Saturday, October 28, 2017

European Adventure and AMADANTE River cruise - October 2017

 European Adventure and AMADANTE River cruise - October 2017


Just the Facts:
Ship: AMA Waterways Amadante
Captain:  Andreas Zarwel
Cruise Manager:  Kata Paulovics
Embarkation: Wasserbillig, Luxembourg
Rivers:   Mosel River, Rhine River, Main River, Main-Donau-Kanal
Ports:  Trier, Bernkastel, Cochem, Koblenz, Rudesheim, Mainz, Wetheim, Wurzburg, Rothenburg (bus), Bamberg. 

This is my FIRST ever River Cruise and 132nd cruise overall.  I am sailing with my DW and it is her first river cruise as well.  I am looking forward to the new adventure and difference in cruising experiences.

Travel Day  -  Spring Hill Florida - Monday October 20
We slept in at the hotel and after breakfast reorganized for our flight today. We then went to the DD’s and her in-laws home this afternoon.  We had a very nice Cuban Sandwich for late lunch from an established local food truck.  After a very nice visit we were taken to the Tampa airport to begin the European adventure.  We took the 6:50 pm 7.5 hour direct flight from Tampa to Keflavick International Airport in Iceland.  Not as long as most direct flights and it was a value fare (~$720 for both of us). They do allow one bag, but charge for any additional as well as for meals.

Europe Day One  -  Iceland  -  Tuesday - October 21

Gullfoss Waterfall - Iceland
We took advantage of Iceland Airline’s layover program to have a full day in Iceland.  Once arriving at 6:30 am local time we took the 45-minute Gray Line Airport Shuttle service into downtown Reykjavik.  Our hotel, the Reykjavik Centrum, actually allowed us to check in at 8:00 am.  Amazing…we thought we would have to check our bags but were able to reorganize before the full tour we booked for the day.  We enjoyed a premium tour the Hot Golden Circle tour with the Gateway to Iceland group.  On this Hot Golden Circle tour, we visit the three major sights of the Golden Circle.
 First stop:  Thingvellir, site of the World’s first Parliament (Alþingi) that met each year, beginning in 930 AD and continuing until 1798. The expansive National Park Thingvellir located in this area is a geological wonder as at this location two tectonic plates meet – the Eurasian and American plates.  We visited a viewing area of the rift or valley between the two. The views of   Laugarvatan Lake and the mountains is spectacular.  Next stop was the Strokkur Geyser, a very active geyser that erupts about every six minutes.  There is also a very nice Visitors Center/Reception/Restaurant here.  We enjoyed a very nice soup for lunch on this cool day.  After lunch we were off to the beautiful Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland’s pride and one of Europe’s largest waterfalls. I love waterfalls and this was amazing and I was very surprised at the size and volume of water flowing.  Final stop was the Secret Lagoon, the hot springs nature bath. Locals named it that way because it had only been known to few, up until now.  It was fantastic relaxing in the hot water of the natural pool while enjoying a local Iceland beer (or three).  We arrived back in Reykjavik and walked around the old town area before heading back to the hotel.  It was a fantastic day in Iceland.

Europe Day Two  - Travel -  Wednesday - October 25
View from our suite - Trier Germany
The day started very early to catch the 5:00 am airport shuttle from downtown Reykjavik to Keflavick Airport for our flight to Frankfurt, Germany.  The airport itself is very self-service.  You check yourself in at a kiosk and get your boarding passes and luggage tags.  You then attach the tags and proceed to the luggage station, here I expected a service person, but no it is also self service.  You place the bag on a conveyor belt and it measures and weighs your bag.  Then it drops your bag onto the main luggage conveyor and you hope see your bag at your destination.  There is now no way to talk your way past an overweight bag as no live person.  Border control was as easy as stating verbally your home country, no documentation.  Our 3+ hour flight left Iceland at 7:25 am and arrived in Frankfurt about noon local time.  No border control here as we arrive from another European country.  Once we got our bags we were off to the train station and learned it was in Terminal One and we landed at Terminal Two.  We missed a connection in the process of taking the shuttle so had an hour wait,  but it was an easy process.  We had time for a wonderful buttered Pretzel...we have always loved the German train station pretzels we have encountered in our travels. The train fare was only €54 for both of us to Trier, a bargain.  The train basically follows the same route we will take on the river portion of our trip and once away from the commercial cities it’s a beautiful route by train.  When we arrived in Trier we took a taxi from the train station to our hotel the Romantik Hotel Zur Glocke arriving about 6:30 pm..  The hotel is in a historic 16th century half-timber building that primarily houses a very popular local restaurant and a few hotel rooms on the upper levels.  We had a beautiful suite on the top level with a wonderful view (photo) and huge and modern bath.  We settled in then went down to the restaurant for a wonderful dinner.  I ordered a Pork Veal Cordon Blu with Salad and fantastic Roasted Potatoes.  DW had the Farmer's Pan with Potatoes, Vegetables, Olives, & Feta. We shared a great Apple Strudel for dessert.  Perhaps the best meal of the entire trip.  It was a busy yet fun travel day.

