I am writing this to those looking for a cruise that will actually care about your personal items. My wife and I chose to take this cruise only as an alternative way to get to Belize and back during some time off we had. It was between this cruise or a flight. We go to Belize once a year to pick up 4 bottles of rum, yes that's right, rum. Not just any rum, Old Master Rum made in Belize and not exported. We chose this cruise versus the flight due to its same price as flying and as a neat way to get there. No real reason other than that.
We arrived in Belize and quickly purchased our goods and returned to the ship. At re-boarding, as expected, the crew has a table where they hold your rum till the end of the trip and issue you a slip with the promise to return your liquor on the last night around 7 pm.
Fast forward, its the last night at 11 pm and still no liquor. We went to the guest relations desk and waited in line for 30min. Finally, our turn we asked what had happened to our liquor. They stated they didn't know. They tried to shovel us away to help the next guest but we persisted. They conversed in the back and then came back forward only to offer us other random liquor bottles or money. We denied both as nothing could replace what we had lost. They had the bar officer look through the night and stated that our names were still on the list for delivery on both the master list and the maids floor list but not checked off due to the loss of the items. We checked again in the am before we left the ship to no avail.
I have since told my story to Royal Caribbean Ltd and the listened and notated my account. I also told them that short of a complete refund, which they and I both know that won't happen, I would be advertising this on as much social media as I can.
I make this WARNING to all consumers: This may seem insignificant as a few bottles of liquor. But, think if its your luggage, and your jewelry, and they admit to being at blame and decide that the replacement for your shiny items is a trinket from the gift shop. This is more then a small problem, this is a symptom of a bigger nonchalant attitude of a corporate entity just not really caring.
This was my 2nd cruise (both on RCI), so my perspective is obviously limited.
We ended up with lots of special food needs for our group of 6 - Gluten intolerant, Vegan
There are plenty of reviews describing how beautiful and wonderful the ship is.
I am reviewing solely to provide accurate technical information about the internet and telecommunications features aboard the ship, which are important for those of us who need to stay connected and who are hesitant to take a cruise vacation without knowing if we'll be knocked offline for a week. Some of us - like me - are in charge of being on call in case things at home - like servers, etc. - decide to throw a fit while we're gone.
I took an Apple iPhone (AT&T carrier - GSM) and my laptop abord the ship.
I felt Liberty's connectivity is decent.
I was able to get a good GSM cellular signal for voice calls throughout the entire voyage, provided by the onboard ship system when at sea. The carrier name showed "Cellular at SEA" and coverage throughout the ship was decent. In port, they apparently must switch the system off, and you depend on the country's signal from shore. It's sometimes hard to get a signal from an interior stateroom. Text messages were delivered promptly, both send and receive. GPRSis functional but expensive. Voice calling is latent (delays) - I experienced round trip delays between 1.0 and 2.0 seconds on voice calls. I believe AT&T hits me for $2.49/min voice calls, free incoming text if I am on a text plan, and some nominal fee for outgoing text, but I won't know until I get the bill.
I am told that CDMA phones work as well, but I didn't travel with anyone who took one aboard. (last time I took a Verizon CDMA phone aboard Splendour in 2007, I could call but couldn't send or receive text, and wondered if that had been improved since then).
Liberty's WiFi is fairly decent. I was able to sustain a video call using Skype on my laptop, and use Remote Desktop to my computer at home. The latency was surprisingly favorable for what should be a satellite connection - seemingly better than voice calling on my cell phone. The biggest caveat (arguably fair though) is that the usability of the connection is greatly influenced by the time of day, owing to the number of people onboard you are sharing it with. The connection is virtually worthless even for simple web browsing if you try right after the main dinner seating gets out, but a midnight Skype video chat is completely doable and less choppy than a calm sea. I was able to get WiFi in my room (73xx) and in most areas of the ship I tried with few exceptions (the front of the Platinum Theater got no WiFi). Time was charged by the minute - 55 cents a minute from the time you log on until the time you either log off or shut off your WiFi adapter. And billing was fair - if I turned off my WiFi without logging out, I didn't get charged for any time after I powered off.
There was an unlimited option available for $250, as well as some prepay packages at various amounts between $0 and $250 to get a rate down to as low as around 28 cents a minute (but of course you forfeit any minutes you don't use).
