We were a group of 7-4 adults(me,my husband Mike,and Lee and her husband Craig),2 14 yr old boys,James ,our son, and Jack, and 10 yr old Joe,all from Gloucester in the UK.It was our first cruise.We had booked this cruise over 13 months previously through a TA.
Apart from day 1 I won't go through every day separately but will split the review into various headings.
Flight/Barcelona Airport/Embarkation-Day 1
We arranged our flights to Barcelona through RCI and flew with British Airways from London Heathrow.Due to a very early Sat morning flight,we stayed the night before at The Premier Inn nr Heathrow and got a really good deal-£70 for the night plus 8 days parking.A taxi to the airport was £9 each way.
We had a very smooth flight to Barcelona,with free hot drinks and breakfast roll onboard.In no time at all,we had landed at Barcelona,about 10am local time.We collected our luggage then after customs followed the signs for "cruises" and saw the RCI rep waving his board at us! There were 43 on our flight all going on the Liberty.He asked us to give our luggage to the men waiting by his side,who put it all onto roll pallets ready to go to the ship.When all the 43 had arrived we had a long walk through the airport downstairs and off to the RCI desk.We then showed our setsail docs and credit card and were given our seapass cards,and all got on the coach ready to go to the ship.This precheck-in at the airport saved so much time at the port!
The drive to the port took about 20 minutes-we were all excited trying to get our 1st glimpse of the ship.There were lots of boats in port alongside the Liberty,including a Princess and a Disney.We got in the queue at the port entrance and went through security.As we had already checked in at the airport we then went straight through and bypassed all the queues-we felt very smug at this point.
There was a shop at this point,which we didn't go in as we were so excited we wanted to board asap.Up the escalator we went and found ourselves on deck 4 of the ship.We had arrived!!!
We decided to have an explore of the ship at this point,so started on deck 14 and worked our way down.By the time we had finished,the boys wanted to go for a swim so it was a good job we had packed swimwear in our hand luggage.We then had our 1st taste of the Windjammer,honey stung chicken and all!(more about food later).We just were all so overwhelmed by the sheer size of the ship and couldn't believe we weren't in some hotel on land. The muster drill was at 4.15pm and our meet point was in the restaurant on deck 4.This seemed to go smoothly,although there were some late arrivals,and we all made our way up to the top deck for sailaway.Unbeknown to me,I had positioned myself very near to the ships horn,and I nearly jumped out of my skin when it went off! We had a competition with the Disney ship which the kids thought hilarious.
After sailaway we checked to see if our cases had arrived,which they had,so a quick unpack and change and we were off to dinner.We had gone for 6.30pm first sitting in the MDR due to the kids wanting to eat earlier than 9.15pm 2nd sitting.
Our party had 2 inside cabins on deck 8 AFT,8451 and 8453.We were lucky that they were at the end of a corridor and didn't have cabins opposite so we didn't get any noise.We had a 3 berth,Lee and Craig a 4 berth.Both had Pullmans,which my son found very comfortable.the cabin was small but adequate for our needs-we were only in there to sleep and get ready at night.We could have done with a bit more storage,probably due to me overpacking! We made use of the safe which was useful.The bathroom was small but had everything we needed,the shower had sliding doors and not a curtain.The towels were changed when we left them on the floor to be changed.Our steward was very attentive,introducing himself to us on the 1st day and was always cheerful and remembered our names when he saw us.We had 3 towel animals left for us-a dog,a swan and a monkey.Uk travellers,remember to bring a travel adaptor for USA,as there are 2 points like this and only 1 EU point.We liked the facility to check your seapass account on the flat screen TV,otherwise the TV was virtually redundant.The beds were so comfortable,we had requested the 2 beds to be put together,and they had a mattress topper.
The Ship/Facilities etc
One thing we all commented on was the cleanliness everywhere we went.It was all so spotless and we couldn't fault it.The stair banisters were constantly being cleaned and most people made use of the antibac at the entrances to all restaurants.
The kids used the sports pool every day,and didn't use the H2O zone at all.Us adults made use of the solarium as we found it much quieter and more comfortable,padded sunloungers etc.No splashing by kids in the pool either! The towel hire worked fine for us,the last day we checked that no towels were still on our accounts as we didn't want $25 charges.The kids were also under strict instructions not to lose their towels.The one main gripe we had was on the day we docked at Civitavecchia for Rome.As RCI had assumed that most passengers would get off,they closed the adult pool for maintenance-ALL DAY.They drained it,painted it inside and it was out of use until the following morning.There were a lot of disgruntled adults that day.
We were impressed with the Royal Promenade,although we found much of it to be overpriced.They did have a $10 sale 2 nights which was very busy.We loved the Flowrider-we hired it for an hour for $300 and got 2 instructors.The queues were very long and we found it quieter first thing in the morning-check the Compass and get up early! The kids made use of the mini golf and table tennis and always managed to get use without having to queue.The teens did check out Fuel but were not impressed so didn't go back,Joe didn't use any of the organised activities for children either.They did spend some $'s in the arcade,we let them put $20 credit each on their seapass cards for this. I think because they had each other they had no need to go looking for other friends,although our teens did meet a couple of girls from New York and spent a lot of time in the evenings with them!!!! Teenage hormones,there's nothing like it....
Cannot comment on The Spa as we didn't use it.
How anybody can complain about the food is beyond me.We used room service every morning just for tea and coffee and juice for the kids.We used this as our wake up call.We had breakfast in the Windjammer every morning,and I tried to be good having lots of fresh fruit and eggs from the egg station.There was so much choice,from freshly made omelettes to all kinds of breads,cereals,pastries,cooked items like sausages,bacon etc(full English anyone?).My husband had the porridge every morning.There was juice and tea/coffee/hot chocolate available and freshly squeezed juice available for a $3.50 charge.Lunch in the Windjammer could be busy,you just had to pick your time carefully .We loved the salad bar,and the carvery selection was nice with different meats every day.The cookies were lovely,and I couldn't resist the oatmeal and raisin with a nice cup of tea.
