This is my first review after being on this board for 12 years so hopefully it works out OK
Background: This is my 13th cruise and 7th on Royal Caribbean. The previous ships I have been on with RCL were Sovereign Class (Sovereign 1x, Majesty 2x's and Monarch 1x) and Vision Class (Rhapsody and Grandeur). The Liberty of the Seas is definitely the largest ship I have sailed. Prior to LOS, the largest was the Diamond Princess on an Alaskan itinerary.
Traveling with me was my boyfriend who has sailed 3 times now. We were thrilled to book this 5 day cruise about 3 weeks prior to sailing.
Getting There: We flew in the day prior into Orlando due to both airline price on short notice as well as a direct flight option from Springfield, Mo. We arrived into Sanford-Orlando airport around 3:00pm and rented a one way car from Avis to drive to Ft. Lauderdale. The drive was about 3 1/2 hours. After a few stops along the way and some wait time for luggage and picking up the car, we arrived into Ft. Lauderdale at 7:30pm.
We checked into our hotel at the Hilton Marina which is across from Port Everglades. I requested a south facing room in the tower so we could seethe cruise ships in the morning and the front desk agent was able to upgrade me for free. I was very happy! I had hoped we could drop off the rental car that night to avoid the $21.00 parking fee but they closed at 6:00pm. The Avis drop off is at the Hyatt pier 66, right next to the Hilton marina.
We took the water taxi that night for a nice ride past the mansions that line the Intercoastal waterway. The pick up stop was right outside our hotel. We got off at stop 4 and strolled along the beach boardwalk and stopped for some drinks along the way. We had stopped for fast food on the drive down so we weren't hungry. We ended up staying out past the last water taxi and the cab ride back to the hotel was only $6.00. The Elbo room was hopping on this Friday night!
EMBARKATION DAY: I woke up at 5:00am as ships started pulling in to port. The Oasis was the second ship in that morning and really awesome to watch how they parked such a large ship. The Holland America ship was already in port. Then came the Grand Princess, Crown Princess, MSC Peosia, Navigator of the Seas, and finally Liberty of the Seas pulled in after sunrise around 7:00am. I loved sitting on the balcony with my coffee watching them all park and getting really excited to head over to the port.
We left the hotel at 11:00am and dropped the rental car off. There was a free shuttle from Avis ready when we arrived and we headed for the 3 minute drive to port by 11:30am.
Once dropped off at the terminal we handed our two suitcases to the porters. I actually had to run after the guy to give him my $5 tip! We then walked to the terminal building. The line to go through security was short, but took about 15 minutes. We then headed to the platinum and above line for check in which was all the way at the end. There were probably around 400 people in line in the general boarding lanes, but only 4 couples ahead of us in the priority line. The suite line was next to us and never had more than one cabin waiting. We checked in with our printed out and signed set sail pass, filled out our health questionnaire, handed over our credit card and passports, had our pictures taken for the seapass and then headed upstairs to board the ship. We were on the ship approx 30 minutes after arriving to the pier, maybe even less.
We then headed up to Windjammer for lunch. I really liked the layout of Jade and Windjammer as well as the selections. I had my obligatory Honey Stung Chicken as well as some other choices.
After we finished eating our cabins were available. We had booked an inside guarantee as the ship was selling out. We ended up in an inside accessible cabin on Deck 10. I was shocked! I did feel guilty as I am certain others needed it more than us--but we did not book the specific room and the guilty wore off when entering. The room was HUGE! It was like a mini suite. The bathroom was large as well. We did have a shower curtain rather than a door since it was able to accommodate rolling in on a wheelchair.
After arriving in the room, my BF took a nap and I explored the ship. All I can say is "WOW!" this is one awesome ship! So many public venues and each one unique. Very cool! We chose not to eat in the MDR so I released our table. We went to a very very long muster drill. No muster stations in the lounges from what I could tell. I do miss that! We did not need to take our life vests. We stood out in the hot sun forever but at least they didn't break us up to do the ladies and children in front thing. We swiped our sea pass to check in. It took about 30 minutes for it to start. We arrived at our station at 3:53 and it started at 4:20. They played the pre recorded drill and then the captain spoke for about 3-5 minutes. When released we headed to Bolero's for a drink with about half the passengers! Now we are sailing away and the real fun begins.