We traveled the liberty of the seas and it was great. The entertainment was awesome the food was very good and the stops were all great. The room was big to speak of for a cruise ship and was always cleaned up twice a day. I would rate the cruise a solid 9 out of 10. The only complaint that I have is that, while boarding our luggage, it somehow manage to rip and when the crew members brought it to our room the first night the bag was torn and some of my wifes close were hanging out the bottom of it. We had a jewelry case full of jewelry that had fallen out the bottom. The cruise line did replace the luggage bag that next day but refuse to replace any of the $750 worth of lost jewelry.
I consider my self a crusing expert. Food, service,entertainment and the like. I am often asked " which is the best cruise line". There is really no correct answer. Each line has good and bad points and much depends on the passenger. The most important aspect of an enjoyable cruise is preparation. Most of the griping I hear relates to poor planning of a misunderstanding of itineries and port planning.
Work on preparation and planning and any cruise line will be enjoyable.
I will preface by saying we have cruised 6 times before 3 on Carnival, 2 on Royal Caribbean and once on Disney. We are a married couple in our mid 30s with two children. On this cruise we sailed just me and my wife.
We stayed at the Hyatt Miami Place near the airport and took advantage of their one way shuttle to the port and left our car on their property for the week which was included in our stay. This was approximately the same cost as driving the day of the cruise and paying for parking at the port. We drove in from Tampa and did not want to have to leave so early to be in Miami to catch the ship. The hotel was very clean and worth the money.
After catching the shuttle from the hotel, we arrived at the port terminal and checked in with no problems. Got on the ship in a little under an hour and made our dinner reservations with my time dining for 6pm. After seeing our 8th floor balcony room, we toured the ship which was absolutely beautiful. Wethen did the muster drill then the sail away party. Dinner was next at 6p the food was ok. We attended the welcome aboard party which was nice.
Sunday day at sea,
Hung out by the pool got a good tan and enjoyed a bucket of Corona. Windjammer for lunch was ok. Formal/lobster night was very good probably the best lobster I have had on a cruise yet. The show was good.
Monday day at sea,
Days at sea are always our favorite. We hung out by the pool got more of a tan. This day we hung by the solarium pool which was very nice and tried the overhanging hot tub which was very cool. I played some poolside blackjack and tried the flow rider. What a blast! Johnny Rockets for lunch was very good. We did late seating dinner and the food was ok. We skipped the show and did some casino then dancing in the Catacombs club. Sorrento’s pizza for a late night snack on the balcony was very good.
Tuesday Saint Marten,
Breakfast in the Windjammer was ok then we went shopping by the pier as we had an excursion at noon. We did the Double Eagle catamaran which was very nice. Very rough waters so the boat had to divert to a beach instead of the Tintamaare Island that it was supposed to sail to. Beach was nice and the crew was awesome. Overall it was a very good excursion. Dinner was at Chops and the filet was excellent.
Wednesday Puerto Rico,
We met some friends who live in PR who took us to Isla Verde beach. We had lunch at a local place because we had to try mofongo which was very good. Back on ship we hung out by the solarium for awhile then watched the sail out from San Juan from the upper deck. 8pm dinner was ok. Blackjack then dancing at the Catacombs then I ordered room service. This is when I discovered the Bistro Burger and chicken wings on the room service menu which was better that the Johnny Rockets burger in my opinion.
All I can say is how cool is this place. Tender operation needs to be looked at but it appeared as though they were building a dock which will take care of the problems. We did the zip line which was a blast. The beach area on the ocean side was a nightmare to try and walk into with bare feet as there were big pieces of busted up coral all over and under the water. This explained the big crates of water shoes I saw in the onboard shops when we first got on the ship. I really wish a good explanation would have been given on this port as to the deal with the water on this side of the beach. On the bay side of the facility, you could walk fine into the water without shoes. Bring single dollar bills to tip the chair guys. The BBQ lunch was excellent and not to be missed. Very nice place with chairs and hammocks in the shade as well as in the sun. I wish we could have had two days there. We did dinner in the Windjammer which was good. We danced late night poolside at the nightclub they had set up there.
Friday at sea day,
We hung out by the solarium pool getting in and out just lounging for the final day. We did the windjammer for lunch and I played blackjack poolside for the final time. Dinner was in our room on the balcony with a Bistro Burger. We attended the farewell show which was nice then packed our stuff. We didn’t stay out too late because of the drive back home.
