Getting to Barcelona Intel:
As we are from Belgium, the flight from Brussels Intel airport to Barcelona Intel was only 2h, we had a 6:20am flight, due to wind in the back we even arrived 25min earlier.
To our big surprise, we were able to see the Liberty OTS from the sky before we went into final approach, what a sight that was! I got it all on tape, it will be posted on YouTube soon.
Conclusion: Overall great experience
Getting from the airport to the ship:
Got to the gate around 8:20am, suitcases where available 25 min after landing, so great job for the flight handlers of Barcelona Intel! Barcelona airport is a HUGE spotless airport, with lots of shops located everywhere. We just followed the exit sings and at the final gate before exiting the customs area, there was a sign saying regular passengers right, and a SEPARATE sign for cruises go left.
Followed the flow of passengers (and it was a lot, as at that time there were 3 cruise ships docked) to the left and almost immediately saw a group of people holding up big Royal Caribbean sings. I think there were about 10 of them there (including porters)...Once one of them was free, they immediately said hello and asked if we where there for a cruise with RCI, we answered "yes" and next question was which language we prefer, we replied English, but we heard them talk Spanish, Portuguese and French.
We booked a transfer from Airport to pier and visa versa via RCI, after they took down our names they immediately found us on their confirmed passengers list and where instructed to make luggage tags (the Belgium RCI representative could not provide us with pre printed ones). We got two tags per suitcase, stuck them on our luggage and gave them to the porters.
I have to say these were ALL very friendly people and talked fluent English.
Once there where about 30 of us there, we were instructed to follow somebody to a spate terminal in the airport dedicated to cruise passengers. To our BIG SURPRISE, we checked in to the ship in the airport, we received our sea pass and all paper work was done in the airport, so we could really just walk onto the ship (for EU passengers: we just had our Belgium ID cards with us, NO international passport required).
We heard a lot of American passengers applaud this way of working, as it skips the hassle at the port.
We had to wait for about 30 min for a bus in the terminal. Around 9:30am the bus arrived and where instructed to go outside, there was a big orange bus waiting on the parking place, the bus had a Liberty of the seas sign on it. Some other attendant asked to see our see pass cards, and provide him with the voucher that is on set sail documents, the voucher that states that you have a transfer booked. Got on and was welcomed, we waited another 20 min for the bus to get full...Then we were on our way.
Transfer to the ship was about 30min drive...there was a lot of noise on the bus UNTIL we were able to see Liberty on the docks...All went quite and gashed at the amazing ship, the closer we got the more excited it got, what a sight this was, it was just breathtaking and everybody's mouth just fell open
Silver Star and Sovereign where also docked so we had a good reference on the size that Liberty is.
WHAT A SIGHT!!!
Conclusion: The best organization I ever saw in an airport, gave a very relaxed we are on holiday feeling
I think there where about 100 dock workers waiting to unload the busses, immediately some cruise attendant jumped on the bus and told us to go straight to security check and skip all other lines, as we were already checked in at the airport.
We only just had a purse and a camera bag with us, these went through a x-ray scanner...After clearance and one last check of the sea passes we were welcomed and shown the way to the gangway.
Immediately there where photographers present to take pictures of us. It was 11:00am and we were able to board the ship immediately!
Conclusion: great job, went spotless, fully stress less.
Boarding Liberty OTS:
Once over the gangway you picture got taken by the security staff for the sea pass card...I have to say in the beginning this went great, friendly and fast service (however this changed later, you will read it).
After this we were able to board the ship at deck 4.
I have to say, except for 5 people telling us "welcome onboard Liberty" nobody said where we should go from there on, it was our first experience with a Freedom class and RCI so we had to find everything our own way.
Luckily the interactive screens did their work great (on almost every deck)...So we found our way to the pool decks and other things to see very easy.
All doors to the rooms where closed at this time (11:15am).
