This was a special cruise for me since I got to spend time with my daughter who is now in grad school out of state. Our thanks again to my sweet husband for letting us have "girl time". I gave my daughter a choice of cruise options and she picked a week on the Liberty because of all the ship offered. This "Vision Class" mom wasn't sure how she'd like cruising on a big ship, but we both had a wonderful time.
Embarkment: We flew into Miami on the day of the cruise because DD's school schedule didn't allow us to fly in a day early. We used Royal Caribbean transfers to get us to the ship. The Royal Caribbean greeters got us off to a cheery start and our bus driver gave a great narration as we drove to the ship. We got our Sea Pass cards very quickly, but went from there into a very long line to actually board the ship. Evidently, only one set of the machines that are used to take the pictures for the cards were open at the time. As we neared the end of one curve, the other set was opened and things went very quickly from then. We were on the ship about 12:45, hovered around on Deck 9 until the cabins were available and dropped off all the stuff we'd been carting around before we went to the Windjammer for lunch.
Cabin: We were in corner aft 9704 - an E1 cabin. This is configured slightly different from the normal E1's in that it has a single door with a window and a large (large enough to sit in) round window instead of the normal sliding doors. The cabin was a little snug to me (I usually cruise in D1's or an occasional Junior Suite), but had plenty of storage space. I think others agreed with me because I saw a couple of coffee tables in the hall the first night. After we'd bumped into ours a couple of times, we realized why they were out there. I really booked the cabin because I thought it would have a sunny balcony with a wake view unimpeded by the aft super structure. This proved to be correct and we spent many pleasant hours out on the balcony. Our cabin attendant, Alvan, was very nice, unobtrusive, and kept me supplied with Diet Cokes. We were on the cruise to rest and slept in most mornings.
The Ship: We had a wonderful time exploring the Liberty. I think our favorite area was far forward by the helicopter landing pad. We saw a school of porpoises while we were out there. We played miniature golf and enjoyed watching people on the flowrider. DD didn't try because she hadn't brought snug enough swimwear/clothing - something she'll definitely do next time. People seemed to be having a great time on the Sports Court and Rock Wall. We easily found chairs on Deck 12 around the pools a couple of times, but it was so windy that after a while, we gave up trying to be sociable and retreated to our balcony. We hot-tubbed late one afternoon around the main pool and found chairs easily then. We never got a chance to try the cantilevered hot tubs. I loved wandering the Royal Promenade and bought a cute bathing suit my last night on board. Neither of us were up for partying on this cruise, so I can't report on any of the nightclubs/bars.
Food: We ate dinner every night in the main dining room with a group of Cruise Critic friends. Everton, our waiter, took good care of us. Our poor assistant waiter had so many tables that we didn't get to know him at all, but he was always there with drink refills and the lemons I requested. Our Head Waiter came by each night to check on us and especially the little two year old at our table. I thought the food quality was very good. This isn't a five star dining experience and I don't expect that. We all commented that our food was hot when it was served. We had one lunch at the Promenade Cafe and enjoyed the shrimp and egg sandwiches. I loved the toffee cookies and the lemon poppyseed cake. We didn't try Sorrento's since DD's boyfriend's favorite food is pizza and she wanted to take a break from it for the week. Our tablemates said that the panini's there were wonderful. We did eat most lunches in the Windjammer and really enjoyed some of the hot pasta dishes. One morning when we went in for breakfast, the greeter told us it was crowded and told us to get our plates and come eat in Portofino. We never really had trouble finding a seat even in our preferred by the windows location. DD isn't much of a foodie, so she choose my offer of renting a waverunner at Labadee over a meal in a specialty restaurant. We didn't use room service at all. We ate breakfast in the Dining Room only on the last day and it was very good.
Entertainment: The Ice Show was fantastic! We didn't enjoy the production shows as much as we enjoyed the two we saw on the Rhapsody last year. We had a hard time finding seats where we could see well. I would caution everyone to get to the shows early. We enjoyed juggler Adam Kario and comedian Micheal Dean Nestor. Everyone seemed to enjoy headliners Mario and Daniel. We somehow just didn't get on their wavelength although there were several things we found funny. We watched karaoke one night in the On the Air Club. The Love and Marriage Show was funny. I must say that Cruise Director Allen Brooks had a way of making everything fresh and funny. I saw the tail end of one of the parades. Wish the one the first night hadn't been so late - we got up so early to make our 6:00 a.m. flight that we couldn't tough it out until then. We did go to the Meet & Mingle. Isolda, you are my Cruise Critic star! We skipped the Captain's Party, the general C&A party and the Platinum/Diamond gathering. I think the old term "wet blankets" fit us perfectly this cruise. See below.
Diamond Lounge: I was only up there the first night to snag ice show tickets. The canapes looked great, but since we got enough food at dinner each night, we elected not to start out with additional appetizers. Pretty, the concierge, seemed very nice. She was diligent in calling to make sure we were having a great cruise. Many of our Cruise Critic friends loved the Happy Hour up there.
Ports/Shore Excursions: Our catamaran excursion for San Juan was cancelled on the day before we got to port. We heard two different reasons - one was bad weather (How did they know two days ahead?) and the other was mechanical problems. Our money was cheerfully and promptly refunded. The weather, by the way, was beautiful in San Juan. We consoled ourselves by shopping in Old San Juan with Cruise Critic friends. I must say that this experience was rendered a little unpleasant by the fact that it must have been the night before trash pickup day and the streets were stacked with trash bags and the smell was not so great. In St. Martin, we took a private tour with Bernard's Tours and I would recommend this. We went to both Orient and Maho Beaches. We were not able to shop in Marigot because it was a national holiday on the French side and decided not to shop in Phillipsburg, but to go back to the ship and do more relaxing by the pool. (The relaxation theme of this cruise continues.) On Labadee, we did both the Dragon's Flight Zipline and rented waverunners. We had a great beach day even though it was overcast.
Gym: I used the treadmills a couple of times. My only complaint was that I'd have much rather looked out on the ocean than look into a TV screen. I can do that at home! Since I am a little on the short side, I couldn't see over it. The facility was very nice. I had to wait about five minutes one morning for a treadmill, but not at all when I went in the middle of the afternoon.
Service: Generally very good.
Disembarkation: We used the valet service without any hitches. Get off early if you can. We got in line at nine and were in line for an hour and a half. Our thanks to the staff member who did stop one family from breaking into line. I could hear them telling the guy that their friends were up ahead. He called to check. There were no friends and he sent them back to wait! One of DD's friends who had moved to Miami picked us up at the port and we had a great lunch with her. She drove us to the airport for our afternoon departure.