Liberty of the Seas with Kids

| March 31, 2008

Here's a report of just one day's full schedule for a family onboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

CruiseMates Family Editor

Got an active family? Then Royal Caribbean International's 4,375-passenger Liberty of the Seas is the ship for you. From Fisher-Price play sessions for toddlers to an action-packed water park area for children and surfing for tweens and teens, Liberty of the Seas offers many options for kids of all ages.

Royal Caribbean has one of the top youth programs at sea: Adventure Ocean. Rather than focusing on the youth and teen programs, in this article I'll show you the variety of activities families can enjoy together on the Freedom-class ships, by taking you through a single day's account from our recent sailing. (For details specifically on Adventure Ocean youth programs and activities, just click here to read my article, Freedom's Family Fun Time"

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Six-year-old Ethan loved the Adventure Ocean kids' program   "Clowning around," just one of the activities with the Adventure Ocean gang

6:45 a.m. -- CAFÉ PROMENADE Six-year-old Ethan is an early riser, so he and my husband John enjoy pastries, doughnuts and coffee before the buffet opens at Café Promenade. This, the ship's 24-hour eatery, exudes a European café ambiance. As the name suggests, it is set along the Royal Promenade, which stretches for 445 feet along Deck 5.

7:15 a.m. -- VIDEO GAME ROOM This huge electronic games arcade buzzes by day and night with kids, teens and parents. The quietest time to enjoy air hockey, Jurassic Park-themed games, and dozens of others, is in the morning -- which is when we took Ethan there. (Note to parents: There are machines in the arcade that charge your ship account for games by crediting your Sea Pass card, so you and/or your kids don't need to bring cash or tokens to the arcade. You might want to discuss monetary limits with your children before leaving home.)

7:45 a.m. -- MINIATURE GOLF Nestled on the Sports Deck (Deck 13 aft) near the basketball court and rock wall is a nine-hole miniature golf course. Since Liberty Dunes is open all day, you may want to check it out in the morning, as we did with Ethan, before it gets too hot and crowded.

8:15 a.m. -- JOGGING TRACK Located on Deck 12 is a path for walking and jogging. This too is best visited early in the morning before you have to dodge people in lounge chairs that border the path. A quieter alternative frequented by Luisa is walking outside on Deck 4 (with a set of steps that lead to Deck 5 in the front of the ship). Since this is such a huge ship, one gets a much better feel for the tranquility of the sea on the lower decks than on the Deck 12 jogging path.

8:15 a.m. -- FLOWRIDER This surfing and boogie boarding simulator created quite the waves in the cruise industry when it debuted on sister ship Freedom of the Seas. It's an extremely popular venue on Liberty, so John got there early to avoid long waits. The fraternity of mostly men who frequented FlowRider early each morning progressed from wiping out immediately at the beginning of the cruise to mastering the waves by its end. With a stadium-style seating and viewing area, there are always plenty of spectators to applaud each person who manages to stand on a board battling the 34,000 gallons per minute of wave-like water flow for more than a few seconds.

8:45 a.m. -- WINDJAMMER BUFFET Royal Caribbean got it right in designing the Windjammer buffet court, since there are numerous food stations that keep traffic flowing smoothly. Lunch options include stations for sandwiches, salads, burgers, Asian food, pizza and traditional buffet cuisine. At dinnertime, tablecloths are put on the tables for a more elegant ambiance.

9:15 a.m. -- ADVENTURE OCEAN Ethan likes to participate in the Adventure Ocean youth program for either the morning or afternoon session. With its "edu-tainment" programming -- ranging from Adventure Science to Adventure Art by Crayola and Adventure Theater by Camp Broadway -- there is something to attract kids of all interests. Children must be at least three years old and potty-trained to participate.

10:00 a.m. -- SPA Liberty day spa features traditional and exotic treatments along with fitness and personal training classes and a hair/nails salon. A Swedish massage is just what Luisa needs to melt the stress away.

11:15 a.m. -- SOLARIUM Alternatively, if you or your spouse want to unwind for free, visit the Solarium. This adults-only pool and outdoor lounge area exudes a peaceful atmosphere -- except when you're trying to find a seat there! Passengers "reserved" their Solarium lounge chairs as early as 6:30 a.m.! While Royal Caribbean has a policy that deck chairs cannot be "reserved" with towels or personal items, it is not enforced in any of the deck areas. This is a real problem, since there didn't seem to be enough deck chairs anywhere on our voyage.

12:00 Noon -- JOHNNY ROCKETS At Johnny Rockets, you get plenty of French fries and thick, rich milkshakes, which are kid and teen magnets. Alex and Ethan devour the all-American food while I enjoy the wait staff who periodically perform to pop tunes. (Note: There is a $3.95 cover per person that includes gratuities.)

