This was our sixth cruise on the beautiful Liberty. We had a hot, mostly dry and sunny, sunny cruise. The temperatures each day were in the 80's and we had a couple of afternoon thunder showers. The seas were super calm and the water beautiful, just gorgeous colors!
We drove to the port around noon, dropped our luggage with the porters and quickly found a parking space in the covered garage (parking is $20. Per day). Check-in was a breeze, be sure you have done your on-line check in and have a printed copy to present to security along with your passport. Once through security you complete the check in process and receive your SeaPass card. This you use for your entire cruise to enter your room and make on-board purchases. From dropping our luggage to boarding the ship was less than 30 minutes. When checking in request, if it isn't presented to you, a copy of the ships layout... it is very helpful, showing what is located on each of the 15 decks.
We boarded on deck 4 and had a quick view of the beautiful Schooner Bar and then took the elevator to the Windjammer for lunch. There are two banks of elevators, one where you board (forward) and one aft which is near the all the restaurants. The staterooms are ready at 1 PM so if you board early be prepared to keep any carry-on luggage with you.
Even though this ship entered service in May of 2007 it is maintained in excellent shape. The Promenade is awesome if you have never sailed a ship that offers this venue. There are so many things to do in that area...and is great to sit outside the Hoof & Claw Pub, Sorrento's Pizza, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream or the Cafe Promenade and just watch people go by, or the Parade which there are several.
Decks 11, 12 and 13 have all the sports and a variety of activities for both children and adults. The famous FlowRider is located aft on deck 13. This is fun to watch even if you don't get up the courage to try it out.
Bars are located throughout the ship. If you smoke check the daily newspaper, The Compass. There is a list of all the bars along with the hours open and whether smoking is allowed. Speaking of The Compass... you will find one in your cabin upon arrival and then each evening for the following day. Be sure to review and highlight all activities that look of interest, otherwise you will find you will miss something you really would have enjoyed.
Dining rooms are located on decks 3, 4 and 5. The Windjammer Cafe is located on deck 11 as are the "for fee" restaurants, Portofino and Chops Grille. On deck 5 there is the Cafe Promenade and Sorrento's Pizza. There is a limited sandwich selection and a pastry selection in the Cafe and salads, desserts and several selections of pizza in Sorrento's. Coffee is located in both of these restaurants, with specialty coffees, at a fee, in the Cafe Promenade.
Soda's.. if you drink a lot of soda do consider buying the coke card, day one! After that you just show your SeaPass card at any bar/restaurant and get your soda at no additional cost.
If you are interested in the "My Time Dining" and did not make your plans before boarding you can make arrangements on boarding day on Deck 5 at the Reservations Desk outside the restaurant. With this program you eat dinner anytime between 6:00 pm and 9:30 pm versus the "standard" dining times of 6:30 pm or 8:30 pm.
Food quality... sorry to say we did not think the food met the standard we have been accustomed to during our many cruises with this line in the past. We did the standard dining room service and found the selections to be limited and the food much more "spicy" than we enjoy. That said, food is such a "personal" evaluation... if you are sailing for the first time and/or you enjoy more "exotic" foods we expect you will enjoy both the Windjammer as well as the dining room selections.
We really enjoyed the "Encore" ice show! We have seen the Productions shows previously but still enjoyed seeing them again. The costumes were in great condition and beautiful. The cast delivered well and the show "In The Air Flying Show" is awesome! Another highlight was the headliner show starring Charo! She did a great job and then mingled with the audience, a real fun evening!
Throughout the week there were numerous activities presented by the Activities Staff. Some highlights for us were the Trivia Quizzes, The Quest and The Love & Marriage show. There were also the expected bingo games, previously mentioned Parades in the Promenade, many children and young people events... too many to list here... just make sure to check on what interests you, we are sure you will find many things to occupy your time when on-board the ship.
Check out the RCCL site to get detailed information on the three ports. We have done many of the ship sponsored tours and have enjoyed each one. It just depends on your interest at the moment. There are wonderful beaches on all three ports; we prefer St Maarten for just enjoying the beach, for water related activities there is everything you might want to do at the Labadee stop... especially an awesome zip-line! For tours of "older" venues we suggest San Juan.
Captain, Officers, Staff, Crew and Passengers:
Kudos to the staff of this ship. We were treated wonderfully and had so many interactions that made us smile and say "wow"! There was a large group of young girls and their families on board celebrating their "Quince". What a beautiful sight on the first formal evening... with the girls all wearing their beautiful dress and they and their families all posing for pictures! A real, unexpected treat.
We did the Express, which means we had to be able to handle all our luggage without help. The advantage is that you do not put your luggage out the last evening. The expected disembarkation time starts at 6:15 am, but is dependent on the ship clearing the US Authorities. We were allowed off at 6:35 am, went down the escalators, cleared customs and were headed to our car by 6:45 AM.... A very smooth process.
Our Cabin, on deck 10, was very nice, perfect size with a couch, two chairs and very comfortable bed. We had a counter and plenty of drawer and closet space. The bathroom had a double sink and a tub with shower over the tub. Our balcony was a nice size with two lounges and a couple of chairs.
Overall we had a wonderful time, great weather, a beautiful ship, great service and nice fellow passengers.