Sail Date: April 2007
Ok I was lucky to be invited onto Liberty of the Seas for the inaugural celebrations. I was excited as I have never been on a Freedom Class ship before. I expected it to be like the Voyager but alot bigger and with loads more facilities. ... Read More
Ok I was lucky to be invited onto Liberty of the Seas for the inaugural celebrations. I was excited as I have never been on a Freedom Class ship before. I expected it to be like the Voyager but alot bigger and with loads more facilities. I boarded the ship at 1:30pm and went to my stateroom. I was lucky to have an E2 Balcony which was lovely and new. The whole ship smelt new and looked pristine. I found my way around very easily as the layout of certain areas is very much like the Voyager. I decided to drop my bags and take my camera to look at the ship. I started from the top and worked my way down. The Chapel was actually very nice and not OTT which I had thought it would be. The setting would be ideal for a wedding or renewing vows. The Spa was very nice and had all the top of the range equipment as had the gym. The mens sauna and steam area was very well laid out and bright. The boxing ring which is outside the entrance to the changing areas is a novel addition. The H2O kids pool is a really good idea and such fun. After that I decided to go to the Windjammer for Lunch. The Windjammer looked great . Its much better than the Voyager and has so much choice. Burgers,Pasta,huge hot buffet with the best roast beef Ive had at sea. Everything sparkled and was such a nice area to have lunch in. All of the staff were in their new uniforms and were all very happy. I then continued my exploring . The whirlpools that hang over the sides are cool. Although they were not filled with water at the time. They are a nice little feature. The surrounding area has lovely wooden furniture to relax in and the Solarium pool is very inviting. The main pool and whirlpools are very well laid out. There were lots of loungers and the new feature on these is an integrated pillow. They are alot better than the current loungers on many of the ships. The Flowrider(surf Simulator) is a fun thing to do or watch. The mini golf and rock climbing wall are the same as on other RCI ships. The Ocean Adventure at sea is amazing . So many things for the children to do. Their teens disco looks better than the adult one!! All the latest gaming machines and gadgets will keep the children happy for at least a week. Studio B is the same as the Voyager and is a nice thing to do at least once and the ice shows are fantastic. The Royal Promenade is very long and is full of cool places. The Cafe Promenade for Pizza slices and snacks. The Vintages for a nice glass of wine and then theres Ben And Jerrys for a nice afternoon ice cream. Plenty of shops to browse and a mens hairdressers. The pub is a nice meeting place day or night. The Champagne bar is also a nice place to stop for an hour or so. The Main dining room is very elegant and nothing has really been changed which is nice as I love the dining room in this style. Chops Grill and Portofino are nice and intimate for that special dining experience. Pharoahs palace is the same as other ships. The Diamond/Diamond plus Concierge lounge is very nice and new. Could be a bit small given the number of D and D+ members these days but still a nice place to visit if you have reached that level. There was one stateroom of each type available for viewing so I decided to do them all. The Presidential Suite was nice but I preferred the Royal Suite as its more open plan and airy. The Promenade Family stateroom is great for a family on a budget and plenty of space. The normal Promenade is great value for money if you cant stretch to an outside but don't want an inside. The reduced mobility inside is great for clients with special needs and offers all the proper equipment such as adapted showers and hand rails etc... The outsides are very nice and spacious. The insides are the same layout as the outsides without the window. The E2 balcony was lovely and very spacious and well laid out. I had the E2 and it was ideal. All staterooms have the flat panel TV's which add to the look of the staterooms. The decor is also getting a bit more conservative which I welcome. I used the Online at sea but even in Southampton port it was crazy slow. I wish they could do something about that as its frustrating. Anyway after my 3 hour tour I headed back to my stateroom and got ready for dinner. On our night it was one open seating at 730pm which was a one off for this launch event. I got a table for two with my colleague. The food was excellent and plenty of choice. The only thing which I could comment on would be the long delay between soup and main course. It could have been a bit quicker. After that we went to the Viking crown lounge which had a band playing. It is a nice place to meet everyone before hitting the night club.At 945pm we were all invited to watch the fireworks display on the main pool deck. It was amazing and was accompanied by music. It was one of the most impressive I have ever seen and lasted for 8 minutes. At 11pm we went to the night club and it was amazing , very well laid out and plenty of space even though it was packed. I have never seen a nightclub that full on a ship. Maybe it was because of the type of event that it was. The DJ was brilliant and the music was UK and European which was great also. We stayed until 3am. The next morning I woke up after having the best nights sleep in a long time. The beds were perfect. It was then time to hit the Windjammer for breakfast. Again alot of choice and one thing you cant beat Royal Caribbean on is their American breakfasts. It was really nice and tasty. I was surprised by the lack of queues also. So all in all I was very impressed with the Liberty and Royal Caribbean seem to be going in the right direction.They are upgrading certain things and raising the standards its the little things that matter. My photos can be viewed at http://liberty200734.spaces.live.com/ Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
I was one of the lucky travel agents to be on the Inaugural North America cruise on the Liberty of the Seas by Royal Caribbean International sailing from Cape Liberty, Bayonne NJ. It was a complimentary 2 night cruise to no where to give ... Read More
I was one of the lucky travel agents to be on the Inaugural North America cruise on the Liberty of the Seas by Royal Caribbean International sailing from Cape Liberty, Bayonne NJ. It was a complimentary 2 night cruise to no where to give us an idea of the vast amenities and beauty of this new baby sister to the Freedom of the Seas. The ships are identical in size with some subtle upgrades and improvements. Cabins- we got to tour most of the cabins on the ship including the Royal Suite (to die for), the Family Penthouse suite, Grand Suite, Owner's Suite, Junior Suite, Balcony cabin, Promenade Family Stateroom, Oceanview Family Stateroom and the Promenade cabin, to which we were assigned. I'm actually very glad that we were in the Promenade cabin since I have not stayed in this category before and I wanted to see the benefits over the inside (many) and the oceanview (also a few). I'll try to explain as much as each category of cabin as I remember it starting with the Promenade cabins first. These cabins are interior cabins but have a window facing the large galleria in the middle of the ship. We were on Deck 8, which is the highest level of this category of cabin. I would recommend this deck as opposed to the lower deck 6. The Royal Promenade is light 24/7 and some shops are open to the very wee hours. There might be some noise associated from the party revelers but in our 8th deck Promenade cabin, you couldn't hear any noise at all from the Promenade. We were actually located just a few door down from the elevators and we didn't hear any noise at all from the hallway or elevators. Pros to this cabin: It is lower priced than the ocean view cabins. The oceanview cabins are on the lowest passenger levels of the ship and the promenade cabins start on deck 6. Yes, it does not have the ocean view but you can see daylight which helped enormously when it came to having to get up in the morning. About ½ of the Promenade cabins are connecting which is great for families. 2 small love seats (one under the promenade window - great for people watching) Cons: if you need the beds separated into 2 twins, it is tight getting around the bed. Interestingly, the beds are rounded in one corner to make it easier to pass by. In all, I would highly recommend the Promenade cabins to my clients who would prefer to be midship on an upper level but may not want to pay for a balcony. The cabin amenities (the same for all of the staterooms not at suite level): Great plush beds European style linens 100% plush Egyptian towels Adequate closest space with a good amount of hangers. Decent but limited drawer space (typical on most cruise ships) Plasma flat screen TV Refrigerator Portable Hairdryer Bathroom amenities - only shampoo/conditioner in the shower stall. Bar soap. The suites have the upgraded bathroom amenities. Decent storage space in the medicine cabinet, shelf under the sink and numerous hooks on the back of the bathroom door. Shower - typical Royal Caribbean- the joke is- you soap the walls and shimmy around to soap your selves up. Need to open the shower door to shave your legs. Additional Suite Amenities included: Upgraded toiletries Bathtubs Balconies Robes and slippers The Family Promenade stateroom (there are only 4) is a fabulous and huge cabin to accommodate a family of up to 6 with a sofa bed and 2 bunk beds in a separate nook- great for younger kids or teens. Book these very early since these will be snapped up quickly. The Family Oceanview staterooms also have the bunk bed nook and will accommodate up to 6. There are only 8 of these and they will book up very quickly. They are located all the way in the forward on decks 6-9. The Junior Suites were very impressive. Great balcony and a good size with a bathtub. The Grand Suite is huge with a pull out sofa bed in the living room, bar area, huge bathroom with tub and great double balcony. The Royal Family Suite with balcony is fabulous for families with teens. It has 2 bedrooms (1 interior and the master has the balcony) with 2 bathrooms and a huge balcony. This may also sleep up to 6 with the double sofa bed. The Owners Suite is huge with 1 queen bed, a double sofa bed in the separate living area, 1 bathroom and huge flat screen plasma TV that swings back between both the master bedroom and the living area. The Royal Suite was the most impressive cabin on board the ship. This will only accommodate 4 guests in the private bedroom with king bed, separate living area with queen sofa bed and baby grand piano, dining room table and bar. The bathroom was incredible with marble sinks, a huge tub and shower that could easily fit 2. There is a Jacuzzi on the balcony. The Presidential Family Suite is the largest and will sleep up to 14 with 4 bedrooms (2 with balconies and 2 interior) with 2 bathrooms, an enormous balcony with a Jacuzzi and bar. This ship is designed for families and these cabins reflect the demand for upscale family cabins. These cabins are selling out quicker than I ever could have imagined despite the steep pricing. The Ship As a sister ship to the Freedom of the Seas, the Liberty of the Seas also has a FlowRider surf simulator and I finally got to see it in action. Richard Fein, the CEO of RCI, challenged guests and the ship's captain to a contest of who could stay up the longest and he did a great job. The FlowRider is located in the aft of the ship, is open periodically during the day and requires a lesson or assistance from the staff. Guests can either boogey board or try the long board. There are bleachers set up on the 3 sides surrounding the surf simulator for spectators and there were many of us watching- even in the 60 degree windy weather. In addition to the FlowRider, the sports deck includes a basketball court, the rock climbing wall and a beautiful mini golf course. The ice skating rink on deck 3 is also open throughout the day. The H2O zone - the kid's water park is a work of art. The fountains and sculptures were beautiful and this is sure to be a great hit among kids and the young at heart. For those who want something a bit quieter, the adult pool (the solarium is lovely and has 2 Jacuzzis that jut out 12 feet over the ocean. Although they were packed, I only dunked my feet in. It was still only 60 degrees out but it sure didn't stop the other guest. The main pool and the sports pool area are huge. There were a ton of lounge chairs set up on 2 levels. Don't miss the mango shake at the juice bar at the main pool. The Promenade In addition to Sorrento's Pizza (it has sandwiches, salads and desserts as well), there is a cafe (coffee shop with sandwiches, cookies, desserts as well as coffees), Ben and Jerry's, a pub, wine shop, barber shop, gift shop, general store, perfume shop, jewelry store, and a clothing store. A little reading area is tucked into the corner of the cafe. The promenade has a vintage red sports car (unfortunately just for viewing) and lots of tables to sit, relax and people watch. The Pirate's Parade To give us a taste of what the guests will see, we also got a chance to view the Pirate's Parade in the Promenade which was a ton of fun. Try to find a spot in the middle (near the wine shop for great viewing. The costumed characters go back and forth so really any location will be good. There are 2 balconies over the promenade where the characters steered the pirate ships and did some wonderful stunts. The Food Of course, no cruise is complete without eating to your hearts delight. The Windjammer buffet also included Jade Restaurant which had some very interesting and tasty Asian dishes. From the pool area, you will first pass Jade, but if you are interested in the more common American fare, keep walking and you'll get into the Windjammer cafe. The buffet for breakfast has an omelet station in addition to all the usual breakfast buffet foods. Jade offered all cut up vegetables which I assumed (incorrectly) was for the Omelet station, but it was really for Miso soup. I didn't try it for breakfast but lots of people were digging in. I did have the scrambled eggs with shrimp and peppers and they were good. The lunch buffet had the Asian specialties in the Jade section and in Windjammer, the selection was vast. There was a carving station, with all the fixings, sandwiches, pastas, salads, soups, fruits and desserts. There were separate salad bowls which were greatly appreciated and guests used them for everything from salads to fruits to desserts. The Dining Room 3 levels and exquisite. If you sit on the lowest level you get a great view of the entire dining room. The food is presented beautifully. It is tasty and has enough variety for even picky eaters. There are new Vitality menu offerings which are healthier. The service is friendly and efficient. We ate in the dining room for the first breakfast and both dinners. Although I couldn't get strawberries and blueberries in Windjammer, it was no problem at all in the main dining room for breakfast. The dinner menu always includes Caesar salad, grilled salmon, steak, chicken and baked potato. I had the surf and turf (beef and shrimp) the first night and enjoyed it thoroughly. The 2nd night, I had roast duck which is a treat for me since I rarely have it. Portions are small, but remember you can order as much as you want. On the 2nd night (deemed formal night), the waiters served sorbet between courses- something I don't remember seeing on Royal Caribbean before. Desserts were good- even the sugar free desserts. One of our associates was celebrating her birthday so I was able to get a slice of cake brought to the table and a dozen waiters all serenaded her. It's just a slice of cake now. A celebration cake needs to be ordered through the special services- Bon Voyage department. Royal Caribbean's food has never been gourmet but it certainly was very good and had a good variety. I know food is very personal but I really couldn't find fault with the meals that I had. The Entertainment We had a welcome aboard 70's dance party right after dinner on the promenade where the Village people led a dance parade. It was a lot of fun and the guests were really enjoying that. The first show was Some Where in Time and was truly wonderful. Please realize that I am no Simon Cowell, but we all thought the singers were superb and the show was sensational. The stage sets were truly beautiful and the show really WOW'd us. There was only 1 show that night at 11pm and it was crowded but we were able to get good seats. The stage curtain is a red, jeweled design of cabaret line. It was the nicest that I have ever seen. The Ice Show- Encore- was top of the line. These skaters were fabulous. There was one scene where the female skater must have changed costumes a dozen times while still on the ice. It was truly sensational. The jumps, twirls and swinging were making me dizzy so I don't know how the skaters kept up the pace but it was a 45 minute show and it was great. The 2nd show was a celebrity entertainer- Mickey Dolenz of the Monkeys. He was very good. He performed a number of the favorites from the Monkeys as well as a few others. His sister CoCo was his side kick and they performed a couple of duets together. Again- a great show which was enjoyed by all. The casino is huge but no longer has the bells when you win at the slots (kind of ruins the fun of winning). There are a ton of bars and private places to hang out in. The disco was packed with dancers. I know that I skipped a lot but I am righting this after very little sleep. In general, this ship is great. Is it for everyone---- probably not but I know that it would be great for families, honeymooners, couples and groups alike. A good travel agent will be able to steer you in the right direction and will be able to help you decide if this is the right ship for you. I will try to get some pictures up on my website but I can't promise that it will be soon. I would sail on this ship in a heartbeat. I just wish my 2 night cruise was longer! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Liberty is the second entry in RCI's line of Freedom class ships. She is much in common with her older sister with just a few changes. This is a huge ship and in two days it was hard to see everything. Outstanding was the ice ... Read More
Liberty is the second entry in RCI's line of Freedom class ships. She is much in common with her older sister with just a few changes. This is a huge ship and in two days it was hard to see everything. Outstanding was the ice show, which would be fabulous even on land, but was even more so considering we were at sea, albeit with perfectly calm seas. Crew worked very hard to please and was smiling and friendly as is the norm on RCI ships. Cabins were nicely appointed and the new bedding a HUGE improvement from the old cot like bedding that is being replaces on all RCI ships this year. Public rooms were varied and well designed. The Catacombs disco was a decorators dream, with small touches everything to enhance the gothic overtones. Lots of kid and teen friendly places on this ship and RCI has made it very clear that families are their target market. The design of Freedom as well as Voyager class make that abundantly clear. As for food, it was standard RCI; good not great. At Sorrento, the food looked better than it tasted. Windjammer offered many options and good seating. Food in the dining room was average. Cafe Promenade offered a large selection of sweets and snacks throughout the day. While one will never go hungry on this ship, neither is the fare offered creative or exceptional. I am sure it will please the vast majority of folks sailing on this ship. Chops and Portofino were closed but I would guess they would be just as good as they are on RCI's other vessels. The gym and fitness facility is outstanding and my single favorite part of the ship. While all RCI ships have above average fitness areas, Freedom and Liberty take this to a whole new level. RCI has another winner in the monster ship market with Liberty. Those looking for a casual, activity rich cruise will undoubtedly be very pleased with this new addition to RCI's fleet. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
My trip on RCI's brand new Liberty of the Seas was pure luck...literally. I actually won it as a prize on a local radio station contest. Once I was on the trip I found out that it was an exclusive one night preview cruise to nowhere ... Read More
My trip on RCI's brand new Liberty of the Seas was pure luck...literally. I actually won it as a prize on a local radio station contest. Once I was on the trip I found out that it was an exclusive one night preview cruise to nowhere sponsored by AAA as a way to introduce the new ship to it's travel agents and invited guests. I was one of those invited guests...they actually gave a few cabins to radio stations as promotional thing...lucky me! With that said, the short time I spent on Liberty was great. This was my fourth cruise over all (2nd with RCI). My last cruise was out of Port Canaveral so to say that Cape Liberty was a little dumpy is an understatement. I expected to see Tony Soprano dumping a body off of the pier...it was safe..just a little scary and deserted. The ship itself was everything a cruise ship should be...awe-inspiring and something you can't accurately describe in words. From the Royal Promenade to the 3-story Main Dining Room the ship was impressive. Having just cruised on RCI's Sovereign of the Seas (RCI's oldest ship afloat) in March I was not ready for what awaited me onboard the Liberty. We quickly made the most of our short time on board. Our first stop being the stateroom to drop off the luggage. Our room was an inside cabin...nothing fancy...but very well appointed...even a flat screen television. The next several hours we spent searching the entire ship...from the flowrider to the Catacombs Nightclub..Liberty just amazed us the whole time. We made our way to Windjammers and and had a good lunch. The food was very good...I wouldn't say it was 5 star...but combined with the ambience it would be hard to beat! Especially dinner in the dining room...it is like a picture out of Titanic. The staircase and chandelier really makes the dinner feel like a special event! Our favorite part of the evening onboard were the shows...the Ice Skating performance called 'Encore' was just that...you wanted it to keep going and going. It was hard to believe the skill of the skaters...especially because we were at sea...you would be hard pressed to see a better ice show on land! The 'Ever After' performance in the theatre was also top notch. Definitely the best show I have seen onboard a ship! The evening wrapped up on the Royal Promenade with a 70's Dance party...and let's just say that by then the drinks were flowing. Being an exclusive preview cruise all the booze was included...and I definitely over-indulged. My last recollection of the evening is blowing $40 in the casino. Next thing I knew it was 7 am and time to head to breakfast. Overall, Liberty is a ship that everyone should try at least once. I highly recommend it for anyone...first time cruisers or seasoned veterans!! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Liberty of the Seas Miami Pre Inaugural Embarkation: this is sort of irrelevant because we had no porters, had our luggage in tow and it took a while for everyone to board, but it was really fun because of the circumstances, a free ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas Miami Pre Inaugural Embarkation: this is sort of irrelevant because we had no porters, had our luggage in tow and it took a while for everyone to board, but it was really fun because of the circumstances, a free cruise for all the invitees. We hardly noticed the time. Cabin: We lucked out on our deck 6 cabin with balcony as RCI chose our cabin for us since it was on their dime. It was beautifully furnished and with ample space and of course, the new bedding which was luxurious and comfy. The only negative comment I can make here is that the pillows were too plump for me, I'm used to down pillows...and the duvet was a tad heavy and hot. I should have asked the steward for a lighter throw, but with all the fun activities we tried to pack into 2 nights and days, we fell asleep too quickly to really care. I just loved the big fluffy white Turkish towels. Mmmmmm! I really loved the balcony, our first, and yes, we will want to always book them. I liked the floor which was some spongy rubbery material that felt really good under your feet. Service: Cannot say enough about the service par excellence. As usual, the crew and their hospitality and solicitous service is what makes Royal Caribbean the best in the business. Ship: Liberty is all it was advertised to be and so much more. Firstly, she is the most beautiful ship I have ever had the privilege of cruising. No detail has been left undone to make her the most elegant, refined and fun to sail ship afloat. The artwork around the ship is unparalleled in my opinion. From Dale Chihuly glass to fantasy figures, to the framed movie promo photos in the hallways and the moving interactive pieces niched into the walls, everything was impressive. A well planned aspect was the lighting. Real attention was paid to color and placement of accent lighting of public areas right down to the bedside lights (which included LED reading spots built into the standard bedside wall-mounted lamps). I especially loved the carpeting in the beautiful and elegantly clad dining rooms, each one in a different color and motif, my favorite being deck 5 Botticelli, which had gorgeous topaz blue and cream carpeting. So many crystal chandeliers and intricate inlaid wood paneling were everywhere in these rooms and made dining an unbelievable experience. Only the best of construction materials has been used with a real eye for detail. Food: Windjammers food is about as expected. I like most of it but some things are just cafeteria food. The fruit is always good as are the desserts. It always seems to me as if a food service staff of non Americans is trying to adapt food to an American pallet and it just doesn't come off. However, I will continue to eat there on off dining times, etc. The Asian themed Jades is a nice addition to the mix but I don't really expect hot lamp food line veggies to taste like wok stir fried ones. So it works for me. The star for me here is the dining room food, which I would rate as good to very good with Portofino and Chops as excellent, even though they were closed this time. I had the fillet of beef that was the chefs special and it was outstanding and presented well. I have always wished that the dining room would follow the American taste for hot bread instead of serving it room temp, but I guess that's not going to happen. As usual, the soups were excellent. I heard no complaints except my own about the beef fajitas, which were what we in south Texas would call quesadillas not fajitas. They were not served in the classic Mexican way as fajitas here are but were toasted. At least the meat was tender but sparse. Desserts were pretty good, although I will not compare them to the ones we first had on Rhapsody 3 years ago, which were exceptional. All things considered, I am always content with the food on an RCI ship. This was a cruise to nowhere, so no excursions to report on. However, we did do all the water themed activities and really enjoyed the H2O Zone. It will be hard to keep the adults from taking over this place. They heat the doughnut pool for the kids to just the right temp, not too cold nor as hot as the jacuzzi's so I loved that. I don't think many people knew it was heated. It was rather windy and cold out so most people except the real swimmers stayed out of the water. The doughnut pool was a "secret", shhhh. We did Flowrider and I can report that you should try it yourself. Not too terribly hard to ride the easy whole body method. Just don't try to be a hot rod and you'll do fine. While you're in the solarium pool, don't miss the underwater murals in the swim up area under the bridge. If you don't get your hair wet and look at it underwater you'll miss the reef fish on the wall. It's cool. Also, the pools are not salt water, they are fresh water, with a salt sanitizing system. We have the same for our pool at home. I feel it is far superior to chlorine systems. Doesn't hurt your eyes and is like swimming in a saline solution. You'll like the water. Shows: The ice show is not to be missed, as has been said before. It was so good, I would repeat it every show time. The costuming was glitzy and fabulous and the skating was extraordinary. The death defying spiral, head down is frightening and hard to watch but spectacular. This was a highlight of the entertainment. We missed the production show this time, too much to do, but will be sure to see it in September when we cruise Liberty for our 7 day booking. Matt Yee, another experience not to be missed. Never had so much fun! Be sure to be there or be square if he is on the ship when you go. In summation, I really cannot say in words what a good time you will have if you book her. As for size, yes she is big, but so big you don't notice any crowds to speak of, big enough to work off those extra calories walking from one end to the other, and big enough to make you feel safe too. We loved it, loved, it loved it and cannot wait to repeat in September....hurry hurry hurry September! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
LIBERTY OF THE SEAS REVIEW by Host Anne hostanne@cruisecritic.com Pre-Inaugural Cruise, May 6 - 8, 2007 CABIN 9600 DAY 1 - ARRIVAL The anticipation of sailing on a brand new ship, the largest in the world no less, for a two-night ... Read More
LIBERTY OF THE SEAS REVIEW by Host Anne hostanne@cruisecritic.com Pre-Inaugural Cruise, May 6 - 8, 2007 CABIN 9600 DAY 1 - ARRIVAL The anticipation of sailing on a brand new ship, the largest in the world no less, for a two-night pre-inaugural sailing was exciting to say the least. I've never had the opportunity to be one of the first to sail on a brand new ship so this was doubly exciting for me. I sailed with several Cruise Critic staff (LauraS, Host Karen and our Publisher, Kathleen) along with Host Karen's wonderful husband, Ed and a variety of Cruise Critic members. I'm very grateful to Cruise Critic and Royal Caribbean for their warm hospitality in providing an unforgettable two night stay onboard Liberty of the Seas. I arrived on the east coast on Sunday afternoon and spent the night with family in eastern Pennsylvania. Early on Monday morning, my sister-in-law was kind enough to drive me over to Newark airport where I met RCI personnel to catch a shuttle to the ship. I arrived at 9:30 AM and the shuttles began running promptly at 10:00 AM. After picking up additional passengers at all the terminals, we made our way to Port Liberty in Bayonne. It was a short 15 minute bus ride. It's always fun to watch folks get on the shuttle with huge smiles on their face. After all, we were about to embark on a brand new beautiful ship. How could we be anything but ecstatic? I had the pleasure of sitting next to a crew member on the shuttle - Dexter who is one of the sports staff that runs the rock climbing wall. Right off the bat, it was great to chat with a crew member getting ready for their first contract on Liberty. Dexter hailed from Trinidad and was ready to help passengers have a great time on Liberty. Once at the port, we went through security (no more than a five minute wait) and entered the terminal. We quickly (less than five minutes) had our cabin keys and then worked our way over to the spot where they were taking your security photo. We then were asked to have a seat until they began allowing passengers to board. Cookies and refreshments (water & lemonade, I think) were available. Because the ship docks quite a ways from the terminal, small shuttles were provided to take us to the ship. We were given shuttle numbers that were called in order. In less than 30 minutes, our number was called and we were on our way to board Liberty. As there were no porters to take luggage on this cruise, all passengers had to hand carry luggage on and off the ship. That meant taking the elevator up to deck nine where we'd be residing. We were told that cabins wouldn't be ready until 1:30 so we left luggage in the hallway and went up two more decks to the Windjammer. WINDJAMMER I like the way the Windjammer is laid out in different stations. You have to learn what is at what station but once you've got if figured out, it's pretty easy. There's a salad station as you enter the restaurant, followed by a hot entrEe and pasta area. Further back, a carving station with breads, more hot entrEe choices, along with a grill station. In the morning, the back grill station is where you can get eggs and omelets cooked to order. You'll find plenty of seating around the Windjammer. We enjoy sitting at the very back of the ship where you can watch the wake from your table. Lunch was outstanding. Honey stung chicken, which is always available in the Windjammer on Sailaway, is one of my favorite dishes they offer. I had a side of pasta and my first meal on Liberty was a big hit. Coffee, water, ice tea and lemonade stations were found back in this area as well. NOTE: All staff encountered to this point in time were extremely pleasant and seemed happy to be on Liberty. CABIN Following lunch, we made our way back to our cabin and unpacked. I think the Freedom class ships have the best standard cabins and balconies at sea. They are somewhat wider than normal, allowing for people to actually pass each other in the cabin without someone climbing over something. There is lots of storage, a flat screen TV, new comfy pillow top beds and an standard balcony that also is slightly larger than you'll find on other ships. Our cabin was close to mid ship so it was a bit of a walk to a set of stairs/elevators. It's a really long way from the front of Liberty to the rear. CRUISE CRITIC GATHERING After packing, it was time to head down to the Champagne bar where we planned an informal, "unofficial" meet and mingle with the Cruise Critic Members on board. Nearly 40 people showed up and as always, it's great to put faces with the names we chat with frequently on Cruise Critic. Our Cruise Critic gathering was barely over and it was time for muster drill. It was a pretty typical drill that lasted about 30 minutes. There is a new type of life jacket that has what I'd term a "neck ring" around the padding behind your head. As another Cruise Critic member mentioned, it's very uncomfortable and for those of us who are claustrophobic (I am slightly), it feels very restrictive around you neck. I also wish RCI would not ask folks to put their life jackets on before heading down the stairs. It's very dangerous to walk down the stairs with life jackets on and with the new neck ring, it makes it even more difficult to see where you are going. It never made sense to me to make you wear the life jacket down the stairs and then after they line you up outside, they demonstrate how to put your life jacket on. Muster drill was conducted outside and it was a bit chilly so I was glad I grabbed a sweatshirt before I left the cabin. SAILAWAY RECEPTION Immediately after the drill, it was time for Sailaway. RCI had invited their internet partners (that included our Cruise Critic members) to a reception in the Olive or Twist section of the Viking Crown lounge. While I typically enjoy Sailaway on the open deck, this was a perfect Sailaway to be indoors as it was pretty cold by the time the ship started moving. Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean attended the reception and took time to speak individually with those present. Captain Zini did a FANTASTIC job for Sailaway and actually took us up river to sail past the Statue of Liberty. He did a 360 degree turn in front of her before heading out to see. For me, this was one of the highlights of the cruise. Liberty sailing in from of Liberty! It was awesome!!!! Thanks, Captain Zini! MAIN DINING ROOM As we had less than 48 hours on board, the pace of activities was pretty hectic. Immediately after the reception, we headed to dinner. We had been assigned Main Dining (6:30 PM). While there were no table assignments, they did pre-assign main or late dining times. We were a few minutes late arriving due to the reception and ended up on the lowest floor (deck 3) of the dining room. This is a spectacular room if you haven't had the chance to see it on Freedom. It's three stories, has a marvelous chandelier, and had a sweeping staircase at the rear of the dining room where musical entertainment performs. We has a special treat as we unexpectedly randomly had a WONDERFUL waiter (Hakan from Turkey) whom Host Karen had on a previous cruise on Brilliance. One of the things that is special about cruising is the wonderful crew you meet and see again on a later cruise. Hakan made our dining experience a lot of fun. The food in the dining room was very good, particularly the beef filet on the second night. I skipped desserts but everyone said they were very good. ICE SHOW After dinner we decided to take in the ice show. Always a popular attraction on RCI Voyager and Freedom class ships, I'm continued to be amazed at what these skaters can do on such a small sheet of ice. This was by far the best ice show I've seen on an RCI ship (I think I've seen five others). The skaters were extremely talented, the show had a great theme, the music and skating were fantastic and probably most importantly, you could tell the skaters were having a great time. I love when you can tell people enjoy what they are doing. It definitely came across in this show. Don't miss it. ONCE UPON A TIME PRODUCTION SHOW You'll see a theme here....we'd go from one venue to the next because we wanted to take it all in. The production show with the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers took place after the ice show (it was 11:00 PM). I think we were all getting tired and while the performers were quite talented, the show itself didn't have the wow factor that the ice show did. We headed back to our cabins about half way through the show to get some much needed sleep. DAY 2 - AT SEA While the sun was shining when we got up on Tuesday morning, it was rather cold outside. No chair hogs on this cruise. You could have had your pick of any chair at any pool. We started the day with breakfast in the Windjammer. I opted for the omelet station which was a great choice. Any time you can get something made to order, it's usually good. Coffee and a croissant completed my meal. A great start to the day. EXPLORING We spent the next couple of hours exploring and taking photos. We had been on Freedom so we wanted to see what was different and what was the same. We started at the top and worked our way down the ship. The Diamond Club Lounge up next to the Viking Crown Lounge was absolutely beautiful (it was not open for use on this cruise but we were allowed in to snap a few photos. Large glass walls that allow views of the sea. Beautiful furniture, a bar and buffet area and two desktop computers. Access is by your room key if you are Diamond or above in the RCI Crown and Anchor program. We checked out the wedding chapel (very nice), the Cyber Cafe, Library and Business Center (not sure what goes on in the business center...they were busy so we didn't stop to ask). By this time it was time to move on to our next activity. TRAVEL AGENT SESSION I'd say the greater majority of folks on this sailing were travel agents. RCI hosted a session that everyone could attend where they reviewed the future of the Royal Caribbean brand and introduced new tools for travel agents when booking cruises with Royal Caribbean. Many will benefit the cruise passenger as well. For example, in the near future we were told you can go onto Royal Caribbean's website, select your cruise, cabin, etc, hit the button to make your reservation and the reservation will automatically be transferred to your travel agent of record if you have completed a profile on line with Royal Caribbean's website. You'll also be able to book onboard, obtain your onboard credit for a future cruise and have your booking transferred to a group cruise if you'd like. There were lots of little innovations introduced that should assist travel agents in making your Royal Caribbean cruise terrific. SORRENTO'S PIZZA Following the session for travel agents, we headed to Sorrento's for pizza for lunch. I must say, Royal Caribbean has improved its pizza significantly in the past couple of years. This was the best pizza I've had on an RCI ship. You had three choices - cheese, pepperoni and the pizza of the day. Sorrento's also dishes up fresh salads that you can choose your own ingredients (items like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, etc....a little different from the Windjammer), sandwiches and a variety of desserts. It's a great little place. CABIN TOUR From Noon - 2:00 PM, select cabins were open to the public for touring. We visited a variety of suites - Presidential, Grand, Royal, Royal Family, Jr., Family Promenade, Disabled, Ben & Jerry's, Inside and probably a couple more. There are a wide variety of configurations and quite honestly, too many for me to easily describe. All were very nice. The Jr. Suite is a great size for those wanting a little more room and I actually like the Grand Suite as much as anything else .... OK, perhaps the Presidential is a tad nicer ;-) but I thought the Grand was terrific. I took lots of photos but it could be a bit of a challenge remembering which is which! BEN & JERRYS Of course there is everyone's favorite spot, Ben & Jerry's! No charge on this cruise for ice cream so it was an extremely popular spot. I think they have six or seven flavors available (maybe more - I didn't have any). PROMENADE CAFE Right across from Ben & Jerry's is the Promenade Cafe where you can get coffee, specialty coffee drinks, pastries and sandwiches. This was a very popular spot on this cruise (as it was on our Freedom cruise). The future cruise desk is adjacent to the Cafe and you can actually sit and wait in the cafe for you future cruise appointment or wait for a consultant to be free. Great idea. FUTURE CRUISE Speaking of the Future Cruise Consultant, it seemed silly NOT to place a deposit for a future cruise. Now you can choose what they are calling the "NEXT CRUISE" deposit, where you place a $100 deposit per person with them, but you don't select a sailing. The deposit is non-refundable but it guarantees you an onboard credit between $50 - $200 on your next RCI cruise. There is no date by when you have to book your next cruise. When you book, your $100 per person deposit is applied to your booking along with your applicable on-board credit. Of course, you can still book a "real" cruise if you know when and which ship you want to sail on. Many cruise lines are offering this now and it's a better way to secure an onboard credit. While some folks may know what cruise they want to book next, many don't. Nice touch! AFTERNOON TEA Since we were going to be dining later this evening, Laura and I decided to trek up to the Windjammer for a snack. The Compass listed it as "Afternoon Tea." In reality, it was way beyond tea. Lots and lots of food available (everything from waffles with strawberries to burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, nachos, spring rolls and more). A quick bite was all we needed to tide us over until dinner. It was very quiet in the Windjammer around 4:00 PM. SURFRIDER Having sailed Freedom, we were very familiar with SurfRider. Since it was a pretty chilly day, it seemed like not many were participating but there were a fair amount of spectators watching those who were giving it a try. I heard from others that not everyone who wanted to got to try it. It was way too cold for me! We stayed for a short time so Laura could snap some photos for her son and then we were off to the promenade for a bit of shopping. I purchased one item for my daughter in the Get Out There Shop and Laura picked up a couple of items as well in the General Store. We also browsed through the jewelry store where there were plenty of beautiful pieces (didn't check out any prices, though) and the Clothing Boutique where they had higher end items such as Tommy Bahama, Roxy, Quick Silver, etc. FORMAL NIGHT We spent the next hour just chatting before meeting up with some friends for a drink in the Champagne Bar. We dressed for dinner around 7:00 PM and caught up with Karen and Ed back in the Champagne Bar just before dinner. The dress for the evening was formal attire and the majority of second seating were dressed appropriately. However, to my surprise there were several different folks we saw dressed in jeans, t-shirts and gym shoes. I was quite surprised by this. I realize that many don't adhere to the requested dress on regular cruises, but considering who was on this cruise, I thought there were far too many dressed outside the requested attire and honestly, they looked very much out of place. We were told that there were quite a few folks at main seating not dressed as requested. It doesn't normally bother me what people wear but I did feel that these pre-inaugural cruises were a bit special and the least we could do was to dress as RCI requested. Dinner was very, very good. I started with the shrimp cocktail. It was what you'd expect and tasted very good. I chose the beef filet for dinner which came sliced in three pieces a little more than ¼" thick each. It was cooked perfectly for me (medium rare) and tasted delicious with a peppercorn sauce. There was a Grand Marnier soufflE on the dessert menu but I resisted. I had no complaints in the food or service category in the dining room. Both were outstanding. AFTER DINNER As I mentioned earlier, the Captain of Liberty is Captain Zini from Argentina. He was dining at late seating and Ed was kind enough to stop him as he was leaving to ask if he would pose for a photo with the ladies at our table. He graciously obliged and it made it the perfect end to a wonderful dinner. We sat and chatted for a while longer and decided we'd better leave the dining room once the turned the lights all the way up so the crew could clean. It wasn't the first time we were the last to leave the dining room! MATT YEE From there, we walked down to the Schooner Bar to take in a bit of Matt Yee, the piano player. I had read about him here on the boards and wanted to check him out. Oh my goodness...it was chaos! I've never seen such a crowd for a piano singer on any ship. Everyone was singing and doing the crazy things he told them to do. It was a sight to behold. It was standing room only. We headed back to the Champagne bar since there wasn't any place to sit in the Schooner and spent some time just reliving the fun we had the past two days. How quickly they passed! ANY NEGATIVES? Don't laugh but the only negative we could come up with were the new comforters on the beds. They were very "stiff" and unless they were perfectly balanced on the bed, they tended to slip right off and onto the floor. A pretty minor item in the grand scheme of things. OTHER FUN THINGS The art, as always, was subjective. The theme is "Illusion vs Reality." Some interesting items; some way out there things. Lots were fun. A nice art book describing the collection was in our cabin. Club Ocean has these funky, fun round cutout chairs that sit low to the ground and rock...I want one! The furniture throughout the ship was comfy, colorful and modern. There is a BIG RED DOG that stands at one of the Promenade overlooks next to the elevators. He's huge! We want to name him. What do you think we should call him? Liberty has "Henry's" and Laura and I made sure we said "hello" to him when we saw him! The Godmother who will christen Liberty is a travel agent from Toronto. The "ribbons" of artwork that adorn the Promenade are made of Corian and were termed "Ribbons of Love" by the artist. THE CREW I was very pleased to see on more than one occasion that the crew of Liberty was recognized by RCI management. President Adam Goldstein noted that Liberty may be a beautiful vessel but it's her outstanding crew that makes her truly grand. He encouraged us to get to know the crew as best we could on our short stay. I couldn't agree more that the crew works extremely hard and they make any ship and cruise experience exceptional. The crew of Liberty of the Seas ensured that we had a terrific two day sneak peek and I can't wait to be back for a longer stay before too long! Thanks again to Cruise Critic and Royal Caribbean for such an unforgettable experience! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
I was both honored and thrilled to be invited on a two day Liberty pre-inaugural cruise through my participation in Cruise Critic. It was one of the highlights of my life and I will never forget it. I would like to start this review with a ... Read More
