I was pleasantly surprised by my recent voyage on RC Liberty of the Seas. My first RC cruise was awful and it took 4 years before I even considered going again. We were a family of two (mom and young child) and here are my pluses and minuses:
If you're booked and haven't made your online reservations for dinner, character dining, beverage packages, shows, excursions, etc. do it NOW!. Don't wait until you're on the ship. You lose a lot of valuable time waiting on lengthy lines. Also, you can book using the interactive tv in your room. But if you have questions, the best way to go is get on line and speak with the excursion rep. The excursions on board are overpriced, so if you are comfortable winging it, I would book them once you get in port. You'll save yourself some money that way that could go towards other nominally priced activities. I didn't do any bev pkgs because we don't drink soda, and it was cheaper to pay for drinks as they came (see note below).
Beverage Package Minuses;
Unless you're a huge consumer of alcohol or can share your drinks on the sly, the alcohol (wine, beer, mixed drinks) bev package is $55 per person PER DAY for the FULL cruise. (Beer and wine only was cheaper and there was some other higher premium package that I can't imagine the cost.) I was horrified to learn that on day two if I purchased the packaged I would have to pay for Day 1's share, even though I hadn't ordered anything. Ripoff!
Quiet cabins. I booked an aft cabin because I didn't want to be near the noise and congestion of the elevator banks. While I didn't need to go as far back as we were (there were no passenger stairs or elevator access in the back so we had to walk to midship each time to get around), I almost never heard any disturbances coming from the hallway from general passing by. Louder, rowdier sounds did bleed through a little
Small cabin and bathroom. When we had our bed split in two, the bed nearest the balcony obstructed the path to get outside. It was an inconvenience, but minor and if your beds are together, won't be an issue. The shower stall is TINY! I could not bend over to wash my lower body without hitting my head on the wall or bath fixtures, and I'm only 5'5. My 5-yr old had plenty of space, but I kept fighting the stall whenever I tried to wash my back/legs, turnaround, bend over, etc. If you need space, get a jr suite.
My time dining is great. You can go with or without a reservation. Without a reservation, there was minimal wait. Our asst waiter Dinah was AMAZING! She was on top of everything and made sure we didn't have wait long for our service.
Food quality was mostly disappointing. We ate in the main dining room only twice, and on both nights the menu appeared to be the same with only one change per course. The food in windjammer/jade was mediocre at best and oily. After several days, my stomach started to rebel. The room service menu never changed. I did not do any up charge dining because I paid enough to be on the cruise, but did get a cupcake from Cupcake Cupboard and an ice cream from Ben & Jerries. Wasn't impressed with either to be honest. The "sprinkles" soft serve fro-yo on the pool deck was okay, but what I couldn't understand was why there weren't any actual sprinkles to go with the fro-yo. There seems to be only one machine with two service sides (maybe there's a second on the other side of the pool deck, but I was mainly by H2O Zone), but about half the times I saw it, one side was down. The lines were long and constant (easily 20+ people at a time), but did move quickly depending on who was online (kids vs adults). I saw one poolside bbq buffet and while I didn't have any problems, I spoke with a family who was struck with a mild case of food poison for eating something that was probably left out too long. The pizza from Sorrentos tasted like the pizza I make at home using Boboli crusts. Really not great, but we ate there a few times because it was one of the few late night free offerings.
Dining Room Service was disappointing. If our asst waiter didn't tend to us like she did, we'd probably be still waiting for our food. Also, we had a character dining experience and there was dirty silverware and dishes in my son's place setting. Had I not switched seats with him, he wouldn't have noticed it and used the dirty pieces. The attention by the service staff was also lack luster.
Great place to drop your kid off for a few hours. My son LOVED it. Wished it was open longer than from 3 hour intervals (see note below).
The in-session KC intervals (9a-12p, 2p-5p, 7p-10p) made it difficult to actually enjoy the time I had to myself. Every time I ran an errand - go to guest services, book a spa appt, book an excursion, etc. (all things you don't want a 5 yrs old whining through) by the time I was finished it was time to go get him and I hadn't had any ME time. I was able to book a couple of spa appts, however the challenge was to get a start and end time that fit within the KC hours otherwise I'd be charged a late fee.
If you have kids for the club, it is a first come, first served admittance. I heard one mother meltdown on day 2 because she wasn't registered and was frustrated with the process and was in the back of the line to drop of her kid(s). Register as soon as you get on board and get there early to ensure your place in line for drop-offs. The 3-5 yr group only accommodated 30 kids max at a time and generally only had 2 staffers on duty whenever I went.
This is the best ship I have been on as far as activities are concerned in the 4 cruises I have done with RC, Carnival and HAL. It had a great mix of activities including the surf simulator, mini golf course, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, etc. I actually wished I had one more day at sea so that I could try the ice skating w' my son, the surf simulator and rock climbing (he wasn't old or big enough to participate in these).
The are designated hours in which you can participate in certain activities. Due to the scheduling and the KC's intervals, I missed out on some of the things I wanted to do. The water in H2O Zone was cold. Not sure if the pools were heated (don't think they are), but the only source of warmth appeared to be the hot tubs which everyone, child and adult alike, clamored for because it wasn't as warm on the boat to be in cold water.
Variety Show Guy - can't remember his name but he was pretty good and engaged the audience a lot so it was very funny.
Comedian - can't remember his name either, but he was decent.
Ice Show - Good, especially the two featured skaters. A few skaters fell, but otherwise it was a decent show.
Unfortunately the Sat Night Fever and In the Air shows were scheduled based on the dining room seatings and didn't work with the KC's evening schedules so I missed both of these.
Pluses: I'm a spa girl, so it better be right and Paola from Italy was FANTASTICO as my son says. I booked 3 treatments with her and was in pure bliss each time. I booked two discounted packages and one full massage treatment. The prices are regular spa prices, so be prepared to pay for it, but it was worth every second. Check for the specials as you might get a break depending on what you want. But the price discounts (10% gold member C&A, etc.) only apply to regular priced services or "signature" services.
Minuses - The fare for my cabin dropped by $1000. RC's policy is that they only offer an upgrade, should one exist. They do not offer shipboard credits, refunds or comps (I asked on several different occasions.) Well none existed and I basically paid an extra grand for this trip. Had I booked closer to the sailing I could have saved some money, but since we were flying in for this departure, that wasn't a viable option. Other cruise lines offer credits, upgrades, etc. after the final payment date. RC you should be kinder to your guests. It encourages them to stay brand loyal.
Somehow one of the feet of my suitcase was completely ripped off the bottom of my bag between leaving it with the porter in Ft Lauderdale and it making it to my room. In RC's defense, they took my bag for two days and replaced the missing food (amazing! did they actually find it because it was a complete match?!) and returned it to me the way it was when I dropped it off at the pier.
On Embarkation and disembarkation times (first day, port days and last day), expect delays with the elevators. There are only 4 elevators per section (aft/fwd and starboard/port). I often found myself watching through the glass elevators for the opposite elevators to see which ones came first and grabbing my son and running to the other side to hop on board. Or most downward cases, I just took the stairs.
So that's the nuts and bolts of my trip. My son had a great time. My trip was good but could have been better. Considering booking again with RC, but with some caveats learned this go around. Will prob go with another line first, but feel confident in returning to RC if it's the right itinerary and ship. Hope this was helpful.