Where do I start? This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean having previously only cruised on Carnival. We did spend more money booking this cruise but in hind sight that was money very well spent. The cruise was outstanding and a noticeable quality difference on almost every level from our experience on Carnival.
I will start with Embarkation. We arrived pretty early, so it really wasn't that bad. We checked our bags with the porter around 10:15 or so I think. There was a fairly long line before getting up to get our sea passes and accounts set up. Then we had to wait for a few minutes for the rest of the ship to de-board. I'd say we waited a little more than an hour total before we were on board and in the wind jammer for food. There were plenty of tables when we arrived and we didn't have any trouble finding good seats along the windows. About thirty minutes later it was pretty busy in the wind jammer buffet and we left so that others could enjoy our seat and set out to explore.
Our cabin was ready close to 1:00 and we went in to get settled and a change of clothes since we were still wearing long sleeves and jeans having just flown in that morning. Our cabin was a promenade cabin right above the Ben & Jerry's Ice cream shop. This was a special cabin known as the Ben & Jerry's "Sweet" the room's view of the promenade is partially blocked by the cow's on top of the Ben & Jerry's. They give you free Ben & Jerry's for the cruise and access to the concierge lounge. This was an awesome perk to have! They guys in the lounge were amazing, and there was an open bar every night for pre and post dinner drinks. The cabin was small but adequate. I would consider booking a promenade again, but would've probably upgraded to a balcony if this cabin didn't include all the perks.
The ship itself was amazing! I will break down the details of the ship by a few categories, the food, the entertainment, public areas, service etc.
The food: I thought the food was pretty good. The main dining room selections were good, but not out of this world. The service was notably good, although we did have one upsetting issue I will go over. Overall the main dining room was beautiful, the food was excellent and the service as well. I'll explain the issue we had.
We booked this cruise over 7 months in advance and had booked the early dining time and of course booked all our show reservations around that dining time. We headed to the dining room and they showed us to our table and then we discovered our table was already full. We looked at our sea pass and discovered they moved us to late dining! I was a little upset so I went to the maitre' D he was extremely rude. He looked up my account and said "no sir, you booked late dining there is NOTHING I can do for you" I wasn't even given an opportunity to explain that I absolutely had booked early dining. I went to the guest relations desk and explained to them the situation and they confirmed that I did book early dining but explained that it's more of a preference than a solid booking and that they cannot guarantee a particular dining time and that we were moved to accommodate a large group. They phoned the Maitre'D and had him find us an early dining table. He did, and everything else was fine. I was just aggrivated, if I had booked the cruise 6 weeks before hand I could understand being moved. but I had booked over 7 months in advance! and then the Maitre'D all but called me a liar saying in a very accusing way. "You did not book the early seating!" I didn't let it bother me for long, and it was a small hiccup in an otherwise great trip.
The jade/windjammer buffet: This was probably one of the biggest differences we noticed coming from Carnival. The hours were a little more restricted. It seemed to close earlier than carnival did every night but the food was of much better quality. They offered a good variety daily and seemed to have made a real effort to keep everything fresh and tasty. We never ate dinner here but I don't think you could go wrong if you decided to skip the main dining room for an evening here. Other than embarkation day, there didn't ever seem to be an issue finding a seat at the times we were there. For a buffet style restaurant it was top notch.
We didn't eat at chops but did do one night at portofino. The service was good, but really anything above what we got in the main dining room. The portions here were much larger than in the main dining room and it was definitely good quality food. Honestly it was a step above the main dining room but in the future I don't know that we'd do it again. For the extra expense I thought the main dining room was relatively comparable. Maybe we just caught them on a bad night but I was honestly expecting more. It was definitely good, just not outstanding as we were expecting. Maybe our expectations were too high.
The promenade cafe/Sorrentos: These were great options for a late night snack or little desert pastry. the lemon poppy seed cake was one of my wife's favorites and the sandwiches were small but good. The pizza at sorrento's was okay, nothing to rave about but it was good. They also had some other good thing to eat at sorrentos anti-pasti, cheeses, meats and breads for snacking. Overall the late-night options were adequate. You can order room service as well 24 hours but I think there is a small surcharge between midnight and five am. We only ordered room service one time but we were pleasantly surprised. We ordered room service on carnival and it was terrible and took over an hour to arrive. The room service was quick and very well prepared on board the Liberty from our experience.
