It was a rough start. We got through security and received our boarding passes pretty quickly. Then they put us into a "holding pen" for over 3.5 hours. I guess we were due because after seven cruises this was the worst embarkation by far. In the end, the ship did apologize via the PA system but as part of the apology they highlighted the fact that the delay was beyond their control (aka it wasn't our fault...you get nothing). There were lots of rumors but no other details were given regarding this horrible boarding.
General Ship Impressions:
After spending almost 4 hours trying to board the ship I was pleasantly surprise once aboard. The ship feels new and modern. The layout is great and the guest rooms feel large. There is great art on the walls and there is great signage to help you get around. We especially liked the promenade deck. The shops, and food are a very nice touch and the space is bright and airy. Another great feature of this ship is the pool areas. The adult pool area is very nice with multiple hot tubs and a nice swimming pool. We loved the fact that they have a separate area for adults only (since we have no children). The food was very good, (more on that later.) The only negative (other than the boarding process) we have experienced early on was the towel service. You have to stand in line to check towels out then you have to stand in line to check them back in. Royal needs to take lessons from carnival and just put them in your room. Much easier!
My wife and I love fine food. This is one of the reasons we love cruising so much. Per our previous experiences Royal came through again. The food in the main dining rooms is very good. We tried a variety of dishes and all were very good. I strongly recommend the pork medallions, and the crab cakes, both were exquisite. The only improvements I can think of for the main dining room are to have a stronger " by the glass" wine list, and a more developed menu. The overall wine selection seemed weak compared to other cruise lines. Additionally, the desert menu felt weak and ignored the hard core chocolate lover. Lastly, the first formal night menu was lacking. It was a pretty typical (and unmemorable) meal. But overall we enjoyed the dining room experience and prefer that over the buffet. Speaking of the buffet, we went there for breakfast and lunch several time. In general, I'm not a huge fan of buffets but Royal's met our basic culinary needs. The flow of people seemed better in the Wind Jammer as compared to other cruise lines we've been on. In short, the buffet is a great way to get a quick bite before going to your next activity. If you want great food and service skip the buffet and hit a dining room for your meals. We also went to the pizza place on the promenade for a snack. The pizza was very good. I would recommend this place for a light snack between lunch and dinner. Overall, the food was very good on the Royal Liberty.
The entertainment was pretty standard but the performers were very talented. We saw 3 show and they all were well done. Some may not like the story line or theme of all the shows but in general I was impressed. One entertainment item not to miss is the ice skating show. It is very good; our whole family loved it.
My wife and I liked both Cozumel and Costa Maya. They both have nice ports and it's easy to get to and from the ships. One big tip in Costa Maya if you want to go to the beach. Just walk out of the port and go to the cab station. Cabs are $3 pp to the beach and $2 pp to get back. Once your down there you can easily find a restaurant that has beach chairs. The place we hung out at had free chairs (hoping that you would by drinks). They also have drink packages (around $20 pp) for beer and simple mixed drinks. Belize required a tender to get to port. It was actually a fairly long ride, which was a little bit of a pain. We didn't enjoy Belize as much as the other ports but I think it's more about personal preference.
The excursions were pretty typically of all cruise lines. We went on two; the first of which was the wild life tour in Belize. Per the norm you wait in long lines prior to the start but once things get going it was very nice. The tour consisted of a river cruise and a guided zoo visit with a simple lunch in between. We saw all different types of wild animals in their natural and zoo environments. Both aspects of this adventure were very fun but be forewarned, it's a very long day in the hot sun. People with small children or the elderly may want to think twice before jumping into this. By the end of our day it was apparent that several people had enough! Also if you decide to go, use the restrooms when given the opportunity. You will be on the river for over two hours!! In the end my wife and I had a great time. We enjoyed our tour guide and all the wonderful animals we saw. The second excursion we did was the swimming with the rays in Cozumel. It was a great time. We got to pet the rays, feed them and swim/snorkel with them. I highly recommend this tour for all animal and fish loves. It was a blast.
Debarkation was quick and painless. We met at the theater and was escorted out at the appropriate time. We were standing on the side walk by 7:15 am with all our bags ready to head to the airport.
Overall we had a great time and hated to see it end. The ship was wonderful, and the service staff was incredible. The major disappointment was the boarding process. It was extremely painful and it will likely weigh in when we make our next cruise purchase. We have cruised both Royal and Carnival and in the end both companies have very similar products, with that said both my wife and I feel Carnival provides a better overall value.