DW and I have 2 teenage boys ages 15 & 17. We decided to surprise our 14 year old who turned 15 on the trip with a surprise cruise. This rare itinerary for Liberty of the Seas was perfect because it left on an early release day for school and was followed by a school closed day. Our younger son's very interested in marine life so we told him we booked a hotel in Key Largo and we were going to snorkel there for 3 days (sneaky way to get him to pack his own bag!). We've cruised a few times before with our boys so we know they both adore cruising and he'd be elated at the surprise.
We live in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale so it's very convenient for us to get to the local ports. This Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas sailing was out of Miami. DW and my older son were holding our breath as we kept getting closer and closer to the ship wondering when our younger son would figure it out. Fortunately he was very preoccupied playing an iPhone game and we literally made it to the curb of the ship! It was a great surprise and we all had a lot of fun with it.
Embarkation was the slowest we've experienced in awhile. We did board a little later than we typically would, about 1:30. It took about half an hour to reach the check-in desk and the agent was the least enthusiastic agent we've had in recent memory. Usually they are quite chipper and excited for the cruisers. Customer service is always difficult to quantify but there must have been something going on that led me to believe this agent was having less than a stellar day. We were told we could have late seating when we booked, yet the check-in agent told us that we were assigned early seating and we should go to guest relations to have it changed. I was disappointed she couldn't help us there but I suppose she's not empowered to.
Immediately after boarding we saw a sign to our left that said "My Time Dining." I thought, maybe they can help us change to late seating so followed the arrow. After a very brief wait, one of the Dining Room Staff pleasantly changed our seating to a very nice table. This was fast and great service.
While on the subject of food and service, here's my thoughts on the Dining Rooms:
- Sail-away lunch was perhaps the most mediocre crowded buffet I've experienced. DW commented on the lack of variety of foods. Seemed hamburger, hot dog, pasta, and salad intensive. There was some dried fish and carved beef as well. Usually there are more ethnic foods thrown in for an interesting variety. Service was good though as the Staff worked hard to try and keep tables clean.
-In fairness, subsequently we ate one small pre-dinner (one of 6 meals that day) there and the offerings were MUCH better. There was a Sushi/Asian section along with some Indian foods. That food was much better and would be a better offering mixed in with the traditional stuff for sail-away. We also ate breakfast there on the final day. The food was okay but the service was once again very good with dining room staff coming to our tables and bringing sodas to our boys and coffee to us.
MAIN DINING ROOM
- Food was good. Not great. Not bad. Good. There was a good variety to choose from and the food was served at the right temperatures.
- Service was excellent. Especially for a short 3 night cruise. Our Waiter (Eliezer) and his assistant quickly learned our names and preferences. They asked us about our days and told us at the end of each meal where and when breakfast was being served the next day. This was a nice touch that's not always done. Also, the assistant waiter quickly learned that our family loves Diet Coke and literally always had a pitcher at the ready and refilled our glasses without us requesting it. THis was exceptional and I've never experienced that before on any cruise.
SORRENTO & SANDWICH SHOPS (MAIN PROMENADE)
- These are free great places to pick up a slice of pizza or a small sandwich. They also serve coffee and cookies for free also. We love stopping by for a light bite late at night.
Some thoughts on our Stateroom.
We had a Family Ocean View cabin as it was only 1 of 2 rooms on the ship available when we booked. This cabin can accomodate up to 6. 4 was VERY comfortable and spacious. The 2 boys slept in bunk beds in sort of their own closet area space. Great layout for a family of four! Felt more like a hotel room than our usual small stateroom! If you can ever get this category of room at a decent price I highly recommend it. Our cabin steward Putra, was very friendly and learned our names immediately. He always asked us how our days were and did a really good job at servicing our room.
Other Random Thoughts on The Ship Liberty of the Seas
- Welcome Aboard Show was entertaining. Cruise Director was engaging and entertaining. Comedian was very funny. We saw his late night adult show and that was fun as well.
- Ship itself is beautiful and has a nice variety of venues and activities.
- Excercise room is large and has plenty of equipment/machines and is kept clean. Also offers a lovely view of the sea while jogging on a treadmill. Also jogged on the outside track on one of the upper decks and enjoyed that as well.
- Kids loved to play basketball.
- We played family Ping Pong and Miniature golf and had a lot of fun with both.
- DON'T MISS THE ICE SHOW! Truly entertaining and spectacular but we had to go to Guest Relations to get tickets. Tickets are free but shows fill up. There was only one show left when we went looking for tickets late on the first day.
- We snorkeled as a family at CocoCay, their private island in the Bahamas. Saw lots of interesting fish, Tangs, Barracudas, Rays, etc. They have some floating platforms which allow snorkelers to rest which is a nice touch. It's also great to have the life guard towers in the water close to the snorkelers.
- We had a little casino fun. Casino seemed the right size for the ship.
- We enjoyed the hot tubs and swimming in the pools. The Solarium pool also is a nice relaxing place. For a full ship, there was little problem in finding an empty lounge chair.
- Schooner Piano bar had some wonderful late night sing along piano player which we enjoyed.
- We had some beer and wine and enjoyed the 70's Dance Party in the Promenade.
- Last night of the cruise was the night before Halloween so they decorated the Skating Rink room in Halloween decorations and had a party. Lots of fun people were dressed in costumes.
Overall, we did a lot in 3 days and would have liked to of had longer on this great ship. This is the first review that I've written so I hope it isn't too disjointed and helps some of you.