We would like to thank all previous posters. Reading member reviews on this site made our planning much easier. We sailed on Liberty of the Seas September 15 through September 22, 2007. We were travelling with a group of adults - six altogether. Here are some thoughts about our experience:
Boarding: We arrived at the pier at approximately 11:30 (contrary to the directions of Royal Caribbean). We've been on prior cruises, and we knew that, if we got there early, we would at least be able to wait inside, probably in a chair. Since it was our first time with Platinum status, we weren't sure what the "private departure lounge" was going to be like. Our priority check-in was fast, however, the lines for regular check-in weren't that long either. After check-in, we were issued priority boarding cards, then we were sent into the next "check-in chamber," a room identical to the one in which we had just checked-in. If this was the private departure lounge, it wasn't very private. The room was full of chairs, most of which were already taken. Our guess is that there were about 1500 people in the room by noon. Not everyone in the "private lounge" had priority boarding cards. We waited for about an hour. Boarding was delayed slightly due to customs clearance issues. Once Priority boarding was called there was a mad rush to the entrance. The staff could have controlled the crowd better. We were on the ship, making reservations at Chops, by 1 p.m. The other four in our party who did not have Platinum status were stuck in the first check-in area, without seats, for approximately two hours. We spoke with another Platinum member during the cruise who followed RCCL's instructions regarding pier arrival time and she was stuck waiting in line outside in the heat for an hour. Apparently, Platinum status doesn't kick in until you actually get inside!?!
Ship: The ship was, of course, fabulous. One of the previous posters here commented on the artwork in the stairways. We would like to reiterate that the artwork was unbelievable, not only in the stairways, but in the hallways as well. If there was an art tour of the ship during the cruise, we didn't find out about it. It certainly would have been worthwhile if they'd had one. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin which was very nice. The flat screen T.V. is a nice touch. Our balcony door was extremely difficult to open. The door handle was broken when we arrived. Someone came to repair it around Day 5. The bedding was very comfortable (we noticed a big increase in quality since our last cruise - don't know if it's only on this ship). The decorative pillows and the comforter were slightly stained, which was kind of gross. Our neighbors had two cabins and shared balconies making it easier for them to have parties out there every night until very late. FYI, the balcony doors are not soundproof, so be courteous to your neighbors.
Activities: There is an amazing selection of activities on this ship. We are pretty selective about our activities. We don't usually go to the big production shows, and we didn't, so we can't comment on those. Prior to our trip, one of us decided to (finally) participate in the Tai Chi class. The other signed up for the scuba certification class. Tai Chi was a joke. The staff in the fitness center winced when asked about Tai Chi, clearly not wanting to have the class. They only have the class if a minimum of five people sign up for it. Since the maiden voyage, they had only held one Tai Chi class. The scuba certification class, on the other hand, was held regardless of the fact that only three people signed up for it - probably because it costs $250+. The instructor was very good and enthusiastic. Initial scuba training took place in the pool (confined dives). Two certification dives were held in St. Maarten. We always like to do a little ballroom dancing when we cruise. The orchestra on the ship is wonderful. When we read in the Compass that the orchestra would be playing Big Band music that night we were very excited and made it a point to be in the designated lounge. To our disappointment, for the first half of the evening, the band accompanied two of the production show members, who self-indulgently sang "their favorite songs" while the people who came to dance just sat in the audience. Finally, a couple from Australia, who were very good and energetic dancers, got up to dance. Afterwards, the female singer told them that they were "quite sprightly." We were about to leave, until we learned that they were almost finished. The band only played for another half-hour, during which the dance floor was packed. There were only two dance class activities - beginning swing, and line dancing. We wish there had been more, particularly Latin dance, since they have the nice Latin lounge, Bolero. The golf simulator was great. We tried it on our last day and wish we had signed up for more time during the cruise. It costs $25.00 per hour, and it books up fast on cruising days. The bingo caller was atrocious. The pools were great, although we spent most of our time in the solarium pool since we didn't have our young kids with us. The hot tubs overhanging the ocean are terrific. The Cruise Critics' Meet and Mingle party was fun. It was held on the morning of the first full day. Nice spread, good people. The members who put together the awards at the end did a great job. The repeat cruisers receptions were nice, also. The library has an excellent selection of books.
