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Liberty of the Seas - Belize
Publication Date: March 18, 2015

Hey cruisers,

We had the pleasure of cruising on Liberty of the Seas 5 night itinerary to Belize in Cozumel in mid February. Despite the cold front that moved across Florida during mid February (whoa...brrrr), the trip was beautiful and the ship- awe-inspiring! We filmed most of the ship, and two categories of staterooms, and will post those videos at the end of this review.

A bit about us- we have been on close to 20 cruises, however this was our first on one of RCI's large ships. We have cruised extensively with Princess and Carnival, and several times on Holland America. We've also been on two NCL cruises. I'm 41, my husband 51, and we sailed with our 6 year old son and my 74 year old mother. We were with a large group that occupied about one third of the ship as part of a corporate incentive trip. We flew from California to Fort Lauderdale take this cruise, but we normally stick to West Coast cruises to avoid air travel and save money. Filming cruise ships is a fun hobby for us, and wow, there was a LOT of square

footage to cover on this ship!

The Ship-overall impressions:

This was, by far, the largest and most high-tech ship we've ever experienced. The promenade was beautiful and the shops lining it were so innovative. I loved how you could grab a snack or drink mid day while shopping or strolling here- the little sandwiches in the promenade cafe were a tasty mid afternoon snack for us, especially on sea days. The selection in the promenade was great, and much better than any other shopping options we have ever seen on the high seas.

We appreciated the touch screen ship maps all over the ship as we easily got lost. As with every cruise, we were JUST learning our way around the ship on the last day...then it was time to go home.

We tried to order room service from our TV once, but it was too slow and didn't function. We heard this from others as well – the system is very unreliable, so we gave up on that fast.

Oddly, this ship felt more crowded to us than any we've ever been on. Likely because people tend to congregate in the same places, and also, because of the unusually cold weather, people were forced indoors on the sea days (think flying deck chairs...very cold and windy).

How we spent our days:

Day 1- Embarkation- boarding at the port of Fort Lauderdale was smooth and quick. We arrived at the port at around noon, and were onboard no more than 45 minutes later. As we always do, we used this day to film the great majority of the ship while most public rooms were still vacant (everyone heads to the buffet and pool). After a wonderful buffet lunch at the windjammer, a pain-free muster and unpacking, we enjoyed our first night of anytime dining and sat as a family to discuss how big and interesting this ship was.

Day 2- At Sea- The weather was beautiful and the pool was the main attraction on this gorgeous day at sea. The belly-flop contest and poolside fun drew huge crowds, and we had a terrific time getting to know the ship, soaking up the sun, and tasting my first mojito onboard.

Day 3- Belize- We'll share more about our day below when covering the ports, but in short, after an annoying wait to tender off the ship, we made it to the pier, located our privately booked Goff's Caye representative, and headed into the tourist village/shopping area to wait for our departure. I wouldn't recommend just “walking around” in Belize- there's little to do, and you need to leave the area, by boat or on land, to see Belize's beauty. Plan ahead and spend a little money to get away from the port.

Day 4- Cozumel- After a leisurely morning, we walked off the ship and took our taxi to Nachi Cocom- the perfect day...more details to come. After a lovely day ashore, we splurged at the steakhouse, Chops and settled in for a relaxing evening. Everything at Chops was exceptional- from the prawn cocktail to the filet mignon with bernaise to the dessert and service- top notch.

Day 5- At Sea- since the cold, stormy weather was back in effect, we took advantage of all the ship has to offer. We got lucky enough to score tickets to ice skate (yay, they even had tiny skates for my 6 year old son!). The evening was dedicated to our company awards ceremony, which was held in studio B, aka the ice rink. It was interesting to see how well they covered the ice with a stage, and how high tech this room was, with televisions on all sides of the arena to view the media presented at our award show. It rivaled any land resort we've held these events at and somehow held our very large group with room to spare.

The Port:

Ah, we loved Belize and Cozumel. Bear in mind, we're from the West coast, so any port with turquoise blue, warm water is a treat for us. We are not picky. In Belize, we took an excursion to Goff's Caye, a tiny island 30 minutes off shore. Picture something you see in a cartoon- a tiny white strip of beach lined with a few palm trees plopped in the middle of the ocean. This place was so picture perfect, we were pinching ourselves all day. The trip was too short, but can't recommend it enough. Others in our group snorkeled, but we opted to relax on the beach, swim, and take photos to maximize the time on the island.

In Cozumel, we pre reserved a day at Nachi Cocom, a private, quiet beach club. 15 minutes from the port by cab, this place was relaxing and poured all you could drink, all day, for something like $55 per person. The food was 4 course, all inclusive too, and was so delicious. There was no way we could eat all that was given to us, especially on top of the pina coladas, tequila shots and margaritas. We swam in the sea, explored the tiny gift shop and spent hours jumping off the end of the dock and swimming back to shore. After the cab ride back, we shopped at the pier (great shopping!) and boarded our ship. We can't wait to return to Cozumel.

The Staterooms:

We enjoyed a junior suite, a treat we normally wouldn't splurge on on this sailing. The stateroom was huge, well laid out, had a bathtub and coffee pot, two things we LOVE while cruising. I've never seen so much storage space, including a walk in closet, on any ship.

My Mom was in an interior stateroom, across the hall from us. The room was a little bigger than most, and had a privacy curtain that divided the room- again, something I've never seen in an inside room. It even had a couch- so cozy.

**Video tours of both rooms are at the end**

Dining

We took advantage of my time dining, and were fortunate enough to get the same servers every night, by request, at a table for 4. Our severs were so attentive and did a great job of making us feel like were were in a fixed dining situation, meaning, they remembered our preferences and welcomed us back each night by remembering our names. We were rarely offered drinks other than water, but we spoke up and got what we needed. I think $12 is a ridiculously high price for a mojito, but then again, a LOT of people on this ship bought the drink package, so it seems that is the direction this ship is taking.