Europe Day Three  - Trier Germany -  AmaDante Day 1 - Wednesday - October 26
Porta Nigra City Gate
I slept very well and went down to breakfast about 9:30 am.  They had a wonderful buffet that we enjoyed.  The fruit and breads were wonderful. We took advantage of the spacious room to reorganize bags.  No more air flights so location of liquids and weight of bags no longer a concern.    We then left our bags at reception so we could tour the historic city of Trier today.  Trier is the oldest town in Germany with many Roman era ruins and 8 UNESCO heritage sites.   We began at the Porta Nigra City Gate, a UNESCO site, and largest surviving Roman city gate in the world.  Here we bought out Trier Guide and began our tour.  We passed the unique House of the Three Magi (built in1238) on the way to the beautiful Main Square. In the square is the Market Cross (from 938), St.Peters Fountain (1595), original Ratskeller, and a wonderful collection of building from various periods.   Next stop was the Trier Cathedral (UNESCO site) built in various periods from 1136 although on the site of an earlier Roman Church from 336 AD.  Nearby is the Church of Our Lady (1235-1250) the oldest Gothic church in Germany and also a UNESCO site.  Then a short stroll to the Roman Imperial Throne Room.  It is the largest surviving single room from antiquity built around 310 AD and roofed in 350.  Very Impressive and yes a UNESCO site.  We then visited the Landesmuseum filled architectural excavation finds from the city.  Many Roman items including a horde of gold coins with various Roman Emperors.  We had a nice late lunch in the museum’s cafe.  We made our way back to the Main Square then the hotel and collected our bags for the journey to the river boat.  A taxi carried us the 12 miles to Luxembourg and we arrived about 3:45 pm.  Crew met us and carried our bags onto the ship and to the reception desk.  We were given our key cards and we proceeded to our cabin to unpack and set up.  Tired from our walking we rested until time for our first dinner.  They only have one setting for all 120 (only) guests.  Dinner was very good, I ordered the Chef’s selection Appetizer, Lobster Bisque, the Sliced Prime Beef entree with Fresh Vegetables, and Cherries Jubilee for dessert.  Riesling wine was served with dinner. After dinner we retired early to rest.  It was a fantastic day in Trier and easy boarding on the AmaDante.

Europe Day Four   -  AmaDante Day 2  -  Friday - October 27
Bernkastel Market Square
Very good and restful sleep…must be something about sleeping on the water.  Breakfast is served from 7:00 - 9:00 basically a very nice buffet style set up with an egg station.  I had three fried eggs over easy, bacon, potatoes, juice, and fruit.  It was very good.  We meet for our tour at 9:15.  They have three waking groups: active, regular, and gentile.  We choose regular for the Trier City Tour.  We are docked in Schweich and bused into Trier passing the Roman bridge and largest of three Roman Baths, two UNESCO sites we did not see yesterday.  We had a nice walking tour and learned some history, but we were glad we did the major sites yesterday as we only entered one site today.  We were bused to Piesport where we met the ship seeing some outstanding views of the Mosel River valley from the hills above the river.  As we were on the first bus we went straight into the dining room for a very nice lunch.  They have a nice buffet with carving station and you can also order hot items from the menu.  It was a very nice lunch that I enjoyed, but DW thought the vegetarian items could be improved.  Our next stop (yes river cruises can have more than one port a day) was in Bernkastel.  We walked into this quaint little town and saw the abundance of half-timbered houses surrounding the Market Square and important landmarks. A smaller but beautiful and colorful market square.  We then walked to the Bergweiler Winery where we tasted four of their wines. Riesling grapes account for more than 80% of the grapes planted on the Mosel River and we had very nice ones at our tasting.  A short walk back to the ship and short rest before our 7:30 dinner.  Dinner was very good, I order the Chef’s recommendations:  Shrimp Cocktail & Salad Bouquet, Foamy Carrot/Ginger Soup, and the entree Roast Veal Filet with Truffle, Vegetables, & Sweet Potato Mash.  Wine is included with all meals on the AmaDante and they were generous tonight with the Riesling.  After dinner we retired to the cabin.

Europe Day Five   -  AmaDante Day 3  -  Saturday - October 28

Reichsburg Castle
I slept very well again and went for breakfast about 7:15 am as we have an early excursion this morning.  At 8:15 we boarded buses for the village of Cochem and the Reichsburg Castle.  Perched on a hill overlooking the township of Cochem, the neo-gothic Reichsburg Castle was built for defense but is well decorated with Renaissance and Baroque furniture. The castle offered a wonderful tour that we enjoyed very much.  The original castle was built about 1100 and destroyed in 1688 by the French.  It was rebuilt during the 17th century and survived WW2 intact.  Wonderful decor and grounds.  Following the tour we toured the town of Cochem.  Beautiful old German half-timbered and medieval houses in the old town (most now businesses) were very nice .  We took a break at the large bakery/cafe Flair, a proper Konditorei (specialty cake shop).  I had a nice Black Forest Cake and wished I could have also had an Apple Struddel as it looked very good as well.  We then boarded our buses to meet the AmaDante in Koblenz.  We docked very near the Deutsches Eck where the Mosel River flows into the Rhine River so I was able to walk over to the large equestrian of William I, first German Emperor, erected in 1897 in appreciation for the unification of Germany.  We had a nice late lunch once boarding the ship then enjoyed the sailing up the Rhine river and viewing the numerous Castles and sites including the famous Loreley Statue and Loreley Rock.  This portion of the Rhine river is a UNESCO heritage site.  Dinner was scheduled early tonight due to the port call after dinner so we skipped dinner for light snacks. We arrived at our port Rudesheim about 8:30 pm the time the late excursions was scheduled to leave, but since they are running late and we overnight here and have an excursion going onto town tomorrow we decided to stay on board and relax.  I also finally had some time to update my notes and review.

