One thing I love about cruising is that you can be whatever type of traveler you want. You can be the laziest of travelers and sleep in, lazily get breakfast,
make buy drinks, nap by the pool, nap in your room, get ready for dinner, and drink some more. You can also be a real go-getter and get up for an early gym session before packing your day full of activities like Bingo, shopping, movies by the pool, port visits, and more. I think Alex and I were a healthy combination of both during our cruise on the Carnival Liberty. You can read all about the ship at this link. The highlights were the deck, poolside theater, gym, track, mini-golf, comedy club, and Alchemy bar!
We took the first flight of the day to avoid any potential delays and arrived in Miami quite early. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the port that the Carnival Liberty was allowing early arrivals to board the ship. We were on the Liberty by about noon, just in time to have chips and salsa at the Blue Iguana cantina salsa bar and get fruity deck drinks.
We wandered around to explore the ship for a little bit, got our bags unpacked, and watched from the deck as we pulled away from shore before getting ready for our first dinner. We were excited to have a room on the Lido deck for easy access to the pool, much of the food, and several of the bars.
We had dinner at the sit down dining room and explored the ship a little more, attending (and participating in!) a magic show before heading to bed.
First Fun Day at Sea: On Sunday, we played on the Liberty most of the day as it was the first Fun Day at Sea. After laying out on the deck with cocktails and getting lunch, we played two rounds of mini-golf in the warm, breezy air. Alex and I are pretty evenly matched when it comes to mini-golf, so of course we each won one round and tied our strokes exactly over the two rounds!
After mini-golf, we got ready for the first formal night, and went to dinner before seeing some of the Adults Only comedy shows, which were actually quite hilarious! We also went to the casino, where I surprisingly won $90 in the slot machine. Score!
First port, COZUMEL: Before the cruise, we had several ideas for each port stop. In Cozumel, Mexico, there are plenty of things to do. Some options are to tour Mayan ruins, visit Cozumel’s Adventure Park, travel to Chankanaab National Park, and relax at a number of beautiful beaches near the port. In my opinion, there is no need to book an excursion through Carnival Liberty in Cozumel. There are several taxi companies that provide transportation to any location you might be interested in. However, the price for a cab ride is the same to up to 4 people, so if you are traveling in a twosome, like Alex and I, it may be worth it to find another couple to share the ride if you are looking to save money. Due to time constraints and in the interest of saving money for other ports, we decided to take a taxi to the nearby Paradise Beach. I had actually been there before on Spring Break during grad school and it was CAH-RAZY! This time, it was a little bit less wild but it was really nice to basically have the whole beach to ourselves.
If you go to Cozumel, there are several beaches in a row, but Paradise Beach is the clear winner. For only $2, you get a wristband to use the beautiful pool, showers, and beach, including chairs and umbrellas. You can also order food and drinks from your beach chairs for a reasonable price. Check out the menu here. We got the guacamole, which was so fresh, along with a few beers. If you are looking for even more fun at Paradise Beach, you can pay $12 to use the beach toys. There are several inflatable objects, including trampolines, slides, and climbing. I had done this on my previous trip, but it was well worth it to do it again. $12 to act like a kid for a day? Yes, please! Sign me up! The $12 also includes access to kayaks and paddleboards. I have always wanted to paddleboard and I finally got my chance. It was such a blast and a great workout. I definitely want to do it again the next chance I get. Anytime I can combine exercise and vacation, I am a happy girl!
After getting back from port, Alex and I went to dinner and the Mexican fiesta took place on the deck. Unlimited chips and salsa might be my heaven!
Final words about Cozumel: Any of the Mayan ruins options (Tulum, San Gervaiso) and the adventure park are farther away and more expensive. If you wanted to do these or do a combo of activities, I would consider renting a jeep. You can rent one right at the port, for about $75 and you can drive all around the island. Of course this doesn’t include the entrance fees to anything, but if you wanted to explore the city or be spontaneous, I recommend renting the jeep. And if you opt to go to the beach, remember: Paradise Beach is the best!
Second port, BELIZE CITY: In my previous post, I mentioned that I REALLY wanted to go to Mayan ruins at some point on our Carnival Liberty cruise. I have never seen Mayan ruins and it was one thing I was so excited about! So when we didn’t go to any of the ruins in Cozumel, I was determined to go in Belize City, Belize. When we got off at the port, there were several people advertising various tours and adventures via taxi. They all worked for the same company and based on our negotiating, it seemed there was one price that all of the representatives agreed on. We ended up booking the “Mayan combo” for $40 each. The combo included a city tour, rainforest tour, and Altun Ha.
The Mayan combo tour was awesome and well worth the price, although I would argue that there was not really a rainforest tour portion. We loaded onto the van with about 8-10 other people and our guide drove us around the town giving us interesting factoids about the town and his life in Belize. We then stopped at a market where he encouraged us to buy Belizean beers, so we all purchased Belikin beers for the drive. We drove through the countryside while the guide gave us more information. One thing I found particularly interesting was the school system. All schools in Belize are religious and high school is optional if you qualify for it and if you can pay for it. Belize also has no welfare or other government programs. I enjoyed hearing about the guide’s life and family in Belize.
