This was the first, and probably last, RCCL cruise for our family of 5. We were so looking forward to it, but maybe this is just not the cruise line for us.
A little background: We're a couple with two teenagers and a 9 year old. We're pretty big travelers, having lived in 3 countries and visited a dozen or so more. We are lucky to be able to go to and stay in nice places, but we're not luxury travelers--just a family having fun. We love good food and nice accommodations, but we're not big foodies and not accustomed to 5 star care.
What we are used to is receiving basic good service and being treated with consideration and respect. Having someone in our faces trying to sell us something extra every hour of every day was really off-putting on Liberty. Everything from the spa push on day one to the gold-by-the-foot outside the dining room to the ever-present pricey cocktails and $4 bottles of water the cruise line wanted us to buy at each port felt like overkill. It just felt like everywhere we turned, someone was trying to sell us something else.
Embarkation: This was easy, and I have to hand it to the cruise line for making it quick and efficient. We arrived about 11, were on board by noon, and in our cabins at 1:00. We had two adjacent balcony cabins on deck 7. They were tiny, but the balconies were really nice--we opened up the divider between them and enjoyed the space all week. An afternoon visit to the dining room brought our first disappointment. We requested a table for the 5 of us, but were seated at a table for 10 anyway. I waited patiently for my turn to speak with the maitre d, and politely asked for a table for just our family. He in turn looked at me like I was something stuck on the bottom of his shoe and informed me he didn't think he could help us. He essentially told me I didn't know what I wanted--I would be much happier seated with the family RCL had chosen for us. Is it really that hard to find a table for 5?? I stopped back again later in the afternoon and made my request again to another gentleman who took down my information and said he'd try. the next day we received a note saying we were out of luck--no seating change available. We sat every night in full view of at least 4 empty 5- and 6-top tables. The family we were seated with was perfectly nice, but conversation was often strained and we still can not understand why such a simple request, made months before our cruise, could not be honored.
The second bummer came when our luggage arrived. We had 7 big suitcases and one of them contained a small, $40 bottle of Scotch. The bottle was confiscated, replaced with a note stating it was gone. I know this is the cruise line's policy, and that we were taking our chances. Still, I hope someone from RCL reads this and understands that we spent more than $6000 on our cruise, and because of the $40 bottle of scotch, we probably won't ever do it again. We are not bar people. We are just two parents who really relish the opportunity to relax and have a drink on the balcony. We've done it in hotels all over the world. We still bought wine, cocktails, ice cream, mark-up meals--about $800 worth of seapass stuff on this cruise, but we truly resented having this simple pleasure taken away from us.
Kid stuff: Our teenagers and our younger son quickly made pals in their age groups. The Living Room for the teenagers was a great place to hang out. Our kids were a little disappointed that the activities on the schedule often didn't happen, but they still enjoyed the atmosphere and fun there. There were a LOT of kids on this spring break cruise, but most were well behaved and it seemed they were all having fun. Our kids wanted to use the flowrider and the climbing wall and did both. Lines were long for these activities--probably 30 minutes wait for each chance to participate--but they were well run and the kids enjoyed them.
Service: Our waiter and his assistant were very kind, gracious, and professional. We ate in the dining room 5 nights and the food ranged from just ok to very good. The service was better than the food. We ate at Portofinos one night and it was the only excellent meal of the cruise--terrific. Our room steward was a different story. I don't know about anyone else, but my kids get dirty! Even though they showered every night, there was still sand, sweat, and suntan lotion accumulating in their beds as the week went on. The sheets were not changed once. This was unexpected and disappointing. Even a Motel 6 changes your sheets after a couple days. Also, nothing was touched on the balcony. 2 days we ordered breakfast in, and the dishes stayed on the balcony tables until we cleaned them up.
Entertainment: We like to gamble, and so the evenings when we found ourselves without kids in tow, we hit the casino for a couple hours. The casino was nice, not too smoky, and we both broke even over the week. We were shocked, though, to hear the crew at the craps table openly insult people who left the table without tipping! Note to table attendants: If you think the people still standing at the table will want to tip you after they hear you trash-talking other passengers, you're out of your minds. We went to several of the shows on board. We enjoyed Ever After--a little cheesy, but the ship has some very talented singers aboard! Up in the Air was just ok--maybe they were having an off night, as we'd heard good things about this. The ice show was great--definitely a must see. If you want to go, however, go early when tickets are offered (it's noted in the compass). The tickets were ALL gone by the time we figured out we had to go stand in line for them, so we waited for standing room only space when the show started. The dancing in the street party was a blast. The entertainment director James had thousands of people dancing and singing--lots of fun for adults and kids who stayed up late for this event.
My favorite part of the whole cruise was just sitting on the balcony, watching the ports come and go and enjoying the breeze. That part was perfect. I'm not sure we'll ever try cruising again, but we are glad we got the chance to go and experience it at least once.