Just back from Liberty of the Seas Sept. 15th voyage: San Juan, PR, St. Maarten, Labadee.
This was a very exciting voyage which included a rescue at sea! See my thread on the main RCCL board for more information. We reunited with the Liberty crew and staff from our 2-day Pre Inaugural experience and found her much improved!
EMBARKATION: was good considering we arrived at the pier at 10:30. But since U.S. Customs hadn't cleared the ship for boarding because of some problem with foreign passengers, we had to wait a bit to board, until around 12:00. But fun was had by all in the large and pleasant waiting area. We were eating in Windjammer by 12:30. Our rooms were ready by 1:00 and we dumped our bags and went to see if all her previous crew were in place.
CABINS: are very comfortable. The new bedding felt luxurious to me. You can ask for and get the RCCL robes even if you are not diamond members, sorry diamonds. We loved these and the personal attention our cabin steward Wi Yoo gave us, he was swell! Our room was spacious and meticulously kept thanks to Wi Yoo. We couldn't ask too much of him, so eager to please and so friendly and easy to talk to as is almost all of the crew and staff. I know we are RCCL cheerleaders but we can't help it!
SHIP: this is the most lovely and well decorated ship we have been on. The artwork is really something in a category all its own. You must take the time to really view it all. My favorite are all the little interactive boxes with moving parts in them you turn or crank to make move. They are usually at the entrances to the companionways. The glass everywhere on the ship is beautiful. She is a true beauty. And well laid out as well. The only complaint here is that deck 3 doesn't go all the way the length of the ship and you have to do some calculating at times to get up and down in the bow of the ship. Try to remember to look for the Egyptian obelisk as the marker for the bow and the dangling water tentacles as the marker for the aft or dining areas and you will always be able to tell where you are headed when in the promenade. The dining rooms are the showplaces and spectacular IMHO along with the incredible Platinum Theater's main curtain. Beautiful heavily beaded and bespangled velvet divas grace this massive curtain. I especially loved the etched stainless steel elevator doors, very interesting.
SERVICE: was as exceptional as we believe it to be IMHO! I made special requests in many areas, especially in the dining room and our head waiter and our wonderful serving team of Ricky and Alvaro came through with flying colors! First class service doesn't even begin to describe our dining experience with these crew members! Do not hesitate to ask for special dishes on this ship. Be prepared to get them and quickly. I asked for She Crab Soup (not on the menu) which we had on Rhapsody several years ago and just a day later it arrived at our table. We really felt like VIP's with this exceptional service, the only passengers eating this soup on the ship. I also ordered the chocolate french toast and got that as well, even though it wasn't on the menu. Don't let any particular night's menu deter you from dining at the much acclaimed, an well deserved, specialty restaurants, they'll save your lobster for another night as we experienced. Portofino's was a wonderful experience. These staff members do not know that you can spoil a passenger with too much attention! When I asked for my left overs in the dining room and Porto's, I was given complete new dishes, not the left overs to take to our room. I could wax on, but enough to say, I don't see how one can complain about any member of the staff!
FOOD: again, I do not comprehend why many who critique Liberty, and indeed, other RCCL ships' food complain about it so. I found some dishes not as good as celebrated on these boards but cannot complain about any of the food I ate. Most was above average and some 4 star in quality. I especially enjoyed the soups and bisques with the yummy breads which we always find to be stellar. The filets and steaks were good to excellent and most of the vegetables were served as we prefer them, crunchy and not limp. I thought the desserts very good as well and was pleased to see the orange souffle had improved from the beginning of her service back in May and the sauce they serve with it was now warm, not cold. The pizza is above average in the Promenade Cafe and the coffee we found very good as well in the dining room and on the Promenade. I am a Starbuck's addict and own an expresso machine myself and IMHO, I consider these coffees almost as good as the real thing or mine. Don't know why some people find them so unpalatable. Windjammer is...what it is...a cafeteria, so I don't expect more than that there and that is what we got. But we eat cafeteria here at home as well and still enjoyed Windjammer on several occasions as we did room service as well. They will send you practically anything you want, from their menu or the dining room and it magically appears in your room still hot! We ordered fruit and cheese trays for special Pirate activities as well to be served in cabin and these were terrific!
