We booked through a travel agent due to this being a trip paid for by my company and they go through a travel agent for booking. Otherwise, I would have booked it myself. We booked back in March as a 6A guarantee and ended up getting upgraded to an 8A (our first balcony cabin).
We flew in on 8/11 (the day before the cruise) and after some delays in the morning, arrived in FLL around noon. We chose to rent a car and drive up to Orlando for the day and spend the night there. It's about a three hour drive there but we really had no interest in going to the beaches. DD wanted to go to Universal so we chose to do that. We spent the night in a La Quinta on Universal Drive in Orlando which was an excellent hotel. The next morning, we left the hotel around 8:00 to make our way down to FLL again. We brought the rental car back and got on the shuttle back to the airport to meet our transfer over to Port Everglades.
We got on the transfer around 11:45 and were at the port by noon. Unfortunately, there were a lot of other buses so we sat there until 12:30 when we were able to get off the shuttle. THe line was horrendous. It moved so slowly, much worse than any cruise I had been on or read about. We ended up not boarding the ship until about 2:30. Having not had lunch, we were so hungry and went up to our cabin, then to the Lido deck to grab lunch.
First impression of the ship - I was very impressed by the Liberty. We had previously been on the Celebration and the Inspiration, the Inspiration being the most recent. That one, I really felt crowded by people at all times. I didn't get that feeling on this ship at all. It was beautiful! Lunch was good and we went down to sit on our balcony until the muster drill. We couldn't set sail on time since we were waiting on a flight to come in that was delayed. We went to dinner at 5:45 in the Silver Olympian and met our waiters. WONDERFUL team. They didn't get to know our names, but were so personable that it was ok.
By the time dinner was done, we were sailing away from FLL. We signed DD up for Camp Carnival at the registration and then went up on deck to watch The Wizard of Oz on the movie screen and then went on to bed.
Day 2 - Key West - We pulled into port on time. We didn't book an excursion here so we wandered the island for a little while. We ended up back on the ship around 2 and DD went with Camp Carnival very happily. We went to the show that night and then a normal bedtime for us.
Day 3 - Day at Sea - DD went back with Camp Carnival and we went to relax on the deck. She came back to us for lunchtime and spent some time in the pool and the waterslide. I have to say, having the TV on the deck is very nice. I typically can't sit outside all day and this made the time pass much more quickly. Plus, I was able to see the deck events (Ice carving and Hairy chest contest) without having to squeeze in - it was right up on the screen in front of us! We brought DD back to Camp Carnival (she had NO desire to stay with us) and then wandered the ship some until dinner. This was also the formal night so we had lobster. DD loves lobster now.Day 4 - Grand Cayman - I had chosen to do an excursion going to the Turtle Farm, Hell, and Stingray City. We got on our bus and took a tour of the island. We enjoyed the Turtle Farm and Hell. Stingray City....let's just preface it saying that I get EXTREMELY motion sick and the little boat that took us out to the stingray area had me sick there and on the way back. I was wearing the motion sickness patches, it just didn't matter. We spent some time in the water but DD panicked and decided she didn't want to swim with them so we moved her back over nearer to the little boat so she could swim away from them. The ride back to Grand Cayman was just as rough and I really thought I was going to be sick. We went back to the ship when we got back. The tender line was extremely long so i went to get us a snack in one of the shops. I came back out within 3 minutes and they were almost at the front of the line, so the tendering does move very quickly. Back on the ship, we got ready for dinner since it was just about that time.
Day 5 - Ocho Rios - I had read a lot about this prior to going there so I was quite nervous. We had booked an excursion going to Chukka Cove to go Beach Horseback Riding. We were the 10:30 group so we got off the ship around 9:50 to wait for our tour bus. We got on the bus and took the half hour ride over there. The previous group wasn't back yet so we went souvenir shopping there. They ended up being VERY late....it ended up cutting our tour short and getting us back to the ship at exactly the time we were supposed to be on board, vs the hour and a half leeway time we were supposed to have. The experience was great and the facility was wonderful. THe bus ride saw some interesting and scary areas - I will not venture to walk around Jamaica the way I will Grand Cayman or Key West. No time for shopping here so back on the ship.
This was our second formal night - people were noticeably less formal than the first. DD went to the late night party with Camp Carnival and got back to the room at 3:30 AM.
Day 6 - Fun Day at Sea - DD didn't wake up til noon, which was fine. There were a lot of cranky kids that day due to the late night party so I was happy she slept. I left the do not disturb sign on the door with a note for her and we went and got breakfast and then laid out on the deck.We spent the day just resting and then I packed that night.
Day 7 - Debarkation - we had an early flight so I switched our zone number to #3. We were off the ship with no trouble at all and at the airport checking in by 9AM. Very easy and simple.
Highlights - Todd Witmer was our cruise director - if you can get on a ship with him, do it. He was wonderful. He'll be on the Freedom next year he said, so we would like to get on there.
Our room steward was visible and said hello to us a few times a day. He didn't quite get the timing down - we would often be coming back from dinner and he'd still be in our room cleaning.
Balcony - great thing to have. I want one from now on. This may get pricey, but I think it's worth it.
The juggling act - I really liked this performer. He was hysterical and I think funnier than the comedian that came after him. Definitely check him out.
Food was ok. Having been on a cruise a month ago, the menu was the same and unfortunately, I don't care for a lot of the selections. 2 years ago, I thought the menu was much better and our waiter agreed with me.
Only bad thing I can say was the embarkation. It was a nightmare and they need to figure out something to speed that process up. The line at the purser's desk was long EVERY day. Just be prepared to wait. I probably wouldn't do the stingrays again, but that's due to my own motion sickness, and having nothing to do with the experience itself.