Europe Day Seven  -  AmaDante Day 4  -  Sunday - October 29
The Niederwalddenkmal
It was the over-night change to Winter Time as they say in Germany or Daylight Savings Time so we had an extra hour and I slept well. About 7:30 am I went to breakfast and enjoyed eggs cooked to order, bacon, potatoes, and fruit.  We are still docked in Rudesheim and this morning we took an excursion into town to the Rüdesheimer Seilbahngesellschaft, a two person cable car (or gondola), that goes to the top of the mountain.  We went up over the beautiful grape orchards and had wonderful views up and down the Rhine Valley.  The highlight on top is the Niederwalddenkmal, a huge monument built in the 1870/80s to commemorate the Unification of Germany.  We walked around the village then returned to the AmaDante for quick Soup & Salad lunch.  We were off again at noon for our excursion to Mainz.  In Mainz we saw the old town and visited the Mainz Cathedral of St. Martin dating to 975.  The highlight of the excursion was to visit the famous Gutenberg Museum, home of the world’s first printed bible, middle age manuscripts, printing presses, and other typesetting machines of ages past.  They had three original Gutenberg Bibles on display in the vault...only forty now exist.  After the excursion we walked down to the river and boarded the AmaDante that had sailed from Rudesheim to Mainz.  As soon as the excursions were on board we set sail from the Rhine River into the Main River into the heart of Germany. onight is a special dinner: Chaine des Rotisseurs Dinner recognizing an award won by AMA Waterways for food excellence. The wait staff wore special uniforms and it was a French Theme.  I went with the straight Chef’s recommendations:  Pate au Foie Gras, Soupe a la Oignon (French Onion), Medaillon d’Agneau (lamb), and Variations de Desserts.  It was a very nice meal and Riesling wine was served with dinner.  Not as many vegetarian selections for DW this cruise and especially tonight with the special menu.  After dinner we went to the lounge and the entertainment was fair, I was disappointed to discover I missed a Marlene Dietrich show earlier in the cruise.  It was a nice day in Germany and on the AmaDante.

Europe Day Eight  -  AmaDante Day 5  -  Monday - October 30
The Bosses

I slept well and for first time we do not have an early excursion so a welcome change and longer sleep.  I did go to breakfast about 8:30 am. and spent time updating this review.  In addition to the buffet items and the Eggs Station, they do have specialty items such as Waffles and Eggs Benedict you can order from the kitchen.  They had a local glass-blower do a demonstration this morning in the lounge.  They do have a Glass Museum at our afternoon port. Guests really become a community…they lounge in the lounge, watch the activities, or the river views...all from the lounge.  This is generally not true on a ship with 1000’s of guests.  Today they served a German Lunch in the Dining Room…it was nice.  We docked in Wertheim am Main a bit early an hour before excursions and since this is a small town and are docked so close we struck out on our own.  We walked the old town, visited the church, and had a pretzel and proper Coke in the cafe.  Most shops are closed on Monday as they are in Bosque County or it's a Reformation Holiday here so we headed back to the ship to relax in the lounge (following the system). They have Tea with Piano music and snacks daily at 4:00 pm...very nice. Dinner was good tonight, I ordered the Chef’s recommendations again:  the Vitelli Tonato appetizer, Celery Creme Soup, Braised Black Angus Short Ribs & Grilled Pork Tenderloin with vegetables entree, and Ice Coupe Burgundy for dessert.  Riesling wine was served with dinner again tonight.  I’ve added links as Vitelli Tonato was a new Italian dish to me…and nice.  In the lounge they had a three piece group performing Classical Music as well as a few Gypsy fiddle tunes, it was very enjoyable.  Today was a much needed relaxing day on the AmaDante.

