My husband, two year old son, and I sailed on the Liberty of the Seas on 12/6/09 to the Western Caribbean. This was our fifth RCCL cruise, our ninth cruise overall, and it was our best one. We were booked in an E1 category, a balcony, room 7610.
The Liberty is a beautiful ship, which not only offers a great itinerary but amazing adventures on board and excellent service. Hubby and I are fairly critical and while we did find some things that could have been better, on the whole we had a terrific experience. We weren't able to take any tours because our son was too young to enjoy them and we were unable to leave him, so we just went to the local beaches. I'll go through the islands, talk about the ship, and then go through what we thought was great, and what could have been better.
Day 1: Miami - Boarding Embarkation took a very long time. We arrived at 1 pm and it was just a mass of people. It was hard to know which line to get onto to register, lines seemed like they weren't moving - it didn't seem as organized or quick as it should have been. Once we did check in, got our picture taken, get our Room card, and got onto the ship, just about everything was forgotten as we marveled at the sheer size and beauty of the boat, as well as our beautiful balcony stateroom.
The muster drill took place at 4 pm and was fairly quick and organized. We appreciated not having to wear a lifejacket.
It took a while to get our suitcases, which finally arrived around 6 pm. We were happy we had packed a change of clothes in the carry on we took with us, as I didn't want to be in sneakers and jeans while we explored the ship in 80 degree temperatures.
We chose fixed dining, as we like knowing who our waiters are, and having them get to know us and our preferences. We requested that we receive steamed veggies for our son at the beginning of every meal and strawberries and pineapple at the end, as his desert. This worked fairly nicely, as it kept him occupied at the beginning and end of each meal. Food was good, not spectacular, but nothing to complain about. Service was also good. Given that we had a small child and had to eat fairly quickly, we ordered our appetizers and entrees along with our deserts, which helped cut down the time of the dinner a little. Our Head Waiter came by 5 out of the 7 nights, took our special requests for our son (steamed veggies and strawberries) but seemed to forget about ours - we requested shrimp cocktail every night. Our Waiter had to scramble but managed to get the shrimp cocktails for us each night.
Day 2: At Sea We spent the day exploring the ship, its pools, went to the ice skating show, which our son surprisingly sat through, and tried out the FlowRider. The guys who work the Flowrider are pretty helpful in giving you tips for how to maneuver the board and do all kinds of stunts. We signed the Waiver and got our wrist band on Day 2 and then had to get an additional wrist band every day that we wanted to ride. It seemed like the lines to get on were smaller at the beginning of the day and got longer towards noon time.
Day 3: Labadee, Haiti RCCL has done a lot with Labadee. We were last here three years ago and the private RCCL island has changed. They have built a pier so you no longer have to tender, which is a nice perk, but in doing so, they covered up one of the good beaches. They also turned one of the good beaches into a private beach, "Barefoot beach" which you can only get into if you purchase a Cabana or if you own a Suite on the ship and have a "Gold Sea Pass" - not Gold Crown and Anchor, but GOLD in general. Regardless, the beach following Barefoot beach, to the left of it, was very nice and one of the original beaches. We got there fairly early, got two lounge chairs under an umbrella, so our son was able to play in the sand under the shade, swam, and relaxed. RCCL set up a nice lunch around noon time. Our son loved the kid's area on Labadee, which had a pirate ship, water guns, fountains, etc.
Day 4: Ocho Rios, Jamaica Based on our multiple experiences on this island, we believe that unless you take a tour here, the beaches are just not worth going to. The water's not the cleanest, they are not the most scenic, or pleasant. Last time we visited the beach directly in front of the ship but didn't find it too appealing. This time we tried the Margaritiville beach but also found the water to not be clear, the natives hovering over us, and just not a pleasant atmosphere. We honestly would have stayed on the ship had it not been for our son, who of wanted to play in the sand.
Day 5: Grand Cayman Grand Cayman is one of our favorite islands. Seven Mile Beach was as spectacular as we remembered it to be. The water was a crystal clear turquoise and as calm as can be. We spent most of our time in the water and didn't want to get out or leave.
Day 6: Cozumel, Mexico This was our third time in Cozumel. In the past we had taken snorkeling tours as well as a tour to see the Mayan Ruins, so for this trip we wanted to go to a nice beach. We struggled with trying to decide which beach to go to. Several people had recommended San Francisco beach but our taxi driver said that Paradise Beach had more activities and facilities and recommended we drive the extra two or three minutes to Paradise Beach. He was right! Paradise Beach is not the nicest beach in and of itself. You have to buy $10 worth of food and/or drink to use their lounge chair and umbrella, but there's no entrance fee or additional fee, so that's not too bad. The great part is that there are tons of water activities for adults and children, and for only $12 a person. There are a couple of water slides, a couple of trampolines, a lot of room for climbing and just having fun, and all on the water. You can get a life vest for kids, which we happily took for our two year old son. All in all, we had a BLAST!
Day 7: At sea. We went back to the Flow Rider, walked around the ship, swam in the pools, relaxed a bit, and started to pack.
Concluding Thoughts I was nervous about cruising with our two year old but found it to be a very positive experience. He loved going somewhere new all the time, loved hanging out on our balcony, and going to new beaches all the time. There were also lots of other small children on the boat, many of whom he got to know. I was most nervous about how he would eat, as he tends to be a picky eater. Breakfasts and lunch were a little challenging but dinner was made easy, thanks to what I read on Cruise Critic. On Day 1, I asked our Waiter to get Josh a plate of steamed vegetables and have them waiting for him each night as we come in. Hence, each night Josh had carrots, brustle sproats, and broccoli waiting for him. He munched on the veggies while we ordered our meals and waited to get our appetizers, so it worked out well. Looking back on these seven days, we had a WONDERFUL vacation. As I mentioned early on, this was our ninth cruise and our best one yet. We loved the H20 zone, the size and beauty of the ship, the service, the staterooms - the comforters that you actually wanted to use cover your body because they were so soft and clean, the flat screen televisions, the shelf space in the rooms, and the fact that there was just about always something to do. While we had an amazing experience and would travel with RCCL anytime, there were several things that we wish would have been a little better: • The food, for the most part was average. The pizza was good but the fish was bland. • There was no midnight buffet or even a lavish chocolate buffet. There was a buffet, "Culinary Showcase" from noon-2 pm, I believe, in the Promenade with lots of sweets, but it wasn't as impressive as we are used to. • The embarkation took way too long - it was disorganized, because we didn't know what line to get on to, and there were too many people for the amount of tellers they had checking people in. • We realize that with the economy the way it is, we get less bang for the buck and we saw that here, too. Our Crown and Anchor coupons had less value. In the past we could buy one drink, get one free, but that coupon wasn't present. There used to be a "Free Johnny Rockets" coupon; now it's "Buy 1 milkshake, get the second one free." We used to get chocolates on our pillows - no more. • We also felt like everywhere we turned, someone was trying to sell us something - bottled water, which costs $3.95, a drink, or take a picture of us - it was a little annoying. • Our Headwaiter didn't consistently come around to our table. We love it when he/she comes by to see how things are going and to suggest beaches we could visit on our next island, but we didn't have that here. • It would have been helpful to have a map of the island, with all the beaches shown on it, and perhaps a recommendation for which beaches are good. With all of that being said, my hubby, son, and I had a wonderful time on the cruise, one we will never forget. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bon voyage.