We took the 12-26-10 cruise to St Maarten, Puerto Rico and Labadee. We had an inside cabin on deck 6. Great choice since it was aft, same as the dining rooms and just one deck above. Think about where you want to be located when you pick your cabin. Our cabin steward, Alvarro was wonderful.
I had read about the embarkation problems and hoped we'd have a quicker experience. That wasn't the case, but at least we were prepared. We decided to get to the port early anyway, and we arrived at 11. When we were checked in the RC agent said we probably wouldn't board until about 1 or 2. We settled down for a wait, hoping he was wrong. At least we were in the priority section since we are Diamond members.
We finally boarded at about 1:30pm. I understand that the problem is not at all with RC, but with customs and the number of non-US residents that had to be checked through customs. The ship had arrived directly from Belize and customs is meticulous about checking everyone out, plus there always seem to me many non-US residents on this cruise, so that is what takes longer.
It seems RC could figure out a way to at least advise people of this problem, but really, I think they are doing the best they can. It's just a mess to try to board 4000 people when the previous passengers aren't off the ship until 1pm (no fault of RC's). If you don't make it to the area where the early check-in people are, it just seems like mass chaos. If you're taking this cruise, just realize that boarding will probably not begin until at least 1pm. I was still glad we got there early; it looked like it sure beat waiting in the lines that formed later.
This is the first time I've ever boarded the ship when the cabins were already open, but we still went to the Windjammer first because we were starving. We made sure we got our MyTime dining time (brilliant idea—this is the first time we tried MyTime and we got a great time: 6:45pm because we reserved our time as soon as we got on the ship).
We felt all the food on the Liberty was wonderful! I've read complaints, but to me they are unjustified. We mostly ate at the Windjammer for breakfast (I've read complaints that it's the same selections every day—um, yes it is, but there are omelets cooked your way, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, waffles, pancakes, a couple different kinds of potatoes, bacon, sausage, ham, muffins, donuts, sweet rolls, cereals (hot and cold), juice, yogurt, fresh fruit and lots of other stuff. What more do you want? You could easily have something different every day if you want.
We had lunch in the dining room when we were at sea and the menu was terrific, but I always get the salad bar. If you like salads, try the salad bar; it's great.
We enjoyed the dining room 5 nights, as well as the 2 nights we went to Chops and Portofinos. I prefer Chops (I just like the menu better) while Don preferred Portofinos. Portofinos is a little bit more elegant, but food and service was outstanding at both. Dining room service was the best we've ever had with Erijesse & Mark.
We enjoyed the special New Year's Eve menu, and the hats and noisemakers at our table, the New Years Day brunch, and the New Years Eve events--something for everyone. It was a great way to see the New Year in.
I thought the shows were so-so. I thought it was strange that the headliner show wasn't highlighted in the Cruise Compass like I am used to seeing, so we never really knew much about the show beforehand. We never got to go to karaoke which we usually enjoy, because one night it got pushed back because of a football game - we checked back a few times, but the game was still on. I'm not sure if they cancelled karaoke. The other nights it just seemed to be scheduled too late or at odd times for us. There did seem to be a few errors between what was written in the Cruise Compass and when (or where) things were actually supposed to happen. The brunch on New Year's Day time was wrong, disembarkment info was different in a couple places, and events seemed to be cancelled or moved without notice. The ice skating show was cancelled one night because the seas were far too rough for skaters to perform; we did get notice about that.
The Quest was hilarious as usual. I think our team (Team 5) was robbed, though!! Richard was cheering us on—he's the best. We really enjoyed Richard and the Cruise Director, Mike on this ship. They were very friendly and helpful. Mike does some things a little differently on this ship and they work well. We especially liked the presentation about the workings of the ship and the question and answer period with the Captain and other top staff. We thought Darren Button, the hotel manager, does an amazing job on this ship. The staff is so courteous, friendly and helpful and things seem to run very smoothly. We were impressed.
We loved meeting people in the Diamond Lounge every night before dinner. Since we had a table for two at dinner, this was our time to talk to other cruisers, which we really enjoy. Tatyana was wonderful and helped us with a few requests as was Anthea who served us with a smile and had our drinks ready as soon as we walked in every night.
We took advantage of a couple of the spa specials and enjoyed the pampering.
I've often read that people didn't get the cabin they thought they booked, or the time they thought they had requested. Check your cabin assignment and dining time; if you don't want to do that, make sure you book with a good travel agent and have them do it.
All in all we had a great trip, though the weather wasn't the best and the seas were a bit rough for the first half of the cruise. We enjoyed a wonderful day in one of the cabanas on Labadee. Top notch service and a wonderful place to relax in a more private setting.
We can't say enough good things about this ship. Beautiful ship, and one of the best crew out there.