|Pre-cruise - April 3, 2009
We are a family of five - Beth and Jerry, parents, Mike, 17 year old son, Sam, 15 year old son, and Jane, Grannny to Mike and Sam, Mom to Beth, age given on a "need to know basis" only. I'm Beth.
We did a one night pre-cruise stay in the Marriott Biscayne Bay. I managed to use easyclicktravel.com to land two rooms at $115 per night. Sweet! That's a 3.5 star hotel, normally $375 per night at that time of year! We had driven from Orlando on Friday, April 3, after picking up the boys after school. We used one of those Garmin GPS's, and it was great. The thing was smart enough to route us around an accident that had choked up I-95. We could not figure out why it took us off of the interstate onto some less than desirable side streets (lots of graffiti, etc.) until we saw blocked off on and off ramps, lots of flashing lights, lots of police, etc. It was cool that the GPS did that!
Check in at the Marriott was a breeze. We ate at the shopping area (connected) between the Marriott and the Doubletree, at an Argentinian Steak House. The food was pricey, but great for everybody except for me. For some reason, nobody believes me when I say I want my steak medium well. The thing practically mooed at me. Dang! Sent it back. Came back only slightly mooing. Ate around the ooky part. Oh well. We did enjoy a wonderful Argentinian steak sauce, the name of which no one can remember. Dang.
We returned to the hotel and sat on the balcony, enjoying the view of the harbor and the breeze. One of the rooms overlooked the courtyard, while the other overlooked the harbor. Lots of activity on the courtyard side - looked like the staff was setting up for a wedding. More on that later . . . Bed for everyone.
Day 1 - Saturday, April 4, 2009
We were up around 7:30. We ordered room service, which arrived piping hot! I had my credit card in my pocket but the charge was added to the room charges. Everyone showered, dressed, packed up, and got ready to drive to the port. The lobby was crowded full of people, so Jerry went to get the van while I checked out. Our bellman (with our mountain of luggage) urged us to hurry - the wedding was the cause of all the craziness in the lobby. The hotel was being shut down to all traffic because the groom was on the way - on an ELEPHANT! We hurried, but we lagged too, because we wanted to see the elephant. No such luck. We were out of there and to the port in what couldn't have been more than ten minutes.
Jerry dropped us and the luggage off at Terminal G and went to park the van. We handed over our small mountain of luggage, plus a crate of water, to the porter and gave him a nice tip. He had the coolest hat - I wanted it. It was a safari hat like they used to have in the old Tarzan movies. He was very helpful and deserved every bit of the tip we gave him.
The port authority folks were wary initially but nice after we were nice to them. I think they get a lot of @#$# from people and we didn't want to add to that. The woman outside directed us to where my Mom could sit, and we could join with Jerry after he parked. Once he came inside we all went through security and then to the check in area. I presented the Sea Pass card, passports, and then . . . NO CREDIT CARD!!!!! I had a major panic. I had NO IDEA where my card was. The check in guy said that I could put it on a different card, and if I found my other card, go to guest services once onboard, and they would change it for me. I handed over another card and we received our Sea Pass cards and walked to the waiting area. We had orange cards that said PRIORITY on them - I don't know if it was because of the Suite, or Diamond, and I didn't ask because I could not figure out where my credit card was. Called Marriott; they did not have it. A wonderful young man named Yazdi said he would go to the restaurant and see if they had it. He called me later on my cell to tell me he went to every single restaurant and no one had it. To make a long story short, it was in my luggage in the shorts I had on when breakfast came. Whew.
We boarded soon after. We parked ourselves at the first set of tables we came to once we were onboard and had the first cocktail of the day (I needed one because at that point, I still did not know where my credit card was - duh). The boys did the usual stuff - got soda cards, went to the teen area, and we sat and watched all of the people boarding the ship. We went to the Flowrider demonstration, but apparently we had misunderstood waiver sign up time as demo time. We signed up the boys, went back downstairs to pick up my Mom, then went to our GS and dropped off our carry ons. Our cabin was 1548, port side, deck 10, Grand Suite (our first). We had sailed in a royal family suite on the Serenade in 2007. In the GS configuration, we had a queen-sized bed, fold out couch, roll-away, and . . . since neither of the teen agers will sleep with each other on the couch, alternating floor-space. Granny took the couch. One of the floor-sleepers preferred the family suite (wonder why?) but the rest of us much preferred the GS. Our balcony was huge, shaded by deck 11, and gorgeous. The cabin was wonderful as well. Milton was our suite attendant, and I can't say enough wonderful things about him. He worked his rear end off to keep all of his guests comfortable and happy. He was the first of many "Bests" out of all of our cruises - so noted on our Guest Survey. I hope RC pays attention to those!!
