I was both honored and thrilled to be invited on a two day Liberty pre-inaugural cruise through my participation in Cruise Critic. It was one of the highlights of my life and I will never forget it. I would like to start this review with a MAJOR thank you to the Crown and Anchor Society. I’ve been told by a little bird, that they had a team of people who handpicked the Cruise Critic members that would attend this event and I am just blown away by the caliber of the people I traveled with. Every one of them was gracious, humble and more fun than a box of puppies!
My husband had to work. On top of that, we have four children, two special needs. YOU find them a babysitter, so we can leave the country. We can’t find that special combination of Mary Poppins and a Drill Sergeant, so he could not come along. I narrowed it down to my friend Amy and my friend Cathy in about the space of a heartbeat. Since I am scared to cruise, after the Crown Tipping incident of the summer of 2006, I picked Cathy. She’s in Michigan and can fly out of the same airport. I could not see bringing Amy out from So. Cal. for a two day cruise.
Shelbylook, hereinafter known as, SL, and I headed to the Detroit Courtyard by Marriott Airport Hotel to spend the night before our cruise. This sucker was MUCH anticipated. From the day I got the invitation to the day I sailed, my brain was on stir-fry.
The Courtyard is a decent hotel, NO HAIRDRYER! An appalling abomination in my world, but anything I didn’t bring, SL did. We had a lovely dinner and got our drink on at the Merriman Road Grill. No one ate a whole lot, but the food was excellent. My husband had leftovers for the weekend. We were back at the hotel and crashed out at a reasonable hour. Darn it. Actually, my theme for the trip was, “I’m tired.” I got a lot of good quality sleep on this trip. I was not expecting it, but I actually relaxed!
Up and at em early on Sunday, Mothers Day. Went to Big Boy where we encountered the world’s worst waitress. Yes, she really was. She yelled at another waitress and rolled her eyes at her tables. I’d like to suggest she take up another line of work. Maybe a bouncer at a biker bar?
Breakfast was pretty good. I had a half order of Eggs Benedict and that was enough. Perfect, actually. They have yummy hash browns. I’m a hash brown snob. Yes, it is too possible.
Dropped SL’s car at Airline’s Parking and off to Detroit Metro. We hauled our crap into the airport for the moment of truth. Would it weigh under fifty pounds? Breath-held, we crossed our fingers and PASSED! WooHoo! Sunday morning saw us breeze through security and off to the gate, at the end of nowhere. Northwest’s terminal in Detroit is HUGE! A mile long, in total, it’s a half mile in either direction. I abhor that funky train of theirs. It’s always too full and the person next to me is always un-washed. Seriously, I win the lottery for standing next to the only person on the train who does not know what the word, ‘antiperspirant’ means, every time. So we hoofed it, using the moving walkways. I hit every book store in the airport, but never saw my book. Since airport bookstores are teeny, I was not surprised. I’d also been told that it was all, but sold out in Michigan, anyway. Still, a girl can hope (I’m an author. Romance).
I ran into a poor woman who spilled her coffee on her laptop and boarding pass. She ran from the table, to get napkins and left her wallet sitting open and out! I stopped her, got her napkins for her and in general helped her out. You don’t leave your wallet out at the Detroit Airport, or anywhere.
SL is a nervous flyer. Scratch that. The woman needs a Xanex. She paced and sweat (but knows what deodorant is) for almost an hour and a half. I had no clue what to say to her to fix it. I’m a fixer and it about broke my heart to see her like that.
We got on the plane and into our lovely and large exit row seats and all was well. I detest that NW asks you to pay more for decent seats. I think it’s an abomination. They are my least favorite airline to fly. We paid it, but I always feel held up at gunpoint for safety. Except her fear telegraphed itself to my empathic little heart. I started to be anxious. So I do what I always do when I’m scared, I called my husband. About fifty times. I think SL suspects I’m too tied to him. I probably am. Still, after thirteen years of marriage, that’s a good thing.
A non eventful flight saw us in Fort Lauderdale. Sunny and warm. AHH! This is what I’m looking for! Michigan has had an iffy spring. The only thing wrong, was the smoke in the air. Much of Florida is on fire, right now. I believe there were thirty-seven fires ongoing, for the duration of this trip. The air was hazy and smelled a little of smoke. We were told the day before was worse. Our luggage was almost the first off the plane! I loved that. We met Bill and Rita of CC! What a neat couple. She had me autograph my book, which she brought along and I was gob-stopped. I’d not had that happen before, outside of the Romance Writers convention I’d attended. Into our shuttle and we were off to the Miami Hyatt.
