WHO WE ARE: This was our second cruise. My husband and I are in our late 20's, and our only other cruise experience was on the Tahitian Princess in 2004. We loved the Tahitian Princess, but wanted to try a bigger ship this time... why not the newest, biggest ship in the world? :)
EMBARKATION: We arrived into Ft Lauderdale on a red-eye flight from San Diego. We traveled easily on AirTran, but were very tired on arrival. We used RCCL for transportation to Port of Miami and it was all very simple and efficient. Like the other reviewers we arrived to the ship around 11:30 and boarded within 10 minutes. We carried our luggage on with us, it wasn't difficult and we had all of our belongings with us... ready to jump right into vacation attire and swim gear!
STATEROOM: We LOVED our room! We originally booked an 7th floor Promenade cabin, but prices dropped and we couldn't resist the balcony lure. If you can get room 6514, you are very very lucky! This is the lowest of the Balcony decks and the most FORWARD Balcony on the ship. Because of its location, you have an incredible view! Instead of frosted glass framing both sides of the balcony, you get one side that is completely covered in windows! Being in the lowest of the balcony decks, the design of the ship gives 6514 a balcony DOUBLE in length!!! RCCL does put a small bar across the extra portion of balcony, but it's EASILY accessible and feels like one HUGE balcony, at the same cost as the other "standard" balconies!! Because we were at the Forward end of the ship, we expected to hear the horrendous anchor drop at Labadee; but we never heard a thing. The room was very quiet, and the balcony's frost glass, made it completely private! BTW, we thought the beds were very comfortable. We like softer beds, and it was perfect. Our cabin attendant made fun towel animals every night!
Everything about the ship was new, clean, attractive and in perfect order. We tend to be travelers that look at the small details, and in every way, Liberty exceeded our expectations.
POOL CHAIRS: I differ with the other review, there were always pool side chairs available. During peak hours, yeah, they weren't the "best" chairs, but go around the next bend or up a floor, and you'd have no problem finding a group together. Solarium chairs were plush!! This was our pool. At this pool, they add an extra pad to the chairs for comfort.
ENTERTAINMENT: AMAZING! I am a big critic because my husband and I are musicians and do it semi-professionally, but I got chills and had some jaw drops a few times! We just happened to stumble into the theater during the first big performance, and after that, we made sure we made it to every show in the big hall! So impressive. I would have paid additional money to attend the shows.
OTHER PASSENGERS: One surprise was the make up of passengers. I guess I had expected more US passengers/families. This ship was incredibly international! I think someone has said that the majority of our ship was made up of Venezuelans! After that, I heard many Eastern European accents. English and Americans really seemed to be a minority, which was a huge bonus for my husband and me... we loved it! I didn't see as many kids as I had expected. Venezuelan kids swarmed the H20 zone, and the Flowrider/Basketball area, but other than that, they weren't that noticeable. My husband was a little disappointed that there were never any Adult Basketball games that came to fruition. Seems that the ship could have coordinated that, but instead the basketball court was usually used by random kid "Horse" games, dodgeball tournaments and other free-throw shooting competitions.
THE FOOD: Overall a tad disappointing. The actual dining room and the fancy dress up were the highlight for me, but the food was really just ok. I think you just have to consider, they are feeding a massive amount of people, it's hard to expect the same quality as smaller ships. We splurged and ate at Portofino... SO WORTH IT!!! It's a must, and we don't typically like spending extra bucks, but it was an incredible experience. My husband claims it was the best filet mignon he's ever had, ever.
THE PORTS: We booked this cruise for the SHIP and for the Caribbean in general; taking advantage of travelling over Labor Day got us the eastern itinerary, but we didn't really care about the PORTS. As expected, the PORTS ranged from okay to lousy. Favorite: St Maarten. We never made it to the French side. We did the Scuba Fun excursion. We've been scuba diving a few times before (Cozumel, Tahiti, Thailand), and this was the worst. If we hadn't seen the 2 giant sting rays and the octopus, I would have been really disappointed. The water was really pretty in color, that perfect tropical blue, there just wasn't a lot of fish or coral to make the dive that impressive. Our instructor did say that the advanced scuba dives go to a completely different dive spot, and she said it's incredible. So, maybe it was just our spot. We enjoyed the beach at St Maarten, the waves were really fun, just watch out for SAND FLEAS!!! We had no idea... until we went back to the ship, my husband's arm had over 50 bites on it. Just keep your whole body ON your towel and you'll be fine. RCCL provides beach towels for you, that was nice. San Juan: Enjoyable. Old San Juan was nice, pretty clean too. We jumped in a cab and for $20 travelled over to The Ritz Carlton Hotel. WOW! This place is amazing. We had drinks and dinner at their beach side restaurant, and watched the sun go down, took a beach stroll, the water was so warm. Really memorable evening. The hotel is unbelievable, if you go, bring your suit (we didn't)! Labadee: What a mess. I think if we were to do it again, we wouldn't have gotten off the ship. I say it with a smile, though. Labadee wasn't horrible, but when you're on such a relaxing, beautiful ship with so much to do, it just doesn't compare. :) Tendering was okay. Our stateroom attendant said Labadee is always very hot, and it was, VERY HOT. You get off the ship and you're just not sure where to go... the best spot is right there at the tender drop off!! There's a small cove just on the left and it's perfect. The prettiest spot on the beach. The water was so tepid, no wind, rocks all in the shallow ocean waters and more warnings about Sand Fleas, Sharks, Jelly Fish, everything you don't want on vacation. :) RCCL provides lunch, but it's like a bad pot luck. Everything is just okay (makes you wish you were back on the ship with it all to yourself!)
DEBARKATION: We had purple tags, we were waiting quite a while and it was reaching 10:30am, so we snuck off. :) No one really checks, and so, we got off very easily, before our tag color was called. Don't get too ambitious, though, because while you may be off the ship, your bags won't be unless you time it right. The only thing we noticed... because there were so many non-US citizens on our cruise, the line for US citizens Immigration/Customs was VERY short. Felt bad for the non-US citizens, they had a VERY long line. We went through Immigration/Customs, and collected our 3 bags in about 15 minutes. Very nice.
OVERALL: For our second cruise WE LOVED IT. Liberty does a fantastic job making the ship feel small and easy to navigate. Even on such a huge ship, we would consistently run into familiar faces, and made new friends. The Promenade was so very fun. We ended every night with a pizza slice from Sorrentos. :) Even at the heart of Hurricane Season, we had 6 days of almost 100% sunshine. The final day was thunderstorms and rainy, but the change was actually welcomed. :)
This ship is so fantastic, you won't even care about the ports and food. You will love this cruise!