I was one of the lucky travel agents to be on the Inaugural North America cruise on the Liberty of the Seas by Royal Caribbean International sailing from Cape Liberty, Bayonne NJ. It was a complimentary 2 night cruise to no where to give us an idea of the vast amenities and beauty of this new baby sister to the Freedom of the Seas. The ships are identical in size with some subtle upgrades and improvements.
Cabins- we got to tour most of the cabins on the ship including the Royal Suite (to die for), the Family Penthouse suite, Grand Suite, Owner's Suite, Junior Suite, Balcony cabin, Promenade Family Stateroom, Oceanview Family Stateroom and the Promenade cabin, to which we were assigned. I'm actually very glad that we were in the Promenade cabin since I have not stayed in this category before and I wanted to see the benefits over the inside (many) and the oceanview (also a few). I'll try to explain as much as each category of cabin as I remember it starting with the Promenade cabins first. These cabins are interior cabins but have a window facing the large galleria in the middle of the ship. We were on Deck 8, which is the highest level of this category of cabin. I would recommend this deck as opposed to the lower deck 6. The Royal Promenade is light 24/7 and some shops are open to the very wee hours. There might be some noise associated from the party revelers but in our 8th deck Promenade cabin, you couldn't hear any noise at all from the Promenade. We were actually located just a few door down from the elevators and we didn't hear any noise at all from the hallway or elevators. Pros to this cabin: It is lower priced than the ocean view cabins. The oceanview cabins are on the lowest passenger levels of the ship and the promenade cabins start on deck 6. Yes, it does not have the ocean view but you can see daylight which helped enormously when it came to having to get up in the morning. About ½ of the Promenade cabins are connecting which is great for families. 2 small love seats (one under the promenade window - great for people watching) Cons: if you need the beds separated into 2 twins, it is tight getting around the bed. Interestingly, the beds are rounded in one corner to make it easier to pass by.
In all, I would highly recommend the Promenade cabins to my clients who would prefer to be midship on an upper level but may not want to pay for a balcony. The cabin amenities (the same for all of the staterooms not at suite level): Great plush beds European style linens 100% plush Egyptian towels Adequate closest space with a good amount of hangers. Decent but limited drawer space (typical on most cruise ships) Plasma flat screen TV Refrigerator Portable Hairdryer Bathroom amenities - only shampoo/conditioner in the shower stall. Bar soap. The suites have the upgraded bathroom amenities. Decent storage space in the medicine cabinet, shelf under the sink and numerous hooks on the back of the bathroom door. Shower - typical Royal Caribbean- the joke is- you soap the walls and shimmy around to soap your selves up. Need to open the shower door to shave your legs.
Additional Suite Amenities included: Upgraded toiletries Bathtubs Balconies Robes and slippers
The Family Promenade stateroom (there are only 4) is a fabulous and huge cabin to accommodate a family of up to 6 with a sofa bed and 2 bunk beds in a separate nook- great for younger kids or teens. Book these very early since these will be snapped up quickly.
The Family Oceanview staterooms also have the bunk bed nook and will accommodate up to 6. There are only 8 of these and they will book up very quickly. They are located all the way in the forward on decks 6-9.
The Junior Suites were very impressive. Great balcony and a good size with a bathtub. The Grand Suite is huge with a pull out sofa bed in the living room, bar area, huge bathroom with tub and great double balcony. The Royal Family Suite with balcony is fabulous for families with teens. It has 2 bedrooms (1 interior and the master has the balcony) with 2 bathrooms and a huge balcony. This may also sleep up to 6 with the double sofa bed. The Owners Suite is huge with 1 queen bed, a double sofa bed in the separate living area, 1 bathroom and huge flat screen plasma TV that swings back between both the master bedroom and the living area. The Royal Suite was the most impressive cabin on board the ship. This will only accommodate 4 guests in the private bedroom with king bed, separate living area with queen sofa bed and baby grand piano, dining room table and bar. The bathroom was incredible with marble sinks, a huge tub and shower that could easily fit 2. There is a Jacuzzi on the balcony. The Presidential Family Suite is the largest and will sleep up to 14 with 4 bedrooms (2 with balconies and 2 interior) with 2 bathrooms, an enormous balcony with a Jacuzzi and bar.
This ship is designed for families and these cabins reflect the demand for upscale family cabins. These cabins are selling out quicker than I ever could have imagined despite the steep pricing.
The Ship As a sister ship to the Freedom of the Seas, the Liberty of the Seas also has a FlowRider surf simulator and I finally got to see it in action. Richard Fein, the CEO of RCI, challenged guests and the ship's captain to a contest of who could stay up the longest and he did a great job. The FlowRider is located in the aft of the ship, is open periodically during the day and requires a lesson or assistance from the staff. Guests can either boogey board or try the long board. There are bleachers set up on the 3 sides surrounding the surf simulator for spectators and there were many of us watching- even in the 60 degree windy weather.
In addition to the FlowRider, the sports deck includes a basketball court, the rock climbing wall and a beautiful mini golf course. The ice skating rink on deck 3 is also open throughout the day.