Check in was a breeze and the hotel was nice enough, but there was a run-down feeling to the place. The room smelled so strongly of deodorant spray, that we could not breath with the balcony door closed. Open the door and it all smells like smoke. I’d used points, so I did not want to complain. It was tolerable, but barely. The room is large, but the area is very commercial and I would not recommend it, for more than a night. Those at the Radisson were very complimentary, but I’d stay out on South Beach, if I were to do it again.
We chucked our crap onto the beds and headed off to Bayside Marketplace. SL and I are pretty adventurous and I’ve traveled a lot. I’m not intimidated by cities. I’m a HUGE fan of Jamaica and people are always saying they feel unsafe there. I never have. We decided to take the People Mover thingie in Miami. We headed into the basement to take the underground tunnels to the thing. MISTAKE! It’s creepy on Sunday’s. No one is in downtown Miami on Sundays, but a few tourists and some people who are probably homeless. A few made the hairs on my arms stand up! I was shocked and bothered. I take the EL in Chicago, without blinking. I just don’t get bugged by strange people and the smell of urine. This time I was bothered. I strongly suggest another hotel in Miami if you don’t have a car. STRONGLY!
We made it to Bayside. We both acted like it was not a big deal and did not feel like we’d just taken our lives in our hands, but we admitted our nerves once we got to our destination. We’re just a couple of sissy chickens, but we’re alive and that’s good. I’ve never clutched my purse like that, in my life.
We hit Bayside, which was very lively. I was not impressed with the fancier stores, but the ones to the right, as you enter, are funky and fun. We headed to Hooters, to eat. I’d never been to a Hooters before. It was interesting. I was not impressed with our waitress, who appeared bored and grumpy with us, and others, (we sat outside) but was a hoot indoors with the other waitresses. She seemed like a different person, when I went to the ladies room and ran into her. Very strange. This was not our week for good wait staff, bar one person.
I loved the wings, which were medium and the pitcher of Sangria. Very yummy and COLD! A pitcher is about right for two thirsty people. We were not drunk when we left, and sitting out in the sunshine, enjoying the people watching was a fabulous thing to do. Then, off to wander Bayside.
I would have loved to stop and dance with the band playing, but SL didn’t appear to be a Salsa dancer, so I just sort of moved my hind end, as I walked. We could clearly see, The Freedom of the Seas, in her dock and the RCI offices. I raised a glass of a fruity drink in their direction, to thank them.
We wandered back to the hotel (via cab) and relaxed for five minutes. Then, Becciboo called. They were at the end of Government Cut at Smith and Wolinskey and wanted to know if we would join them? Would we? In a heartbeat. I changed skirts, changed shoes and we ran out the door, to not miss the Freedom as she sailed. A twenty dollar cab ride later (we were taken, to the tune of about five bucks), we were at S and W, on the rocks with Becci and Todd. What a FUN couple!
We looked at the menu and while the prices are HIGH, we thought, “what the heck, it’s vacation.” Our waiter was great. There was a huge contingent of beautiful people there, but I never felt out of place. Our group was fun and our waiter made us feel special, even though we were not spending a grand. As it is, we probably dropped three hundred bucks, between us. Which is cheap, for S&W.
The Freedom sailed about an hour late. Which was fine, cause Becci was busy describing a drink she created. I have to say, it sounded gross, but it tasted FABULOUS! I don’t know what’s in it, to this day, but it was potent and I could not take more than a sip. The cars outside S&W are high priced and exotic. We saw a Bentley, several Rolls and a Lamborghini in a lovely pearl color. Didn’t take pictures of them. I thought it would be too hick-like.
Dinner over, we headed back to Bayside and Lombardi’s to meet with our fellow Cruise Critic members. Bayside has parking from HELL! We went to the self serve lot and could not figure out how to pay for parking for the life of us. Turns out the thing only takes five dollar bills, despite the instructions that said otherwise.