Overall a very nice cruise although I noticed that the quality of the food/entertainment was lacking from previous (2) cruises with Royal Caribbean. The specialty dining restaurant was not even close to being as good as Carnivals offering which was a bit disappointing. With this being said, I understand that hard economic times make companies cut in areas to save money which I believe was the reason for these and other things about this cruise to be surprisingly substandard for a Royal Caribbean product. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and will cruise again with Royal Caribbean probably due to their ship innovation alone.
Embarkation - Excellent and very fast. We were on the ship around 11:30am the pool bar was not open yet.
Ship - This was our third time on Liberty. Liberty is my favorite Royal ship so far. Being on the newer side the ship looked good and was clean.
Stateroom - We booked the Q guar. and got the Promenade stateroom. The cabin was above the pub on deck 7 and on some nites we were able to hear the music. I would not pay extra for a Promenade cabin don't think they are worth it.
Dining - No problems with the food in the main dining room. We mostly ate fish each nite. I'm not much of a Salmon lover but the Salmon I ordered was awesome. Lobster, Shrimp, Cod, Prime Rib were good. Can't comment on desserts I never order desserts. Have not been to Portofino or Chops yet. I don't eat lunch so can't comment on the Windjammer buffet lunch. Breakfest in the Windjammer was the usual items fruit, cereals, yogurt, eggs, fresh made omlets, bacon, sausage etc.
We did MyTime Dining and it was great. We had dinnerat 6pm a few nites and other nites at 7pm depending on what was on the agenda. We sat at the same area and had the same waiters each nite.
Service - I guess this would be one of the reasons I will always return to the Liberty. Service was wonderful. Waiters were excellent. Room attendant was very good. Bartenders/servers were excellent.
A few people I'd like to mention are Jose/Waiter, Valdron/Room Attendant, Amuri & Pedro/Bolero's, Dewitt/Smoothie Bar Pool deck, Virgina & Nikko/Diamond Lounge. Ok I got to stop here or this review will get too long...On to the next subject.
Ports - Cozumel we did Parasailing and some shopping. Jamaica we did Mystic Mountain which we enjoyed very much. There was an airlift ride that lasts for about 15 minutes then we rode the Bobsled. Of course the Bobsled is no super thrill roller coaster but it was still fun and we would do it again. Grand Cayman we stayed on the ship. Very relaxing day to sit by the pool and do nothing. Labadee we did the zipline and this was the highlight excursion of the week. Alot of fun and will do it again.
Entertainment/Activities - The comedian was good. There was an Abba show which was excellent. The Jugglar was good. The two production shows were good. I missed the ice show. The Soca and Pirate Parades in the Promenade were fun. My son did the Flowrider each day and we both Rock Climbed each day. Love and Marriage game show and the Quest were a riot. 70's nite on the Promenade is always alot of fun as was 80's nite. The cruise director Allen Brooks is a very funny guy we had him as a CD before. His staff also were excellent - Paul & Joyce and the rest of the crew.
Fellow Cruisers - Alot of families onboard. Many Europeans from Germany, Brazil and Italy. Many kids onboard if you are doing a family cruise on Liberty not to worry your kids will make friends onboard.
Debarkation - Very good off the ship very quick.
Overall - Another excellent cruise on Liberty. If I had to find things to nit pick about I guess the only things I could come up with are...
1. The show lounge was cold for me I could have worn a long sleeve shirt.
2. The Windjammer gets packed for breakfest after 8:30am and it gets difficult to find a table.
3. The Long Island Ice Tea I ordered one nite was very strong....however not a biggie as I was heading to bed anyway and it ended up being a good nite sleep.
We are not done with Liberty we shall cruise on her again.
Jim (67) and I (62) chose this ship for our 25th cruise, mainly because it is the nicest ship in the Carib this summer, and has (we thought) a live Hold'Em Poker table. Overall, the ship is stunning and service is good. We are not, however, accustomed to such a BIG ship with SO MANY passengers!
We booked our own flights, planning to fly in a day early so as not to risk missing the ship. Our first flight was late, making us miss our connecting flight. Delta confirmed us on a 5:05 flight, but was nice enough to put us on standby for the 2:30 flight, which seated us. Even though we could not sit together, we were thrilled to make the flight. If these plans had been for cruise day instead of the day before, we might have missed the ship, meaning we'd have to make our way to Ocho Rios three days later to join the ship. Whew!
