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Liberty of the Seas Review

by on April 12, 2012 · 16 comments

Since taking our first cruise on Disney, we’ve taken two more, but on different lines. Last year we took a 7 night Alaska cruise on Holland America, and this week Fuzz and I returned from a 4 night Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas. It was fun! I’m ready for another, but until then here’s a review of the Liberty of the Seas.

Flow Rider

This cruise was our introduction to Royal Caribbean.  We chose the line thinking it would be a good value for the money and that we’d appreciate the extra youth oriented activities.  Along with an ice rink, mini golf course, sports deck and boxing ring, there’s a surfing simulator called a Flow Rider and a rock wall that sounded pretty fun.  As you can see from the photos, Fuzz took advantage of both of the latter, despite the lines.

Rock Wall on Liberty of the Seas

Then again, lines were to be expected.  We chose a 4 night cruise over Easter weekend and East Coast Spring Break. Crowds could have been much worse considering the time and duration of the cruise, but overall they were pretty manageable,with the worst situation being lines at the elevators.  We probably got a lot of exercise using the stairs.

We boarded at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. If you’re looking for a hotel near port, you won’t have to search too hard, as there are several including The Westin Beach Resort, which is about a $7 cab ride away and has direct beach access.

Another one I can recommend is The DoubleTree Gallery One. It’s not directly on the beach, but it’s a stop on the water taxi and near The Galleria where you can do some last minute shopping before the cruise.  The Gallery One is also a short cab ride from the port.

Our boarding time for Liberty of the Seas was 1:30, so we had plenty of time to check out of our hotel,  grab lunch and get over to the dock.  Seeing the ship for the first time is always exciting, and since getting 3600 people on a boat is a lot easier than getting them off, this part is usually a  breeze.  By the time we boarded, our cabin was ready and our luggage arrived a few minutes later.

 

The first person we met after boarding was our cabin stewardess, Elisa.  She took good care of us throughout the trip and seemed genuinely happy to be working for RCCL.  Plus she made us excellent towel animals every night!  Our cabin was spotless.

My only complaint about the cabin was that we had smokers next door, but that’s a big issue within the industry at large and one that won’t be resolved any time soon. I can tell you their smoke never filtered through to our cabin – only the balcony.

Here’s a tip.  Go with the ninth deck midship if possible. Deck 9 is close to the pool and Windjammer Dining room, but not right under them. Also, I’ve heard a rumor that because some great suites are one Deck 9, you get the more experienced room stewards. I don’t know if this is true, but we had the best ever cabin stewardess, so who knows? So Deck 9. And try to get a cabin on “the hump” if you can – that’s where the ship juts out a little in the middle. They say you get a better view from the balcony, and I think we did.

Okay, so back to our first day. After checking out our cabin and riding the Flow Rider (Day 1 is a good time to do it), we explored the ship. It’s huge, but fairly easy to navigate and Fuzz and I knew our way around in a matter of hours. The photography in the stairwells is incredible. Every time I turned a corner I had to stop and look at another picture. My favorite ones were the gas stations, pools, little red headed girls and cheerless cheerleaders. If you’ve been on the ship, you probably know the ones I’m talking about.   You could spend a couple of hours just doing an art tour.

Here’s a photo of the library.  Hey, RCCL.  Your library needs more books!  Or maybe they load the shelves with books for longer cruises.  I’m not sure, but I have some books to donate to RCCL.  Better yet, it would be nice if they set up a book exchange  where people drop off books they’ve read and take another.

The promenade, before it filled up with people….

And this the Sphinx, where most of the Bingo games were held.  Keep in mind this is a ship with over 3,000 passengers and we were the only ones taking pictures and goofing around in this room on the first day.  For such a big ship with so many people, the rooms never seemed that crowded.  The pool and the elevator areas were, but there were always little sanctuaries where one could go to relax.

 

Since we boarded late in the evening, dinner time came pretty quickly. We used RCCL’s My Time Dining which meant we could avoid the 6:30 or 8:30 seating and make reservations for any time we wanted. With My Time, they put you in a special section of the three story dining room, so you see the same people most nights and may get the same servers.

As expected, the food was about the quality you’d find at a wedding or large catered event with some dishes being better than others. I stuck with the spa menu every night and was happy to have that alternative. Fuzz ordered off both the spa menu and the regular menu, and in our opinion there was plenty of variety. I will say that if you like a good steak, eat one before you leave or plan to pay extra for a steak from Chops, the ship’s specialty restaurant. Fuzz’s meat was not quite the same prime steak we are used to grilling here at home. What it comes down to with food is that you have to pick and choose and be reasonable and flexible. That being said, the best dessert on the boat in my opinion, was the low fat yogurt by the pool.