Got to Lombardi’s and the group was not there! Turns out the plans made for the reservation and separate checks was not honored by the restaurant. The group ended up splitting up and going their separate ways. Some stayed at Lombardi’s, some went to the Hardrock (which was VERY accommodating and helpful) and some went back to their hotels to eat. Lombardi’s lost a lot of business and some key recommendations that night. It’s a shame. Parrothead8 and the CC group had really been looking forward to eating there and worked hard to plan it. The restaurant was selected because a CC member had been assured that they would accommodate them.
Back to the hotel. Early night and the end of Survivor. So glad, Dreamz did not win. Wish Yeao-man had.
Sail Away Day
We SAIL TODAY! WOOHOO! Up early and SO excited. Had a buffet breakfast in the hotel, to the tune of $20.00 a person. YIKES! Was it worth it? Maybe not so much. Good, but not outstanding. We didn’t much care. We were supposed to meet Critterchick and Dirtgirl in the lobby at ten, but some people slept in. So we headed to the port at ten. Crossing the bridge and seeing our big girl turned our excitement to HIGH! I was about to jump out of my skin and lost all pretense of cool at this point. I gushed and made a monkey of myself and I just didn’t care! What a treat! She is pristine and sexy and gorgeous. I am not, typically, a fan of HUGE ships. Liberty made a liar out of me, in every way.
Into the terminal and a quick show of my invitation, had us past the first security checkpoint. At this point, SL beat me as a CC member, in a way that had me in awe. She studied the faces and names of all the CC members who posted their photos. She looked around and picked members of CC out of the crowd! Yes, many of them were wearing LoS T-shirts, but she still looked like an in-the-know kind of gal. I called everyone by their screen names. Made it easy. This is where the refrain started. “You don’t look like your avatar. You look younger. Get a new one.” If I heard it once, I heard it a bazillion times. I think I need a new avatar.
We chatted with the other CC members and there were hugs and kisses, all the way around. My only wish was the cruise had been longer, so I could talk to the CC members more. RCI hand-picked us (this from a big-wig in the C&A department) and they did a good job. What an amazing group of people.
We got through security, to learn we had an Oceanview room. I have to admit, I was a little bummed. Yes, RCI told everyone they would be in Oceanview rooms, but we all had hopes. I was not as disappointed as the TA two rows down. She told the poor agent that she deserved a suite and that RCI should be ashamed. WHAT? We were INVITED on this cruise. It was a FREE cruise. Shut up and be grateful. I just had no patience for it. We were gifted with the greatest honor, to sail a ship before she is Christened. Any accommodations would have been okay. Was I a little sad that I didn’t get a balcony? Yes. Still, I was happy I was going at all. I think our entire group felt that way. Which was good. As it turns out, everyone invited through CC was in the same area we were. We went to the cattle pen, I mean holding area and parked ourselves till it was time to board. Which happened between 11:30 and 12. I think. I hardly looked at my watch for two days. I loved that.
Onto the ship and down to our room and the only real disappointment.
I’ve sailed in ocean view rooms before. They are affordable with the kids and I don’t spend a lot of time in the room. The only time I got a balcony, the Crown Princess, I spent too much time in the room. An ocean view drives me out. Still, we lost in the porthole parade. SL and I got the smallest porthole I’d ever seen! The cabins on either side had large portholes. The kind I normally get. We got a puny porthole. There are photos on my website, go look for yourselves. We joked about the small size of our porthole the whole cruise. If I was a man, I would feel inadequate.
The room was thoughtfully laid out. Small, they’re all small, but well done. I’m happy to report the hairdryers have enough power to blow my hair! A good thing, cause the plugs by the mirror are situated in a way that you cannot use an electric appliance with a transformer by the plug. If you have a lot of electronic gadgets, bring a power strip. You will need it. You can plug a hairdryer into that. I didn’t need mine, so it was all good.
The lifevests are on the closet floor. A bad place for them. The safes do NOT require a credit card to activate. They are push and go and worked perfectly. The new beds are VERY comfy and I loved the pillows.
Our Steward never showed his face. They were traveling with a greatly reduced staff. He did leave us ice and the room was clean. I wish I’d had more towels, but life went on. Soap was fine. Never tried the shampoo. I’m fussy about shampoo. The shower was fine to shave my legs in. Others have said it is too small. I never tried the couch. We put SL’s luggage there and mine on the floor of the closet, on the lifevests.
