My husband and I are an average couple. We are both approximately 40, work full-time, and have no children. This cruise was a charter cruise for the Native American Heritage Society featuring several rock bands so it was a bit atypical. This was our 13th cruise overall, tenth on Royal.
There was a broad range of ages for the adults. It seemed like there were people from young 20s to 70s. We saw very few children -â€“ probably less than a dozen under 18.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale after work on the 30th so we didn't see much of Fort Lauderdale, but we've been there several times in the past. We stayed at the Hyatt Place North near 17th St. The Hyatt Place offers a shuttle from the airport to the hotel so we utilized that rather than renting a car or catching a taxi. The Hyatt Place is currently under renovations. I had requested a room with a king-sized bed when I made the reservation, but upon checking in was told no room with king beds were available. We ended up taking a room with two doubles since it was after midnight and we were tired. The first room was stuffy and the AC didn't work so we were moved to another room. That room had recently been renovated and smelled of paint fumes. The night manager promised us a complementary hot breakfast to compensate us for the problems. However, when we checked out, he hadn't left any notes about the breakfast so the day manager wouldn't honor it. Since this is the second time that I had a problem with rooms at this hotel, I'm not sure that I would stay here again. Embassy Suites is right across the street.
One good thing about the Hyatt Place is the location. There is a shopping center with a Publix grocery store about a block away. We walked over to Publix in the morning to pick up a few provisions (Coke Zero and Diet Dr. Pepper) before going to the pier.
We arrived at the port a few minutes after noon. On previous cruises, porters were waiting to take bags. This time the porter asked for your deck number and escorted you to the appropriate area with bins where you loaded your bags. The porter never actually touched our bag. I think many people were a little confused by this new system. I know that I was when he asked what deck then turned around and walked off.
We showed our boarding documents and were able to immediately enter the terminal to have our carry-on bags scanned. It took about 10 minutes to get though the line. I had a pack of Diet Dr. Pepper in my bag that went though without a problem. My husband had Coke Zero in his bag. The inspector asked him to open the bag and once it was verified the bottles were still sealed, my husband was allowed to bring the sodas onboard.
Once through security, we were directed to the check-in area where we got our cabin cards. There was a priority line for suite guests that we used. However, it didn't seem to make much difference in the amount of time for checking in. The people who were in front of us going through the security line were at the front of the regular check-in line when we finished our check-in process.
Once onboard we were able to go immediately to our cabin to drop off our luggage then look around a little. This was our first time on a ship larger than Radiance class so we had a lot to look at! Liberty was decorated for Christmas so it was nice to see wreaths hanging in the dining room and trees along the Royal Promenade. The size of Liberty was a bit overwhelming and it took me a while to get oriented.
I was a little worried when our checked bag hadn't shown up by dinner time. I'm used to my bag showing up before 5 PM. I knew there was nothing in it that should get me called to the "naughty room" but I wasn't sure if something benign looked suspicious on the X-rays. We asked our cabin steward about our bag and were told that they were running really behind in delivering luggage. We had clothes in our carry-on bags to change for dinner so we were okay. Our bag was waiting in the room when we got back after dinner so it was delivered after 7 PM.
We stayed in cabin 1256, which is starboard side towards the front on deck 10. The cabin was spacious with plenty of storage cabinets. There was a king-sized bed and a desk/vanity with a coffee maker next to the bed. There was a night stand with a couple drawers on each side of the bed plus the vanity had three drawers on each side. The vanity also had hinged mirrors on each side with shelves behind the mirrors. There is a curtain that can be closed to block the bed area from the sitting area. The sitting area has a couch, two chairs, two end tables, and a coffee table. The couch can be pulled out to make a double-bed if needed.
The bathroom had a tub, two sinks, and the toilet. The tub was only about 4-feet long and had a bench at the end farthest from the shower head. There are two medicine cabinets above the sinks plus three drawers and two cabinets under the sinks for storage. A NOTE OF CAUTION! The hot water gets scalding hot. I burned myself a couple times when I turned the water on full-hot then stuck my hand under the faucet without thinking. This is very dangerous.