In the ship:
As I was reading previous posts of reviews here on CC, some people said that the ship didn't look as she should….I have to say I totally disagree! The ship looked spotless, cleaning going on all the time. No real rust problems, dirt, unclean windows or something else like that.
I was amassed by everything I saw on the ship, we walked around for about one and a half hours, just gazing at everything and taking pictures and film. The deck plans and the interactive screens do their job amazing…We did feel lost sometimes, the ship is just sooooooooo huge
We went for a drink in the Olive or Twist bar in the Viking crown as we had an unofficial CC members meeting there later on the day. Great friendly staff ready to take our order, and give a little explanation as how the billing works (for us as Europeans, the entire gratuees concept is new, this why we asked for some help when we got our first bill).
Rooms opened up around 1:00pm, we went to our room on deck 9 (9648, superior balcony room) and yet again we were just amazed by what we saw , the room, bathroom and balcony was spotless all needed documentation (cruise compass, booked excursions; etc) was present. There was a movie running on the screen explaining all safety procedures on the ship. Interactive TV was disabled at that time.
Everything in the room was the correct size, on hell of a great bed! We had no connection stateroom, and we never heard any noise coming from the rooms next to us (not in the day nor in the night).
We booked the "grand romance package" and all except for the cupcakes and the bottle of champagne was already in the room…Our room attendant came to fill up the ice bucket and bring the cupcakes and bottle of champagne, he very friendly introduced himself, we gave him two dollars and he went crazy, later more on that.
He also told us that the ship was FULL, not on double occupancy but every room was booked.
We waited for muster drill at 4:30pm and went down to deck 4 for our muster. The muster didn't start until 4:40pm and then still passengers came late…Even one lady came out of the galley from the aft section escorted by a cook.
By the time muster was over, it was time to go to deck 12 for set sail…FINALLY!!!
First set sail:
I have to say this was a major disappointment, the ship started moving without any announcement or horn blow, the ship moved that silent that a lot of passengers had no idea that she was actually moving away from the dock.
Most passengers where top side for the set sail party at 17:00 and this to was not what I expected, some girls in yellow and blue uniform waving flags (and how!? They were really just waving them, not doing tricks like a cheerleader would, it was pretty windy, this might have been the problem) is not my idea of a set sail party.
Later on the show the dream work characters joined in but here again, it's just them jumping around to music…No interactivety with passenges what so ever, nothing on the ship leaving port for the first time, I guess the kids do love this…
A lot of passengers where on the move, proving to me I was not the only one with this opinion (it was also not that warm outside and windy).
"Unofficial" Cruise Critic meat and mingle:
There were 8 registered members listed on the site, we where a party if two…We decided not to register as we would never have gotten the needed 25 persons for RCI to organize the meet and mingle (also the M&M is done on the last day, not very logical imo).
I decided to get the CC members together just after set sail…Sadly ONLY two people reacted, whilst in the beginning there was more interest.
HOWEVER, HOWEVER, HOWEVER…The two people we met, Festi and Lara Lox where one of the most wonderful people we ever met!!!
We had a blast and we met up almost every night for a great and wonderful time, first vacation ever where we have sooooo many great pictures.
So I (we) really have to thank CC for bringing us together…
We were speculating if other CC members where watching us, as they clearly new where we met up (and what we looked like) We did make some "noise" throughout this cruise
I have to admit that we did rock al little this cruise, I was surprised how much the ship tilted form right to left…I had no idea that a 160.000tons ship could move like that.
The first two days our glasses moved in the Viking crown, it looked like we were doing a seance at some point.
Sleeping on deck 9 aft, took a little getting used to, I even got a little sea sick the second day (no not from too much drinking).
The interactive state room TV told us we had a 3 Beufort wind the first two days.
First two days where also rather cold days, going out on deck at night required you had to dress warmer…As we went more south bound every time the day and night heated up. Also the seas turned a lot more stable, or we got used to it.
I as a light sleeper woke up every morning when the ship docked or when to cruise director or captain made there announcement…This was not such a good point for me personally. But then most passengers had excursions, we only where planning to do three.