Done with our inspection, it was off to the roam the ship. SL and I really liked the artwork on the Liberty. I found the art on the Mariner to be a bit garish at times. The art on the Liberty seemed to be well chosen. I was pleased. I did not see all of the ship. I never do.
Lunch in the Windjammer was a hoot. Mostly because we met up with Ottawapuppy and Schplinky. Two great guys who are so interesting and fun, I would look to cruise with them again. The food was Windjammer bland, but filling and not a disappointment. I do think RCI is weak in the food department. Meals seemed hit or miss. That’s what you get when you’re feeding that many people.
After the Windjammer, we went to our CC meet-up at a bar. It was near the pool, the deck above. At this point I should say that there are thirty-five bars on the Liberty (it might be 37. I’m close). SL and I made it our job to hit them all. The drinks were free. I had many. There are memory lapses. That’s all I’m going to say about that. I will say that I don’t like Mojito’s. Which is a major disappointment in my life. I wanted to like them.
The group took photos at the meeting and we all wondered why we were not given invitations we’d been assured we would receive to the party for the internet invitees. Becci, being a rather resourceful woman, and pushed by me, went to Guest Relations to find out. Turns out that there was a mix-up with the manifest and some people got them that we not supposed to. A lovely woman came up and handed us our invitations personally. Off to the room to grab our Mae Wests and get to Muster.
Typical Muster. Hot, miserable and ugly. I do think Princess handles muster better. You’re seated in a lounge and never have to put your vest on, till the last minute. I detest RCI musters, but I NEVER MISS ONE! No one should. You hold it up for the rest of us.
Back to our cabin for a Houdini-like change of clothes. Thanks to SL who dried my ponytail, while I put on my make-up.
I dress for dinner every night. It’s my choice. This cruise was a gift, from RCI. I felt that dressing up was important. Many other CC members felt the same way. A few didn’t, but there are those folks who don’t. It does not bother me if someone dresses down. Okay, it does, but I would never penalize them by treating them badly. Just sayin.
At some point, I saw the Flowrider and decided I needed to try it. More on that, later.
We headed to the Olive and Twist bar for the RCI Champions Party. This was set-up for the internet supporters of RCI. WOW! Fabulous appetizers (not super fancy, typical of the Champagne bar, before dinner), passed champagne, Richard Fain and Adam Goldstein! These are THE RCI bosses. These are people you want to meet. I looked like an idiot as I gushed like a moron. I’m sure they think I have all the social grace of a poo-tossing baboon. Sorry about that.
There were short, but meaningful speeches and Becci presented her poem. A touching moment. SL and I had a tear or two. Not as many as Becci. Who should hereinafter be referred to as, “Balcony Becci.” Darn pig won a balcony! Next time, I write a poem! LOL!
The meeting over we were all to be given gifts. They ran out. Turns out they were to be one per couple and someone handed out one per person. I got a bag, only. I was a little sad, but only told a couple people. One of them was Rita. She got one for her and one for her husband (they did ask and were told one per person) and she insisted I take her water mouse and cup. I was shocked and humbled, once again. How amazing was that? I also feel a little guilty about it. If we cruise together, again, she’s getting drinks from me.
Off to dinner. I must say, the food was not so hot. I don’t remember my appetizer, but my main course was the chicken. DO NOT ORDER THE CHICKEN! I’d never tried it, never seen it. Now, I know why. Ugly, hard and nasty. I looked so forlorn, that Schplinky ordered me the shrimp, better, but not outstanding, in any way. Our server was okay. I later found out that she was at the tail end of her contract and just wanted to go home to see her kids. AHA! Can’t blame her. I’d be pissy and grumpy, if I’d not seen my kids in months, too. Then again, while I’m typing this the two year old, is throwing himself to the floor over a chicken nugget issue. Bring on that four month contract! LOL!
The company was the prize! What an amazing bunch. SL and I headed to the casino. I lost my twenty bucks and told her I was calling it a night. AFTER I cruised the promenade. Know the nice thing about cruising with people? You can always find someone. I sat with Breal6 and Cameraguy and found out she and I have a big thing in common! We yapped until the 70’s dance party started in the Promenade (this was after some yummy Ben and Jerry’s Butter Pecan. A small scoop). I had a ball! I ran into Dirtgirl, Critterchick and JudyJBest. Judy’s husband was there too, but he stood off to the side and watched Judy. We danced and then Dirtgirl had a happy time flirting with the dancers (dressed as the Village People). I somehow got into a conga line, and the rest of the time is a blur. I know my cheeks hurt from smiling.