FOOD: As I mentioned, we chose to go casual this cruise. My time dining was booked so we gave up our table in the MDR. The dining room was pretty and we did have a really good location for our table on the center of the main floor, but the 6:00 time was just not going to work for our port activities and sail away day.
We ate in the windjammer for breakfast only once. The selection was only OK. The omelet was great, but that was about it. We had room service for breakfast one day and it was much better. The other days I simply picked something up in the Cafe Promenade. I loved that place! Prefect for small snacks, of which I had several throughout the cruise! The coffee was free and was brewed. You could buy fancy coffee drinks, but I did not. I think I could eat a ham and cheese croissant every day!
We ate at Sorrento's for lunch one afternoon. Had we realized they made panini's to order (the sandwich was pre-made but they toasted it to order) then we likely would have stopped there more often. The pizza was just OK. I definitely prefer the pizza on Princess better.
We ate dinner one night at Johnny Rockets. That was very very good! Highly recommend a stop there. They have Nathan's dogs and the burgers are incredible. Dessert is included as well. My BF loved his Oreo Sundae and I loved my apple pie al a mode. Definitely worth the $4.95 cover charge.
We went to Portofino's the last night. In fairness to them, we did not have reservations prior. I went up at 5:00 to see if it was possible to get the two of us in that evening. We were told they were completely booked but as we walked away, the maitre d' ran out to us and told us he could get us in at 9:00pm. I really really wanted to try this restaurant so we agreed to that time. In retrospect, I think maybe the staff was ready to go home by 9:00pm and maybe the experience would have been better earlier in the evening. The food itself was good, but nothing exceptional. The Carpaccio was wonderful as the appetizer. I ordered the filet for dinner. It was cooked to order (medium rare) and was decent but in all honesty, I would have been happy with carved meat in Windjammer. I had also partly changed my mind on the filet after eating the Carpaccio and had asked the waiter if I could just get some grilled shrimp instead. He brought me the filet and then about 15 minutes later brought me 4 individual grilled shrimp on a bread plate. The shrimp was very good, but I did feel as though I put him out a bit. As someone who worked in the food service industry for years, I felt that was a little rude and probably soured me on him even more. He did the core job, just nothing to enhance my dining at all. We ordered tiramisu desert that I had heard so much about on here and while the presentation was nice, it was not what I was expecting. It's more like tiramisu soup or mousse. I guess I didn't read enough about it... Anyway, after a glass of wine each the total bill was $68 and then I tipped him an additional $14 just because that's what I do regardless of how good or bad the service is. For $82 I don't feel we got the value out of it and next time will probably skip the specialty restaurant. If it were a special occasion and reservations were earlier I would consider it, else I would not.
Overall we had a really good food experience on the ship even though we completely skipped MDR (which is a first for me and was initially a hard sale).
ENTERTAINMENT: The street parades were a lot of fun and did not last too long in the promenade. We really enjoyed watching those. Had they been longer, we would have grown tired of them.
The Love and marriage game show was lame...same questions as always but the theatre was nearly empty and the couples not interesting. I think it's time to replace that option for awhile. While I love the Quest historically, it also seems it needs to be spruced up a bit. There was good participation in this one and I liked how the Asst. Cruise director ran it better than on other ships.
We watched "Up in the air" and really enjoyed it. I had reserved online prior to leaving. The couple at the end were the stars of the show! The lady who performed is probably the strongest most amazing lady I have ever seen!
I also had reserved the ice show for he first sea day, but it was rescheduled to our Belize port day, which was unfortunate since it was while we were on an excursion. Apparently it was a brand new show being performed for the first time. I'm not sure if they needed an extra day for it to be ready or why they switched the day. I was disappointed I could not make it. The show was also 2x on the last day at sea. I was going to take my chances and try to get in without a reservation but there ended up being some other things going on at the same time that we chose instead. I'll make sure it's top of the list for the next cruise!
We chose not to go to Saturday Night Live or the Welcome/Farewell/headliner shows. The headliner was Finnis Henderson whom I have never heard of before. Due to that, I wasn't motivated to check out this "ultimate entertainer". Who know, he might have been great.
