It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining. Embarkation was very smooth. No lines at all in the Diamond area. We arrived about 1pm and we were able to go to straight to our cabin.
We booked a balcony guarantee this time, it was a first for us. We were in a D1, deck 6 aft balcony. The room was a lot larger than we expected. The sofa was huge! Plenty of storage spaces and room. We noticed a few cut backs; one was they are no longer supplying notepaper or the pen on the desk.
The balcony was a nice size too. We had two chairs, a chaise and a small table. After checking out the room we headed for lunch in the Windjammer. It was wonderful! Lots of selections and the hot food was hot and the cold food was cold. Everything we had was delicious.
We scoped out our dining room seating arrangements and even though we asked for a table for 2 or a small table, we were seated at a table for 8! We then waited in a very, very long line to speak to the dining room manger and there was a huge wait list for tables for 2. So he sat us at a table for 4. We found out later that most of the tables for two were being held for the My Time diners. We also heard that not many were happy with the My Time dining system. Many complaints were heard all over the ship. It's still new to Royal so it seems there are quite a few kinks to work out. It was only the 3rd week on Liberty for MTD.
The entire ship was spotless. Everywhere you looked there was someone cleaning something.
There was always anti-bacterial wipes available as you entered the dining rooms and restaurants but not many people were using them. Every day on the Cruise Compass there were warnings of Noro Virus and after most announcements from the Captain he told us to wash our hands frequently. In every bathroom there are signs to wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after dinner and using the bathroom.
Our cabin steward was very new. Daily she forgot one or two things. One night she forgot show up, she apologized profusely. On another night she forgot the towels and the bath mat. She would forget to bring us either the Compass or special offer papers. We had to ask for the laundry form. If it wasn't in the Compass we would not have known about it. You can see she was overwhelmed and she was very nice so we couldn't get upset with her.
The diamond lounge was the best ever! The service was amazing! My Cosmos and wine glass was never empty nor did I ever have to ask for a refill. Plus it's in a nice location. Lots of windows and you can sit outside if you want. The drinks and the appetizers were wonderful every night. I love that BBQ sauce!
I was very leery of the debarkation process when we were in port, how can they get 4,000 people off the ship in a timely manner? Well, they can!! I have waited in longer lines on much smaller ships. Not once did we have to wait more than 15 minutes to get off the ship. Even in Labadee where we tendered. Very nicely done RCCL!!
One night we ate dinner in Portofino's...it was FABULOUS!! From beginning to end....perfection! I bought my copy of the Savour cookbook there and the waiter had the chef sign it for me. What a lovely surprise that was.
We shopped a little in San Juan. First stop was the Coach outlet. What wonderful deals there!! I bought a Black leather tote bag for a quarter of the price I would pay at the outlets here. They had an additional 50% off sale. I got 50% off the sale price that was already marked down 50%. I looked for the bag here and I can't touch it for less than 250.00 here! I was not expecting that!
I checked out a few jewelers that the ship consult recommended to us but they didn't have what I was looking for.
Next port was our favorite: St Martin. First stop there was Rima's...of course! We weren't planning on going to Rima's this trip but I forgot to pack a beach bag for Labadee so we went there and bought way too much stuff.
The deals in St Martin were too good to be true. You wouldn't believe the prices we paid. I guess they want to sell their goods at a loss than not sell it at all. Works for me!!
Next port was Labadee. It was not a nice day weather-wise. They called for 87 degrees but it was very cloudy and chilly. It rained on and off the whole time we were there. First stop for us was the markets. I was looking for turtles. We got a good price on 4 carved stone turtles. Heavy to carry around but it was a deal.
The food lines were ridiculously long. We spoke to the officer in charge and they did not expect this, they had originally planned on closing the windjammer (as we were told the night before) but since the weather was bad they didn't think people would go ashore. So they opened up the Windjammer but not many people went there. Probably thinking it was closed.
They did not plan for this sort of turnout. They had 3 times more people go ashore than what they thought. Eventually they ran out of food and had to go back to the ship several times to replenish the BBQ. So Labadee was a mess. But it was okay for us. We got off early, finished our shopping early, got in line early for lunch and got back to the ship early.
One the last day we were invited to the bridge and to a tour of the galley. The bridge is huge!! We have been on several bridge tours but this one is the queen mother of all bridges, lol. They gave us a wonderful insight on the workings of the ship and emergency procedures and how they identify other vessels. We had a quite a while free time too.
The galley was my favorite part. They divided us up into groups. Our group was given an extended tour to the upper decks galleys and the bakery. I loved it.
Disembarkation was different than it was in the past. We had very early disembarkation so we waited in our cabin. They called the early walk offs at about 6am. We were supposed to be called at 6:30am. At 7am we got a little worried since there no more announcements since 6. We made our way to the gangway thinking we missed it. And on our way they finally they announced our color.
We used Royal's transfers to get to the airport. It worked out perfectly for us. We walked off the ship got right on the bus, when straight to the airport, we were a little to check in but we were on our way. So we were very happy.
It was a wonderful cruise and Royal continues to treat us well. And that's why we have 5 more cruises booked with them and not other cruise lines.