Enough with the food! Let's talk about the ports!
We visited Falmouth Jamaica and Labadee Haiti and had a sea day before and after. We didn't book any excursions out of Falmouth, we decided to just explore the port on foot and possibly book a taxi after we had done some shopping. Everything in the port area was new and there were plenty of good shopping options. The prices seemed to be much higher inside some of the stores than from the street vendors. We bought a few souvenirs from some very friendly locals and then decided to head outside the gated port area to see what else we could find. I would not suggest doing this if unless you are extremely daring and don't have children with you. We were immediately mobbed by everyone wanting to sell us everything (including drugs repeatedly) We weren't more than 10 feet outside the gates and I had people taking my wife literally by the hand and leading her down an ally to look at their merchandise. I had people following me that wouldn't take no for an answer. You don't have the option to be polite in this place, manners are not understood. I feel for the people in the area, I see that it's a very poor area and they are doing what they need to survive but it was just really difficult to put up with. You could easily get a driver outside to take you around for a day. I had 10 offers in 5 minutes to take me anywhere, I just don't think I'd feel safe or that it is worth the risk. It may cost a little more, but I think we'd book an excursion ahead of time that picks everyone up inside the gate. I am not one to be made uncomfortable easily, but the real Falmouth outside the gates made me uncomfortable.
Labadee: Labadee was absolutely beautiful. The mountains, the clear water, and trees were like a post card. There are several beaches in labadee. We spent a little time on adrenaline beach. This is the beach where the zip line passes over head. The zip line by the way looked crazy! It was huge and I am sure it's a lot of fun but for $85 per person we decided to just enjoy the beach. Adrenaline beach was rocky and offered almost no shade at all. We decided to venture over to Columbus cove and it was well worth the walk! It was not rocky, the water was calm, and plenty of shade. I could've sat in the beach lounger for days and been content. there are two ways to get over there. one is through the haitian marketplace and the other along the beach. If you don't want to be followed and hassled to buy something I'd avoid the Haitian marketplace. They were extremely pushy with their selling. Although they did have some nice souvenirs at a reasonable price. So if you are prepared to go haggle with them, go for it! Labadee also offered a free barbecue lunch which looked good, but the line was very long, we enjoyed some fruit and ate on the ship later.
The entertainment: This was the biggest difference to us over Carnival. The entertainment was top notch. On our cruise there was an ice show, a show called up in the air, and a Saturday night fever Broadway musical. My wife and I have seen several Broadway shows and we thought Saturday night fever was very good. The ice show was very good as well considering the small rink size. Up in the air was odd at times but we loved it. It was a very different acrobatics type show. It was definitely worthwhile to see all of them. there were other options going on all over the ship at all hours of the day. We didn't do a lot of them and spent a lot of our time on the pool deck. There was definitely no reason to ever be bored on this ship. There were also lots of fun things going on on the pool deck throughout the day.
Nightlife: We spent most of our time at Boleros and ventured down to the karaoke bar once. Boleros is a Latin club and was very popular most nights. My wife is Cuban so she loves to hear the Latin music. We did venture into the catacombs a couple of times but it never seemed to be too exciting. It was almost always pretty dead. They had some night time activities like battle of the sexes and quest. Both of these were a lot of fun and worth attending.
The bar service was usually very good and the prices were comparable to what you'd pay on land for a drink. There were so many areas of the ship we didn't even get to enjoy in 5 nights. This ship could be enjoyed for 2 weeks easily. We didn't even get a chance to do the mini-golf, rock climbing, flow rider, the fitness center, and the list goes on.
Disembarkation day was a little bit hectic. It took us a pretty long time to get off the ship and the lines through customs were extremely long. It wasn't terrible but not a great way to end a trip.
The service was overall excellent with really only one exception(the Maitre'D).
This was more than we spent on a carnival cruise but I feel that it was well worth it. I am excited for our next cruise with Royal Caribbean and would highly recommend the Liberty of the seas!