We checked into the Holiday Inn Bayside, expecting the promised bay view, only to discover that all the smoking rooms are on the 3rd floor, and not high enough tosee anything else but traffic. The room was small but comfortable. We walked across the street to Bayside and, after browsing the many shops and kiosks, had a wonderful dinner at Bubba Gump's. The next morning we had a great buffet breakfast at the hotel and grabbed a cab for the short trip to the pier.
Embarkation We arrived at the pier at 11:30, and after going thru security and check-in, we were in the Lido line in 15 minutes. We easily found a table for two by the window, and even when we left 30 minutes later, we saw no evidence of anyone wandering around looking for a table. We sat by the pool for awhile and around 1:00 went to our cabin.
Our cabin, JS-9644, was a spacious room with a walk-in closet and plenty of other storage space. The balcony was deep enough for two loungers and two other chairs and a small cocktail table. The bathroom, however, was very small for a Junior Suite. The small single-sink counter could only accommodate one person. Only 2 doors away from the elevator bank, we never heard any noise from the passageway. A sign on our cabin door indicated a non-smoking room, and when I called the front desk, I learned that all cabins are non-smoking, but we could smoke on the balcony. Inconvenient, but acceptable. That's the most Jim has used the balcony in all the years we've been cruising!
We took our traditional nap before the safety drill, and prepared for our first (early) dinner in the Rembrandt Dining Room. We were seated with a couple from Florida and another couple who didn't show up until the next night. Our waiter, Andrae and his assistant were attentive and prompt, and the DR Supervisor came by to see that we were being taken care of to our liking, and with one exception, we were.
The Soca-licious Parade was really cool with the staff/crew/entertainers dressed in elaborate Carnivale-type costumes, singing, dancing and interacting with the crowd. It was really fun!
We adjourned to the casino where we donated a little to the Dealers' Benevolent Society (missed the Welcome Aboard Spectacular), and retired early.
On Sunday, our first sea day, I ventured to the Windjammer for my traditional lox and bagels. It was a little crowded, and although the lines were short, I had trouble finding a table for one. One of the stewards took my plate, found me a table with a view, and had someone get me some coffee. The food and selection was very good, but it was difficult to carry a plate, bowl, silverware and a drink by yourself.
Our Meet 'n' Mingle was held at 10:15 in the Olive or Twist lounge. We had about 35 attendees, which was great! Carla and Andrew were very personable, having provided a gift for everyone, coffee, tea, juice, canapés and pastries, and they raffled off bags of very nice ship stuff. Although we were allotted 45 minutes in the lounge, we were gone in half the time. The Port & Shopping Show (which was billed as a 'must-see show') was scheduled for the same time, so we missed it.
On Tuesday, in Ocho Rios, we braved the hoards of Taxi drivers and wandered into the little shopping area off the pier. One driver took us to a shopping center where the locals shop, and we picked up a few things we had forgotten to pack.
On Wednesday, the second formal dinner, we were surprised that there was not enough lobster to go around. At our table, one couple requested and received an additional lobster tail each. The remaining diners were told that not only could we NOT order two lobster tails, but that there were NOT ENOUGH for even ONE ORDER PER PERSON on this EARLY SEATING! The waiter said that any remaining tails were reserved for the second seating. Our table mates brought this up with the Concierge, and the following night all six of us were served lobster in addition to our chosen entrees.
Saturday was Debarkation Day, and I was, as usual, dissatisfied with the procedure. As suite guests, we were nearly first off the ship. Even at this early hour, the lines for Immigration and Customs were unbearable. We got off the ship quickly, but the luggage was not on the proper carousel, and when we found it, it took a long time to find a porter to help us through the line. There were two lines with at least 200 pax (some trying to maneuver their own luggage) and quite a few successful line-jumpers. Once past this roadblock, we easily found a cab and were on our way.
Due to air traffic congestion, we missed our connecting flight. Delta once again got us standby seats, and we didn't have to wait too long.
We liked the size and layout of our suite (except the bathroom), the attentive waitstaff in the dining room, and the friendly and helpful dealers in the casino. Other than that, We did not have any use for most of the activities and attractions on the ship, and did not care to take any of the excursions this time. I think the Liberty was simply more ship than we needed. We can generally overlook minor things that are not to our liking, but we do expect a higher level of service than we experienced on the Liberty.
