What a tremendous EXPERIENCE- you can't beat it!: Liberty of the Seas Cruise Review by dinshaw

Liberty of the Seas 5
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

What a tremendous EXPERIENCE- you can't beat it!

Sail Date: June 2012
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona
This was one of the best family vacations I have taken. When you get on the Ship, ensure you-
1) Take in ALL the shows (see more on this below)
2) Get off at ALL the ports (see Ports review below and also in Ports Critic)
3) Eat at ALL the free restaurants for the different meals
4) Enjoy all the activities on board
5) Let your kids run around the ship on their own
6) Arrange Shore excursions privately- not through the ship
7) Only leave gratuities IF you are happy with the relevant staff. In our case, we were very happy with our stateroom attendant (Christian) and our two meal servers (Margaret & Carlene). They went out of their way to make us comfortable. (See more on the gratuities below)
8) Other people we found on board to be very helpful were the Guest Relations staff. Very helpful, courteous & polite.
9) If you want to stay connected with the world, then buy a WIFI package for your computer. I did that to at least see my work emails More (which I never did see! However, it's not too bad. I paid $75 for 150 minutes)
10) There are two 'formal' nights on this 7 days cruise. We took our suits but I saw so many people who were casually dressed. (More on this below)
11)One night was the white-dress party (you had to dress in white), but we weren't aware before hand that we had to wear all white, otherwise we would have packed accordingly. If you can find out what are the activities on board before you leave for the Cruise, then you can pack accordingly.
12) Whatever you do, if you can afford it, get a stateroom with a BALCONY. You can't beat this view and facility. We stayed in stateroom 7214, right in front on the starboard side. The port side stateroom is 7514 I think- try to get one of these. If possible try to the "14" or "54" series -- right in the front on either port or starboard side. Please check with your Travel agent.

DON'T miss the shows! They were absolutely excellent. We took the 7:30pm shows and had dinner on the 9:30pm sitting; however you can just as easily switch it adn have early dinners and see the later shows. BUT book in advance and if you can ask your travel agent to ask Royal Caribbean to book the above two meal servers for your table!

If you don't want to lug around a tuxedo, then you can just as easily rent one on the ship. My Group and all four kids did the first Captain's [formal] dinner; however, my wife & I didn't go for the 2nd formal (though my friends went) -- however you don't have to/its not mandatory. Also, you don't have to have tuxedo. We guys wore normal suits and our wives wore a dress and a pant & Blouse. You will be amazed to see what people actually don on a "formal" night!

Buy the special deal of 8 mineral waters -- it's a good deal -- for the cabin.

If your stateroom attendant is Christian, please say hello to him too from us.

Don't waste time with the Ship tours- they are very very expensive. I suggest you take on the private tours which you negotiate yourself with the taxi drivers that meet the ship at EVERY port.

Especially for the Italian ports, it is essential to get off the ship by 8am so as to see everything and leave enough time to return back to the Ship.Whatever you do, please ensure you are back at least HALF an hour (if not earlier) before the time mentioned on the Program to board the ship, which your stateroom attendant will give you every evening for the next day's activities. This way, you'll can plan your next day activities in advance.

Tips on the ship are not mandatory. However, my single largest expense was the tips to our room attendant and to the two servers -- but we were happy to give it to the three of them (NO REGRETS). You can allocate any amount of tips you want but then don't use the preprinted format which the ship will give you before the last night. If you use the preprinted gratuity form which the Ship will give you before you return to the main port, just check wtih guest relations how you can allocate the tips YOU want to give and not as per the form. You can also do what my friend did- pay cash directly to the respective staff in whatever amounts you want rather than do it through the ship.

