Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas Review
January 9-16, 2011
OK, let's get started.
As mentioned in previous posts/threads, this cruise was booked with one of the online bidding sites during the RCCL WOW sale the last week in September. Most of the bonuses offered by booking with them came directly from Royal, except for the free hotel night stay. I was pleased with every aspect of booking with that agency, except the agency waits until three weeks before the cruise to issue the hotel vouchers, which was kind of last minute for me. I was trying to get a Downtown Miami location, but settled for the airport, which was no big deal (more on that in a minute). Air was booked directly with SW from PHL to FLL, which we changed to fly into Orlando to visit family (more on that in a minute).
We left the house at a little after 4:00am on Saturday, to pick up our ride who was taking us to the airport, and would have the car for the week to avoid the charges of parking at or around PHL. Airport check-in in flawless, and we were soon in the terminal having breakfast waiting for our flight to depart. We started boarding at 7:35am, and, it started snowing, so we were delayed by the de-icing process departing until around 9:30am. We arrived in Orlando, grabbed our bags and headed to the Hertz counter where the wait was around 1 hour to pick up the car (why stress over waiting, you're on vacation, and we had several little ones to keep us entertained). We arrived at our family's house, and decided to hang out, eat and shop a little before driving to Miami. Bad decision!!! We were so tired, we stayed in Orlando until Sunday morning. A free hotel night was wasted, but it was free. The three-plus hour drive from Orlando to Miami, although was very scenic, was also very tiring (maybe jetlag!!! lol). I'll never do that again unless someone else is driving. When we arrived in Miami, traffic on I-95 was at a standstill due to an accident, but quickly cleared, and we were soon in the downtown area. The downtown area, along with Bayside seemed to be bustling with activity, which made me even more upset I didn't stay downtown. The drop-off to Hertz was quick, and we were on our way to the port in 15 minutes.
Pulling into the port, we had several drop-offs before getting to the Liberty. The Norwegian Pearl and (Sun?), Carnival Glory, and Carnival Valor were all in port. As we approached the drop-off area, we could see the line!! As stated in earlier posts, we had been forewarned, but we waiting from 1:45pm, until a little after 4:00pm to board the ship. Yes, we were a few of the last stragglers to arrive. We went right to our room, the center Hump on deck 8 which a typical balcony in size, but the center view was great. This cruise we didn't use the balcony as much as our previous cruises, and upon looking at a Family Promenade down the hall from us, we'll probably opt for that room/location our next cruise. The muster drill was next, and was shorter than we remember. After the muster drill, we went up to the top decks for the sail-away party, DOD's, photo and video shots (will post pictures and video later). The ship was huge, clean and gorgeous. It was like a bigger Explorer of the Seas. After a tour of the ship, we went to Guest Services to check our onboard credits, but they wouldn't show until the next afternoon. No problem, we were off to Chops make reservations for the next night.
Day 1 was spent hanging out, finding our way around the ship, and scanning the Compass for the day's activities, hanging out at Sorrento's and Cafe Promenade for snacks, conversation and people watching. We ate all of our meals in WJ, except for the night we ate in Chops. I can see at the rate I'm going, this is going to be at least five pages, so I'm going to condense it down a little.
Day 2 (at sea) - Breakfast in the WJ, the Port and Shopping Show (I swear I'll never go to this again! All they were doing were telling you all the deals on jewelry you could get at a discount below the price of the U.S. Oh, really!! I didn't find any real deals (on black diamond's or men's watches)!! Once they pull out that calculator, you know you're in trouble! The show as always is a sales marketing ploy, but this time they didn't really go over any other things to do in port. They were also hocking a "portorganizer/portfolio with discount coupons, etc. for $35.00)), hanging out in the hot tubs (what a view), watching the Ice Show "Encore" which was great, Snacks/Lunch in Sorrento's, still figuring our way around the ship. Dinner was at Chops. The food here was awesome, the filet mignon, and rack of lamb were both thumbs up!!! The broccolini, the asparagus, and the whipped potatoes are served family style, and you'll be stuffed!!! Why-oh-why did I have to order the baked potato? They must pump those things with steroids!! It's too much for one person to eat. We finished off with the cheesecake for desert. We chose a red wine to go with dinner. I have to say that the night we were in Chops, the place was empty, and it seemed only 25% of the tables were occupied. The rest of the evening going from the casino ?, or to Catacombs with DJ Scott and DJ Digits.
Day 3 (at sea) - Much of the same as Day 2, but the Dancing in the Street, 70's Style Dance Party on the Promenade was great. Mike S. (CD), and his crew, along with DJ Scott were the Village People, and Austin Powers as the M.C. Great interaction by the crew, and especially the C.D. I think day 3 was the production show "In the Air" which was a Cirque like production with acrobats, flips and flying through the air on stage, and a little over the audience. Great show for a cruise line to incorporate!!!! Great cast and the singers can compete with any Grammy winner!!! The rest of the evening spent going from the casino ?, or to Catacombs to hang with DJ Scott and DJ Digits.