There isn't a cruise line at sea that welcomes passengers back like Royal Caribbean International (RCI). First day on board there were several knocks at our stateroom door; each bringing the following: One dozen American Beauty Roses, a bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne chilling in an ice bucket with two glasses, a tray of chocolate dipped strawberries, and finally a huge bowl of fruit. VIP treatment for "Diamond + frequent floaters" is wonderful and it signals a wonderful week to come: Exotic destinations, unique experiences with old and new friends on board!
The first surprise was to see Captain Charles Teige as master, since we had enjoyed meeting him on the Voyager of the Seas in 2006. What a pleasure to sail and dine with him again on the Liberty of the Seas. This lovely ship is well run and affords travellers such unique marvelous opportunities including the following: the Flow Rider, a surf simulator; the Ice Skating Rink presenting Olympic quality Ice Skating Shows; the Rock Climbing Wall, the nine hole Mini Golf, etc., etc., etc! This, our first review of the Liberty of the Seas, will cover theentire ship and point out some of its exquisite decorations.
EMBARKATION On Saturday I-95 traffic was bearable, we arrived at the Port of Miami at 12:45pm and had wheelchair assistance from the point of luggage drop off --- all the way to our stateroom. Check-in was simple, then we were escorted to a waiting area from which the ship's crew took us on board. We were in our cabin in less than one half hour. This was all simple and no hassle.
THE SHIP This Freedom class ship, the Liberty of the Seas, is sister to both the Freedom of the Seas and the newest of this triumvirate, Independence of the Seas. The Liberty made her maiden voyage on May 19, 2007. She was built at Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Turku, Finland. Her gross tonnage is 160,000 and she is 1,112 feet long and 185 feet wide, with a draft of a mere 28 feet. She is approximately the same as the Empire State Building laid on its side --- nearly four times the size of the Statue of Liberty and three times the size of the Titanic! She has a cruising speed of 21.6 knots and 15 passenger decks, 14 elevators, and can accommodate 4,375 guests. This cruise she carried 4,100 passengers and a crew of 1,360. This ship has 1,817 staterooms of which 1,084 are ocean view (842 of these have balconies). There are 733 interior cabins of which 172 have a view of the Royal Promenade. The RCI Royal Promenade concept, in both the Voyager and Freedom classes, is a village street in the interior part of the ship (with a Pub, a Barber Shop, Logo Shops, Boutiques and restaurants). This is an excellent place to stroll, shop, sit and read, or meet with fellow passengers. Next will follow a deck by deck description of the Liberty of the Seas.
Deck 1 has the medical facility and crew areas.
Deck 2 forward has the Conference Center and the Screening Room, plus passenger cabins and the first level of the Platinum Theater.
Deck 3 forward has the Platinum Theater with its gorgeous curtain "Pearls" with 13 separate panels, a total of 28 feet tall and 46 feet wide with seven statuesque female figures with head pieces and dresses of 76,000 hand sewn sequins and 4,000 Austrian crystals. Their shoes are of 4,000 ruby red bugle beads. The total effect is elegant. Also forward is the Art Gallery; mid ship is the "Catacombs Disco" with Harry Cardross' Stained Glass Windows titled the "Ravens of the Catacombs." Norse mythology call them Hugin and Munin. Simon Dray has painted the god Odin, who gave one eye in return for knowledge--- his other eye is the sun. Dray also painted Frigg, Odin's wife. She was a strong woman who often got the best of Odin. Needless to say the disco is striking.
Next is the Ice Center and the Studio B Entertainment complex. Aft is the Rembrandt Dining Room which is the bottom level of the tri level restaurant. It is a RCI triumph, with a massive chandelier seen from all tiers. The triple staircase holds the bandstand which provides live music each evening during dinner.
Deck 4 has the Schooner Bar and the Casino Royale with its Hollywood, Casablanca and Oceans' 11 characters on murals ( Bogart, Bergman, the Rat Pack of Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr. and Dickinson). Artists Smolover and Zaiba call the murals "Casino." These two artists also did the primordial garden of glass floral sculptures in the Bolero Bar. They are fantastic giant agave blooms in warm colors of yellows and oranges. The Michelangelo Dining room is aft.
Deck 5 is the most used passenger center, since it has the Guest Relations Desk, Exploration Desk for shore excursions and the Shopping Desk and the Promenade with the following:Shops on Board (perfume, sports and logo), Ben & Gerry's Ice Cream, a Barber shop, Wine Bar, Hoof & Claw Pub, Cafe' Promenade and Sorrento's Pizza featuring antipasti, artisan breads, pizzas, and desserts of fresh fruits and biscotti! The walls inside have photos of many famous Italo-Americans from Caruso to Mario Lanza and Joe DiMaggio.
