April 10 is finally here after booking our first cruise 330 days ago. The crew is my wife and I, stepson, his friend (both 14), and my mother. We leave for the airport at 7am for an 11 am flight from Newark NJ to Ft Lauderdale, FL to begin our trip. Check in was very quick and we were at our gate by 9am.
Flight left on time and arrived in FLL at 3:00. We decided to rent a car for the drive to Miami. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard at Dolphin Mall. Hotel was nice and convenient, just what you expect from this type of hotel.
On Saturday (April 11) we returned the car to Avis at the Miami airport and took a cab to the port. There were 5 of us and we piled into a sedan taxi, luggage and all. We had so much luggage that the trunk would not shut in the car, but the driver assured us that it wouldn't be a problem. We took his word for it and we arrive at the port around 9:30, looking like the Beverly Hillbillies, trunk lid up and the luggage hanging out. Oh well, nobody knows us, right?
Check in was very smooth and we are herded into a waiting area where we end up waiting for about an hour. By 12:15 we are heading on the ship ready for our trip. I head to guest relations to get a DECT phone, since people here recommended them. I knew I was in trouble when I got blank stares from the staff people and was told that they were out of them. Oh well, we can deal with it. Both boys are very responsible, great students and mature for their age. Besides, we told them before the trip, that this speech was their warning and that if they broke the rules once, they would have to stay with us for the rest of the trip....no Fuel....No Living Room....nothing, just mom and stepdad. Needless to say, we had no issues. Ok, no phone, no big deal, we went to Windjammer for lunch. After lunch, we toured the ship, found our table in the dining room and just looked around in general. It was about 2, so we decided to go and find our rooms. Down to deck 6, there it is right in front of us! We go in toss the bags on the floor, run onto the deck and generally act like kids. We took some pictures, used the facilities and then realize that...............we are in the wrong cabin!!!! Our cabin is supposed to have a pull out bed.....this one doesn't. Now we feel really stupid, but, hey, it's an honest mistake. We find a cabin steward, explain what we did, so he can clean and not get in trouble and we find our room. Needless to say, the balcony view in the other room was better. It began to rain during sail away, but we celebrated on the balcony with a few drinks and waived at the people standing on the water's edge. Went to dinner and met our wait staff, Ronald and Viji, and they were terrific. Great to us, even better to the boys. They made the whole week enjoyable. After dinner we went to a show and to bed early.
Sunday was a day at sea. Mostly it consisted of an early morning workout and laying by the pool. It was the sexy legs contest and the theme of contestants in all the shows and contests being from New Jersey was started. Dinner was formal and everyone looked great. The show was Ever After and was, well, weird. We didn't get it, were disappointed and we did not see another show in the theater the rest of the week.
Monday started with another early morning workout and pool time. We arrived in San Juan around 3 and the boys went to El Morro while the ladies shopped. While there, we saw Johnny Depp filming a movie called The Rum Diaries. It takes place in the 50's and the streets were lined with cars from that time. Cool to see something like that. We got back on board around 6 and went to dinner. Arriving in San Juan that late is not good and really takes away from the time there. We were disappointed in that, but knew it when we booked the cruise.
Tuesday was St. Maarten, our favorite stop. We did an excursion to Orient Beach and all of us loved it. The boys took a banana boat ride, we laid on the beach and generally did nothing. We shopped a little in Phillipsburg and spent too much money, but my wife is happy.....
Wednesday was a sea day and the pools were filled with teenagers. They were being kids, having fun, but got out of control. There was a group of about 20 kids filling the hot tubs, diving from the hot tubs into the pool and generally acting up. The deck patrol did what they could, but it wasn't much. Don't get me wrong, it was a few teens out of 1000, so the majority were well behaved, but this group was well known to the people who hung around the pools. Dinner was good that night and we did the "Finish the Lyric", which I was picked for as a contestant. I made it through the first cut, but not any further. I did win a keychain! We spent the rest of the night watching Matt Yee, a piano player who gets everyone involved and he was fantastic. If he is ever on board when you are there, he is a must see.
Thursday was Labadee and we lay on the beach the entire day. The boys did the waterpark and enjoyed it, but we expected a little more from the island. Nothing specific, just didn't meet the expectations. Dinner was good and we hung around the rest of the night.
Friday was a day at sea and we just relaxed for our last day. Spent some more money in the promenade shops.....a strange day as all we thought about was leaving.
Overall, the trip was fantastic. Liberty is a great ship with plenty to do. I have not cruised in over 10 years and my wife had never been, so we were rookies as far as cruising goes. I was surprised that we started getting messages on Monday about disembarking on Saturday. The constant reminders about check out took away from the trip at times. Regardless, the staff was fantastic and our waiters in the MDR made our trip special. I wish we could request them again if we choose the Liberty. We wished that the itinerary was different with one more port, but we knew that from the start. We have started planning our next trip and are considering Oasis in June 2010. We had so long to look forward to the trip and now it's over, we need to book something quickly!