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LIBERTY of the SEAS - April 10 -> 17, 2016 - Western Caribbean Saturday, April 9, 2016 - Travel day Good morning from beautiful downtown LAX. It is about 9:15am and my plane is set to take off at 10:55am. I’m actually kind of excited, as this will be my first 787 flight. Best of all, I’m in first class. When I originally booked this flight, it was a 757 and the price was (and is) less than one third of what it is now. So a little about myself. I am Diamond Plus. This is my 13th cruise with Royal Caribbean and thirtieth cruise overall. I am platinum on Carnival, and I have also cruised on Princess and NCL. This is my first time on the Liberty of the Seas. However, I have been on the Freedom of the Seas twice. I’m in a Grand Suite this time. I have also been in the Royal Family Suite on the Freedom of the Seas. Nonetheless, normally I travel in a balcony cabin. However, I have become a little disenchanted with Royal Caribbean starting with the day I booked this cruise. I was not impressed at all with my experience in the Royal Family Suite on the Freedom OTS in June 2007. So I decided to do my homework and then I booked this cruise on embarkation day on the Explorer repositioning cruise from New Jersey to Florid in November 2014. I had printed out the price of the cabin from the Royal Caribbean website which was a little more than $4,000. The Loyalty Ambassador booked me at a little more than $5,000, but I get a $200 onboard credit. I showed the Loyalty Ambassador the printout of the website price, but she said that this was the best she can do. After the two-week cruise on the Explorer I contacted my travel agent and had her rebook the cruise for a little more than $4,000. However, Royal Caribbean told her that I would lose the $200 onboard credit. Okay, I’m still saving $800. But as far as I am concerned, the Loyalty Ambassador lied to me about the best deal. In the end Royal Caribbean did not take away my $200 onboard credit. Since then, Royal Caribbean has offered fake sale after fake sale. Royal Caribbean increases the price of the cruise, then offers a discount, which ends of being very close to the undiscounted price original price. For example, if a cruise normally cost one thousand dollars, Royal Caribbean would increase the price to $1,500 then offer one third off, which makes the cost, wait for it, you guessed it, $1,000. Because of how I feel about how the Loyalty Ambassador treated me on the Explorer of the Seas, I did not purchase a future cruise on my last Royal Caribbean cruise (Freedom OTS in April 2015), nor will I on this cruise. Besides, Royal Caribbean has changed the rules on opened ended future cruises purchased onboard to the point that I think it offers no additional value to me. Given the games Royal Caribbean is playing with the pricing, I’ve decided to check out other cruise lines. My last cruise (earlier this year) was on Princess (giving me three) and my next cruise is on NCL (that will also give me three). Then next year I’ll be on Princess again. I’m not saying I will not return to Royal Caribbean, I will. But it seems now is a good time for me to explore other lines. I’ve been on five different cruise lines and hope to increase that to eight different lines in the near future. Then I will reevaluate which cruise line I wish to be loyal most loyal to. The Liberty of the Seas has recently been upgraded during a dry dock earlier this year. It has three new water slides, though one is not working yet. My main interest, besides visiting Belize for the first time, is to evaluate if the additional cost of the full suite (which gets me a gold SeaPass card) is worth double the price of a balcony cabin (which is about $2,000). So, with my background out of the way, my trip started at 8:00am when the limo driver arrived. Why a limo? Because I’ve had it with unreliable taxis and rude dispatchers. The limo people are much more reliable and professional and from home to the airport are only a few dollars more than a taxi. From the hotel in Houston to the cruise port it is actually less expensive than a taxi. Well the boarding call is being made, so I’ll be back at you in Houston. I made it to Houston in one piece. The 787 was really neat, but from my point of view it was more evolutionary than revolutionary. There are no window shades. Instead with a push of a button you can control the tinting of the windows, from clear to dark blue. One hundred twenty-volt AC power is easily accessible behind the seat where there is a little shelf. The seat goes from full upright too full horizontal. There is a note not to put anything on the shelves in front of the passenger during taxi and takeoff. The person sitting next to me found out why on takeoff. With the nose pointed up, the shelf is pointed down and his book fell off twice hitting him in the shin. You would think that someone who is able to afford a first class seat would have figured it out the first time the book fell and hit him. The music offerings were a little strange, so I didn’t listen to any. The free headphones were nice (very comfortable). There was a movie I had my eye on, but when I realized it was longer than the flight time remaining, I decided to wait until it appeared on my home cable system (we had a strong tail wind and arrived about thirty minutes early). In fact, I had my luggage and was in the taxi on my way to the hotel about three minutes after the plane was supposed to arrive. At any rate, I ended up watching the plane move across the map for a while, then played some of the games (trivia, FreeCell, and Bejeweled 2). Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I could line up five in a row in Bejeweled, the thing froze (and I already had the high score). I just realized I haven’t installed Bejeweled two and three on my laptop computer. I’ll have to take care of that before my next cruise. I do however have my current favorite game, Civilization, installed on my laptop computer. I checked into the hotel and realized it was the same one I stayed at in April 2009, which is the last time I cruised out of Galveston (both times I booked the hotel via Hotwire). After checking in I decided to check out a steakhouse I looked up a few days ago from home. The only problem is, all I remember about the steakhouse is about where it located and that is it. I don’t even remember the name. I walked in the direction I remember I had to walk and didn’t see any steakhouses. As I headed back toward the hotel I saw a sign that looked like a steakhouse sign. It was hidden from view when I was walking the other way. Sure enough it was a steakhouse. A little on the expensive side ($105 with a tip), but the food was good and the service was great. I had ice tea, bacon wrapped shrimp, creamed corn, fourteen ounce rib eye (I didn’t know ribs had eyes) pecan pie and one (small) glass of scotch whiskey. Then I walked back to the hotel, checked out the books on the coffee table (this is a true two room suite - I got it for $84 on Hotwire), and then worked on this. Which reminds me, because people like lots of details in the review, I work on the review while on the ship. And since people like having pictures, I also post pictures with the review. The only problem is, posting pictures is boring and time consuming. However, I have learned how to post some photographs and offer a link to others, so I can now post some of the pictures, and for those that like to see more photographs, all they have to do is click on the links at the end of the review. Well, it is about 8:30pm and I am a bit tired, so I’ll catch up with you tomorrow morning. Good night. Sunday, April 10, 2016 - Embarkation day I woke up around 6:00am. Watched TV for a while. Then showered and dressed and turned my cell phone on around 9:00am. At 9:01 the limo driver was here. He is not due until 9:30am. Oh well, I checked out and hopped into the limo. Originally I scheduled the limo for 9:45am. However, our roll call group kept referring to all the construction and traffic, so I rescheduled for 9:30am. We flew, well actually drove, right through. The biggest problem I had was convincing the driver that I was not going to terminal one (the Carnival Magic was docked there) but rather I was going to terminal two. While driving I told him I was on Royal Caribbean. He tells me they both use the same terminal. I know this is wrong, so I tell him I’m on the Liberty of the Seas. It uses a different terminal then the Carnival Magic. As we arrived, I point out the Liberty of the Seas. As we continue driving (both ships use the same entrance - but not the same terminal) we end up at a red light between the two terminals. I point out that the two terminals are not connected. He turns into the entrance and gets in the Carnival Magic line. I again have to point out that he is taking me to the wrong ship. Finally we arrive at the correct place. After all of that, getting into the terminal (from the limo) was easy. We were early (it was about 10:15am) and nobody was in what I though was the suite line. Turns out I was in the Diamond line (nobody was in either line) and as soon as I got to the front the line there was a receptionist ready to check me in. After checking in I started working on this, but only got half way through the above paragraph before it was time to board the ship. I went straight to my cabin. I found someone who claimed to be my room steward. I told him I wanted to drop off my carry-on bags and then I would leave. He was apparently new and decided he had to get his supervisor’s permission for this. I’ve never had this happen for the last twenty plus cruises (on Royal Caribbean or any other line). The supervisor approved it. I put my bags in the closet and headed out to take pictures. By this time it is about 11:00am. Since the rooms were open, I took pictures in one of the owner’s suites (the owner was not there yet) and the Royal Suite. I’m half way done taking pictures in the Royal Suite when I realize there is someone else in the cabin. It is a maintenance man doing maintenance, and he is ignoring me. I finished taking the pictures I want without getting the maintenance man in any of my pictures. He should have at least challenged me, but as I said, he ignored me. Up on deck twelve I saw someone untangling some beads. The roll call group agreed to wear beads. We talked a little, then I continued taking pictures. Finally ended up in the Windjammer, so I decided to get lunch. Then, as a gold card passenger, I know I could use one of the specialty restaurants to eat. It was full and nobody was checking whether I had a gold card or a lead card. Fortunately I ran into more people wearing beads and they made room for me. So far the beads are doing more for me than the gold card is. As I finished lunch, the announcement that the rooms were ready was made. So I went down to check on my luggage. No luggage yet. So back outside to take pictures then back inside to check on my luggage. No luggage yet. Back outside to take more pictures, then back inside to check on my luggage. No luggage yet. By this time it is 3:00pm and one, the muster drill is at 3:45pm and two, everyone next to me has their luggage, so I decided to wait inside. The doorbell rings and my chocolate-covered strawberries arrive and later some fruit arrives. Along with the fruit is a napkin with knife and fork wrapped up inside of it. I’ll explain why I mentioned this later. But still no luggage. The Masters is on and even though I’m not a golfer, it is a major tournament, so I decide to watch it. When the muster drill is over (it was fairly short) I go back to the cabin to find one of my two bags has arrived and the leader board has been turned upside down. The prior leader was leading by five or six shots and when I get back at least two others are ahead of him. I later found out he had landed in the water two or three times, and that cost him the tournament. When I get back from the muster drill I find one of my pieces of luggage and I also find out I have a new room steward, I mean stewardess. I tell her I want ice, I am missing a piece of luggage, I only received one of my shore excursion tickets and I have late dinner. I start to unpack when I look out the window and notice everything outside the window is moving toward the aft part of the ship. We are underway. I want to unpack, but I finally I decide I am missing sail-away and head to the Sky Bar. But I don’t see any beads, so I head to the helicopter pad. Nice view, but I don’t see anything worth photographing. Back to the Sky Bar, but now sail-away is over and nobody is there. I would like to go swimming, but my bathing suit is in the luggage that is missing. I decide to go look for my luggage. It is not lost and found (there is a lot of luggage with no cabin numbers in lost and found). I ask if there is a “naughty room?” Yes, on deck one. Well despite what everyone says, it is not a room, it is a hallway. I give them my cabin number, but nobody says anything. I start looking around for my luggage. Just when I have given up hope, I find it. They send it through the x-ray machine. Do I have anything electrical? No. They send it through the x-ray machine a second time. Do I have anything electrical? No! I do in my carry-on, but not in my checked luggage. They send it through the x-ray machine a third time. By now my luggage is glowing a nice shade of yellow, orange, and red. Do I have a knife? Yes, a very small one. The security guard asks me a question. I ask her to repeat it. She wants to check the knife. Okay (I thought she had asked me about a machete - this knife is barely big enough to be a knife). I show it to security. They laugh (no, I am not kidding, they are laughing at my “knife”). The blade is about 1 ¼ inches long. Why do I have it? I’m not sure if this is a real question or if they are just curious (once they laughed at it I knew I would get to keep it). I treat it as a real question, but the answer (which is the truth) is going to sound strange. I am on an excursion where I get to feed some monkeys and we get to stop at the store to pick up some apples, grapes and bananas and I need the knife to cut the fruit. Okay. Now remember I mentioned the knife that came with the food. That blade is about six inches long. That is okay, but my little one and one-quarter inch knife it going to have me on the terrorist list? Something is wrong here (okay, they are not putting me on the terrorist list, but you get the idea). Now I’m not upset that they flagged the luggage for the knife. They are just doing their job. I’m not upset that they laughed at my knife, a bigger one would work better on an apple, but they might object at the sight of a four-inch blade. What I am unhappy about is that after asking three people about my missing luggage, nobody told me where it was. Sometime after 8:00pm they finally called me (I was at dinner at the time and I already had the luggage, including the miniature machete, in the cabin). I found out around 10:00pm by which time I would have been pretty upset thinking that my luggage was lost. So with the luggage issue resolved I then decided to check on