Europe Day Nine  -  AmaDante Day 6  -  Tuesday - October 31
Double gates at Rothenburg
I slept very well again.  I went for a light breakfast about 7:30 the prepared for our first excursion today as we docked in Würzburg, Germany.  We are now in the Franconian area of Germany.  Our morning excursion was to the jewel of Würzburg: the Residenz Palace, originally built for the prince-bishops of the Schonbrunn family. This extraordinary baroque palace is one of the largest in Germany and features an opulent interior replete with frescos, including a grand fresco by Tiepolo, works of art in stucco and statuary, and the gorgeous ‘Mirror Room.’ DW thought the Mirror room was more impressive than the Amber Room in St. Petersburg.  The room is impressive as is the entire palace especially to be located in a relatively small town.  It is a UNESCO heritage site.  We arrived back at the ship at 11:30 for lunch.  I had a nice salad and small steak with ice creme for dessert.  At 1:00 we took a premium (€60 pp) excursion to Rothenburg another UNESCO heritage site. This medieval town is one of the most beautiful in Germany. Surrounded by its walls, towers, gates, timber framed buildings and ancient churches.  We had a guided tour then over two hours of free time to further explore.  Being a holiday there were a lot of locals in addition to tourists in town.   It was quite an eye full with so many historic sites, quaint shops, and people to watch.  We met in the town square under the town clock with it’s hourly show at 4:45 pm where we bused to Kitzingen for a wine tasting.  We entered the largest wine cellar in Germany and enjoyed a variety of Franconian wines.  This was a nice change from the Rieslings we have been enjoying for six days.  After the tasting we walked through the village of Kitzingen noticing a few ‘trick-or-treaters’ and the call to services of the bells at the church.  The AmaDante was docked behind the church, a welcome sight, and we were greeted by the crew dressed in Halloween costumes.  Dinner was a special Halloween event with decorations, music, and the staff in costume.  I really think the Transylvanians enjoyed it as much as the guests.  Dinner was good, I ordered: The Mixed Green Salad,  Corn Creme Soup, the Seafood Entree of Lobster, Scallop, Butterfish, Asparagus, Truffle Hollandaise, Mushroom Risotto.  They had a nice Chocolate Pumpkin cake, but I had the Cherry Jubilee for dessert. They served Franconian wine tonight that was very appropriate as was the white asparagus since they are both local to the area.  They offered another wine tasting and a late Halloween party but we retired after a long busy day.  It was a unique Reformation / Halloween day in Germany.

Europe Day Ten  -  AmaDante Day 7  -  Wednesday - November 1
Bamberg Altstadt - City Hall
I slept well then went to the Dining Room for breakfast. I ordered the Eggs Benedict and they were wonderful…I should have ordered that much earlier in the cruise.  I did notice that we were docked and had been for a while.  I attended the Debark talk at 9:30 in the lounge, something I do not normally do, but we have some changes to out itinerary due to problems with some river locks.  Seems we won’t make it to Nuremberg but will debark in Bamburg tomorrow.  They offered German beer & pretzels in the lounge, but a bit early for me.  I did attend a lecture on the unification of Germany and Europe and the modern European Union.  Lunch was very good today,  I had Fried Chicken and Soup from the kitchen and a nice Salad and Pasta Bolognese from the buffet.  We will do our Bamberg excursion by bus since we will not dock there today.  At 1:30 we left for Bamberg another UNESCO Heritage Site.  Sites we visited included: Bamberg Cathedral (1237), with the tombs of Emperor Henry II and Pope Clement II,  Alte Hofhaltung, residence of the bishops in the 16th and 17th centuries, Neue Residenz, residence of the bishops after the 17th century, Klein-Venedig ("Little Venice"), a colony of fishermen's houses from the 19th century along one bank of the river Regnitz, and my favorite the Old town hall (1386), built in the middle of the Regnitz river, accessible by two bridges.  During our free time we had crepes and coke…although Branberg is known as the beer area of Franconia.  We arrived back at our ship just in time to prepare for the Captain’s reception and dinner.  We met in the lounge and the crew was introduced other than sail crew as they were busy casting off to sail to Bamberg.  We then went down to our final dinner and it was very nice.  I ordered: Mixed Green Salad, the Mushroom Soup, an excellent Chateaubriand with Bearnaise and Pepper sauces, Vegetables, and a Rosemary Creme Brûlée for dessert.  DW's vegetarian selection was a Spinach crepe.  We had our final farewell with new friends and retired to the cabin to begin packing.  It was a wonderful day in Bamberg and final full day on the AmaDante.

Europe Day Eleven  -  AmaDante Debarkation - Munich - Thursday - November 2
Marienplatz - Munich
 I slept well but was up early for debarkation.  I finished packing then went to the dining room for a nice Eggs Benedict breakfast.  They have furnished buses for those that need transport since we are not where we are supposed to be.  Since I had not purchased tickets with a set time we were actually free to take the latest bus (9:00am) to the Nuremberg train station.  Actually saves us a taxi fare.  We were on an ICE train to Munich by 11:30 am.  Ama Waterways did a great job for us.  Upon arrival we took a taxi to the hotel or as close as we could get as it is located in a pedestrian only zone and we were checked in by 1:30 pm.  We are staying at the Hotel Am Mark’t located at the old fish market and there is an active market still there today as well as a Beer Garden, fruit stands, bakeries, and more.  A very active neighborhood during the day.  The hotel is basic, but clean and the best location one can get only blocks from all old town locations. We had a pretzel and beer at Hofbräuhaus München only three blocks away to the north, then dinner at the Ratskeller only three blocks away in the Marienplatz or main square.

