Our group of 8 was between the ages of 51 & 68. This was our 11th cruise and this was our 8th time with royal. We used Fast Track Economy Parking near the airport. Their pricing was very good , but make sure you know how to get to their location because it is not easy in the dark. We flew Airtran out of Newark NJ to Fort Lauderdale FL. We always fly into Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami because it is cheaper. The round trip cost about $200.00 per person and we booked early. We used a great Limo service called Quality Limo Service out of Miami. They beat everybody's pricing. They were very professional, very courteous and most important, ON TIME. Even when we arrived into port earlier than was contracted they were very accommodating.
I booked award travel at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami Downtown. We had a room overlooking the Bayside Market Place and the cruise port. We like to stay here because of being right across from the Bayside Market. We went to eat at Bubba Gump's Restaurant yummm it was great Later we saw some great entertainment at the marina bandstand.
The next day we looked out of the window and there was the Liberty in all of her glory It was quite a sight. At 10:30AM We took a taxi van to the port $5.00 per person. The porters took our luggage and off we went to the first holding area. This area was already half full of people. They announced that they will be boarding by level Diamond+, Diamond, Platinum, Gold then others. We are Platinum so our group went in with us. This is the second holding area. We then sat and waited until the ship cleared customs. It was about 11:30AM when the announcement came for everybody to start boarding. We had a couple of new cruisers with us and they were very impressed when we walked through the promenade. In fact we were also very impressed. Right away we liked how the promenade had two eatery's on both ends. One called Sorrentos which had pizza, salads, panini's, various desserts. The other is Cafe Promenade which had various sandwiches and desserts. You could get cold water at both places and coffee at Sorrentos. We headed right up to the windjammer for lunch. They had a good variety of items, but on the Explorer there was more variety.
After lunch I went directly to the dining room to check where our table was located. I asked our TA to try and get us a table somewhere in the center of the bottom dining room. That is exactly where our table was, PERFECT. Our room was ready at about 1:00. We had a balcony stateroom. The room was very nice. we liked the flat screen TV and the bedding was very comfortable. Plenty of room for all of our stuff. We all went exploring the ship.
Next was the muster drill. We all dressed up with the lifejackets and went to our muster stations. We had a plan for all the CC's to meet at the Sky Bar by the pool. We went to Sky Bar where we couldn't find any of our CC's? We had perfect weather for our sail away. Miami has such a beautiful coastline, it is breath taking Some people still watch from the shore as we pass. It must be an awesome site watching this ship go by.
The dinner attire was casual. When we got to our table, much to our surprise was our waiter Victor who we had on the Navigator in 2006. It was great to see him again. He was an excellent waiter. The food at dinner was of course great as on our other Royal cruises. Later we went to the welcome aboard show and saw a couple of good comedians and was pleased to see James Andrews again as our Cruise director. We had him on the Voyager of the Seas 2004 and he was great. This time he was fresh off of a vacation and he was full of energy. He was also at the late night parade which was called Soca-licious, and it was great.
Day 2- sea day, mostly sunny 82 deg f. We went to breakfast in the windjammer and it was pretty much the same as other cruises. Pretty much variety and everyday was the same. We did two miles on the walking track which would be 9 laps. We had our Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle in the Olive or Twist lounge. We met some very nice people that we conversed with over the last several months. The cruise line gave out some nice prizes and put out some good hors d'oeuvres. We decided to do lunch in the dining room. The menu was very good, but the same everyday. We went out to the pool after lunch and saw the sexy legs competition. It was pretty funny A little boy got one of the prizes. We relaxed by the pool until it was time to get ready for dinner. Tonight was our first formal, The Captain's welcome aboard gala. I had filet mignon which was great Then free champagne flowed in the promenade. Tonight was suppose to be our first production show, but they had some problems and had to do a headliner show instead. Tonight was the first karaoke night in the On Air Club. In the On Air Club you can also record your own song on a DVD in a sound proof booth.