I was both honored and thrilled to be invited on a two day Liberty pre-inaugural cruise through my participation in Cruise Critic. It was one of the highlights of my life and I will never forget it. I would like to start this review with a MAJOR thank you to the Crown and Anchor Society. I've been told by a little bird, that they had a team of people who handpicked the Cruise Critic members that would attend this event and I am just blown away by the caliber of the people I traveled with. Every one of them was gracious, humble and more fun than a box of puppies! Pre-Pre-Cruise: My husband had to work. On top of that, we have four children, two special needs. YOU find them a babysitter, so we can leave the country. We can't find that special combination of Mary Poppins and a Drill Sergeant, so he could not come along. I narrowed it down to my friend Amy and my friend Cathy in about the space of a heartbeat. Since I am scared to cruise, after the Crown Tipping incident of the summer of 2006, I picked Cathy. She's in Michigan and can fly out of the same airport. I could not see bringing Amy out from So. Cal. for a two day cruise. Shelbylook, hereinafter known as, SL, and I headed to the Detroit Courtyard by Marriott Airport Hotel to spend the night before our cruise. This sucker was MUCH anticipated. From the day I got the invitation to the day I sailed, my brain was on stir-fry. The Courtyard is a decent hotel, NO HAIRDRYER! An appalling abomination in my world, but anything I didn't bring, SL did. We had a lovely dinner and got our drink on at the Merriman Road Grill. No one ate a whole lot, but the food was excellent. My husband had leftovers for the weekend. We were back at the hotel and crashed out at a reasonable hour. Darn it. Actually, my theme for the trip was, "I'm tired." I got a lot of good quality sleep on this trip. I was not expecting it, but I actually relaxed! Pre-Cruise Up and at em early on Sunday, Mothers Day. Went to Big Boy where we encountered the world's worst waitress. Yes, she really was. She yelled at another waitress and rolled her eyes at her tables. I'd like to suggest she take up another line of work. Maybe a bouncer at a biker bar? Breakfast was pretty good. I had a half order of Eggs Benedict and that was enough. Perfect, actually. They have yummy hash browns. I'm a hash brown snob. Yes, it is too possible. Dropped SL's car at Airline's Parking and off to Detroit Metro. We hauled our crap into the airport for the moment of truth. Would it weigh under fifty pounds? Breath-held, we crossed our fingers and PASSED! WooHoo! Sunday morning saw us breeze through security and off to the gate, at the end of nowhere. Northwest's terminal in Detroit is HUGE! A mile long, in total, it's a half mile in either direction. I abhor that funky train of theirs. It's always too full and the person next to me is always un-washed. Seriously, I win the lottery for standing next to the only person on the train who does not know what the word, 'antiperspirant' means, every time. So we hoofed it, using the moving walkways. I hit every book store in the airport, but never saw my book. Since airport bookstores are teeny, I was not surprised. I'd also been told that it was all, but sold out in Michigan, anyway. Still, a girl can hope (I'm an author. Romance). I ran into a poor woman who spilled her coffee on her laptop and boarding pass. She ran from the table, to get napkins and left her wallet sitting open and out! I stopped her, got her napkins for her and in general helped her out. You don't leave your wallet out at the Detroit Airport, or anywhere. SL is a nervous flyer. Scratch that. The woman needs a Xanex. She paced and sweat (but knows what deodorant is) for almost an hour and a half. I had no clue what to say to her to fix it. I'm a fixer and it about broke my heart to see her like that. We got on the plane and into our lovely and large exit row seats and all was well. I detest that NW asks you to pay more for decent seats. I think it's an abomination. They are my least favorite airline to fly. We paid it, but I always feel held up at gunpoint for safety. Except her fear telegraphed itself to my empathic little heart. I started to be anxious. So I do what I always do when I'm scared, I called my husband. About fifty times. I think SL suspects I'm too tied to him. I probably am. Still, after thirteen years of marriage, that's a good thing. A non eventful flight saw us in Fort Lauderdale. Sunny and warm. AHH! This is what I'm looking for! Michigan has had an iffy spring. The only thing wrong, was the smoke in the air. Much of Florida is on fire, right now. I believe there were thirty-seven fires ongoing, for the duration of this trip. The air was hazy and smelled a little of smoke. We were told the day before was worse. Our luggage was almost the first off the plane! I loved that. We met Bill and Rita of CC! What a neat couple. She had me autograph my book, which she brought along and I was gob-stopped. I'd not had that happen before, outside of the Romance Writers convention I'd attended. Into our shuttle and we were off to the Miami Hyatt. Check in was a breeze and the hotel was nice enough, but there was a run-down feeling to the place. The room smelled so strongly of deodorant spray, that we could not breath with the balcony door closed. Open the door and it all smells like smoke. I'd used points, so I did not want to complain. It was tolerable, but barely. The room is large, but the area is very commercial and I would not recommend it, for more than a night. Those at the Radisson were very complimentary, but I'd stay out on South Beach, if I were to do it again. We chucked our crap onto the beds and headed off to Bayside Marketplace. SL and I are pretty adventurous and I've traveled a lot. I'm not intimidated by cities. I'm a HUGE fan of Jamaica and people are always saying they feel unsafe there. I never have. We decided to take the People Mover thingie in Miami. We headed into the basement to take the underground tunnels to the thing. MISTAKE! It's creepy on Sunday's. No one is in downtown Miami on Sundays, but a few tourists and some people who are probably homeless. A few made the hairs on my arms stand up! I was shocked and bothered. I take the EL in Chicago, without blinking. I just don't get bugged by strange people and the smell of urine. This time I was bothered. I strongly suggest another hotel in Miami if you don't have a car. STRONGLY! We made it to Bayside. We both acted like it was not a big deal and did not feel like we'd just taken our lives in our hands, but we admitted our nerves once we got to our destination. We're just a couple of sissy chickens, but we're alive and that's good. I've never clutched my purse like that, in my life. We hit Bayside, which was very lively. I was not impressed with the fancier stores, but the ones to the right, as you enter, are funky and fun. We headed to Hooters, to eat. I'd never been to a Hooters before. It was interesting. I was not impressed with our waitress, who appeared bored and grumpy with us, and others, (we sat outside) but was a hoot indoors with the other waitresses. She seemed like a different person, when I went to the ladies room and ran into her. Very strange. This was not our week for good wait staff, bar one person. I loved the wings, which were medium and the pitcher of Sangria. Very yummy and COLD! A pitcher is about right for two thirsty people. We were not drunk when we left, and sitting out in the sunshine, enjoying the people watching was a fabulous thing to do. Then, off to wander Bayside. I would have loved to stop and dance with the band playing, but SL didn't appear to be a Salsa dancer, so I just sort of moved my hind end, as I walked. We could clearly see, The Freedom of the Seas, in her dock and the RCI offices. I raised a glass of a fruity drink in their direction, to thank them. We wandered back to the hotel (via cab) and relaxed for five minutes. Then, Becciboo called. They were at the end of Government Cut at Smith and Wolinskey and wanted to know if we would join them? Would we? In a heartbeat. I changed skirts, changed shoes and we ran out the door, to not miss the Freedom as she sailed. A twenty dollar cab ride later (we were taken, to the tune of about five bucks), we were at S and W, on the rocks with Becci and Todd. What a FUN couple! We looked at the menu and while the prices are HIGH, we thought, "what the heck, it's vacation." Our waiter was great. There was a huge contingent of beautiful people there, but I never felt out of place. Our group was fun and our waiter made us feel special, even though we were not spending a grand. As it is, we probably dropped three hundred bucks, between us. Which is cheap, for S&W. The Freedom sailed about an hour late. Which was fine, cause Becci was busy describing a drink she created. I have to say, it sounded gross, but it tasted FABULOUS! I don't know what's in it, to this day, but it was potent and I could not take more than a sip. The cars outside S&W are high priced and exotic. We saw a Bentley, several Rolls and a Lamborghini in a lovely pearl color. Didn't take pictures of them. I thought it would be too hick-like. Dinner over, we headed back to Bayside and Lombardi's to meet with our fellow Cruise Critic members. Bayside has parking from HELL! We went to the self serve lot and could not figure out how to pay for parking for the life of us. Turns out the thing only takes five dollar bills, despite the instructions that said otherwise. Got to Lombardi's and the group was not there! Turns out the plans made for the reservation and separate checks was not honored by the restaurant. The group ended up splitting up and going their separate ways. Some stayed at Lombardi's, some went to the Hardrock (which was VERY accommodating and helpful) and some went back to their hotels to eat. Lombardi's lost a lot of business and some key recommendations that night. It's a shame. Parrothead8 and the CC group had really been looking forward to eating there and worked hard to plan it. The restaurant was selected because a CC member had been assured that they would accommodate them. Back to the hotel. Early night and the end of Survivor. So glad, Dreamz did not win. Wish Yeao-man had. Sail Away Day We SAIL TODAY! WOOHOO! Up early and SO excited. Had a buffet breakfast in the hotel, to the tune of $20.00 a person. YIKES! Was it worth it? Maybe not so much. Good, but not outstanding. We didn't much care. We were supposed to meet Critterchick and Dirtgirl in the lobby at ten, but some people slept in. So we headed to the port at ten. Crossing the bridge and seeing our big girl turned our excitement to HIGH! I was about to jump out of my skin and lost all pretense of cool at this point. I gushed and made a monkey of myself and I just didn't care! What a treat! She is pristine and sexy and gorgeous. I am not, typically, a fan of HUGE ships. Liberty made a liar out of me, in every way. Into the terminal and a quick show of my invitation, had us past the first security checkpoint. At this point, SL beat me as a CC member, in a way that had me in awe. She studied the faces and names of all the CC members who posted their photos. She looked around and picked members of CC out of the crowd! Yes, many of them were wearing LoS T-shirts, but she still looked like an in-the-know kind of gal. I called everyone by their screen names. Made it easy. This is where the refrain started. "You don't look like your avatar. You look younger. Get a new one." If I heard it once, I heard it a bazillion times. I think I need a new avatar. We chatted with the other CC members and there were hugs and kisses, all the way around. My only wish was the cruise had been longer, so I could talk to the CC members more. RCI hand-picked us (this from a big-wig in the C&A department) and they did a good job. What an amazing group of people. We got through security, to learn we had an Oceanview room. I have to admit, I was a little bummed. Yes, RCI told everyone they would be in Oceanview rooms, but we all had hopes. I was not as disappointed as the TA two rows down. She told the poor agent that she deserved a suite and that RCI should be ashamed. WHAT? We were INVITED on this cruise. It was a FREE cruise. Shut up and be grateful. I just had no patience for it. We were gifted with the greatest honor, to sail a ship before she is Christened. Any accommodations would have been okay. Was I a little sad that I didn't get a balcony? Yes. Still, I was happy I was going at all. I think our entire group felt that way. Which was good. As it turns out, everyone invited through CC was in the same area we were. We went to the cattle pen, I mean holding area and parked ourselves till it was time to board. Which happened between 11:30 and 12. I think. I hardly looked at my watch for two days. I loved that. Onto the ship and down to our room and the only real disappointment. I've sailed in ocean view rooms before. They are affordable with the kids and I don't spend a lot of time in the room. The only time I got a balcony, the Crown Princess, I spent too much time in the room. An ocean view drives me out. Still, we lost in the porthole parade. SL and I got the smallest porthole I'd ever seen! The cabins on either side had large portholes. The kind I normally get. We got a puny porthole. There are photos on my website, go look for yourselves. We joked about the small size of our porthole the whole cruise. If I was a man, I would feel inadequate. The room was thoughtfully laid out. Small, they're all small, but well done. I'm happy to report the hairdryers have enough power to blow my hair! A good thing, cause the plugs by the mirror are situated in a way that you cannot use an electric appliance with a transformer by the plug. If you have a lot of electronic gadgets, bring a power strip. You will need it. You can plug a hairdryer into that. I didn't need mine, so it was all good. The lifevests are on the closet floor. A bad place for them. The safes do NOT require a credit card to activate. They are push and go and worked perfectly. The new beds are VERY comfy and I loved the pillows. Our Steward never showed his face. They were traveling with a greatly reduced staff. He did leave us ice and the room was clean. I wish I'd had more towels, but life went on. Soap was fine. Never tried the shampoo. I'm fussy about shampoo. The shower was fine to shave my legs in. Others have said it is too small. I never tried the couch. We put SL's luggage there and mine on the floor of the closet, on the lifevests. Done with our inspection, it was off to the roam the ship. SL and I really liked the artwork on the Liberty. I found the art on the Mariner to be a bit garish at times. The art on the Liberty seemed to be well chosen. I was pleased. I did not see all of the ship. I never do. Lunch in the Windjammer was a hoot. Mostly because we met up with Ottawapuppy and Schplinky. Two great guys who are so interesting and fun, I would look to cruise with them again. The food was Windjammer bland, but filling and not a disappointment. I do think RCI is weak in the food department. Meals seemed hit or miss. That's what you get when you're feeding that many people. After the Windjammer, we went to our CC meet-up at a bar. It was near the pool, the deck above. At this point I should say that there are thirty-five bars on the Liberty (it might be 37. I'm close). SL and I made it our job to hit them all. The drinks were free. I had many. There are memory lapses. That's all I'm going to say about that. I will say that I don't like Mojito's. Which is a major disappointment in my life. I wanted to like them. The group took photos at the meeting and we all wondered why we were not given invitations we'd been assured we would receive to the party for the internet invitees. Becci, being a rather resourceful woman, and pushed by me, went to Guest Relations to find out. Turns out that there was a mix-up with the manifest and some people got them that we not supposed to. A lovely woman came up and handed us our invitations personally. Off to the room to grab our Mae Wests and get to Muster. Typical Muster. Hot, miserable and ugly. I do think Princess handles muster better. You're seated in a lounge and never have to put your vest on, till the last minute. I detest RCI musters, but I NEVER MISS ONE! No one should. You hold it up for the rest of us. Back to our cabin for a Houdini-like change of clothes. Thanks to SL who dried my ponytail, while I put on my make-up. I dress for dinner every night. It's my choice. This cruise was a gift, from RCI. I felt that dressing up was important. Many other CC members felt the same way. A few didn't, but there are those folks who don't. It does not bother me if someone dresses down. Okay, it does, but I would never penalize them by treating them badly. Just sayin. At some point, I saw the Flowrider and decided I needed to try it. More on that, later. We headed to the Olive and Twist bar for the RCI Champions Party. This was set-up for the internet supporters of RCI. WOW! Fabulous appetizers (not super fancy, typical of the Champagne bar, before dinner), passed champagne, Richard Fain and Adam Goldstein! These are THE RCI bosses. These are people you want to meet. I looked like an idiot as I gushed like a moron. I'm sure they think I have all the social grace of a poo-tossing baboon. Sorry about that. There were short, but meaningful speeches and Becci presented her poem. A touching moment. SL and I had a tear or two. Not as many as Becci. Who should hereinafter be referred to as, "Balcony Becci." Darn pig won a balcony! Next time, I write a poem! LOL! The meeting over we were all to be given gifts. They ran out. Turns out they were to be one per couple and someone handed out one per person. I got a bag, only. I was a little sad, but only told a couple people. One of them was Rita. She got one for her and one for her husband (they did ask and were told one per person) and she insisted I take her water mouse and cup. I was shocked and humbled, once again. How amazing was that? I also feel a little guilty about it. If we cruise together, again, she's getting drinks from me. Off to dinner. I must say, the food was not so hot. I don't remember my appetizer, but my main course was the chicken. DO NOT ORDER THE CHICKEN! I'd never tried it, never seen it. Now, I know why. Ugly, hard and nasty. I looked so forlorn, that Schplinky ordered me the shrimp, better, but not outstanding, in any way. Our server was okay. I later found out that she was at the tail end of her contract and just wanted to go home to see her kids. AHA! Can't blame her. I'd be pissy and grumpy, if I'd not seen my kids in months, too. Then again, while I'm typing this the two year old, is throwing himself to the floor over a chicken nugget issue. Bring on that four month contract! LOL! The company was the prize! What an amazing bunch. SL and I headed to the casino. I lost my twenty bucks and told her I was calling it a night. AFTER I cruised the promenade. Know the nice thing about cruising with people? You can always find someone. I sat with Breal6 and Cameraguy and found out she and I have a big thing in common! We yapped until the 70's dance party started in the Promenade (this was after some yummy Ben and Jerry's Butter Pecan. A small scoop). I had a ball! I ran into Dirtgirl, Critterchick and JudyJBest. Judy's husband was there too, but he stood off to the side and watched Judy. We danced and then Dirtgirl had a happy time flirting with the dancers (dressed as the Village People). I somehow got into a conga line, and the rest of the time is a blur. I know my cheeks hurt from smiling. I got to my room at 12:15 and felt like a party pooper. SL got in at 3:30. She was bobbing and weaving and we were in light seas. Wonder why? Day Two: At Sea SL and I awoke with watery sunlight streaming in our pee-wee porthole. I think it was seven something. I know SL got little sleep, but I had the best sleep I’ve had since the Crown tipping incident. I tried to not let the Crown get to me, but it did. I’ve had sleep issues for months now. Honestly, I was afraid to sail again. The Liberty restored my faith in the sea and her ships. Thank you, Liberty! We headed to the dining room. I have a thing for dining room breakfasts. I like the atmosphere. The food was, again, okay. The eggs are powdered. What everyone who cruises needs to remember is RCI, and many other lines, serve the equivalent of banquet food. Now, I happen to love banquet food, but it is not gourmet. The food in Chops and Portofino’s *is* much closer to gourmet. Delicious and well presented, the specialty restaurants are not to be missed. Since we were on a pre-inaugural, the specialty restaurants were not available to the peons of the world, like me. Hey, I’m certainly not complaining! We saw something dang interesting from the dining room. The ship was well within three miles of Miami, closer to one mile. We could clearly see the shore. There was some chop. Now, I’m going to digress badly here. Chop is relative. People who’ve been through a hurricane KNOW what chop is. I’d consider this a moderate sea, seven to ten foot waves, but others thought it was very calm and glasslike. I don’t buy the glasslike metaphor, not that day, but there are folks who cruise who look at me like I’m a loon when I say it’s choppy. SL and I watched a pilot boat wend it’s way toward the ship. We’d not heard an announcement that we were headed into port, for any reason. SL said, “I bet they’re picking up a big wig.” What? Picking someone up? Someone had to make their way from our ship to the pilot boat in THAT? The pilot boat would disappear in the waves, then pop up again. I felt whoever was being transferred was an unlucky puppy, that’s for sure. We watched as much of the procedure as possible, when the pilot house on the pilot ship was entered by, Richard Fain! We mentioned this unlikely transfer to other CC members and got a response that cracked me up. “We didn’t see that.” CC members have a habit of being in denial when they don’t see it for themselves. We’re naturally skeptical and it’s all over the boards. I’ve done it too. Someone mentioned he was scheduled to speak that morning and would be there. He was not. Trust me, please, I did not exaggerate about the Crown and I saw Richard Fain get on a pilot boat. I’m not sure what I did that morning. I know it involved watching the Flowrider, hanging out with a drink in my hand, most of the day and wandering. Very creative, but I was just soaking it all in. SL kept mentioning the wonderful quality of the art and I cannot, but help to agree. Lovely. I know I said it before, but it bears repeating. SL and I split up for lunch. I wanted the dining room. Same waitress kept waiting on me. All couple days. This is where she mentioned she was about to go home. I had tropical salad AND a special Greek salad with shrimp! Both, to die for. The tapenade was world class. I’m VERY fussy about food. I’ll eat almost anything, but I seek out delicious. When I say it’s good, it’s good! This was wonderful. The company was good too. After lunch I changed into my bikini (don’t worry, I never actually wore it without the cover) and put on my t-shirt and board shorts. Why so covered? IT WAS FLOWRIDER TIME! Now, I’d watched those poor suckers wipe out like mad. Todd was there and he is a VERY analytical man. He told me, in depth, how to approach it, deal with the board (boogie board) and make the most of my experience. I was ready to try. Signed my life away and got in line. The line was about twenty minutes long and the sky was darkening. Yep, it started to rain. Wasn’t going to stop me. I was so nervous, but if I can be the oldest, fattest woman at a triathlon, I can get my hiney onto a boogie board. The wave is something like parking your bod in front of a fire hose. It was intense. You grab the board, jump off and hang on. Place the board low on your belly and your hands high. My armpits hurt the next day. My biceps would have been sore, had I not been doing regular pushups. Push down on the board to go forward and keep your feet in the water. That’s it! I was out there for about three minutes, when I thought it was time to give the gal behind me a turn (Becci). I would have done it again, but it started to pour and they closed it down. You might want to know why the board shorts and t-shirt. It’s a fire hose. It will get you nekkid in 3.5 seconds. I saw more crack than a drug dealer with a major score. Remember, crack is whack! Men, tighten those shorts and women, at least wear a T-shirt. I did see someone’s girls. Let’s leave it at that. Oh and I saw more of Emmy’s husband Rick’s anatomy, than I’d planned on. He’s a good looking guy. Did I say that? Off to the slot pull. We lost. The slots were VERY tight. Just squeaked. It’s the high seas. All the slots are tight. After contributing to the RCI retirement fund (slots), I headed back to the cabin, by way of the Promenade. I LOVE the Liberty Promenade. It’s not much bigger than the Voyager class, or V-ger class and my husband and I call it (Star Trek, the first movie. Yes, I need to get a life), but there’s just something about it. The barber shop is awesome! The food at either end in Sorrento’s and the other place (mental melt down) is excellent. I ran into a CC member (Lorna) and we chatted and ate snacks. I had a tapenade and ricotta Sammie that was unbelievably good. Hmm, the food was looking up! Off to the cabin to shower and get ready for my fantabulous formal night. The CC members met for din-din at 6:30. SL and I did a formal portrait, but we were lazy and never picked it up. We tried the next day, but learned they’d only had them out for two hours. We also grabbed a glass of champagne. YUM! Lots of champagne floating around. We never did meet the captain. I was sad about that. HE’s so adorable, in his photos, that I want to pick him up and squeeze him. Maybe he was avoiding me? Dinner? GOOD FOOD! Too many yummy choices. I got more than one entrée. I’ve never done that before on a cruise, ever. I don’t even have seconds of lobster tail. I had duck AND fillet. They were both outstanding. I also had the escargot. Wish I’d had two. The lobster bisque is not good. It’s salty and off, somehow. I remembered that, too late. I ate it, but wish I’d not. I did not have salad. I was so full I could not eat dessert. Almost everyone had the Grand Mariner Souffle. They were all perfectly puffy, but half the people had cold Sauce Anglaise. The other half had warm sauce. The warm sauce MAKES the souffle. End of story. Get cold sauce and the dessert is forgettable. Remember that. WARM SAUCE! Now the sad part comes in. I’d sat in a hot tub for a bit that day. I have a condition. I’m not going into it here, but hot is the enemy. I did the hot and I’m a moron. I lost all feeling in my left hand. I dropped my fork several times and I knew I was done for the night. So, I’m the only one who can report on RCI TV. It was good. Good movies, good specials. If you ever get Noro and are stuck in your room you will be bored to death, but not for a long time. I watched Dreamgirls and felt 100% entertained! I know, there was a show, I missed the show. I wish I’d gone, but I was entertained in my room and watching a movie in my cabin is a boon to cruising, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I’m going to schedule a movie night with my family on my next cruise. We’ll order off the dinner menu and park it in the room for dinner. I think that sounds like a thing we never get to do as a family at home and wish we did. A vacation is supposed to be relaxing and I think that one night hiding out and enjoying my family one on one sounds like a nice way to spend a night. I LOVE traditional cruising, but enjoying the kids is a good thing too. By the way, it’s a great movie. I crashed about midnight and SL came in, sober (LOL!) at 2 or so. We slept fitfully, we both knew it was about over. sniff. I woke at 5 to find our ship almost to the dock. We packed up, showered, ate and they dragged us off, kicking and screaming. Okay, we were adults about it, but there was a tear in my eye and I’m not exaggerating. Flight home was uneventful. The best I can say about Northwest. Continental is still a premier airline. They have movies and sandwiches and they are in the black with similar pricing. I’m in Ann Arbor, MI so I need to fly NW. Their hub is here. Sometimes I just have to give in and fly NW, but not if I can help it. RCI restored my faith in service, cruising and safety on the high seas. They were gracious to extend this invitation to me and I am beyond honored. I felt I made an excellent choice in companions. I would 100% sail with SL again. She loves dogs more than I do. To see her smile at doggies was like watching a child at Christmas. Just a great joy. She was polite and kind and generous to a fault. She and I split costs well and I would travel with her in a heartbeat. I suspect our husbands would get along like a house a fire. What a great gift. Overall: Not so hot: Northwest Airlines. Please fix it. You used to be good. Your customer service sucks rocks, through a straw. You’re a MUCH better airline than that. Even in financial troubles. The Hyatt in Miami. I will not stay there again. I LOVE HYATT! It’s my properties of choice. Just not in Miami. The food the first night. RCI, you are too good for that. The placement of the light switch for the bathroom in the cabin. Outside on the wrong side of the door. You forget and either use the facilities in the dark, or get up, go out and turn it on. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go. The porthole. Did I irritate the wrong person? I’M SORRY! LOL! Don’t let your TA do this to you. I was in cabin 2596. Beware. Things I loved: The food the second day, all day. What RCI used to be. Yummy and just good on almost every level. Except the bisque. The fillet was almost Chops quality and that’s saying a lot. Still think the Bahama Mamma is the best drink on the ship. I tried others. I felt it was my duty, but for my taste the Bahama Mamma is the best. Oh, I love Bellini’s. They stopped using peach juice in the Bellini’s. My friend, Lill, had some bad peach juice on the Mariner once. Probably a good reason to not use it anymore. The beds. Soft, comfy and the best sleep I’ve had since the Crown Tilt. I did feel nervous a few times onboard. Seeing the aft stairs for the first time was like a flashback. I could see the water pouring down the Crown stairs. Very unsettling, but overall I was not uncomfortable. A couple times the ship heeled a tad and that was unnerving, but there was no screaming. I consider that a boon! The waiter at the pool bar. I cannot remember his name, but he was tipped well and earned it. VERY entertaining. The waiters at Bolero’s. Many of them tossed drinks and bottles and caught them. I’ve always wanted to see flair bartending up close and I felt I was entertained all over the place. The seventies dance party. When they started everyone on the Promenade was moaning and saying, “how cheesy.” Ten minutes in almost everyone was into it and having a ball. To be able to get the party going, like that, is a talent I will never have and I was awed by it. I’m the first one to roll her eyes. I was so smiley that I had delayed onset muscle soreness of the jaw the next day! Well worth it. The workout room. I didn’t work out, but I’m a certified personal trainer and had to check it out. I can tell you it is all state of the art and well equipped. I almost wish I’d brought my workout gear so I could box. Next time, I’m boxing. The Flowrider. I first thought, “Stupid gimmick.” I was WRONG! It was wonderful and more fun than I’ve had in a long time. My kids would be in love with it. Of course succeeding my first time might have something to do with my fun. Remember, keep your feet in the water and the board low on your body. PUSH DOWN with your hands to go forward. Push down hard. The kids pool. Beyond outstanding. I loved it and my kids would be in love. Adventure Ocean. I could only peek in, but I know my little ones. The older two love AO and number three is going to have to be dragged out of Aquanauts. The people. I always go out of my way to talk to strangers. I compliment people I’ve never seen before, if I like their clothes. Yes, some people think I’m a crazy lady. I am, good call, but I love to make friends and a cruise ship is a good place to do it. This group, these people, so grateful so honored, so blown away. Very few people acted entitled. Everyone was gracious. I am, once again, thankful to Cruise Critic. Without CC, I would not love cruising like I do. It’s a wonderful place and some of my dearest friends were met there. Come to think of it, almost everyone I am close to, but maybe five people, came out of CC. Would I sail her again? Yes. I cannot, for the foreseeable future. Liberty and Freedom are pricier than the V-ger class and that’s understandable. Because I am the proud mom of four boys and married, we will be in two rooms, on deck two, without a balcony (the autistic one would go into the ocean, or his ocelot would). I am 100% okay with that. I like the boys in the next room. It’s a good set-up for us and I suggest it for families. I never feel too cramped in these cabins, *IF* they have a large porthole. Last thoughts: This was the trip of a lifetime and the honor of my life. I’ve used the word honor throughout this report, but it’s a good word. It accurately describes my heart as I went on this journey. The ship is outstanding, the company, better. I’ve made lifelong friends and I am moved to tears by the gift RCI gave me. Thank you RCI. I am now loyal, 100%. I will sail your ships from now on. It’s a good choice for me and mine. You will get my group cruise in 2008. You deserve it. God bless the Liberty of the Seas. May all who sail on her find joy, relaxation and the trip of dreams they so well deserve. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Introduction My husband and I were extended a special invitation through Cruise Critic to attend the May 14, 2007 two day Pre-Inaugural sailing of the Liberty of the Seas; this review will not focus so much on our experience during those ... Read More
Introduction My husband and I were extended a special invitation through Cruise Critic to attend the May 14, 2007 two day Pre-Inaugural sailing of the Liberty of the Seas; this review will not focus so much on our experience during those two days as it will on general information for those planning to cruise the Liberty of the Seas in the near future. We are from Northern California and are not affiliated with the travel industry. Royal Caribbean put on an awesome show and we were very grateful for the invitation. The Liberty of the Seas is the newest baby in Royal Caribbean's fleet - and a sister ship of the Freedom of the Seas. If you have ever been on any Voyager class vessel, you will find it very similar. It's a little larger and has a few extra features, like the Flowrider, but in general, much of the ship's design is identical to that of the Navigator or Mariner or Explorer or any other Voyager/Freedom class ship out there. If you love Voyager class ships, you'll adore the Liberty of the Seas! As you read my comments, please keep a few things in mind. First, remember, this was an invitation only sailing meant to impress the travel industry. Staff was on their best behavior and food preparation and quality were very high compared to what I typically see on other Royal Caribbean ships; it was a free cruise with an open bar. Because the ship is brand new (it even had that new car smell when you first boarded the ship), everything around you - public areas, staterooms, deck space, etc. was sparkling. Since we are from Northern California, we made the decision to take a three night cruise aboard the newly refurbished Majesty of the Seas prior to this voyage. Interestingly enough, we had outside staterooms on both ships and the same dining room menu on both sailings. Embarkation We flew into Miami on a red-eye out of Northern California and made arrangements to take the cruise line bus to the port. We arrived around 12:30pm - our flight was almost an hour late. Finding a Royal Caribbean rep in the baggage claim area was a breeze. They had us on a list, and they were aware that our flight was late. After getting our bags, we were escorted to the bus. Interestingly enough, our bags were loaded into a large truck and were not to be seen until after sail-away! We got the last two seats and were off to the Port of Miami to board the Majesty of the Seas. I am only passing along this info as I believe the same system will be in place if you opt for cruise line transportation to the Liberty of the Seas. I wouldn't recommend the cruise line bus normally, but we knew coming in the day of the cruise, this was our best bet. Could we have opted to take a cab or shuttle? Sure. Even if it was false security, the fact we were arriving the same day as the cruise made the cruise line shuttle seem more secure. Would the ship wait if the bus broke down? Not sure. But I kind of like to think it would! Embarkation for the Liberty was quick and easy, but the ship was not sailing at full capacity, so again, I will refer to the boarding procedures we experienced for the Majesty. Because we are Diamond members, we had no wait at all. We arrived much later than is the norm for us - around 1:30pm - and were greeted by long lines. But like I said, because of our Crown and Anchor past guest status, there was no line to speak of and were on the ship in under 20 minutes. The check-in area for the Liberty is huge. Because we were disembarking off of the Majesty of the Seas, we arrived at the Liberty's terminal very early - around 9am. The check-in and boarding process began around 10:30am - that would normally be our preferred time for check-in after spending the night in Miami. We happened to be among the first to board the ship - we tagged along with the Media group and were on the ship by around 11:00am. We didn't encounter an embarkation day photographer, but that will slow down the boarding process. All in all, your best bet is to arrive at the port early. With 4000 plus guests, it's going to take a while to get on and off this ship! Luckily, the terminal has air conditioning and is large. Our Stateroom We were assigned cabin 2616 - a standard outside stateroom. The room was comfortable and had adequate storage for a seven night cruise. There were two large half circle windows in the cabin above the bed - we opted to have the beds together, but they could also convert to two twin beds. As you would expect, everything was clean and new. The bed was very comfortable - crisp white European style bedding with a comforter completed the package. We had a small pull-out couch, and a coffee table. There was a small closet, but enough drawer space to easily accommodate 7 nights worth of clothes. There was a hair dryer in one of the drawers - it worked well, but it's the kind that has the button you must keep depressed to work. This is pretty much the same type they have on most Royal Caribbean ships, but since it's new, it worked very well. The bathroom had a shampoo dispenser that had shampoo & conditioner printed on it, but all it had was shampoo. The special shampoo and soap were okay, but if you are used to salon quality shampoos like Paul Mitchel, you won't like it, in my opinion. There is a lot of storage and the bathroom design is identical to other Voyager/Freedom class ships. The towels are to die for - thicker and more absorbent than those on other ships, but heck, they are brand new! No telling if they will be like that when you cruise, but we can only hope! For the sake of comparison, we also had an outside cabin aboard the Majesty of the Seas. Our cabin window was different, but the over all look to the room was very much the same. The bathroom was also configured the same, but had a shower curtain instead of shower doors, as you see on most Voyager class ships and the Liberty. I would venture to say our room aboard the Majesty was a little bigger with slightly more storage, but it was a high end outside cabin on Deck 9 whereas the one we had on the Liberty was a basic model on Deck 2. On the Majesty, we had bottles of lotion, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner as well as the shower dispenser of shampoo (the kind you see on all other Royal Caribbean ships). We saw none of this on the Liberty, but you might. Remember, we were on a special sailing with limited amenities. Not everything we experienced will be identical to what you might. Dining Our dining experience aboard the Liberty of the Seas was not typical of any other Royal Caribbean ship we have been on lately. We sailed aboard the Radiance in September 07, the Explorer in late December 07 and on the Majesty just days prior to this Pre-Inaugural. We have logged in 24 or more (I don't recall the exact number any more) cruises on Royal Caribbean including multiple voyages aboard the Mariner and Navigator and although the food has always been good, the food quality and preparation on the Liberty was far superior, in my opinion. I hate to say it, but I suspect it had something to do with the fact this was a Pre-Inaugural voyage. Maybe not; I'll let you be the judge. Suffice it to say, my husband and I were impressed and enjoyed our dining experience very much! Keep in mind the ship was not sailing at full capacity and they were there to impress. Our dining room menu aboard the two night pre-inaugural was identical to the menu on the Majesty. But the cuts of meat were of higher quality, the items were served fresh and HOT, and up in the Windjammer, the selection was better (much, much better than aboard the Explorer in December or the Majesty just days before). Some examples: there was large shrimp every afternoon in the Windjammer - I have never seen this on any other cruise with Royal Caribbean for lunch - only once saw some on the Mariner at dinner. I don't want you to think that the food on other Royal Caribbean ships was terrible. On the contrary, I've always found what I liked and although it's not what I would consider to be 4 or 5 star cuisine, it's quite good. But the meals served on our two day Liberty cruise as well as what we ate in the Windjammer, was markedly improved - it blew the others out of the water! Tender cuts of meat cooked to perfection in the dining room and lots of higher end items in the Windjammer. You should note that food is very subjective - what may impress me may not be the case with you. Regardless, others in our company were just as impressed. Some people we ate with complained about the service in the dining room, but that's because of the open seating system they had in place for our sailing - you will have an assigned table at an assigned seating time. The waiters we spoke to were all very polished and pleasant - I doubt you'll find a bad apple in the bunch. Dinner was a little hectic, but we got lucky and met some very nice people at dinner. Entertainment This is where Royal Caribbean really shines! We saw the Ice show and one production show; we also had an opportunity to check out many of the lounge entertainers on the ship and I came away very impressed. The guy at the piano bar, (correct me if I am wrong - Matt Yee I believe is his name), seems to have a loyal following. We got there early and watched his act - very polished. I can't say I am into sing-alongs, but he was very entertaining, and by the numbers of people present, very popular. There was a guitarist in the Hoof and Claw Pub on the Promenade who was very good. He didn't have what I would call an act but he was familiar with contemporary music and was very funny. The classical guitarist in Boleros was also very good, but he didn't play very often. The purpose of these pre-inaugurals is to give you a taste of what you can expect. From what I can see, they entertainment on the Liberty will not disappoint. Like all Voyager and Freedom class ships, there is a lot to do. Two days was not enough to do everything! The flowrider was a lot of fun, but ladies, you should plan to wear a one piece or a tee shirt over a two piece bathing suit, because when you wipe-out you could lose your top! And guys, make sure you tie on your trunks! The pool area is large and includes a kiddie water park - a great place for kids to play. There is no shortage of activities - they have a regulation size volleyball court and basket ball, and miniature golf. Suffice it to say, this class of ship is made for more active people and families on the go. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly The Good Just about every aspect of this pre-inaugural would make me want to book a cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas. I am totally sold on the Voyager/ Freedom class ships! The Bad Luckily, I found the ship to be great, but I have to say that there were several areas on the ship that got very crowded - namely the Promenade during the Parade (a not to be missed show). It was impossible to find a good place to watch the parade - we had seats in the front at the Hoof & Claw Pub and people stood right in front of us. Unless you push yourself to the front, tower above everyone, or are watching the parade from your Promenade View stateroom, it's hard to see anything. Same thing happened at the 70's party they had there. As I am familiar with other Voyager class ships, you can expect other area so of the ship to get very crowded - including the pool areas when the ship is sailing at full capacity, which from what I understand will be the norm. That's really the only negative I can really find about this class of ship. I love the design and I love the layout. But I didn't see any major design changes to overcome some of the crowding issues on Voyager class ships. The food these days isn't what it used to be, but there is more to a cruise than the food. And if you are like me, you too will find plenty to choose from. The Ugly While at the lifeboat drill, a foul smelling odor permeated the deck - we never found out where it came from or why. But that just goes to show you these kinds of problems don't just affect older ships! The problem seems to have been corrected, as I never noticed the smell later in the cruise. But that wasn't a good thing to have happen at a pre-inaugural! Luckily, that's the only ugly I could find. Conclusion I would cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas in a heart beat if it offered a more creative itinerary in the Caribbean. If I choose to cruise, I do so based on the itinerary, not necessarily the ship though I can see where in Liberty's case, the ship can be considered the destination! As I stated earlier, the cruise line made every effort to show off the Liberty to us in the best light possible; it did not sail at full capacity, the food quality was absolutely the best we have had recently and the entertainment top notch. Like the other pre-inaugurals I'm told, in attendance were mostly travel agents. Because I am already a huge fan of Voyager class ships, I wouldn't hesitate to sail on this ship and if given a choice, I'll always go with a Voyager class ship. I feel comfortable on this type of ship, though I realize not everyone does. We are very active and prefer many of the sports activities these types of ships off us. Between ports of call, it's nice to have so many choices on days at sea normally not available on other ships. We came across a few people who could not imagine themselves taking a cruise on such a large ship. But all agreed that this particular ship was very impressive, Most people we met who had never been on a Voyager class ship were in awe of the Liberty. Those who were familiar with Voyager class ships all felt very much at home. The design, to my surprise, was nearly identical to other Voyager class ships - with a few extras here and there. Please note that I am no expert - I work in education and lead a few cruise groups every year. We enjoy cruising, but that's not the only type of travel we engage in. Itinerary is by far the most important factor for us; as we get older, we are finding cruises more to our liking than "live aboards". We are okay logging in 6-8 dives while on a cruise - gone are the days of logging in 24-30 dives in 7 days! As we get into our mid-40's, we are finding the activity level on these Voyager/Freedom class ships perfect for us and our family. Any questions? Please don't hesitate to ask! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
I had never cruised before. But I work in ecommerce for a travel agency, so I was lucky enough to be selected to go to the Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural cruise on May 14 - 16 out of Miami, Florida. Dummy! I flew in on the red-eye ... Read More
I had never cruised before. But I work in ecommerce for a travel agency, so I was lucky enough to be selected to go to the Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural cruise on May 14 - 16 out of Miami, Florida. Dummy! I flew in on the red-eye from Seattle, Washington directly to Miami, Florida. I arrived in MIA at 7:00 am, but the transfers weren't going to be running until 11 am. So I decided to take a taxi to the dock instead of waiting at the airport. We went across a bridge right in front of the Liberty, and her sheer size took my breath away. I was dropped off in front of the terminal, and went inside. I made it past the first security checkpoint with the invitation I had received from RCCL, and told to wait in the waiting area outside the baggage x-ray machines. And wait, I did! While the glass art in the waiting room is pretty, it can only be examined for so long. I was in the waiting room from 8:00 until about 11:00... which I want to point out was my own fault for getting there so early. The invitation said 11:00 am. A coffee or snack cart would've been very welcome in that waiting room, though... and I know I for one would've been willing to pay any price for a coffee at that time! Lines At 11:00 everyone started to line up to get through the x-ray machines. This was a pretty quick and painless process, and everyone was lined up again to get SeaPass cards (stateroom assignments and keys). The gentleman who assisted me had a kind smile and processed me quickly and efficiently. I received my assignment and card, and went to stand in another line. While all the lines may sound tedious, I'd say the atmosphere in the terminal was one of excitement... it was anything but tedious! We were finally allowed to go up the ramp to scan out cards and have pictures taken. The machine in the line I was in went down, so it took a little while longer to process using one machine for two lines, but it didn't damper anyone's enthusiasm. Stateroom I was assigned to stateroom 2368, an Ocean-View. I had a hard time finding the room because I went to the 2nd deck on the wrong side of the ship... and the ice making equipment cuts the deck in half, making my room inaccessible from where I was at. So I was directed up to the 4th floor, through the Casino, and back down. I finally found my stateroom. Upon approaching the stateroom, I noticed that the door was open. I walked right in and placed my stuff on the couch. I was lucky, my Ocean-View window was a large round winder where I could place some pillows and stare out into the cobalt blue ocean. It was lovely! I decided to check on the bathroom, and I must say it's a pretty good sized bathroom and shower, much better than I expected being on a ship. A few minutes later, my Steward came in and asked if everything was ok, and would I mind if he looked around to make sure everything had been cleaned properly. I said OK, and he quickly scoured the room and left. I shut the door, and then heard an announcement over the intercom that lunch was available in the Windjammer. Since I hadn't eaten for awhile, I decided to high-tail it over there. Windjammer - Embarkation Lunch I was so hungry that the food here actually tasted pretty good! I had fried rice (bland), penne arribata (yummy, not too spicy), and an orange mango beverage that was pretty good. Dessert was the best, it was a fruit tart and tasted very good. Entertainment The Sail-Away Party: This party was supposed to be outside, but heavy rain and high winds brought the party to the Royale Promenade. It was a lot of fun watching the RCCL employees dance and smile and serve some kind of "foo-foo" drink to everyone. It was a great way to start the cruise! Ice Show (Encore): This show ROCKED. There was a skater who changed her outfit on the ice about 12 or more times, and I don't know how she did it! All of the skaters were strong and looked like they were having fun out there. I especially loved the Japanese kimono outfits the girls wore that made them look like butterflies. It was just simply amazing! Stage Show (A Moment in Time): This was a fun musical that featured a lot of music from when I was growing up. The performers' vocals were top-notch and the sets and lighting were just brilliant. This was one of the few times on the ship on Tuesday when I was able to forget about being nauseous for a bit and just enjoy the show. Casino Royale: In addition to having my all-time favorite slot machine there (Super Jackpot Party), they also had other slots machines (plenty!), blackjack, roulette, let it ride, and three card poker to name a few. This was a terrific casino with really friendly dealers and cashiers. Karaoke: The Karaoke booths were located in studio B on the 3rd deck. They had a huge variety of music, but once you select something and step in, there is no microphone. So you are trying to sing in "dead air". It just didn't work for me, I didn't like that. Of course, it could be that I tried it at 7:00 am to assure that no one would be around to see me... Royal Caribbean Online: Ever the computer nerd, I had to check out their online area. I must say, service was no where near as slow as I expected. AIM and other instant messenger services wouldn't work, though, so I had to contact my husband and chat with him via email. Inefficient? Sure. But I was still communicating with him, so it all worked out in the end! Arcade: I really enjoyed this area and played a number of the games here. In Room Movie: I opted to get an in-room movie because I couldn't sleep on the ship. I can't remember even what I selected because the movie was SO BORING I had to turn it off and watch Pokemon on the Cartoon Network. But the ordering process was quick and easy. The Royale Promenade: This place was cool. They had several shops. I shopped at the RCCL logo store, the jewelry store and the "fashion" shop. The atmosphere in the Promenade was very laid back and comfortable. I almost purchased a necklace in the jewelry store, the prices were very reasonable. Bars / Lounges The alcohol was free on this cruise, but I am not a big drinker (especially when I'm by myself!) Casino Bar: (Rum and Coke) A bar in the middle of the casino. The bartenders here were very quick and joked around with the passengers and with each other. It made it more of a party atmosphere. The drink was perfect! Boleros: (Mojito) This bar was near one of the stair cases if I remember correctly. It wasn't much more than a bar, but it did have two bottles of tequila in lighted pyramid shaped boxes... not sure why. The drink was too strong; I wound up not drinking it at all. Schooner Bar?: (Lemon Drop) This bar was located just outside the casino on deck 4. The drink came recommended to me by a fellow passenger, and was very good. Restaurants Windjammer / Jade: OK! It was typical buffet food, nothing special. Main Dining Room: Good! Good quality, great service. One of the waiters professed his love for me. *sigh* Johnny Rockets: Great! Yummy BLT, and the coke float really helped with my nausea (yeah, I got seasick). Sorrentos: OK! Pizza didn't even look good. BUT they had a fabulous fresh mozzarella salad and apricot cream dessert with almond cookies. Seattle's Best Coffee: Great! Coffee and spirit coffee drinks were wonderfully well made and delicious. Desserts and snacks were ok. Everyone was upbeat and happy. The service was quick, efficient and friendly. All of the RCCL employees I came in contact with were just wonderful, from the dealers in the Casino to the "front desk" personnel (when I locked my key in my stateroom). Disembarkation We were told on the Cruise scheduler that we had to be out of our staterooms by 8 am and off the ship by 9 am. All of the monitors on the ship on Tuesday night stated that we had to be out of our staterooms by 8 am and off the ship by 9 am. Announcements over the loud speaker told us that we could leave the ship on deck 4... and that we had to be out of our staterooms by 8 am and off the ship by 9 am. It was beaten into us! But actually leaving the ship was quick and easy. I just took my luggage, wheeled it off, scanned my card and left. Transfer back to MIA There were fire ants on the motor coach. Seriously. I got bit a couple of times... and it REALLY HURT! The little buggers died for their transgressions, though. I changed seats on the bus and was fine the rest of the way. Thank you to RCCL for the invitation. The ship is a beauty and may she sail in calm waters with people who appreciate what she has to offer. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Liberty of the Seas, May 16-18, 2007 Can a Freedom class ship really get any better? For this cruiser it is wonderful to know that should I decide to get married again, I can do it while surfing onboard one of the most magnificent ships ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas, May 16-18, 2007 Can a Freedom class ship really get any better? For this cruiser it is wonderful to know that should I decide to get married again, I can do it while surfing onboard one of the most magnificent ships on the ocean, Liberty of the Seas! When you spend three days on a 160,000-ton ship, the time boils down to hours. As familiar as I am with this class of ship, it was a delight to once again encounter the gracious staff of Royal Caribbean. They must have a fantastic employee-training program, as everyone treats you like you are royalty. I have not run into one cross employee yet as I have on other cruise lines. I am especially fond of the new bedding and flat screen TV's in every stateroom. Since you spend 1/3 or so of your cruise in bed, it helps to really enjoy it. In fact, I missed the show the first night because my cabin beckoned me! The pillows are a little too high for my damaged neck, so I have to adjust and sleep flat. Perhaps they will offer a feather pillow option at some point. With 24/7 complimentary room service, having breakfast on the balcony in my pajamas is my favorite part. The food was just wonderful. For appetizers, we settled on the Escargot Bourguignon, which is baked snails in garlic herb butter in a perfect serving dish just right for dipping the crisp rolls into, plus Orange Carpaccio, orange slices, red onion, watercress, feta cheese and cumin mint yogurt. Delightful! Since I could not decide on so many great options, I asked my waiter to bring me several entree's in smaller portions. I just had to have them all! Linguini pasta folded in a creamy wild mushroom and white truffle sauce had so much flavor I pictured the chef with a syringe full of mushroom essence infusing my dish before serving! The Orange Lime Salmon with sauteed baby bok choy and tomato chili compote was light and divine. The Eggplant Mozzarella Tower with chunky plum tomato sauce and balsamic glaze was not my mother's, but a good chef's second. The surf and turf was cooked to perfection. The surf was incredibly marinated and seasoned shrimp which my son Dylan and I could not get enough of. The Roasted Duck with black currant sauce, red cabbage and croquette potatoes and the desserts thrilled the pallet. The complimentary pizza at Sorrento's was a fun selection of cheese, veggie, chicken and other delights. The sandwiches in the coffee shop! Oh la la! There was also Grilled veggies on scones, Brie and ham on croissants, and many different desserts like little chocolate soldiers standing in a row. All included with your cruise fare. I did not partake of the Ben & Jerry's, but my son said every flavor he had was up to par. I tried to get to Johnny Rocket's for lunch, but considering the exquisite alternatives, the wait was far too long for this tummy to wait in line. I want to save up all my money for as long as necessary to take my family on vacation in the Royal Suite! By far, the most incredible cabin at Sea. I have been on the exquisite Oceania ship Regatta, but I don't think it compares to this cabin on Liberty of the Seas. It was not the grand piano in the living room that thrilled me (although I could envision my daughter doing one of her tricks and playing chopsticks upside down and backwards) it was the gold freestanding bowls in the master bathroom with the elegant tub surrounded by cream and black marble and the built in window seat backed by a hand painted mural. What elegance and masterful design went into this cabin? I liked it much better than the Presidential Suite, which sleeps 14 and does not have the ambiance or fabulous living space of the Royal Suite. They finally are selling socks in the gift shops, as I always forget mine and you must wear a pair before getting your shoes for the Rock Climbing Wall. After spending $24 on six pairs of socks so I could race my 6'4" son to the top, we found something better to do and missed the session. With all the bravado of a 24 year old, my son took on the challenge determined to beat the pants off of the President of Royal Caribbean, Adam Goldstein, in ping pong. It turns out that Adam has not been sitting behind a desk, is fit as a fiddle and put my son in his place with a win of 21-12. My son wanted to continue and take Adam outside to the full size basketball court, where he knew he would dominate, but Adam had other plans! My son had a ball surfing the first and every time he got up on the Flow Rider and we played the nine hole miniature golf for giggles. The one show I managed to get to in this brief two night stay, had a very Cirque de Soleil flavor and was wonderfully choreographed with clever stage props and sparkling costumes. The acrobatics behind a veiled stage gave the unbelievable impression that you were watching a show that was taking place under water. It was a lovely fantasy and a great production with contemporary music. Nothing stodgy about this company. I will make sure to attend every show when I get onboard again in October for a week long party with my cruisers. Bravo to Royal Caribbean for having the first Godmother in history, as far as I know, who is not a celebrity, but just a hard working American woman who cares about other people. Donnalea Madeley was voted the best one for the job, just a regular travel agent who has charities all over the world she supports. Things you can't find on other ships: Generation YSPA: Spa service menu for Teens; Vitality Program: Tai Chi, Meditation, Chinese Herbs, Acupuncture, Fitness path in port, lectures on wellness topics, fitness shore excursions, menu options in Vitality program every day. Also, every food description was in four languages, English, Chinese, Japanese, & Korean. Have the Latin people not found Royal Caribbean yet? You can also whiten your teeth, have a couple's massage or an exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow. Is this a vacation or heaven? Once again, great job Royal Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural Cruise May 16-May 18 BOARDING: We were fortunate enough to be invited by Royal Caribbean and the Crowne and Anchor Society on the last of the Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural events. We came to the ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural Cruise May 16-May 18 BOARDING: We were fortunate enough to be invited by Royal Caribbean and the Crowne and Anchor Society on the last of the Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural events. We came to the port around 12:00 pm, where we were delighted to find that there was NO ONE around! We were given little welcome gifts and were onboard and eating in the Windjammer Cafe around 12:25 pm. Culinary Sections The Windjammer Cafe is very nice on the ship, as it offers and expanded amount of selections and seating areas, thus it doesn't feel as crowded. Ben and Jerry's Ice cream, as usual, was fantastic and a joy to eat. ALso, this is a nice addition to the Royal Promenade. The Main Dining Room is very luxurious and takes from the Dining Rooms of the Voyager Class Ships. Very elegant, great views it you sit by one of the large windows, excellent service, and superb cuisine. I truly believe that Liberty OTS has some of the best cooks in the fleet. Sorrentos and Cafe Promenade are also on the Royal Promenade and offered great food and snack selections Johnny Rockets was in full swing, but we just didn't have enough time to give it a try. Maybe next time!! Squeeze at the H20 Zone is RCCL's new smoothie stand where you can have protein shakes, regular smoothies, energy shakes, etc. Very Very nice additions. The Ship: Liberty of the Seas Having never been on the Freedom of the Seas, I was thrilled with the extensive enhancements that Royal Caribbean did on the Freedom Class. A Longer Royal Promenade with beautiful art and great shops/restaurants, larger verandas in balcony cabins, more and more pools like the H20 Zone for Kids, the AMAZING addition of the Flowrider Zone (including stadium seating, WIPEOUT BAr, the Flowrider, and stairs to the deck below), and the extension of the gym forward on Deck 11. I was very pleased with the art on the Liberty, although some was a liitle "out there", but still very nice. The Ice Skating Rink was very nice, along with the addition of the Karaoke Bar and Lounge Area. The Ice Show, called ENCORE, was incredible, as this will be a new addition fleetwide of ice shows. As previously mentioned, the Royal Promenade is better than ever and played hosts to the Pirate's parade (Pirates of the Caribbean!) and dancing street party. The little shops are great and so are Sorrentos, Cafe Promenade, and Ben and Jerry's, as well as the pubs and Vintages wine bar. The Pool decks were very nice and didn't feel crowded at all. There wasn't a lack of deck chairs (which by the way are new and very very different and nicer than others fleetwide) and the Sports Area in the aft section is also very nice. As for entertainment, this ship has it all, from Platinum the theater, the Viking Crown Lounge, the Ice Rink, the Royal Promenade, and the Main Pool which transforms into an outdoor disco dance area at night. Closing Comments: We thank Royal Caribbean for the invite, as this was an amazing opportunity for us to go on such a great ship. If you want elegance, adventure, alone time, kid time, non stop entertainment, relaxation, fitness, fun in the sun, or just a vacation, the Liberty of the Seas if for you. And if you go onto the Liberty OTS soon, tell Ken Rush RCCLCARIB says hello!! Enjoy the Liberty, as she is a prime example of Royal Caribbean's commitment to innovation, the "WOW" factor, continued excellence in service, food and entertainment, as well as their consistent and amazing cruise vacation! Bon Voyage: RCCLCARIB Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
This was my 11th cruise, the 8th one with RCCL. This was our first inaugural cruise. The ship was beautiful. We had a junior suite and our first hump room. The room was, of course, larger than JS on smaller ships. The bed was very ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise, the 8th one with RCCL. This was our first inaugural cruise. The ship was beautiful. We had a junior suite and our first hump room. The room was, of course, larger than JS on smaller ships. The bed was very comfortable. Lots of people had problems with the locks on the doors. We had to have our lock changed three times and had to have new Sea Passes made at least three times because our passes would not unlock the door. This was just a kink on the new ship that had to be worked out. The food was the best of all the ships we've been on. The shows and parades were wonderful. Ken Rush was the Cruise Director and, of course, he was great, too. The captain was only 40 years old. His wife and family were on board. He was the friendliest captain we have ever had on a ship, as was his wife. He was very visible on the ship and always personable. Pleasingly, the crowds weren't bad for a large ship. The elevators did tend to get crowded on the at sea days. We booked this cruise for the ship and only took one shore excursion, snorkeling at Cozumel. Our cruise critic group, dubbed, the Motley Cruisers, Sol Patrol, met several times as a group. We had these great yellow t-shirts with our moniker on it, and blinkie sun necklaces and pins to identify ourselves. Ken mentioned our group several times at events. We had our own Amazing Scavenger Hunt on the first day at sea. The coffee was very, very strong in the Windjammer, main dining room and the Concierge Lounge. I like strong coffee, but it was so strong, I couldn't drink it. Others commented on the strong coffee, as well. We did have a major disappointment. My husband was assaulted, completed an incident report with Guest Relations. Security did an investigation and took no action against the assailant. Embarkation was very smooth. Disembarkation didn't take but about 45 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural Sailing - Royal Champions May 14-16, 2007 - Miami, FL Pete & I were invited to a very special Pre-Inaugural sailing on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. Liberty is the second of three ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural Sailing - Royal Champions May 14-16, 2007 - Miami, FL Pete & I were invited to a very special Pre-Inaugural sailing on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. Liberty is the second of three Freedom Class ships, which are currently the largest passenger ships at sea!! Liberty made her first revenue sailing on May 19, 2007 and we sailed on her less than a week before that! What a truly special invitation! Pre-Inaugural sailings are usually filled with VIP's, Diamond Plus (many, many cruises with Royal Caribbean), and travel agents, etc. This year, Royal Caribbean chose to thank many of their internet "cheerleaders" with special invitations. The Royal Champions, as we are now called are made up of cruisers who love Royal Caribbean and share their experiences, suggestions and reviews on websites such as Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. I am an active member on Cruise Critic and was included in the 38 members that were invited to sail as RCCL guests! Wow!! This was not your typical cruise by any sense of the word. The excitement of being on a brand new ship is amazing! The cruise was a 2-night "Cruise to Nowhere" out of Miami, FL. This gave us just a short time to explore this massive ship, but we did the best that we could to get it all in. Just enough to get a taste of it and create the NEED to return on a full voyage in the future. The cruise was a gift from Royal Caribbean, so our only out of pocket expenses were airfare, hotel, and any spa treatments or casino activity. The cruise, drinks, specialty coffees, Johnny Rockets, Ben & Jerry's, internet, video games, parking at the port, and other amenities that are normally charged a fee were included - including my temporary tattoo of the Crown & Anchor logo! They even made sure the crew was taken care of by paying our tips for us (cabin steward, wait staff and even bar staff!) This was a great "deal" for everyone, as we got to experience the ship and they also got a "shake down" for the ship and crew. And I do believe that the bar staff was the hardest working group on this cruise. They were extremely busy and FANTASTIC!! After flying to Miami on Mother's Day, we checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn that is across from Bayside and the Port of Miami. We received a bay view, so we could see the ships coming & going. After checking in, we went across the street to Bayside for some shopping and dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. We originally planned to meet a group of Cruise Critic members for dinner. However, I suspected that we would be too tired from our early flight to make it - and I was right. Since we had not slept the night before (well, we got one hour of sleep!) and had come in on a VERY early flight, we were in bed early that evening. We woke up to the view of our beautiful Liberty of the Seas outside of our window. Just in front of her was her very little sister, Majesty of the Seas. You can't fathom the size of this ship until you see her right next to one of the smallest in the fleet. It is a beautiful sight. We got ready and went down to meet our Cruise Critic friends in the lobby. Those that had driven had offered to drive the flyers to the port. What a nice gesture!! The kindness of some of the members of Cruise Critic never ceases to amaze me. We checked in and then waited a short while before we were allowed to board the ship. The terminal at Miami is a very nice terminal and found the staff equally nice. Once we were allowed to board, the excitement was almost too much to handle. This ship is just gorgeous! I often caught myself standing there staring with my mouth wide open. It still had that "new car" smell. We dumped our luggage in our stateroom. We were in cabin 2610, which is a Deck 2 Oceanview. If you are taking notes on cabins, this one has the larger porthole, as opposed to the Lifesaver sized porthole window that Nancy & Cathy had. ? The stateroom was of average size for Royal Caribbean, small but efficient. The flat screen TV was a nice touch and is a space saver. The upgraded bedding was wonderful and the bed was VERY comfortable. They have put shower doors in all cabins, so the shower curtains that attack you while showering are gone for good - at least on this class of ship! Yeah!! We only saw our cabin steward once, but again - this was not a normal cruise and we didn't spend much time in our cabin at all. The motto with our Cruise Critic group was, "Sleep is for the weak" - and we did our best to live up to it. After checking out our stateroom we went up to the Windjammer for lunch. We love how the Windjammer is laid out so that you can go to different stations without having to wait in line like a cafeteria. The food was yummy. We didn't return to the Windjammer until the morning of debarkation. In order to give the dining room staff a proper shake down, the Windjammer was not open for dinner on either night. Off we went to explore the ship and take lots of photos!! The ship is laid out so nicely, we never felt lost. That is truly amazing on a ship this size!! It was very easy to navigate. After exploring the ship, we met up with Cruise Critic friends and the Sky Bar. Everyone was so very nice!! It was great to put faces to names. Many of us had worn our Liberty logo shirts or buttons that Brenda was so KIND to make for us. (Did I mention the generosity of so many Cruise Critic members?) The pins & shirts made it easy to spot everyone, even before the gathering. After the Sky Bar, we went to explore a bit more and then get our life jackets for muster. Royal Caribbean holds their musters out on deck and require you to wear your life jackets for the duration. Did I mention this was in Miami? Very humid and made for a hot 45 minutes. Note to futures cruisers on ANY ship: Please go to muster when you are asked to. Please don't meander in when you feel like it. It only delays the fun for the others that did show up on time. ? After muster we went up to change for a very special sail away party followed by dinner!! The Royal Champions were invited to a special sail away party up in the Cloud Nine/Lucky Sevens Lounge area - the highest lounge on the ship (next to Olive or Twist.) They had refreshments for us as we enjoyed the view while sailing out through Government Cut. Since it was raining at this time, we appreciated the private area. As if this wasn't enough, we were greeted & thanked by RCCL President - Adam Goldstein, Chairman & CEO - Richard Fain, and other officers. Ken Rush, one of the best cruise directors on the sea also came for a visit. What an honor to have them here for our gathering!! It really does show how much Royal Caribbean values their customers and really does listen to what we have to say. We were then gifted with a wonderful logo duffel that included the ever popular Aqua Mouse, a maiden voyage pin and my personal fav - a coffee tumbler made especially for the Royal Champions!!! After the sail away party, Pete & I headed for dinner. Oh! First we tried to catch the parade at the Royal Promenade. Another note: be early or miss out. We did our best to see it, but it was tough. If you want to get a good view, either book a promenade room or get there early. What we saw of it looked fun. It was the Soca-Licious Parade. I believe there was a Pirate Parade on other Pre-Inaugural sailings. We ate in the Deck 4 dining room, which is named Michelangelo. The dining room on this ship is the most stunning area of a ship that I have ever seen. It is simply magnificent and the crown to this masterpiece is an opulent chandelier, which I believe was priced at $750,000! We had a wonderful dinner on our first evening. Our waitress was Adina (formerly of Sovereign of the Seas.) She did a wonderful job and we enjoyed chatting with her. Dinner was delicious! We had no complaints whatsoever. After dinner we did some more exploring and visited the shops. Sadly, the duty free liquor store was not open so I missed an opportunity to pick up some Sheridan's. The rest of the stores were open. They are very good at pointing out that we were not spending money on drinks and such, so should easily be able to spring for some pretty jewelry. Works for us! Pete bought me a beautiful pink sapphire ring for our upcoming 15th anniversary. Thank you honey! I also found it is easy to purchase the Scrapbook Page Kit. The images weren't exactly my style, but I will make use of them. And any scrapbooker knows how hard it is to pass up scrapbooking supplies that were designed specifically for your ship! The entertainment for the evening was Tito Nieves, but we did not attend. When you are on a short cruise on a ship this size, choices have to be made. We explored some more, which is our favorite thing to do. We ended up at Schooner's toward the end of Matt Yee's performance. We had heard that he was a "don't miss", and that is true! The place was packed, spilling out into other areas nearby. He was hilarious. Word of caution: If you go to a Matt Yee performance - do what he says or he will call you out and make you pay. ? We then headed off to our cabin. We missed the fairies that change the day on the elevator floors! Darn! Had a great night's sleep and we were up at a decent hour the next morning. We wanted to make sure we got to the dining room for Eggs Benedict. On our way to the dining room on Tuesday morning, we ran into our friend Henry! He is just as adorable as ever and we were glad to see him on the ship. Breakfast in the dining room was quick & yummy. We did some more exploring and then attended the Common Ground seminar. We then went out to the pool area. The H20 Zone was not up & running due to wind. Apparently, those that were sitting by the pool didn't want to get wet... That was a disappointment since it was our only full sea day. But we made the best of it by getting a drink and chatting with friends, Karen & Jerry. Then off to the Flowrider!!! I must preface this with the statement that my husband does not like the fly. We have never sailed the Caribbean because of this. However, when presented the opportunity to sail on a Pre-Inaugural of a brand new ship, he put that aside without hesitation. With that said, after playing on the Flowrider for a couple of hours, Pete declared that the Flowrider was worth the flight to Miami from California! It really is fun! Of course, the guys wouldn't do it until they saw how I did. So, I went up and signed my life away to get my wristband that allowed me to ride. The crewmember took one look at my bikini top and suggested I find a shirt. Nancy mentions in her review that it is a fire hose - and she is quite right! I quickly stripped Pete of his shirt. Sorry about your sunburn, honey. Next time, I will bring my own shirt - I promise. I waited in line a bit hesitantly, yet completely geared up to try this. I knew that if I didn't at least try it, I would be soooooo sorry when I got home. While I waited for my turn, it started to pour down rain! I wasn't about to leave and I was hoping they wouldn't shut it down. Glad to say - they kept it up and running thru the many rainstorms that we sailed thru that afternoon. Then my turn came. I have to tell you - it was so much fun! I felt like a little kid again! I urge anyone to try this! I was barely done when Pete was handing me the camera so he could go sign up. Again - this guy reads every thing that is put in front of him with a fine tooth comb. But he had no problem signing, initialing and speeding thru the release so he could get his turn. Just before his turn, they decided that they needed to put the divider up so they could speed the line along. After Pete's turn, he was hooked! We took another turn each with video and then put the camera away so we could just have some fun! We were out there for about 2 hours and loved every minute of it. When it rained, the lines would shorten up - which we didn't mind at all. Definitely give this a try the next time you are on a Freedom Class ship. You won't regret it. I have a few bruises, but they are minor and worth it! After Flowrider, we put our name on the list for Johnny Rockets - went back to Wipeout for a drink and then had lunch. Johnny Rockets was fun. The food was good and the service was wonderful. It was now close to our early dinner time and we just had lunch. They had no problem with us electing to go to late dinner that night. We went to the ice show before getting ready for dinner. It was amazing!! If you sail on this ship - go to this show. It was amazing what they can do on such a small surface on a moving ship. Go early and get a good seat. Studio B is not very big and if you aren't in a prime spot, your view will be obstructed. Dinner was wonderful. We were seated next to our Cruise Critic friends that we had kept running into all day - so they invited us to their table. It was a wonderful evening of food & conversation. Hi Karen & Jerry!! Later that evening we went to the show, Somewhere In Time. Although we did not stay for the entire show, what we saw was good. Great costumes & sets. Other notes about Liberty: ** Sorrentos was yummy. We ate there a couple of times. Give it a try. The pizza is much improved over what we had on Legend of the Seas. ** Ben & Jerry's - well, that speaks for itself. Yum ** The Royal Promenade is simply wonderful. It is the focal point of the ship and makes orientating yourself easy. At times, you can easily forget you are even on a ship. ** This ship handled very nicely - with very little movement. Pete feels the effects more than I do - and he was quite impressed. Granted, we didn't go out very far and never got up to full speed - but the movement was minimal. ** We tried to hit as many bars as possible. At last count, I think there were close to 25. We managed more than a fair amount of them, even if it was just to order a soda. Bolero's is the happenin' place and you must order a Mojito there. Yum! The Love Connection is still my fruity fav! The best was from the Wipeout Bar near Flowrider. ** Ken Rush was the CD - although I believe that he will be moving on quickly. He did not get a chance to show his stuff, so we look forward to having him as CD on another ship soon. ** We did tour the staterooms - see pics for specifics. I think the oddest thing we saw during the tour was the horrible view from the Presidential Suite. ??? There is an odd amount of gray space that is not used. If you are looking to get a traditional water view from any of the aft cabins, this probably won't be the best ship to attempt it. The bubble of the aft on this ship is not conducive to a nice water view. ** The Adventure Ocean and Teen Area are amazing! Each group has their own area and teens actually have two areas. Loved their own dance floors with their own bars where they could order non-alcoholic drinks & snacks. We were very impressed with the rooms and think RCCL has really put a lot of thought into these areas. ** There was no way to try it all in 2 days.... I would be hard-pressed to try it all in 7 with ports involved. Once again, the crew is the star. We have sailed on other lines. With all of the differences & similarities, it always comes back to the crew. RCCL has the best crews on the water and they truly do make a difference! ** We are very tempted to book this ship or one of her sisters, Freedom or Independence (unveiling next year) - although we are a little concerned about the crowds. This sailing was not full and since it was basically adult only (I think we saw 2-3 children of officers) - we didn't feel the full effects of a normal crowd. Would booking this class (instead of a Voyager Class) in hopes of spending a fair amount of time on Flowrider be trumped by the large amount of kids & teens? Will tendering be a nightmare? Hard to say. I was of the school that said that I wouldn't like the large ships. But we sure did enjoy Liberty! We booked a NextCruise while onboard, so just need to decide WHERE & WHAT ship! Such a problem to have, isn't it? My review would not be complete without thanking Royal Caribbean & Cruise Critic. It was such an honor to be invited for this special sailing. We will always remember it! Many scoffed at the fact that some of us that were invited were "just Gold members" - we know how very special the invitation was and did not take it for granted. And you accomplished something that I wasn't able to - getting my husband to fly to Florida! Thank you for that too! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We sailed on RCCL's "Liberty of the Seas" Maiden Voyage - May 19, 2007. Arrived at the Port of Miami about 12:30PM and the entire embarkation process took only about 10 minutes. Enjoyed lunch in the Windjammer Cafe on Deck ... Read More
We sailed on RCCL's "Liberty of the Seas" Maiden Voyage - May 19, 2007. Arrived at the Port of Miami about 12:30PM and the entire embarkation process took only about 10 minutes. Enjoyed lunch in the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 11 before seeing our cabin. We requested the Main Seating in the Dining Room and must say the food was much better than our previous cruises, even on RCCL. The prime rib the first night was outstanding and our table mates also commented about the quantity and quality of the meal. The opening show included Darrell Joyce, a comedian that put on a great show and later in the week had a late night adult comedy show. Day two was at sea and we took advantage of the pool and health club. Probably the best show was "In the Air" a production show. Ken Rush, the Cruise Director did a fantastic job and made us all feel special for sailing the the maiden voyage. Day three was on the private island in Labadee, Haiti. Honestly, I was not expecting much, but it became my favorite stop during the cruise. Great beaches, beautiful mountains and crystal clear water. The island BBQ was OK. The main show was Abracadabra - the ultimate ABBA Concert. Fantastic show. Day four was in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We had bad experiences in Jamaica years ago and elected to visit the SPA onboard the ship. We both enjoyed extensive spa treatments. Even though I think the prices were too high, it was well worth the time and money. The Ice Spectacular Show was even better than last year's on the Adventure of the Seas if that is possible. Day five was in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Just a few hours of shopping and we were back on board enjoying the pool deck. That night the first major production show "Somewhere in Time" was presented. We were amazed at the extensive sets, special effects and costumes. Day six we docked in Cozumel, Mexico. We signed up via our flat screen interactive cabin TV for a shore excursion to the Tulum Mayan Ruins. Even though it was a nice ferry boat ride, the water was rough and several people were sea sick. Nice tour, but the heat was pretty intense. That night we booked reservations in The Chops Grille, a speciality restaurant that charges a $20 pp cover charge. The meal and service was better than most land based high end restaurants. Well worth the additional cost. The Celebrity Show was "Rain" a Beatles Experience that was a fun show. Day seven was another day at sea enroute back to Miami. The weather did not cooperate until early afternoon, but there was plenty to do inside the ship. This was my 8th cruise and I must say that I was extremely impressed with the ship, food, entertainment and service. We anticipated long lines to board tenders and debark when docked, but were pleasantly surprised how smooth things ran. They provided multiple gifts in our cabins during the week since it was the maiden voyage including, bags, caps, cruise DVD, and folder with a "Certificate of Commemoration" I was disappointed that the waiters in the main dining room did not sing, dance or march through the three story dining room as we have seen on previous cruises. We highly recommend this ship, but next time it will be to the Eastern Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We were lucky enough to be on the Maiden voyage of the ship. It was AN AWESOME trip in so many ways! The ship was great, the service was great, the food was great! We got special gifts every night for being on the maiden voyage! ... Read More
We were lucky enough to be on the Maiden voyage of the ship. It was AN AWESOME trip in so many ways! The ship was great, the service was great, the food was great! We got special gifts every night for being on the maiden voyage! Embarkation, got to the pier around 1000, on the ship around 1145. Boarding process/check in didn't start until 11ish, but went fairly smooth. Ken Rush was the cruise director - very good, enjoyed him a lot! ENTERTAINMENT - WONDERFUL, they had awesome shows! Abbacadabara (ABBA Tribute band), Rain - the beatles tribute band, they did 3 production shows, of course the ice show, and 2 comedians, both with late night shows! definitely one of the highest quality entertainment cruises I have been on. They had a 70's dance in the promenade, and an 80's dance party in studio B both of which were really fun! FOOD - Food was good, normal RCCL fare, but the staff (Both dining and windjammer) were wonderful. There has been a rumor that Jonny Rockets is now charging 5.00 cover, that is not true, it is still 3.95. THE SHIP - Wonderful! I really like this class of ship. It is the same as the freedom except they took the book store out by the cafe promenade, and replaced it with the Loyalty Ambassador's new office. PORTS - Not really too much to comment on here, as everyone has over and over on the port reviews! DEBARKATION - SLOW! They had 24 customs agents working that day, and the line still moved really slow compared to a lot of other ships, but wasn't that bad. The only thing that I wish they would change on the ship, is to bring back some of the game shows. They still play Love and Marriage, quest, and Battle of the sexes, but I miss things like the Liars Club, Majority rules, and some of the other ones. This turned out to be a GREAT cruise! We all had a blast! Everything was wonderful on this ship! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
This was the seven day maiden voyage of the Liberty of the Seas and our 8 cruise (seventh with RCL) . It was, by far the best Caribbean cruise we have been on covering all aspects. Congratulations to Royal Caribbean for a great job. The ... Read More
This was the seven day maiden voyage of the Liberty of the Seas and our 8 cruise (seventh with RCL) . It was, by far the best Caribbean cruise we have been on covering all aspects. Congratulations to Royal Caribbean for a great job. The service was outstanding. We expected some lines with 4,ooo people and found no waiting at any of the venues. Embarkation waiting time from the time we pulled up to the port to the time we had that "magical first picture" was 15 minutes. Even the parking attendants at the garage were very helpful. Rooms were ready and cabin stewards had our names down within 15 minutes. Any requests we had were satisfied within the hour. All meal service was excellent. Dishes were removed promptly and offers of drinks frequent. A++++++ on all service. The ship was magnificent. The Flow Rider the hot spot and the gym was the best we have ever seen on a ship.. It topped some land gyms as well all first class equipment. Programs offered were great. Boxing seemed to be the big attraction in the gym. Tours were great in every port. DO NOT MISS THE ZIP LINE IN JAMAICA THE BEST EXPERIENCE EVER. Food was the usual RCL quality and very abundant. We highly recommend a night at Chops, well worth the $20.00. Shows were above the norm. The only criticism we had was Ken Rush's insistence that they are all standing ovation events. Ken needs to get over it. There is such a thing as a good show that does require a standing ovation. The ship was beautiful. The pool areas well sized and great places to hang out. The H20 zone is a terrific addition and fun place for all. All pools A+. This is the first time we stayed up every night past 2 a.m. and it was because of the excellent event scheduling. Ken Rush and the staff finally utilized the pool areas and promenade to there potential. Dancing in the streets. Dancing under the stars (adults only), the 80's night were all grand events. (80's night should gave been a bit longer). Cannot say enough good things about this cruise. Great job. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Just got back from the inaugural Sailing of the Liberty of the Seas, All we can say is "when can we do it again!" The ship was beautiful, clean, and exciting. The actual cruise was great, with good weather except for a couple of ... Read More
Just got back from the inaugural Sailing of the Liberty of the Seas, All we can say is "when can we do it again!" The ship was beautiful, clean, and exciting. The actual cruise was great, with good weather except for a couple of squalls and some wind on the deck. There was more to do than you can imagine, and you almost need two cruises to do it all. Embarkation: At registration the first of the booty was handed out. All 4 of us (me 49, my wife 42, my son 19, and my daughter 16) got bags that can double as backpacks. Being platinum members, our special embarkation line was smooth and fast. Got on the ship about 1:30 PM. Cabin Accommodations/Service: Deck 7 just off the stairs. Joseph, our cabin steward, was attentive to our needs at all times and helped out whenever possible. The room, while a bit tight for 4, had the new RCCL bedding and it lived up to it's billing, being the most comfortable bed we have ever had at sea. Windjammer Lounge/Jade: We usually only eat dinner in the dining room. The meals we had in the Windjammer Lounge/Jade were always well prepared and delicious. For 3800 passengers the lines were never very long and table waits were usually short. presentation was also very good Promenade Cafe/Sorrento's Pizza Parlor: These two promenade eateries always had smiling staff and tasty food. The cafe had breakfast until about 1030, then sandwiches and dessert until late. Sorrentos had pizza and usually a different salad and dessert each day. All the food I had at those locations was great. Main Dining Room: Our Waiter Felix, Asst. Waiter Tecetut, and Head Waiter Brushan were very good. Menu options were always explained, and we were served very efficiently and always in a personable way. Food was very good, our waiters always helped out when my kids weren't exactly enamored by the selections, and it was a fun experience every night. Our only significant complaint was that the waitstaff didn't perform on Italian or International night as they hadn't gotten enough rehearsals in yet. You'd think they'd have had the time to get ready. Work Out Facility: Best I have ever used at sea. The equipment was top notch and covered all the needed areas. The staff in the fitness center was always there to answer your questions. Would've been nice to not have to pay for the boxing though. Entertainment: There is a reason, as I found out, that Ken Rush was on his 9th inaugural cruise as cruise director. He is the best! The entertainment was great. The opening night comedian, who also did a late light "blue" set later, was Daryl Joyce and he was very funny. The three shows put on by the Royal Caribbean Players were very good, and all included suspended acts. Throw in an additional comedian and Abbacadabra, an Abba look alike group, and Rain, a Beatles Look alike group, both of whom were spot on, and you have the makings of 7 full nights of entertainment in the Platinum Theater. Throw in an ice show, dancing 70's in the promenade, 80's in studio B, island dancing on deck 11, the very good piano bar entertainer, and all the other activities the cruise staff arranged, and if you didn't have something to do all the time and have a good time, it was your own fault! My Daughter stated that the youth director had a great well thought out program, and did his best to make it work. Activities on board: My daughter rode the flowrider, and had a blast. My son lived on the sports deck. The wall was fun, and it's hard to describe everything else there was to do on board. The best way to find out is to go! Booty: Since I brought it up in embarkation, I thought I should explain. Each night there was new stuff in the room after dinner. This included 8 more bag, hats, pins, a leather folio (11x13) with a picture of the ship and a certificate of attendance on the maiden voyage signed by the RCCL CEO, the President of RCCL, and the Capt. On the last night all were even given a free, that's right free, cruise in review DVD! Plus even special candies in the room two nights as well. Staff: The staff on this ship was very good. They always addressed you by your first name, always smiled, and always helped. Guest relations especially helped out with a luggage problem we had with the airline, and went above and beyond. Shore Excursions: We only did one excursion, in Montego Bay, and unfortunately the tour company did not deliver as the itinerary didn't match the advertised itinerary, and this turned out to be our cruise low-point. In Conclusion: A great ship, great staff, great everything. This was a first full cruise and it was fantastic. I can only imagine how it will get when the routine gets comfortable. I can only recommend you go yourself and find out. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
This is a pretty disorganized review of our Liberty pre-inaugural cruise on May 14, 2007. The executive summary: Liberty is a destination resort all by herself. She's a beauty, too. I could easily be convinced to sail on her on a ... Read More
This is a pretty disorganized review of our Liberty pre-inaugural cruise on May 14, 2007. The executive summary: Liberty is a destination resort all by herself. She's a beauty, too. I could easily be convinced to sail on her on a cruise with lots and lots of sea days or ports that I don't care about, but if she's sailing to places I want to see, I would spend my days in port and my nights racing around trying to take everything in. My personality, I guess - I can't leave undiscovered nooks & crannies, and there were lots of them on this ship! Embarkation: After spending the night pre-cruise at the Hyatt Regency Miami (nice beds, but under renovation & I was awakened by hammering at 8:00 am) Carol and I took a cab to the port, arriving at about 10:30. In spite of having no real documentation other than an invitation from RCI, we were able to check in quickly. Boarding had just started as we were checking in, so we were able to go directly on to the ship. Cabins: We were assigned OV cabin 2338, in the same neighborhood as most of the Cruise Critics. Although we were happy just to be onboard, I confess that I greatly missed having a balcony to get some fresh air at will or to escape from the crowds. On the positive side there was a drape that pulled all the way across the cabin to provide some privacy for a late or early sleeper. We never met our cabin steward. He or she didn't impress - left dirty glasses & dishes in the cabin, refolded wet towels that had been on the floor (that gave me the willies) and would pile the bed pillows up onto the sofa at night, rendering it useless (they fit nicely right behind the head of the beds). RCI put many cabins on display, including the top suites, and we saw them all. At one point we went from the Family Oceanview near the bow to the Royal Family Suite on the stern. Halfway down the hall there should have been a sign: "If you were on Radiance, you'd be home by now"! The cabins are all nicely decorated, with very luxurious bedding and towels and the flat screen plasma TVs. I turned mine on as I left the cabin on disembarkation day just so I could say I saw it. There was far too much to cover to spend time watching TV! I'm normally an aft cabin fan, but the superstructure of the ship gets in the way of all of the cabins' views, at least from Decks 6-9 (didn't see any aft cabins on Deck 10). Because the side cabins have very spacious balconies, I would probably save myself the walk and book one of those instead. Bars: There were too many bars to visit on a two-night cruise, although I did my best. My favorite hangout was the Wipe Out Bar, where we could watch the surfers on the Flowrider and have a fabulous view of the ocean. The bartenders, Roger and Armando, took good care of us. The Sky Bar, Pool Bar, Schooner Bar, Catacomb (disco, actually) were the other venues I sampled, and they all had great service. Dining: We ate in the dining room for dinner, which was open seating. The food was good, although the service was a bit disorganized. More on that below... I snacked at the Windjammer, which has a good layout for traffic flow and very tasty offerings, and had pizza at Sorrento's which was ok. RCI pizza just doesn't compare to Princess - we had just disembarked the Diamond, so I had a fresh recollection there! Chops and Portofino are located on the same deck as the Windjammer. Both are gorgeous restaurants, although they were only open for certain groups for dining on this cruise. I could see spending my dinner times in there! Cruise Critic We had a good-sized group, and arranged to meet at the Sky Bar at 3:00, which was a good thing: the invitations to "our" party hadn't been delivered to our cabins, so somebody in our group kindly fetched them from Guest Relations and brought them to our gathering. The party was held in Cloud 9, located off the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 14. Richard Fain, Adam Goldstein and several other RCI key personnel attended the party and spoke a few words. I didn't hear many of them because I was at the other end of the room looking for a shrimp that had leapt off my canapE, rescuing it before it was ground into the carpet. And somebody (you know who you are) was snickering loudly at me, drowning out the speeches anyway. Oh, and my ears were filled with vodka at that point. RCI gave us a nice gift - a plastic gym bag (good for the pool or beach) containing an RCI computer mouse, Liberty commemorative pin and a Royal Champions mug. The Royal Champions are a new category of something, basically those of us who are die-hard RCI fans and who publicly promote the line. At least, that's what I think it is... Day 1: After the CC gathering we did something, but I really should have written it down earlier because now I can't remember what it was. Anyway, we then met at Bolero's (much smaller and less to my liking than Bolero's on the Monarch as it is bisected by a large stairway) and went to late seating. We had been assigned early, but didn't make it in time, and it was open seating, so there was no problem accommodating our tardy group. Our waiter was a little stiff, but our assistant waiter was a dream. Wine kept flowing, port was offered up, and Adam Goldstein worked the room. I do believe he hit every table - the man moves quickly! The food was the usual first night offering - lamb shank, shrimp, etc. The lamb was better than we've usually encountered. After dinner we went to the Schooner Bar to see Matt Yee. He is hilarious, and can get otherwise dignified people (who have consumed far more alcohol than they would if they had to pay for it) to do some pretty silly things. I tried my hand at the casino, broke even and walked away for the evening (I made a whopping $16 the next night, so I'm a WINNER!). It was 70's night in the Promenade, and the Village People appeared on the walkway above. They then came down to join the crowd and, like moths to a flame, found my roommate and started dancing with her. Sadly, I wasn't close enough to get a good picture, but her smile nearly cut her face in half! I spent the rest of the night at Catacombs, not getting to bed until after 5:00. If I do say so myself, I think I best illustrated our CC group's motto of "Sleep is for the Weak." Not sure that's a good thing! Day 2: After awakening around 11, I spent most of the afternoon at the Wipe Out Bar watching people on the Flowrider and chatting with some fellow passengers who had been at Catacombs with us. Amazingly enough, we all felt pretty good. We had a busy evening planned for formal night - we attended the Diamond Plus party at 5:30 (mostly horrid appetizers, but a great combo band - I missed having DH to dance with - and of course more free cocktails), went to the ice skating show at 6:30, which was phenomenal, did something before dinner, but I can't remember, then went to dinner, late seating again. The food was just so-so. My filet was overcooked just a touch and wasn't as tender as on the Monarch, but it disappeared anyway. We left before dessert (service was slooooow) in order to see Matt Yee again, then headed off to the production show, which was simply amazing. The special effects were terrific, and the singers, dancers & orchestra were excellent. Catacombs was dark for the night so we wandered down to Studio B for the post-80's party. It was basically a high school dance format - people were dancing on the rink (covered with a floor, of course), and there were quite a few men were standing around on the perimeter looking longingly at the action. I grew bored eventually, won my big jackpot in the Casino, & went back to the cabin about 2:30 am. Disembarkation: Because this was a cruise to nowhere, we didn't have to clear US customs on the way out. They began calling for people to leave at 8:00. My little band all had late-ish flights, so we relaxed in the Schooner Bar until the Captain came on and politely told us to get the hell out. We grabbed a cab to the airport (RCI had shuttle busses available but we didn't feel like dealing with the crowd) and were there in 20 minutes or so. It was a wonderful, albeit brief trip. I still prefer the Radiance class of ships - I felt a little closed-in on the Royal Promenade (I just didn't feel like I was cruising), and the ship has so much to offer that I would probably never disembark in port, which IMHO defeats the purpose of cruising. But I enjoyed myself immensely (yes, you can have too much fun), and wish to thank both RCI and Cruise Critic for arranging this boffo event! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We went on the 2nd cruise for this ship. It is a beautiful ship and very similar in appearance and layout to the voyager class ships. The architecture and styling of the ship are truly amazing. The royal promenade is magnificent. A nice ... Read More
We went on the 2nd cruise for this ship. It is a beautiful ship and very similar in appearance and layout to the voyager class ships. The architecture and styling of the ship are truly amazing. The royal promenade is magnificent. A nice addition to the freedom family ships is the flowrider, which is fun for the kids and adults. Also, their new bedding is quite comfortable. I hope they put this bedding on all their ships. embarkation in Miami was smooth and quick. Since we are Florida residents we drove to the port. Parking was easily accessible and $15/day. disembarkation was fair. We were one of the earlier groups off the ship so we didn't have to sit around for too long. Our friends, however, had to wait in a lounge for over 2 hours. They finally just left the ship before their color was called because they got tired of staring at the walls. As U. S. citizens we got through customs more quickly than the international guests. We found the food in the main dining room to be excellent with a nice variety of choices throughout the week. The food in the Windjammer cafe is good at best. Their desserts are the weakest menu items in all the dining venues. We did not visit the Portofino Italian or Chops Grille restaurants so I can't comment on them. I was disappointed that they now have a $3.95 cover charge for Johnny Rockets with milkshakes being an additional $3. We aren't drinkers, but if you are, there are bars and bars servants at every turn. There is always something to do on this ship. The bars/lounges are varied in theme, ambiance, and styles of music for those who want to relax. The pools (all chlorinated) and hot tubs are clean and not crowded. The waterpark is wonderful for children. Our teenagers loved the teen hang out areas and activities. The work out center offers a good variety of weight lifting and aerobic equipment. The center was sometimes busy but we could always find open equipment. The athletic activities (e.g., ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, basketball court, flow rider, miniature golf) are great places to test yourself and have fun. The flow rider is a must try and is always busy. We have mixed reviews about the evening shows. What they did well was costuming, scenery, and lighting. The voices of the singers were stronger than what I have heard on other cruise ships. The dancing was fair to good (I have seen better dancing at my teenage daughter's dance studio). The shows, while very creative, lacked direction and transitions, which made them hard to follow. The guest band, Rain, did an wonderful Beatles review. The platinum theater, where the shows are held, had plenty of seating and is comfortable. The ice skating show is a highlight. The skaters gave an amazing performance on a relatively small rink. We went on the eastern caribbean cruise (Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and Labadee). Puerto Rico is a horrible port of call--very little to do there. I hope RC will find another stop to replace this one. St. Maarten is beautiful and has numberable excursion options. Some of us went to scuba diving (beautiful) and some did the treetop ropes course/zip lines (strenuous but fun). Labadee is basically a nice beach. There are a few excursions available but it is mostly a place to relax in a hammock, soak up some sun, or go for a swim. If you have a choice, I strongly recommend the western ports of call over the eastern. The western caribbean cruise offers more and overall better stops. The service was superb. Our waiters were very attentive and enjoyable, and our room stewards always kept the rooms fresh. We had a small Norwalk-like virus outbreak during the cruise (170+ cases). We had to use sanitary wipes on our hands every time we turned around, and the whole ship was covered with bleach. They shut down Johnny Rockets and one of the restaurants in the royal promenade. It is interesting that they closed the arcade (didn't want to transmit the virus through touching common objects) yet the casino with its slot machines remained open. We also weren't allowed to serve ourselves in the Windjammer cafe. These were inconveniences, but necessary ones. We appreciated their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. We felt sorry for the ships staff that had to work exceptionally long hours to repeatedly sterilize as much of the ship as possible. Overall, a wonderful ship and cruise. It was hard to leave this ship and come back to reality. We can't wait to go again. We would travel on this family of ships again but would choose different ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
I just came off the Liberty of the Seas sailing her on her maiden voyage to the Eastern Caribbean. This was the second sailing of the Liberty with her just completing her Western Caribbean maiden voyage the week before. FIRST ... Read More
I just came off the Liberty of the Seas sailing her on her maiden voyage to the Eastern Caribbean. This was the second sailing of the Liberty with her just completing her Western Caribbean maiden voyage the week before. FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The first impression of the Liberty as we arrived at the pier was "wow". Her size and appearance is overwhelming. She appeared much larger than the Voyager class of ship. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the Port of Miami around 12:30 and found there was already lots of passengers at the terminal. After parking the car at the indoor parking garage we proceeded to the terminal and was immediately processed through security and went upstairs to check-in. As we are Diamond level with RCCL we moved immediately to the Diamond check-in. I did notice RCCL had lots of agents on duty and did not see any major delays in processing all category of passenger. Once checked-in we were allowed to proceed onboard and it was now around 1:00 PM. As you boarded the Liberty her size and magnitude first experience at street level became real. THe ships length and beam are overwhelming at first but soon we found that the layout was very friendly and easy to navigate. FIRST DAY ONBOARD: This was the Liberty's first sail to the Eastern Caribbean visiting San Juan, St. Maarten and Labadee, Haiti. The day we left Miami was an overcast day with winds and some on and off rain. The seas were a bit rough but the Liberty sailed very well holding her own very well in the rough seas. The first day out was at sea. Lots of planned activities on board. From the FlowRider to rock climbing to golf and the onboard art auction. There also was the Royal Promenade where lots of passengers congregated and enjoyed the numerous shops and cafes. It appeared all were having lots of fun and enjoying the onboard amenities. There were times I felt the ship was very crowded in the public areas such as the Promenade and absolutely at the elevator banks. Long waits were common with the elevators but if you are up to it walks up or down the stairs were fairly common among the passengers. DINING ROOM: The three tiered dinning room was magnificent. Great design and colors made you feel welcomed. Service was lacking the first day or two but as the week progressed service improved markedly. I attributed the service level issue to the crew being new and still working out service issues with setup and flow in the dinning room. The food very good with good selection each evening. Overall I would rate the dinning room experience as very good. The second day out was San Juan, our first port of call. With the Liberty making her first call to San Juan the locals came out in force to welcome her. Lots of sightseers and music and dancers. Processing of passengers on and off the ship went well. Some lines but overall I felt the crew did a good joy to manage the crowds and to get you to your day in San Juan quickly. Unfortunately this day was also the day the Captain announced that there was an outbreak of norovirus on board. We were told that a "few" cases were reported and that the passengers were quarantined to their cabins for three days. The most obvious signs of the problem was the crew stationed around the ship with sanitizing wipes for all passengers coming back on board and entering all food service areas. We did not see much change beyond this the first day of the norovirus....but this changed as the week progressed. DAY 4: St Maarten St. Maarten is one of my most favorite places in the Caribbean to visit. I always feel welcomed by the locals and feel like they appreciate my business. On this visited my group and I traveled via taxi from Philipsburg on the Dutch side to Marigol, on the French side. One noticeable change we saw was the amount of traffic. What use to take 20 - 30 minutes not took an hour plus. Even with the increase in traffic and time we felt the sights along the drive was well worth the time. St Maarten is a beautiful island with wonderful food and some good buys especially in Phillipsburg. On this trip my wife was looking for a special table cloth set. She found one store offering a set with twelve napkins for $20.00 versus the $135 asking price. I unfortunately did not find such a bargain on camera equipment. Looking for a lens for my camera I priced it out at three stores. I was told they beat the major US company "B&H Photo". I choose not to purchase the lens feeling the price was not very good. This was confirmed when I returned home and checked B&H Photos price to find it was the same. When we returned back to the ship we found that more cases of norovirus was reported and not the ship went to a higher level of response. Ships crew was mandated not to shake hands or touch the passengers (hugs, etc). The sanitary wipes became common place around the ship and we began to see changes in the Windjammer and other self serve restaurants . No longer were the passengers allowed to serve themselves but rather crew were stationed wearing surgical gloves and serving all items including sugar, milk and all food. Other changes we noticed was the closing of select restaurants on the Promenade so those crew members could be redeployed to the Windjammer. We also saw a marked increased in cleaning. As passengers got up from their tables immediately crew would come and spray the tables with bleach and the chairs with a microbio agent on the chairs. It was now apparent that there was a serious problem on board. Other changes we saw was all public areas were sprayed and not wiped clean like elevator areas, handrails, inside the elevators, etc. Also we started to see little bags like you see on airplanes being deployed around the ship for passengers who take ill while in the public areas. DAY 5: AT SEA We are heading towards Labadee. Today is an onboard day with lots of activities being available to the passengers. The FlowRider is a very hot item along with the rock climbing wall. Inside lots of passengers are walking the Royal Promenade enjoying the shops and coffee shop. (This is perhaps the most popular location on the Promenade). By now signs of the norovirus problem are everywhere. Every food service area have crew stationed with the special handwipes. Every food, utensils, condiment and cup or glass has to be dispense by a glove wearing crew member. One observation made was the lines seemed to be quicker as passengers were not milling over the food picking through it looking for that one special item they wanted. This I thought was a plus. LABADEE: This is one of my favorite private beaches. beautiful trees providing lots of shade, wonderful music from locals also dancing tradition dances, a great B-B-Q and some of the best water activities going. The Liberty crew again shined in managing the tendering of passengers to the island. Using two disembarkation points on the ships I felt movement of passengers to the island was excellent. OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: At this point I think it is important to note that I and most passengers I spoke with felt the crew and officers of the Liberty did a superb job of managing the norovirus problem. Yes there were changes to passenger expectations and service levels but the focus was on containment of the problem with minimal change in service and activities for the passengers. Crew members were working extended hours and yet the smiled and made the passengers feel welcomed. The ships captain gave daily reports over the public address which helped the passengers feel they were knowledgeable about what was going on and what changes to expect. All passengers were invited to a complimentary medical eval if they felt they were coming down with the illness. If there was a negative to what could have been a very serious problem was the way some of the affected passengers mismanaged their personal illness trying to play doctor. Leave this to those handled the problem. d the RN's who know what they are doing. The Liberty of the Seas is a wonderful new addition to RCCL's fleet. She is a magnificent ship with lots to do to please any category of passenger from newby to the experienced cruiser. Having over 40 cruises to date and 20 on RCCL this was my first experience with the norovirus problem. I felt the officers and crew of the Liberty deserve a "round of applause" on how they handled the problem. Bravo to the Liberty, it's crew and officers and especially to its captain for a job done well under the most trying of times. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
This was Liberty's Eastern Caribbean inaugural voyage. If I were to choose a headline for this review it would read something like "Liberty of the Seas gets off to a shaky start." Embarkation was quick and painless, and ... Read More
This was Liberty's Eastern Caribbean inaugural voyage. If I were to choose a headline for this review it would read something like "Liberty of the Seas gets off to a shaky start." Embarkation was quick and painless, and you would never guess they were boarding almost 4000 passengers. RCCL exceeded my expectations here. The ship is beautiful with large public areas, basically a larger version of Voyager type ships. There was a nice flow of passengers, never feeling crowded. And you could always find a quiet spot in the ship, if you needed quiet time. I was in a promenade cabin, and I was quite impressed with it. The room had huge window with a siting area. The beds were quite comfortable and the flat-panel Samsung TV is a nice improvement. It would be nice if they offered HD programming, as regular TV does not look good in those TVs. Also, a DVD player would be nice, and could be a revenue maker for RCCL. About two days into the sailing, the Norovirus hit and everything went downhill from there. The first signs that something was up was when there were announcements to wash your hands after using bathroom and before eating. Then, one day I woke up to barf bags everywhere in the public areas of the ship and the smell of bleach. Gosh, there was bleach everywhere! So much bleach that it was ruining people's clothing, including some of mine. I don't know if this was related to the virus, but I have to honestly say that the Hotel Operations in Liberty was the worst I have experienced in any cruise ship...and I have completed now five cruises with three different cruise lines, so I feel that I have some reference. When your bed is not made-up twice a day and you have to request basic things like towels and toilet paper we are not talking about bad service, we are talking NO SERVICE! The cabin attendant was nowhere to be seen on the last day and did not even deliver the usual summary of charges. This was first time,ever, that I considered leaving NO TIP. But he lucked out, I had pre-paid the tips. I really hope that this was a one-time thing due to services being stressed by the norovirus, and not a sign that quality of service is declining with RCCL. RCCL needs to decide if they have a dress code or not. The current system is a charade! It was a big downer seeing people dressed in shorts, tank tops and baseball caps in such an elegant dining room. But that aside, the dining room staff did a wonderful job, even when the quality of services in other areas of the ship seemed to decline as the week progressed. I find it interesting that the rumors in the ship turned out to be correct. There were rumors that there were up to 200 guests and employees sick in the ship, but this was denied by staff when asked. When I returned Saturday and read news accounts in the Internet guess what, the rumors were correct! Someone had a good source! Memo to RCCL: be more proactive in preventing the Norovirus. I saw so many people that did not wash their hands after doing their business in the public restrooms. I know this is probably a cultural thing with other cultures, but RCCL should find a way to educate people better before the cruise begins. This could have been a 5+ rated cruise had this virus not hit the cruise. But I also feel that RCCL dropped the ball in handling this outbreak and the passengers were not informed of the true extent of the outbreak. I hope RCCL does better next time. ADDENDUM:   Today I received a call from Greg, Corporate Relations, RCCL, in response to a written complaint about my experience in this cruise.  He was very professional, a good listener and  I was very impressed.  We discussed my experience in the ship and my various complaints.  He explained that to due the Norovirus outbreak, many of the ship's services were stressed as the main focus of the crew was to contain the outbreak and keep it from spreading.  We both agreed that the ship's management could have done a better job in managing passenger's expectations.  He offered me and my travel companion a $200 voucher towards a future cruise.  As a Customer Service professional myself,  I have to say that I was very impressed with this follow-up.  Things will always go wrong, no operation is prefect.  But I do feel satisfied that RCCL does want to please their customers and do take their concerns seriously.  I may not have given this cruise experience a good grade, but RCCL Corporate Relations gets an A+ for their follow-up, goodwill and professionalism.  Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
As RCCL says: "Get out there." Their biggest and newest really is a crowd pleaser, but with such size comes a few minor problems. The only real "line" was boarding the ship. The 4000+ people pushed Miami's cruise ... Read More
