This was our second cruise, our first being a family cruise with our son on Vision of the Seas in 2010. From that experience we came to expect a tremendously friendly crew, that maintained a hardworking ethic while still clearly taking pride in their job and doing their best to serve the passengers with style and finesse. The spa employees were technically proficient and every service I received was flawless. They were all friendly, energetic and adept at gauging your mood-easily chatting or just professional and quiet if that was what you preferred.
Liberty of the Seas is BIG. Huge, actually. We were hardly prepared for how massive the ship was, and our first indication was walking to our room, particularly when we managed to go in the wrong direction. I noted the unusual and actually very interesting and unique artworks that decorated the ship, as well as the modernized decor and colorful, eye catching Promenade where the cafes, small shops like the Cupcake Cupboard and Ben and Jerry's are found. It's lots of fun looking down on the Promenade from above to fully appreciate all the small yet funky details and lighting, particularly at night.
We were eager to get started on our cruise after a year of planning, and spent most of our first day relaxing in our room. I am an avid spa goer and was quick to pop up to Deck 12 where the Liberty Day Spa sits right adjacent to the outdoor swimming areas. I made appointments for treatments ranging from manicures and pedicures to body wraps and foot massages as well as booking an appointment for hairstyling on the formal evening.
My first interactions with the spa were fantastic. All the ladies were enthusiastic and warm, calling me by name and happy to assist me in making my various appointments. However, I was as many are, a bit shocked at the 18% VAT and 15% gratuity which are automatically added to your bill. It makes for a bit of a shock when ordering a treatment that is listed at $159. I was extremely happy with the body treatments, massages and manicure/pedicure I received, but I felt that the hairdressers were under par, unfortunately. I had my hair curled for the formal evening and the curls did not last an hour and that cost me $80! I also watched another hairdresser trying to style another customer who had clearly requested an elegant french twist updo but her hair had been backcombed and looked like a rats nest. Later this same hairdresser gave me an oil treatment on my hair and was extremely rough, brushing my hair like she had no time and it was painful, even though I requested her to be gentler.
We did not eat in the dining rooms, but preferred to eat our meals in the casual Windjammer. The food did not disappoint at all! Everything was delicious and prepared to perfection. My only complaint was that I never saw a Mexican themed meal like quesidillas, tacos or fajitas during our 5 night cruise, which I would have liked. Perhaps if we had dined in the dining hall we could have. We also ate at Johnny Rockets twice, which was fantastic both times-friendly employees who clearly took pride in their job and always had a smile on their face-this makes my day! On the formal evening we dined at Chops Grille, which was quite an amazing experience, although we were amazed to see people arriving on the formal evening in shorts. However, our waiter, a polite gentleman from Jamaica took wonderful care of us and the food was superb.
Our cruise style is mostly just enjoying the boat, using the jacuzzi to relax, using the spa, and we can definitely give high marks for these amenities. However, near the end of the cruise I started experiencing some crew members seeming to be overworked, tired, stressed and a bit irritated. I am very understanding of how hard they work and how many passengers they have to take care of, but it can be hard to swallow when you have been saving for a trip for a year and feel that you were treated in a rude way. After riding Vision of the Seas for the first time I felt like I would always be loyal to Royal Caribbean but after my experience on Liberty I feel less inclined to return, even though the cruise was 80% great, I just felt like perhaps the smaller boats have a less stressed crew. I also realize that we do not necessarily cruise in the same way that others may-for example, we do not attend any of the shows and usually do not purchase excursions (though we do purchase transport transfers)for us cruises are a way to get away, be with one another and relax and have peace and quiet. We definitely got plenty of that, and learned that Barcelona is truly one of the most beautiful cities of the world. My heart was breaking-what an amazing, beautiful place, with beautiful people and beautiful sights to see.
All in all I think Liberty is a beautiful boat and I do believe in Royal Caribbean but I felt a bit invisible on such a big ship and missed the individual touches I grew so fond of on Vision of the Seas. Still, I can recommend this ship for its beautiful interior, grandiose swimming areas and lush rooms and fine dining.