Along with the main dining room, we enjoyed having breakfast, lunch and even one dinner in the Windjammer. It was similar to Disney and Holland America’s buffet area, with table next to windows, comfortable seats and lots of choices. Unlike the other two cruises, Liberty of the Seas had lots of good Indian food, which Fuzz and I love. There were some not-so-great things as well, but again – it’s a buffet. You don’t like something, get something else. That, or go to Johnny Rockets.

Johnny Rocket’s was yet another dining option, and if you like fries, onion rings, burgers and shakes, you’ll be in good hands. Plus the service was excellent and the waiters and waitresses sing and dance. Normally that would be awkward, but on a cruise it’s cool.

Cupcake Cupboard was a nice additions to the ship. As much as I like cupcakes, I hadn’t planned on signing Fuzz up for a class, but I did and it was just her speed. The pastry chef did a great job conducting the kids’ classes. I recommend them for younger children, though….6 to 12 tops.

The pool area is divided into a regular pool and kiddie pool area called the H20 Zone, which Fuzz enjoyed very much. Had I been alone on this cruise, I would have spent time at the adults only pool which appeared very tranquil. The deck was extremely windy the whole time and I kind of wished they could have closed the top like other lines have done, but I suppose that might have made all the people baking in the sun irritated. Oh well. And my other complaint is that maybe the Sexy Man contest could have been held during a period when the kids weren’t swimming all around. Not that it was risque — quite the opposite, but I didn’t feel like talking about what “sexy” meant with the kiddo. On the other hand, the Men’s Belly Flop Competition was quite amusing.

H20 Zone

But don’t worry. Entertainment was better than belly flop competitions. And in my opinion this is the area where RCCL really shines. There was a breathtaking ice show, a Cirque de Solei type show called Up in the Air and a Broadway style production of Saturday Night Fever. The juggling, unicycle riding comedian was also surprisingly entertaining.

But back to the ice skating. One days when there weren’t shows, they let us ice skate for 30 minute sessions. Here I am doing some tricks.

Just kidding. I should have taken some photos of us ice skating, but Fuzz and I were too busy trying to stay upright.

Moving on to the Kids’ Club, of the three Kids’ Clubs we’ve tried, this one came in third. Disney’s was crazy with so many activities and kids running all over the place, while Holland America’s was very personable, friendly and professional — the kids did a talent show for the passengers and on the last day, the crew wrote personal letters to each child saying goodbye. On this trip, Fuzz only visited twice. One time in the evening when it was busy and they were doing planned group activities and one time in the morning when there were only two kids . The staff didn’t remember her name, which is not so much a poor reflection of them but rather a credit to HAL’s staff who remembered names even though they had more kids. I think HAL’s talent show might have been a bonding experience for the kids and crew. Maybe on longer cruises, RCCL does something similar.

The casino was quite lovely, but when I did try to play a game of video poker, my eyelid started to swell because of the smoke.  I don’t think I’ll live to see non-smoking casinos, but I wish someone would invent a really awesome smoke eater. Casinos usually smell okay, but the gunk seems to hang in the air. Oh well.

Speaking of air, there’s a little arcade that has air hockey!  Note the room is practically empty on day 1, but most of the time it drew a pretty big crowd of kids.


Okay, now for a few negatives.  There was something for sale everywhere you looked.  I can’t remember what day of the cruise this was, but the promenade had big displays of jewelry and watches.

But what really got to me was that Botox, fillers, and other expensive medical procedures were being promoted throughout the ship via advertising and lectures. I have nothing against those procedures, but I think they should be handled by one’s dermatologist or facial surgeon back home and not on a ship. Botox takes effect after several days and peaks at about 2 weeks, so what if you get injections on a cruise and don’t like the results 5 to 10 days later?I just don’t know.  What’s wrong with a nice facial or a massage?

On to a more pleasant topic, Cozumel!  What a fun port of call.  I wish we could have spent more time there, as it’s changed so much over the years and there’s lots to see and do. As for us, we chose an X-rail adventure, where you ride these cars through the jungle and visit a sacred Mayan pond called a cenote. It was a blast, though very dusty. We booked ours through Shore Trips and the tour operator was Wild Tours. It was fun, but exhausting, and by the end of the excursion we were ready to go back to the ship, shower off all the Mexican dirt, and have lunch in the Windjammer.

Overall, the ship was lovely, the crew was friendly and the port was fun. I’m probably going to stick with 7 night cruises from now on, and if possible, avoid Spring Break, but with a school age child it’s kind of tough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published on April 12, 2012

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Darlene April 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Anna, I read that the recently opened Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey is a non-smoking casino resort that has floor-to-ceiling windows that give you a view of the coast. (Of course, that isn’t as fun as being on a cruise.)