We trailed up to the Windjammer. I could not believe how many clueless, rude people were there. Most of them acted as if they had not had a meal in a week. My mother is handicapped. She can walk but has to stop and "rearrange her bones" as she puts it. I took up a rear position so people wouldn't run over her. This need to push past people, swerve in front of an elderly person, and pile plates high to an embarrassing level is a mystery that I will never understand.
We Departed Miami about 5:00 p.m. Granny Jane is a birdwatcher and saw Brown Pelicans, Magnificant Frigate birds, and Tern species.
Two ships, Norwegian and Carnival cruise ships, left before us. Liberty was so big, they had to carefully maneuver her out of the harbor. Mike spotted a couple of dolphins and was able to point them out to me just as we entered the ocean!
Great weather, ocean was very calm. We could not tell we were moving.
We went to the concierge lounge for a pre-dinner drink. Of course, I had picked up the wrong key and we couldn't get into the Concierge Lounge. All of the Concierge information was very carefully detailed on a voice mail message from Anthea, the Concierge, which I had dutifully listened to; however, apparently the information did not sink in. We tried to get into the Concierge Lounge with the Diamond Lounge key. Had to show the Sea Pass card (which was indeed "gold" this trip). How embarrassing; oh well. Anthea was wonderful, as were her assistants, Mark, who called himself "the Doctor", and Randy, Mark's assistant. After accepting medication from "the Doctor", and more from Randy, we began to call Randy "The Intern".
We went to main seating dinner at 6:15. We met Muiva, our waiter from India, and her assistant, Winfield, from Nicaragua. Winfield was extremely buff and fit - his biceps were longer than from the bend in my wrist to the tip of my middle finger. I know because later in the week I asked if I could feel them. I couldn't help myself. His arms were like boulders. Unbelievable. Claiborne was our cocktail waiter. We were seated at a table for 7, but we had no tablemates the first night. After last year's experience on the Serenade with snobby (and hard of hearing) people who repressed their teenage daughter, we were somewhat anxious about tablemates. Muiva said we were supposed to have two more people - either we scared them off, or they had made other arrangements.
The table next to us was interesting, to say the least. Apparently, this table was for an extended family of Mom, two young daughters, a young son, and Grandmother. The grandmother used a cane. No big deal, except that she used it on one of the young girls, when the little girl didn't move out of her way quickly enough - WHACK! From the reaction of the little girl (a frown but not a word) that wasn't the first time that had ever happened to her. This woman was forever after referred to as "Cane Granny" or "Mean Granny", and that wasn't the last time she multi-tasked with that cane.
Dinner was great. I'm sorry but I did not record dinner menus - but everybody in our group was ALWAYS satisfied. Muiva and Winfield were the most attentive waiters we have ever had (and we noted that on our guest survey!)
After dinner, we hustled to the Schooner bar for Name That Tune. I think this is the night we won - Disco "name that tune". Jerry was embarrassed but I'm not sure why - I can remember him REALLY ENJOYING the disco era, even though he denies it. I had brought along about ten RC lanyards and six or seven keychains, which I handed out throughout the week. We don't need any more of them, believe me. Then, my Mom and I went to the casino for the first night of a long downward spiral (the words of Ross Perot come to mind: "That great big sucking sound you hear . . . "). More on that later. The teenagers disappeared to the Living Room and/or Fuel, something I can't ever keep straight.
We all turned in early except for Sam. He fully utilized the teen curfew.
Day 2 - Sunday, April 5, 2009 - Sea Day
Today was a sea day. We started the day with breakfast from room service, on our balcony. With five people to feed, our waiter brought quite a haul of dishes, cups, coffee pots, hot chocolate pots, etc. I tipped him $10. This was a daily occurrence. I realize we could have eaten in the dining room or windjammer, but it was so nice to eat on our balcony, and not have everyone vying for shower time, make-up mirrors, etc. (I am pretty high maintenance).
