DW and I, in or 50's, sailed the brief voyage to Cozumel and back from Ft. Lauderdale late November. As the cruise director says, they do pack 7 days into 4. Our Crown & Anchor status is Emerald, which allowed us priority embarkation, 2 Rewards coupon booklets and a nice C & A reception.
Suffice to say the Liberty (Freedom-class) is beautiful and well maintained. The staff were all courteous and professional to a one.
As readers here already know the pleasures of cruising, rather than accolades I will describe the quirks encountered. And please allow me a little whining at the end.
We arrived at the terminal at 10:45 and were onboard just before noon. Do hit the Windjammer for lunch straight away as the masses keep coming and it gets crowded fast. I discovered and enjoyed several meals in the Windjammer from the Jade buffet: authentic Indian cuisine with some curry and spice kick to it.
We had a standard balcony cabin, and upon entering noticed a little sign perched on the desk that read: "Ice available upon request. Please contact your Stateroom Attendant". Which I did as he welcomed us onboard - but no ice till the third day. Perhaps our handshake was missing a $5-spot (?), which did work quite well at the C & A reception to promptly get our desired cocktails. Our Stateroom Attendant turned down our room for the first nite while we were at the 4 p.m. life boat drill, which was o.k.
Dining in the "complimentary" venues (as the handy, interactive kiosks call those restaurants where there is no additional charge) started out great the first nite with delicious prime rib, but went downhill thereafter. Just poor selection. Be wary of the "always available aged prime NY sirloin" that we both ordered the second nite; it was mostly gristle and seriously, hardly edible. Due to non-appealing entrees the final nite, we tried the sirloin again after informing our waiter of our prior experience and it was much better. Escargot was on the menu every nite, but was not available any nite. Nary a lobster to be found, unless you opt to pay a $30 premium, or $39 for surf n' turf. There was abundant shrimp and other seafood, the tilapia and grouper in the Windjammer were quite good, as was the lobster bisque and garlic soup appetizers at dinner.
It just came to seem like if you merely wanted the dinner fare that was "complimentary" with your cruise fare, you were depriving yourself of what you should be enjoying if you would just spend more money. But I do see many, maybe all, Cruise Critic writers raving about the premium dining so, Hey, I'm just sayin' !!!
Cocktails were priced at $6.50 but they gave you a good pour. One morning DW pre-ordered breakfast in the cabin and we received a courtesy call that it was on its way - a nice touch.
A couple of this writer's personal taste items not to be found: morning V-8 or tomato juice, or evening SKYY brand vodka.
Now to the whining, and I'm going to kind of beat a dead horse. Much of our conversation with fellow passengers and ourselves was about (and you do have to give due credit here) the cruise industry's now well honed, down-to-a-science ability to extricate onboard spending in any and every facet imaginable. It's like a palpable, constant mantra: Spend, Spend. Coupons, deals, semiNars that are very thinly disguised sell-you-a-product-Nars in whirlwind fashion. That's the way it is now and undoubtedly in the future, so be aware and mindful.
And bring some $5 bills; well worth it.
In the big picture we, as always, enjoyed ourselves and Royal is a great cruise product. Can't wait to sail again. Extom