We enjoyed the buffet only a few times on this cruise, and it was well laid out and offered great selection.

Chops, the steakhouse, was awesome. The only funny thing that happened here is they gave my son my husbands filet mignon, and my husband the “kids steak”. We didn't figure it out until they'd eaten half of the steaks, and it ended up being something to laugh about, and a compliment to the quality of the meat served.

The Experience overall. . .

What we loved:

Embarkation...so smooth, so friendly. Great job RCL.

The room service options....very nice selection and high quality food, including eggs at breakfast & fast service. Loved the turkey panini, mediterranean chicken salad and spinach dip. Yum.

Entertainment: the one show we had time to see was excellent- a cut above other lines- more modern and very high production value.

Very few ship wide announcements -very nice. You really have to rely on your Cruise Compass to know what is going on, but the lack of interruption is peaceful.

The Ship condition: Liberty is well maintained and has so many cutting edge, clever touches compared to other lines we've experienced. It's modern in so many ways, but not so huge that you can't enjoy the magic of being on the high seas (in fact, we felt quite a bit of motion on the final sea day).

What we'd change:

Disembarkation.

Okay, I know this is never fun. But, keep in mind, there was a cold front in Florida folks. We had to stand at the entrance to the ship, and along a FREEZING cold wind tunnel for about an hour, underdressed (everyone was- this is Florida, who brings their parka) before we could get into the building that houses immigration and the luggage. It was hard to watch SO many miserable people, many with fussy kids and elderly folks that were having a hard time standing for so long.

More ice skating times please.

Seriously, it was hard enough just to FIND the ice rink folks. But, really, they need to offer more times to choose from! The skate sizes were very inconsistent and when you went back to fix that, it was too late...no more skates, sorry.- no more skates And the cranky staff that hands out the skates made us feel like we were at boot camp. Please, smile, it's an ice rink for goodness sake...

The same lack of open times applied at the flow rider and rock wall.

Beverage Policy:

RCL's beverage policy is stricter than other lines. i.e.- you're not allowed to bring your own soda and water. This really bothered me as I really enjoy my own water and a mere 12 pack of diet coke in my room. I don't get it.

Ice Cream:

Okay, the soft serve should be available 24/7, somewhere...the little ice cream machine on the pool deck would just disappear. This made my son and hubby sad as most lines offer soft serve pretty much 24/7.

Buffet:

It seems they could easily have a small section of the buffet area open 24/7, or just between main meal times. The hours seemed unusually odd to me, for a cruise line. Example: the buffet doesn't open for dinner until 6:30pm. That is late, and not the norm compared to other lines we've tried. Thankfully, room service saved us during some odd afternoon hungry hours after a long tour ashore.Thanks for reading, and happy cruising.

All in all, we had a lovely trip. Dollar for dollar, I'm not sure I would choose RCI again, but it all depends on departure port, price and ports for us. Right now RCI doesn't have much of a presence in Southern CA, where we tend to depart.

Thanks for reading, and happy cruising!!

Full ship video tour:

https://youtu.be/xQbVRwyj9f4

Stateroom Tours:

Junior Suite: https://youtu.be/u0eXVuPhPg8

Interior Stateroom: https://youtu.be/d1ryWy5-aDU

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Nice size ship, BUT ...
Publication Date: March 7, 2015

If you're booked on the Ryndam and are in Cabin 348--CANCEL! I'd also strongly urge anyone booked in cabins 346 and 350 to cancel. Though it doesn't appear on HAL's deck plans, there is a large storage closet directly above cabin 348. It's used by the art auction people who don't work for HAL, so they ignore anything the Ryndam's staff tells them. My experience: the first night out, starting about 12:30 A.M. (after midnight), I was awakened by an extremely LOUD THUD. Then I heard the shuffling of feet. On HAL's deck plans, a wine tasting area is supposedly over cabin 348 so I thought that it being the first night, cases of wine were literally being dumped in that area and that it would be a one time deal. The work continued for almost an hour. The next morning starting at 5:30 A.M., the same loud THUDS started again. To make a long story short, I went to the Front Desk and one of the people there said that she'd look into the matter and get back to me. She did--and explained that those noises would continue throughout

the cruise. She asked if I wanted to move to another cabin (the ship wasn't sold out) which I did. The cabin I was moved to had a very tricky thermostat--sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't.

I've sailed on HAL five times before this, so I was expecting a much nicer cruise experience. But, HAL is "transferring" the Ryndam to P&O cruises in November, so nothing much beyond vacuuming and dusting is being done. And this ship is desperately in need to a total renovation. That won't occur, at least not until after P&O takes over--if then.

I ate in the main dining room every night and though the food was tasty, the selections were extremely limited. Also, HAL has significantly cut back on the number of waiters and their assistants resulting in S-L-O-W service.

On the plus side, the entertainers in the bars and in the main show room were mostly enjoyable. The jazz trio--The Neptunes--that plays in the Ocean Bar is excellent. The cruise staff was very friendly and always had the time for a quick chat.

Based on my experience on the Ryndam, I canceled a three week cruise on the Oosterdam this coming November. It's too bad that HAL has let the Ryndam physically to become so outdated.

For the same money, you can find similar itineraries on other cruise lines. I no longer consider HAL to be an "upscale" cruise line.

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single costs
Publication Date: March 4, 2015

book price 799 inside cabin.

i pre booked it, put in 1 traveller and price came up 1499.

THATS A SINGLE SUPPLEMENT !!

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