On the last night, they will provide you with the baggage tags- when you get it, please check with Guest relations as to WHAT time the tag code needs you to leave the ship in the morning. You can change the tag to the latest time possible (9am) as long as your bags have not been taken by the staff at night. Unless you want to get off at 6am, I suggest you get the tags changed.Other comments (day wise)-

- On the first day (boarding day), once on board, we headed for a sumptuous lunch at the Windjammer restaurant at the very stern of the ship.
- At 4:30pm a mandatory safety briefing was held in the Sphinx theatre
- At 6pm there was a Disney [characters] parade in the main Promenade
- At 8pm, the first of our daily shows was held in the Platinum theatre- Mark Taylor Illusionist -- this was extremely enjoyable & fascinating how Mark Taylor played his illusions & tricks on the crowd. He kept us hooked on his performance, receiving a standing ovation from the audience. The show first started with a little teaser by Sergey, one of the perfomers of "in the Air". Amazing feats of strength and daring by him! There was no booking for this show.

- June 3, 2012- Show: In the Air: Amazing performance by the skilled performers. We were gasping in our seats at their stunts in the air. One of the best performances I have ever seen. They received a standing ovation by the audience. Both men & women showed strength, agility & patience in their work- an absolutely amazing performance. An excellent production and stage effects.

- June 4, 2012- Show: Saturday Night Fever- A great song & dance show. Very entertaining and lovely music. They received a standing ovation by the audience. What lovely production and stage effects.

- June 5, 2012- Show: Encore! An Ice Spectacular- Excellent dancing on the ice skates by the skilled performers. Very entertaining.
- At 11:15pm there was another show, "Dancin' in the Street-70's style" - This was a great '70's style song & dance set up by the Cruise director himself and his team of non-professionals from the ship's crew & staff. Very entertaining and great music.

- June 6, 2012- Show: East Coast Boys- entertaining & good music. They got the audience to clap along (and sing along). However, possibly this show should have been rescheduled for the very first day of sailing, thus building up for the other four, more-exciting shows (incl Los Pampas- see below). Music was good and I think the purchase of their CD was worth the money. Audience turnout was on the lower side though.

- On June 7, 2012, there was no show as we had seen all the others; however, Liberty had organized a White night pool party with DJ & a live band. This was very entertaining and good fun, with good dance music. It was located at the pool deck and the dance floor had been set up between the pools. Music was good and a lovely evening. You had to dress in White.

- June 8, 2012 -- Cruising back to Barcelona, we saw: Los Pampas Gauchos- very enjoyable show; light, humorous and very entertaining. Both artists were skilled in their dances & tools and my family & I enjoyed it immensely, as did most of the other audience I feel. They connected and interacted with the audience. However there was a low turnout. As with my comments/review on 'East Coast Boys', maybe this show too could have been rescheduled and shown on the second day, building up to the other three more exciting shows

Don't waste time in Toulon. See if there's a taxi when you get off the ship, settle with the taxi guy to drive you to Marseille and spend the day in Marseille. I don't know what it will cost, but I think it should be in the Euro 300-400 range but the advantage is that the car is yours; and your time is most precious on these day visits and the car will take you right to the spot(s) you want to visit. I'm sure there's a train but by going by private car you don't have to worry about transfers, etc. Ensure you get off in time so that you can return.

We didn't do the above- we wasted time so then decided to go to Toulon city. It was fine- a quiet Sunday with the farmers market on. Had a great meal in one of the small husband-wife restaurants.

Not a very extraordinary day- we just missed going to Marseille! Less

Published 07/06/12

Cabin review: FO7214 Family Oceanview Stateroom

Whatever you do, if you can afford it, get a stateroom with a BALCONY. You can't beat this view and facility. We stayed in stateroom 7214, right in front on the starboard side. The port side stateroom is 7514 I think- try to get one of these. If possible try to the "14" or "54" series -- right in the front on either port or starboard side. Please check with your Travel agent. The stateroom is very comfortable. Ensuite bathroom is cozy but comfortable manouverable room. Good shower. Good exhaust. The room is like any hotel room- for the four of us we were very very comfortable. My kids had a sofa bed, which Christian (our stateroom attendant and a GREAT guy) set up every evening. Good TV. Comfortable beds. Spacious room. I'll take this anyday I come back to the Ship!

