My husband and I went to Jamaica on our honeymoon 20 years ago. For our anniversary, we wanted to climb the falls at Dunn's River with the kids this time, but also wanted to see other places so we decided on a cruise. This is our 3rd cruise, 2nd one with RCCL. Day 1 Embarkation: We were not looking forward to this as our last experience in LA last year was pretty frightful. Much to our surprise, it was totally painless. We had spent the week prior in the Tampa and Orlando area enjoying getting our roller coaster fix so we had a rental car that needed to be dropped off. By the way, be careful with renting a car if you need to return it to a different city than you rented it from. We had an internet receipt giving us a total price of $315.00 for a minivan for the week that clearly noted the pickup location as Orlando and the drop off at Miami, but when we got to the counter (at 12:30AM) we were told that we needed to pay $150.00 extra for a drop off fee. We were told that nothing could be done about it at the pickup location and that we had to sign in agreement or cancel. Obviously, at 12:30 in the morning with 3 tired kids, cancelling was not an option so we signed for it knowing that we would have to battle it out in Miami. Luckily, we were able to get the charge dropped when we returned the car in Miami. Anyways, we spent the night at Embassy Suites by the airport because they had a free shuttle to the airport to return the car and we could take advantage of the free breakfast. It was a nice hotel and the breakfast was great as usual. We were able to arrange for a taxi pickup the night prior and for a family of 5 with a fair amount of luggage, it cost $25.00 to get to POM. We arrived to POM at 11:40AM and our luggage was quickly taken by the porter. There were a few short lines that moved very quickly and we were on the ship signing waivers for the FlowRider by 12:40PM...totally painless. If you are planning on using the FlowRider, I would suggest heading straight there to sign paperwork and get your wristbands as it got very busy very quickly.
We looked around the ship for a little while, grabbed lunch and shortly after 1:00pm, we were in our rooms. The ship was almost identical to the Mariner which we sailed on last year, but bigger and had the FlowRider. We had 2 staterooms: 7710 which is a balcony room at the very back looking out backwards and 7499 which is an inside room just down the hall. We really enjoyed the back balcony. The view is a little obstructed but we really liked it. The room attendants for both rooms were great (Wilburn and Joel). The muster drills do not involve wearing life jackets anymore which was a nice surprise so that was quick and easy and before we knew it, we were sailing away. We had a nice view of the very crowded South Beach as we were sailing away.
We had the 6:00PM dinner seating in the Rembrandt dining room. Our table was #341 near the windows. My family is very picky with food so it was sometimes difficult for them to find something that they liked, but overall the food was good. Genevive and Ansley were great. We really enjoyed their service and they really tried hard to make everyone happy. Of note here, on the last dinner we noticed that the dining room was emptier than usual. We found out that night that there are people who skip that night and do not leave tips at all for the staff. We were appalled at hearing this as the dining staff does not get paid otherwise and depend on those tips. They work constantly to assure that everyone has a great time, tipping them is really not an option in our opinion. Formal nights are Monday and Thursday with Thursday night being shrimp and lobster night. We ate at Chops one night, which was very good. It was surprising again to see that people ignore the dress suggestions and age requests with no kids under the age of 13 years. The patrons on this ship all seemed to make their own rules, which was disappointing.
Day 2 Sea Day: We spent some time by the pool area which was very crowded. Our 13 year old and 16 year old spend all day in the teen areas, FlowRider and a little by the pools. Our 9 year old hung out with us outside but did join the Adventure Club that evening which she enjoyed. She wouldn't go to the kids' clubs on our previous cruises so it was nice to see her enjoy them this time.
Days 3-6 Port Days which I'll review later. As far as shows went, we only went to the ice show and the Love and Marriage show. The ice show was great, as usual. The ice shows are Monday at 5:00PM, Wednesday at 7:00PM and Thursday at 5:00PM. The 1st 2 shows always fill up fast so you have to get in line early. We lined up at 6:20PM for the Wednesday show and they ended up turning people away because they were full. The Thursday show is always empty from what we hear. I would think that RCCL could come up with a better system so that everyone could be accommodated without standing in line for 30-40 minutes. The Love and Marriage show was entertaining and was held in a large room so plenty of people could attend.
Day 7 Sea Day...last day is always depressing. We just hung out. There were lots of activities and ice skating was open for most of the day.
Disembarkation: Not as smooth as embarkation but still not too bad. We were not in any hurry as we were just headed back the Embassy Suites and planning to spend the day looking around Miami. This was the only day that the weather got the best of us as it rained all day so we didn't do much.
Overall, we loved the the ship, the staff and the ports. We are sad that the Liberty is moving to Europe next year.