Europe Day Twelve  -  Munich Germany  -  Friday - November 3rd
Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary's Bridge
We were up early and walked to the Marienplatz to catch the underground to the train station as we were to meet our 10.5 hour full day tour near there.  We booked the Die Konigsschlosser or Royal Castles tour through Gray Line.  We met at 8:00 am and were off by 8:30 to visit two of King Ludwig II dream castles: Linderhof and Neuschwanstein.  We drove south into the beautiful Bavarian Alps for our first stop Linderhof Palace completed in 1878.  This Baroque palace with French architecture and German Rocco interiors is amazing with interior rooms of astounding opulence.  The park is beautiful although the fountains were already winterized for the season.  Our next stop was the amazing Alpine town of Oberammergau, we enjoyed the shops and architecture. I did purchase a German hat too.  Final stop is the beautiful fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein (the inspiration for Disney’s castle) located in Hohen-Schwangau.  Designed in a medieval style, but with modern (for the day) conveniences. It’s one of the most famous buildings in Europe and symbol of Germain  idealism.  The Throne Hall is magnificent as are many of the interior chambers.  There is a lot of walking and stairs on this tour and the final walk of one mile back to the bus was exhausting although satisfying once completed.  We arrived back in Munich about 7:00 pm and returned by subway to the Marienplatz then hotel. Excellent dinner and beer tonight at Der Pschorr a great Germain beer hall/restaurant.  It was a beautiful excursion to the Bavarian Alps.

Europe Day Thirteen  -  Munich Germany  -  Saturday - November 4th
Glockenspiel
Today is a semi-rest day from the long excursion yesterday yet we do want to see Munich sites so we were out to the Marienplatz to see the Glockenspiel at 11:00 am.  It was very interesting as is the story it tells.  We then walked to the Residenz München, a huge complex of former Palaces, Gardens, Museums, Theaters and more.  We ended up spending hours here, our favorite things were the Crown Jewels or the Royal Regalia of Bavaria, the Renaissance Saint George's statue, the Grottenhof, the Throne Rooms, and various Bedrooms.  This ended up being more walking than originally planned so we started back towards the Marienplatz.  We passed the Odeonsplatz and the Feldherrnhalle.  We stopped for an early dinner again at the Ratskeller as it was on the way to the hotel.  The meal was again very good, I ordered the Beef Rouladen and DW Potato Pancakes and large salad.  We just walked around the local market by the hotel then enjoyed an ice creme and retired early to rest and prepare for our Barcelona flight on Sunday.  It was a very nice day in Munich.


AmaDante Cabin
We had cabin 101 a cabin located midway on deck one on starboard side.  The room is the standard size 170 sf for a river boat with two windows.  It has the following: key pad safe, hair dryer, two full chairs, vanity/desk, nice shower door, storage in cabinets and under bed (drawer), flat screen TV/monitor, side tables, and good lighting. Very well designed.  The air conditioning & water pressure worked very well.  Excellent service from cabin steward with chocolates and bottled water at turn-down each night.

AmaDante Crew
Overall very good. Only 42 crew members so you become familiar with them soon enough…and they with you.  Most from Eastern Europe, primarily Romania, and very nice.  I thought the attention of the crew was outstanding…more like a charter yacht than an ocean liner.  Extremely good premium service.

AmaDante Food
Serving times vary to accommodate the ports times.  You must check the DAILY CRUISER for exact times.  One nice Dining room that can accommodate all guests at one seating.  Not as many options for food as on a large ship but quality is excellent.  Daily Tea and late night snacks in the lounge.  Two cookie Jars with changes daily.  Iced tea and water always available.  Bar located in  lounge, but with wine included with dinner not as busy. 

AmaDante Excursions
Excursions are generally included in your cruise fare.  Most days there would be two ports and several choices of activities.   Ear phones/receivers are furnished in each cabin for use on excursions.  All of the guides we had were very good.  AMA Waterways does a great job organizing the excursions to maximize the experience for the guests.

AmaDante General Comments
Took a few days to really get into the different style of river cruising.  It’s easy to make friends with so few guests on board.  I’ve never seen so many Vineyards in my life, all along the river valley, up steep mountain sides, in village gardens, pretty much anywhere and everywhere. 

Highlights of the
AmaDante Cruise
Meeting new friends
AmaDante Crew
Trier
Würzburg’s Residenz Palace
Rothenburg
Bernkastel
Bamberg
Rudesheim




Sunday, October 1, 2017

Liberty of the Seas Review October 1, 2017

 
Liberty of the Seas Review  

October 1, 2017


Just The Facts

Ship:  Liberty of the Seas
Sailing:  October 1, 2017
Captain: James MacDonald
Cruise Director: Drew Devine
Ports: Galveston - Isla Roatan, Honduras - Costa Maya, Mexico - Cozumel, Mexico - Galveston
Weather:  Very nice typical Caribbean weather

This is my 23rd Royal Caribbean cruise, third time on the Liberty of the Seas, and my 131st cruise overall.  I am sailing solo.