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Port and Shore Excursions

City Tour

This review covers Pisa & Florence. The ship actually docks at Livorno, which allows you to see BOTH Pisa & Florence. Livorno is only half an hour by car away from Pisa. Get the taxi that meets the ship and settle with him to take you first to Pisa, to see the Leaning Towers (spend 1 hour there); adn then onwards to Florence. See the walking tours I have proposed below. The same taxi driver will take you and then bring you back to the ship. Pay all taxi drivers when you return to the ship please. We paid about Euro 130 per family (8 persons in one car) -- ie Total Euro 260 for the round trip and all. I think a good deal! Our taxi driver was a nice guy but little impatient- Michele (taxi no.36)- +3480045823. - Go straight off to Pisa first and then get the taxi to take you on to Florence. - 2 hours in Pisa- o Naturally, the Leaning Tower of Pisa (buy tickets to get to walk up to the top! Scheduled timings apply) o The Church adjacent to the Leaning Tower For the Leaning Tower of Pisa, note, there are time schedules and you have to buy tickets to go up. If possible check on the net if you can to see the time schedules. They don't allow ANY BAGS to be taken up, so once you've bought your ticket, parcel off your purse/bag/knapsack at the requisite locker/area otherwise they'll make you go back to do the same. - 3 hours in Florence- o From the main Piazza Duomo, first make your way to Ponte Vecchio bridge o Then go along the river towards Uffizi gallery, where street artists show their works- we got suckered into buying a print which looked like a painting! Buyers Beware! o Go on through the Uffizi onto Piazza Signoria, where we had a light lunch and saw the Palazzo Della Signoria (Palazzo Vecchio). A copy of Michelangelo's Statue of David and the Neptune Fountain are located here. o From there you should go on to Piazza Santa Croce, however we did not do that due to the time and went straight back to the Piazza Duomo to see the main Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the 2nd largest cathedral in the world. There is free entry but you have to wait in the line. o If you have time, climb up the stairs of the adjacent Bell tower (located at the exit of the Cathedral); o Also, you should see (time permitting), the octagonal Baptistry located in front of the Cathedral. o We also missed the Mercato Market -- like a street market - due to time constraints

City Tour

The ship acutally docks at Naples. BUT, don't waste time seeing Naples. Make your way to either Isle of Capri, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast or Mount Vesuvius. In our case, we went immediately to Capri. (Vincenzo (the Rome taxi guy) can get your his brother or nephew to be the taxi driver if you want to see Pompeii or Mount Vesuvius, so if you don't want to do Capri, then inform Vincenzo to arrange this for Naples too) Our Guide was Salvatore Cioffi: +39-330-337334 & +39-81-8584340 (son: Michele: +39-338-2824366) Whatever you do, contact Salvatore- he's a lovely man - before your trip and get him to set up the CAPRI tour for you'll. In addition to the cost of the ferry from Naples to Capri & back which you have to pay for, Salvatore will set up the activites on Capri and including that cost plus lunch and transport into one fixed price per person (you wont need to pay anything more for the activities) -- which I think worked out to Euro 30 per person or something very very reasonable. All you need to do is walk off the ship, walk 50 yards away to the left and you'll come to the Ferry terminal to Capri. If you call Salvatore in advance he can meet you at the ship and guide you himself. We took teh 5:10pm ferry back to Naples, which got us back well in time for the ship's departure Also, for the Capri visit, when you set up with Salvatore, inform him the day you are planning the Capri trip so that he can advise if the Blue Grotto will be accessible. It's not always accessible due to the tide so if you don't get to see the Blue Grotto, you are missing something terrific! He will know if the Grotto can be accessed or not - Tips for 8 hours in Capri- o Get off the ship in Naples by 8am and walk over to the Capri Ferry. Don't get swayed by the taxi drivers who approach you- politely refuse and go to the ticket office. Remember to buy return journey from before so that you don't get stuck with the crowd returning back to Naples. Buy the return for about 1'½ hours before you are scheduled to be back on board the Ship. o Contact Salvatore (guide) before arrival to Naples so that he can set up the Capri tour for you. o He took us in a bus, with some other clients, on the following itinerary- First stop Blue Grotto*; then Ana Capri for the Chair lift to Monte Solaro (spend 10 minutes there); have a quick lunch at Ana Capri; then take the bus to the main Piazza there and walk over to the Augustus Gardens & Villa Tiberius for the views of the Bay of ___________(?) and Faraglioni Rocks; then take the Furnicular rail down to Capri town where you can do some shopping OR better yet, head to the beach (left side of the pier). The beach is very pebbly so take along light swimming shoes or Crocs. o * Blue Grotto- before heading to Capri or even making the Capri plan, see if you can check if the Blue Grotto will be open on the day you are planning the Capri visit. Blue Grotto is not open daily due to the high tides and water/wind conditions- so best to try to check before hand (which maybe Salvatore can help you out for). Try to get a swim at the beach before boarding the ferry back to Naples if you can. ANOTHER AMAZING DAY!