Staff: The overall quality of the staff was not on a par with our previous cruise experiences with Royal Caribbean. Our room attendant never introduced herself. Never. This was so different from our other RCCL stateroom attendants that we were somewhat shocked by the lack of interaction. Occasionally, when we saw her, which was rare, she was on her cell phone while cleaning cabins. On one occasion, a ¼ full bottle of wine disappeared from our cabin. In light of RCCL's liquor policy (see below), we were perturbed, to say the least. It was replaced after we complained. On another occasion, our pool towels were not replaced. When our stateroom attendant was nowhere to be found, we were required to stand in line at the towel exchange station and sign out two more towels, for which we would have been charged if we'd failed to return them. When we eventually received our stateroom pool towels, the attendant stood around as if waiting for a tip for bringing them to us. Notwithstanding those complaints, our room was always clean. Our dining room servers were strictly adequate. We've had worse, and we've had much much better. One of our complaints was that we always seemed to be the last ones leaving the dining room. Despite being faithfully on time, unless we told our waiter that we had to be finished by a certain time, it seemed as though we were not on his radar as a serving priority. Our servers at Chops were excellent. Pool bar servers were sometimes obnoxious with their drink hawking. Almost every bartender poured short and/or light. The only drink that rendered a fair pour was a straight martini (or a beer). We had the pleasure of meeting one of the art auction employees on our first day. Although not strictly "staff," we considered meeting him to be one of the highlights of our experience. Paul mingled with passengers regularly and made us feel very welcome on the ship. We wondered whether the staff on board the Liberty was new and inexperienced, hence the less than fabulous service. One of us speculated whether it was the Captain's attitude that influenced the poor overall quality of service. Toward the end of our cruise we heard from another passenger that the crew has a complaint pending against RCCL for employment conditions and overtime. We don't know whether that's true, or whether that might have influenced the quality of service. Dining: We have now memorized the dining room menus. The menus have been basically the same since approximately 2003. We had a few complaints about the menu not being quite accurate. For example, the Chicken Marsala was not made with Marsala wine, "tiger shrimp" were not actually tiger shrimp, salmon pasta had little or no salmon. The food was usually good. If a particular dish was not to our liking, the server was quick to offer a replacement dish. We did eat once at Chops. The food was excellent. We were skeptical about paying for a meal on a cruise (even though it's only $20 pp) because free food is so abundant. It was well worth the money and, in retrospect, we should have booked a night or two at Portofino. Their menu looked excellent. Fortunately, the first thing we did on the ship was book Chops. Unfortunately, we only booked one night at Chops and none at Portofino. We tried to get a reservation later and they were both full. We ate lunch once at Johnny Rockets. The food was good, although the wait at noon was about 45 minutes and the staff in charge of seating was lacking in common sense, to say the least. The room service menu seemed quite pared down. We did order coffee to the room every day and it was always on time and very good.
Liquor Policy: In the past, the duty free shop on board would sell liquor to passengers with a surcharge if the liquor was going to be consumed on the ship. This was true as recently as January 2007. Prior to this cruise, we respected RCCL's "no outside liquor on board" policy and we elected to pay a premium at the duty free store. (Not surprisingly, many people do not abide by the rule.) On our first day at sea, we attempted to buy liquor at the duty free store for consumption on the ship. We were told that RCCL policy changed and we were no longer able to do that. In light of the drink prices for short and/or light pours at the bars, we were not happy about the change in policy. For this reason alone, we are considering a different cruise line for our next cruise, as it seems that RCCL is out to cheat its passengers. We ended up buying a bottle of wine at dinner every night and bringing the unfinished bottle back to our cabin after dinner. RCCL made much less off of us on liquor on this cruise than they would have under the old policy allowing purchase for consumption at the duty free.
In the middle of the night on our last night, the man overboard alarm sounded. Apparently there were two Cubans in the water. They were turned over to the coast guard.
Overall we had an enjoyable cruise experience on this beautiful ship.