Just outside the bathroom door was a bar area. It seemed strange to have the bar with assorted glasses since RC doesn't allow bottles of alcohol in the cabins for mixing drinks. The bar had six drawers for storage plus the "fridge" for the mini bar. We put the sodas and snacks from the mini bar in one of the drawers and left a note on the fridge so the bar attendant would know where the items were. We then used the fridge for our sodas. There is a closet with three partitions. We used the one with the safe inside to store our suitcases and the other two for clothes. We had enough hangers to hang everything.
The TV was set up in front of the balcony windows, which isn't a good place for it. When the sun is shining in, you have to close the heavy drapes to see the TV. My husband watched part of a football game on Sunday and had a problem with the glare. It would be nice if it were somewhere else so you could see the TV and leave the drapes open for an occasional view of the water.
The balcony had two loungers and a table with 2 chairs. From looking at the deck plans, I thought cabin 1256 was under the cantilevered whirlpool so it was nice to find out that it is not. The whirlpool completely covers the balcony of cabin 1264 and about ï¿½ of the balcony of 1260. The balcony for cabin 1256 is covered but the cover only extends to the edge of the ship so there is some sun exposure.
Liberty is extremely big. To be honest, it's really too big for me. There is a ton to do, which is great for some people. My personal preference is still Radiance class ships.
The main dining room is beautiful. We didn't actually eat in there but I did stop by for a look. There is a nice variety of bars and lounges. The promenade got really crowded at times. I didn't try the golf course, flowrider or rock-climbing wall. It was only a 4-night cruise so we had plenty of other things going on.
We were invited on a bridge tour this cruise, which was a first for us. The bridge is much bigger and more open that I expected. You could throw a really nice dance party up there. The chairs reminded me of the bridge on Star Trek's Enterprise. The captain was very nice and explained the docking process and his role. My husband got to "steer" the ship for a minute for a picture.
We didn't eat in the dining room at all on the cruise. We ate in Chops the first night. I had the goat cheese soufflÃ©, mushroom soup, and shrimp. My husband had the crab cake, onion soup, and filet mignon. Our waitress thought we looked hungry because besides the potatoes and broccoli that we ordered as sides, she brought us mushrooms, onion rings, and asparagus. The goat soufflÃ© was only okay -â€“ crab cake was much better! I thought the mushroom soup was tastier than the onion, but the soup really needed to have mushrooms in it. It was just a mushroom flavored broth. The shrimp were really good. I don't eat beef so I can't comment on the filet, but my husband really enjoyed it. The sides were all good, but that was entirely too much food! It would be nice if RC made smaller portions. We were both really full and shouldn't have ordered dessert, but the mud pie is just too good to pass. We ordered a single piece and split it.
We ate a Johnny Rockets the second night onboard. The onion rings were really good. Fries were just okay. The shake flavor of the night was black forest so we used our diamond BOGO coupon to get a couple milkshakes. I had chicken tenders and my husband had a burger. The tenders weren't that great so I should have went with the grilled chicken. My husband said the burger was better than what was in WJ, but nothing special. We didn't try any desserts since we ordered a second helping of onion rings. There wasn't any singing or dancing from the staff, but that was fine with me!
The third night we went to Portofino. I had the risotto, minestrone, and seafood skewer. My husband also had the risotto with beef carppacio and veal ossobuco. My husband loved everything that he ordered. I liked the risotto and seafood skewer but didn't care for the minestrone. It was more like a chicken broth than the expected tomato based soup. We both had tiramisu for dessert, which was wonderful.
The last night we ate in Windjammer for dinner. It was very quiet, which was nice, but the food was just okay. We had eaten lunch in the WJ a couple times so we knew what to expect. After the wonderful dinners in Chops and Portofino, eating in WJ was a disappointment. It's typical buffet. One thing that I did notice is RC has added sambal to their condiment trays. I love that stuff! It adds flavor to otherwise boring dishes.