After breakfast we cleaned up after ourselves. Jerry stacked the dishes on the bar area in neat piles. I called room service, as they had requested, for dish pickup. Jerry and the boys folded up the sofa bed, folded blankets, and stacked pillows. We did this for two reasons: 1) it made a clear walking path, and 2) we didn't want to overburden Milton. Five people in one cabin left a lot of extraneous items about, and we didn't want to make his life harder. This came into play later on in the week, as I saw Milton scurrying with several of our breakfast dishes. I said "Milton! I called room service just like they asked -they didn't pick those up?" and he explained that no, they never did that, that he had to do it for all of his cabins. I was appalled and apologized - I told him we had tried to help by calling them. He wasn't appalled - he actually told us we WERE helping him by stacking the plates and picking up the blankets, folding the sofa, etc. No joke - he was really very appreciative. We doubled up our efforts after that. Yes, we were on vacation, but we could still be considerate.
Sam disappeared to become part of the "Pouty Teen Club". Mike headed for the arcade and Johnny Rockets. Both boys became introduced to the "Flo-Rider", a contraption of rushing water on which people (some doofus) boogie board or surf. An hour of this is upcoming for the boys later on in the week.
Granny Jane gambled some more and lost.
Jerry and I went to the gym. Being a sea day, the gym was very active, but I found plenty of weight machines with no waiting, and an elliptical trainer after that - no problem. I also felt the beginnings of my husband's upper respiratory start to attack me. Jerry wanted to walk the track. I decided that that would be a great cool-down but soon discovered that 6"1' Jerry's stride was a lot longer than my 5"2' stride. Now, I'm the magpie on the Roll Call forum that encouraged everyone to remember that the Meet N' Mingle was Sunday morning. I even suggested checking with the ship to find out as they sometimes forget to let you know. As I was walking the track, I realized I had just missed the Meet N' Mingle. DOH! Jerry and I finished walking and headed back to our cabin. Milton wasn't quite finished, so we headed out again and ran into Granny Jane. I suggested we hit the solarium, which we did. It was very peaceful, even for a sea day. Mom and I chatted, observed several blatant violations of the speedo rule (don't wear one if you can't see it when you look down . . . ) Eventually did lunch in the dining room, although in two shifts (remember, I'm high maintenance - shower, hair, make-up). I had a noodle dish that had veggies, chicken, and shrimp - it was delicious.
Gambling next - too depressing to talk about.
Tonight was formal night. We finally met our tablemates. We LOVED them! They were a couple married for a number of years, man a little bit older than the wife. They were a joy to be around. After Granny Jane and I started our antics (Why Claiborne, I would LOVE a jack daniels and coke) and our punching and giggling, they relaxed. As it turns out, they were extremely apprehensive about THEIR tablemates too! The ones they had on their last cruise were undertakers and dinner conversation was - well, filled with undertaker stories. Poor things. Anyway, they were as happy with us as we were with them.
Day 3 - Monday, April 6, 2009 - Labadee
We arrived in Labadee. It is VERY PRETTY from the ship. We never made it over there, though - explanation in a few.
Jerry and I hit the gym. It was VERY quiet as most folks were heading over to Labadee. Finished that work out. I realized that I was now officially sick with the upper respiratory crap that had been circling around me at work for weeks and weeks, at home for the last week, and ever since I boarded Liberty. Lots of people with sneezes, coughs, and sniffles. Thank goodness for my Dad (physician), who supplied us with "just in case" antibiotics. I started a z-pack. Those things are great. Double dose the first day to kick the bug's butt so you start feeling better almost immediately.
Because my head felt like it was going to explode from the sinus pressure, I went into the steam room, workout clothes and all. I gotta tell you, it was GREAT. It really helped my stuffed up head. One thing, though, I did not realize that if you wanted a key for a locker, you had to go check in with somebody at some other location, like the spa (I never found out where for sure), so I just pried one open and stuck my stuff in there. Nothing really valuable, just . . . sea pass, stuff like that. I couldn't spend more than about five minutes in the steam room at a time, but I did it a couple of more times that week.
We did not go to the island (I was feeling pretty rough from the upper respiratory thing). We relaxed on board and I tried not to get too close to anybody. The solarium was deserted and so wonderful. The Windjammer was quite different from Day 1 - it was actually bearable in terms of number of people, places to sit.
One notable thing - Granny Jane saw only one bird, a very strange phenomena for the Caribbean. We are not sure why. We speculated that it was due to the dredging taking place for the new dock. No fish due to all the crud in the water, no food for the birds. Not sure, but it was strange.
