This was our 1st cruise on Royal Caribbean, and it won't be our last! We are a couple late 40's & early 50's, and this was our 5th cruise. We have sailed Premier, Carnival, and NCL. We had a Superior Balcony on deck 8 forward on the starboard side. We love being forward, and love to be rocked to sleep at night, unfortunately there was very little movement at all on this ship...most of the time, you didn't even know you were on a ship! This was the largest ship we have been on, and we had calm seas the entire trip, so that may have been the reasons for very little movement. The Liberty is a beautiful ship, well taken care of, and easy to navigate, once you figured out where everything was located.
We flew in the day prior, and stayed at the Hampton Inn Cruiseport North. We got our luggage and called for the hotel shuttle, they arrived within 10-15 minutes. We were finally in warm sunny Florida and out of the snow and cold!! The hotel is okay, nothing fancy, but clean and comfortable. We had a free night voucher from Hilton, I would never have paid the $300.00 a night they were charging for the room...totally not worth that kind of money. The location is great, close to the airport and the pier. It is just across the street from a huge shopping center with a grocery store, liquor store, dollar store, a Big Lots, and several fast food restaurants. There is also a Thai restaurant, (which I wanted to try, but it's closed on Sundays) and a sports bar called Slackers. We ate at the sports bar, the food was excellent, but our waitress did not like her job, or was having a really bad day!! Terrible service! Oh well, we were on vacation, and it was warm!!!
The hotel offered a shuttle to the pier also, at 10:30 or 11:45, we chose the 10:30. We dropped our bags with the porters, and headed to the terminal. Embarkation was fast and smooth! Even though the line looked very long, we were through security and in the check-in line at 11:15, and onboard the ship at 11:45!
We went right to the drink package table and got DH the beer, wine, and soda package for $200.00. I love that RCI changed their policy to not make everyone in the cabin buy the drink package, as I don't drink. It was well worth the money, and no guessing on how much your shipboard account might be! We each carried on a small cooler, with bottled water and diet cokes. They never even checked the bottles or anything, went right through security with them. We then headed to the Windjammer for lunch. Walked around the ship for a bit, and then the cabins were ready.
Our cabin was very comfortable, and the balcony was much bigger than the balconies we have had on NCL. We loved the location, only 3 decks up to the Solarium (adults only pool area) and 3 decks down to the Promenade Deck. Our cabin steward (Big C) was so awesome!! He really made our vacation special. We left a tip with a note for ice, on top of our cooler, and it was filled twice a day every day! He introduced himself the 1st day, and told us about his family and his country. He was always in the hallway singing and smiling, giving you high 5's and fist bumps!! If he was in the hallway on our return to the cabin, he would see us coming, go over and open our cabin door and say "Welcome Home." His towel animals were awesome, we especially loved the monkey hanging on a hanger from the divider curtain! Exceptional service, and a wonderful personality...needless to say, he got a big tip at the end of the cruise too!
We thought the food was exceptional the entire cruise. We ate 2 nights in the dining room, 2 nights at the buffet, and 1 night at the steakhouse. We had My Time dining, only had about a 10 minute wait the 1st night and we had reservations the 2nd time we went (Lobster night). DH had the seafood plate, and they offered him the prime rib with it, it was a good thing he said no thank you...he ate three lobster tails, and they offered to bring him the 4th, but he decided against it! I had the prime rib, and it was delicious! The service was good, we really liked our waiter the 1st night (Elvis) wish we had asked for him the second night. Both times dinner took about 1 1/2 hours which was pretty good. Our waiter at Chops was very good also, it was an enjoyable experience and the fillet is so awesome!! It was our 25th wedding anniversary, so they brought us a dessert with candles, and sang to us. We ate all our breakfasts in the Windjammer. Loved the cooked to order omelets. There was usually a small line, but it only took a few minutes, and they were so much better than the powdered eggs! I also loved the thick french toast slices, they were always hot and fresh. We also loved the Sorrento's pizza, the crust is amazing! The desserts, and salads were also very good. DH loved the sandwiches at Café Promenade. The Ranger cookies in the Windjammer are so good, and you can't forget Sprinkles...the low fat frozen yogurt cones located near the pool!! It's a law, you have to stop and get one, each time you walk by it!!!
We spent most of our time in the Solarium, and on our balcony basking in the warm sun. We had perfect weather. We did the ice skating, and it was fun...but 30 min sessions are way to short. You have a line getting checked in, then you have to get your skates, put them on, put on your helmet, elbow and knee pads (optional, but I used them just incase). By the time you get on the ice, there is like 10 min left. It was a lot of work for a short time skating. We didn't get to do the rock climbing wall, every time we went up there it was closed...not because of weather, just very limited hours.
We really loved Labadee, it more than exceeded our expectations! Beautiful views, beautiful flowers and foliage, wonderful beaches, and crystal clear turquoise water!! The Haitian men walking the beach area, find you a nice spot, bring your chairs, and your little blue shade (turtle shell). You do need to bring a little cash to tip them. Royal Caribbean provides a nice buffet lunch, and if you have the drink package, the drinks are included too. It was a wonderful day of relaxation. There are many things to do if you choose for a fee, roller coaster, zip lines, renting jet ski, or boats, you can also rent floatation mats. I personally thought the water was to cold to swim in, but I did walk out a bit. Bring water shoes, lots of coral and shells.
The Falmouth, Jamaica port is really very nice. Everything is brand new. We did the Dunn's River Falls Express, booked through Royal Caribbean. It consists of a 1 hour bus ride to Ocho Rios, with a tour guide who points out things to see, and tells about life in Jamaica. The lush rainforests are beautiful to see, nice ocean views, and a lot of rundown areas too. Climbing the falls was so much fun, we had a great guide, and a fun group. The water is ice cold at first, but once you start climbing it is just refreshing! Wear your swimsuit, and wear water shoes, they are a must. They will try to rent them to you at the port for $10, when you get to the falls they rent them for $7. You can leave your belongings on the bus, as they lock it up, and we had no issues leaving our camera and money. On the return trip you stop at a Jerk Chicken place for 30 minutes. The chicken was awesome and the views amazing!! You also stop at a dumpy shopping center for 20 minutes. We just stayed on the bus. There is plenty of nice places to shop at the port when you get back. We stopped at Jimmy Buffett's Magaritaville, it was very nice. The gift shop is way overpriced though!
Disembarkation was a total fiasco!! We chose to let the cruise line take our bags for us. The self carry options were at 7:30am and 10:00am, and disembark # was 21 at 10am, so we decided to let them take our bags. Big mistake! They didn't have enough customs agents, and they kept pushing back the time. We were finally allowed to leave with group #10, and that was at 10:30. Once we got off the ship, the customs line moved pretty quickly. We got in the cab line, and were on our way a little after 11am. The cab fare was $15.00 including the tip. FLL was a nightmare!!! The airport is way to small to accommodate 6 ships full of people!! It was actually a fire hazard, wall to wall people! We were on Southwest, which only has 9 gates in the terminal...the security line was over 2 1/2 hours long!!! I have never seen anything like it! Thankfully Southwest came around to get you out of line and moved to the front, as your flight time neared. If not, we would have never made our flight. Once through security the terminal is just crazy, no place to sit or stand!! Lesson learned....stay over an extra night on your return, and avoid the chaos!!!
Other than the disembarkation, the cruise was absolutely wonderful!! We will definitely sail the Liberty again!!