Day One—Sunday—Embarkation

View from Diamond Lounge of Breeze sailing past
I enjoyed the leaving/arriving later scenario on the previous Galveston cruises so did so again.  There are so many VIP’s that it now actually creates more problems at embarkation…so the later arrival is a much smoother process. I left the ranch about 7:30 am and headed south to Galveston arriving at EZ Cruise parking about 12:15. Galveston was very busy today, but I was shuttled over to the Liberty of the Seas fairly quickly. I was after the initial boarding rush and zipped through security and check in and was on board about 1:00 pm. I went directly to the cabin on deck six and since I rolled my bag on board with me I began stowing away some items.  I went up to the Windjammer and got a plate of Cuban Chicken, Vegetables, and Mashed Potatoes.  Also easier to wait until 1:30 pm when cabins open so that you can get a seat in Windjammer.  After my late lunch I returned to the cabin and finished unpacking and cabin set up.  I purchase the premium Zoom internet package ($85 with discount) so watched part of the Dallas Cowboys game online until time for muster drill about 3:30 pm.  Fortunately my muster station  A1 was located in the Star Lounge just one deck below my cabin so I could sit.  After dismissal it was easy to go up stairs to deck 6 nice as all the elevators were packed as usual after drill.  Soon Wilbort, from Nicaragua, my cabin Steward for the week came by to introduce himself…I think he will be fine.  I requested ice and he soon brought a robe, some cookies, coke, and bottled water as part of the D+ goodies. About 5:00 pm I went up to The Diamond Lounge and the Viking Crown Lounge for cocktails.  We were sailing along side of the Carnival Breeze so that was nice as were the Cosmopolitan cocktails.  I ran into some friends I’d recently sailed with on the Breeze so it was fun and I probably had too many complementary cocktails but that’s kind of a first evening tradition that many guests follow.  I have 8:00 pm seating in the Michelangelo MDR on deck four.  There was one other couple at the six-top table.  I ordered the Eggplant & Artichoke Tart, French Onion Soup, and the Seafood Spaghetti (bay scallops, mussels, shrimp, peas with a lemon-chardonnay reduction) entree.  Carrot cake for dessert.  The Welcome Show with a Comedian was this evening, but after a long busy day I retired to the cabin after dinner. It was a fun first day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Two—Monday—at Sea
Lifeguards now on duty
Rolling seas overnight and a very restful night.  The weather is beautiful today with blue skies and scattered  clouds.  I slept very well until 9:00 am in my nice dark interior cabin then went down to the MDR for breakfast just before the 9:30 am close…barely made it and they closed at 10:00 am last year so that’s a change.  I ordered three Eggs over easy with sides of bacon, hash browns, and Pancakes…all very good.  My cabin was already cleaned when I returned and a bit later he brought four new pillows fresh from the package.  Nice.  I worked on this review and caught up on the terrible news from Las Vegas this morning.  About 1:30 pm I did a walkabout of the ship walking around deck 11 then down to deck 5 and the Promenade.  The pool areas were very busy and I noticed the new lifeguards at all four of the pools.  I was stopped by a family that recognized me from my Blog, they were complementary of my reviews and I really enjoyed their thoughts on the Liberty of the Seas as it was their first RCCL cruise.  I discovered on Facebook that I have other friends on board, but haven’t seen them as yet.  I had a late lunch in the Windjammer, they had ribs on the carving station but I had some Asian chicken, broccoli, and mashed potatoes.  They had my favorite Oatmeal and Raisin cookies so I took a supply back to the cabin.  Cabin time and watching news until preparing for cocktails about 7:00 pm in the Diamond lounge.  Not near as many people in the Lounge this evening perhaps some attending the Captains Welcome and complementary Champagne Toast on the Promenade deck.  Tonight is the Captains night dinner in the MDR and I ordered the Bay Scallops Gratin, the Artichoke filled Crepe Au Gratin and the Carved Filet of Beef Tenderloin entree.  All were very good especially the beef.  For dessert I ordered the Sky-high Lemon Meringue Pie.  Two production shows and the featured late adult comedy show was tonight, but I retired to the cabin and watched the comedians performance from the Welcome Show on Sunday.  I really enjoyed watching from my big bed with four new pillows.  It was a great relaxing sea day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Three—Tuesday—at Sea
Salad Station for MDR lunch
Rolling seas again overnight, but we are crossing into the Caribbean this morning so supposed to be a bit smoother today.  Nice sunshine and breezy.  I slept very well and late again.  I didn’t want to rush to the MDR for breakfast so closed my eyes and did go back to sleep.  Very restful morning.  I went to the MDR for a very nice lunch about 11:45 am.  I always enjoy the excellent Salad Bar and I ordered the pasta of the day:  Farfalle with choice of tomato or meat sauce.  My dessert, the Brazo De Mercedes, is new to me and absolutely fantastic.  I love soft desserts anyway and this is a light (soft) meringue roulade filled with crème pâtissière.  Amazing.  Time for a walkabout the ship and you can see the Yucatan coast of Mexico on our starboard side.  I also found the red dog and the brass dog, the brass dog used to be at the Windjammer entry (among other places) but is now on the Promenade deck next the Next Cruise offices.  The big Red Dog is now chained at his usual deck 6 location so can't be moved about as some crew and even guests tended to do on a whim.  They delivered some h'ordorves to the cabin (only so-so) and at 4:30 I went up to the Sky Bar and got two Diet Cokes (on my Diamond card) for the cabin for my snacks.  I did go to the Diamond lounge for some cocktails then went to the Ice Show: Encore-An Ice Spectacular with friends at 6:30 just making it in time for the reserved Diamond+ seating.  The ice show was fantastic.  Same show as last year yet so much better than on the Mariner last month.  I especially loved the ‘Carmen opera’ and ‘modern US music' segments of the show.  Time for a quick cocktail before dinner back in the Diamond Lounge and then friends joined me for dinner since I knew my table mates had other plans so I wouldn’t eat alone.  Very nice of them and dinner was good…I ordered the Crab Cake, the daily Pasta as a starter, the Braised Beef Duo, and Cherry’s Jubilee for dessert.  I again retired to the cabin after dinner.  I actually found the Fox News TV channel, good to see more options.  I reviewed plans for our first port and decided to let weather decide the schedule for tomorrow.   It was a nice easy sea day on the Liberty of the Seas.


