PASSENGER PROFILE: A lot of families were on this ship - not surprisingly!
EMBARKATION: It was pretty painless: we boarded before 1 p.m. Check-in was a breeze - all of the staff members were friendly and professional. There was really no wait at all.
DINING: Upon embarkation, we immediately hit the Windjammer Cafe. It had extensive choices and the food was delicious. It was a bit tough to find a seat, but that was to be expected as everyone was boarding. We ate in the Windjammer every day for lunch, and it was always good, no matter what we ate. It continued to be difficult to get a seat, but after circling around quite a bit, we would always find one.
Room service: We had room service every morning, and it was always delivered on time. We just ordered coffee, tea, juice, and fruit. The coffee and tea were nice and hot, and the fruit was fresh. They always called to let us know that our order was on its way, and again to make sure the small meal was up to par, and we were happy to report that is was indeed just fine.
Dining room: The dining room was terrific. A piano player played softly throughout the meals, and even though we only went to the dining room for dinner, we can report that every single dinner was superb. The service was fantastic and the staff couldn't have been nicer. We like to drink coffee with our meals, and every night the coffee was waiting for us. We had ample refills. This was the best experience we had ever had on a ship in terms of both service and food! Literally every single entrEe was delicious, and we were just amazed that a kitchen could feed so many people and still get it right. We actually didn't have the greatest table mates - they were much older and we really didn't have much in common at all, and it was just the 4 of us at a table for 8, but we were so happy with our wait staff that we didn't dare move to another table.
We loved the food so much in the dining room that we did not bother to sample any of the specialty restaurants. I am a vegetarian, and every vegetarian meal I had was very, very good. The pasta was killer-good.
OUR CABIN: We had cabin #8354 in category D2, which was a superior ocean view cabin with a balcony. It was in a great location: no noise and a short walk to elevators. There was plenty of storage; it was very comfortable, and actually quite luxurious. The bathroom was great. The shower had doors instead of that old curtain you fight with whenever taking a shower, so that made a big difference. The shower was so nice that it would be really hard to go back to a smaller one with a curtain. The only complaint I have about the cabin is that it was hard to adjust the thermostat to a comfortable temperature - it just wouldn't warm up.
THE SHIP: Good grief - where do I start? We fully expected that this ship would be something special, but we also figured that because of the passenger count, it would be crowded, even though we know that ship size/passenger count is usually relative. This ship is so beautiful, but didn't seem too big, and it was no more crowded than any other ship of any other size that we have been on. The best part, of course, is the Promenade. Although it was definitely crowded during parades and really was very busy all the time, it was so much fun to just walk and browse and stop and eat. The coffee shop was a great place to hang out - we could sit in big comfortable leather chairs. Sorrento's - the pizza parlor, was someplace you could hardly ever pass without wanting to stop for a slice of pizza, and it was terrific to stop at any of the eateries and just sit and people-watch. The pizza is absolutely addictive. The Promenade really felt like a community. The shops were decent, and there was enough variety on the Promenade to interest just about anyone. The Sky Bridge was very, very cool. During the disco party, the entertainers - and the awesome cruise director were on the Sky Bridge, which was lowered from above and suspended up high so everyone could see the entertainment.
All of the public spaces on the Liberty are really done well. The only thing that disappointed me was the temperature in all of the rooms. I was freezing, even with a sweater on. I was so cold in the theater that I skipped some shows and instead opted for a cup of coffee and a seat on the Promenade.
We only hung out in the pool area a few times, and it was fairly crowded, as is usually the case on most ships. The sail-away was dull to us - they were playing some sort of hip-hop music and we longed for the "good old days" when they would have the "OlE, olE" music with steel drums at sail-away, with waiters walking around twirling trays and really getting everyone into the Caribbean spirit. We also miss that old jingle that used to play on TV in the cabins, "Come and see, Labadee. . ." The tone of the Royal Caribbean cruises has changed, but I realize that is to keep up with the times. I just wish they would bring back some of that nostalgia for those of us who have been cruising with Royal Caribbean since the 80's.
ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was really just "okay" except for the Ice Show and Beatlemania, which were phenomenal! The Ice Show is a must for anyone sailing on the Liberty. You have to stand in line for tickets at a specific time - do it! The tickets are free, and the show is really of professional quality - quite spectacular. Bring a jacket on this cruise, though. The ice theater is very cold, and I wore two sweaters and brought the robe from the cabin as well as the beach towel to keep warm!
Beatlemania was incredible. In fact, we liked it so much that we stayed for the second show and moved to the front row. The parades were terrific, and the 70's night on the Promenade was a highlight. The cruise director, James Andrews, was by far the best cruise director we've ever had on a cruise (we have been on 14 cruises on 4 different cruise lines).
PORTS/SHORE EXCURSIONS: We signed up for the zipline adventure in Labadee, Haiti. What a great experience! It is the longest zipline over water in the world, and it was worth every penny. I am not adventurous and am afraid of the water, but it was not scary. The staff was terrific and it really was a great experience. The Turtle Farm in Grand Cayman is a very worthwhile stop. We did have a very big disappointment with the Tulum Mayan ruins, however. Getting there and back was nothing short of brutal. It took nearly an hour to get to Playa del Carmen on the ferry, then it took another hour and a half on a bus, which stopped at a rip-off gift shop. The actual ruins were great to see, but we had the same ordeal going back, except we had to wait over an hour again at the pier to get on the ferry. This was supposed to be a 6 - 8 hour tour, and it ended up being about 10 hours. It turns out that we had to wait for another tour to meet us at the ferry in order to fill it up going back. We were so late that it was not only dark, we were an hour late for dinner and we were exhausted. The ship sailed very late due to whatever mix-up this was. It was a horribly long day and we were able to see the ruins in about 45 minutes. Think very carefully before signing up for this tour.
CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES: We did not travel with children.
DISEMBARKATION: We chose the earliest time after those who carry their own bags off the ship, and we were called right on time. We had to wait about 30 minutes for our luggage, but it all came out at the same time, and a porter was right there to take it to our car.
OVERALL: This was one of our best cruises ever, and we had such a good time on the Liberty that we would go again. We would recommend this ship to anyone!