Hi guys & gals...we're back form my b'day cruise on the Liberty Of The Seas, and I thought with just a few gliches, the cruise was terrific and I will highlight both good, bad, and needs improvement.
Some backround info: This was our 26th cruise overall for my wife & I, 11th on RCI ( Diamond ) , 2nd time on the Liberty ( 1st '07 , 7 nights ) . We were celebrating my 60th b'day...wow, that's old! When we drove down to the port, we drove by a cemetery, 2 guys with a shovel saw me and starting chasing me..LOL.....
We booked a D1 cabin, # 9632 on the port side just at the start of the hump, 4 cabins down from the elevator. Glad to report there was NO noise from neighbors nor from the elevator. Cabin was tiny bit squeaky when the ship moved and since I'm a light sleeper, sometimes it bothered me, but as usual, I slept pretty well on board. Cabin Steward Alvin was terrific- brought me a real fridge for my meds IMMEDIATELY,changed the comforter on our bed ( hate those heavy ones - so hot under there!) to a regular blanket, and gave us 2 extra towels daily.
We had a sail away party at 3 PM at the Sky Bar and I met some people from the CC message boards : Chris ( Niksmom), John & Debbie ( nacdcruiser), and some others. More on the CC meeting later...
I should start by saying we all received an e-mail stating that embarkation would be delayed till 1 PM, due to the LOS coming back from a Trans-atlantic cruise, so there are more inspections required ( Coast Guard,immigration, etc..)...we arrived at 12.20 PM, and thanks to our Diamond status, bypassed the long lines and were on board by 12:45.Straight to the Windjammer as usual, where it was busy, got a quick lunch, and cabins ready at 1:30.
The ship was SUPPOSE to leave at 4:30, but after the muster drill at 4:15, it appeared we weren't close to leaving since I noticed about 500 suitcases still in the drop-off area down below. I had friends who drove from Miami ( 50 miles) who were going to wave to us from the John Lloyd Park area on the dock. Rule is you must be out by sunset, and since sunset was around 5:30 PM, this looked like it might be a problem, and it was. At 5:10 I called them from my cell and they said they were on the pier looking at the ship, and as the Oasis started to go by them at 5:20, the park ranger told them they must leave after the Oasis goes by. I felt bad because we had been planning this for months, so they called and said they had to go...we didn't leave PE till 6:10 pm..
We had MTD at 6:45 on deck 5 ( table 628, nice- near the window), and that worked out great for us. We waited MAXIMUM 3-4 minutes on the 4 nights we ate there. Our waiters Clinton and Ass't waiter Vihesh, along with the "shots guy" Edmund, were all outstanding. The food was fair, but filling, as usual. We missed the new menus by 1 day- it started on the Liberty 11/15, which was when we got off!! I had the usual prime-rib one night, tiger shrimp another night, etc.,etc..Chops on the other hand was OUTSTANDING! We celebrated Sun night, got a table for 2 by the window. Service, food, ambiance was A+. We also sat next to some real nice people on both sides, one couple from Chicago on their 1st cruise & vacation alone from the kids in a long time. Gave them some tips on cruising as well as my card ( I'm a cruise agent). Also saw them several times on the ship after that and chatted about how the cruise was going for them. We've eaten in Chops at least 10-12 times, and this might have been the best meal & experience of all.
Sunday was first day at sea, and it was sunny & nice. Seats in the Solarium were tough to find. The Meet & Mingle was schedualed for 3:30 in the Viking Crown Lounge and we had 46 sign up to attend. I should explain that RCI does NOT sponsor any CC meetings that are less than 7 days, so I went ahead and contacted Jennifer at Cruise Critic, who contacted RCI about reserving the VCL on that day at 3:30, and after a few days of waiting, I received an e-mail from RCI saying that the time & day for the M & M was OK. I tried to contact someone from On Board Services named Michelle several times , but got no response- I was VERY dissappointed that she never replied to me. Then, while on board, I contacted an activites director about possibly providing some refreshments, cookies, ANYTHING at our meeting. He said he would try to do this, but he also failed at his task. I will say I was VERY dissappointed in RCI's lack of effort in this matter. I know they don't sponsor anything under 7 days for the M & M meetings, but would it be such a big deal to give 45+ people some ice tea, or lemonade or some peanuts? Many of us were Diamond & Platinum....I want to say that we finally met some of the people from the chat boards like Donna ( waterbugohio) and husband Rick, Luis & Anna (Luma001) from Costa Rica, whom we ended up spending time with several times partly due to the fact that my wife is Latino and so are they, so they could chat in Spanish and we all got along...also Michelle & Michael ( M & M ) and Chasdata, Meatlessinca, Woodshedmaniac, and others ( sorry if didn't mention more names). I was little surprised only about 15 showed up, but things happen on your 1st sea day. I was glad to have met everybody and it was nice seeing many of you throughout the cruise on the ship.
Sunday was also the Ice show called Encore, and I thought it was VERY good. First 2/3 of the show was music from Broadway shows like Carmen & Phantom Of The Opera, but then the last 1/3 was rock n' roll and I thought it was terrific. The Russian "ring thrower" was OUTSTANDING and had the audience in stiches when one women he chose could NOT throw the rings straight enough to land on his shoulders.