We tried to do as much as possible to try everything out.
-Windjamer for breakfast was good (didn't go there for dinner), we arrived always at different times in the Windjammer, we never had troubles finding a table, even on the last day there was no problem finding a place. Food overall was good, staff very friendly, maybe a little slow on clearing tables.
Except for the first day, we even didn't reserve a table, we filled our plates first and then went to check for a free table, this was never any trouble for breakfast.
-For lunch the Windjammer was OK, I wouldn't say as good as breakfast as I found the buffets to lack a little taste. I totally missed where Jade is supposed to be an Asian inspired buffet…there were some sushi's on some days, but I wouldn't call it an Asian inspired buffet like they commerce it on the site (maybe for dinner?).
You could daily make burgers and hotdogs in the windjammer the meat was great but the buns for both could have been of a better quality. Also the famous honey stung chicken was daily available…not my taste, but since many ask this question, this was the answer.
-Sorrento's was great, simple very good food, pizza was great
-Cafe promenade, provided real good snacks, the hole ship was talking about how good there sandwiches and croissants were.
-Johnny Rockets, was a disappointment, staff an atmosphere was great, but the burgers and fries are total crap! We can get better American style burgers and fries in Belgium.
BY THE WAY, all the fries on the ship where of the thin deepfreeze kind.
-Chops Grill, great food in large portions however here we had a feeling that the waiters where trying to clear our table to fast so they can fit somebody else at a later hour, this did not make for a great meal however I cannot complain what so ever about the quality of the food it was excellent.
-Portofino, this was just excellent, great food great staff! We even talked with the head waiter about the difference with chops, he told us that we were not the only passengers that had some issues with chops way of working.
-The main dining room, excellent! Great staff, great food, good selection, had great times and great food every day we were there.
We were on My Time Dining deck 5 (top floor of the room), and chose for a table by our self, we got a table to our self every time, always in the same neighborhood. We prebooked dining times, but we changed them almost every day, this was never a problem for the MTD responsible.
Overall the MDR was a great experience, if you don't want to spend money on food onboard, stick to the MTD you wont regret it!
-Room service, we did one breakfast in bed, it was great, everything we ordered and more was delivered to the room, they called first and 5min later a waiter came along.
-All staff were great, always friendly and willing to help out or do some smalltalk.
-The waiter staff was also great, very friendly and funny people…however still after this cruise, I still don’t really get what the point or big deal is with having the same waiters every night!? We found it fun to do the same smalltalk thing with somebody else every night.
-Crew, same as the staff, always there for you.
-Room attendant, the one we had was absolutely great! He got the largest tip we gave and he treated us like kings!!!
He even looked up our names, we told him please use are first names, gave him another tip and since that second tip we almost never had to open the door to our room ourselves, the guy was just fab GREAT!
-Officers…. Not one of them even bothered to look up and even say hello when you passed by, why if every other employee on the ship could do that, they just walked passed you like you were thin air to them!?
Luckily you don’t really need them as all the other people do the real work on the ship, if it was up to them alone this would have been our last cruise!
Nobody dare say something about there responsibility’s, I DON’T CARE, saying hello is the least they can do for the amount of money you give to the cruise liner.
Walking around in a fancy uniform is not all that…
I can only say that everything was great!!! The sear logistical nightmare of a ship this size amazes me even more that they could give us such a good time over all the ship. I think there was not one place that we didn’t stop, from shops to cafes to the casino and nightclub…All were fantastic.
Shows were great, we only did Saturday night fever (in my opinion a little long, but then I am not really a play kind of guy), our friends did all the other shows, I didn’t hear one bad word…So overall a very nice job!
Captains welcome reception was a blast, I would say 85% dressed up in formal attire (second night)
Dancing in the streets also a lot of fun, amazing to see a full promenade deck do the YMCA
Pools where busy, there were a lot of kids onboard but we never had a feeling that is was too much…In the Solarium this was never a problem.