I got to my room at 12:15 and felt like a party pooper. SL got in at 3:30. She was bobbing and weaving and we were in light seas.
Day Two: At Sea
SL and I awoke with watery sunlight streaming in our pee-wee porthole. I think it was seven something. I know SL got little sleep, but I had the best sleep I’ve had since the Crown tipping incident. I tried to not let the Crown get to me, but it did. I’ve had sleep issues for months now. Honestly, I was afraid to sail again. The Liberty restored my faith in the sea and her ships. Thank you, Liberty!
We headed to the dining room. I have a thing for dining room breakfasts. I like the atmosphere. The food was, again, okay. The eggs are powdered. What everyone who cruises needs to remember is RCI, and many other lines, serve the equivalent of banquet food. Now, I happen to love banquet food, but it is not gourmet. The food in Chops and Portofino’s *is* much closer to gourmet. Delicious and well presented, the specialty restaurants are not to be missed. Since we were on a pre-inaugural, the specialty restaurants were not available to the peons of the world, like me. Hey, I’m certainly not complaining!
We saw something dang interesting from the dining room. The ship was well within three miles of Miami, closer to one mile. We could clearly see the shore. There was some chop. Now, I’m going to digress badly here. Chop is relative. People who’ve been through a hurricane KNOW what chop is. I’d consider this a moderate sea, seven to ten foot waves, but others thought it was very calm and glasslike. I don’t buy the glasslike metaphor, not that day, but there are folks who cruise who look at me like I’m a loon when I say it’s choppy.
SL and I watched a pilot boat wend it’s way toward the ship. We’d not heard an announcement that we were headed into port, for any reason. SL said, “I bet they’re picking up a big wig.” What? Picking someone up? Someone had to make their way from our ship to the pilot boat in THAT? The pilot boat would disappear in the waves, then pop up again. I felt whoever was being transferred was an unlucky puppy, that’s for sure.
We watched as much of the procedure as possible, when the pilot house on the pilot ship was entered by, Richard Fain! We mentioned this unlikely transfer to other CC members and got a response that cracked me up. “We didn’t see that.”
CC members have a habit of being in denial when they don’t see it for themselves. We’re naturally skeptical and it’s all over the boards. I’ve done it too. Someone mentioned he was scheduled to speak that morning and would be there. He was not. Trust me, please, I did not exaggerate about the Crown and I saw Richard Fain get on a pilot boat.
I’m not sure what I did that morning. I know it involved watching the Flowrider, hanging out with a drink in my hand, most of the day and wandering. Very creative, but I was just soaking it all in. SL kept mentioning the wonderful quality of the art and I cannot, but help to agree. Lovely. I know I said it before, but it bears repeating.
SL and I split up for lunch. I wanted the dining room. Same waitress kept waiting on me. All couple days. This is where she mentioned she was about to go home.
I had tropical salad AND a special Greek salad with shrimp! Both, to die for. The tapenade was world class. I’m VERY fussy about food. I’ll eat almost anything, but I seek out delicious. When I say it’s good, it’s good! This was wonderful. The company was good too.
After lunch I changed into my bikini (don’t worry, I never actually wore it without the cover) and put on my t-shirt and board shorts. Why so covered? IT WAS FLOWRIDER TIME!
Now, I’d watched those poor suckers wipe out like mad. Todd was there and he is a VERY analytical man. He told me, in depth, how to approach it, deal with the board (boogie board) and make the most of my experience. I was ready to try. Signed my life away and got in line. The line was about twenty minutes long and the sky was darkening. Yep, it started to rain. Wasn’t going to stop me. I was so nervous, but if I can be the oldest, fattest woman at a triathlon, I can get my hiney onto a boogie board. The wave is something like parking your bod in front of a fire hose. It was intense. You grab the board, jump off and hang on. Place the board low on your belly and your hands high. My armpits hurt the next day. My biceps would have been sore, had I not been doing regular pushups.
Push down on the board to go forward and keep your feet in the water. That’s it! I was out there for about three minutes, when I thought it was time to give the gal behind me a turn (Becci). I would have done it again, but it started to pour and they closed it down.
