I'm a Chief Petty Officer, retired out of submarine engine rooms in the US Navy. My wife is an chemical engineer with experience operating a submarine engine room as well. We flew Southwest to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) two days before the cruise. We had a room reserved at Homestead Air Reserve Base (Homestead Inns). It's a little out of the way, about 25 miles from the Port of Miami, but you can't beat $39/night. The room was equipped with double bed, cable TV, refrigerator, microwave, full bath and free wifi. Unfortunately, no pool or commissary like you'd find at larger bases, but for the price, still hard to beat.
I rented a car from Hertz through AAA, so I got a good price on a full size car. At the counter, the clerk offered me an upgrade, wound up with a Volvo hard top convertible for about half the normal price. It was a blast driving around Miami with the top down while there was still snow on the ground at home. I lived in Miami in the 1960's. I took my GPS and searched out and found two of the houses we lived in to take pictures. In addition, a friend of mine from my early Navy days in CT lives in Homestead now, we met up with her and had lunch. Found the local Wal-Mart and bought some snacks and stuff to take with us on the ship.
Dropped the car off at the Hertz office nearest the port, the place was a zoo, with people that had just checked off the ship trying to get cars. We dropped the car and caught the free shuttle from the office to the Port of Miami, arriving about 11:30. Took a matter of minutes to check in, and we were on our way aboard ship. There was quite a large pile of contraband liquor, beer, pocket knives, candles, irons, etc. The usual excuses, my agent told me it was okay to bring two bottles of wine, bottle of Jack Daniels, etc. Didn't matter, the security agent took it all. Even checked the empty water bottle in my bag. I spoke to various people through the cruise, as is always the case, some managed to smuggle booze on successfully, many others were called to the naughty room to open their luggage for inspection. Booze smuggling is luck of the draw, you take your chances, and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
We boarded ship, headed to the Windjammer and had lunch. Went to our room at 13:00 and checked the place out. Corner aft balcony on the ninth deck. It was a beautiful room and I loved the regular door to the balcony as opposed to the sliding glass door. We had a large porthole window in addition to the door to the balcony. The balcony was large enough for two chaise lounge chairs and a table. We had early breakfast, pastries and coffee on the balcony almost every morning. If the wind blew right during the night, we would have a little bit of soot on the balcony, but the room steward cleaned the balcony along with the room every day. The room steward did a great job in our room. Luggage was all delivered before dinner. Explored the ship, looked for the swings at the solarium pool, very nice touch. Met up with our friends from the Enchantment. Great family group. Went to the Diamond Lounge and enjoyed a glass of wine before dinner. Oana and her staff were very nice. First night dinner was wonderful, as always, I had a great medium rare prime rib. I wish I could eat at the restaurants that people who rag on the food eat at. It was good to great all the way through the cruise.
The ship visited 4 ports, Costa Maya, Belize City, Cozumel, and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. We only got off the ship at two places, Costa Maya and Belize City. We went swimming in the pier side pool in Costa Maya, it was a little cloudy, and the pool was cold. The yard long Mango Margarita helped that quite a bit. In Belize, we did the second excursion we've ever done. Took the little city tour around Belize City. The tour was good, Belize City does have massive poverty, but at no point did we ever feel unsafe. Pretty much everyone we encountered along the trip was smiling, waving, many said "welcome to Belize, come again, tell all your friends to come to Belize". As bad as our first excursion sucked, this one was pretty well done. That's all I'm going to say about ports, I'm not a port call aficionado, so I pretty much let other folks critique the ports.
There were two main bands on the Liberty. Both were good, the Anastasia band and Men of Culture pretty much traded off nights in the Viking Crown Lounge. My wife and I ballroom dance, so we're very much into the bands and dance floors. Most of the dancing was in the Viking Crown lounge, the smallest dance floor on the ship. We only had a couple of opportunities to dance in the Sphinx Lounge, one was to the orchestra big band music. Very good. We went to Boleros a couple of times, enjoyed the Latin music and dancing, but again, the floor was too small. One thing that sort of irritated me, one group of South Americans just wouldn't take no for an answer, allowing their kids to stay in the VC long after the 22:00 curfew for kids. They were asked several times to make the kids leave, and I agree it wasn't worth making a scene by calling Security. It's just frustrating that some people won't follow any rule or guideline. I could really care less if you wear your skivvies to the MDR, but the same "it's my vacation, I'll do what I want" attitude isn't just for the MDR. I'm off my soapbox now. Sorry for the rant.
Food is subjective, always has been and always will. What I can tell you, is that eight of us had dinner every night of the cruise in the MDR, food quality was excellent, presentation was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed dining. We had lunch in the MDR everytime it was available, the tuti salad was excellent. Breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer were also very good.
We were invited to a bridge tour, which I enjoyed very much. Security wanded every person going onto the bridge, and verified that every piece of electronics (cameras) would turn on. Wr. Watre conducted the tour of the bridge, and I enjoyed talking to him, he was prior Swiss Navy, and a submariner as well.
Last day, I checked into our flights from the Diamond Lounge, then Oana printed out our boarding passes before supper. Last night, we finished packing and put our luggage in the hall, and hit the rack. We expected to be cleared off the ship about 08:30 or 09:00, but the ship was cleared very quickly. We caught up with our van, and they dropped us at FLL shortly after. The baggage check in wasn't bad, the security line wasn't bad, but the Southwest terminal was a packed! FLL has free wifi, which is nice. Our flights went off without a hitch. I'm a real Southwest and RCL fan. They've never let me down.