1:00 p.m. -- FAMILY BINGO POOLSIDE Liberty of the Seas offers a number of family activities daily that don't involve the youth program. Family bingo is one of them, conveniently held near the two large lap pools mid-ship. Some of the other family activities include: a scavenger hunt, karaoke, Wii challenge, disco, Name that Tune game, and Family Feud.

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My husband and son participating in the Lowes construction project   Kids of all ages love the H20 Zone

1:15 p.m. -- H2O ZONE Ethan's been waiting for this moment all day -- H2O Zone time! He and his buddies are partial to the lazy river pool where they and lots of other kids swim, float and walk around and around the current-driven circular pool. When they finally tire of that, they frolic among the brightly colored water sculptures -- the centerpiece of H2O Zone -- that spray water in all directions. Lastly, the boys plunge into the small but relatively deep pool located at the back of H2O Zone, fed by an overhead waterfall. It doesn't get any better than this for children at sea. Just try to save a chair early in the morning by the H2O Zone because chances are, you will be there for a very long time watching your youngsters!

3:00 p.m. -- SPRINKLES Line up for the free soft-serve ice cream located poolside.

3:15 p.m. -- THE WALL Liberty and sister ship Freedom of the Seas boast the largest rock-climbing walls at sea -- 43 feet wide by 44 feet tall, with 11 climbing routes. Alex and John have climbed many a rock wall on past Royal Caribbean cruises and take pride in ringing the bell as they reach the summit. This is Ethan's first time climbing and he's thrilled to be participating rather than watching his sister and dad as in the past. (Note: Children must be at least six years old to climb. Anyone under 18 must have a parental waiver signed. Socks are required; climbing shoes are provided.)

4:30 p.m. -- BUILD AND GROW WITH LOWES As one of Adventure Ocean's partners, Lowes home construction stores sponsor a family activity each cruise. Each child receives a kit complete with Lowes child-sized apron, goggles, hammer, nails and wooden toy boat that is in many pieces. Kids and their parents must follow the instructions on how to hammer the boat together, and then they can take home the apron, child-sized hammer, and completed boat. Ethan's favorite part was donning the goggles!

5:00 p.m. -- ENCORE: ICE SKATING SHOW Royal Caribbean's Adventure-class and Freedom-class ships all boast ice skating rinks where passengers can skate at various times during the cruise, and can watch free professional ice shows. Although the rink is relatively small, I am amazed at the quality of the performances. The show, "Encore," was one of the best I've seen yet on these ships, featuring a number of top-notch Russian skaters. The lead performer skated while manipulating about 20 hula hoops from her feet up to over her head. While teens can be jaded, even 14-year-old Alex thought it was pretty entertaining.

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My son got his face painted at Adventure Ocean   Ethan gets to try his hand at rockclimbing for the first time

6:00 p.m. -- DINNER IN THE FORMAL DINING ROOM The three-level formal dining room is centered around an elegant staircase. We enjoyed the live classical music each night as well as the varied and tasty menu choices served by our friendly and professional waiter Dante. In an age when most cruise ship waiters are too busy to get to know the guests they serve nightly, Dante managed to be efficient and professional, yet take a few spare minutes to make whimsical animals out of napkins, which magically jumped off his arm onto Alex's lap!

7:30 p.m. -- ADVENTURE OCEAN While we finish our coffee, Alex walks Ethan up to Adventure Ocean for a short play time before a bed.

7:45 p.m. -- STROLLING THE PROMENADE We find it hard to imagine that we're at sea as Alex, John and I meander along the Royal Promenade. In addition to Café Promenade, this mall-like retail area boasts gift shops, cosmetic stores, Vintages wine bar, The Hoof and Claw pub, Sorrento's pizza parlor, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop. (Note: Fee charged for Ben & Jerry's.)

8:15 p.m. -- THE LIVING ROOM (for 12-14 year old teens) Alex is off to The Living Room to hang out with other 12 to 14 year olds and participate in the teen programming. The Living Room is one of two teen areas on the ship; the other is Fuel, where 15 to 17 year olds hang out. These techno-teens enjoyed electronic games -- such as Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution and Wii -- over the group games. The teen pool party is also a big hit.

9:00 p.m. -- STAGE SHOW: In the Water, In the Fire, On the Ice and In the Air While the earliest risers in our family, Ethan and John, are off to bed, Luisa enjoys the nightly stage show. This evening's is particularly unique and entertaining since it features bungees from which dancers perch while performing flips and other daring feats.

While we're physically tired from an exhilarating and very active day aboard Liberty of the Seas, we applaud those who still have the energy to put on a good show!

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