Anna April 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Cool! I’ve never been to Atlantic City. After watching Boardwalk Empire, I’d kind of like to visit.

Louise April 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm

When I was in college, I waitressed in Atlantic City on the Boardwalk at a family restaurant. One was right across from Steel Pier. It was a few years before the casinos came there. It was a great place to work in the summer and I have wonderful memories of it. The casinos have changed it all, but it’s still an interesting place.

Sue April 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Great review! I love the photo of the cupcake monkey. Did Fuzz make that? The bubblegum cupcake photo gets an ewwww from this corner. Nothing wrong with photo! It’s a pretty cupcake, simply not a flavor I want to eat.
Your cruise experiences make me think I should be more open minded about that kind of travel option. It’s never appealed to me but both your Holland and Disney cruises sounded tempting. I think the Botox ads etc. would be a deal breaker for me on any cruise.

Sue April 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Oh! I love the photo of Fuzz in the sombrero too! :)

Chewthefat April 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Wow! Check out the size of that rock-climbing wall! Your daughter is my hero! The cupcake photos are stunning–including Emma’s! I remember bubble gum as an ice cream flavor that looked pretty but that I never wanted to try.

It sounds like the activities were fun and the staff was genuinely considerate and well-trained although there could have been some better planning logistically (like the Sexiest Man Contest).

I see ads for Botox everywhere and find that kind of depressing.

Anna April 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Louise, it sounds like you have fond memories of Atlantic City.

Sue, that is indeed Fuzz’s cupcake. And yes, they did have quite a few funky flavors such as orange, bubble gum, strawberry etc. The flavors reminded me of the new Duncan Hines Frosting Creations I’ve been sampling. I actually have a pack of the bubble gum flavored frosting in my pantry.

Mary, it’s a huge wall. She didn’t make it to the top, though. I saw one kid do it, but Fuzz said that she got to a point where she couldn’t reach high enough to grasp the next rung.

Sherry April 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Anna thanks so much for the great review! I loved the comparisons of the different cruise lines. But what I enjoyed most of all was that you and Fuzz took a mother and daughter cruise. Makes for wonderful memories for both of you.

Louise April 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

You could do a cupcake decorating class with Fuzz & her friends either for a birthday party or Girl Scouts. They probably have a badge for it. :-)

Gloria April 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Sounds like a wonderful vacation! Amazing what they can put on ships these days…ice rinks and water slides and restaurants, oh my!!! The wall looks scary to me, ropes aside. Fuzz is brave! My husband and I took the RCCL Majesty of the Seas in Dec. 2010 to the Bahamas. We enjoyed the trip, but our room was underneath the pool deck…not bad until the band started playing and people started dancing!!!
Anyways, Fuzz is one lucky kid!

Carolyn April 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

Thanks for the comprehensive reivew. After sailing the monster sized ships (Freedom and Liberty of the Seas being 2 of them), we now prefer the mid-sized 600-700 passenger ships. Embarkation and disembarkation is a breeze. Also, our favourite – Azamara Club Cruises limits smoking to one very small area of the pool deck. No smoking anywhere else on the ship — we love that. Unfortunately, though, while they welcome kids, there are no programs for them.

Also, if you’re a regular sailor with RCI, it’s worth it to buy shares in the company. 100 shares = a nice ship board credit.

Carole Resnick April 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

We saw the ice show on the Explorer of the Seas, Not to miss,

Carole Resnick April 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

We saw the ice show on the Explorer of the Seas, Not to miss,

Janice April 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Anna,
Great review; thanks for taking the time to write.
Did you taste the bubble gum cupcakes? I can’t believe how quickly Fuzz is growing……oh my!
BTW,
Revisited the self frosting Nutella cupcakes using Biscoff~ YUM!

Susan June 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I liked the format of your review. We’ll be boarding Liberty in late August for a Mediterranean cruise. How did you find getting off the ship for your day in Cozumel? Lots of blogs are from people who have special frequent cruiser status and it sounds like they breeze on and off the ship. Did you notice anything about lessons for the Flow Rider? Lastly, my daughter is 14. Is there a place where we can go dance together?

Anna June 4, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Hi Susan,
Getting off the ship in Cozumel was super simple. Basically, you just walk out the door and you’re in Mexico. Of course you go through security, etc. The Flow Rider lessons were completely filled by the time I booked our trip so lessons weren’t an option. My daughter still got to do it, though. She just had to wait in line. I really didn’t care for that aspect of the ship — waiting in line for a two minute thrill, but I believe part of the problem was that we were on a Spring Break cruise.

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