This was DH and I's first cruise with RCL having cruised Carnival twice before. We are in our mid-50's and was able to snag a JS - Cabin 9654 for a GREAT price. Yes, we were excited to say the least!
PRECRUISE: We stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay in Miami. Beautiful room with loads of amenities and the Bayside Market close by. Hotel was around $160/night and we had a bayview room. We arrived in Miami just after noon the day before and met another couple that are experienced RCL's Diamond member cruisers to "show us the ropes" of RCL cruising and the surroundings of Miami. We went to the Bayside Market and ate at Bubba Gumps and ate so many different types of shrimp I was almost done with shrimp for the rest of the year! Great place if you haven't been there.
EMBARKATION: Took a cab to the port which we shared with our friends and arrived at 10:30. Liberty is HUGE compared to the Carnival Glory and Conquest! Embarkation was a breeze since we had a "suite". In less than 20 minutes we were on board! Our fellow cruises had their first "aft" cabin just down a bit from our JS. We ate at Windjammers and at 1pm, our room was ready.
SHIP: Liberty is absolutely beautiful to say the least. We spent the first day exploring the ship and I must say the layout was easy. For those of you that have cruised Carnival - as you know the layout of the ship to get to the main dining room is tricky - not so with Liberty. The Promenade was a beautiful place that offered much more than Carnival's ships as far as stores and eateries. Lots to see and do on this ship.
ROOM: We had a Junior Suite 9654 and we were very pleased with the size and appointments of the room. We snagged this room for under $1000/pp and would do it again in a heartbeat. The balcony was HUGE and DH and I didn't utilize only about 1/2 of the balcony space! This room was convenience to elevators. Our room steward was great, too.
FOOD: Our friends and I had MTD. I did like MTD, however, it just wasn't the same as regular dining. We didn't have the same waiter except for the last three nights and I missed the "friendship" you develop with the same waiter. It also seemed more "hurried" in my opinion. The MTD was great as we had it at 7pm and it was convenient compared to either the early or late dining options and will probably do the MTD again - but it was just wasn't the same.
I must admit the food on RCL didn't compare to Carnival's. Carnival's food is just better in our opinion - period. Now, I want to make it clear that RCL's food is NOT BAD at all - in fact, had it nothing to compare it to, it would have been great! But we DID have something to compare it to.
We also had reservations at Chops and Portofino's. I have read and reread about Chops steak. We all ordered the Filet and again, I hate to say this, but DH and I were disappointed. While the steak was tender, it lacked flavor in our opinion. The ambiance of Chops was not as good as we had thought. The waiter just didn't seem to be into making this a memorable dining experience for us at all. I want to make this perfectly clear that DH and I are not hard to please - in fact the opposite is true. But the reason I am comparing here is because this is what everyone wants - an HONEST opinion!
Portofino's was much better than Chops. The waitress made our dining very memorable and she was great. Food was great and I would go back there in a heartbeat.
I will take a moment now to compare the above two to our Carnival supper club experience. Again, Carnival comes up the winner in this category as they went all out in service, food, and presentation.
PORTS OF CALL. We went to St. Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee. Our friends like Orient Beach - just laying around relaxing. We had been educated that part of Orient Beach was a nude beach - OH YEAH! It sure was (no - we kept our clothes on!). But it was fun to see I must say. DH and my friends hubby just had to walk down to the "nude" area LOL!
In San Juan, my DH wanted to see the fort so we walk there. Along the way, we found the best pastry/breakfast shop in the world! Wish I could remember the name of it!
Labadee - beautiful island and we just relaxed on the beach. We did go visit the "shops" but we found the the natives to be really really pushy in getting you to buy something.
All in all, Liberty was a fantastic cruise. So many things to see and do. The ship was beautiful to say the least and the service was great. However, in all honesty, regarding pricing and food, Carnival wins. We ARE sailing RCL again with our friends next year on Serenade and will continue to sail both RCL and Carnival and who knows, might even try another cruise line! We had a fantastic time on Liberty.