You might want to know why the board shorts and t-shirt. It’s a fire hose. It will get you nekkid in 3.5 seconds. I saw more crack than a drug dealer with a major score. Remember, crack is whack! Men, tighten those shorts and women, at least wear a T-shirt. I did see someone’s girls. Let’s leave it at that. Oh and I saw more of Emmy’s husband Rick’s anatomy, than I’d planned on. He’s a good looking guy. Did I say that?
Off to the slot pull. We lost. The slots were VERY tight. Just squeaked. It’s the high seas. All the slots are tight. After contributing to the RCI retirement fund (slots), I headed back to the cabin, by way of the Promenade. I LOVE the Liberty Promenade. It’s not much bigger than the Voyager class, or V-ger class and my husband and I call it (Star Trek, the first movie. Yes, I need to get a life), but there’s just something about it. The barber shop is awesome! The food at either end in Sorrento’s and the other place (mental melt down) is excellent. I ran into a CC member (Lorna) and we chatted and ate snacks. I had a tapenade and ricotta Sammie that was unbelievably good. Hmm, the food was looking up!
Off to the cabin to shower and get ready for my fantabulous formal night. The CC members met for din-din at 6:30. SL and I did a formal portrait, but we were lazy and never picked it up. We tried the next day, but learned they’d only had them out for two hours. We also grabbed a glass of champagne. YUM! Lots of champagne floating around. We never did meet the captain. I was sad about that. HE’s so adorable, in his photos, that I want to pick him up and squeeze him. Maybe he was avoiding me?
Dinner? GOOD FOOD! Too many yummy choices. I got more than one entrée. I’ve never done that before on a cruise, ever. I don’t even have seconds of lobster tail. I had duck AND fillet. They were both outstanding. I also had the escargot. Wish I’d had two. The lobster bisque is not good. It’s salty and off, somehow. I remembered that, too late. I ate it, but wish I’d not. I did not have salad.
I was so full I could not eat dessert. Almost everyone had the Grand Mariner Souffle. They were all perfectly puffy, but half the people had cold Sauce Anglaise. The other half had warm sauce. The warm sauce MAKES the souffle. End of story. Get cold sauce and the dessert is forgettable. Remember that. WARM SAUCE!
Now the sad part comes in. I’d sat in a hot tub for a bit that day. I have a condition. I’m not going into it here, but hot is the enemy. I did the hot and I’m a moron. I lost all feeling in my left hand. I dropped my fork several times and I knew I was done for the night. So, I’m the only one who can report on RCI TV. It was good. Good movies, good specials. If you ever get Noro and are stuck in your room you will be bored to death, but not for a long time. I watched Dreamgirls and felt 100% entertained! I know, there was a show, I missed the show. I wish I’d gone, but I was entertained in my room and watching a movie in my cabin is a boon to cruising, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I’m going to schedule a movie night with my family on my next cruise. We’ll order off the dinner menu and park it in the room for dinner. I think that sounds like a thing we never get to do as a family at home and wish we did. A vacation is supposed to be relaxing and I think that one night hiding out and enjoying my family one on one sounds like a nice way to spend a night. I LOVE traditional cruising, but enjoying the kids is a good thing too. By the way, it’s a great movie.
I crashed about midnight and SL came in, sober (LOL!) at 2 or so. We slept fitfully, we both knew it was about over. sniff. I woke at 5 to find our ship almost to the dock. We packed up, showered, ate and they dragged us off, kicking and screaming.
Okay, we were adults about it, but there was a tear in my eye and I’m not exaggerating.
Flight home was uneventful. The best I can say about Northwest. Continental is still a premier airline. They have movies and sandwiches and they are in the black with similar pricing. I’m in Ann Arbor, MI so I need to fly NW. Their hub is here. Sometimes I just have to give in and fly NW, but not if I can help it.
RCI restored my faith in service, cruising and safety on the high seas. They were gracious to extend this invitation to me and I am beyond honored. I felt I made an excellent choice in companions. I would 100% sail with SL again. She loves dogs more than I do. To see her smile at doggies was like watching a child at Christmas. Just a great joy. She was polite and kind and generous to a fault. She and I split costs well and I would travel with her in a heartbeat. I suspect our husbands would get along like a house a fire. What a great gift.