Aft is the Botticelli Dining Room with a mural of "Venus rising..." Forward is the Sphinx Lounge. Its entrance is flanked by huge statues of Pharohs, while on its walls are murals of "Views of the Nile" and "Figures from Daily Life, Egypt" by Clarissa Parish. Look for the Novidis statue of Tutankhama, it is a representation of the one in the Cairo Museum. Its beauty is in black and gold.
Decks 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are mainly cabins plus the Business Services area, the Library, the RCI computers and the Concierge lounge all of which are located near the aft elevators.
Deck 11 forward has the fitness center and the Solarium with an excellent pool and two giant whirlpools which extend out over the ocean! On this deck there are 6 whirlpools, 3 swimming pools and the Sea Trek Dive Shop. Mid ship is the Sprinkles Ice Cream and aft are two specialty restaurants: Chops Grille, excellent filet and veal chops, etc. and superbly run; the Portofino, with Italian cuisine, featured a new menu with updated items; all the way aft is the Jade (oriental food) and the Windjammer Buffet serving all day long everything from soup to desserts.
Deck 12 has the Johnny Rockets Restaurant, a nineteen fifties railroad car diner, all chrome and red Naugahyde booths plus juke boxes with all the golden oldies. They specialize in hamburgers, hot dogs, French Fries, onion rings and old fashion soda fountain fare: Ice cream floats, sundaes and apple pie a la mode. Here also are the Adventure Ocean Youth Center, Fuel Teen Disco and the Game Arcade.
Deck 13 is the Sports Deck with a Rock Climbing Wall, Mini Golf and Golf Simulator, Basketball Court, Flow Rider (for surfers) and the Wipe Out Bar.
Deck 14 has the Sports bar and night club Olive or Twist, the 7 Hearts Card Room, Cloud 9 Club and the second Concierge Lounge overlooking the sea.
Deck 15 holds the Skylight Chapel which accommodates 45 people: Great for weddings at sea!
The ship is artfully decorated with designs too numerous to mention here. It reflects the excellent taste of RCI. Suffice it to say there is a surprise around every corner and in every stairwell.
CABIN We had wheelchair accessible cabin #7624 on Deck 7. It is a large roomy stateroom decorated very tastefully in teal blue and gold. When entering, the door is a bit too narrow for a wheelchair and we had to do special maneuvers each time. On the left there are armoires with both shelves and hangers and a personal safe. Then, there is a long desk/vanity with lighted mirrors.
When entering on the right there is a large bathroom with safety rails all around and a shower stall with a fold away seat. The mirrored medicine cabinet is roomy. Then there is a sofa, a coffee table, and an upholstered chair. RCI has a new bedding program featuring a king size bed, upgraded sheets and a nice duvet (the 20 pound variety, which is a bit too much for the Caribbean).Two night stands flank the bed with two reading lamps. The far wall is all windows, floor to ceiling and a door to the balcony, which holds a chaise, two chairs and a small table. The balcony is extra long and deep, and very spacious. Our Cabin Stewardess was Evelyn Marcosa, the sweetest, and most efficient we've had. Brava!
SERVICE & FOOD The Hotel Director Christos Karavos is a very capable man who gave us much detailed ship data. We can't thank him enough. He runs an excellent ship, where service is always smiling and fast. We used Room Service every morning for breakfast and the RS Supervisors Theresa and Teeana should be proud of the prompt and accurate service.
RCI's Crown & Anchor Society has many perks to offer returning passengers in the way of cocktail parties, gifts (i.e. Caps and beach towels), concierge services by Pretty Shamu, Anthea Helmsing and Mario Reyes who preside over the two lounges on Deck 10 and Deck 14: Great service and cordiality from all three, especially from Anthea who made our dinner and show reservations and provide us with the Italian language newspaper. The lounges are open for breakfast 8-11am and cocktails 5-8:30pm. It is a nice way to meet new people on board and to connect up with old friends.
Most cruisers equate service with the treatment in the dining rooms and restaurants. This cruise Exec. Chef Johan Petutschnig was on board; he is another old acquaintance of ours. Feeding over 5,000 people every day is a daunting task, but he is up to it and he can be seen making the rounds of the many various venues daily.