We ate in the Rembrandt Deck 4 MDR and had a table for 8(for 7 of us).Our waiter,Cesar was from Peru.He was extremely attentive and would recommend dishes for us.He made a special effort with Joe,bringing him sirloin steak instead of the childrens menu minute steak selection and cutting it up for him too! Our teens enjoyed lots of foods that they hadn't tried before,and we never found that we couldn't select something we liked. Our assistant waiter kept us supplied with rolls and bread, and the kids were kept topped up with soda (they all had the soda package which we thought was a very good buy).On the night of my husbands 50th birthday(which was the 1st formal night) the Head Waiter brought him a piece of cake with a candle and the waiters sang Happy Birthday to him,with all the other tables joining in.He is not one for fuss so this was just right for him. On the 2 formal nights,I would say that about 90% dressed up and there were lots of tuxedoes on show,long dresses and lots of bling! We all really enjoyed dressing up for these nights.
We used Cafe Promenade a lot-we liked the cakes,and the cookies especially.We would take tea and coffee back to our cabin after our evenings entertainment and also before we got ready to go out.It was so convenient.The only thing you had to pay extra for was speciality coffees. The kids used Sorrentos for pizza at all times of the day,late at night and when they couldn't be bothered to sit in the Windjammer and eat lunch.I can't comment on speciality dining,Chops and Portofinos,as we didn't use either.Ice cream was available by the pool every day(Sprinkles,self service machine) and was very nice too! Ben&Jerrys was good too,you has to pay for this. The kids went to Jonny Rockets only the once just to experience it.They couldn't believe the size of the portions,especially when the waiters asked if they wanted another enormous burger!
We prebooked online for Saturday Night Fever,In the Air and the iceshow.They scan your seapass card as you arrive,and we got a good choice of seats as we arrived about 30mins before the shows started.SNF was very good,it's my favourite film so I was bound to enjoy it.The other 2 were equally as good and we all enjoyed them. We checked the Compass every day for what type of live music was in each bar,and most nights we either went to The Sphinx or Olive and Twist.We listened to 50/60's in the Sphinx and Jazz in Olive and Twist(our favourite bar of all).They had a 70's night when there was dancing in the Royal Promenade,which was very good and a really great atmosphere.We found the touchscreens useful for deciding what to go to each night.
The big screen on the main pool deck showed films and football,I enjoyed Mamma Mia one day,but we found it too loud most days when you just wanted to chill out.They played music in the afternoons too which again was very loud,I must be getting old..............
Ports of Call
We had decided beforehand that we wanted to make the most of the ship,so we only got off the boat twice! At Villefranche,we got the tender boat(no charge) and walked to the train station,where we got a train to Monte Carlo.You could have easily got a train from here to Nice or Cannes too.Monte Carlo was lovely,we just walked around admiring the boats,big cars and glamorous people.We bought 2 bottles of water and a coke-cost 12 euros! We all flagged very quickly in the heat and decided to go back to the ship in the afternoon for lunch.The tender boats left every 15mins or so, so we didn't have to wait.
We also spent a few hours walking around Livorno.We bought transfer tickets from the port to the town,cost $8 each.James decided to stay onboard so we had an adult only morning,had a nice coffee in a little cafe and browsed the boutiques.A very pleasant morning.
Craig and Lee got off at Naples,but found it a bit dirty and noisy,the traffic is unbelievable,take care when trying to cross the road.The ship docks right by the town so no need for any transfers here.The Head Waiter had warned us the previous evening about pickpockets in Naples too.
The ship was very quiet when we docked at Civitavechhia for Rome,but I can't comment on any of the trips as we stayed onboard(looking at a closed pool!!)
We only had 1 sea day-the Thursday.The boat seemed very busy around the pool areas,less so in the adults only solarium.There were lots of people reserving sunbeds,although there were messages being relayed telling them it was not allowed.I didn't witness the pool attendants moving any of the towels,although there were lots of people looking for beds.I went in the cantilevered whirlpools-a word of warning,the steps are very slippery when you get out.I went an absolute cropper and had a massive ,painful bruise on my back .I made sure I put my flipflops next to the pool for when I got out in future.We spent the afternoon on the topdeck as it was quieter,but the winds really started to get up and we had to go back down.A taste of things to come that night.........
There were lots of organised activities onboard that day,and it did spread passengers out throughout the ship .That night there was a Pool Party and Midnight Buffet on deck,with lots of ice and fruit carvings .Lunchtime there was a BBQ and paella by the pool too.Surprisingly the Windjammer was quiet at lunchtime that day ,perhaps because the MDR was open for lunch.
Last night/Getting off the ship
Well,the winds continued to get up,and by the evening they were 70mph according to the TV.We were on deck 14 in Olive and Twist(perhaps not the best choice) and our drinks were moving on the tables! The outside decks were closed and we watched as the pool waters sloshed around quite violently.We all staggered back to the cabin,I think it was the storm and not the Mango Mai Tai's to blame!
Calm was restored by the time we got back to Barcelona-we were all very depressed thinking about leaving for home .Our meeting point was the Platinum Theatre and from there we left the ship.Luggage was put onto a big lorry and then collected at the airport.We had a 3hr wait for our flight which dragged a lot.It was all very smooth though.From there it was a short 1.5hr flight back to Heathrow and home.
Both families have been on lots of all inclusive holidays.We all said that this was the best holiday we have ever been on,and we are already looking for next year.The kids all said they were never bored,and are still in touch with their new American friends!