This was my 33rd cruise, and around the 7th on Royal Caribbean. I've cruised on Norwegian, Celebrity, Carnival, Holland America and, although it doesn't exist anymore, the Bermuda Star. Though I can't say it was my best ... Read More
This was my 33rd cruise, and around the 7th on Royal Caribbean. I've cruised on Norwegian, Celebrity, Carnival, Holland America and, although it doesn't exist anymore, the Bermuda Star. Though I can't say it was my best trip, it certainly wasn't my worst.
I traveled with my husband, 2 daughters (ages 17 and 21) and my 87-1/2 year-old mother, and to say the least, we adore cruising! We had adjoining cabins, 6254 and 6256. My mother and older daughter are Diamond members; the rest of us achieved that status while on the cruise, so the next cruise, we will be able to share in those privileges My mom and daughter enjoyed their complimentary drinks every night in the Diamond Club; when the Club manager found that 7 days into the cruise that my mom and daughter were traveling with others, he kindly let us join them for the last 2 nights in the Lounge. A giant shout-out to Jorge for that kind gesture!
My fellow passengers comprised every age group, ethnic group, and nationality imaginable. There were a boatload of kids on this cruise. I heard stories about the children misbehaving, but from what I saw, the youngsters were very well behaved.
Embarkation was crowded; I can't lie -- there was a long line. But, the new terminal is so much nicer than the old warehouse/hop on the bus/hop off the bus combination they used to have in Bayonne! We live on Long Island, so we parked the car at the pier. They are in the process of building a new indoor parking garage.
The ship is gorgeous. spotless, well maintained and filled with friendly and helpful crew members. Our cabin had lots of storage space and a very comfy big bed. It is very easy to find your way around the ship, thanks to the touch screens by every elevator. The touch screens also tell you the activities going on during that time period, and the menus at the restaurants.
The daily program was filled with dozens of activities, many requiring a fee, and lots and lots of trivia! There were some interesting onboard lectures and a Q&A with senior officers, including the Captain. The pools and hot tubs were always crowded, and it was difficult to get a chair by the pool before 3 PM. My older daughter climbed the rock wall, but we did not take advantage of the Flow Rider or the ice rink. We did go mini golfing, however. Oh, and my daughters enjoyed the Latin dance classes and karaoke. If you like Dreamworks characters, you'll find them roaming about the ship. One of my favorite places to go was the front of the ship at night, for amazing stargazing.
The shops onboard were good. There was one expensive clothing store that always looked empty. When they ran a $10 sale of a 2 for $20 T-shirt sale, good luck trying to get through the crowds taking up much of the space in the Royal Promenade!
The service was wonderful. Kudos to our cabin steward, Diogo, who would take his key and open our door for us whenever he saw us. Our assistant waiter, Clarence Anderson and our waiter (for 6 out of 9 nights after our regular waiter had an accident and injured herself), Gabriel Martinez, were wonderful. Gabriel was such a hard worker; he was a manager at the Promenade Cafe as well as Sorrento's Pizza, and when he wasn't working his regular job, he'd work as our waiter in the dining room. He truly went out of his way to serve us, even brewing us tea with tea bags when we found out they didn't serve ice tea at Sorrento's!
The intended ports for this trip were Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan and Labadee. I say "intended" because a few hours out of Bermuda, a passenger took ill and the ship had to turn back, so we could not make it to St. Maarten in time. A lot of folks were not happy about this, but I, like others, went with the flow and enjoyed the extra sea day. By the way, all passengers were reimbursed something like $2.74 as a port charge refund!
In Bermuda, my younger daughter and I had a fun day at Horseshoe Bay. Please take the bus there for $9.00 round trip; it's so much cheaper than taking a taxi or a shore excursion. My husband went on a scuba diving shore excursion near King's Wharf, but said he did not see many fish.
In San Juan, we did our usual activity -- we went to the Coach Outlet on Calle Cristo for some amazing bargains. Please don't miss the Native Snack food truck at the park near the ship -- the food is sooo good and sooo cheap! For about $7 we had an empanada, an alcapurria and a pionono! The pionono is a sweet plantain pancake stuffed with either beef or crab. I want one right now! I wish we had more time in Puerto Rico -- we were there from 7 to 1, which really means 7:30 to 12:30.
Finally, Labadee -- my favorite spot in the Caribbean. Although we did not do any activities other than float on a mat at Nelly's Beach, we had such a wonderful time. My advice to you is not to go to the artisans' village because they annoy the heck out of you. Rather, go to the craft market in the building with the red roof; there's no harrassment and the selection is beautiful.
I have to say, the loyalty perks for Crown & Anchor members are not as good as on other lines. All we got was a welcome back party, and a separate reception for Platinum level and up. On other lines, we have enjoyed free wine tasting, backstage tours, and kitchen tours. One good Diamond perk is the ability to get free photos of any size that they take of you onboard. Apart from that, the Crown & Anchor discounts are meager and tied to a purchase.
The Cruise Critic party was very nice -- with visits from the cruise director, Dru, and the Activities Manager, Katie. I met some nice folks there!
The food? Not the best I've ever had, but not terrible. There was a good selection in the main dining room, although not in the buffet. (I'd definitely say go to the buffet every night at 6:00 for some excellent sushi.) I'd say the best dining room food was the lobster tail, the rack of lamb and the fisherman's plate. Soups and appetizers were always interesting and desserts were very good. Where this ship excels, however, is at breakfast and lunch in dining room. Eggs Benedict on a crabcake? Yes! A Turkish style chicken wrap with hummus? You bet! All great! By the way, we did not go to any alternative restaurants.
Entertainment: The ice show is a must see, although this particular show, entitled "Enccore!" is disjointed. We saw a 90-minute complete production of Saturday Night Fever. It was very enjoyable, but sometimes I felt I was watching a high school musical because the cast was so young. There was only one other production show (I wish there were more) -- a strange but entertaining Cirque de Soleil type show called "In the Air." It had a lot of flying and acrobatics and dance -- it was definitely a movement show, as opposed to a singing show. The guest entertainers were Resurrection, a Journey Tribute Band (great if you're into Journey), Jeff the Juggler (Jeff Taveggia), ventriloquist Brad Cummings, magician Jason Bishop, comedian Jeff Nease and impressionist/singer Greg London. All good -- maybe I'm getting jaded -- but not really memorable. The ship also had events such as the Quest and Battle of the Sexes, and a bunch of other game shows. Dancing with the Stripes was a hoot! We also spent time in the piano bar, the Latin music lounge (Boleros) and karaoke in the On Air Lounge. I wish there was a farewell show. Maybe they just do that on the smaller ships?
A negative: There were too many incidents of people saving seats -- and when I say seats, I mean entire rows.
Another negative: The wait for the elevators was long. On the upside, the elevators are very fast.
Disembarkation took a while. The line got backed up. And, no longer do you fill out a survey requesting what time you wish to get off the ship; it is now determined by where your stateroom is located.
So, to wrap it up, yes, I definitely recommend the Liberty of the Seas to all of you. There is always something fun and engaging to do. Everyone is eager to please, and if you smile they will certainly smile back. And given the fact that the future cruise office was always crowded (my mom bought a cruise for me and my husband for April 2016 while onboard), people really enjoy Royal Caribbean! Read Less