There were four of us in two cabins and we really enjoyed our cruise on the Liberty. Embarkation--We must have hit this right because our hotel shuttle dropped us off and we were on the ship within 20 minutes. Once on board, we headed right for the lido deck and an enjoyable lunch in Emile's. Then we looked over the deck plans and charted our courses around the ship. That's half the battle, if you can find your way around early on your cruise you'll enjoy things a lot better. The Liberty has a few challenges when going from Bow to Stern because of the Golden Olympian dining room and galley in the center of the ship on decks 3 & 4.
Cabin--Our cabin was available when we finished our lunch and quick orientation tour of the ship. Our luggage was at the cabin waiting on us. This was a great surprise as we are used to waiting until dinner for the bags to arrive. Our cabin stewardess, Mariya was exceptionally good, our room was always just right. She made it a point to welcome us at our first visit and asked for anything specific that we would like during our cruise. Dean's a ice freak and told her to keep him iced up and things would be fine, so she showed up with a second bucket and said they would be filled twice daily. The cabins on the Liberty are well designed with plenty of storage space. We had room to spare on this 8 night cruise. Of course, the luggage stored out of site under the beds and everything was put away leaving open space and counter tops.
Ports--This was our sixth cruise to the Eastern/Southern Caribbean and we love the itinerary on this cruise. Some of the smaller islands are great too, but the only way we could improve the cruise would have been to sail from San Juan and that could start the trip off on the wrong note. San Juan--Arriving in the evening, you are not here long enough to do anything worthwhile. We arrived at 6:15 pm and left at midnight. We got a few great pictures of the old Fort on the cruise into port and then went to early seating for dinner. Staying on the ship was the best part of San Juan given the time we had.
St. Thomas--We booked the 'Champagne Catamaran Snorkel to St. John' through the cruise lines. We could have booked a smaller boat to do the same thing, but figured by the time we pay for transfers to Red Hook and then catch a boat over to St. John for snorkeling, we'd just pay the $10 extra per person and drink extra rum punch. While most people shop in St. Thomas, we prefer to go the opposite direction from town, so we were on the reef snorkeling.
Antigua--We took the two block walk to the bus station and went on a bus for $2 to Blackwook beach. While people who stayed in town said it rained and was bad weather, we had a great time with only a slight shower and plenty of time at the beach before taking another $2 bus trip back to town and the ship. It was the best value of the entire cruise. We smuggled off some food from the buffet at breakfast and took waters with us, so we didn't have to buy anything on the island.
Tortola--Dean booked the "Wreck of the Rhone" SCUBA dive which was the main reason for booking this itinerary. This is the wreck where they filmed parts of the movie "The Deep" and is a great dive. The others in our group headed to the Virgin Gorda and spent all day there for a deep discount, again booking online before the cruise and having a back up to get back on the ship in advance of departure. Well, everything started off great, until Dean arrived at the SCUBA boat at West End (20 minutes by landrover safari jeep). The captain of the dive boat said that they never intended on diving the Wreck of the Rhone and they would be making a 'nice' reef dive. Well, Dean and another couple objected to that because we paid for a dive on the 'Rhone' and should be able to do that unless the weather was really too bad and they cancel. So, half of the people stayed to dive a little reef and the other three of us were carted back to the ship for a refund of our money. The Shorex people do stand behind their product and didn't argue the fact that this was a 'bait and switch' so we got our refunds.
Nassau--We've been so many times over the years and always enjoy the clear blue water. Unless you are a guest at Atlantis it isn't worth getting the day pass, just walk through the casino and downstairs to the public viewing area. There are a few nice shops along the two blocks or so just across from the straw market, but you'll need to sift through all the basic trinkets and junk to find something good.
Food and Dining--People who have been blasting the food on the Liberty should probably avoid cruising. Like all ships there are some areas for improvement, but the staff was overly ready to make sure that you had a great dining experience.
Main Seating--We always ask for the larges table available on the cruise ship because we meet the best people during dinner and have the most fun. Now, 9 out of 10 ain't bad. We had one difficult couple at our table and they had three people working on them for their selection of food for the next evening meal. Amazingly, they altered the menu and cooked especially for them. Even with all this extra pampering, they were not satisfied, but we could see through their act. They wanted the attention and probably couldn't get away with that anywhere that they were subject to paying the bill. We'll be laughing about this couple for the next 10 cruises. The food was great and it something wasn't just right, Ana or Cece would be right there to fix it or make it right. The Lobster was great and we got as much as we could eat. We had a great variety and the selection was very good.
Breakfast and Lunch--The dining rooms didn't see us for breakfast or lunch one time during the whole cruise. We found the variety and choices for breakfast and lunch outstanding. The areas where food is available also are great because there is rarely any lines or waits. Even during peak times, when we saw people standing in lines we could move right past them to the next buffet or upstairs (deck 6 aft) to Fish & Chips (freshly battered). The Deli and Tex-Mex windows in between the six buffet lines made it interesting too.. GREAT SALSA !!! We had custom made omelets every morning and after a $5 tip got them with fresh scrabbled eggs from the same pleasant cook each day after that. WOW, who would think that a little gratitude could make such a difference.
Public Areas--The ship is really well designed and for the most part passenger friendly. We did encounter some smoky areas but found how to avoid them. The Piano Man bar with Vince was a real blast with everyone singing and having a great time around the rotating piano. Show up around 11:30 to midnight for the best time. The casino wasn't real good to us, although we did see one our our group win $1000 jackpot, for the most part the tables were crowded but kinda smoky. The main theatre is a little tight in the balcony and you'll need to arrive early to get a good seat on the main floor. They have a lot more leg room and more comfortable. The shows were what we've come to expect for a cruise ship like this. The comic on our cruise was very poor and the one 'tribute to Sinatra and Sammy' was at the point where we stayed but could have walked out because there were better places to be (maybe watching the bow cam at night). The cruise director 'Steve' did a great job, he was there at the right time and there were plenty of activities that his staff did for the new and drunk cruisers.
This is a great itinerary with great ports and on a great ship. We would book this again and only advise folks to check the school calendar and other websites before booking. There were about 700 kids on this cruise, not like the 1500 kids the week before. Something called singlescruises dot com had about 200 singles on the cruise, looking for some kind of action. Funny how the 'dead men walking' took on a whole new meaning when we saw some of those singles 'Ladies Man' types. It was a great time, but next time we're gonna watch our scheduling. Leaving the ship was interesting, we couldn't get our ground transportation and then when we did, we had to pay $50 for four of us to get 3 miles to the airport. The cabs that took four people were dropping luggage out of their trunks on the way to the airport. It was funny how we laugh when it happens to somebody else. Bring along either a roll of duct tape or a bungie cord to make sure you keep the lid down on those taxis that are charging you too much to drive you.
OK, hope you enjoyed our cruise report and got a few laughs along with us.