The H2O zone - the kid's water park is a work of art. The fountains and sculptures were beautiful and this is sure to be a great hit among kids and the young at heart. For those who want something a bit quieter, the adult pool (the solarium is lovely and has 2 Jacuzzis that jut out 12 feet over the ocean. Although they were packed, I only dunked my feet in. It was still only 60 degrees out but it sure didn't stop the other guest.
The main pool and the sports pool area are huge. There were a ton of lounge chairs set up on 2 levels. Don't miss the mango shake at the juice bar at the main pool.
The Promenade In addition to Sorrento's Pizza (it has sandwiches, salads and desserts as well), there is a cafe (coffee shop with sandwiches, cookies, desserts as well as coffees), Ben and Jerry's, a pub, wine shop, barber shop, gift shop, general store, perfume shop, jewelry store, and a clothing store. A little reading area is tucked into the corner of the cafe. The promenade has a vintage red sports car (unfortunately just for viewing) and lots of tables to sit, relax and people watch.
The Pirate's Parade To give us a taste of what the guests will see, we also got a chance to view the Pirate's Parade in the Promenade which was a ton of fun. Try to find a spot in the middle (near the wine shop for great viewing. The costumed characters go back and forth so really any location will be good. There are 2 balconies over the promenade where the characters steered the pirate ships and did some wonderful stunts.
The Food Of course, no cruise is complete without eating to your hearts delight. The Windjammer buffet also included Jade Restaurant which had some very interesting and tasty Asian dishes. From the pool area, you will first pass Jade, but if you are interested in the more common American fare, keep walking and you'll get into the Windjammer cafe. The buffet for breakfast has an omelet station in addition to all the usual breakfast buffet foods. Jade offered all cut up vegetables which I assumed (incorrectly) was for the Omelet station, but it was really for Miso soup. I didn't try it for breakfast but lots of people were digging in. I did have the scrambled eggs with shrimp and peppers and they were good. The lunch buffet had the Asian specialties in the Jade section and in Windjammer, the selection was vast. There was a carving station, with all the fixings, sandwiches, pastas, salads, soups, fruits and desserts. There were separate salad bowls which were greatly appreciated and guests used them for everything from salads to fruits to desserts.
The Dining Room 3 levels and exquisite. If you sit on the lowest level you get a great view of the entire dining room. The food is presented beautifully. It is tasty and has enough variety for even picky eaters. There are new Vitality menu offerings which are healthier. The service is friendly and efficient. We ate in the dining room for the first breakfast and both dinners. Although I couldn't get strawberries and blueberries in Windjammer, it was no problem at all in the main dining room for breakfast. The dinner menu always includes Caesar salad, grilled salmon, steak, chicken and baked potato. I had the surf and turf (beef and shrimp) the first night and enjoyed it thoroughly. The 2nd night, I had roast duck which is a treat for me since I rarely have it. Portions are small, but remember you can order as much as you want. On the 2nd night (deemed formal night), the waiters served sorbet between courses- something I don't remember seeing on Royal Caribbean before. Desserts were good- even the sugar free desserts. One of our associates was celebrating her birthday so I was able to get a slice of cake brought to the table and a dozen waiters all serenaded her. It's just a slice of cake now. A celebration cake needs to be ordered through the special services- Bon Voyage department.
Royal Caribbean's food has never been gourmet but it certainly was very good and had a good variety. I know food is very personal but I really couldn't find fault with the meals that I had.
The Entertainment We had a welcome aboard 70's dance party right after dinner on the promenade where the Village people led a dance parade. It was a lot of fun and the guests were really enjoying that.
The first show was Some Where in Time and was truly wonderful. Please realize that I am no Simon Cowell, but we all thought the singers were superb and the show was sensational. The stage sets were truly beautiful and the show really WOW'd us. There was only 1 show that night at 11pm and it was crowded but we were able to get good seats. The stage curtain is a red, jeweled design of cabaret line. It was the nicest that I have ever seen.
The Ice Show- Encore- was top of the line. These skaters were fabulous. There was one scene where the female skater must have changed costumes a dozen times while still on the ice. It was truly sensational. The jumps, twirls and swinging were making me dizzy so I don't know how the skaters kept up the pace but it was a 45 minute show and it was great.
The 2nd show was a celebrity entertainer- Mickey Dolenz of the Monkeys. He was very good. He performed a number of the favorites from the Monkeys as well as a few others. His sister CoCo was his side kick and they performed a couple of duets together. Again- a great show which was enjoyed by all.
The casino is huge but no longer has the bells when you win at the slots (kind of ruins the fun of winning). There are a ton of bars and private places to hang out in. The disco was packed with dancers.
I know that I skipped a lot but I am righting this after very little sleep. In general, this ship is great. Is it for everyone---- probably not but I know that it would be great for families, honeymooners, couples and groups alike. A good travel agent will be able to steer you in the right direction and will be able to help you decide if this is the right ship for you. I will try to get some pictures up on my website but I can't promise that it will be soon.
I would sail on this ship in a heartbeat. I just wish my 2 night cruise was longer!