Headliner that night was Kenny James, a singer who was featured on Star Search. We didn't care for him much so we left after 10 minutes. Not my style of music. FYI: Leo Papa was the CD and we thought he was fine. He is from Brazil, and my wife thought he was very handsome. We spoke with him several times around the ship.
Diamond Lounge- Efren Aguirre, from Mexico, was the Diamond Concierge, which is located on deck 14 in the VCL off to the right. It was not nearly as nice looking as I thought it would be, but it had great views of the sea. Efren was terrific, answering any questions we had. He will be on there till Jan, then waits for a new assignment to a ship yet unknown. Cold appetizers were fair, hot ones much better IMO. Beverage service was very good.
Mon was Belize and we did the Alton Ha & River Wallace excursion which was excellant, though a bit long ( 6 hours). Lunch was not included, but we stopped at a place where you could eat either burgers or the Belize specialty of seasoned chicken, rice & beans and plantains. It was pretty good, though I would've preferred more than 2 selections. The location was very Caribbean, under a huge palapa with Caribbean music. It was better than the food...
Mon night was the Saturday Night Fever show, and I must say, I thought it was spectacular! Probably the 2nd best production show we've ever seen ( Hairspray was # 1 on Oasis IMO). Dancers & singers terrific. NO cursing and a few hints of sexual innuendos, but nothing a 10 or 7 yr. old would probably understand....it was 90 minutes long, longest show I've ever been to..some said it was a tad too long, but not to me. At the end, after all the performers took their bows, they all sang a medley of the SNF hits with EVERYBODY standing, clapping & singing. Do Not miss this show, and do NOT leave till the absolute end. I have been critical in the past of RCI production shows ( unknown shows, boring,etc..), but this show gets an A+ from Big Al.
Tuesday we were in Cozumel ( our 8th time), so we opted for something different from beach or beach, or maybe another beach...we went on the Atlantis Submarine excursion. This was fabulous! FYI: I was a little concerned because I have a little claustrophobia, but it was not bad in there. I will not get into details unless someone specifically asks, but I will say you dive 105 ft down and the sea life down there was amazing! Whole tour is about 90-120 min with 45 minutes underwater in the sub. Highly recommended!!!
Then off to Paradise Beach, which worked out perfect for us. No entrance fee, but they put $2 on your food/ drink bill to cover costs of maintenance, beach, lounge chairs,etc. Pool is great, though I thought it was bit chilly. Beach was very nice with plenty of umbrellas & loungers. Water also was a tad chilly for this Floridian ( maybe 77?), but not not too cold..just don't expect the 82-84 degree water most people expect...we had steak & chicken fajitas and it was very good, although a bit $$, like most tourist places...a great day in all...
Tuesday night show was comedic juggler Paul di Muzio, and he was alright...maybe a B- as a grade
Wed was our 2nd sea day and we spent it at the pool. Beautiful day- maybe 80F and mostly sunny till about 2 PM, then it got partly cloudy. We did a backstage tour of the Platinum theater at 4 PM, which we got through our Diamond club. It was interesting to see all the props and sound booths ...Wed night was the last show, In The Air, a sort of Cirque-du-soleil style show. It was very good, though not nearly (IMO) as outstanding as SNF was. Only 40 minutes long.
Two very bad negatives: The tender process in Belize was very slow. We were told to meet in the Platinum theater at 9 AM...we didn't leave there till 10:15 AM, and it was almost 11 AM before the excursion started. We didn't get back on board till almost 5:30..ship was SUPPOSE to leave at 6, but left at 7:15. I had read the tender process in Belize was slow, and it was. Second, the self- debarkation for people getting off themselves w/o going to the luggage area was a nightmare!! We were told to go to deck 3 in the On Air Club to deboard between 7:30-8 AM ( ice skating area). The line AT 7:10 am
was all the way to the back of the theater on BOTH sides with both ailes double lined. We didn't MOVE till about 8:30. By that time the line must've had 750-1000 people backed up outside the theater all the way thru the art gallery to the elevators. Once the line started moving, we went pretty fast, but this area needs alot of improvement. I always do self- debarkation and NEVER have encountered such a mess. We were at our car at 8:55 AM...
So overall we loved our Liberty cruise. Highlights were the excursions, Chops, the shows, especially Saturday Night Fever & Encore, our cabin, service ( waiters,Leo,Efren,Alvin,etc..), meeting nice people from CC and others not on CC...improvements should be made in tender waiting time in Belize and the debarkation process in Port Everglades. Next stop- the 3 night Valentine's Day cruise on the Allure with another couple, Bill & Melanie from Miami ( yes, same couple who waited for us to leave from John Lloyd park)..and a special thanks to them for sending b'day decorations to our cabin AND a yummy chocolate birthday cake..I took one bite and was ready to call the medics...pure chocolate heaven!!!.Anybody joining us? Any questions about this ship or cruise, fire away...Cheers to my message board friends!!