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KelJ

1-6-19 to 1-13-19 Liberty of the Seas 7-Night Western Caribbean Review (LONG!!)

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Background    

 

DH (51) and I (52) are from Pennsylvania, and we booked this cruise in November of 2017 while we were on a transatlantic on Freedom of the Seas.  We are both diamond.  This is our second cruise on Liberty (the previous being in June of 2015) and our third on Freedom class.  We were in Cabin 1289, a grand suite, our first suite (and our first gold cards)!  Until now, the largest cabin we had stayed in was a junior suite.  I must agree that what they say on these boards is true – once you go suite, you’ll never go back!  We seriously can’t envision cruising any other way.

 

We received $400 OBC for booking while onboard the Freedom.  We each applied a $100 cruise discount earned from slot play on the Freedom.  We applied RCCL Visa points for a $650 cruise discount and for $200 OBC.  We had prebooked one deluxe beverage package with Voom, one deluxe beverage package, one dinner in Chops, and three RCCL excursions.

 

Roatan was a new port for both of us.  Belize was a new port for DH.  We had both been to Cozumel on previous occasions.

 

The captain was Anders Ingebrigtsen (“Captain Anders”), and this was his first week serving as captain of the Liberty.  The cruise director was Enzo Matijaca.

 

1-3-19

 

We drove to Pittsburgh and stayed at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott and took advantage of their park and fly program, and we had dinner at the hotel.

 

1-4-19

 

We took the 9:00 a.m. free hotel shuttle to the airport, used Southwest curbside check-in (we had free roundtrip flights with Southwest Rapid Rewards points), had breakfast at the airport, and flew nonstop to Houston Hobby on an 11:20 a.m. flight.

 

Shortly after landing on time at Hobby, I received a call from Emmanuel, who owns VIP Express.  We had prebooked with Emmanuel, and he had called 48 hours pre-flight to confirm our travel plans and for permission to charge our credit card.  The agreed-to rate was $120 for round-trip transportation from Hobby to our hotel in Galveston and then from the Galveston port back to Hobby.  Emmanuel picked us up at 2:15 p.m. as prearranged and loaded our luggage into the back.  The shuttle was very nice and clean and comfortable, and he gave each of us a bottle of water as we boarded.   We were the only passengers for this transport, so we had lots of time to chat with him.  He also asked us if we wanted to stop at Buc-Ee’s (a convenience store that sells everything you can imagine) to pick up snacks, beer, wine, and we said yes.  Emmanuel was very polite, professional and informative, and he even went out of the way to drive us past the seawall and gave us restaurant suggestions.  It’s a 45-minute drive from Hobby to our hotel, which was the Harbor House.

 

We had prebooked two nights at the Harbor House at a rate of $269/night plus taxes.  We were given room 311, a spacious king, and it was a very big room.  Although our room did not face the part of the pier where the ships dock, we did have a water view.  We ate dinner at Willie G’s (right beside the hotel) in their bar section.  They have Monday through Friday happy hour with drink and food specials (small plates).  The prices and the food were great!  We then walked around the strand, and it was quite chilly after the sun went down.  We walked to Frankie’s to pick up some wine and liquor.  We bought yummy (alcoholic) slushies at a place right before we got to Frankie’s. 

 

1-5-19

 

We awoke way too early.  The shade on the hotel window was too narrow and let in a lot of sun.  This was very disappointing as we were tired from traveling and had intended to sleep in.  The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m.  DH walked up at 9:45 a.m. and grabbed a couple pastries.  That was all they had left, but that was all we wanted. 

 

Carnival Freedom was in port, so we snapped a couple pictures.  We took an Uber ($11) to Jimmy’s on the Pier, which is at the seawall.  As the name states, this restaurant is right on the water above the pier and has indoor and outdoor dining.  We watched dolphins swimming while we ate our tasty lunch.  I had shrimp tacos, and DH had a fried seafood platter.  The crawfish queso was delicious!

 

It was a breezy sunny day (64 degrees), and we spent the afternoon fishing on the pier.  Well, DH fished while I hung out watching everybody.  There is a shop at the pier that sells souvenirs, snacks, beer, ice cream (though the ice cream bins were empty, I’m thinking because tourist season was over), and there are nice restrooms as you walk out onto the pier.  DH rented a fishing pole for $10, bought bait, and purchased a one-day fishing license online (which I think was $16 plus a $5 fee).  We each paid a $12 pier fee.  It’s a huge pier.  We had a nice, relaxing afternoon.  DH didn’t catch any fish.  Neither did most of the people fishing, but we did see someone catch a shark and someone catch a big redfish.

 

We took an Uber ($11) back to Harbor House.  The friendly Uber driver offered to stop for us to get snacks or alcohol or anything else we wanted to pick up on our way back to the hotel.  Our room was made up, and our used towels had been removed by the housekeeping staff, but the towels and washcloths were not replaced and neither were the toiletries, so I took a quick walk down to the front desk and the friendly clerk gave me everything we needed.

 

We walked to Teresa’s Flying Pizza for dinner.  It was very crowded, but we were lucky to be seated immediately.  We were seated at a very big round table.  They told us that, if another small party came in, they would seat them with us, which is what happened.  They seated a couple across from us.  The table was so big that we didn’t mind.  We couldn’t even hear any of their conversation.  The service was very good and very fast.  The pizza was delicious, and it was fun to watch the pizza guys tossing the dough sky high.  We visited the slushy lady again on our way back to the hotel.  Emmanuel from VIP called tonight to confirm our Sunday pickup time.

 

1-6-19 (Day 1)

 

Sail-away day.  We packed up and put our cruise tags on our luggage.  There were two ships in port this morning, Carnival Magic (which we would see at our ports all week) and Royal’s Liberty of the Seas.  Though the cruise port is walkable, the Carnival pier is much closer to the Harbor House than the Royal Caribbean pier.  We had four pieces of luggage, so we decided to take the free hotel shuttle, which we had signed up for when we checked in on Friday.  The hotel shuttle runs between the Harbor House, the Hotel Galvez, and the port (though not necessarily in that order).  We left our luggage at the front desk and walked over to the Starbucks (very crowded with cruise passengers coming and going) and then back to the hotel to catch the shuttle.  We had reserved the 9:30 a.m. shuttle, but it was full when it got to us, so we had to wait for the 10:00 a.m. shuttle.

 

The shuttle stopped at Carnival first and then at Royal.  We arrived at the Royal pier at 10:15 a.m.  There were virtually no lines at security and there was no one in front of us at all at the priority check-in.  We were in the priority waiting area (suites and pinnacles) at 10:25 a.m., and we were called to board at 10:30 a.m.  We immediately walked onto the ship with no delay and within a couple of minutes had drinks in our hands from the Hoof and Claw pub and were exploring the beautiful ship.  Due to Texas law, there is a limited drink menu until Liberty gets 12 nautical miles out to sea.  If anyone is interested, I think I have a picture of the limited drink menu.

 

With drinks in hand, we checked out our MDR table location.  As requested, we had early dining (5:30 p.m.), and we were assigned to the Botticelli dining room (deck 5) at table 534, a table for two (as had been requested and confirmed via email) which happened to be a private corner window table, a fabulous location! I will note that for at least half of the cruise, this turned out to be a very warm location (sometimes too warm) as the sun had been beating through the windows all day when we would arrive for dinner.  As the sun went down though, it became more comfortable.

 

We went to the Windjammer at 11:15 a.m. for lunch.  We checked out both the suite lounge and the diamond lounge.  Cabins were ready at 1:00 p.m.  We entered 1289, which was a grand suite, a beautiful cabin with a huge balcony (two chairs, big round table, two loungers, small table).  Our bathroom was very spacious with a tub and a double sink and upgraded toiletries.  There was a nice vanity with cupboards and drawers in the bedroom area, along with two nightstands.  The living room area had a sleeper sofa, two chairs, a coffee table, two end tables with lamps, and a TV with a PlayStation.  When you entered the cabin, there were two huge mirrored closets and a big bar area with drawers beneath.  There was lots of storage space.  We had overpacked and still had empty drawers once we were finished unpacking.  Waiting for us were our robes, a big glass bottle of Evian, two regular bottles of water, two cans of Diet Coke, a plate of cookies, a bowl of fruit, and our drink package cups. 

 

There was also a binder containing several documents including a letter from Anis (the suite concierge) outlining our suite amenities.  The binder also contained MDR breakfast and lunch menus, and also each day we received the MDR dinner menu.  On our vanity was a letter from Mangesh (the diamond concierge) outlining our diamond amenities, an envelope containing our excursion tickets, and a letter from Tiela (the loyalty ambassador) outlining our diamond onboard offers that were loaded onto our seapass cards.  There was also an invitation to the Cruise Critic meet and mingle which was scheduled for day two at 10:00 a.m. in Olive or Twist and an invitation to the suite/pinnacle reception which was scheduled for day two at 11:30 a.m. in Olive or Twist.

 

We lounged around until the 3:30 p.m. muster.  Our luggage was delivered during muster.  As permitted, we had taken on two bottles of wine.  I had put them in our checked luggage, as I didn’t feel like lugging them around until our room was ready.  Everything was delivered – no naughty room this time for us.  We unpacked and met Cyril, who turned out to be a fabulous stateroom attendant.  We asked him to bring an ice bucket, and he filled that and our regular ice bucket twice daily.  He also made us three towel animals throughout the week.

 

Before dinner, we set clothes out on our bed to be pressed for tomorrow’s formal night.  We went to dinner and met our waiter, Robin from the Philippines, and our assistant waiter, Alex from India.  All week we had great service from them.  Each night (except the night we went to Chops), we watched the sun set from our dining room table.  Each night there was a basket of various breads on each table, as opposed to the assistant waiters bringing around the larger baskets of bread and repeatedly serving it.  Also, we had no problems getting drinks in the dining room.  But for this cruise and our Anthem cruise last year, over the past several years we always had issues getting drinks (and refills) in the MDR.  We were happy to see the improvement.

 

We went to the welcome aboard show, which featured a few snippets of the entertainment that we would be seeing throughout the week.  We played 9:00 p.m. music trivia (classic rock tunes) in the Schooner Bar. We walked around the promenade and the pool deck and popped in and out of the casino.

 

Tonight we received our first nightly voicemail from Anis in which he would outline highlights of the upcoming day and our dining options for each day as suite guests.

 

1-7-19 (Day 2)

 

A sea day.  We slept in, so we did not attend the 10:30 a.m. Cruise Critic meet and mingle.  We did attend the 11:30 a.m. suite/pinnacle reception at Olive or Twist.  We met Anis, the suite concierge, and Captain Anders and all of the top officers.  We were served wonderful appetizers (not the typical appetizers served at the top-tier events or in the diamond lounge) and a nice selection of alcoholic drinks, to include bloody Mary.  We went to the free suite lunch in Giovanni’s Table.  I had fabulous fettuccini carbonara.  A fruit and cheese platter had been delivered to our cabin while we were at lunch.  Cy had delivered our pressed formalwear and hung it in our closet.  We visited the casino and then enjoyed the world’s sexiest man competition from the reserved suite pool deck area.  At 2:30 p.m. we went to the ice show and sat in the suite seating.  I always love the ice shows! 

 

Tonight was the first formal night. We had some photos taken before having dinner in the MDR.  We got a table outside of the pub to watch the captain’s welcome aboard ceremony.  We relaxed in the solarium hot tub.  DH ordered the room service wings (no charge for suite guests).  We did not attend tonight’s show, which was a juggler.  Today we used our first free 24-hour internet period.

 

1-8-19 (Day 3)

 

A sea day.  We slept in.  We grabbed coffee at the Promenade Café and then had lunch in the MDR.  We did the water slides (Cyclone and Typhoon) and the Tidal Wave.  The Tidal Wave was so much fun.  I was sure we were going to fly over the top and land out on the ocean!  The water slides have been added to Liberty since we were on her in 2015. 

 

We watched the belly flop contest from the reserved area of the pool deck.  The belly flop contests are always great fun, and this one didn’t disappoint.  A 380-pound guy was the winner!  DH played in the blackjack tournament.  A plate of chocolates and other sweets was delivered to our cabin this afternoon.

 

Before dinner, we went to the suite lounge for a few appetizers and drinks.  We then briefly popped into the diamond lounge to compare.  The appetizers were the same.  Neither lounge was crowded.  The suite lounge has great outdoor shaded overflow.  Tonight we had a 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation at Chops, and our dinner was very good.  We saw Saturday Night Fever and then the late-night comedian, Phil Paulisoul, who was hilarious.  He was on stage the first night during the welcome aboard show, and we knew we wanted to see him again. 

 

For the Saturday Night Fever show, we sat in the reserved suite area, which started in the second row of the balcony.  The first row was reserved for guests who paid for the Key program.  No one sat in that row, so we moved up when the show started.

 

1-9-19 (Day 4)

 

Roatan.  We had breakfast in the Windjammer and then walked around the very small port area.  We each had a drink at a little outdoor bar and then walked to our designated excursion meeting area.  We had prebooked the Sol Y Mar adults only beach day with a meeting time of 10:45 a.m., which was the latest time of the three choices we were given when we booked. At 11:00 a.m. we set off on about a 10-to-15-minute ride in an air conditioned bus to Sol Y Mar.  Though a short ride, we were taken through very dirty, unappealing areas of the island.  There were junked cars everywhere.  Our guide was Nicole, and she was very friendly and informative and ended up being a babysitter to some.  All in a day’s work, I suppose.

 

I have mixed reviews about this place.  When we arrived, Nicole walked us to a section of the beach which was very crowded.  There were probably more chairs than loungers on this beach, which I thought was odd, but we found two empty loungers and moved them in such a way that one was under a tree and one was partially in the sun.  It was cloudy when we arrived but soon became very sunny… and we got the sunburns to prove it! 

 

Our excursion included unlimited drinks and “snacks.”  The only snack was nachos, though they ran out of cheese.  There was chicken and/or something else set out there as well, but our package didn’t include those food trays (as evidenced by the color of our bracelet), which was fine with us as we purposely had eaten a big breakfast.  There were flies all over the food areas and trash areas.  The workers kept the food covered until they were serving it.  When the woman wasn’t serving food, she was swinging a towel to chase the flies away.

 

The bar was separate from the food area but still very close to our beach area, and the drinks were good and strong (and there were no flies).  Bar service was very good.

 

This is a very rocky/shelly beach.  I wished I had worn my water shoes (which I had packed for cave tubing in Belize) because it was extremely uncomfortable to walk in bare feet on the sand and in the ocean.  On this particular day, the water never was deeper than three feet, no matter how far out you went, and there were no waves whatsoever.  In addition to the rocks and shells, there was a lot of nasty seaweed.

 

There were some bar waiters coming around to the loungers, and there were natives just over the dividing line of the beach that were selling bracelets and cutting open coconuts and selling them.  There was a guy walking around with a big sloth that you could get pictures with (for a tip) and a guy with a small monkey named Kojak who would sit on people’s heads for pictures (also for a tip).  We got a few pictures with the monkey.

 

At first I was very disappointed in this place overall.  Then we got in the water to cool off, and I realized the abundance of beautiful shells.  We even found a huge, beautiful conch shell.  Once I just sat on the ocean floor in a non-seaweedy spot, I found myself really enjoying digging for shells.  In fact, I spent too much time, did not reapply sunscreen, and really paid for it the rest of the week.  However, I started to have a better opinion of the place. 

 

While this section of the beach was supposed to be adults only, there were a few little kids on the beach and in the water, but they were no bother at all.  Non-motorized activities were included, but we didn’t use any.  Also, probably after we were there an hour, the place really cleared out.  At 3:00 p.m. we stumbled back (some more than others) to where the bus had dropped us off.  We had to wait a few minutes for some stragglers, and then we were taken back to the pier.  Nicole told us that she receives no salary and works for tips only.  Thankfully, it seemed that everyone was tipping her as they exited the bus.

 

We went back to our cabin and showered, rested up a little, went to dinner in the MDR, played ‘80s trivia at 7:15 p.m. in the Schooner Bar, hit the casino for a little while, and then went to bed early.  No show for us tonight.

 

1-10-19 (Day 5)

 

Belize City.  There were two Carnival ships here today as well.  We had room service breakfast (does anybody eat those grilled tomatoes?) and then headed to the Platinum Theatre at our 8:15 a.m. meet time as we had booked the Jaguar Paw Jungle Trek and Cave Tubing.  Belize City is a tender port.  It was a windy morning, so the water was very choppy, and for that reason the tendering process was delayed.  When our group was called to disembark, we were halted in the crowded stairways for quite a while as there were still tendering issues.  We finally boarded a very rocking, swaying tender at 9:30 a.m. and arrived at the pier at 10:00 a.m. after a choppy ride.

 

We met our tour group, boarded an air-conditioned school bus at 10:10 a.m., and arrived at Jaguar Paw at 11:35 a.m.  We had to exit the school bus and board a shorter school bus for the one-minute ride up the muddy mountain to the main Chukka Jaguar Paw area, which is where lunch is served, where lockers are located (locker prices are $8 for small, $9 for medium, $10 for large), and where you meet for your excursion, whether it’s for ziplining, cave tubing, ATV riding, et cetera.  Willie was our Chukka representative, and he was with us from the time we set foot on the bus at the pier until we returned back to the pier.  Willie is a bright, energetic, fun guide who provided a lot of history and information on the approximately one-hour bus ride to Jaguar Paw, and he was one of our two cave guides as well.

 

Jaguar Paw was very, very crowded, and we arrived later than planned because of the tendering issues, so Willie told us we would eat first and then go cave tubing.  I had been here in 2008 (ziplining and cave tubing), and the lunch is exactly the same as it was then, which is rice, beans, coleslaw, chicken, and fruit punch.  You go through a line and are served your food, and then there are many covered picnic tables at which to sit while eating.  This was an unappealing meal to me, but DH enjoyed it. They also sold other food (mainly tacos) and had a bar which was rather expensive for the size of the drinks.  There is a gift shop as well, two different restroom areas, and changing rooms.

 

After lunch, we were supplied with our life vests, lighted helmets, and innertubes.  Water shoes or rubber sandals are a must for this excursion.  We walked for a half an hour carrying our tubes on uneven, sometimes muddy, terrain through the jungle, with the guides stopping occasionally to point out various plants, trees, and even termites which they nibbled on.  We crossed the river (very cold, rocky and slippery), walked some more, and finally arrived at the put-in spot.  There were 16 of us (basically a double group).  All of our tubes were tethered together (except the guides floated solo), and we floated through the cave for about 45 minutes while being given some history and while the guides did their best to steer us to interesting spots and to make sure we all got wet under some small waterfalls.  It was very relaxing and enjoyable. 

 

When we were at the river crossing, there was a Chukka photographer taking photographs.  We didn’t take our phones with us because of the risk of getting them wet (although they sell waterproof covers for cell phones at the meeting point).  On the ride back to the pier, Willie provided us with the Chukka website where we could view and purchase our photos.  The photos stay on the website for 90 days.

 

All aboard was supposed to be at 4:30 p.m.  We arrived back at the pier at 4:25 p.m., so there was no time to walk around the pier shops.  We immediately got in the tender line, boarded the next to last tender at 4:50 p.m., and arrived back on the ship at 5:20 p.m.  Our tender pulled up to a tender that was tied to the ship, so we had to exit our tender, walk through another tender, and then board the ship.  I have tendered at other ports, and this is the first time where I had ever experienced the tender boat crew asking for tips, and this happened on the tender over and on the tender back (two different tenders, two different crews).

 

We each took a quick shower and didn’t get to the MDR until nearly 6:30 p.m., so we weren’t sure whether they could accommodate us.  We told Robin and Alex that we would be happy to eat at a different venue if we were throwing off their schedule and thus affecting the late dinner seating.  They insisted that we stay.  We ordered quickly and were served quickly.

 

We set up our second (and last) free 24-hour internet period.  We visited the casino.  Tonight we attended the Up in the Air show, which was wonderful.  We went to bed early.

 

1-11-19 (Day 6)

 

Cozumel.  We enjoyed the complimentary suite breakfast in Giovanni’s Table, along with a couple mimosas.  We had prebooked the Mexican Cooking, Tasting & Beach Break at Playa Mia.  The tickets that were in our stateroom on setsail day listed the meeting time at the pier as 7:15 a.m.  On Wednesday, we received a call from the excursions desk advising that our meeting time was changed to 9:45 a.m., and tickets with that new time were delivered to our stateroom Thursday night.  We were grateful to not be meeting at 7:15 a.m.

 

This was the only port where port time was different from ship time, as port time was an hour earlier than ship time.  Today’s Compass states, “Cozumel is one hour ahead of ship’s time.  Arrival and departure times, as well as Royal Caribbean shore excursion times, are advertised on ship’s time during your cruise vacation.”

 

We attempted to walk off the ship at 9:30 a.m. ship time.  However, an MSC ship was docking next to us, and no one was permitted to exit our ship until the MSC ship was properly docked, so we had to wait at least ten minutes.  Once off the ship, we found our meeting point (indicated by a sign with the name and tour number of our excursion).  It was now exactly 9:45 a.m., but no one was there.  Slightly panicked, I went to another representative at a different excursion sign, and the rep told us that the time on the tickets is island time and, therefore, to return in an hour, which would be 10:45 a.m. ship time.

 

We were a little leery, as this information was completely opposite from the Compass information, but we walked around the pier area for about 45 minutes.  This was my fourth time to Cozumel, DH’s second time, and this was the most aggressive that we’ve seen the salespeople in the shops.  They seemed desperate for sales and didn’t want to take no for an answer, which is not a comfortable shopping atmosphere for us.  It was a very hot, sunny day, and we would have stayed on the ship for another hour if we had known of the meeting time mix-up.

 

We returned to our meeting point at about 10:30 a.m. and were happy to see other people waiting there this time.  Our rep escorted us to a big covered pavilion (there are several numbered pavilions which are waiting points for various excursions, and each has several benches and free wifi).  We then were escorted to an air-conditioned taxi van and had a 15-minute ride to Playa Mia.

 

This was my third trip to Playa Mia, and today was a very crowded day.  We were given about 20 minutes of free time to wander around, get drinks (open bar), use the restrooms, check out the beach, et cetera, and were instructed to then meet back at the buffet area.  There’s a beautiful family area (with a big pool and slides and waterpark-type play things) that was built since the last time I was here.  There were other new buildings as well.

 

Though I had never done the cooking class, in the past I had seen that it was located in a roped-off area under the huge covered area where the buffet is located.  The cooking class now takes place in an air-conditioned building and has a large number of cooking stations, though only about half of them were used due to the size of our class.  I had read many good reviews about this class, and I was excited to try it, and it did not disappoint!  We had a wonderful time with Chef Moises, and his assistant, who were very entertaining. 

 

Every guest is provided an apron and a chef hat to wear, and we made caramelized plantains, shrimp sopa, and fish with vegetables.  Drinks were flowing the entire time (margaritas, Mexican beer and other choices).  They put four people at each cooking station, and we were lucky to have a lovely couple sharing our station.  There was a photographer taking lots of photos which we could review and order after we ate.  After we were finished cooking, we went to a large dining room upstairs where our food was served to us.  (Don’t worry.  You get the food that you made, as you write your name on each dish).  This excursion was a highlight of our trip, and we highly recommend it!

 

After our meal, we had about 30 minutes on our own, and we each got a drink and spent the time walking the beach which has the softest, most beautiful sand!  There is no comparison between this beach and the beach we visited in Roatan.  We then boarded our taxi van and were back at the pier at 3:30 p.m. ship time.  We returned to a plate of chocolate and other sweets in our stateroom, and we did some relaxing/napping to recover from our drink-filled, food-filled afternoon, fun-filled afternoon.

 

Tonight was a formal night, and lobster was on the menu.  This was not the typical fisherman’s platter.  These were four-or-five-ounce lobster tails as the main course and were quite tasty, and Alex was delivering extra lobster tails to his various tables. 

 

We attended the top-tier event at 7:15 p.m. in the Star Lounge.  We then hit the casino and returned to our cabin to find a hanging monkey towel animal.  We were too tired to attend the headliner show tonight, which was Finis Henderson, “the ultimate entertainer.”

 

1-12-19 (Day 7)

 

D.H. grabbed us Danish and coffee in the Promenade Café.  We realized our cell phones were still on Cozumel time versus ship time, so we were up early enough to attend a behind-the-scenes tour of the Platinum Theatre at 9:30 a.m.   The invitation had been dropped off yesterday in our stateroom.  Two female performers from Saturday Night Fever conducted the very informational tour.  They took us onstage and behind stage where we were able to see many of the costumes and props.  These ladies were really friendly and interesting, and they ended with a fun question-and-answer session which covered many topics.

 

We ordered our two free 8x10 photos this morning, and then we picked them up before dinner.  The Liberty now has computers in the Focus Photo Gallery like the Anthem has, and it’s so much easier and less time consuming to have your week’s worth of photos accessible all in one spot on the computer versus wandering around trying to find all of your random photos.

 

We had the suite lunch in Giovanni’s Table (same menu as the previous suite lunch we had had there).  We did some exploring around the ship and snapped some photos from the helipad.  We visited the casino, and DH played in the blackjack tournament.  I had a piece of pizza at Sorrento’s, which I have to do once per cruise!  We caught part of the Dreamworks parade on the Promenade.  We got to see Shrek riding in the elevator to arrive at the parade.  That was a sight!

 

We had our final dinner in the MDR and said our goodbyes to Robin and Alex, and then we went back to the cabin to pack.  We did not put our luggage outside of our cabin, as we were (for the first and probably the last time) using self-debarkation since Emmanuel wanted us off of the ship tomorrow by 9:15 a.m.

 

There had been a note in our cabin either last night or this morning reminding us that all pool towels had to be turned in by 9:00 p.m. at the pool deck.  At 8:45 p.m. we walked up to return our four towels at the pool deck.  The towel attendants told us we had to return the towels to guest services, despite the fact that they had a towel bin there with dirty towels and a towel bin with clean towels, just like they had all week.  We dreaded waiting in line at guest services on the last night of the cruise (when everybody else is always in line making last-minute adjustments to seapass accounts and whatever else people are always in line for on the last night). 

 

So we waited in line at guest services and finally were helped by an attendant who was behind the excursions desk.  There was a big towel bin in front of the excursions desk, and she told us to just toss our towels in there.  I handed her my seapass card to scan, and she said that wasn’t necessary.  I alluded to the notice left in our cabin that stated we would be charged $25 per towel if we didn’t return them by 9:00 p.m. and told her I would be more comfortable if she scanned my card to reflect that we returned four towels.  To appease me, she wrote down my folio number and the number four and told me she would enter it later, as she didn’t have a scanner with her, and told me not to worry.

 

We went to the casino and played slots while waiting for the ticket drawing.  I had won a ticket with one of my free spin-to-win spins, and there were other ways to accumulate tickets throughout the week as well.  I didn’t win, but they pulled a lot of tickets and gave away several small prizes.  You have to be present to win or else they draw another ticket.

 

We did not attend the farewell show.  We went to bed a little early, as our cruise was coming to an end and we had to be up bright and early to be in the Platinum Lounge between 8:00 a.m. and  8:20 a.m.  for self-assist departure, as we were assigned Group A departure as per the note in our stateroom.  In hindsight, as I will explain in tomorrow’s segment, we should have followed Anis’s suite departure information and met in the Schooner Bar at 7:15 a.m., but the departure schedule (and our Group A notice) showed self assist as departing from the Platinum Theatre from 8:00 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. and showed suite/pinnacle (red luggage tags) departing from the Schooner Bar at 8:40 a.m.   We had not received luggage tags, as we had filled out a form stating that we planned to do self assist.

 

January 13 (Day 8, Departure Day)

 

We woke up to find our seapass statement under our door.  There was no towel charge, and I was relieved that we were fine in that regard.   Little did I know… 

 

Anyway, I called Emmanuel and told him that we were docked and that we were scheduled to disembark at 8:00 a.m. to 8:20 a.m.  At 7:00 a.m. we went to breakfast in the MDR.  As we were finishing breakfast, I received an email or a text from Bank of America Visa that a charge was made to my account.  This was no big deal, as this was the credit card I had used for our seapass account.  Then I looked at the amount, and guess what?  It was exactly $100 more than what was reflected on the seapass statement that had been delivered to our stateroom overnight.  $25 x 4 towels = $100; right?  Ugh!

 

So…we were off to guest services AGAIN, the location everyone wants to avoid on both the last night and the last morning, but yet we found ourselves there.  Thankfully the long line moved quickly, and, after more explanation than she probably wanted to hear, Thaires, a senior guest services officer, happily credited the $100 towel charge.

 

We then headed back up to our cabin to retrieve our luggage, which consisted of four suitcases and two carry-ons.  The elevators and hallways were horrible.  Only one elevator near our cabin seemed to be working, as the others were all shown as being stuck on the first or second floor.  I swear that 95 percent of guests (and I’m not trying to exaggerate) were using self assist.  And many had way too much luggage to maneuver for self assist, to include us.  Even when the elevator finally stopped at deck four, everyone was stuck for a while trying to get off because there was nowhere to go as there were people absolutely everywhere.

 

At 8:00 a.m. as we slowly (and not so surely) were trying to make our way to the Platinum Theatre to meet for Group A departure, Group A was called.  We just stayed in the “line” (if you want to call it that, but it was more like a huge herd of cattle that wasn’t even moving) and waited to disembark.  The line meandered beside the Schooner Bar (where, in hindsight, we should have gone instead of continuing in the herd), back behind the elevators from where we had just exited, through the back of the Platinum Theatre, and then the line finally came to a standstill while, as we came to realize, the suite people waiting in the Schooner Bar were exiting before us.  They were the 7:15 a.m. self-assist suite guests, not the 8:40 a.m. red luggage tag suite guests. 

 

When we finally exited the ship and walked into the terminal, we found ourselves schlepping our luggage through winding lines that would make Disney World’s lines look short.  It took forever to get through those lines, only to find that the passengers were then divided into like ten more lines to go through customs/immigration.  By now, Emmanuel had called us approximately three times wanting to know if we were off the ship yet.  Finally, at 9:30 a.m., he called and told us he would have to take his group of people to the airport and would send another car for us. 

 

At 9:50 a.m., we stepped outside to cool (48 degrees) and sunny Galveston.  Emmanuel picked us up, along with a group of passengers from Carnival, at 10:30 a.m. (which is, ironically, the pickup time that I had originally requested from him when we booked with him way back when, although he said he couldn’t accommodate that time).  He offered everybody a bottle of water and was very pleasant on the ride to the airport. 

 

I received RCCL’s survey via email shortly after we boarded the VIP shuttle.  I completed it a few days after getting home, and I made sure to comment on the pool towel fiasco and how avoidable things occurring at the end of a cruise tend to overshadow an otherwise wonderful trip.

 

We arrived at Hobby at 11:15 a.m., and he unloaded everyone’s luggage.  We apologized for our delay at the terminal, and he was very cordial.  We used Southwest curbside check-in and were happy to see that there was no line at security.  We found our gate, ate some lunch, and had an uneventful 2:35 p.m. flight to Pittsburgh, where we landed around 6:00 p.m. to very cold, snowy weather.

 

After we claimed our luggage, we called for the Marriott shuttle, which arrived about 25 minutes later.  The shuttle driver drove us right to our truck in the parking lot, only to find that our truck battery was dead.  So much for uneventful.  Thankfully we had winter coats in the back seat of the truck.  We called for roadside assistance through our auto insurance and were told it would be close to an hour before they got there to jump our battery, so we went into the hotel and ordered some food at the bar while we waited.  The truck started up immediately with the jump, and we had no issues during the two-hour drive home.  We got home around 10:30 p.m., and I was happy that I had taken off work the next day!

 

Summary

 

We had a wonderful trip, and January is always such a great time to escape our western Pennsylvania wintry weather.  We had sunny weather our entire trip!  It was chilly in Galveston but hot in the Caribbean.  All of the crew went out of their way to make our cruise enjoyable and memorable. 

 

Since we both had drink packages, the diamond lounge was not the draw to us that it had been in the past, and the same with the suite lounge.  We had drinks one evening in the suite lounge and had no drinks in the diamond lounge.  The appetizers don’t appeal to us much either, as we always have the early dinner seating. 

 

Also, as there are no freestyle soda machines on Liberty, I never even opened my soda cup. DH used his cup a few times, and we left them in the cabin at the end of the cruise since we already have a kitchen shelf back home full of RCCL cups that we never use.

 

We had downloaded the Royal Caribbean app on our phones about a week before the cruise, and we enjoyed the ability to check out events going on around the ship without having to carry around a Compass.  It also was nice to see our excursions and dinner reservations in our planner, but we were surprised that we couldn’t add things to our planner.  If, for example, there was a way to add 5:00 p.m. trivia to our planner on a specific day, we couldn’t figure out how to do that.  It would have been nice to have that option.  I feel like I remember having that option on the Royal IQ app on the Anthem last year (2017) over Christmas.

 

When I checked about ten days after the cruise, our Crown and Anchor points had been credited.  We are 23 points away from Diamond Plus.  It sounds like a two-week transatlantic in a suite will get us there!  Hmm...why didn't we stop at Next Cruise and book it while we were on Liberty?  Oh, that's right, because our daughter is getting married this year!  Still, now that we're back, I hate not having a cruise booked, and I might go shopping on RCCL.com to see if I can find something.

 

I apologize for the length of this review and also for the fact that it took me nearly a month to finish writing it!  If you have any questions, ask away.  I have all of the Compasses and possibly some of the menus. 

 

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Thanks for taking the time to post.  

 

I wish I could read your review, but since the Cruise Critic upgrade, your font is not compatible with users reading the CC forums on mobile phones and tablets!  

 

If you’d like to repost, with a different font, then you could share your thoughts with the mobile users.  

 

Thanks again! 

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7 minutes ago, BSocial said:

Thanks for taking the time to post.  

 

I wish I could read your review, but since the Cruise Critic upgrade, your font is not compatible with users reading the CC forums on mobile phones and tablets!  

 

If you’d like to repost, with a different font, then you could share your thoughts with the mobile users.  

 

Thanks again! 

I'm sorry you are unable to read my review.  Thanks for pointing this out.  I just opened it on my mobile phone and, although the font shows there as a cursive font for some reason, I can still view it.  

 

I'll try to copy and paste it here and see if that makes a difference.  Here goes:

 

 

Background    

 

DH (51) and I (52) are from Pennsylvania, and we booked this cruise in November of 2017 while we were on a transatlantic on Freedom of the Seas.  We are both diamond.  This is our second cruise on Liberty (the previous being in June of 2015) and our third on Freedom class.  We were in Cabin 1289, a grand suite, our first suite (and our first gold cards)!  Until now, the largest cabin we had stayed in was a junior suite.  I must agree that what they say on these boards is true – once you go suite, you’ll never go back!  We seriously can’t envision cruising any other way.

 

We received $400 OBC for booking while onboard the Freedom.  We each applied a $100 cruise discount earned from slot play on the Freedom.  We applied RCCL Visa points for a $650 cruise discount and for $200 OBC.  We had prebooked one deluxe beverage package with Voom, one deluxe beverage package, one dinner in Chops, and three RCCL excursions.

 

Roatan was a new port for both of us.  Belize was a new port for DH.  We had both been to Cozumel on previous occasions.

 

The captain was Anders Ingebrigtsen (“Captain Anders”), and this was his first week serving as captain of the Liberty.  The cruise director was Enzo Matijaca.

 

1-3-19

 

We drove to Pittsburgh and stayed at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott and took advantage of their park and fly program, and we had dinner at the hotel.

 

1-4-19

 

We took the 9:00 a.m. free hotel shuttle to the airport, used Southwest curbside check-in (we had free roundtrip flights with Southwest Rapid Rewards points), had breakfast at the airport, and flew nonstop to Houston Hobby on an 11:20 a.m. flight.

 

Shortly after landing on time at Hobby, I received a call from Emmanuel, who owns VIP Express.  We had prebooked with Emmanuel, and he had called 48 hours pre-flight to confirm our travel plans and for permission to charge our credit card.  The agreed-to rate was $120 for round-trip transportation from Hobby to our hotel in Galveston and then from the Galveston port back to Hobby.  Emmanuel picked us up at 2:15 p.m. as prearranged and loaded our luggage into the back.  The shuttle was very nice and clean and comfortable, and he gave each of us a bottle of water as we boarded.   We were the only passengers for this transport, so we had lots of time to chat with him.  He also asked us if we wanted to stop at Buc-Ee’s (a convenience store that sells everything you can imagine) to pick up snacks, beer, wine, and we said yes.  Emmanuel was very polite, professional and informative, and he even went out of the way to drive us past the seawall and gave us restaurant suggestions.  It’s a 45-minute drive from Hobby to our hotel, which was the Harbor House.

 

We had prebooked two nights at the Harbor House at a rate of $269/night plus taxes.  We were given room 311, a spacious king, and it was a very big room.  Although our room did not face the part of the pier where the ships dock, we did have a water view.  We ate dinner at Willie G’s (right beside the hotel) in their bar section.  They have Monday through Friday happy hour with drink and food specials (small plates).  The prices and the food were great!  We then walked around the strand, and it was quite chilly after the sun went down.  We walked to Frankie’s to pick up some wine and liquor.  We bought yummy (alcoholic) slushies at a place right before we got to Frankie’s. 

 

1-5-19

 

We awoke way too early.  The shade on the hotel window was too narrow and let in a lot of sun.  This was very disappointing as we were tired from traveling and had intended to sleep in.  The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m.  DH walked up at 9:45 a.m. and grabbed a couple pastries.  That was all they had left, but that was all we wanted. 

 

Carnival Freedom was in port, so we snapped a couple pictures.  We took an Uber ($11) to Jimmy’s on the Pier, which is at the seawall.  As the name states, this restaurant is right on the water above the pier and has indoor and outdoor dining.  We watched dolphins swimming while we ate our tasty lunch.  I had shrimp tacos, and DH had a fried seafood platter.  The crawfish queso was delicious!

 

It was a breezy sunny day (64 degrees), and we spent the afternoon fishing on the pier.  Well, DH fished while I hung out watching everybody.  There is a shop at the pier that sells souvenirs, snacks, beer, ice cream (though the ice cream bins were empty, I’m thinking because tourist season was over), and there are nice restrooms as you walk out onto the pier.  DH rented a fishing pole for $10, bought bait, and purchased a one-day fishing license online (which I think was $16 plus a $5 fee).  We each paid a $12 pier fee.  It’s a huge pier.  We had a nice, relaxing afternoon.  DH didn’t catch any fish.  Neither did most of the people fishing, but we did see someone catch a shark and someone catch a big redfish.

 

We took an Uber ($11) back to Harbor House.  The friendly Uber driver offered to stop for us to get snacks or alcohol or anything else we wanted to pick up on our way back to the hotel.  Our room was made up, and our used towels had been removed by the housekeeping staff, but the towels and washcloths were not replaced and neither were the toiletries, so I took a quick walk down to the front desk and the friendly clerk gave me everything we needed.

 

We walked to Teresa’s Flying Pizza for dinner.  It was very crowded, but we were lucky to be seated immediately. We were seated at a very big round table.  They told us that, if another small party came in, they would seat them with us, which is what happened.  They seated a couple across from us.  The table was so big that we didn’t mind.  We couldn’t even hear any of their conversation.  The service was very good and very fast.  The pizza was delicious, and it was fun to watch the pizza guys tossing the dough sky high.  We visited the slushy lady again on our way back to the hotel.  Emmanuel from VIP called tonight to confirm our Sunday pickup time.

 

1-6-19 (Day 1)

 

Sail-away day.  We packed up and put our cruise tags on our luggage.  There were two ships in port this morning, Carnival Magic (which we would see at our ports all week) and Royal’s Liberty of the Seas.  Though the cruise port is walkable, the Carnival pier is much closer to the Harbor House than the Royal Caribbean pier.  We had four pieces of luggage, so we decided to take the free hotel shuttle, which we had signed up for when we checked in on Friday.  The hotel shuttle runs between the Harbor House, the Hotel Galvez, and the port (though not necessarily in that order).  We left our luggage at the front desk and walked over to the Starbucks (very crowded with cruise passengers coming and going) and then back to the hotel to catch the shuttle.  We had reserved the 9:30 a.m. shuttle, but it was full when it got to us, so we had to wait for the 10:00 a.m. shuttle.

 

The shuttle stopped at Carnival first and then at Royal.  We arrived at the Royal pier at 10:15 a.m.  There were virtually no lines at security and there was no one in front of us at all at the priority check-in.  We were in the priority waiting area (suites and pinnacles) at 10:25 a.m., and we were called to board at 10:30 a.m.  We immediately walked onto the ship with no delay and within a couple of minutes had drinks in our hands from the Hoof and Claw pub and were exploring the beautiful ship.  Due to Texas law, there is a limited drink menu until Liberty gets 12 nautical miles out to sea.  If anyone is interested, I think I have a picture of the limited drink menu.

 

With drinks in hand, we checked out our MDR table location.  As requested, we had early dining (5:30 p.m.), and we were assigned to the Botticelli dining room (deck 5) at table 534, a table for two (as had been requested and confirmed via email) which happened to be a private corner window table, a fabulous location! I will note that for at least half of the cruise, this turned out to be a very warm location (sometimes too warm) as the sun had been beating through the windows all day when we would arrive for dinner.  As the sun went down though, it became more comfortable.

 

We went to the Windjammer at 11:15 a.m. for lunch.  We checked out both the suite lounge and the diamond lounge.  Cabins were ready at 1:00 p.m.  We entered 1289, which was a grand suite, a beautiful cabin with a huge balcony (two chairs, big round table, two loungers, small table).  Our bathroom was very spacious with a tub and a double sink and upgraded toiletries.  There was a nice vanity with cupboards and drawers in the bedroom area, along with two nightstands.  The living room area had a sleeper sofa, two chairs, a coffee table, two end tables with lamps, and a TV with a PlayStation.  When you entered the cabin, there were two huge mirrored closets and a big bar area with drawers beneath.  There was lots of storage space.  We had overpacked and still had empty drawers once we were finished unpacking.  Waiting for us were our robes, a big glass bottle of Evian, two regular bottles of water, two cans of Diet Coke, a plate of cookies, a bowl of fruit, and our drink package cups. 

 

There was also a binder containing several documents including a letter from Anis (the suite concierge) outlining our suite amenities.  The binder also contained MDR breakfast and lunch menus, and also each day we received the MDR dinner menu.  On our vanity was a letter from Mangesh (the diamond concierge) outlining our diamond amenities, an envelope containing our excursion tickets, and a letter from Tiela (the loyalty ambassador) outlining our diamond onboard offers that were loaded onto our seapass cards.  There was also an invitation to the Cruise Critic meet and mingle which was scheduled for day two at 10:00 a.m. in Olive or Twist and an invitation to the suite/pinnacle reception which was scheduled for day two at 11:30 a.m. in Olive or Twist.

 

We lounged around until the 3:30 p.m. muster.  Our luggage was delivered during muster.  As permitted, we had taken on two bottles of wine.  I had put them in our checked luggage, as I didn’t feel like lugging them around until our room was ready.  Everything was delivered – no naughty room this time for us.  We unpacked and met Cyril, who turned out to be a fabulous stateroom attendant.  We asked him to bring an ice bucket, and he filled that and our regular ice bucket twice daily.  He also made us three towel animals throughout the week.

 

Before dinner, we set clothes out on our bed to be pressed for tomorrow’s formal night.  We went to dinner and met our waiter, Robin from the Philippines, and our assistant waiter, Alex from India.  All week we had great service from them.  Each night (except the night we went to Chops), we watched the sun set from our dining room table.  Each night there was a basket of various breads on each table, as opposed to the assistant waiters bringing around the larger baskets of bread and repeatedly serving it.  Also, we had no problems getting drinks in the dining room.  But for this cruise and our Anthem cruise last year, over the past several years we always had issues getting drinks (and refills) in the MDR.  We were happy to see the improvement.

 

We went to the welcome aboard show, which featured a few snippets of the entertainment that we would be seeing throughout the week.  We played 9:00 p.m. music trivia (classic rock tunes) in the Schooner Bar. We walked around the promenade and the pool deck and popped in and out of the casino.

 

Tonight we received our first nightly voicemail from Anis in which he would outline highlights of the upcoming day and our dining options for each day as suite guests.

 

1-7-19 (Day 2)

 

A sea day.  We slept in, so we did not attend the 10:30 a.m. Cruise Critic meet and mingle.  We did attend the 11:30 a.m. suite/pinnacle reception at Olive or Twist.  We met Anis, the suite concierge, and Captain Anders and all of the top officers.  We were served wonderful appetizers (not the typical appetizers served at the top-tier events or in the diamond lounge) and a nice selection of alcoholic drinks, to include bloody Mary.  We went to the free suite lunch in Giovanni’s Table.  I had fabulous fettuccini carbonara.  A fruit and cheese platter had been delivered to our cabin while we were at lunch.  Cy had delivered our pressed formalwear and hung it in our closet.  We visited the casino and then enjoyed the world’s sexiest man competition from the reserved suite pool deck area.  At 2:30 p.m. we went to the ice show and sat in the suite seating.  I always love the ice shows! 

 

Tonight was the first formal night. We had some photos taken before having dinner in the MDR.  We got a table outside of the pub to watch the captain’s welcome aboard ceremony.  We relaxed in the solarium hot tub.  DH ordered the room service wings (no charge for suite guests).  We did not attend tonight’s show, which was a juggler.  Today we used our first free 24-hour internet period.

 

1-8-19 (Day 3)

 

A sea day.  We slept in.  We grabbed coffee at the Promenade Café and then had lunch in the MDR.  We did the water slides (Cyclone and Typhoon) and the Tidal Wave.  The Tidal Wave was so much fun.  I was sure we were going to fly over the top and land out on the ocean!  The water slides have been added to Liberty since we were on her in 2015. 

 

We watched the belly flop contest from the reserved area of the pool deck.  The belly flop contests are always great fun, and this one didn’t disappoint.  A 380-pound guy was the winner!  DH played in the blackjack tournament.  A plate of chocolates and other sweets was delivered to our cabin this afternoon.

 

Before dinner, we went to the suite lounge for a few appetizers and drinks.  We then briefly popped into the diamond lounge to compare.  The appetizers were the same.  Neither lounge was crowded.  The suite lounge has great outdoor shaded overflow.  Tonight we had a 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation at Chops, and our dinner was very good.  We saw Saturday Night Fever and then the late-night comedian, Phil Paulisoul, who was hilarious.  He was on stage the first night during the welcome aboard show, and we knew we wanted to see him again. 

 

For the Saturday Night Fever show, we sat in the reserved suite area, which started in the second row of the balcony.  The first row was reserved for guests who paid for the Key program.  No one sat in that row, so we moved up when the show started.

 

1-9-19 (Day 4)

 

Roatan.  We had breakfast in the Windjammer and then walked around the very small port area.  We each had a drink at a little outdoor bar and then walked to our designated excursion meeting area.  We had prebooked the Sol Y Mar adults only beach day with a meeting time of 10:45 a.m., which was the latest time of the three choices we were given when we booked. At 11:00 a.m. we set off on about a 10-to-15-minute ride in an air conditioned bus to Sol Y Mar.  Though a short ride, we were taken through very dirty, unappealing areas of the island.  There were junked cars everywhere.  Our guide was Nicole, and she was very friendly and informative and ended up being a babysitter to some.  All in a day’s work, I suppose.

 

I have mixed reviews about this place.  When we arrived, Nicole walked us to a section of the beach which was very crowded.  There were probably more chairs than loungers on this beach, which I thought was odd, but we found two empty loungers and moved them in such a way that one was under a tree and one was partially in the sun.  It was cloudy when we arrived but soon became very sunny… and we got the sunburns to prove it! 

 

Our excursion included unlimited drinks and “snacks.”  The only snack was nachos, though they ran out of cheese.  There was chicken and/or something else set out there as well, but our package didn’t include those food trays (as evidenced by the color of our bracelet), which was fine with us as we purposely had eaten a big breakfast.  There were flies all over the food areas and trash areas.  The workers kept the food covered until they were serving it.  When the woman wasn’t serving food, she was swinging a towel to chase the flies away.

 

The bar was separate from the food area but still very close to our beach area, and the drinks were good and strong (and there were no flies).  Bar service was very good.

 

This is a very rocky/shelly beach.  I wished I had worn my water shoes (which I had packed for cave tubing in Belize) because it was extremely uncomfortable to walk in bare feet on the sand and in the ocean.  On this particular day, the water never was deeper than three feet, no matter how far out you went, and there were no waves whatsoever.  In addition to the rocks and shells, there was a lot of nasty seaweed.

 

There were some bar waiters coming around to the loungers, and there were natives just over the dividing line of the beach that were selling bracelets and cutting open coconuts and selling them.  There was a guy walking around with a big sloth that you could get pictures with (for a tip) and a guy with a small monkey named Kojak who would sit on people’s heads for pictures (also for a tip).  We got a few pictures with the monkey.

 

At first I was very disappointed in this place overall.  Then we got in the water to cool off, and I realized the abundance of beautiful shells.  We even found a huge, beautiful conch shell.  Once I just sat on the ocean floor in a non-seaweedy spot, I found myself really enjoying digging for shells.  In fact, I spent too much time, did not reapply sunscreen, and really paid for it the rest of the week.  However, I started to have a better opinion of the place. 

 

While this section of the beach was supposed to be adults only, there were a few little kids on the beach and in the water, but they were no bother at all.  Non-motorized activities were included, but we didn’t use any.  Also, probably after we were there an hour, the place really cleared out.  At 3:00 p.m. we stumbled back (some more than others) to where the bus had dropped us off.  We had to wait a few minutes for some stragglers, and then we were taken back to the pier.  Nicole told us that she receives no salary and works for tips only.  Thankfully, it seemed that everyone was tipping her as they exited the bus.

 

We went back to our cabin and showered, rested up a little, went to dinner in the MDR, played ‘80s trivia at 7:15 p.m. in the Schooner Bar, hit the casino for a little while, and then went to bed early.  No show for us tonight.

 

1-10-19 (Day 5)

 

Belize City.  There were two Carnival ships here today as well.  We had room service breakfast (does anybody eat those grilled tomatoes?) and then headed to the Platinum Theatre at our 8:15 a.m. meet time as we had booked the Jaguar Paw Jungle Trek and Cave Tubing.  Belize City is a tender port.  It was a windy morning, so the water was very choppy, and for that reason the tendering process was delayed.  When our group was called to disembark, we were halted in the crowded stairways for quite a while as there were still tendering issues.  We finally boarded a very rocking, swaying tender at 9:30 a.m. and arrived at the pier at 10:00 a.m. after a choppy ride.

 

We met our tour group, boarded an air-conditioned school bus at 10:10 a.m., and arrived at Jaguar Paw at 11:35 a.m.  We had to exit the school bus and board a shorter school bus for the one-minute ride up the muddy mountain to the main Chukka Jaguar Paw area, which is where lunch is served, where lockers are located (locker prices are $8 for small, $9 for medium, $10 for large), and where you meet for your excursion, whether it’s for ziplining, cave tubing, ATV riding, et cetera.  Willie was our Chukka representative, and he was with us from the time we set foot on the bus at the pier until we returned back to the pier.  Willie is a bright, energetic, fun guide who provided a lot of history and information on the approximately one-hour bus ride to Jaguar Paw, and he was one of our two cave guides as well.

 

Jaguar Paw was very, very crowded, and we arrived later than planned because of the tendering issues, so Willie told us we would eat first and then go cave tubing.  I had been here in 2008 (ziplining and cave tubing), and the lunch is exactly the same as it was then, which is rice, beans, coleslaw, chicken, and fruit punch.  You go through a line and are served your food, and then there are many covered picnic tables at which to sit while eating.  This was an unappealing meal to me, but DH enjoyed it. They also sold other food (mainly tacos) and had a bar which was rather expensive for the size of the drinks.  There is a gift shop as well, two different restroom areas, and changing rooms.

 

After lunch, we were supplied with our life vests, lighted helmets, and innertubes.  Water shoes or rubber sandals are a must for this excursion.  We walked for a half an hour carrying our tubes on uneven, sometimes muddy, terrain through the jungle, with the guides stopping occasionally to point out various plants, trees, and even termites which they nibbled on.  We crossed the river (very cold, rocky and slippery), walked some more, and finally arrived at the put-in spot.  There were 16 of us (basically a double group).  All of our tubes were tethered together (except the guides floated solo), and we floated through the cave for about 45 minutes while being given some history and while the guides did their best to steer us to interesting spots and to make sure we all got wet under some small waterfalls.  It was very relaxing and enjoyable. 

