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PLEASE NOTE: THIS REVIEW IS INTENDED TO PROMOTE SALES AS A TRAVEL ADVISOR, I WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS IF YOU DECIDE THIS VACATION IS FOR YOU.
I am going to try to review this as best that I can seeing as though I'm about two months late in doing so.
GETTING TO THE SHIP:
Because of my husband's lack of extra vacation days, we opted to take the red-eye flight and because we really wanted to SLEEP and be comfortable, we flew into JFK using mileage in First Class so that we could have the beds that lay down completely. Newark airport is closer to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ, but United did not fly the better planes to Newark at the time. This has now all changed and United no longer flies non-stop from SFO-JFK, they have moved their "PS" Premium Service to the SFO-Newark route. I will say that the Premium Service was awesome! It was a treat to lay down with a real pillow and sleep for a little bit on this 5 hour flight. You are also provided a nice "midnight snack" before retiring for the evening and given an eye mask and mini toothbrush and toothpaste. I would definitely take the PS on United again and it's nice that they now service Newark airport since that is the closer airport to New Jersey's up and coming cruise terminal!
We had a private car arranged to take us to the cruise terminal. Royal Caribbean did not offer shuttle service from JFK and a taxi would have been fairly equal in cost, so we went with the luxury of a nice sedan town car. Our ride was waiting for us even though we landed early and then it took about 45-60 minutes to get to the cruise terminal. We arrived about 2 hours before we could really even consider being checked-in, but we knew this and really didn't have any other choice. The staff at the cruise terminal did a good job though at making sure people had places to sit while waiting and really managed the growing crowd very well. We anxiously awaited our boarding time, while greeting members of our group as they all started to arrive. We cruised with a group of 36 line dancers.
Check-in was smooth and easy, not quite as smooth and easy as Quantum of the Seas- but that's mainly because of all the new technology set up on Quantum, much of the check-in process for Quantum back in April was done electronically ahead of time, so it was an easy swipe to get the check-in process completed. For Liberty of the Seas, we still had to wait in a short line, get our ID pictures taken and receive our cruise cards and then wait to board the ship. All in all though, smooth and easy. Once on board, we purchased our drink packages and then headed to the internet lounge. I had a few critical work things to get done before we set sail. The internet while in port at the Internet Cafe was horribly painful, but I did manage to get done what I needed to get done before sailing- including a phone call to a tour company right before we left the port.
Liberty of the Seas is a "Freedom Class" ship and this was my first time sailing on the Freedom class, though I have toured the Freedom of the Seas before. I am pretty sure that I have now sailed on every class of ship that Royal Caribbean offers, though I need to double check on that. All of the classes tend to overlap some. Liberty has the Royal Promenade, Rock Climbing Wall, Flow-Rider, Boxing Ring, Ice Skating Rink (Studio B), etc. Once you have sailed on a few Royal Caribbean ships, they become like "home"- so easy to find your way around and you know what to expect from various venues. A variety of cabin types from Inside, Ocean view, Balconies to Suites. We had our Balcony stateroom, which did not disappoint- again everything that we expected and have grown to love about Royal Caribbean.
This was an unusual cruise for us. First, because of the destination we were going to ports of call that we had never been to, which meant we were up early on port days to go exploring. Second, being the line dance cruise we had dance lessons on the Sea days at 8am- so more early mornings. My husband and I don't like doing mornings when on vacation, so this was an exhausting cruise for us and we did find a couple of times that we took afternoon naps. Also, making this unusual was the fact that it's not the "fun in the sun", "Lay by the pool" type of sea days, though I will say our first sea day was gorgeous- not really lay by the pool gorgeous but walk three miles around the top deck gorgeous and not be too cold.
Our one day of walking about the top and promenade decks did bring us to discover that on this ship you can get all the way out to the very tip of the bow and take that iconic "Titanic" picture. You can also go walking out onto the helipad- which is right there at the tip of the bow also. Two places that you can't always access on ships.
Also, being with a group our social habits changed a bit from the norm for us. We never really had the dancing opportunities at night. The Disco was again run by "wannabe" DJ's who played what they wanted to play vs. what people wanted to dance to and honestly most nights there were a handful of maybe 10 people in the disco, on a few nights it was just the two of us. Again a different cruise, different group of cruisers because of the length of the trip and destination, an older crowd is expected. We did hang out at the piano bar quite a bit and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly with the sing-along antics of Kim Kinrade - our loyal piano man hailing from Nova Scotia! We also spent some time in the pub, there was a guitarist from South Carolina who was very talented and we enjoyed going to listen to his music a few nights as well.
