax in the sun while awaiting your arrival into port. Just around every corner sits a fully stocked and appropriately themed bar depending on where you find them whether it be the casino, the atrium, the lido deck, the serenity deck, you just cant run out of places to order up a great tasting drink.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos @ The Blue Iguana Cantina
If your not a big burger fan you will be delighted by the grub found at the Mongolian Wok, the Blue Iguana Taco & Burrito Bar, the Pizza Bar, The Deli, 24 hour Room Service or even “Cherry On Top” the ships candy shop that has just about every form of candy (available for purchase by the pound) you could ever want, before or after dinner.

After the breakfast rush dies down, The Blue Iguana Taco & Burrito Bar transform from serving breakfast to lunch where the choices become succulent shrimp, chicken, carne asada and carnitas, alongside street style tacos, rice & beans and much more. The Blue Iguana never got old, the entire trip. Everything is made fresh to order right in front of you so you can determine how much you get of each ingredient and with it being situated just off the side of the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar you couldn’t help but eat a few plates and enjoy some incredibly strong libations. If tequila isn’t your thing just take about 20 or 30 steps across the deck to the Red Monkey Rum Bar, where even more beers, frozen mixed drinks and more are made to order all day and night.

The addition of Guy’s and the other bars did what every passed guest has hoped for over the years, greatly reduced the lines and wait times for food in the buffet areas throughout the day.
The great thing about all of these spots to eat and places to drink is that they are jam packed all day long with things to do, shows and music to listen too and fun events to partake to help make the day that much more fun for their guests. Nothing is worse than sitting and eating around people where everyone is scared to talk, and trust us that just doesn’t happen on a Carnival Cruise. Everyone for the most part is eager to tell you where they are from or are interested in hearing what excursions you have chosen to help direct them towards the fun as well.
Filet Mignon & Lobster Tail @ Diamonds Steakhouse

Now for those that don’t know or are simply afraid to try the steakhouses onboard Carnivals ships, it can only be said that you truly don’t know what you are missing out on. Not that anything is wrong with the food served daily in the dining room, room service and just about every floor on the ship, but for a mere $35.00 + tip you can be treated to 3 – 5 courses of pure culinary artistry that will live long in your memories and conversations after you depart from the cruise. Whether you choose the Filet Mignon, the Lobster Tail or both the choice is yours and you will never regret taking the time, to have such a romantic dinning experience. Quiet, dimly lit and serviced by an attentive staff that is hard to find in the states these days, Diamond’s Steakhouse is a far better happening than you will find at your local Ruth’s Chris or Flemming’s.

If that doesn't sound elegant enough for you and you'd like to experience an even more magical and enlightening evening at the hands of a Chef De Cuisine, whose level of understanding for how various ingredients work together so elegantly is hard to obtain you must partake in "The Chef’s Table." 
Described by Carnival as “the experience of a lifetime, culminating in a sumptuous multi-course dinner hosted by one of our master chefs," truly a better fitting description could not be given. 
Your VIP experience starts with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for a select group of 12, followed by a tour to see the galley in operation. The evening concludes with a mind-blowing full-service dinner of amazing appetizers and canapes, entrees and desserts not found on our regular dining menus.” It’s just $75 per person and only available 2 or 3 times per cruise, so make sure to check for it and get on the list as early as possible. Below are just a few photos of what you can expect to find at "The Chefs Table"

Tuna Banh Mi (Lemon Bread, Sesame Crisp, Miso Cream & Avocado Gel)

Cornish Hen (Caramelized w/ Butternut Squash Sofrito)

Seared Salmon (Herb Pesto, Cured Tomatoes, Carrots, Fava, Mushroom Earth, Condensed Beets)

Wagyu (Slow Stewed Short Ribs, Potato Pebbles, Pumpkin Fudge, Tomato Dust)

The "Chef in a Candy Shop" 
When your treated to room stewards, dining room staff and almost 1600+ employees (many of whom you actually come in contact with) who are determined to make your trip memorable, as the helpful staff overseeing our days and nights when onboard the ship were, you can’t help but feel as if you made the right decision in taking a cruise.

If you’re a fan of our site, you have seen the menus we have displayed from previous cruises of the usual dinner faire. Great steaks, salads, soups, stews and seafood dishes are available night after night in the main dining hall and no matter where you sit, you will enjoy not only the show, but the care and attention you receive your dining room staff. Being called by name, having them remember your drink choices and how you like certain foods or what your allergic too is like being served by a family member, not someone doing their job. 

Veuve Clicquot on chill during dinner, nightly

Ten Caine & A Hurricane - Isla Roatan, Honduras

Coconut Shrimp, Plantain Fries, Red Beans & Rice - Isla Roatan, Honduras

Fresh Guacamole & Chips made a few feet away fresh on the beach @ Nachi Cocum, Cozumel, Mexico

All you can drink Coronas (a fully stocked bar with too much to try to name is also on hand) Nachi Cocum, Cozumel

Chicken Taquitos @ Nachi Cocum, Cozumel, Mexico

3 Pepper Fresh Salsa made on the beach at Nachi Cocum, Cozumel, Mexico
Chicken & Beef Fajitas also made right on the beach @ Nachi Cocum, Cozumel, Mexico
All you can eat & drink platter @ Nachi Cocum, Cozumel, Mexico (all fresh made too order)
The purpose of this review isn’t about what ports we hit, or how much fun we had traveling around the Western Caribbean, it goes without saying that we had a blast as would anyone who had the opportunity to visit Cozumel Mexico, Isla Roatan Honduras, Belize and The Cayman Islands. When you combined the intoxicating allure of spending a week on the ship with all of the amazing shore excursions and tours you can take on land, if you don’t have a great time on a Carnival cruise vacation, I truly don’t know what would make you smile.
Chicken Tacos @ Wet Lizard, Belize

Jerk Chicken, Red Beans & Rice w/ Plantains @ Wet Lizard, Belize
Carnival takes pride in having a staff of individuals who can mold themselves to meet all of their guests needs, week in and week out. Just think about it this way, right as your getting to know them and they have learned what your likes and dislikes are, you leave and they are given a whole new family to learn about and embrace and make feel welcome, no easy task at all. Emelito, Gladdie & I Putu pulled out all of the stops for us, night after night and we couldn’t thank them enough.

Creme Brulee 

Hurricanes @ Fat Tuseday, Cozumel Mexico
Until Next Time...

1 comment: