My mother kindly took our family (me, my husband, 8year old, 13 year old) on a Western Carribean cruise on Dec 17th. Since this was my first cruise, I extensively did my research and took a lot of advice from the boards.
Here's what I learned:
1. Yes, the boards were right. Breakfast on the Liberty was repetitive - that being said, the same 30 or so items (with several other hot items being swapped in) were available each day. Come to my house sometimes - we have the same 4 or 5 things every day! I never got a chance to try everything.
Nice balcony, lots of closet space. Converted couch to 3rd bed and room still felt roomy. Near the elevators, but not too close. Across the hall from the laundry room which was convenient but not noisy at all. Was recommended this room for several reasons - only cabins above and below it (no public spaces which can get noisy at odd hours), it is located in the middle of the ship which can help with swaying, near the elevators and lastly, since this is on the same floor as the "fancy" suites, usually the best stewards are on this floor.
We went to see a comedian on the cruiseship the night before docking and he mentioned that Belize City was the Flint Michigan of the Caribbean. He got some jeers (there were a lot of people from Michigan on the cruise!) but said, 'Just you wait and see!". Now, not to be derogatory to Flint, since I have never personally been there, but this is a really poor country, and Belize City seemed to be extremely poor.
The tendering process for Belize was difficult on the Carnival Liberty. You had to go to a lounge at around 7:45am, get a tendering ticket, then wait in the lounge for about 45 minutes. You then boarded the tending boat. The loading and actual transit time was about 30 minutes total. If you are taking an excursion with the cruiseship, you have priority tendering and don't have to follow quite the same procedures as above. That being said, our tour was $45 and the same tour with the cruise ship was $103!
Once off of the tendering boat, you come to the cruiseship terminal. It's a series of low slung buildings with all of the same stores you see at all of the cruise ship terminals - Duty Free, several jewelery stores, souvenir stores and a few bars. There is a nice bathroom here - USE IT!!! You won't see another nice bathroom until you return.
We took an independent tour, as as you leave the terminal, you'll see all of the tour operators waiting to take people.
We went cave tubing, which was fun, but also very far away from the cruiseship terminal. This would not be a fun port to wander around in by yourself.
I believe that it's almost always better to book your own excursion rather than through the cruise ship - with the exception of Roatan.
Once docked, you are in the cruise ship village. It's the same as all the others with a few exceptions. There is a chair lift there that will take you to a beach. There's also a zipline right off of the parking lot. In every other port, as soon as you left the village, the independent tour operators were waiting for you. At this port, they make them wait outside of the security gate - located about 1/2 miles away, up a big hill. Once past the security gate - you're mobbed with people trying to get you into their car. It was incredibly overwhelming.
We went to the iguana farm, which was really cool. The admission price of $8 seemed a little excessive, but you could feed the iguanas and my kids really liked it. Just be careful, some like to sit in the branches and go pee. And if you've never seen an iguana pee, it can pee a lot!!!!
We then went jungle ziplining, which was really fun as well.
The price of the independent tour was similar to the cruise ship's tour and I think in retrospect, it just would have been so much easier and better to take the cruise ship's excursion.