One thing that was annoying is the Compass listed Sprinkles as being open every day from 11-6, but it was never open during the cruise. An ice cream cone would have been a good afternoon snack. I asked one of the WJ people about whether there was somewhere else for ice cream and was told that the only place for ice cream onboard was Ben & Jerry's.
We were onboard for the Rock Legends shows so the entertainment was different than usual. There were no Broadway or ice shows. The bands were great but there were so many of them that we didn't have time to do anything else. We saw everyone we really wanted to see plus popped in for a few other bands.
They had bingo, trivia, bar sing-alongs and the usual ship activities for the cruise, but we skipped all of those.
Our cabin steward, Sonia, was amazing! We like extra ice and towels, which she provided. She was always friendly and smiling but not excessively fawning, which I don't like. We're used to a pillow-top mattress so the one onboard seemed really hard. My husband and I kept waking each other up the first night trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. We mentioned that to Sonia and she brought in a foam mattress pad for us. It wasn't as comfortable as our bed at home, but the pad helped. We were originally assigned tag #31 for disembarkation, which are the last ones off the ship. Sonia asked us about our flight time, which was 11 AM. She knew that we wouldn't make our flight leaving that late so switched us to #1 tags.
We didn't eat in the dining room so didn't meet any of the waiters, head waiters, etc. The waitresses that we had in Chops and Portofino and the waiter in Johnny Rockets were all very nice and efficient.
We didn't spend much time in the Concierge Lounge, but we did stop by a couple times for breakfast and evening snacks. The concierge, Francois, was a bit stand-offish. The evening waiter was always very prompt about asking if we needed drinks. We didn't see a single child in the lounge, but I don't think there were more than a dozen kids under 18 onboard. The lounge was never crowded.
Most of the rest of the onboard staff and crew were also very nice. We were almost always greeted as we walked down the halls. The front desk and excursion desk staff were friendly and efficient. I had a problem with my shareholder OBC not showing on my account. The woman at the customer service desk was able to get it resolved.
The only problem I had with a staff member was with the bartender in the On Air Club. The bar was packed and I had been waiting for a while to get a drink. I requested a Yellow Bird, which was listed on the menu. The bartender said he wasn't making mixed drinks and instead of asking if I wanted something different, he walked off to serve someone else. When he finally came back, I asked if I could get a glass of water. He said that I would have to wait because he needed to get ice. He served beer to two other people before making three trips to the back to bring ice to fill bin. He said that he needed to scan my Seapass card for the water. That was the first time a bartender has asked for my Seapass for a glass of tap water. The total on the receipt was $0 so it seemed pointless to me. I don't know if he expected me to write in a tip for that service, but if so, he was disappointed.
Our first stop was Coco Cay. It was very windy with rough seas so we weren't sure if we would be able to go ashore. Tenders were supposed to start around 8 AM but it was 10:30 before the captain decided it was safe enough. Even then the ride was rough and the people on the lower deck of the tender got splashed a bit.
The island is beautiful with turquoise blue water, but the ocean was cold and the current was really strong in places! I went swimming for a while but my husband didn't get in the water because of the temperature. He found a hammock and read/took a nap. We relaxed and walked around until around 3:30 then went back to the ship. They were supposed to have a BBQ lunch on the island but it was canceled due to the rough seas.