The Captain's Dinner on Formal Night was exquisite -- escargot, Lobster bisque, Caesar salad, linguini Alfredo with truffled wild mushrooms (Mary's choice) and a perfectly done Filet of Beef (Vincent's selection). The Chef's Surprise dessert was a delicate mousse topped with a spun sugar basket filled with wild berries. What a way to end dinner with Captain Teige. Excellent conversation, delicious food and a sweet taste in our mouth.
Each evening we dined in the Botticelli Restaurant Deck 5. Head Waiter Myra Fuentes was constantly watching that everything went smoothly. Our Waiter was Pedro Arevalo and both he and his assistant Ning were perfect. They brought each course at a nice pace, but not rushed. The food was typical RCI, good quality and we are happy to note smaller portions. Vincent felt that the beef was not of consistent quality.
We especially enjoyed Sorrento's on the Promenade and highly recommend Chop's Grill where quality was top notch, with meat cooked to perfection, and served well. The Mississippi Mud Pie is the ultimate in chocolate. Food and service are alive and well on board!
ENTERTAINMENT This Freedom Class of ships has so many diverse possibilities for fun for everyone. For the sports minded there are unique items only to RCI venues like the Flow Rider: stand up surfing from 8-9am and 3-4pm and boogie boarding from 10-11am and 4-6pm. Then there is Rock Climbing Wall and ice skating. No other cruise line offers all of these. There are also skating, golf, jogging, shuffleboard and ping pong. For those enjoying gambling there are Bingo, poker and slots tournaments and other Casino games. For the less athletic minded, there is Daily Trivia, and a great library with many comfortable leather sofas and chairs overlooking the the Royal Promenade. This is a much coveted spot for viewing the many Parades on the Promenade.
The nightly shows include comics, variety shows and Broadway style musicals --- all very entertaining. Cruise Director James Andrews keeps passengers informed of the many activities on board. James is very friendly and approachable. We cruise for rest and relaxation, but many cruise for activities and RCI has the best and most afloat. "Get out there!"
PORTS OF CALL Saturday: Port of Miami, FL Sail Away 5:00pm. Sunday: At Sea. Monday: At Sea. Tuesday: Philipsburg, St. Maarten Arrive 9:00am Depart 6:00pm Wednesday: San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 7:00am Depart 2:00pm Thursday: Labadee, Haiti Arrive 8:00am Depart 4:30pm Friday: At Sea Saturday: Port of Miami, FL Arrive 7:00am Debarkation
CONCLUSION We have cruised two years ago on the Freedom of the Seas, sister ship of the Liberty of the Seas, and were amazed by the immense dimensions of this "giga" ship and, most of all, by the many innovative features first seen at sea. However, now we spend more time going around and admiring the individual pieces of artwork which decorate the various areas of these ships. It is like visiting a museum. Each day we tour different areas, take the time to enjoy the interesting sights and learn something new. We rarely visit the ports of call, since we have been there many times, but we leisurely enjoy the ship.
We are addicted to cruising. This was our 75th cruise and our 35th on RCI ships, thus it is evident that RCI is one of our favorite cruise lines. The main reason is that the perks and benefits offered to Crown & Anchor Society members are substantial, especially to those repeaters ("Frequent Floaters") who have achieved the Platinum and Diamond levels. We are looking forward to sailing on the newest of the RCI ships, Independence of the Seas, Nov. 29th. Other cruises already booked are the Norwegian Pearl, on Jan. 4th, Ruby Princess, on Jan. 24th, Celebrity Solstice, transatlantic cruise, on April 19th and the inaugural cruise of the Oasis of the Seas, on Dec. 12th 2009. Happy Cruising!
My granddaughter, age 13, and I had a most enjoyable vacation sailing to the Caribbean.
Pros: Very smooth embarkation and debarkation. Each took less than half an hour. Extremely large variety of activities at most times of day. Ice show was very professional with great costumes and music. Dining room wait staff well trained and helpful. Food was better than expected, but not gourmet. Very comfortable chairs in the library and computer room for reading and people watching. Food available around the clock somewhere. Photographers are not intrusive.