We arrived at Altun Ha after about 40 minutes. Altun Ha is an ancient Mayan city, built around 200 B.C. A drawing of Altun Ha’s largest temple-pyramids, the “Temple of the Masonry Altars” is the logo of Belikin beer! I loved visiting the ruins and imagining what it was like when people lived there. Apparently, a lot of jade has been excavated from the site, but it is in a safe owned by the government in downtown Belize. After seeing the ruins, we walked to a pond through the “rainforest”. It was only about a quarter-mile, so I don’t know if I would consider it a “rainforest tour”, but it was a pretty walk nonetheless. If you go to Altun Ha, bring cash! There are several vendors as you exit. One had beautiful wood carved sculptures, but I had not brought enough cash with to buy one unfortunately.
When we returned from the tour, we got free samples of chocolate at the Moho Chocolate Factory. Again, I wished I had more cash because I would have loved to bring home chocolate for family and friends. After getting back on the Liberty and having dinner, we watched The Hunger Games at the Seaside Theater on the pool deck which was a perfect end of the night!
Final words about Belize: If you walk outside of the gated area of the port, there are several other taxi companies advertising tours. I did not personally talk to them or see their prices, but I would imagine that they are less expensive. However, the tours inside the port are supported by Belize Tourism department, so they may be more legitimate. Just advice that if you stop in Belize City, you may want to compare!
Third port, MAHOGANY BAY: Our third stop was in Mahogany Bay in Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras. As I mentioned previously, this was the only excursion we booked through Carnival prior to the cruise. We booked the Relax at the Beach Package plus snorkeling excursion. It was well worth it! The Carnival Liberty only stopped in Mahogany Bay from 8am to 3pm and you had to be back on the ship by 2:30, so there isn’t much time to venture far from the port. The Relax at the Beach Package includes a ride on the Magical Beach Flying Chair to and from the beach, two chairs, a clam shell, two beach floats, and two sets of snorkels, masks, and fins. Some reviewers online say the price is not worth it, but based on the cost of all of those individual rentals, you save a pretty penny by booking through Carnival, so I disagree. Also, when we were there, there were two ships at port, so the lines to get rentals were quite long and the beach chairs filled up quickly. Having rentals pre-reserved and guaranteed was very helpful.
The Magical Beach Flying Chair is short, but it does offer pretty views. It is definitely worthwhile, in my opinion. Having a clam shell and beach chairs was wonderful. There was not too much room to lay out on the sand, and it was nice to have some shade. There were a few restaurants and bars if you did not want to be on the beach.
We also enjoyed the snorkeling. The best area is to the left of the pier, as there are more reefs there. I was amazed at how close the reefs were to shore. We saw some beautiful fish, a lot of coral, and even a squid! While it was not the best snorkeling I have experienced, it was a lot of fun! Before we went back to the boat, we relaxed in the water with our floats and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
After going back to the boat and having diner, we threw a message in a bottle out to sea! We still have not heard anything back, but hopefully we will if someone finds the bottle! Obviously, I will share what happens!
Final words about Mahogany Bay: Unless you are an early riser and have time to do a more involved activity, book the Relax at the Beach Package if you are on Carnival Liberty! It is well worth it!
Final port, GRAND CAYMAN: The one activity we really wanted to do before the trip was swim with the stingrays, so when we got off the ship, we made a beeline for a stingray swim tour. We ended up booking a combo package to swim with the stingrays and snorkel for about $30-35 each. It was one of the coolest experiences! We got on a van with a fairly large group and then loaded onto a boat that took us out to Stingray City. I was surprised by the number of boats that were at Stingray City and initially, I was concerned that we would not actually get to see too much of the stingrays. My concerns were short-lived, as the captain of our boat had brought squid to feed the stingrays. As soon as we got in the water, the stingrays swarmed us! At first, it was a bit unnerving. These were wild stingrays with huge barbs! But after getting used to them, it was a really amazing experience. We got to feed, hold, and pet the stingrays. They are such interesting looking creatures and I especially loved the babies!
Next, we went to snorkel at the Coral Gardens. We saw some amazing fish, conch, and more stingrays. Alex caught a really cool video swimming behind a stingray!
We had a little time before we had to get back to the ship after we got off the boat, so we had the driver drop us off at Royal Palms Beach. We had a little too much sun, so we sat at the Royal Palms Beach Club bar and had Caybrews, a Grand Cayman beer, and spinach artichoke dip with the most delicious pretzel bread. We took a walk down the beach to admire the beautiful clear waters before heading back to the ship for the second formal night.
Final words about Grand Cayman: The stingray swim/snorkel was a really unique experience! I highly recommend it. Don’t forget your waterproof camera! If we go back again, I want to go to the sea turtle farm where you can pet baby sea turtles!
Second Fun Day at Sea: On the second Day at Sea on the Carnival Liberty, I woke up and went to a spin class before making my first cocktail. It was a pretty good class, and it was nice to get a good workout in. We had more than our share of sun that week, so we sat in the shade on the deck and at the Serenity adults only pool and had cocktails, napped, and enjoyed our last full day on the Liberty!
The cruise on the Carnival Liberty was so amazing! I can’t wait for the next one!
Have you ever been on a cruise? Have you cruised on Carnival or the Carnival Liberty? What are your favorite ports?