I apologize if it sounds choppy. I wrote it while at work.
Here's a little background on this cruise. My mother and I were lucky enough to win a contest through AAA for a special 1 night pre-inaugural sailing of the Liberty of the Seas. This sailing was mostly composed of AAA Travel Agents and other people from their corporate offices (at least that's what we noticed). What we won included everything except for airfare and onboard gift shop purchases. That meant that alcohol as well as Ben & Jerry's were all complimentary. We also received complimentary transfers both to and from the cruise ship from the airport.
We flew in the day of the cruise. I wouldn't recommend doing this for a one-night cruise, but my mother wouldn't budge on the idea of flying in any sooner. When we arrived at the airport, our terminal was terminal A. According our literature, it stated that the transfers would be running every hour on the hour from that terminal. Unfortunately, we got there at about 10 past the hour. Thankfully, they added another shuttle for our group and we were out of the airport in less than 40 minutes.
After a little over a 35 minute ride in the shuttle (due to a traffic jam and alternate routes being used), we were finally able to catch sight of the Liberty. She was just as gorgeous and wonderful as Freedom. We went into the cruise terminal where we were handed a boarding number and walked directly up to the desk to get our Seapasses. After processing our information, the lady handed us back our IDs and our Seapass cards. She also gave us a little freebie lanyard. Mine immediately broke when I finally got around to looking at it onboard. L No more than one minute later, our number was called to get onboard the shuttle that was leaving to go to the ship. As soon as we got seated on the bus, I took a look at my Seapass card and notices that it was my mother's and not my own! Therefore, my picture was on her card and vice versa. She started to panic, and I told her not to worry. We got to where we boarded the ship and they simply retook our pictures with no problems.
Once onboard, we made our way to our room. We had a deluxe balcony stateroom on Deck 8. For the life of me I can't remember which room (I'm at work and trying to write this thing between phone calls LOL). Our room wasn't quite ready yet, but our attendant (who never gave his name) told us that we could leave our luggage in the room and come back. So, we did. As we walked through the hallways, I greeted Henry each and every time I saw him. That gave all of the cabin stewards a chuckle.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat in the Windjammer. For those of you who have eaten in a Windjammer before, there was nothing out of the norm being served here for lunch. The ship wasn't even close to being full yet, so we got the luxury of choosing a table with a wonderful view of the port area.
Since this was a sailing that had mostly AAA Travel agents onboard, there were lots of signs for them and literature for TAs around the ship. We also got to tour all of the room types on the ship. We managed to make it to all of them but a few that were open for tours. It was nice seeing how the other half lived when we toured the Royal Suite and the Presidential Suite. I would like to be able to tell you in detail about each of these rooms, but I have a terrible memory and I fear I would mix something up with something else. Therefore I will just say that each and every room type we visited was lovely. They really know how to maximize the space in some of those cabins! I was hoping that the Ben & Jerry's Sweet was open so that I could take a picture of the view, but it was not.
We also toured the casino and some of the other public areas on the ship. I found the casino dEcor to be beautiful! I took several pictures of it (those will be posted just as soon as I can get the time to edit out all of those blurry ice-skating show pics!). The H2O Zone was almost identical to the one that is on Freedom. The bright shiny new water sculptures were lonely due to the 50 degree weather. That, however, did not stop some RCI Employees and a couple of the few youngsters that were onboard from giving the Flowrider a go. There were some talented staff members on that thing! One of them even managed to stand on his head a couple of times while surfing. After the Flowrider we ventured out on the upper decks and were able to see the Statute of Liberty. Neither my mother nor myself had ever seen her before. We were just close enough to see the flicker of her flame.
Finally our room was ready. They put little AAA door signs on to let us know it was clean. Our room was beautiful. It was my first (and certainly not my last) balcony room. It was nice to be able to kick back and sip on a sweet alcoholic drink (for you folks in the UK, I am leaving out the other term that is used to describe those!). While awaiting to start sailing, there was a small band that was playing to send us off. There was also a news helicopter flying right up beside the ship. It was quite a spectacle! We decided to go upstairs to finish celebrating the sailaway, and found that they were passing out icy beverages like they were going out of style. Everywhere you went there were servers with trays of multi-colored drinks or beer carts. It was weird not having to give them my seapass after selecting one. We then returned to our room where we were able to take pictures of our massive ship going underneath the bridge (I'm sure you New Jersey/New York folks know what its name is LOL). It almost looked like we weren't going to fit!
At last it was time for dinner. This is where they could have done something a little better. They only had a choice of two entrees. One was shrimp and one was steak. I don't care for either (and I'm not a vegetarian), so I opted for the lobster appetizer (it was the consistency of pate) and some mashed potatoes. What I had was good, and my mother said she enjoyed her steak. We ended up not staying for dessert (it was something coconut, which neither one of us cared for), so we were able to make it to the first ice show.
The ice show was, as always, fabulous! Its name was Encore! An Ice Spectacular. There were several skaters onboard that we had seen on both Adventure and Freedom. The costumes were gorgeous. I don't want to give too much away to her upcoming cruisers, but I will say that you don't want to miss this show! Due to a health issue, I wasn't able to stay for the entire thing, but my mother said that the ending was fabulous!
After the ice show, my mother and I explored the Promenade. It was very similar to Freedom. The main thing that I noticed that was different was that there was no Book Nook. Instead, they had a place called Adventures with Royal Caribbean. Judging by how it looked, I am going to guess and say that is where you would book your future cruises while onboard. I think it's a great idea for them to put it out in the open more than where they had their LAs onboard Freedom. They also had some amazing art on the promenade. A couple of the pieces were hanging from the ceiling. I would describe them as being like big plastic ribbons with digital images projected onto them. There was also a big red dog off to the side of one of the elevators. We managed to look around in the shops that were open (everything except for the General Store) but found nothing spectacular there for our sailing.
Since my mother and I were exhausted from flying in the same day as the cruise, we were in bed by about 10pm and therefore didn't make it to any of the other shows or events.
The next day my mother insisted that we wake up early to get pictures of us coming back into port. We did that and were able to get some good shots of the Staten Island Ferry and some skyline pictures from afar. Shortly after that, we grabbed breakfast and were ready to depart the ship.
Everything went fairly smoothly when we were departing. We were one of the first people of the ship. They could have done a better job of labeling our returning transfer busses as we had to walk along a long line of busses and find someone to ask about where each one's final destination was to be. After we found our bus, our transition back to the airport was a smooth one.
All in all we had a wonderful time, even if it was a short time. If you like Freedom, you will like Liberty. They said onboard Liberty is bigger, but I'm not sure where she is. I found them to be virtually identical in layout.