RCI has ramped up the suite amenities in a special new area. We received an invitation for a "bridge tour" for that afternoon at 5:00, to coincide with sail away from Labadee. Captain Charles Liegre (HELP spelling) had a cocktail party for the suite guests. We watched as the Liberty turned and sailed away from the island. After the sea-faring responsibilities were taken care of, Captain Charles had a Q&A session. Mom, Mike and I had our pictures taken with the Captain. Sam was too busy being a "Pouty Teen" and Jerry was too busy talking to new-found friends. The sea was very calm, and twilight was beautiful, and we sailed towards Jamaica. The Liberty was very stable - no motion at all.
One note about the GS - those of you traveling with elderly folks: the tub in the GS is GREAT, but the edge of it is extremely high. I'm athletic but short, and I had to hold on to get into the thing. The tub floor was also very SLICK. I was worried about my Mom because of her back. The way we worked it: Mom would sit on the facing out, hold on, and swing her legs over the edge to face into the tub. That way, she didn't have to climb. We also put a towel in the bottom of the tub. Still slick, but not quite as slippery as without it. Mom did pretty well, but I think the key is knowing about the slippery floor and the high ledge and planning for it.
Day 4 - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - Jamaica
Feeling much better today! Symptoms much improved. Z-packs kick butt!
We watched on the balcony as Liberty glided down Montego Bay. The scenery was beautiful. We docked around 9:00 a.m. Granny Jane had her trusty binoculars and spied a large king bird, fly catcher on bouganvillia at the pier, Mockingbirds, Magnificant Frigate Bird.
Anthea, the Concierge, had arranged a couple of things for us. One was the FlowRider, which the boys would have to themselves at 11:15. The other was a photography shoot. Everyone except for Granny is a Martial Artist. I had always wanted workout on the Helipad - I just thought it would be a cool thing to do. We decided to take that a step further, and have the ship's photographer take pictures of us.
Part of being a Martial Artist is living the concepts that make a black belt, and one of those is being humble. We planned this photography shoot for a port day (with a beautiful backdrop) so that there would be very few people on board. We dressed in our gi's (karate uniform), minus our belts, which we had in a shoulder bag, because to flaunt one's rank is considered to be against those principals.
I apologize in advance for the pictures, effectively showing our rank - not wanting to impress anyone, but we really loved the pictures and wanted to share.
We met the photographer, Milos, down on Deck 4 at the photography area and made our way up to the helipad, put on our belts, and had a workout session. We began by running laps around the helipad (for the older Martial Artists, running is a burden of love). Then we did some exercises, some stretches, and then we began performing kata. We had to take it slowly, because one of us is a lower rank and doesn't know all of the kata. At any rate, Milos had a wonderful time - he stood on the benches, got all kinds of cool angles, and admitted that he didn't usually get to take action shots, so that was a real treat for him.
Next we took some family shots. Granny wore a stylish black suit with a beautiful multi-colored drape, which she called "the Bat Cape".
We think of ourselves as Granny Jane's body guards - it's kind of a family joke. Remembering the Windjammer on embarkation day, you can imagine why we would form "point" positions around her. At any rate, we got some wonderful "body guard" shots of all five of us, as well of shots of Granny with each of her black belt grandchildren. Granny even took her shoes off in order to be like us.
We went on to get some pictures of tricks (fancy kicks, etc.). I've had some knee issues and I'm not a jumper, so I don't do many tricks, but the boys do tons of them - double leg jump front kicks, Chinese butterfly kicks, jump front kicks, etc. Somewhere during the workout, the "low profile" approach we had strived for became a thing of the past, as Captain Charles announced lifeboat drills for the crew. The Liberty's horn blew, and then they were all right there with us on the bow of the ship. Some of the pictures are really cute because you can see the crew in the background, watching the boys with fascination. I can't tell you the number of times I walked in the dining room, concierge lounge, anywhere, and had a crew member state "Oh oh - karate family!" and perform some sort of punch or kick, along with some Bruce Lee sound effects. Oh well, we tried.
This was a busy day - as soon as we finished the photo session, the boys ran to the cabin and changed into their swim suits for the FlowRider session. Jerry spied a waiter and asked for some drinks. It was our assistant waiter, Winfield! He used those awesome biceps and triceps to bring us a tray of drinks (it was very warm in full karate gi working out on the helipad). I tried to tip him, but he said to take care of him at the end of the week (and we did!).