 

When we were at the river crossing, there was a Chukka photographer taking photographs.  We didn’t take our phones with us because of the risk of getting them wet (although they sell waterproof covers for cell phones at the meeting point).  On the ride back to the pier, Willie provided us with the Chukka website where we could view and purchase our photos.  The photos stay on the website for 90 days.

 

All aboard was supposed to be at 4:30 p.m.  We arrived back at the pier at 4:25 p.m., so there was no time to walk around the pier shops.  We immediately got in the tender line, boarded the next to last tender at 4:50 p.m., and arrived back on the ship at 5:20 p.m.  Our tender pulled up to a tender that was tied to the ship, so we had to exit our tender, walk through another tender, and then board the ship.  I have tendered at other ports, and this is the first time where I had ever experienced the tender boat crew asking for tips, and this happened on the tender over and on the tender back (two different tenders, two different crews).

 

We each took a quick shower and didn’t get to the MDR until nearly 6:30 p.m., so we weren’t sure whether they could accommodate us.  We told Robin and Alex that we would be happy to eat at a different venue if we were throwing off their schedule and thus affecting the late dinner seating.  They insisted that we stay.  We ordered quickly and were served quickly.

 

We set up our second (and last) free 24-hour internet period.  We visited the casino.  Tonight we attended the Up in the Air show, which was wonderful.  We went to bed early.

 

1-11-19 (Day 6)

 

Cozumel.  We enjoyed the complimentary suite breakfast in Giovanni’s Table, along with a couple mimosas.  We had prebooked the Mexican Cooking, Tasting & Beach Break at Playa Mia.  The tickets that were in our stateroom on setsail day listed the meeting time at the pier as 7:15 a.m.  On Wednesday, we received a call from the excursions desk advising that our meeting time was changed to 9:45 a.m., and tickets with that new time were delivered to our stateroom Thursday night.  We were grateful to not be meeting at 7:15 a.m.

 

This was the only port where port time was different from ship time, as port time was an hour earlier than ship time.  Today’s Compass states, “Cozumel is one hour ahead of ship’s time.  Arrival and departure times, as well as Royal Caribbean shore excursion times, are advertised on ship’s time during your cruise vacation.”

 

We attempted to walk off the ship at 9:30 a.m. ship time.  However, an MSC ship was docking next to us, and no one was permitted to exit our ship until the MSC ship was properly docked, so we had to wait at least ten minutes.  Once off the ship, we found our meeting point (indicated by a sign with the name and tour number of our excursion).  It was now exactly 9:45 a.m., but no one was there.  Slightly panicked, I went to another representative at a different excursion sign, and the rep told us that the time on the tickets is island time and, therefore, to return in an hour, which would be 10:45 a.m. ship time.

 

We were a little leery, as this information was completely opposite from the Compass information, but we walked around the pier area for about 45 minutes.  This was my fourth time to Cozumel, DH’s second time, and this was the most aggressive that we’ve seen the salespeople in the shops.  They seemed desperate for sales and didn’t want to take no for an answer, which is not a comfortable shopping atmosphere for us.  It was a very hot, sunny day, and we would have stayed on the ship for another hour if we had known of the meeting time mix-up.

 

We returned to our meeting point at about 10:30 a.m. and were happy to see other people waiting there this time.  Our rep escorted us to a big covered pavilion (there are several numbered pavilions which are waiting points for various excursions, and each has several benches and free wifi).  We then were escorted to an air-conditioned taxi van and had a 15-minute ride to Playa Mia.

 

This was my third trip to Playa Mia, and today was a very crowded day.  We were given about 20 minutes of free time to wander around, get drinks (open bar), use the restrooms, check out the beach, et cetera, and were instructed to then meet back at the buffet area.  There’s a beautiful family area (with a big pool and slides and waterpark-type play things) that was built since the last time I was here.  There were other new buildings as well.

 

Though I had never done the cooking class, in the past I had seen that it was located in a roped-off area under the huge covered area where the buffet is located.  The cooking class now takes place in an air-conditioned building and has a large number of cooking stations, though only about half of them were used due to the size of our class.  I had read many good reviews about this class, and I was excited to try it, and it did not disappoint!  We had a wonderful time with Chef Moises, and his assistant, who were very entertaining. 

 

Every guest is provided an apron and a chef hat to wear, and we made caramelized plantains, shrimp sopa, and fish with vegetables.  Drinks were flowing the entire time (margaritas, Mexican beer and other choices).  They put four people at each cooking station, and we were lucky to have a lovely couple sharing our station.  There was a photographer taking lots of photos which we could review and order after we ate.  After we were finished cooking, we went to a large dining room upstairs where our food was served to us.  (Don’t worry.  You get the food that you made, as you write your name on each dish).  This excursion was a highlight of our trip, and we highly recommend it!

 

After our meal, we had about 30 minutes on our own, and we each got a drink and spent the time walking the beach which has the softest, most beautiful sand!  There is no comparison between this beach and the beach we visited in Roatan.  We then boarded our taxi van and were back at the pier at 3:30 p.m. ship time.  We returned to a plate of chocolate and other sweets in our stateroom, and we did some relaxing/napping to recover from our drink-filled, food-filled afternoon, fun-filled afternoon.

 

Tonight was a formal night, and lobster was on the menu.  This was not the typical fisherman’s platter.  These were four-or-five-ounce lobster tails as the main course and were quite tasty, and Alex was delivering extra lobster tails to his various tables. 

 

We attended the top-tier event at 7:15 p.m. in the Star Lounge.  We then hit the casino and returned to our cabin to find a hanging monkey towel animal.  We were too tired to attend the headliner show tonight, which was Finis Henderson, “the ultimate entertainer.”

 

1-12-19 (Day 7)

 

D.H. grabbed us Danish and coffee in the Promenade Café.  We realized our cell phones were still on Cozumel time versus ship time, so we were up early enough to attend a behind-the-scenes tour of the Platinum Theatre at 9:30 a.m.   The invitation had been dropped off yesterday in our stateroom.  Two female performers from Saturday Night Fever conducted the very informational tour.  They took us onstage and behind stage where we were able to see many of the costumes and props.  These ladies were really friendly and interesting, and they ended with a fun question-and-answer session which covered many topics.

 

We ordered our two free 8x10 photos this morning, and then we picked them up before dinner.  The Liberty now has computers in the Focus Photo Gallery like the Anthem has, and it’s so much easier and less time consuming to have your week’s worth of photos accessible all in one spot on the computer versus wandering around trying to find all of your random photos.

 

We had the suite lunch in Giovanni’s Table (same menu as the previous suite lunch we had had there).  We did some exploring around the ship and snapped some photos from the helipad.  We visited the casino, and DH played in the blackjack tournament.  I had a piece of pizza at Sorrento’s, which I have to do once per cruise!  We caught part of the Dreamworks parade on the Promenade.  We got to see Shrek riding in the elevator to arrive at the parade.  That was a sight!

 

We had our final dinner in the MDR and said our goodbyes to Robin and Alex, and then we went back to the cabin to pack.  We did not put our luggage outside of our cabin, as we were (for the first and probably the last time) using self-debarkation since Emmanuel wanted us off of the ship tomorrow by 9:15 a.m.

 

There had been a note in our cabin either last night or this morning reminding us that all pool towels had to be turned in by 9:00 p.m. at the pool deck.  At 8:45 p.m. we walked up to return our four towels at the pool deck.  The towel attendants told us we had to return the towels to guest services, despite the fact that they had a towel bin there with dirty towels and a towel bin with clean towels, just like they had all week.  We dreaded waiting in line at guest services on the last night of the cruise (when everybody else is always in line making last-minute adjustments to seapass accounts and whatever else people are always in line for on the last night). 

 

So we waited in line at guest services and finally were helped by an attendant who was behind the excursions desk.  There was a big towel bin in front of the excursions desk, and she told us to just toss our towels in there.  I handed her my seapass card to scan, and she said that wasn’t necessary.  I alluded to the notice left in our cabin that stated we would be charged $25 per towel if we didn’t return them by 9:00 p.m. and told her I would be more comfortable if she scanned my card to reflect that we returned four towels.  To appease me, she wrote down my folio number and the number four and told me she would enter it later, as she didn’t have a scanner with her, and told me not to worry.

 

We went to the casino and played slots while waiting for the ticket drawing.  I had won a ticket with one of my free spin-to-win spins, and there were other ways to accumulate tickets throughout the week as well.  I didn’t win, but they pulled a lot of tickets and gave away several small prizes.  You have to be present to win or else they draw another ticket.

