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Cruising in the New Year with Carnival

by David J. Cox

Years ago, our first cruise was a quick jaunt through the Florida Keys, our second was during Christmas…this time would be an extra-special one as we would be celebrating New Year’s Eve at sea in the Bahamas!

Cruising cuisine

The 4-day cruise included everything that the Carnival brand has become known for and our ship, the Liberty, is filled with crowd pleasers.

The two main dining halls, the Silver and Golden Olympia rooms, are classy and lovely to look at with their rich decoration schemes. After a private tasting with the head waiter and sous-chef, we were able to choose from a second-to-none menu with meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian options for every dinner. They also presented a wonderful New Year’s brunch in the stately restaurants.

For the informal diner, there was the attractive, well-stocked and ever-popular buffet for all three meals, as well as an ice cream station that kids flocked too about as much as I went to the free coffee machine.

There were omelet and Mongolian Wok stations available, and extremely popular. Many other dining options could be had, including burgers and fries, a sushi stand, a taco and burrito bar as well as pizza, sandwiches and a delicious Seafood Shack.

Our preferred palate pleaser was an evening meal at the Diamond Steakhouse. With a choice of delicious and sophisticated food choices and a vast wine list, this was an exceptional dining experience we fully enjoyed. We shared the smoked oysters, beef tartare, lobster bisque and a great French onion soup as appetizers.

Luckily, our party each chose something different as an entree, and so we got to sample the restaurant’s lobster, filet mignon, shrimp and Dover sole and everything was fantastic.

The dessert was presented by the chef himself, and was a collection of sweets placed artfully on a white plank and glazed with sauces and creamy delights. It was very unique!

Floating fun

For outdoor and physical fun, there are three pools, many hot-tubs (including several adults-only), a water slide, spa, gym, basketball court, jogging track and mini-putt. Inside, there is an arcade and games room for the young, full casino, dance club, theatre, comedy club, and multiple bars for adults.

The entertainment ranged from a string trio, piano bar, karaoke and a solo guitarist to a full band. Nono, the Cruise Director, also provided fun evening testing couples in a great version of the newlywed game. Three couples, married 50 years, 3 years and recent newlyweds, were asked ten questions. The answers got the crowd laughing and giggling throughout the game.

Most evenings we could also enjoy a pop and popcorn while watching movies on the giant LEDV TV on the main deck, but comedy and musical shows were the best options in my opinion.

The two comedians on board had original material for multiple PG and 18+ shows, and the Venetian Palace theatre was turned into a shrine to American rock and roll with the last evening’s “America Rocks” music, dance and light hour-long tribute.

Day tripping

With two full sailing days, we needed to take advantage of the two days we were docked in Nassau and Freeport.

In Nassau, we enjoyed the islander’s New Year’s Day parade which was a wonderful Kaleidoscope of color, feathers and music. Our group then split up, with two of us deciding to soak up the sun on the white sandy beach and enjoying a great afternoon in the clear blue waters and under the shadow of swaying palm trees with Margaritas in hand.

The other two decided to head off to “Aquaventure”, at Atlantis Paradise Island with its high-speed water slides, long river ride with rolling rapids, 20 swimming areas, a kids water-play fort and 11 swimming pools.

Next day we stayed near the ship, as beach excursions were quite pricey and we were quite satiated with the Nassau beach. We instead went shopping in the bustling marketplace at the Freeport market, enjoying food and the local ambiance.

New Year’s Party

The New Year’s Eve countdown party was all day long and was a highlight of our cruise.

Throughout the day the ship was bursting with activities and music. Our morning started with a brunch in the Olympian dining rooms. After that we headed up to the 9th floor where guests could write their New Year’s wish and place it into a balloon that would later drop with hundreds of others at 11pm onto the Lobby below.

The evening offered a $3000 jackpot Bingo and one of the best ship-board musicals I have seen – “Flick”. Dance, video and song honored the silver screen and the power of motion pictures, wonderful choreography and the show was well produced and a lot of fun.

Up on the main “Lido deck”, free Champagne flowed. As midnight approached, almost the entire ship’s contingent of passengers and crew were crowding the deck dancing and enjoying the vibe. It was a noisy, fun and great way to countdown and ring in 2019!

When we returned to our cabin, we were greeted with complimentary chocolate dipped strawberries and a nice bottle of champagne.

Final thoughts

The main take away from our voyages on Carnival Cruises, this being our third, is how content the staff seems to be. From porters to kitchen cooks to help desk agents, all greet guests with a welcoming smile.