The boys were really very good. Mike was a natural on the boogie board, picking up most of the tricks they taught him. Sam liked the surf board, but was a whiz on the boogie board as well. Jerry, on the other hand, nearly broke his neck after getting slammed into the wall. It really was scary, as his arm went numb and his face was totally gray. Lots of concern on the adults' part (including RC staff) until he felt better (around 5 minutes). Up until then, Granny, a Registered Nurse, was thinking he was having a heart attack. Sam played football, and he said what his Dad probably got was something they call a "stinger" - what happened when they took a hard hit. I don't know what that means, but Jerry seems to be fine now (and YES, I TOLD him not to get on that thing, but he ignored me). I wanted to get on it too, but I value my knees.
The RC staffer manning the Flowrider is named Michael, and he is from Australia. He was AWESOME! He was very good to our boys, very patient - just the kind of teacher you want for your kids. THANKS MICHAEL!
Granny Jane and I applauded heartily for all of the boys. Some of the Pouty Teen Club members, and other non-Pouty Teens, watched and cheered too.
More gambling, more losing (dentist suction machine noise here . . . )
We had a reservation for Chops that night. I wanted to run by the Concierge Lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail. The Doctor was IN, and he gave us expert medicinal advice that night - so much in one drink, that the Chops waiter called Anthea in the Concierge Lounge, asked if we were there, and came and escorted our slightly inebriated bodies to Chops. We weren't but about five minutes late, really! It was very nice, actually, that they took care of us like that.
Just after we sat down, I heard that sound that crystal makes when a young person wets their finger and runs it along the top of the crystal. I actually looked over both shoulders for my kids and said "Who did that?" and the Dad of the children who were doing it said "You heard that?" I told him yes, and that I was sure my kids were hiding over there. The Dad and our table all had a good chuckle about that. It didn't bother me, I just had a sudden panic that my kids were hiding in Chops and trying to drive me nuts.
We all had the filet and it was so so wonderful. The side dishes were great too - mashed potatoes, sautEed broccoli, and the stopper - the mushrooms. I tried to tell Granny Jane and Jerry that they weren't any good and not to even bother, but the didn't buy it. Oh, and we all managed to stuff the Mud Cake in for dessert. So So wonderful. Well worth the up-charge.
After dinner, gambled more. Guess what? That great big sucking sound you hear . . . .
Day 5 - Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - Grand Cayman
The journey to Grand Cayman was verrrry smooth sailing - BUT, the wind had changed and the ships could not get into the usual docking place. It was too dangerous, apparently. We watched from our balcony as what looked like a pilot boat tried to lash up with us. They had two other boats just like it, one at the bow, and one aft. It took the one under our balcony at least three attempts. I heard an announcement stating that fact about the weather conditions, that there were lines to get on to the tenders, and that it was a twenty minute taxi ride to the shopping area. We decided to stay on the ship. We heard later that some people waited two hours to get on to a tender - I'm glad we stayed onboard. We visited the library, and played trivia (lost again!).
I can't remember for sure, but I think this was the day that we played "Caribbean" trivia. The questions were all about the islands. At the end, when we were grading our answers, the staff member, who was Jamaican, asked for the answer to a question regarding what was important about a certain date, in either Jamaica or the Bahamas (sorry I can't remember for sure). Anyway, Granny pipes up and says "Rastafarian Day!" The staff member laughed so hard she almost cried.
All of the cruise ships were lined up parallel with the Liberty - we watched a Carnival ship sail into the regular docking place, and then sail back out to line up with us, so it was too rough for everybody! They did announce that seven mile beach was open . .
I think Wednesday was the night that our table mates went to Chops. We had praised the food and service so much that they decided they had to try it!
More sucking noises from the casino. You'd think we would learn.
Day 6 - Thursday, April 9, 2009 - Cozumel
Sailing into Cozumel was beautiful. The color of the water was amazing! We were on the balcony as we sailed toward the island, and one of the boys spotted flying fish! It seemed that the Liberty disturbed them - three or four of them would leap from the water, and "fly" away from the Liberty, across the ocean, only to splat into the water and disappear! These fish were amazing. Jerry got the camera and took a bunch of pictures of them. I've zoomed in on one so you can see the detail. Pic was taken from our balcony on deck 10. The actual size of them was about the size of a coke bottle (unfortunately, we saw one floating in the water as a fish flew by).