We never had a problem finding a sun bed, except for the last day, which was a sailing day, we had to go lay on the ford top deck.
Towel hogs where nonexistent at the solarium, I was amassed by this!
We booked everything via RCI.
-Leaning tower of Pisa, this one great tour! Got off the ship into a bus and after a 45min drive arrived at the grounds of the tower. This was an amazing site, our guide was just excellent and got a long explanation of every building on the site.
Climbing the tower was amazing, the guide had us on fixed entering times so we didn’t have to queue, you are only allowed 30 persons at a time in the tower and there was a huge queue for the regular line.
DO NOT do this tour if you are afraid of heights or claustrophobic…We saw a lot of people returning back out of sheer fear, it was a strange experience climbing something that is crooked, you really feel the gravity difference at all times.
-Panoramic Rome, was good a little long as this is just a long bus ride combined with a drop of at the Vatican. The drive from the port to Rome is about 60min, then you drive trough Rome passing by all the sights, takes about 2 hours. You see all of them but have just a few seconds to see it and take pictures, it worked fine in the beginning but at the end you where sick of it and didn’t bother to anymore to jump all over the bus to get that one great shot.
At the end you are dropped off at the Vatican an free to stroll around for 45 min, Not enough time to enter the cathedral but enough to get some great shots. Then you return for yet another bus trip to the boat.
Maybe if we would ever go back, we would chose for Rome on your own tour, but keep in mind, Rome was a very dirty city in my opinion, lots of dirt and graffiti everywhere, if you are not used to this I wouldn’t advise on doing Rome on your own. Also the city was VERY busy so keep this in mind.
-4x4 hike Vesuvius and wine tasting was cancelled due to lack of interest, we got our money straight back on our onboard account…To bad for us.
Check out, late departure option:
As we did our cruise fully on a credit card for billing, we did not need to check out, if we had no complaints with the end bill, we would just get off the ship and our credit card would be charged.
We happened to have one bill to many on our account…After a quick stop by the guest relations it was corrected (no hassle or anything).
The late departure looked good on paper, but not so good on the ship…
I even filed a formal complaint to RCI!
We chose the option to get off the ship at 12 noon. We disembarked well on time, and where at check out on the gangway around 11:50am, Liberty security was clearly enervated that somebody came of the ship when they were doing the check in of the new guest.
Overall I have to say the security personal can be a lot friendlier (the entire cruise), we are not 16 years old drunk kids entering a dancing…We are cruise passengers that embark en disembark a mighty ship.
Once of the boat and to the pier, we could not say that we got a lot of help finding our way…
We only had the exit signs to follow, whilst there were 100 ground crew helping embarking passengers, you can’t tell me that not one of them can be assigned to late departure guests, who have paid more for this option (53€ for two).
But the story doesn’t end here…Once outside, with suitcases, no bus to the airport in sight!
Nobody came to us, so we went on a search quest to find somebody that could tell us what to do, the second guy we talked to said we should wait.
We waited for 35 minutes before a bus came along during this time I reminded to personal that our flight leaves in 2 hours and that is well past 12 noon…
We can’t say we got a lot of response until I got mad and they told me to relax….Not the reaction I was looking for!
Anyhow we finally got an a bus at 12:45pm so 45min later than should have! This brought a lot of stress at the end of great vacation…
Not the way it should be, that’s why the complaint was send.
The best vacation we ever had in our life and will definitely go back to RCI! Except for the late departure problems and the officers not living up to what I expected, we cannot have one other single complaint what so ever! So great job to all on the ship
Please feel free to ask any questions you might have, I will be happy to answer.
Here are the pictures, they are only in low res, if you want to see more detail of ask if I have a shot of something please ask (I have over 7hours of film)
The room: http://www.flickr.com/photos/6430805...7626887576089/
Grand romance pack: http://www.flickr.com/photos/6430805...7627012145656/
Chops & Portofino:http://www.flickr.com/photos/6430805...7627012154250/