Day 4 (St. Martin) - breakfast in WJ, then off the ship to "find all the deals." We took the water taxi over to the Downtown/Shopping District wandered in and out of stores. Some things caught our eye, but not the price, and sometimes not the quality (why would you put black diamond's on display that looked as if I stabbed them with a screwdriver?!), we ate lunch at a little place off the main street. Nothing fancy, just something to tide us over til we got back to the ship. We walked along the beach, hit a few more stores then back to the port area to look, wander around, get some souvenirs and take some pictures. Dinner in WJ, then back to the casino and Catacombs (I'm starting to see a pattern here).
Day 5 (San Juan) - rooms service at 6:30am (sausage, fruit, cereal, eggs, bagels, juice, coffee), we took a lot of picture pulling into port, then opted to get a tour bus right at the end of the pier. For $10 bucks it wasn't bad, we went to several areas to take scenic photographs, then to the P.R. Congress/Senate Bldg., and off to the Castillo San Cristobal (the Fort) for a tour. If you're into history or battles, or not, this place is very interesting, and the views of the city and ocean are great. We walked down the hill to the shopping areas and did some damage, and picked up lunch at the street fair, which was the ending of the Christmas, New Years and Three Kings Celebrations. More shopping, then heading back to the ship as it's getting very dark, from the clouds. Waiting in line to enter the port, it pours down raining, so I guess there were several hundred or so of us that got soaked. Next time we visit San Juan, we'll skip the tour, and walk from the ship to all the downtown historic and shopping areas (San Juan rookie error). Dinner again was in WJ, then off to the production show "A Tribute to the Temptations." Another great show with all the dance moves/steps, the right songs, perfect harmony and crowd interaction!!! Back to the casino and Catacombs.
Day 6 (Labadee) - breakfast in the WJ, then pictures from the balcony, then off the ship to get a good spot and chair (don't forget to tip the porters who carry your chair to your spot. Also they know all the good spots whether you're looking for a tree to sit under or fully bake). We found a nice spot along Adrenaline Beach where we could see the zip-liners flying by, and was close to Cafe Labadee. The BBQ lunch is the same as Coco Cay. BBQ is great when you're not the one slaving over a hot grill all day!!! After lunch, and a few more hours in the sun, we headed to the Artisan Village. If you're just looking, and not really looking to buy anything, stay in the middle of the path, and give them a firm answer if you're not interested. We walked over to Columbus Cove, then pass Barefoot beach Club before heading back to the ship. Why is the Barefoot Beach Club reserved for Suite Guests or Gold Card Holders again?! OK, we missed "The Quest" but we caught it on the television. Dinner in WJ, then back to the casino and Catacombs.
Day 7 (at sea) - We packed our backs first thing in the morning, as to have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy our last day onboard. Nothing special on this day except, hanging around the ship, enjoying conversations with other passengers in the Library, Promenade, and RC Online. Breakfast in WJ, light snacks on the Promenade for lunch, and dinner in WJ. The production show this evening was "Ever After." It was based on Nursery Rhymes/Fairy Tales/Children's Stories with a twist. It was ok, but if you don't remember the stories, it'll loose you (lol), singing was great as usually. Can we say it all together "back to the casino and Catacombs."
Debarkation (Miami) - We had tag #6 for debarkation at 7:30-8:00 (?). Our meeting place was the Platinum Theater, Deck 3. Last breakfast in WJ, then back to the room to get our carry-on bags. Is the announcement system broke? I don't hear them calling any numbers. Another passenger informs us they're on tag #10-#12 now!!!! I guess we can just walk off. Lol No real problems with waiting for the luggage, or the lines to get through customs (they just looked at the form and passport, and waived us on). Ten minute wait for SAS, and then double back to the terminal to pick up some Norwegian passengers. Quick 35 minute trip to FLL, where we see 5-6 ships in port. The Southwest Airline line was around 30 minutes long to check-in with the Skycaps, then another 30-40, minutes long to get through the TSA (this is why I drive, or don't travel during the holidays). So we had a four (4) hour wait in the terminal waiting for our flight to leave, arriving in PHL 35 minutes early, and having to wait on the tarmac for 20 minutes waiting for a gate to open.
All in all this was another great Royal Caribbean cruise. There are no complaints that are really valid, even though I wish they'd stop all that sales marketing for jewelry. The ship, service, food, staff/crew, production shows (also first comedian) and ports were all great, and I can't wait to cruise again. I wish I tried the Flowrider and rock climbing wall, but it was too chilly or windy every time I went up there. I can't say enough about the Cruise Director Mike Szwajkowski. He and his staff, and their interaction with the passengers, and their ability to know how to have a good time, no matter what demographic is to be commended. Thanks also to Captain Kjetil Gjerstad and his staff for our safe journey. Hopefully, I can get a good deal for a cruise the beginning or ending of the summer.