We actually got off of the ship today! We shopped in the shopping area at the dock, and were lined up to take a taxi ride to the shopping area downtown when Granny decided we were going to go on a tour and go birding instead. She negotiated with a taxi guy who arranged for us to go to "Coconuts", a bar on the beach southwest of the port - he said she could birdwatch there. The ride was interesting, to say the least. I thought for a few moments that we had somehow driven through a Stargate and ended up in Beirut (the bombed out section). I really got nervous when I saw the Mexican army guy on the back of a vehicle with a large, automatic weapon. Our driver spoke no English, so the "tour" part was a bust. The drive along the beach was nice, though we had no luck birding at Coconuts. They had some cute, clean dogs there, though.
Mike said he wanted to go the Mayan ruins at San Gervaise, which was on the way back to port. We did the self-tour. Granny and Jerry waited while the boys and I walked the tour. The ruins were very interesting. Sam, Mike and I all imagined what life must have been like when the Mayans lived there, and we wondered about what had happened to them.
Granny saw lots of birds that she could identify, and lots and lots of iguanas! They had dens in the roots of trees and came out to the rocks to sun (brought to mind that "Far Side" cartoon where the small lizard like creature is under a rock in some nice shade, then on top of the rock with big shocked eyes and wavy heat lines coming off of him, then back under the rock, where he says "that was smart"). They were a lot bigger than any of us had imagined they would be.
We drove back through the Stargate, went to Senor Frogs (1/2) and were back on the ship about 3:30. We missed the Windjammer so we ordered room service for lunch - it was good!
We sailed about 5:30. Our table mates brought a friend to dinner - everyone at her table had abandoned her for one reason or another, and she was by herself all week, so we made room for her. Muiva, our Waiter, was so sweet about it. We just squished in.
It was beautiful to see the lights of the islands as we sailed. It was interesting to sail by Cuba, too
That night was family "Rock Band" night down on Deck 2. We play at home, and the boys wanted to give it a try, so we went. I have to admit, I had to have the Doctor lubricate my vocal cords. I'm not a singer, but I am a musician (flute). The bad part is, I can hear when I'm off. Anyway, the guitar was broken. Mike tried to fix it, but had no luck, and then - poof! he disappeared.
Sam's the drummer. I made Jerry sing with me. We sang "Creep" and it wasn't horrible. Jerry got the great idea to do adult karaoke later that night. I have never done this before. I told him I would do "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" with him, and he got up and told the organizer person before I could back out. I was so incredibly scared. There were many people before us. The closer it got, the more scared I got. At one point, I looked down, and I could see my heart pounding through my shirt! I'm not kidding; my shirt was moving in time with my heart, which was pretty fast. I told Jerry I was leaving if they didn't get to us SOON and they called us next.
OMG is all I can say.
Randy, the Intern, saw us! After we finished, I ran to the Ladies' room. As I walked back, a man saw me, raised up his shirt to show me his chest and said "You were AWESOME!" I don't think so, but I appreciated it anyway. I was traumatized so I went to the room and went to bed.
Day 7 - Friday, April 10, 2009 - Sea Day
I always have a hard time not being depressed on the last day but we managed! We enjoyed our last breakfast on the balcony, played trivia, returned our borrowed books to the library (Granny donated a paperback), went to the casino (ssuuuuucking ssssoouunnndd), and . . . that most hated activity of all, packed.
We said our goodbyes and gave tips (plus) to Milton, Anthea, The Doctor, The Intern, Muiva, and Winfield - oh, our head waitress, too. I wanted all of them to come home with us.
Of course we visited the Concierge Lounge one last time. After observing us perform Rock Band and karaoke the night before, Randy, The Intern, worked us hard to get us to perform at karaoke that last night. I begged off. I didn't think my heart could take it, plus, it was kind of late (11 pm, I think), and we had to be out of the stateroom by 8 am. Jerry is great about working all the little packing details, and he had our bags out early.
All of us turned in at a reasonable time except for Sam (Pouty Teen Club member) who stayed out until curfew - again.
We were out of the stateroom and eating breakfast in the main dining room a little before 8 a.m. They had called our color while we were eating, and we got right off the ship. Customs was well-organized and we breezed right through. The only hiccup was that one of our bags took awhile to get placed on the conveyor so that we could pick it up!
