Liberty of the Seas

Richard Fain Flowrider Video Here

Royal Caribbean introduced its newest mega-ship on a three-day cruise out of Miami that last weekend, Liberty of the Seas. At just over 160,000 tons, 1112 feet long (almost 4 football fields) and with a capacity of 4375 passengers -- if you fill every possible bed on board -- it is just an awesome as a piece of engineering. Yet, despite the massive size of the ship, as one becomes accustomed to the surroundings and flow of the ship, it starts to feel extremely comfortable and homey.

See this ship's photo gallery here

Cruise enthusiasts already intimately familiar with everything happening in the cruise industry will already know that this ship is almost, but not exactly, an exact duplicate of the previous Royal Caribbean ship, Freedom of the Seas, down to fabrics. But if you must clone a ship, Freedom was a very good choice.

Some of the few things are that are different, include the main show room production shows (which are some of the best at sea), the Royal Promenade Parades, and the ice shows (though some of the concepts have been retained). There are menu updates and a few new programs, but for the most part, in terms of physical differences you will be hard-pressed to tell the two ships apart.

Whirlpools - click for picClose Shave - click for pic

So, the real story is that where there used to be just one of the most imaginative ships ever built, there are now two. This means twice the cabin availability and although they both do alternating East and West caribbean options, it means one can schedule to go to either route any given week, or one can stay on one ship for two weks and have two sets of destinations.

These ships were not the first to feature an ice rink at sea, or a large interior Royal Promenade, which is the long internal ship atrium running along the length of the ship where they hold parades and have several bars, nightclubs and shops open like a small village at sea. All those things were first presented on the Voyager class. But the Freedom-class ships, of which there are now two, Freedom and Liberty, expand manage the whole Rpyal Caribbean mega-ship concept just a little bit better.

See this ship's photo gallery here

They added the FlowRider surf simulator machines, a barbershop, and a coffee-nook sponsored by Seattle's Best where you can get fresh premium coffee accompanied by delicious sandwiches and pastries for free. To do this, they made the Royal Promenade a little longer. Up on the top pool deck, they added two cantilevered hot tubs which actually hang out over the side of the ship from within the Solarium pool area; a semi-private adults only water and chaise lounge relaxation area.

The physical differences between Liberty of the Seas and Freedom are minimal; the Book Nook that used to be next to the Coffee café on Freedom has been eliminated and replaced by a vacation planning area. Guests can put a $100 deposit down on any cruise in the future and get great incentives like shipboard credit.

The artwork all over the ship has a much different feel. It is pretty much all modern and media-driven, which either means it is posters or artwork from recent popular movies or other cultural iconery. Or sometimes it is original in concept, with media as part of the art, as in the case with the Miguel Chevalier pieces. The pieces incorporate video cameras to capture the movement of people walking by, and use the captured images to create colored shapes on three-dimensional screens adorning to tall walls in the vertical atriums.

See this ship's photo gallery here

The new karaoake area also includes karaoake dancers - video crated images that take audience member's faces and project them onto moving cartoon-like figures dancing to the music.

I am not sure how new it is - but I heard a lot about a new brand of beer on board - which is a Royal Caribbean label called "Royal." From what I hear, it is made in Belgium and but tastes a little like Fosters, but meanwhile at 7.0% alcohol a single bottle has two to three times the kick of a typical light beer. At 3.50 bottle, it's a big potential money saver.

Some new onboard programs will appeal to younger cruises, and those who just want to feel a little younger. To feel younger, there is the "Vitality Program" which includes an introductory consultation at the fitness center when you come onboard. To round out the program, one will find the "Vitality" symbol around the ship, next to certain activities, and in the menus next to certain food items - certainly not in the Ben & Jerry's ice cream store.

Speaking of Ben & Jerry's, this ship also has a Ben & Jerry's "Sweet" Suite, which is the stateroom with the promenade window to just happens to look out at the backsides of the model cows that stand on the roof of the Ice Cream parlor one deck below. I happened to secure a letter that is given to the people who are placed in this sweet suite, and it reads like this...

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. "Smith'...

Welcome to Liberty of the Seas!

Due to your stateroom's proximity to our delicious Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shop and because of your unique view of Ben & Jerry's mascots overlooking the Royal Promenade, we've proudly designated this stateroom Ben & Jerry's "Sweet."

Accommodations in this "Sweet" come with benefits not available to other guests:

  • Complimentary Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream treats for each guest. (Enclosed in your concierge folder are two complimentary vouchers. These vouchers are valid for seven visits per guest.)
  • Access to the "Cow'cierge" Lounge on Deck 10 aft.
  • A fun-themed stateroom, unique to Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

However, should you find the cows outside of your window to be a "moo"sance during your cruise vacation with us, please contact Guest Relations and we'll be pleased to "moo"ve you. To an "udder" stateroom.

Moo chews gracias..

Freedom of the Seas

For those who really "moo"st know, the number for this stateroom is 6305.

For those romantically inclined, it is now possible to arrange a wedding on the ship, in fact anywhere on the ship, in the wedding chapel or in another setting if one wants. One can even arrange to do it in one of the visiting ports. An authorized clergy person will preside over the wedding.

See this ship's photo gallery here

Finally, some of the youth programs have been updated. The teens now have an "advisory board" comprised of real teams, many of them with extensive cruise experience, that is helping Royal Caribbean to make its teen program more interesting and relevant to the under 21 cruiser. The younger kids now have new programs featuring Crayola products where they receive books with pictures of places an things relevant to their cruise which are fun and educational at the same time.

That is about it. As we said, both Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas sail on alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages from Miami. Liberty begins her first full 7-day cruise this month. Call your travel agent or Royal Caribbean, or go to Royal to book your cruise.

H2O Water Park - click for pic
Flowrider Surfing Machine - click for pic
Spa Boxing Ring - click for pic

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