My wife and I had only been on one cruise before, so this was our second cruise. Our first cruise was on Carnival Destiny a year before without our kids. This cruise, Liberty of the Sea with Royal Caribbean, included our two boys; age 13 and 21. We got rooms side by side near the back of the ship (rooms 8696 and 8698). The only comparison I can make is between the only two ships I've been on, and my wife will agree, I'm sold on Royal Caribbean and may never go back to Carnival again.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale around noon and had to be on the Ship by 3 PM, which was not a problem at all. Instead of paying big bucks for Royal Caribbean Transfers ($29 a piece for the four of us would have been $116 round trip) we decided to take a local taxi. The trip is only about 2 to 3 miles; so including tips it was $20 to go to the port, and later $20 to go back to the airport. $40 round trip on a taxi is much better than $116 for RCCL transfers from my perspective.
Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship in 30 to 40 minutes max. (A year before, on our Carnival cruise this process was a "mad house" that took close to 2 hours to get on the ship.)
We were greeted with much hospitality and smiling faces as we boarded the ship and went straight to our rooms. My wife was impressed with the color scheme and cleanliness, while I was impressed with the large balcony and extremely comfortable beds. We freshened up a bit and went to lunch at Windjammer.
Windjammer is a nice buffet with a large variety of foods. We sat by the window and enjoyed both the food and the view. We still had a couple of hours before departure so we walked around the beautiful ship and got a bit acclimated.
I love the Royal Promenade on deck 5! It's like a mall on the ship! I also found a quaint little spot in the Viking Lounge on deck 14 with a marvelous view. We ended up sitting by the pool and waiting for departure. Once it was time for departure, we went to the very front off the ship to watch the maneuvering of that massive ship from its slip into the sea.
After cheers and celebrations we headed back to our room and were surprised to find our luggage had already arrived. (With Carnival, a year before, we didn't get our luggage until very late the first night.)
We headed for dinner at our 6 o'clock seating at table 353 in the Rembrandt Dining Hall. The food was always fabulous. The waiter and his assistant were good but not great. Several times he placed my son's food in front of me, and my order in front of my son, and we had to switch plates more than once. Also, on one night I ordered two appetizers, and they only brought my salad, but not my shrimp cocktail. I had to remind them of my shrimp cocktail and it was brought after my entree had arrived. Our 13-year old is a bit picky and didn't want anything on the menu, but he found out that he could also order chicken fingers, mac and cheese, and spaghetti, he was good to go. We ate in the Rembrandt our first two nights. On the third night we ate dinner at Windjammer, and on our fourth night we ate at Chops (which was outstanding and highly recommended!)
Most mornings for breakfast we ate at Windjammer and sat by the windows (it is a beautiful view and the variety of foods should please anyone.) One morning we did go to the Rembrandt Dining Hall for breakfast so we could get "table service" but our table was so close to other guests that we felt inhibited in our conversation and didn't particularly enjoy the experience enough to go back the next morning.
Each evening late, I would order room service, which arrived about 30 minutes after ordering. You can order by phone or by using the menu on the television. My boys thought the pizza was not all that great, but I really enjoyed the fruit plate and variety cheese plate, the cookies and beverages.
Sorento's Pizza is the best pizza on the Ship by far.
Seattle's Best has the best coffee on the Ship.
Johnny Rockets is good and well worth the $5 cover charge. We didn't buy the "Soft Drink Package" but we did order a coke at Johnny Rockets for and additional $2 and it is all you can drink, not $2 for each refill, which is nice.
Chops is well worth the money! One of the best filet mignon steaks I've ever eaten. Service is fabulous, the side dishes are nearly enough for two people and the deserts are huge!
The ice-skating show was outstanding! (Hold your reservation online early or you might not get a seat.) The skaters and jugglers were exceptional!
We also enjoyed Saturday Night Fever on our last evening (Get your reservation online before you sail, or very soon after getting on the ship!) The show lasts about 80 minutes with no intermission, but was very good!
The parade on deck 5 was really nice, but was only performed once, so make sure you know when it is available. Kids will really like it!
Tips for your Wait-staff and Room Attendant are not automatic. We decided to put cash in the envelopes provided on the last night. We gave our tip to the Room Attendant our last morning. We left the Wait-staff tips in the "tip box" near Guest Relations on deck 5.
Disembarkation was a breeze, especially compared to Carnival the year before (which was a nightmare).
My only complaint may be that the wait for the elevators can be very long at times and we ended up using the steps more times than not, which can be bit exhausting after a while.
Overall the cruise on Liberty of the Seas was outstanding and exceeded our expectations.