We had a great porter - he took our mountain of bags all the way to our car, which was in the garage. That was worth every bit of the tip we gave him, and we tipped him quite well.
We waited on a bench on the ground floor of the garage for Jerry. The Port of Miami provides free parking for handicapped people with the correct documentation - I had e-mailed regarding this several months before we sailed, and I got a very informative, very helpful e-mail from someone at POM detailing exactly what we needed to do. We went through one of the regular booths, presented Mom's placard and driver's license, filled out a form, and were out of there with no problem. Less than five minutes. Thanks Port of Miami, that was a very nice thing and left a very favorable impression of POM in our minds as we drove away.
We actually made it back to Orlando in time to pick up our puppies (two goldens, and one yellow lab) from the vet before they closed. Thanks to the Shaeffer Animal Hospital - they close at noon, but Jerry called and told them we were twenty minutes away and they waited for us. We were SO HAPPY to see our critters so that was extra special because we would have had to wait until Monday to pick them up. Then it was back home to unpack, wash clothes, wash dogs, and rest up for work/school on Monday.
Our cruise was wonderful. The Liberty is beautiful, the crew is awesome, and I could go on and on forever.
I forgot on which day this occurred: Jerry and I were headed upstairs to our stateroom. I saw a small child sort of hovering around the elevator. She did not look upset. The Mother in me detected "lost child". I told Jerry to wait. I peeked back out into the elevator area, and the little girl was peeking back at ME! She ducked back into the corrider when she saw me. I whispered to Jerry that I thought she was lost. He said, "well, YOU go talk to her, I will scare her to death!" So, I went up to the little girl and asked "Are you lost?" and she nodded her head. About this time, a handsome couple appeared as I tried to determine her stateroom from her sea pass. The little girl was Indian, and I was not, and it probably looked a little strange, so I explained that she was lost and we were trying to figure out what her stateroom was.
Jerry got on the courtesy phone to Guest Services, which was a waste of time. I wanted them to send someone upstairs to help - they just wanted to know if she was inside, or outside. Meanwhile, the female half of the handsome couple figured out where her stateroom was, and they offered to take her there. Well, I decided we would go along. I mean, most people are basically good, but . . . I didn't want to leave the little girl alone with anybody. That's also why I wanted Guest Services to send somebody up - I didn't' want to get accused of anything either. It's a strange world we live in . . . Anyway, Jerry told Guest Services that we figured it out, and were headed towards her stateroom.
Meanwhile, we all chatted. Mostly, the little girl just nodded or shook her head, but the rest of us chatted. It turns out that the little girl was 8 years old, and she was 180 degrees out of phase with her stateroom (meaning, opposite corner).
We traversed the ship from bow to aft, and switched sides. When we got to her stateroom, the male half of the handsome couple knocked on the door - nobody answered! Before we could think of what to do next, the little girl stuck her sea pass card into the door, and it opened, we said goodbye, and she disappeared into her room.
It turns out that the male half of the handsome couple was Earl Turner, the headliner for the next night! His wife told us to come to the show, so we did. He is AMAZING. If you ever get the chance to see him, please do. He is currently performing in Las Vegas. His show is high energy, Motown, older and classic rock, with humor thrown in, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.
Tips for Grannies:
Granny Jane wanted me to let her peers know her opinion regarding shower/ablutions: she believes those are best done IN PORT. She worked out everything regarding the tub/shower, as mentioned earlier, but wanted to emphasize that everything was easier on a stable platform; i.e., the ship wasn't rocking.
One last thing - the second formal night had the Fisherman's platter for the suggested entrEe. Muiva would have brought me as many lobster tails as I wanted (I had two), AND, she got them all out of the shell for me. She is awesome!
All in all, we had a wonderful cruise. Everything about the Liberty was awesome - the ship was beautiful, the crew was friendly, professional, and experienced, in my opinion. I would sail her again in an absolute second.
Beth's last tip:
I always get a bad case of post cruise depression (PCD). To alleviate this, I recommend planning one's next cruise as soon as possible. Planning is half the fun, and it obliterates my PCD (plus, it gives me a head start on putting away money . . . ). As it is, we've decided to try the new Southern Caribbean itinerary out of San Juan next summer - we'll be sailing the Serenade, and it will be our first time to visit St. Croix. No Flowrider, but I could not get Jerry to promise that he wouldn't try it again. I love the Serenade anyway!