Day Four—Wednesday—Isla Roatan,  Honduras
Beers and Lunch in Coxen Hole, Isla Roatan, Honduras
Calm seas overnight and I slept very well.  The forecast was for rain today so I decided to stay on board and slept in until 9:00ish.  It actually is a very nice partly cloudy day with only scattered clouds with a hint of rain…very nice for those going ashore.  I went to the Windjammer for breakfast and had Tex-Mex Scrambled eggs with Jalapeno and Salsa…very good actually.  Also Ham from the carving station, toast, and bacon with Orange juice.  With most off the ship I spent some time in the Solarium swimming pool.  I spoke with the lifeguard and he said they have been on duty for the past 6 months on the Liberty of the Seas.  I don’t recall seeing them on the Mariner last month but they may have been there.  About noon I left the ship and walked through the improved port area of Coxen Hole and towards old town of Coxen Hole.  I stopped at the LookOut Bar (and restaurant) to enjoy a few nice local Salva Vida beers. I ended up ordering a fresh fish platter consisting of a whole fried red snapper, peas & rice, a Caribbean slaw, and wonderful Plantains.  A great lunch. I relaxed after boarding and soon we were sailing away from Coxen Hole.  Just after sail way the Captain announced that due to the tropical storm forming just south of us we would likely be unable to make our Friday port of Cozumel.  My only real plans are for there but looks like no haircut, Woody’s Bar or medications this trip. Disappointing.  I went to the R Bar just for a change of scenery and enjoyed an aperitif before going up to the Diamond Club.  Dinner had a surprise, in addition to my order (Pasta as starter and Seafood Grill entree) the Head Waiter brought nice plate of grilled Scallops and also Hearts of Palm to the table.  They were fantastic. I ordered the Key Lime pie for dessert. I had some wonderful food today in Isla Roatan and on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Five—Thursday—Puerto Costa Maya,  Mexico
The long cruise pier at Puerto Costa Maya
Fair seas overnight a bit rougher as we approached the port.  I slept well and was curious about the  weather so went for a very early breakfast in the Windjammer.  They had fresh salmon on carving station (I passed) and I again had the Tex-Mex eggs, bacon, potatoes, corned beef hash, and milk.  It is very humid with lots of clouds and I saw rain as well so I decided to stay on board ship today.  Back to the cabin for a nice sleep.  About 10:30 am I went up to the Solarium and got a lounger by an open window and nice view of the Costa Maya port for a few hours.  Nice ocean breeze and still very cloudy.  Many guests went ashore, but many stayed on board.  At 1:30 I went to the Windjammer for an excellent lunch: I had pork loin with applesauce from the carving station, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, a Pasta plate with linguine and rotini with both bolognese and tomato sauce.  I may have underestimated the pasta dishes…it was better than my primary lunch plate.  No dessert with that filling luncheon.  After lunch I got a table on Main Lido deck again by an open window and view.  The Caribbean water is beautiful today and many colors due to different types of clouds with peaks of sunshine…the afternoon weather would be great if you were in the water.  We started getting a little moisture before we sailed away so I returned to the cabin about 3:30 pm.  I’m sure the Captain is anxious to leave, the Magic has long sailed.  As we sailed the Captain gave us an update:  he will sail north at full speed for the next 6-8 hours that should keep us well ahead of Nate.  I guess we’ll have to sail in circles once we get to Texas or he may just dock a day early on Saturday for safety.  I went up to the Sky Bar to get three Cokes on my Diamond card and they were showing the ALDS baseball game on the big screen so I stayed and enjoyed that in the now nice cool sea breeze.  A lot of Astros fans on board so it was fun.  I had time for just a couple of aperitifs in the Diamond Club before dinner.  Tonight it was Italian night in the dining room. I ordered the Insalata Mista salad and added my special Hearts of Palm.  Also Pan Seared Scallops, the Lasagna del Forno (with two sauces) as a starter, and the Chicken Marsala entree.  I had the Tiramisu and excellent Sticky Bun served with Ice creme for dessert.  A nice stay-on-the-ship day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Six—Friday—at Sea
Sky Bar on Liberty of the Seas
A bit of rolling seas last night and I slept very well.  This was originally going to be our port day in Cozumel, but due to Tropical Storm Nate moving north on our tail we had to cancel and keep sailing north to stay ahead of Nate…may still catch us when it becomes a hurricane tomorrow.  I was up early enough to go to the MDR for a very nice breakfast, I ordered the Eggs Benedict with sides of hash browns and bacon.  I also had Pancakes and hot milk….very nice.  Not too busy on outer decks this morning I think most guests are relaxing.  The Captain gave us an update on TS Nate at his noon announcements.  We were able to get 300 miles north of the center by sailing at full speed last night, but today Nate will be moving faster than the Liberty and will begin closing on us.  I had a Pepperoni slice from Sorrento’s for lunch and got cookies for later in the cabin. The Captain has found some sun and has slowed to a crawl as we head north.  The Carnival Breeze has now joined us and sailing parallel so we may be out of risk from TS Nate.  Many guests now enjoying the outer deck although they have closed most of the slides and sports…all pools open.  I had a very late lunch in the Windjammer: Tex-Mex BBQ Chicken, mixed Vegetables, Mashed potatoes, and Spaghetti in spicy tomato creme sauce.  Spent time watching baseball and working on some projects the rest of the afternoon until I went down at 5:00 pm to get some Coke and ended up with two slices of Pizza from Sorrento's.  Pizza Day.  Tonight is the feature show Saturday Night Fever in the Platinum Theater.  This is a big theatrical production with great sets and costumes not just song and dance routines.  The large cast of singers and dancers are very good and this is a show not to be missed if you have not seen it.  I have seen it so time for aperitifs before dinner in the Diamond Lounge.  For dinner I ordered the Three-cheese Tortellini (pasta as starter), and both the Lobster and Prime Rib entrees with the Grand Manier Soufflé for dessert.  This was Quest night and also a late comedy show as well.  There was a lot of activity on board.  A nice sea day although I would have preferred our port call in Cozumel.