Day 3- Labadee, Haiti, mostly sunny 91 deg f. This is one of our favorite islands. We normally go to Hideaway beach. After getting off of the dock go left and it is the third beach on the ship side of the island. Directly across from that beach is Dragon's Breath point which is a must see The BBQ is there too. At the beach we place our beach chairs under the trees to escape the sun and believe me you will need to escape the sun & heat. Later we go to the Haitian flee market, but we normally buy in the Artisan market behind the flea market. Oh I almost forgot, don't forget to get a labadoozie, they are fantastic We had an invitation for a Crown & Anchor return party before dinner. It was well attended and the drinks were flowing along with great Hors d' oeuvres. Thanks again Royal!!!! Tonight's dinner was a Venetian feast and the dress was casual 70's attire. We wore casual attire. The meal was again outstanding We went to the first production show called Ever After. The show was just ok for us. Later that evening we went to see the late night comedy show which was very good. They had a Dancin in the street 70's style in the promenade.
Day 4- Montego Bay, Jamaica, partly sunny 86 deg f. I booked on line with A-Z Planners. Our tour was Mayfield falls, Montego Bay Highlights and shopping stop. A-Z had a person inside the terminal with a sign. They were not standing near the cruise line excursions, but on the opposite side of the terminal. They took us to our driver Paul who was outside of the fenced area by the terminal. Right from the beginning Paul was a very good tour guide telling all about the area and culture. The drive to the falls was about 1 ½ hours and some of the road was very bumpy. I liked this part because it took you back to where the real Jamaica was. We even saw school children dressed in their uniforms. We had a teacher with us and she loved that. Paul stopped along the way to pick some special leaves that the local people use for different reasons. Some smelled like old spice. Paul stopped again and all the guys got a Red Stripe beer for only $2.00 yes When we arrived at the falls there was a short but very steep walk down to the beginning of the falls. There were shops and an eating place there along with a place to change with lockers. Paul introduced us to our falls guide and he took us from that point. The falls were similar but not as steep as Dunn's River Falls. They had a cliff where you could jump into the falls and they also had a place where you could dive under the rocks through a cave and come up on the other side. The guide was very good helping some of our people who were having trouble getting up the falls. He did get a good tip! After changing we bought something from a local artisan. He said he was 42 and had 6 children. After the long ride back we decided to go right back to the ship. Tonight's attire is Smart Casual or colorful Caribbean. The dinner was called Anchored in excellence. The food was again wonderful. Tonight is the ice show called Encore. This show was the best we saw on the entire cruise. Later we went to see the Love & Marriage game show. We saw this show many times, but this time one of our CC's mom & dad were picked for the show. They were very funny and it made the show great. Tonight was the party under the stars by the pool side. The Calypso band was playing and the people were dancin.
Day 5 -Georgetown Grand Cayman, mostly sunny 89 deg f. I booked the Boatswain's Beach & Marine Park which included the turtle farm on line. The tickets were in our room when we got on board. It has been about 4 years since we have been in Grand Cayman, but now the pier where we met for the excursions has all changed. It was more organized and we found our excursion right away. It was very hot and we were thankful for the air conditioned bus. When we got to the place we first saw and held the turtles. Then we went to the predator tank and saw some dark blue sharks. We then spent the rest of the day lounging & swimming in their man-made pool. It was very nice, with waterfalls. We had lunch at their grill, did a little shopping, then went back to the ship. Tonight's attire is formal. The dinner is called Chef's dinner..I had LOBSTER The food was of course excellent. We had our Crown & Anchor welcome back Platinum Diamond & Diamond+ welcome back party tonight after dinner. It was well attended and the drinks were flowing along with great Hors d' oeuvres. Thanks again Royal!!!! I think this is a very nice thing that Royal Caribbean does. The show tonight is another production called In the Air. This show was just ok for both of us. We had our formal picture taken tonight. We later went to Karaoke.
