We went on this cruse with our 3 adult children, son and daughter-in-law and our 18 month old grandson, so there were 8 of us altogether. My husband and I are regular cruisers, but we have cruised most often with Princess. We had cruised once before with Royal Carribbean in 2006, but that was a late availability holiday, so we just went with what was available at 3 weeks notice. We were not disappointed with that cruise apart from the fact that there was no anytime dining then and that is really an essential for us. We chose Royal Carribean this time because we felt the age profile would be better for our extended family and some ships including the Liberty now supposedly offer this option. We did have a great time, but I would be very hesitant to book another Royal Carribbean cruise.
We flew from Bristol with Easyjet. Despite information about flight number etc in our travel documents and several calls to RCI we were unable to check in on line. We were told this would not be a problem as we had been allocated seats all together. At the airport check in, after an hour standing in a queue from 05.00 hrs, the clerk was extremely rude to us because we had not checked in on line, and told us we would be fined if we did it again!
We arrived in Barcelona airport, terminal 2. We went through passport control and reclaimed our baggage (eventually locating the buggy on a completely different carousel from the other luggage) before meeting the RCI rep who said we would need to wait 15 mins for the bus to the port. Over 30 mins later with one very tired grandson, we eventually got on the bus. Grandson immediately fell asleep. We were then driven to terminal 1 at the airport where we all had to get off the bus, carrying a heavy sleeping child, and join another long queue to check in to the ship - yes, in the airport! All checked in successfully except my eldest son, for whom there were no details.
Two hours after landing at the airport we eventually boarded the bus for the 20 minute drive to the ship. When we got there, more checking in for my eldest son, and at last got on the ship, 7 hours after arriving at Bristol airport for our journey.
We expected a big ship, but Liberty really is too big. It's not particularly stunning either. The cabins are very good though, apart from the fact that the cabin, bathroom and wardrobe doors all open into the same space, which was quite dangerous for little fingers and annoying for adults. Our cabin steward was pleasant enough, but spent most of her time on her mobile phone, not sure if it was private or work calls, and the cleaning wasn't the best. Cabins contained just the basics, no little extras like chocolates at night, paper and pen, body lotion, shower caps and conditioner and we had to ask for ice and bathrobes. We only ever got one bathrobe betewen 7 of us! We did have towel animals for 5 of the 7 nights though.
RCI really don't understand anytime dining either. Our understanding is that you just turn up when you are ready to eat and occasionally you have to queue if you are not happy to share a table. This is what happens on Princess, P & O and NCL and it works perfectly. RCI expect you to book each night and we were told 90% of passengers do this. So we had the waiting staff every night in the same area of the dining room, on two tables for 4 pushed together, until the last two nights when we requested a round table for 8. We still had the same waiters, who were actually fab, but that is not the point. Part of the anytime dining experience is to meet different waiters and eat with different people around you. Even those sharing a table with travellers not in their party seemed to end up on the same table every night!
The food in the Windjammer was generally good for buffet food, but dinners in the dining room were average to poor. We tried breakfast in the dining room once - poor experience with miserable waiting staff and little choice. Afternoon tea in the dining room is not an option and they only served lunch in the dining room a couple of times in the whole week. Drinks were absolutely extortionate.
The shows were good although we only saw half of Saturday Night Fever as they stopped it due to bad weather. (The ship's motion that night was unlike anything we have experienced before and was really unpleasant, especially as this was a first cruise for the rest of the family). They rescheduled this show to clash with the ice show which we were told you had to book for, so we felt we should go to that. No-one checked our booking and over half the seats were empty. The whole show booking system is a great idea, but it is a joke. We booked to see the aerial acrobatic show, arrived 10 mins before it started, only to find it was almost full. So we had very poor seats despite having booked on-line weeks before.
The Crown and Anchor party was also a joke - not a very funny one. There were probably 30 people there, with a very mediocre band and the captain giving a short talk about the history of the fleet. We stayed for a couple of drinks and left. We did however like the little book of vouchers that the give C & A members.
Most of the staff were very pleasant and friendly as you would expect, but some of them were very sullen and occasionally downright rude.
The itinerary was good with lovely ports especially Villefrance and La Spezia. Some of us did 2-3 excursions and whilst these were expensive, they were good. Disembarkation for tours however was shambolic compared to all the other companies. In Naples we were told to meet on the dockside for our tour to Pompeii, but we were not told or shown where to meet, which if you have ever been to the large cruise dock in Naples, you will know is a problem. We were almost forced into travelling on different buses!
Overall it was a fun week and we will all remember it fondly, but it could have been a lot better.