We did attend a few of the trivia contests. Historically, I have really enjoyed these. This cruise there only seemed to be a few and they were music trivia. While I am good at music trivia, I did miss some of the other types of trivia contests as well and the morning hosted trivia around 10:15 (not the sheet you pick up in the library but with actual teams). It seems they have reduced how many they have for a sailing. I'm sure there is good reason for that.
We had absolutely the best weather one could ask for on a Caribbean cruise so the pool decks were FULL on both sea days. The activities were fun and it was nice just to people watch. As a red head, it's not a great idea for me to spend the day laying out so I didn't really need a lounger which was probably good--they seemed pretty full. Although I am sure if I wanted one I would have found one. I spent the majority of my time on the outside promenade deck where it was more peaceful and relaxing and alternated that with heading up to the top deck to see all the excitement. I watched the belly flop competition and really liked the "finish the lyric" competition.
We spent a good amount of time cheering young and old alike on the flow rider and marveling at the rock climbers. The mini golf always seemed busy but would not have been an issue to play had I been more motivated to play by myself as my bf spent a fair amount of the sea days napping. I had a goal to climb the rock wall this cruise but found myself way out of shape. The first day on board I only walked up and down the stairs--and since we were on deck 10, it was always a long walk up from decks 2-5 where I spent the most time. By the mid day of our first sea day my calves were killing me! Then in the first port I killed my quads climbing a ruin. Needless to say, no rock wall for me and I'm renewing that gym membership at home!!!!
I was very pleased with the range of activities on board for this cruise. I found myself easily able to find a quiet place when I just wanted to relax and listen to the ocean go by or someone more active when I wanted to feel part of the experience. I loved it all! This ship by far exceeds all ships I have ever been on when it came to the activities.
PUBLIC VENUES: our favorite place was boleros with our favorite bartenders Noe and Lucas.
The promenade was awesome as well. They do have crown and anchor charms for purchase in the cupcake place. We didn't buy any cupcakes though. Seemed to hear mixed reviews from people on the freshness of the cupcake and icing.
Catacombs was a really cool looking 2 story nightclub but only made it there on the last night. Olive and Twist had great views during the day. The kids club places looked great, if we had kids. The English pub had a good selection of premium beers that I did not see at other places. They also had a very unique drink menu of classic drinks that I have not seen since my college bar tending days at Steak and Ale (eg Old Fashioned, Manhattans, Rusty Nail). I never saw an advertisement for fish n chips so not sure if they served that or not. We went to Sphinx for a couple events.
Trivia was mostly held in schooner. There was also a piano entertainer in Schooner. I requested a song and was really surprised of the cold reception. Another lady at a different table came over to tell me he did not like requests. I thought "what is he doing working on a cruise ship as an entertainer then?" It would have been one thing if he were playing in a different venue or a different type of show, but he was wanting audience participation, etc. I guess he only wanted to play what he wanted us to hear though. I quickly left as I hate the arrogance of those type of entertainers. I do feel like I have a right to say that (before i get flamed). My late husband was a music entertainer and we owned bars with nightly live music. I have seen requests handled well and requests handled not so well. Entertainers need to learn how to handle it. OK, off that soap box now.
Other Ship Thoughts: The ship was always very clean. Our room steward was top notch, the best I have ever had! We even had robes in our room for my first time ever! The casino slots were not very kind to me, but they never had on Royal Caribbean for me. Princess and NCL have been better in that respect. Or maybe I've just been unlucky, I don't know why I insist on playing slots anyway when I know my odds are much better in Blackjack. On that note, my BF did win back everything I lost in slots on the BJ table in about 30 minutes or less! And he hasn't played in over 10 years. Woo hoo! I really liked the little things like how they have the day of the week in the elevator, the interactive TV, and the interactive maps all over the ship. I went to guest services once to put cash down the first night on my account so my credit card wouldn't be billed so much at the end--at least that was my idea when I did it, but my bill was still really high. That was an easy painless experience. I also booked our Belize excursion the evening before from Explorations. It was quick and easy there as well.
We did buy Sheridan's at the on board account and it was delivered on the last night to our room.
I could continue to go on and on about how great this ship and cruise was. I don't think I would ever want to go on another ship class again (OK, maybe Oasis class) because of all the activities.