This is one of the few ships that has a Broadway caliber show on board, "Saturday Night Fever" and it was AWESOME! I think, by far the best Broadway show that I've seen on a Royal Caribbean ship. But you had to be sure to get there EARLY to secure seats-- we were there about 45 minutes early and still sat up in the nosebleeds, but still a great show! Amazing the set changes they were able to do ON A SHIP!
I did not make a donation in the casino this trip, again not many late nights because of our early mornings.
I did partake in a Cupcake Decorating Class which was a lot of fun and I think I did pretty well! They guided us in how to decorate our "puppy" cupcake.
We ate in a variety of places- we had "My Time" dining, which was good, we like the flexibility but trying to get a group of 36 together for My Time Dining really is hard to do. We personally ate in the Main Dining room 5 of our 9 nights. Service was always very good and no complaints on the food. We dined in Portofino's one night and then in the Steakhouse two nights. I honestly don't remember what we did for the unaccounted night, we may have visited Windjammer Buffet for something quick and easy. On a 9 night cruise, it doesn't take long for me to get sick of the sit down dinner process, I like to get up and move around.
We seemed to always have breakfast on this cruise (something we normally sleep through), the buffet had plenty of options, though I tended to keep in line with my "needs" and would get some almond milk (they have it available, you just have to ask) and mix that with my Shakeology, then I'd have a few pieces of bacon and a hardboiled egg. It was the perfect mix for me. We rarely had lunch. We did eat at Johnny Rocket's one afternoon and visited the buffet a few times for a quick snack.
I did buy an internet package so that I could stay connected. I had a few client things that I needed to stay in touch about and though I had my doubts given the first day before we ever left the port about the internet quality, I was pleasantly surprised once we were sailing that the ship board internet was quite good. My husband & I had noticed an email from our mortgage broker and we needed to log in and sign some electronic documents (80 pages worth) and we both sat at the Schooner bar with our adult beverages while signing documents and then "sending" them back to our broker. It worked very well. So while I enjoy cruising so that I can get away from it all and truly disconnect, times are changing and ships are becoming much more connected, which just means I need to find a happy balance.
PORTS OF CALL:
All new places and though this was a Canada/New England itinerary and we were hoping for Fall Foliage- we didn't see any fall colors. This year has been seasonably warmer across most of the United States and as such, the colors just had not started to turn. Nothing is guaranteed! PORTLAND MAINE: we took an excursion that took us out of the marina on a schooner sail boat past the iconic lighthouse and then afterwards a bus tour took us to the same lighthouse so we could get the two vantage points. It was a good tour, weather was crisp and clear, a little chilly on the water but manageable. BAR HARBOR MAINE: Cute little waterfront town! Very charming place. We went on a tour that took us to Acadia National Park and then to a Lobster (Lob-stah) bake at the Bar Harbor Club. It was a nice meal, wonderful hospitality and then we walked around the waterfront and did some shopping. HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA - our only international stop in Canada and we opted to go wine tasting into the valley. It was a small intimate tour of 3 couples and our driver/guide and overall a very nice day- we did see some colors, though not very colorful yet, this was our most northern stop, so it gets cooler the more north you get. We had a lovely day here as well. BOSTON, MA: here we decided to take the Duck Tour and it was a lot of fun. Our driver/guide was a hoot- which I think is a job requirement, he kept things very entertaining while also being educational at the same time. The tour was about 3 hours in total and we had the option to get off in town or get off back at the ship, it was a COLD day in Boston, so we opted to go back to the ship and now know that Boston is a city that we'd like to return to for a longer visit!
We had a great cruise- we would have liked to dance more, which sounds funny since this was our line dance cruise! We did have our 4 hours of dancing lessons on the sea days - so we did dance quite a bit, but there just wasn't the opportunity to dance outside of our lesson time slots. We had great service, there were a few items lacking from our Group Coordinator on board and he was probably one of the least friendly people we encountered as far as staff goes on this cruise...almost as though he was too important and too good to have to "deal" with us. But putting "Sheldon" aside- we spent 9 wonderful days with a very fun group of Line Dancers, shared lots of laughs, danced and learned several new line dances, played trivia, participated in "sing along", decorated cupcakes, enjoyed Broadway caliber "Saturday Night Fever", explored new ports of call...so it really was a great time had by all!