Not so hot:
Northwest Airlines. Please fix it. You used to be good. Your customer service sucks rocks, through a straw. You’re a MUCH better airline than that. Even in financial troubles.
The Hyatt in Miami. I will not stay there again. I LOVE HYATT! It’s my properties of choice. Just not in Miami.
The food the first night. RCI, you are too good for that.
The placement of the light switch for the bathroom in the cabin. Outside on the wrong side of the door. You forget and either use the facilities in the dark, or get up, go out and turn it on. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.
The porthole. Did I irritate the wrong person? I’M SORRY! LOL! Don’t let your TA do this to you. I was in cabin 2596. Beware.
Things I loved:
The food the second day, all day. What RCI used to be. Yummy and just good on almost every level. Except the bisque. The fillet was almost Chops quality and that’s saying a lot.
Still think the Bahama Mamma is the best drink on the ship. I tried others. I felt it was my duty, but for my taste the Bahama Mamma is the best. Oh, I love Bellini’s. They stopped using peach juice in the Bellini’s. My friend, Lill, had some bad peach juice on the Mariner once. Probably a good reason to not use it anymore.
The beds. Soft, comfy and the best sleep I’ve had since the Crown Tilt. I did feel nervous a few times onboard. Seeing the aft stairs for the first time was like a flashback. I could see the water pouring down the Crown stairs. Very unsettling, but overall I was not uncomfortable. A couple times the ship heeled a tad and that was unnerving, but there was no screaming. I consider that a boon!
The waiter at the pool bar. I cannot remember his name, but he was tipped well and earned it. VERY entertaining.
The waiters at Bolero’s. Many of them tossed drinks and bottles and caught them. I’ve always wanted to see flair bartending up close and I felt I was entertained all over the place.
The seventies dance party. When they started everyone on the Promenade was moaning and saying, “how cheesy.” Ten minutes in almost everyone was into it and having a ball. To be able to get the party going, like that, is a talent I will never have and I was awed by it. I’m the first one to roll her eyes. I was so smiley that I had delayed onset muscle soreness of the jaw the next day! Well worth it.
The workout room. I didn’t work out, but I’m a certified personal trainer and had to check it out. I can tell you it is all state of the art and well equipped. I almost wish I’d brought my workout gear so I could box. Next time, I’m boxing.
The Flowrider. I first thought, “Stupid gimmick.” I was WRONG! It was wonderful and more fun than I’ve had in a long time. My kids would be in love with it. Of course succeeding my first time might have something to do with my fun. Remember, keep your feet in the water and the board low on your body. PUSH DOWN with your hands to go forward. Push down hard.
The kids pool. Beyond outstanding. I loved it and my kids would be in love.
Adventure Ocean. I could only peek in, but I know my little ones. The older two love AO and number three is going to have to be dragged out of Aquanauts.
The people. I always go out of my way to talk to strangers. I compliment people I’ve never seen before, if I like their clothes. Yes, some people think I’m a crazy lady. I am, good call, but I love to make friends and a cruise ship is a good place to do it. This group, these people, so grateful so honored, so blown away. Very few people acted entitled. Everyone was gracious. I am, once again, thankful to Cruise Critic. Without CC, I would not love cruising like I do. It’s a wonderful place and some of my dearest friends were met there. Come to think of it, almost everyone I am close to, but maybe five people, came out of CC.
Would I sail her again? Yes. I cannot, for the foreseeable future. Liberty and Freedom are pricier than the V-ger class and that’s understandable. Because I am the proud mom of four boys and married, we will be in two rooms, on deck two, without a balcony (the autistic one would go into the ocean, or his ocelot would). I am 100% okay with that. I like the boys in the next room. It’s a good set-up for us and I suggest it for families. I never feel too cramped in these cabins, *IF* they have a large porthole.
This was the trip of a lifetime and the honor of my life. I’ve used the word honor throughout this report, but it’s a good word. It accurately describes my heart as I went on this journey. The ship is outstanding, the company, better. I’ve made lifelong friends and I am moved to tears by the gift RCI gave me. Thank you RCI. I am now loyal, 100%. I will sail your ships from now on. It’s a good choice for me and mine. You will get my group cruise in 2008. You deserve it.
God bless the Liberty of the Seas. May all who sail on her find joy, relaxation and the trip of dreams they so well deserve.