Just finished a 4 night cruise from Miami to Cozumel and back to Miami. This was my 5th RCCL cruise (6th overall) and first on a ship with the Flowrider. The ship is being charted by Bud Lite for 3 nights (apparrently along with the Freedom), which accounts for the shortened cruise. For point of references, my wife and I are both 30 years old and traveled alone.
I did a lot of reading on these boards prior to my cruise and wanted to point out a few of the notable pieces of information.
First, for anyone going to Port of Miami from FLL, RCCL charges $58.50 (includes tips/charges) which you can put on your seapass card even before you have left FLL! We did not prearrange the transportation with the cruise line, just looked for the folks with the Royal/Celebrity sign cards. Coming home we took a cab from the Port of Miami to FLL and it was $74 before tip, so if you have 4 people it is a little cheaper each way to avoid the cruise chartered transportation.
Embarkation. We arrived at the port at noon and it took 90 minutes to finally get on board. Everyone is excited to get on the ship but this is where the aggressive/me first attitude became apparent. After going through the more relaxed security at the pier you received a number indicating what group of people should wait to board the ship. No one WANTS to wait but it's just what you have to do with so many people arriving at the same time. The cruise line can improve in this area, it was the major bottleneck with 1 person checking every single travelers seapass waiting to go up the escalator. Others commented about this frustration during the cruise as well.
Dining. There was a major issue the first night of dining with the table numbers not being printed on at least 150 seapass cards, possibly much more. We were 20 minutes late getting to our table due to waiting in a line just to be told what table number should have been printed on the card. Booking our cruise months ago, we requested a table of 10 but were seated at a table for 6. Unfortunately only one couple was at our table and immediately told us they had requested a table for 2 and were not happy about their seating! Woah, rough start to dinner! We requested a table change the next night and were moved to a larger table with sociable guests.
Dining Service. Every other RCCL cruise we have taken the waiter and usually the assistant waiter get to know our names. This cruise neither waiters nor the assistant waiters asked our names. This lack of personal touch is nice and something we became accustomed to with RCCL. Otherwise, the dining staff was ok. Some salads and appetizers were forgotten different nights, coffee and waters go unfilled a little longer than you expect, but nothing major. It made for just an ok dining experience. I have to note, our head waiter Jacob visited our table more than any other head waiter on any cruise and we have had.
Flowrider. I was not dying to do the Flowrider but if this is something you really want to do, I would highly recommend you take your swimsuit in your carry on and try it while everyone is boarding. The line was only ever 5-6 people long, otherwise, during the cruise you could find yourself waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
Production Shows. From previous reviews I had very low expectations for the shows except for the Ice Show. 'In The Air' has the feeling of a Cirque de Soleil show but of course on a much smaller scale. It was actually much better than I had expected and I would recommend it. Some parts were slow but still a good show. My wife saw 'Gallery of Dreams' and she was impressed with it as well. Of course, the Ice Show was spectacular and did not disappoint, a must see.
Casino. I played Blackjack and was surprised to see they had $6 minimum tables, not $5. The casino staff was very good with Sherwin and Bobby being standouts. There was one completely electronic Texas Hold Em table. I did not play this but thought it was interesting.
Juggler. The juggler was good. He will no longer be on the Liberty but will be on the Monarch after a few days of R&R.
Commedian. Overall, he was not so good. His impressions were good but came too late in the show. I skipped the adult comedy based on his family friendly act.
Mike the cruise director was one of our better cruise directors, he seemed natural and comfortable. Lee, the Activities Director is awesome, very funny and they had good chemistry with their little skits.
Dining Room Breakfast. I was very surprised to see a buffet in the middle of the dining room for breakfast. It offered the same food as Windjammer! We were served breakfast still and it was the same food as windjammer as well. So we skipped future seated breakfasts. The main differences is that the orange juice is real orange juice when you are being served with no extra charge, whereas in Windjammer it costs $3.95 or you get the Tang like orange juice.
Ports. Having been to Cozumel in the past we decided to stay on board.
Stateroom. Wireless Interent did not seem to work from our stateroom. We were on the 6th Deck in a Promenade room. We opted to use the provided computers for service. It was somewhat slow but seemed to be faster than dial up. The Promenade Room is noisy when there is entertainment in the evenings, sometimes until 11pm. So if you have small kids that need quiet to sleep, avoid these rooms.
Television shows. It was great to watch the behind the scenes of how different ships were refurbished in dry dock. Flowrider channel is great as well. When in Rome, Shrek 4, Ironman, valentine's Day and others were the free movies in your stateroom.
Debarkation. We did the Express checkout, where you carry your bags off the ship. It took about 30 minutes from finding the back of the line to getting through customs.
Overall it was a great experience. Service was good, the ship was clean, the food quality and selection met our expectations. We did not do Chops or Portofino. The small details that make for an outstanding cruise seemed to be missing. For instance, there was no chocolates on your beds at night... something that is truly nothing in the scheme of things but makes the experience outstanding. I would recommend the Liberty and RCCL.