- Port Everglades
Arriving by car can be pretty frustrating, so be prepared for a wait to get through security. Taxis, shuttles, busses, and cars all jockey for the fastest lane, and there always seems to be someone in your lane that doesn't have the proper documentation and slows the line you picked into a snails pace. You need ID for everyone in the car plus your cruise documents to get into the port. Nothing you can do about the wait but be prepared and be patient.
Terminal 25 is on the low end of terminals. Basically it is a big ugly warehouse. The terminal entrance is on the opposite side and across the street from the parking garage so be prepared for a long haul after you drop off your luggage and park your car. Getting through security and ticketing, then getting on the ship is pretty simple, just not very glamorous. Don't let this ruin your cruise experience, just go with the flow, it will all be over in a few minutes.
- Liberty of the Seas
The ship is beautiful and well maintained. The 4 night cruise to Cozumel is popular with the locals as it is the shortest cruise offered on a Freedom-class ship. Even though fully booked, embarkation did not seem crowded. The Windjammer restaurant had plenty of places to sit when we arrived on the ship around 12:30 p.m.. The first day buffet always seems to be the best. Our stateroom was ready around 1:15 p.m. and we had our luggage around 3 p.m.. Leo was our stateroom attendant and he was just awesome. He always seemed to be outside our cabin to say hello when we walked out, and always asked us if everything was ok. The room was super clean, plenty of closet space, and I thought the shower with round surround was cool. My pet peeve with RCL is they always ask when you make your reservation if you want your bed apart of together and this is my 5th cruise where we had to ask for the beds to be separated. He was quick to do it but I felt guilty having to ask.
- The Food
For lunch and dinner, the food in the Windjammer seems to get worse every day of the cruise. Breakfast in the main dining room is always a bad experience for me. The eggs benedict was overcooked and the hollandaise sauce too lemony so we opted for buffet breakfast for the rest of the cruise. I was happy that they offered eggs to order at the Windjammer (something they don't do on the bigger Allure and Oasis of the Seas). When dining in the main dining room, it is important to know the duties of the dining room staff. Ask the right people for the right things and you will get better service. Your assistant waiter takes care of water, bread, butter, silverware, and condiments. Your waiter takes your order, serves your food, and makes sure you are pleased with your choice. There is a beverage attendant who visits your table when you first sit down to take your drink orders (for beverages that come from the bar and cost $). Don't ask your waiter for more butter or tell your assistant waiter when you change your mind about an order. Remember that everything but silverware and water come from the kitchen (a long haul) so when you ask for something special in the middle of your meal, it might be a while before it shows up.
The dinner menu is similar or the same from other RCL cruises so I pretty much know what to order based on experience. I always ask the server what is the best choice. They know what gets eaten and what gets left behind so you should always confirm your selection with them. Marina and Ronal were our servers. They were excellent. Our water was always full, our bread plates never empty. After each course, she would always ask if it met your expectation, and would offer up another selection if you weren't enjoying it. I recommend ordering the 10 ounce filet from Chops Grille if you don't see an entree to your liking. The $14.95 upcharge is worth it and it will save you the $30 cover charge if you actually go to the restaurant. It will be cooked to your liking or taken away and replaced with one that is. Tender, juicy, and darn good!
- The Entertainment
RCL just loves aerial shows. You can't go on one of their ships without performers coming in and out on wires and spinning on hoops above the stage. The show "Air" was an example of this love fest with wires and winches. If you haven't seen a show like this, you will probably like it. If you have, you will find it boring (like I did). The music was not cohesive and some of the stunts seemed contrived and downright silly. I laughed when the girl suspended under a performer in a chair in what looked like a spinning washing machine tub. There is a very loose theme of water, air, ice, and fire which gets you circus clowns, pirates, and a mish mash of costumes and songs including a number where they slide across the stage in white booties.
The variety show didn't have much variety. A magician and a repeat of one of the acrobatic acts from the night before. It kept me occupied before dinner but that was about it.
The highlight of the cruise is the Saturday Night Fever Musical. It was a wonderfully entertaining production with Broadway like sets and high end production values. Well worth the standing ovation they received and a must see of your cruise. Don't miss this!
A change in the weather pretty much doomed our White Party on the pool deck but had the wind not been 50 mph it would have been an enjoyable night. I enjoyed watching the serving utensils and pastries fly across the deck as the guests huddled under the eaves of the deck for protection.
The evening movies on the big screen on the pool deck were great, however, the screen seemed to be an afterthought and two of the 6 huge lighting columns around the deck obscure the view of the screen from some of the best seats. Another peeve was that they don't turn off the music playing in the Pool Bar or Sky Bar so you have to strain to hear the movie soundtrack while Michael Jackson tunes play in the bar behind you. A request to the bar staff to turn off the music fell on deaf ears.
- Fitness Center
The Fitness Center is well equipped and offers a great view out the front of the ship. Both the bottled water vending machines were out of order during our entire cruise and the head fitness instructor threw quite a temper tantrum when guests tried to use them.
Most of the onboard activities seemed to center around getting you to buy something in the Spa. Otherwise, they had the typical Belly Flop and Sexiest Guy pool activities. I didn't see any tours, towel folding, or ice carving activities you would normally expect. We had one bad weather day at sea and I expected them to roll out an alternative indoor schedule but that never happened.
I can't stand that the ships now dock a few miles from where they used to dock in the downtown core next to all the shopping and dining. Unless you grab a taxi (which must be why they moved to stimulate taxi usage), you are stuck with the small souvenir mall at the dock. There is a smaller version of Senior Frogs there and you can't not have a blast drinking yard high cocktails (at $14 each) while wearing a balloon hat. All of the waiters have great time with the tourists and they encourage a good time.
I don't think I've ever had a good debarkation experience on any ship I've sailed and Liberty of the Seas is no exception. If you think that going for the take your own bag off the ship option and leave first thing will make debarkation smoother, you are in for a surprise as nearly 2/3 of the passengers seemed to take this option. There are so many people in so many lines snaking around the ship with only a handful of crew to guide them makes it as confusing as it could be. Passengers oblivious to the queues simply take the elevator down to deck 1 and got off the ship while those who followed instructions were jockeyed around the deck in never ending lines. Then there was a long walk down to another terminal to go through customs, then an even longer walk through another terminal, and then up and into the parking garage. It took us an hour to get off the ship carrying our own bags. If I had a large group or family with kids, I'd leave my luggage out the night before, and park myself in the main dining room having breakfast and drinking coffee until 9 a.m. and then take a leisurely walk off the ship once everyone else had left.