Day Seven--Saturday--at Sea
Fair seas overnight and I slept very well…until 9:30 am in fact on this mostly overcast day. This is college football Saturday so that is the plan today.  I wore my Oklahoma Sooners football Hawaiian shirt to the Windjammer for another nice breakfast of scambled eggs, bacon, ham, and more.  OU has the early 11:00 am game today and I'm very disappointed that they still show European soccer on board on Saturday and not American football.  Probably would not have shown OU anyway as it’s on Fox this week, but to not show the ESPN or ABC broadcast games is wrong.  I could not get the televised game streaming probably not enough bandwidth and it was cloudy.  I was able to live stream both the Radio and Stat feeds.  That was pretty good considering OU was upset.  Disney Cruise Line has great college football Saturdays in their lounge, but Disney own ESPN and ABC and broadcast ALL the games. When the Captain made his final noon report he said it will be cloudy the rest of the day but the now Hurricane Nate is east of us heading towards NOLA and we are currently just south of Galveston.  He said we will go in a little early tomorrow morning docking about 6:30 am.  We did had a mix of rain and sun in the afternoon.  I had a very late light lunch and scored some more Raisin Oatmeal cookies.  Soon it was off to say farewell to friends made in the Diamond lounge and final Cosmopolitans for the cruise.  Final dinner tonight was good, I ordered the Conchiglioni Pasta (as a starter), Shrimp Gyoza (Japanese shrimp dumplings, bok choy, oyster mushrooms, shittake mushrooms, & ponzu sauce),   and the Grilled Pork Chop entree with Strawberry Kiwi Pavlova for dessert.  I retired after dinner to do some packing and watch some football.  It was a busy and great final day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Debarkation—Sunday—Galveston
Smooth seas overnight and we were docked well ahead of the Captain’s time stated yesterday.  Even though we were early, Customs opened later.  It was a mess.  Over an hour in line from ship to final US Customs.  At least we no longer need a Customs Declaration Form, just your ID.  I took the EZ Cruise shuttle to the car and I was on my way about 9:50 am. (Galveston Raceway gas price $2.25) and off the island about 10:00 am. I took I-45 to the Beltway, to 290, to Highway 6 to Bosque County.  Home at the ranch about 3:15 pm..

Cabin
I have cabin 6221 an interior cabin forward on deck six on starboard side.  The room is a standard size interior with: key pad safe, hair dryer, refrigerator (empty), small couch, full chair at vanity/desk, nice sliding shower door, and good lighting. Another great feature was the flat screen TV that could be adjusted to view from anywhere in the room.  Very well designed.  The air conditioning & water pressure worked well, but I’m glad I brought my personal cabin fan for circulation.

Crew
Overall very good. My cabin steward Wilbort, from Nicaragua was very adequate I always had ice and clean cabin.  My MDR wait team, waiter Vasti from India and her assistant Joel from the Philippines, were very good.  The three bartenders in the Diamond Lounge were fantastic.

Food
My assigned 8:00 pm dining room was the Michelangelo Dining Room, deck four the mid level of the 3 level restaurant. Only one very nice couple and myself for the week.  The bread and appetizers were good, the entrees were from fair to very good depending on item.  The Windjammer is the buffet  area and the quality of food was good.   Room service now charges a fee for cabin delivery other than continental breakfast.  Johnny Rockets Soda Shop is a good alternative for lunch or afternoon snack…not near as good as Carnivals free Guy’s Burgers. Lunch in the Sapphire Dining Room has the same menu each day with one special item that does change daily. I believe breakfasts were the best meals.  There are several ice crème and yogurt machines on Lido deck.  The Cookies on this ship are outstanding my favorite was Oatmeal raisin.

Highlights of the Cruise
Diamond Lounge and Friends in Diamond Lounge
Ice Show
Fresh red snapper lunch in Coxen Hole Honduras


Thank you for reading.  As an older/experienced cruiser my activities will be much different from a newer cruiser as I will be doing fewer things on board simply because of the 'been there done that' factor. There is a variety of Activities, Shows, and Entertainment on board ship, but frankly I don't have the energy as I once did...Priorities do change over time. I do still love to cruise!!