BAR SERVICE: the bartenders and wait staff at the various bars were great too and the mojitos at Balero's just as delicious as I remembered. We sometimes don't get them that good here at home in San Antonio. I can just taste them now..mmmmmmm!! They will bend over backward to get you what you want. Got my sluzzy glasses and my blinky glasses! And tasty concoctions to go in them!~
ACTIVITIES: if you can't find that you have absolutely not enough time in a 7 day period to experience all that Liberty has to offer, you are the exception! We were so worn out trying to keep up with the Cruise Compass every day that Wednesday and Thursday, we had to go to bed by 8:00 or 9:00! For the 3rd time, we missed the midnight buffet and Dancing Under the Stars because we fell asleep! Of course, my DH's favorite was the Flow Rider and mine, the SHOWS. The Welcome Aboard Show was entertaining, the comedian pretty good and Ken Rush...a rush as always LOL. The ice show Encore is all that you have heard and more, a must see. Somewhere In Time, interesting and exquisitely staged and costumed. I was a tad disappointed in In The Air, a Cirque du Soleil wannabe. Hope this act will improve in future, we didn't stay for the whole show, maybe a mistake as many did like it. Ever After, a fairy tale show, we missed due to weariness, but were told it was very good. Do attend as many as you can, you won't be disappointed in almost everything they do. My lucky DH won one of the blackJack tourneys $375 but I didn't win the $8000 bingo jackpot...very disappointing!!! The pools and H2O Zone are terrific as well, a cooling and soothing place to be in caribbean temperatures! Don't miss the walls of the solarium pool, there is a coral reef mural underwater there. No incidents of chair hogs in our swims, nor kiddies in there. They stayed in H2O as intended. Had a mix n match at the spa and this is a very good value, any 3 treatments for only $119. I had facial, mini massage and the milk body wrap. Wonderful!! Ask for Elise, a non pushy therapist!!
PORTS: San Juan gave us a chance to bring home Puerto Rican rums and other liquors at a fraction of the price of stateside prices. Fifths at sometimes 1/3rd the price we pay. We made it home with 10 bottles, no duty on this U.S. Territory's products! We didn't have time to do too much else here as we arrived at 3:00 and departed at dusk. The lights of the receding city in the background were romantic as we left. The sight of the old fort as you arrive is stunning as well. In Saint Maarten we took a non RCCL excursion by booking a brigantine square sail cruise on Lord Sheffield, which berths just down the street from the cruise ship pier, you can walk it, but taxi is $3 per person also. This was a highlight for us, we love boating and sailing and loved this experience. We sailed through an afternoon rain shower around the coast up past Maho and watched the jets and then on to Mullett Bay to swim. Water as aqua blue as any in the world and for you divers, visibility to 125'! We floated on noodles in this gorgeous water, got a peek at some nude bathers there, (be careful little eyes what you see) LOL and were served some of the best bbq'd chicken and pork ribs we have ever had along with cheese, fruit and bread and rum punch, and almost a full bar. Our pirates had this cruise all to ourselves, 26 of us. The ride home was taxing as we never had a fair sailing wind and had to motor back in and it was HOT! Some found it to be too strenuous but we loved it. You should look it up online. Hated to leave this pretty little island and didn't get to see as much as we would have liked. Labadee was a great place to relax and swim, the hammocks were wonderful and plenty of chairs. Hideaway Beach was where we made our headquarters and the food RCCL puts out there was pretty good, burgers, hot dogs, ribs, salads, fruits and lemonade and punch and cookies and gingerbread I think. The water here is not as clear and blue as St Maarten and there are rocks and some coral, but it is not as barren as some have reported. If you stay close around the rocks on shore you can snorkel this area and find all sorts of fishes, all colors, shapes and sizes. And Dragon Breath Point is a must see, excuse me hear!!! Fascinating! A good diversion all in all.
DEBARKATION: was smooth although an hour and a half late on account of our ocean rescue of the two Cuban nationals we almost ran over about 42 nautical miles from Miami! No, contrary to rumor, no one fell or jumped from Liberty on this trip! But it did make us late getting in, but just let us stay on Liberty a little longer which was fine with me. Sailed through customs and onto our transfer bus and to the airport in plenty of time to make our 11:30 flight back home.
We hated to see this cruise come to an end but we always do. Will miss her crew but not for long. We plan on making this and the new Genesis to come our main squeezes when it comes to cruise ships. Didn't notice a crowd except for parades which were colorful and entertaining anyway and maybe when attending the shows. Apart from these times, we never knew there were almost 3400 souls aboard. In my really honest and positive opinion, this is one heck of a ship. You will love her as we do!!