 

We did not attend the farewell show.  We went to bed a little early, as our cruise was coming to an end and we had to be up bright and early to be in the Platinum Lounge between 8:00 a.m. and  8:20 a.m.  for self-assist departure, as we were assigned Group A departure as per the note in our stateroom.  In hindsight, as I will explain in tomorrow’s segment, we should have followed Anis’s suite departure information and met in the Schooner Bar at 7:15 a.m., but the departure schedule (and our Group A notice) showed self assist as departing from the Platinum Theatre from 8:00 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. and showed suite/pinnacle (red luggage tags) departing from the Schooner Bar at 8:40 a.m.   We had not received luggage tags, as we had filled out a form stating that we planned to do self assist.

 

January 13 (Day 8, Departure Day)

 

We woke up to find our seapass statement under our door.  There was no towel charge, and I was relieved that we were fine in that regard.   Little did I know… 

 

Anyway, I called Emmanuel and told him that we were docked and that we were scheduled to disembark at 8:00 a.m. to 8:20 a.m.  At 7:00 a.m. we went to breakfast in the MDR.  As we were finishing breakfast, I received an email or a text from Bank of America Visa that a charge was made to my account.  This was no big deal, as this was the credit card I had used for our seapass account.  Then I looked at the amount, and guess what?  It was exactly $100 more than what was reflected on the seapass statement that had been delivered to our stateroom overnight.  $25 x 4 towels = $100; right?  Ugh!

 

So…we were off to guest services AGAIN, the location everyone wants to avoid on both the last night and the last morning, but yet we found ourselves there.  Thankfully the long line moved quickly, and, after more explanation than she probably wanted to hear, Thaires, a senior guest services officer, happily credited the $100 towel charge.

 

We then headed back up to our cabin to retrieve our luggage, which consisted of four suitcases and two carry-ons.  The elevators and hallways were horrible.  Only one elevator near our cabin seemed to be working, as the others were all shown as being stuck on the first or second floor.  I swear that 95 percent of guests (and I’m not trying to exaggerate) were using self assist.  And many had way too much luggage to maneuver for self assist, to include us.  Even when the elevator finally stopped at deck four, everyone was stuck for a while trying to get off because there was nowhere to go as there were people absolutely everywhere.

 

At 8:00 a.m. as we slowly (and not so surely) were trying to make our way to the Platinum Theatre to meet for Group A departure, Group A was called.  We just stayed in the “line” (if you want to call it that, but it was more like a huge herd of cattle that wasn’t even moving) and waited to disembark.  The line meandered beside the Schooner Bar (where, in hindsight, we should have gone instead of continuing in the herd), back behind the elevators from where we had just exited, through the back of the Platinum Theatre, and then the line finally came to a standstill while, as we came to realize, the suite people waiting in the Schooner Bar were exiting before us.  They were the 7:15 a.m. self-assist suite guests, not the 8:40 a.m. red luggage tag suite guests. 

 

When we finally exited the ship and walked into the terminal, we found ourselves schlepping our luggage through winding lines that would make Disney World’s lines look short.  It took forever to get through those lines, only to find that the passengers were then divided into like ten more lines to go through customs/immigration.  By now, Emmanuel had called us approximately three times wanting to know if we were off the ship yet.  Finally, at 9:30 a.m., he called and told us he would have to take his group of people to the airport and would send another car for us. 

 

At 9:50 a.m., we stepped outside to cool (48 degrees) and sunny Galveston.  Emmanuel picked us up, along with a group of passengers from Carnival, at 10:30 a.m. (which is, ironically, the pickup time that I had originally requested from him when we booked with him way back when, although he said he couldn’t accommodate that time).  He offered everybody a bottle of water and was very pleasant on the ride to the airport. 

 

I received RCCL’s survey via email shortly after we boarded the VIP shuttle.  I completed it a few days after getting home, and I made sure to comment on the pool towel fiasco and how avoidable things occurring at the end of a cruise tend to overshadow an otherwise wonderful trip.

 

We arrived at Hobby at 11:15 a.m., and he unloaded everyone’s luggage.  We apologized for our delay at the terminal, and he was very cordial.  We used Southwest curbside check-in and were happy to see that there was no line at security.  We found our gate, ate some lunch, and had an uneventful 2:35 p.m. flight to Pittsburgh, where we landed around 6:00 p.m. to very cold, snowy weather.

 

After we claimed our luggage, we called for the Marriott shuttle, which arrived about 25 minutes later.  The shuttle driver drove us right to our truck in the parking lot, only to find that our truck battery was dead.  So much for uneventful.  Thankfully we had winter coats in the back seat of the truck.  We called for roadside assistance through our auto insurance and were told it would be close to an hour before they got there to jump our battery, so we went into the hotel and ordered some food at the bar while we waited.  The truck started up immediately with the jump, and we had no issues during the two-hour drive home.  We got home around 10:30 p.m., and I was happy that I had taken off work the next day!

 

Summary

 

We had a wonderful trip, and January is always such a great time to escape our western Pennsylvania wintry weather.  We had sunny weather our entire trip!  It was chilly in Galveston but hot in the Caribbean.  All of the crew went out of their way to make our cruise enjoyable and memorable. 

 

Since we both had drink packages, the diamond lounge was not the draw to us that it had been in the past, and the same with the suite lounge.  We had drinks one evening in the suite lounge and had no drinks in the diamond lounge.  The appetizers don’t appeal to us much either, as we always have the early dinner seating. 

 

Also, as there are no freestyle soda machines on Liberty, I never even opened my soda cup. DH used his cup a few times, and we left them in the cabin at the end of the cruise since we already have a kitchen shelf back home full of RCCL cups that we never use.

 

We had downloaded the Royal Caribbean app on our phones about a week before the cruise, and we enjoyed the ability to check out events going on around the ship without having to carry around a Compass.  It also was nice to see our excursions and dinner reservations in our planner, but we were surprised that we couldn’t add things to our planner.  If, for example, there was a way to add 5:00 p.m. trivia to our planner on a specific day, we couldn’t figure out how to do that.  It would have been nice to have that option.  I feel like I remember having that option on the Royal IQ app on the Anthem last year (2017) over Christmas.

 

When I checked about ten days after the cruise, our Crown and Anchor points had been credited.  We are 23 points away from Diamond Plus.  It sounds like a two-week transatlantic in a suite will get us there!  Hmm...why didn't we stop at Next Cruise and book it while we were on Liberty?  Oh, that's right, because our daughter is getting married this year!  Still, now that we're back, I hate not having a cruise booked, and I might go shopping on RCCL.com to see if I can find something.

 

I apologize for the length of this review and also for the fact that it took me nearly a month to finish writing it!  If you have any questions, ask away.  I have all of the Compasses and possibly some of the menus. 

 

 

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KelJ, 

you are wonderful!   Thank you for reposting!

 

great review !

 

Edited by BSocial
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9 minutes ago, KelJ said:

I'm sorry you are unable to read my review.  Thanks for pointing this out.  I just opened it on my mobile phone and, although the font shows there as a cursive font for some reason, I can still view it.  

 

I very much appreciate all of the time and effort you put into your review.

 

The reason that your review is almost impossible to read on phones and tablets is because you have chosen to post in a font called Comic Sans which, since the upgrade of this site last fall, is incompatible with mobile devices.  On phones and tablets, Comic Sans now displays as a a very difficult to read, thin, cursive font, as you just saw. (I cannot read your review on my phone.)  It was good of you to cut and paste your review again in this thread in a different font.  What would be very helpful to everyone else going forward would be for you to change your font to something other than Comic Sans.  (Frankly, there's nothing wrong with the default font.)

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Thanks for taking us along.  We love the GS and have stopped buying the drink package since we can drink in the SL and also are able to have free drinks in the casino as well as the D+ happy hour.

Yes, the self assist on Liberty is terrible.  I really wish they would limit it to a certain number that sign up for it. Because a vast majority of cruisers seem to drive to port, it's utter chaos. I'm sorry Anis didn't make it more clear to you to do the suite self assist.

Future reference for Roatan, check out West Bay.  One of the most beautiful beaches I've seen.  Clear blue water, no rocks or shells, soft white sand.  We generally go to Bananarama and book direct with them.  There are other beach clubs on the same stretch of beach.

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Loved your review.

My best friend and I will be sailing on Liberty for the first time in October.  Looking forward to the new water slides.

 

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I have a couple of tips for others sailing LB soon. When disembarking, get a porter. They will get you thru customs much faster and the requested tip is only $2 per bag. If you have access to either the Diamond or Suite lounge, the concierges there can take care of anything Guest Services can do regarding your statements. They can also print your boarding passes. The best beaches in Roatan are either Little French Key, which you have to pay to go to, and the West Bay beaches, on the other side of the island. Either way transportation to the good beaches will be about a 20-25 minute drive. But those beaches are gorgeous with soft sand. 

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KelJ, loved your review!  My sisters and I will be on Liberty March 2nd and would love to see the Compasses for your week.  Can you please post them or email to me (cmycav at peoplepc. com)?  Thank you so much!

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Great review!  Thanks for taking the time. 

 

I agree with 39august. See the concierge about problems instead of GS. Much easier. 

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