Here is my review of our Liberty OTS cruise 24th of September.
First some background, we are a couple in our early 30s and we recently got bitten by the nasty cruise bug. We already did this cruise in the beginning of June, but we got off the ship more tired than we got on Don't get me wrong, this was a good thing. So, we wanted to book a second cruise for the end of September.
After going over all options, the best choice (also pricewise) was going back to LOS, so we did so.
In June we worked via a travel agent, but we came to a painful conclusion that the travel agent we used did not bring any advantages (whilst it was an extra 300), so this time over we booked everything ourselves (via rci).
As we are from Belgium we don't really have a separate RCI representative, so all was done online (booking, payment, questions, etc). And I have to say, we will always work this way as of now (more info to compare to doing everything via a TA, please read my 06/11 review)!
This time over we wanted to treat Liberty as luxury hotel, so we had no busy port schedule (except for Naples), slept in and spend a lot of time at the pools More on that later.
So were off! (I tried to put headers per chapter, so you can choose what you want to read)
Arrived at Barcelona airport the day of embarkation at 8:30am, as always with this wonderful airport by the time you walked form the gate to the luggage claim, the bags where already being dropped on the conveyor belt, by 9am we were already outside terminal 1, following the clearly marked taxi signs(one floor down from the language claim area).
At the taxi area, there is a queue of about 30 taxi's waiting at all time, there is somebody to direct you to the first available taxi (they do have poor language skills, they only speak Spanish and pretend they don't understand a word of English, thankfully there is always signs language)Anyhow, at 9:20 we were in the cab and on our way to the dock. The drive took about 30 minutes, so something before 10am we were at the dock.
At the pier, we were one of the first passengers to arrive, porters where already available, so we made our luggage tags and dropped of our bags, we had to wait till 10:30 before the check in counters would open But seeing the ship back, no more bags, our vacation officially started that moment .
Strict 10:30am the counters opened, 15 minutes later we had our sea pass cards and on our way to the ship.
As we well new our way around, we skipped all those mouth open, eyes wide open first time Liberty cruisers and made our way to caf promenade for two cokes and a few of those awesome ham and cheese croissants We felt right back at home.
Went to the upper decks to refresh our memories on how beautiful the sight is form up there and made our way to the windjammer for a lunch just before noon.
-Windjammer for first lunch:
Windjammer, I have to say, they still haven't learned from last time Foods where basically the same dishes as in June, but what I had hoped, is that they now would be able to give me a good burger or hot dog with some fries
Sorry people, this was even worse than in June, a major disappointment. The fries where in the serving dish for so long, when you wanted to pick some up, you took the entire dish with you as they were all sticking to each other!? Burgers and hot dog buns are dry as Death Valley, burger meat was missing taste, hot dogs sausages where not that bad.
At strict 1 pm the rooms would open up, so by the time we had our lunch we were able to make our way to our room. This time we chose for a promenade state room on deck 7 (7293)
NEVER, EVER again will be book this kind of room. We were amassed how small the room was compared to our balcony room we had in June, when you see the numbers in square feet of both rooms we thought it wasn't going to be a major difference Boy were we wrong, everything in the room was in a smaller version.
AND the noise, boy the noise...But this will come as a surprise to most of you, the noise DID NOT come from the promenade, but from the adjoining room and the hallway, it was a disaster!
Strangely other people we met, that also had a promenade room, did not have these complaints, but there rooms where on the different deck, so it might be only a deck 7 problem.
We specifically chose this room, as it had a central location, so far away from the two stairways yet again a wrong assumption the amount of people that passed by our room was amazing, and what was even more amazing is how many people passed by acting as school kids, stamping, making loads of noise, running This whilst there were hardly any kids onboard.
We also had some minor pluming problem in the sink, it just wouldn't drain very fast.
By the end of cruise, we also had a defect in our cold water supply It was strange as most people complain they don't have any hot water We had to complain that we didn't have any cold water, but we let our room attendant have somebody from maintenance come over to fix it.
-The room attendant:
Our room attendant, she did do a good job, but she didn't go all the wayoom was clean, but not spotless, the TV had some dried up white stuff sticking on it that was there for the entire cruise, we didn't say anything as we were wondering if she would see itnot.
Same with dust on the TV, on the dresser, after the bedLike I said, not spotless.
She did go wrong when she called maintenance for the cold water problem There were two workers fixing the problem (in full dirty uniform and boots), they used a lot of water for testing so the bathroom was dirty When the problem got fixed she did not bother to clean up after them.
We had to ask and requested all new towels (most were used by the maintenance crew, they even placed some towels in the bin).
Before somebody asked, yes we did tip her a small amount the first time we met her, just so she knows we are willing to tip extra when it is deserved.Guess she didn't get the point, no extra tip at the end of the cruise except for the prepaid check in the envelope.
We were with 32 registered CC members this cruise, as the meet and mingle is only on the last day, we decided to meet up on the first day, 3pm Olive and twist bar This was fun as always to finally meet the people you where talking to online for such a long time.
The official CC meeting was on the last day, 10:15am also in the Olive and twist bar There where complementary pastries, thee, coffee and orange juice, so not bad. It was funny to hear stories differ from the first day to the last day.
Most of them had extremely busy port days, so we did not run in to each other often, except for one couple we ran into every night Even gotten a picture with the captain with them, fun, fun, fun!
By this time after we had our unofficial meet and mingle and the muster drill, the ship was ready to set sail, last time we could not fully see the set sail party pool deck due to early seating for dinner, this time we were on the late seating 9pm.