Cons: Minimum drawer space in cabin overlooking the promenade and very tight fit getting around the beds from sitting area to bathroom with beds in twin configuration. Even less shelf space in the bathroom. Constant announcements for revenue generating activities. Almost no feeling of being on a ship. Many may find that a positive feature, but I missed seeing the water from public lounges and feeling a little motion at night. We could not understand the words of the singers in the production shows. Sound was quite fuzzy from where we sat in the balcony. Cabin attendant did absolute minimum or less. We had to callto get ice in the afternoon, and room was not done until evening turn down if we slept in. The casino does not allow double odds at the craps table.
DETAILS Ship and Cabin: The most obvious feature of the ship is that it is BIG. It is tastefully decorated and has excellent signage to find your way around. You will do a lot of walking just to get from one place to another, but you probably will not get lost. The elevators are fast and usually plentiful enough. After a show lets out or when shore excursions return you will have to wait for an elevator, but once on you will get quickly to your destination unless kids have been on and pushed all of the buttons. There are only two locations for the elevators, but many in each location. If your cabin is centrally located, as mine was, you will always walk quite a ways to the elevator then again to your final destination. The hallways have jogs in them so that you do not have a view of endless corridors. There is no wrap around promenade or quiet outside deck chairs, but there is a jogging track on the sports deck way up high. You can go out and stand at the rail on one deck, but this ship is more about inside activities except up on sports deck.
The cabin was small, but adequate. Since drawers were scarce, I left a lot of my clothes in the packing cubes and placed them on the closet shelves. Hanging space was ample for a 7 day cruise. The "duvet" was just a mattress pad in a cover. Very heavy and warm. I asked the cabin attendant to remove it and just put a blanket on the bed. He left the duvet in a heap on the sofa for two days until I asked him to move it. My granddaughter found the duvet to be quite comfortable. We had brought small, lightweight throws for use on the plane. We found them very convenient for afternoon naps too.
The bathroom has three small shelves in the corner medicine cabinet and a shelf under the basin counter. The only amenities provided are towels, bar soap, and a dispenser of shampoo in the shower. There is a hair dryer in the drawer in the vanity table in the bedroom. It cannot be removed from that area. The shower is "clamshell" style so there is no curtain problem. Overall it was small and fairly spartan, but adequate.
Pool Area: The Lido deck is very popular on nice days. There is a pool area for adults only and a family pool area. There are plenty of deck chairs if you get there early enough. I like to be in the shade and was always able to find a chair, if not a lounge. Pool towels must be checked out with your room card and there is a $20 charge if they are not returned. If you take a wet towel to the cabin you must return it to the Lido deck towel area to be credited for its return. This might be why chairs were available; leaving a towel on a chair could cost you money. I really missed the quiet deck chairs for reading on the promenade deck of my favorite ship. The Lido was always noisy as it is meant more for swimming and socializing. There were always bar service staff hawking the expensive drink of the day. I, therefore, did most of my reading in the library or the cabin.
There is a colorful area for water play. Younger children appeared to be enjoying themselves in the sprays, shallow pools, and sliding areas.
Entertainment: There are all of the usual shipboard games and activities plus the ice rink, climbing wall, miniature golf, and the flow rider. Hannah especially enjoyed the flow rider. Surf boards and belly boards are provided. My favorite entertainment was the ice show. It was as professionally done as any on land. You must pick up a ticket to see it, but they are free. Since we could not understand the words of the songs in the production shows in the main theater after dinner we quit going after the first two. One night there was a street dance in the promenade. I had a lot of fun watching the activity from my cabin bay window. The casino has a craps table, but does not allow double odds.
Hannah enjoyed meeting friends in the teen area, but did not participate in any formal children's program activities. I, therefore, know nothing about the program.
Dining: We had a table for 10 with people from several countries, but all spoke English. It made for very interesting conversation at dinner. The food was good enough in the main dining room that we did not try the extra cost specialty restaurants for dinner. Hannah had pizza from Sorentos on the promenade frequently each day. It was quite good. We also used room service in the early morning hours. The food came promptly and was hot when it arrived. There were not a lot of choices, but enough for a late night snack. Breakfast room service was also on time and at least warm when it arrived. There was good variety in the Windjammer buffet for lunch, but the food was quite ordinary, so I ate in the dining room most days. Hannah had lunch on the promenade.
We went to Johnny Rockets for lunch one day. It was good fast food, but not worth the extra charge.
Overall I feel that this is an excellent ship for a group of different ages. There is something for everyone. If your favorite activity is not available when you want it, you can surely find something to enjoy from the multitude of things to do.