Day 6- Cozumel, Mexico, party sunny 93 deg f. I booked an excursion on line with Island Marketing Ltd.called Nachi Cocom Beach Break. This is an all inclusive beach club, $49.00 per person. When we got off the ship we went to where the taxis pick up. There we took a 15 minute taxi ride to Nachi Cocom. The cost of the taxi For 8 of us was $30.00. When we got to Nachi Cocom we were greeted by our host who took our pictures wearing sombreros. The beach, pool and club were beautiful. They had a large swim up to the bar pool. The server kept bringing as many drinks as you like. We all had our own palapas (round straw huts) They had wave runners to rent and you could go para sailing for $45.00. Some of our CC's were at the same place. Later we had a large menu to choose our 3 course lunch which was included. This was another perfect day. Tonight's attire is casual and the dinner was called surf dinner. The food again was excellent. We didn't have time to go to the last production show, Somewhere in Time. They had the start time too close to our dinner. Tonight was the Adult rock band in the On Air Club and later "The Quest" game show.
Day 7- Sea day, mostly sunny 86 deg. F. Another beautiful day. Relaxed all day. We watched the belly flop contest which is always a laugh. We then watched the pool side ice carving which is amazing that the ice does not break while he is carving. They had a special Liberty Food Festival in the Promenade from 11:30 to 1:00. We had a quick bite to eat from that then we decided to do Johnny Rockets for lunch .. The burgers were pretty good and the staff all danced.. It was fun. Tonight's attire is casual and the dinner was called Feast of Nations. The food again was outstanding. The show today was a farewell variety show with two comedians. They were both pretty good. Later was farewell karaoke in the On Air Club.
Day 8- Departure, mostly sunny. We had great weather all trip They want you to be out of your stateroom by 7:30AM. The windjammer is open from 6:00 to 8:30. The dinning room was open from 6:30 to 8:30. The café Promenade was open from 6:00 to 9:30. We had a late flight so we were not in any hurry to get off this wonderful ship. The following were the tag colors and leaving times: 6:15am - 7:00am Express departure(carry own luggage) 6:45am - 7:30am White, Beige & Lavender 7:15am Luggage Valet Group A Flights before 1:00pm 7:30am - 8:00am Gray, Yellow & Red 8:00am - 8:45am Brown, Orange & Blue 8:00am Airline Luggage Valet Flights after 1:00pm 8:45am - 9:30am Light Blue8, Green 8 & Purple 1 9:30am - 10:00am Light Blue 12, Green 12 & Purple 2 10:00am - 10:30am Pink
Since we cruised on pretty many Voyager class ships we wanted to compare them to the freedom class ships. Pros: 1) The cantilevered whirlpools were excellent 2) The two eatery on both ends of the promenade- excellent 3) The H20 zone -the kids looked like they were having fun 4) The flow rider- both the adults and kids were having fun 5) The rock wall looked challenging 6) Fruit in the solarium area 7) Swing chairs in the solarium 8) The variety of pizza in Sorrentos(barbecue chicken,hawaiian chicken, mexican, grilled squash & zuchini, tomato, pepperoni and plain) 9) fresh water in the pool 10) sanitizing wipes before entering the windjammer & dining rooms Cons: 1) The cantilevered whirlpools were always crowded 2) The desserts in Sorrentos & the Café Promenade were always the same. 3) The boxing ring in the spa is a waste of space (I saw nobody using it) I preferred the whirlpool spa on the Voyager class ships. 4) You could not get frozen yogurt in the windjammer café 5) You didn't get pool towels in the room. You had to go up to the pool area and get your card swiped for two towels. If they weren't returned your card would be charged $20.00 per towel. 6) Revolving door from the pool area to the windjammer. As soon as somebody touched it, it would stop, very annoying because everybody touched it. 7) Didn't use the barber shop (not many did, another waste of space) In closing this was a great cruise and we plan on cruising again. The cons above do not mean we would not go on the Liberty again, in fact the opposite, we loved the Liberty and would sail on her in a second, but the Explorer out of Bayonne is the best for us especially because it is close to home.