Our next stop was Nassau, where we'd been a couple times before. We decided to visit Atlantis since we hadn't been there in a few years. There was a man in the pier area talking about the water taxis. I remember hearing a few scary stories about them, which I should have heeded, but we decided we'd take it so we could get some views from the water. We paid $8 each for a round-trip pass then the man practically pushed us out the door to get to the taxi because "it was ready to leave and we were holding them up." We had to walk around the pier area to get to the water taxi dock with the man rushing us the whole time. When we got the water taxi, there were several people already aboard. We had to step down on some rickety stairs to board then the man said he was going to get the captain. That should have been the first sign of a problem. We waited and he came back a while later to say the captain was finishing breakfast and would be there in a minute. What?! We thought the boat was ready to leave. After several more minutes went by, the man came back again with more passengers, also telling them that the boat was ready to leave. After waiting 30 minutes, we were ready to get off and ask for our money back. The man said the captain was on his way and he needed 5 more minutes. We waited another 10 minutes with no captain. By that time several of us were ready to get off. The man decided we didn't need the captain, and rubbed a couple wires together to start the boat. Hot wiring the boat was sign #2 that we were in trouble. The boat started with a belch of black smoke (sign #3) then we took off. Fortunately it wasn't a long ride to Atlantis because we were burning oil and had to stop to refill the oil reservoir. As we were docking near Atlantis, he hit another boat and put a hole in its outer hull. As he finished the docking process, he hit the dock hard enough to knock a couple people off their seats. Overall, it was an extremely scary experience. The icing on the cake was as we were getting off the taxi, the man had his hat out asking for tips. He bullied a couple people into giving him money, but I wasn't giving him anything after that ride. We decided to throw away the return trip tickets and pay for a car taxi.
Altantis was nice. We paid to visit the aquarium area and walked around the casino. The aquarium has a couple large manta rays; the larger looked to be 7-8 feet across. We spent the rest of the morning/early afternoon walking around the various aquariums and looking at the fish, rays, eels, sharks, and turtles. We returned to Nassau early afternoon via car taxi. There were 5 ships docked so traffic was really congested. We were dropped off near the pier then walked to Bay St. to find some lunch. We stopped at a cafÃ© with Iguana in the name that overlooked Bay St. The food was pretty good. I had conch chowder and a salad. My husband has blackened mahi.
After lunch we walked around Nassau. We walked past the pink Parliament Buildings to the Queen's Staircase then up the stairs to Fort Fincastle. We admired the view from the fort then headed back towards the ocean. We stopped in the Hilton and walked along the beach then returned down Bay St. for some shopping before heading back to the ship. Bay St. was packed with people so moving was a challenge.
We were a little late arriving back in Fort Lauderdale. We were supposed to dock by 7 AM but it was closer to 7:30 before we made it. We had an 11 AM flight so were a little concerned about how long it would take us to get through customs and immigration. The ship was cleared around 8:30. We had #1 luggage tags and since we were in a suite, we got to wait in the Concierge Lounge to disembark. When the ship was cleared, Francois took several of us down the staff elevator to deck 1 to disembark so we were able to bypass the hordes of people waiting around the stairs and elevators. It was a long walk from the ship to the terminal area. Our bag was waiting for us when we arrived in the terminal. I'm not sure what happened, but the metal frame on our duffle had been bent so it no longer rolled correctly. Fortunately it was just clothes in there so nothing inside was damaged. I assume something heavy must have fallen on it. We kept our breakables in the bags we carried off the ship.
There were only a couple people in front of us to get through customs and immigration. The agent glanced at our passports, saw we'd spend less than $100 on souvenirs, and waved us through. We were able to quickly get a taxi and made it to the airport around 9 AM so had plenty of time to catch our flight. There was only Liberty and HAL's Zuiderdam docked that day so the airport lines weren't too bad. They did get longer as morning progressed.
A Few Complaints:
Overall I had a good cruise but I think there are a few areas besides those previously mentioned where RC could improve. The main complaint is about the ventilation system onboard. There were probably more smokers on this cruise than usual, but the whole ship seemed to smell of smoke, even the theaters where smoking isn't supposed to be allowed. Oddly enough, the only place that I didn't get blasted with smoke smells was my balcony. I was afraid that would be a problem since we had a side cabin instead of our usual aft.
The elevators were also a bottleneck. I normally don't mind climbing the stairs. However, after walking around Nassau most of the day then boarding on deck 1 and having to get to deck 10, I prefer taking an elevator. It seemed like there was never one available; I'd give up and climb to deck 3 or 4 to catch an elevator the rest of the way up.