Again the ship departed without any announcement or horn blast The set sail party itself is also still one big joke especially those animators doing the flag dance in the beginning...its just stupid.
What we did see as a difference from June was that now the DreamWorks characters did do a tiny weenie bit of interaction with the kids At least giving the kids a good time.
So now we are really sailing again.
We were in the late seating, so that was 9pm for this cruise. The head waiter escorted us to our table and that was the last we saw of him for a while. Our waiter and assistant waiter came to introduce themselves, what wonderful staff, we had Sonny from Mauritius and Dharma from Balithey went out of there way for us, we had loads of fun with them and would defiantly recommend them.
We were at a table for 6 on deck 4, two people never showed up the entire cruise, our other two table mates where by coincidence from Holland, meaning they spoke Dutch our native language Which was a very good thing, they were also our age so that made for even more fun.. When we looked at the tables around us, we were very glad we were sat there.
The head waiter only showed his face 2 more times to do some small talk, the one we had in June came by almost every night, so we were disappointed with that, especially as you have to tip him Which brings us to the next subject.
It became pretty fast and clear to us that the average age on this cruise was a wee bit older than the June cruise, also except for non school obligated kids, which were quite young, there weren't a lot of kids or teenagers present.
It came clearly visible on the two formal nights where we were normal dressed in June, this time we felt really overdressed When on a cruise, you know there are formal nights, so I don't get how some people, especially the men can think that slacks and shirt (even in polo version) can pass as formal attire (no tie, no vest, wrong shoes)But that might be me, we didn't let it come to our hearts AND there were still enough people that did dress correctly over all nationalities.
Majority of passengers were from the US, there were a lot of Spanish and Portuguese (guessing also from Brazil), Germans, Norwegians and surprisingly a lot of South Africans.
There where also the Asian types, which also had a pretty strong delegation.
What we really noticed this time is the lack of party feeling, not only due to the higher age average, but also in ships atmosphere for example, In June we had lots of music at set sail, this time is was quite.
The open air party on the second formal night staid at the main pool in June, it was a blast until 3am, with still a party in the Catacombs afterwards. This time the party changed location from the main pool to the solarium at 1am why!? I don't have a clue, but it broke the atmosphere, and no party in the catacombs.
Music of the DJ also changed from day to night between the main pool and the solarium So we left that for what is was and went to bed.
We did still catch a snack at Sorrento before it closed
I read a few posts on the boards about Sorrento's pizza being cardboard and ketchup On the first two days I would have to agree, the pizza was horrible! However, as of the third day something changed, all of a sudden there was more cheese on the pizza and the crust looked better And indeed it tasted loads better.
Caf promenade, still the same great sandwiches and desserts, no complaints what so ever, the cinnamon cake was excellent If only I could make it so fluffy at home.
Windjammer, breakfast was the standard drill, nothing to add what so ever. We never had problems to find seating (than of course we where late compared to those that had busy port days).
Windjammer for lunch was a disaster They really should fix this, We only went the first two days The second day we decided to not get a second plate and go to Sorrentos, which we kept on doing for the rest of the cruise.
We did not go to windjammer or Jade for dinner.
MDR, was excellent, at least what we ordered, on the official CC meet and mingle, we heard some complaints from the food. The only bad thing I had was the lasagna that was over salted. We really couldn't get a good steak, as we in Europe like it to be a bit bloody inside this was apparently impossible due to hygienic reasons, very strange explanation that I got for this from the maitre in Portofino
Portofino, was still excellent stuff, really great food. It is for us so funny when we order our steak to me medium rare, they look at us like we want meat that still has a heartbeat.
Johnny rockets, I have to admit last time we did not like the burgers, it was better this time. Milkshakes where more than excellent.
The biggest rip off was Ben & Jerrys, what you get compared to the money you have to spend on it, it is a jokeI had a craving for some chocolate ice cream one night, but the small scoop that I got for more than 3 Dollars was a joke.
Drinks in the bars, are like always of very decent quality and good poor Sometimes even to much spirit in the drink.
-The staff and crew:
The staff willing to help at any time, excellent job. The officers I have to say, they where mingling a bit more than in June but still not a lot. Cruise director, we never ever saw him except for when he is performing an act So still not good, he is getting off the ship before the trans Atlantic.
I am not going to go into the subject for long, we only did one excursion this time via RCI. We chose to do exploration of Pompeii which was good. All the other ports we just went for a walk, except for in the industrial ports like Pisa and Rome.
She was starting to show the wear of the salt and busy cruisingI think the return to the ship made us extra aware of this.
BUT, they were giving the ship an over hall, all woods where being repainted, the outside decks where repainted, we saw a lot of things being taken apart to be refitted and so on So they are giving her the new look back, my guess they want here spotless before she docks in Florida.
We had a real good time, we will defiantly go back to RCI, but we had it with the stops that Liberty is doing in the Med after two times, which I think is very normal. The other thing about the amount of stops, is the announcements when the ship docks, they just wake you up when you want to sleep inSo when you treat the ship more like a hotel, this might be a down side.
But for the service that you get, the great food, the lovely ship and ports you would just keep coming back.
If there was one thing that we found to be a downside this cruise, it was the strictness of timing Whatever event on the ship, it always started and ended on the dot Which is a good thing in work life, but on vacation I found it to be a bit ridicules.
And then there was the choice of our room...
I hope you enjoyed reading this review