Jim (67) and I (62) chose this ship for our 25th cruise, mainly because it is the nicest ship in the Carib this summer, and has (we thought) a live Hold'Em Poker table. Overall, the ship is stunning and service is good. We are not, however, accustomed to such a BIG ship with SO MANY passengers!
We booked our own flights, planning to fly in a day early so as not to risk missing the ship. Our first flight was late, making us miss our connecting flight. Delta confirmed us on a 5:05 flight, but was nice enough to put us on standby for the 2:30 flight, which seated us. Even though we could not sit together, we were thrilled to make the flight. If these plans had been for cruise day instead of the day before, we might have missed the ship, meaning we'd have to make our way to Ocho Rios three days later to join the ship. Whew!
We checked into the Holiday Inn Bayside, expecting the promised bay view, only to discover that all the smoking rooms are on the 3rd floor, and not high enough to see anything else but traffic. The room was small but comfortable. We walked across the street to Bayside and, after browsing the many shops and kiosks, had a wonderful dinner at Bubba Gump's. The next morning we had a great buffet breakfast at the hotel and grabbed a cab for the short trip to the pier.
We arrived at the pier at 11:30, and after going thru security and checkin, we were in the Lido line in 15 minutes. We easily found a table for two by the window, and even when we left 30 minutes later, saw no evidence of anyone wandering around looking for a table. We sat by the pool for awhile and around 1:00 went to our cabin.
Our cabin, JS-9644, was a spacious room with a walk-in closet and plenty of other storage space. The balcony was deep enough for two loungers and two other chairs and small cocktail table. The bathroom, however, was very small for a Junior Suite. The small single-sink counter could only accommodate one person. Only 2 doors away from the elevator bank, we never heard any noise from the passageway. A sign on our cabin door indicated a non-smoking room, and when I called the front desk, I learned that all cabins are non-smoking, but we could smoke on the balcony. Inconvenient, but acceptable. That's the most Jim has used the balcony in all the years we've been cruising!
We took our traditional nap before the safety drill, and prepared for our first (early) dinner in the Rembrandt Dining Room. We were seated with a couple from Florida and another couple who didn't show up until the next night. Our waiter, Andrae and his assistant were attentive and prompt, and the DR Supervisor came by to see that we were being taken care of to our liking, and with one exception, we were.
The Soca-licious Parade was really cool with the staff/crew/entertainers dressed in elaborate Carnivale-type costumes, singing, dancing and interacting with the crowd... really fun!
We adjourned to the casino where we donated a little to the Dealers' Benevolent Society (missed the Welcome Aboard Spectacular), and retired early.
On Sunday, our first sea day, I ventured to the Windjammer for my traditional lox and bagels. It was a little crowded, and although the lines were short, I had trouble finding a table for one. One of the stewards took my plate, found me a table with a view, and had someone get me some coffee. The food and selection was very good, but it was difficult to carry a plate, bowl, silverware and a drink by yourself.
Our CruiseCritic Meet 'n' Mingle was held at 10:15 in the Olive or Twist lounge. We had about 35 attendees, which is great! Carla and Andrew were very personable, having provided a gift for everyone, coffee, tea, juice, canapés and pastries, and raffled off bags of very nice ship stuff. Although we were allotted 45 minutes in the lounge, we were gone in half the time. The Port & Shopping Show (which was billed as a 'must-see show') was scheduled for the same time, so we missed it.
On Tuesday, in Ocho Rios, we braved the hoards of Taxi drivers and wandered into the little shopping area off the pier. One driver took us to a shopping center where the locals shop, and we picked up a few things we had forgotten to pack.
On Wednesday, the second formal dinner, we were surprised that there was not enough lobster to go around. At our table, one couple requested and received an additional lobster tail each. The remaining diners were told that not only could we NOT order two lobster tails, but that there were NOT ENOUGH for even ONE ORDER PER PERSON on this EARLY SEATING! The waiter said that any remaining tails were reserved for the second seating. Our table mates brought this up with the Concierge, and the following night all six of us were served lobster in addition to our chosen entrees.
Saturday was Debarkation Day, and I was, as usual, dissatisfied with the procedure. As suite guests, we were nearly first off the ship. Even at this early hour, the lines for Immigration and Customs were unbearable. We got off the ship quickly, but the luggage was not on the proper carousel, and when we found it, it took a long time to find a porter to help us through the line. There were two lines with at least 200 pax (some trying to maneuver their own luggage) and quite a few successful line-jumpers. Once past this roadblock, we easily found a cab and were on our way.
Due to air traffic congestion, we missed our connecting flight. Delta once again got us standby seats, and we didn't have to wait too long.
We liked the size and layout of our suite (except the bathroom), the attentive waitstaff in the dining room, and the friendly and helpful dealers in the Casino. Other than that, We did not have any use for most of the activities and attractions on the ship, and did not care to take any of the excursions this time. I think the Liberty was simply more ship than we needed. We can generally overlook minor things that are not to our liking, but we do expect a higher level of service than we experienced on the Liberty.