We flew down to Miami on Friday, Apr 25 and stayed at the Hilton Miami Downtown - reserved through RCI. The cab ride from the airport to the hotel with tip for two people was $37.00. The hotel was very nice but the restaurant inside was ridiculously expensive. The breakfast buffet for two people was almost $50.00. Typical Miami rip-off - they include an 18% gratuity for a buffet that costs $18pp.
Day 1, Apr 26 - Embarkation:
We had a transfer from the hotel booked through RCI and arrived at the port of Miami around 11:30. I will say that the embarkation process was the longest that we had experienced so far but we met some great first time cruisers from Wyoming that made the wait go by quickly. We were on the ship by 12:50 p.m. We walked around, took a few pictures and headed to our cabin number 6632, an E2 balcony located in the mid section of deck 6. Great cabin, great cabin steward, plenty of storage - perfect! After dropping off our carryon bag we headed straight to Vintages and tried a couple of flights of wine. Vintages is one of our favorite places on the Liberty. We explored, took several pictures and it was time for the muster drill. The welcome aboard show included comedian Don Barnhart and juggler Adam Kario. We were pleasantly surprised to see that Allan Brooks was the cruise director - - he had been the cruise director on our first cruise last April on the Explorer. Wow - the cruising world is a small one. We headed to second seating dinner for the Sail away dinner. Our table, 431, was for 6 people. Our tablemates were four young women from Miami traveling together to celebrate the end of a semester of college. We checked out the Socal-licous parade after dinner then headed to bed. Great first day!
Day 2, Apr 27 - At Sea:
Relaxing day at sea. More exploring of this massive ship! We had our official cruise critic meet and mingle at 10:15 a.m. at Olive or Twist. It was great to chat with some fellow CC'ers and get to meet some of the Cruise Directors staff. Our favorite by far is Isolda. I wish that I had written down her last name - she is from Monterrey, Mexico and she is really a gem! After the M&M we headed to the Schooner bar for TRIVIA! One of many trivia challenges it was SO much fun. That afternoon was the C&A wine tasting in the dining room. Very fun and a nice refresher course in wine. Tonight is the first of two formal nights and also the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception. Great time. The Shows were Somewhere in Time and a late night adult only comedy show. Both were a lot of fun.
Day 3, Apr 28 - San Juan, Puerto Rico:
Today we arrive in San Juan at 3:00 p.m. In the morning we headed to the gym which is absolutely amazing. TV's on all of the cardio equipment. We ate lunch at the Windjammer. Played 70's trivia, took a 70's line dancing class, and then played movie trivia all before arriving in San Juan. Cruising rules. San Juan - debarkation was a bit grueling. We had booked an excursion through RCI for a City tour and tour of the Bacardi Distillery. This was our first experience with an afternoon arrival and it's not our favorite. I can't fault RCI because I'm not sure that there is any better way to get 4,200 people off a ship - it was tedious at best. In San Juan we got hooked up with our tour guide. This was probably the most disappointing of excursions that we've taken. The "City Tour" consisted of a bus ride through the City and 30 minutes at Fort San Cristobal. We then boarded the buses and headed to Bacardi. We were really disappointed with Bacardi as you never saw the distillery - just a welcome center which was really just a big commercial for Bacardi. Having done many winery tours in the Napa Valley, and many brewery tours including Samuel Adams - Bacardi was disappointing at best. However, we met some really nice first time cruisers from Minnesota who made the trip really fun. After our tour ended we had a couple of hours of free time so we found a bar called Barrachina - we saw this bar featured on a show called Three Sheets - it is supposedly the birthplace of the Pina Colada. We had a pina colada (nothing better than you'd find on the Liberty and a few dollars more expensive) and then headed back to the ship for our second seating dinner at 8:45 p.m. Dinner wound up going pretty late and we missed the 10:00 p.m. show - In the Air Flying Show. Later that evening was the Dancin' in the Street 70's party.
Day 4, Apr 29 - Phillipsburg, St. Maarten:
We arrived in St. Maarten at 9:00 a.m. We ate a quick breakfast in the Windjammer and headed off the ship. Debarkation was a million times better today because everyone wasn't trying to get off the ship at the exact same time! There were many other ships in port, RCI's Explorer of the Seas and a large Carnival and Disney ship as well. We had an excursion booked through RCI called St. Maarten Natural Wonders Tour. We boarded a bus and drove the entire island stopping at two scenic lookouts. We then headed to what locals called a "park" but was actually a zoo. The wildlife was nice but the enclosures were way too small. After our tour we had several hours of free time but shops were mostly closed due to the Carnival Day holiday so we headed back to the ship for, you guessed it, Trivia!! We enjoyed trivia in the Hoof & Claw - by far my husband's favorite place on board! Tonight was the C&A welcome back party held in the Sphinx. We had a great time and found the Captain delightful. After dinner we attended the Love & Marriage game show which was absolutely hysterical. There was a midnight buffet out in Solarium. My husband took pictures of it while I made some donations at the casino.
Day 5, Apr 30 - At Sea:
Great relaxing sea day! My husband tried his luck on the Flowrider while I did some ice skating. We reconvened for lunch at Johnny Rockets- there's nothing like onion rings and French fries to jumpstart the weight gain! We headed to gym in the afternoon. This was the second formal night of the cruise. That evening we attended the ENCORE - ice spectacular. It was great. We then did some more trivia with Isolda and headed to dinner. The show was Celebrity Showtime with comedy from Bobby Collins. We found him obnoxious and we're NY'ers too! Some of his act was funny but he didn't do a great job of knowing his audience.
Day 6, May 1 - Labadee:
We booked an 8:00 a.m. parasailing excursion. Great time! It was our first time and it was a blast. After our excursion we spent a few minutes taking pictures but Haiti was way too hot for us. We headed back to the ship for breakfast and fun. My husband went directly to the flowrider while I watched in amazement. We had an early lunch in that addicting Johnny Rockets and then headed to the gym. I was scheduled for a Pilates Reformer class that never happened because of low attendance. Tonight's show was - Ever After. The performers are just great. After dinner we went to the Quest. It's amazing what alcohol and a key chain will motivate people to do. It was a great time!
Day 7, May 2 - At Sea:
Today was the day to try everything and see everything that we missed during the week. For my husband that meant the rock wall and more flow rider. I just spent time exploring the ship and then headed to the gym where I was signed up for a Pilates Reformer class. Unfortunately, since 4 additional people didn't show up the class never happened. I was disappointed again. Tonight's show was the farewell variety show with comedian Billy Garan and juggler Adam Kario. It was fun. After dinner we watched the Farewell Karaoke for about an hour - there were actually some pretty talented passengers singing.
Day 8, May 3 - Debarkation:
Debarkation was slow but it wasn't RCI's fault. Customs did not have separate lines for US citizens and NON-US citizens. I think Miami should take a lesson from Ft. Lauderdale. Since it is a US port the NON-US citizens take much longer to pass through thus holding up the lines. We had a transfer through RCI to the airport and we got there at about 10:30 a.m. The highlight is that we were on an oversold flight and able to bump for 2 free RT tickets in the continental US. We WILL be using them for another cruise!
The ship is amazing, the food was great, and the service was incredible. We continue to be loyal RCI cruisers. Reasons to cruise the Liberty: Isolda from the cruise directors staff, Vintages Wine Bar, and Flowrider! Pictures: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/563443897GMZQMz