Background: My husband and I have taken 4 cruises before. 3 on Celebrity as a couple and 1 on Disney with our daughter in 2004. This was our first RCCL.
Our family of 3 (husband, me and seven year-old daughter) enjoyed a wonderful cruise on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas November 22 - 29, 2008.
We flew from Chicago to Miami on the 21st and stayed at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites near the airport. It was reasonably priced ($139,) fairly new and clean. The standard room (all are suites) had a kitchenette, living area and bedroom. There is a free breakfast buffet (fairly extensive selections) but no dinner restaurant nearby which can be inconvenient if arriving at the dinner hour or in the evening. They did have a small store with food items to purchase or cook up in your room. We ordered pizza. With the exception of the noise (the walls must be made of paper! it was a good place to stay and it was only one night.
We used the hotel's shuttle (easy, $12 a person, I believe) and arrived at the port of Miami around 12:20 p.m. Embarkation went smoothly. We didn't have to wait long in the various lines and we were on the ship within about 20 minutes. We had to wait 20 minutes to get into our rooms which were available after 1 p.m. Our cabin attendant was still cleaning our room, but he was gracious and let us in. Our attendant was Buddy and he was awesome: friendly, available, but still managed to be unobtrusive. He was the best attendant we've ever had.
Our cabin was 1404 which is a D1, aft balcony room. The veranda was about 3 times the normal size of a regular balcony veranda. We loved our room. I was pleased with the size (214 sq) of the room. It was perfect for our family of 3. My daughter slept on the pull-out couch, but she said it was very uncomfortable and she weighs only 47 pounds. It was uncomfortable, but hey, it is only 7 nights! We spent tons of time on the balcony. If you are able-bodied, I would definitely recommend this aft room over all over balcony rooms. It was not that long of walk to the stairs/elevators.
We loved the Liberty of the Seas. There was so much to do. We tried ice-skating, but never did the Flowrider (watched,) mini-golf or rock wall. My daughter (7) loved the Promenade and the pools. She would not join the Adventure Ocean club (kids' club,) but other kids seemed to love it. The kids pools are amazing! There are so many of them. RCCL really impressed me in this area. There is one that has a lazy-river type system and my daughter swam around in that for hours. She also loved having the hot-tubs available to her. We had some cool weather in and out of Miami so we really appreciated the hot tubs. I was impressed with the entire pool deck for both kids and adults. It got crowded around the pool, but there were always available chairs/table to put your stuff on, if you couldn't find a lounger.
The gym is great. I did a Spin class. We had some high seas that day. Very interesting to say the least! Classes fill up fast! If you exercise in the midday it is much less busy.
Shows were kind of hokey, in general. The talent was great, just the themes, etc. were funny and forced. The ice show is a must-see.
We were pleasantly surprised with the food. We thought it was just as good as Celebrity, although different. The presentation wasn't as fancy as on Celebrity, but the taste was good and it was hot and prepared well. The buffet was much better than Celebrity's. We also liked the international choices. We ate in the dining room 4/7 nights. We liked Chops, but didn't think the food was that great at Portofino's, although the Tiramisu was wonderful! We found the food to be way better than Disney (thank God!)
Our servers (Lorinda . . .) were very professional and friendly. They answered our every wish and doted on my daughter.
We had wonderful tablemates; got a 6-top as we had requested and the other family had one daughter 2 years older than our so they became fast friends for the entire cruise. Seeing as though our daughter would not go to the kids' club this saved our (and her) vacation! ;)
Excursions/Ports: Our ports were San Juan, St. Martin and Labadee. We got to San Juan late at 4 p.m. and everything was closing down. It was a bust for us. My daughter was scared being there at night, stores were closing/closed. St. Martin was the best! My daughter loved the ocean there. Found a small cove on the French side by asking the taxi driver (sorry can't remember the details but it is not Orient and you go down a dirt road to get there.) which was perfect for kids. Our excursion in St. Martin had been cancelled due to poor visibility (submarine/boat thing.) Labadee was okay, but the beach was not as nice as St. Martin for us. I think adults would love this stop, though. The shopping was okay. Lots of inexpensive stuff. The hawkers can get a little aggressive, but it wasn't as bad as I'd heard.
All in all, this was a great cruise for our family. We all found something to enjoy about this ship and cruise. We found RCCL's LOS to have wonderful service and felt very pampered. The food exceeded our expectations and the room/facilities, etc. were top-notch. I highly recommend the LOS as a great family cruise ship where both kids and parents can have a satisfying cruise experience.