As RCCL says: "Get out there." Their biggest and newest really is a crowd pleaser, but with such size comes a few minor problems. The only real "line" was boarding the ship. The 4000+ people pushed Miami's cruise terminal G to the limit. At 1:30, the boarding line was way beyond the endless snaking barrier straps so that those waiting to check in had to cross those in the boarding line. It was a cross between a managed mess and organized chaos, but it progressed fairly quickly once boarding started. Once on board, there were too few giving directions and everyone was more or less on their own. And closed fire doors blocked access to cabins until 3:00. Baggage delivery seemed to be better than most ships, with only a few having to wait to around late-seating dinner for their luggage. The cabins are status quo with one exception: the beds. Great pillow top mattresses and outstanding linens made for truly sweet dreams. Food was pretty standard for RCCL. The buffets were well organized and offered lots of variety. Service was outstanding in the dining rooms; though the food was nothing to write home about. (I did, however, write home about the meal we had in Chops). Now, the head waiters and assistant waiters take care of wine service, which is nice. The biggest and most positive change I noticed was the entertainment. The sets, lighting, and technological advancements made for some truly outstanding shows and a few jaw-dropping "wow" moments. Unfortunately, there were no "headliner" appearances, but I thoroughly enjoyed all the shows as being different, fresh and professional. Not quite Cirque du Soleil, but headed that way. The public areas were extremely well done and creatively used. The Royal Promenade was a stunning place to hang out; the Flow Rider was popular day and night, and the Ice Show was top notch and used for several other fun events and parties. The outdoor pool decks were crowded, and selfish passengers "reserved" their personal all-day-deck-chairs with towels, books, and beach bags by 9 a.m. Grrrrr. The solarium is not nearly as lush on this ship as it is on others, and the adults-only policy was ignored by more selfish passengers and teenagers in the hot tubs. The ship docked early in Miami for departure but was delayed significantly by an INS computer problem. Those with non-US passports were delayed considerably. Speaking of non-US passports, one of the biggest plusses on a ship this large is the increased diversity of passengers. It was a true and enjoyable melting pot that made for an interesting mix at one big party. Bring on the Genesis class ships! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
We went on this ship for it's third regular voyage. The week before's voyage had a large number of people with the norovirus so our cruise had late boarding and departure to allow the ship to be sanitized. RCCL notified us well ... Read More
We went on this ship for it's third regular voyage. The week before's voyage had a large number of people with the norovirus so our cruise had late boarding and departure to allow the ship to be sanitized. RCCL notified us well in advance of the delay in boarding. The ship is gorgeous. Even though it is so big, it really never felt crowded. The layout of the ship is so well designed that I never felt like I was walking too much. We had a quad balcony on the 6th floor. This was one deck up from the promenade which was very convenient. The room was well appointment. The flat screen tv and beds were great. It was a little tight with four people ...we did not have room for all of our clothes but it was fine. If I could get connecting cabins next time for a little more $ I would but it was not available on this voyage. I am a seasoned cruiser but this was the first time that I traveled with my two sons who are in elementary school. The ship was perfect for them. The younger son loved adventure ocean. He went every night after a quick 6:30 dinner at the windjammer for him. The flowrider was my older son's favorite. It was like nothing you have ever seen on a cruise ship. It was fun just to watch! If you go with children, they have to be 50" tall to boogie board and taller to surf. If you think your kids might be too short, measure them before you go to avoid disappointment. My smaller son was too short and I did not realize before we left and he was really upset that he could not go. The H2O zone was also a favorite of theirs. They spent hours in the tiny lazy river which we named the lazy donut!. The area was never too crowded and I could always find a seat nearby to watch them. The ship was filled with children so this was surprising. The service in the gorgeous dining room was excellent. The entertainment was great. Do not miss the ice show. The spa was great. They ran a lot of specials and it was not hard to get a last minute appointment in my case. I had a hot stone massage and facial. The hot stone massage was great. I also did pilates and yoga in the gym which were very nice. If you have never done them, you should try a class..it is a great opportunity to learn something new. I have been on the voyager class before and this ship is very similar just a little bigger. We went to Labadee, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and cozumel. I thought that Labadee was the best. We were lucky enough to have great weather so that made everyday great. The ship is gorgeous, laid out well, has something for everyone to do day and night. You won't be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise terminal at 11:00 Saturday. The place was already bustling with activity. We immediately dropped off luggage, parked the car and got in line, checked in with our pre-completed sail away pass and were ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise terminal at 11:00 Saturday. The place was already bustling with activity. We immediately dropped off luggage, parked the car and got in line, checked in with our pre-completed sail away pass and were effortlessly escorted into a waiting area where only about 400 people were allowed to enter. They served sodas and water. I think anyone not in this room had to stand and wait in the adjoining room until the ship opened. The ship began boarding at 2:00 and it was effortless. However, we did see the line at check-in which was very long at this time. Luggage arrived by 3:00 and our Just Because package arrived by 7:00. All flawless. Noro: I think it's under control. By the end of our cruise the bleach everywhere had stopped. We had a pair of men's Nautica pants ($48) and a kids OP shirt ($18) ruined. We turned them into the purser for ship credit. My advice is do not lean on the rails anywhere, especially on formal nights. Be prepared to use sanitized wipes everywhere you go. AND USE THEM, it keeps everyone well. Our cabin attendant told us there were only 7 reported cases on our cruise, which I thought was great news. Stay clean, wash hands and if someone coughs or sneezes next to you, turn and hold your breath until clear. Dining: Service was excellent. We had Heri and Andre at table 473 and those guys are wonderful. I ate 2-3 appetizers and/or entrees every night. Yes I gained weight, but I worked out 6 months prior to cruise just for that extra I ate. I also worked out on the ship 4 days. Food was exquisite on some nights and OK on others. I had lamb 2 nights-the chops were ok, the shank was fantastic. Seafood night (Lobster) was excellent and order as many as you can stuff away. Deserts are a treat. Enjoy. We ate at Windjammer twice. Once right after embarkation and another for lunch. Not great-it's a buffet. My motto is why do I want to serve myself with tongs that have been touched by everybody when I can dine at the DR with fresh prepared food. To each his own, but I did not like Windjammer. Sorrentos pizza is excellent and good for that mid-afternoon snack after you re-board the ship from and island. Especially if you have late seating. Shows: Don't miss the 2 vegas style shows, honeymoon show and the Ice show. Parades in promenade are also good. They cast is wonderfully talented and has put alot of work into the presentations. Reward them by attending and loud applause. Room: Our attendant did a spectacular job keeping up with our schedule. We were always in and out and our teenager slept late most mornings. But Neil was always accommodating and kept our place tidy. Cabin was D1 Superior Aft Balcony and was a little cramped for 4. The balcony on aft cabins is much larger than the sides. I recommend if you can get it. Ship amenities: The ship is absolutely gorgeous and awesome. Something to do at all times. Try the Flowrider even if you are not adventurous, but you have to schedule the right time. It stays crowded. promenade is great to just leisurely walk through. Viking lounge provides a solitude area in the early morning to drink coffee and watch the open sea or ship arrival at the islands. Casino is well decorated and always bustling with activity when open. Rock wall is the highest at sea. It is challenging but you have to try once. There are things we just did not have time to do like mini-golf and some shows. itinerary: Mobay was the low point of the cruise. We did not do an excursion and went into the city center to shop. Jamaican's are always hounding you for money, either to buy something or a taxi ride, showing where something is, anything. It's just annoying. You start ignoring anyone who says...Ya Mon! Labadee was simple. Beach, BBQ and lots of people. Kids did water park, not much else. Everyone was saying how fun the Zipline was, so you may want to try, but seemed a little steep for me for one ride. GC we did stingray city and snorkel and this was excellent. Cozumel took a jeep tour around the island with several stops on the island. This was fun and I had just been in the shopping district on previous cruises. Debarking: We were off the ship in 15 minutes after our color was called. One final thought: You spend alot of $$ on these cruises and at the end of your cruise when you add up what you have spent you get shocked. This is the time you are supposed to hand out your tips to the cabin steward and dining staff that have served you all week. Please don't short change these people. They work 7 days a week for six months at a time and have to pay to call their families to stay in touch. These people work very hard and deserve to be tipped at least the recommended amount and if the service is good, kick in an extra 10-20%. Put it aside before the end so you don't run out. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
CRUISING THE HIGH SEAS WITH THE NOROVIRUS; T'AINT FUN! ROYAL CARIBBEAN LIBERTY OF THE SEAS VOYAGE #3 June 2, 2007 By The Savvy Old Lady © Joan Giorgianni A few weeks ago Hubby and I decided to treat ourselves to a little quality ... Read More
CRUISING THE HIGH SEAS WITH THE NOROVIRUS; T'AINT FUN! ROYAL CARIBBEAN LIBERTY OF THE SEAS VOYAGE #3 June 2, 2007 By The Savvy Old Lady © Joan Giorgianni A few weeks ago Hubby and I decided to treat ourselves to a little quality fun time by cruising the high seas on an impromptu cruise. We have finally reached our semi-early retirement days that we have long awaited after raising five little cherubs to adulthood. Okay, so we are not completely finished raising them because from my viewpoint, we will continue parenting until the day we die. Guess that's just one of those little things that should have been in the instructional manual that we never received when they were born. Fortunately for us, we live in southwestern Florida and are a mere two hour drive from three major cruise ship ports of call and while on any given day we usually with financial considerations of course, can take advantage of the really good specials (sometimes called "Happy Hour Specials") the cruise lines have for same week sailings. Let me tell you, these cruse ship price deals are steals! We have had suites with butler service for the same price some people pay for an inside cabin; however, that's another story for another blog. On May 30th we booked a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Liberty of The Seas with a departure date of June 2 out of Miami, Florida with a destination of Western Caribbean ports. This was to be the third cruise since their inaugural sailing and the Liberty of The Seas is touted to be the most sophisticated, flashiest and largest cruise ship in the world. Who wouldn't be excited to sail on this most modern and mammoth cruise ship that advertised a passenger capacity from 4600 to 5000 guests plus crew? Ah, yes what a glorious time we expected on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of The Seas. On May 31st, the very next day we received a call from our friendly travel agent informing us that the Norovirus (or as some call it the Norwalk virus or the stomach flu or gastroenteritis) had struck Royal Caribbean Cruse Line's Liberty of The Seas on the voyage that very week; just it's second regular voyage out. An estimated 175 passengers and 3 crew members became ill with Norovirus (or Norwalk virus or Norwalk-like virus). What an interesting time that must have been. Congratulations go out to the ship management and crew because it was our understanding from passengers we spoke with who had been on that second voyage that they all worked very very hard to keep this little nasty little bug from spreading like wild-fire. The good news for us was that our cruise on Liberty of The Seas was not going to be cancelled but the boarding time and departure time would be extended since they had to sanitize the entire ship from the Norovirus outbreak before any passengers were permitted to board. Instead of a normal 12:00PM boarding (Hubby and I have a priority status on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' loyalty program so we could get on a bit earlier.) we were now looking at a 6:00PM boarding with a 10:00PM departure. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines had graciously offered to bus all their passengers over to the Miami Convention Center for a buffet lunch with more comfortable surroundings than the terminal had to offer. Now, most of us have heard and read about the outbreak of the Norwalk Virus (bet you didn't know it's named after Norwalk, Ohio where the virus was first identified in 1972) on several cruise ships in the past but to date I haven't really read any first hand accounts of what takes place when an outbreak of Norovirus occurs on a cruise ship. First I wanted to get some information on just what this little Norovirus thing was. Thank God for Mr. Google! I soon found myself checking out the many sites, including the CDC's (Center for Disease Control), for information on Norovirus. Much to my surprise the scientific community has now lumped together all gastrointestinal viruses excluding influenza into their category of Norovirus. They can call it what they like but its nasty and has an incubation period of 12 to 24 hours and lasts any where from 48 to 72 hours and is HIGHLY contagious. The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. The high risk folks are the elderly and the young and dehydration is of major concern. At 6:00PM we boarded Royal Caribbean Cruise lines Liberty of The Seas, and noticed the strong smell of Chlorine on board. We saw several crew members dressed in sterile-white decontamination jumpsuits, complete with those cute little booties and hair coverings (you know the one you see on all the medical shows) wiping down anything that didn't move; all the banisters, hand rails, glass fixtures, elevator doors and counter tops that any passenger might have touched. We were told our rooms would not be ready until 9:00PM and to go directly to the top deck to the Windjammer Restaurant for a buffet dinner. Upon entering the Windjammer, it wasn't difficult to notice that half the serving stations were closed and plastic gloved crew members were the only ones permitted to serve the food from the trays, unfortunately, this lead to long lines and some quiet grumblings. Missing from the tables were the usual salt, pepper and catsup and once a passenger left a table you were not permitted to sit down until a crew member sanitized the area. I swear there were more sanitizing solutions and Purell on board than there were guests and crew. It did not take long to realize this was not going to be your normal wonderful cruise. As we left Liberty of the Seas' Windjammer I found a seat at a poolside table on the upper deck to wait for 2 more hours to go to our cabin. I sat there listening to endless PA announcements requesting certain passengers to go to the medical department on board. One cryptic message even said if passenger So-and-So did not report the ship would not sail; pretty scary stuff! Apparently, certain passengers were not permitted to board the Liberty of The Seas if they showed signs of Norovirus prior to sailing. We heard that if this were the case Royal Caribbean refunded their fares. The difficult part of containing the Norovirus or Norwalk virus was that once folks figured out what was going on passengers fearing quarantine in their rooms or being sent home at some port of call were not reporting their illnesses to medical staff. The ship's medical department's only choice was to use cabin stewards to check out the rooms and passengers for any signs of illness and were ordered to report anything that was suspicious immediately. The sanitization procedure was extremely difficult and time consuming, especially, considering that this was one of the first times a ship of this size had to be completely sanitized while at sea. Bed linens, bed spreads, curtains all had to be laundered and mattresses were sanitized (not sure how but this must have been some job). Still kudos' should be given to the Captain, crew and the CDC for the extreme measures that were taken to insure the well-being and safety of all the passengers. The crew was working fourteen to sixteen hour days without a break but always had a smile on their faces. It was only the discerned eye that noticed the complete exhaustion these people were experiencing. Upon finally entering our cabin on The Liberty of the Seas at 9 PM on the day of departure the strong stench of chlorine was present in the bathroom, it was if they had sprayed the entire room and upon entering it your eyes would burn. There were actually crystals of chlorine on all of the surfaces and my husband had to wash it all down so we could use the bathroom without choking. Our bed only had a sheet and there was no toilet paper or tissues, (Ooops!) and only hand towels. I got the distinct impression that this was the rule. We heard that many cabins were not made up, even at this basic level, until after 10 PM. Many of the staterooms beds were still not made. We finally got towels and a blanket around 11:30PM and toilet paper and tissues were brought soon thereafter when my husband called for them. For the next three days countless PA announcements, many by the Captain himself, were made, especially at meal times, about the necessity of washing your hands before each meal. Necessary, yes, but somehow a little disconcerting when you were eating your lunch and listening to someone talking on the PA about the symptoms of Norovirus and Norwalk like virus, namely diarrhea and vomiting. There were many areas that were closed for at least three to four days or the entire cruise. They included part of the Windjammer, the twenty-four hour pizza, sandwich and desert bar. Some areas, such as Johnny Rockets, a wonderful hamburger and milk shake restaurant and the arcade (there was a special concern about children and teens and hand washing) were close for the entire voyage. Passengers were not permitted to remove food from the Windjammer or dining rooms so we could not eat on the open decks or bring food to our rooms (room service did operate normally though after the second day). We were told the reason for this was so the crew would know where all the food was going. Well big surprise all the revenue center food and beverage outlets (coffee shop, Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop and the bars) on board permitted you to take food out. Hmmm, doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines was losing money on this cruise and I suppose that they had to make the revenue up for it somewhere. Were passengers inconvenienced? Yes, but in fairness Royal Caribbean Cruse Lines gave each passenger a $100.00 credit on their account which could be used against any purchases on board or gratuities. Let's see now, $100 x 4995 passengers, yes the cruise was booked past the "comfortable" limit of 4600 advertised on the brochure that is almost a half a MILLION dollars in refunds, or at least on board credits. With the copious amounts of chorine-bleach like sanitizer used many people found bleach stains on their clothing and Royal offered up to $50.00 in on-board credit for each item ruined (if the amount was more the claim needed to be submitted to RCI Central for approval after the cruise). The crew worked tirelessly sanitizing the rooms and open areas. Unfortunately, the sanitizing agent they used on the table, chrome and glass on the ship left a noticeable film over everything. Although it was quite unattractive on a ship of this caliber, (and rather unappealing particularly on the restaurant tabletops) the teenagers found a way to add humor to the situation. Every morning standing at the elevator banks you could read messages from all the kids on board on the chrome elevator doors. The messages ranged from CLEAN ME PLEASE, Jimmy loves Janie, and to a few that I won't repeat but sure gave me a chuckle. Could this be the first reported instance of graffiti on a cruise liner while at sea? This had to be another first for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and the Liberty of the Seas. Even with the massive sanitization that was constantly being preformed the Norovirus still remained on board. The numbers from the previous week were 175 plus passengers and a hand full of crew members that were stricken with the virus and on our cruise we were told it was only 1.35% (about 67) of the passengers; I don't know if any crew became ill. Still, the week went by with constant reminders of a virus that could strike at any time and it left many with a feeling of uneasiness. The meat served on board was always over cooked and many meals seemed to be recycled. Truthfully, I don't know if it was due to the virus or if Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has now downgraded their food standards in lieu of the two "extra fee" revenue center restaurants on board. All I can tell you was when I sailed on the Enchantment of the Seas many years ago the food quality in the dining room and the level of service was equivalent to what their extra fee revenue-center restaurants are serving today. A big question remains in my mind; should this ship have sailed on Saturday or, as Royal Caribbean did with its other mega ship The Freedom of the Seas when it was struck by the Norovirus recently, delay embarkation for a day or two to completely sanitize it. Was there a way that Royal Caribbean could have done something to give passengers the option not to go on this cruise and not suffer substantial ticket cost penalties I, and others, felt powerless, captive really, in this very uncomfortable, and un-relaxing environment. We really had no idea of the magnitude of inconvenience, discomfort and reduction in service that the on-board sanitization would cause. The sheer size of these mega ships and the number of people they hold make these virtually small cities. (I can't wait for the next generation of cruise liners to come). This was a no win situation for RCI but I fear it is one that is BOUND to repeat itself. In speaking with some of the supervisory staff on the ship they seemed to feel that there was plenty of protocol information in their procedure books on what to do in this sort of situation but what they don't have a good feel for is how to deal with customer service issues and deliver a good cruise experience while under such conditions; it may well be that this is impossible. Will these things hurt the cruise industry; will they have an adverse impact on mega-ship bookings? We will have to see. Lastly, let me say that what I considered a mediocre cruise due to the circumstances was only made worse when at the last evening's entertainment, Ken Rush, the cruise director, stood on stage and literally berated passengers who he claimed were negative and complaining when in his opinion this was a fabulous cruise. Excuse me Mr. Rush, how much did you pay to take this exceptional cruise? I would have thought a man representing Royal Caribbean would have had more sensitivity to the concerns of families with children and the seniors on board. Oddly enough the week before, Mr. Rush was one of the three crew members that came down with the Norovirus. Fortunately for him he was not in the high risk category for the virus. Let's see what he has to say when he pays for the cruise and brings his parents and own small children on board a ship that has Norovirus and feels uneasy the entire trip! So what can you do if you find your self in this situation, beside try and shoo away that dark-cloud over your head? Actually what should you do to protect yourself on ANY cruise? My best advice to all you cruisers out there is keep washing your hands when on board and watch your children very carefully. Keep a hand sanitizer product with you and use it between washings - it is NOT a substitute for washing but it helps keep potential infection down until you do wash your hands. Also having these hand sanitizers around serves as a good a reminder to keep washing those hands. Also, particularly you ladies, you might want to bring along some hand cream since the alcohol in the sanitizers dries out your skin regardless of what the labels may say! Will this experience stop me from cruising...absolutely not! In fact Hubby and I are leaving this weekend on the Princess Cruise Lines Caribbean Princess for Eastern Caribbean destinations. You see we're always looking for more adventures and so should you. I must say that I will take all the necessary precautions to avoid the Norovirus but as "Old Blue Eyes" sang...THAT'S LIFE...BYE, BYE. Read Less
Liberty of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.3
Family 4.5 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 3.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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