City Tour

The ship actually berthes at Civitavecchia, about an hour away from Rome city. We got the following taxi driver: Mr. Tranzillo Vincenzo: +39-328-6755161 (email: info@visitromeontour.com). We paid about Euro 130 per family (8 persons in one car) -- ie Total Euro 260 for the round trip and all (plus I added a Euro 20 tip for Vincenzo). He was a great guy! - Initially, when we got off the ship, we were planning to take the Metro into Rome city. However, DO NOT DO THAT. It may be a cheaper thought, but it's not practical. Set up with Vincenzo before you get on the Cruise to meet the Ship and take you'll into Rome. The car is with you, you're more flexible and you go point-to-point. See the Rome itinerary we did. - 8 hours in Rome (including 1 hour drives each way from and back to Civitavecchia) - o Itinerary- first stop Vatican; then Sistine Chapel (though we did not get to see the Sistene Chapel on this trip); then see the Piazza Venezia/ Colosseum/Circus Maximus/Roman Forum (but only see these from outside- there's no time to stand in line and to go inside! But do get some photos outside the Colloseum and Piazza Venezia); Trevi Fountain and then walk to Spanish Steps; have a quick lunch at the Pantheon and see the Pantheon. That's about when you'll have to head back to Civitavecchia. NOTE: don't waste time going into the Colliseum if there's a large crowd- just see it from outside, alongwith the Roman Forum, etc and then move on to the other sites. However, we MISSED the Sistene Chapel, which is a MUST SEE (even more than the Vatican itself) so whatever you do, please do see that. Ask Vincenzo to take you straight to Sistene Chapel first -- 1 hour away -- and then take you to the other sites. * Vatican- check with Vincenzo (when you set up the car with him before the trip) that there is no Mass or other such public gathering where the Pope will be present in the morning around 10am -- in which case head straight to the Sistene Chapel and come back to the Vatican around 2:30pm before heading back to the Ship. We came at 10am only to find the Pope was going to hold Mass -- but it was great seeing His Holiness up close -- so we then went on to the Collliseum then. We forgot about the Sistene Chapel. (By the way, Vincenzo can set you up with his nephew if you'll want to see Pompei (see next Port review). If so, get him to do so while he's with you) WHAT AN AMAZING DAY!

City Tour

We docked at Villefranche - get off the ship, you'll be ferried across to the town as the ship anchors and does not dock at portside; and when you get off the ferry, you'll see a hotel in front (forgot its name). Take a left UP that street and you'll see the taxi stand on the left side of the road (don't take the left fork though). Stand there adn when the first taxi comes, negotiate a rate to take you to Nice (10 minutes away) and then to Monte Carlo or Monaco. You'll be back well in time before the ship leaves. Again, we learnt the hard way and by the time we got a taxi, we had wasted 2 hours at the port and all we had time was for Nice. In Nice we took the Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour - which was good. But since we didn't have much time, we couldn't get off, see the site and then get on to the next bus. I wish we had arranged the taxi in time.

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