my missing shore excursion. I go into Diamond Lounge which is where the old sports bar used to be. I was unaware that the suite lounge is now where the old card and game rooms are (I know now). At any rate I am the first one in line. After spending a long time speaking with a lady about shore excursions, the Diamond Concierge is then able to help me. Watching him work I begin to realize why it everything takes so long. I have written three page letters with fewer keystrokes. Finally I am informed that my reservation was cancelled and refunded. Why? He will have to contact Miami for that. At any rate there are still openings and he rebooks me. But now it is on my SeaPass card instead of my credit card (hopefully, since this is just one more thing that Royal Caribbean never told me about and thus I cannot verify the refund until I get home and can check with my bank). That just means I’ll spend that much less onboard. It is interesting that the Suite Lounge is bigger than the Diamond Lounge, even though there are more Diamond and Diamond Plus passengers then suite passengers. It is true that the Suite Lounge has no card reader. However, when I went in there was a guard at the door. So let’s see, what else happened to me today. I wore my Cruise Critic shirt. Some of the people who saw it are also members and asked for my screen name. Some people saw it and make comments indicating that they thought I was a professional cruise critic (small “c” rather than capital “C”). One person said, “I like your website.” It was easier to just say thank you then to explain my real connection (for those of you reading this, no, I do not work for Cruise Critic). One couple actually engaged me in a conversation. They have been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean and thought Royal Caribbean was the best. Did I agree? Clearly this was the wrong day to ask me that, but I gave an honest answer. I said no. I said I look at what is promised and what is delivered. I said that Carnival does not promise much and delivers on that promise. Royal Caribbean promises a lot and does not deliver all that they promised. For example, if you are in a suite on Carnival all that is promised is a larger room and priority embarkation and debarkation. Carnival delivers on that promise. Royal Caribbean promises treat you like a king and a queen, but falls short of that promise. Is Royal Caribbean better then Carnival? Yes, Royal Caribbean does offer more, but also charges more. Then I brought up NCL. She had never heard of NCL. So I used the full name, Norwegian Cruise Line. She still hadn’t heard of it. Had she heard of any the advertisements about Freestyle? He had. So, which is the best? I told her that would be Crystal, Seabourn, Silversea or Regent. However, you will pay more. I then mentioned that Celebrity is owned by Royal Caribbean and it fits between Royal Caribbean and the luxury lines. The same with HAL which is owned by Carnival. I’ve been in a suite on NCL (and in fact my next cruise is also in a suite on NCL). NCL promises more than Royal Caribbean does, and delivers on that promise. So let’s compare prices. My last cruise on NCL was in a suite and lasted 13 nights for $6,000. This was the second leg of a repositioning cruise from Hawaii to Los Angeles to Miami and finally ending in Europe. Clearly $6,000 for 13 nights is better than $4,000 for a week. However, the cruise was underpriced. As final payment became due one of the cabins I was in was put back into inventory and resold for $10,000. My next cruise is eleven nights and the cost is $5,600. So I am paying $571 per night for the cabin I am in now. The NCL cabin will run $509 per night. In all fairness, the Grand Suite is a little bigger on the inside. What makes the NCL cabin so nice, for me (besides knowing I’ll be treated like a king) is the balcony. Not only is it bigger, but it is also forward facing. Last time I was on a full transit of the Panama Canal. This time only a partial transit of the Panama Canal. However, since I am in a suite, I know I’ll be on the part of the ship that goes through the canal (HA HA). Finally it is time for dinner. The main restaurant takes up three decks (three, four and five) at the back of the ship. I’m on deck four next to the center so that I have a good view of the staff when they gather on the steps to sing and say good-bye. I’m at a table for six, with a very nice couple and three empty chairs. I covered for the three missing people by saying they fell overboard when the ship started moving. The couple cruises every other year and they are platinum. Once they found out how experienced I was they started asking me all sorts of questions. When they found out I was in a suite there were even more questions. I told them I had pictures and that I would show the pictures to them tomorrow night. Nothing on the menu jumped out at me (that could be good or bad, depending on how literally you interpret that). I ended up ordering off the classic menu (the every night offerings). I had the pasta as an appetizer (which is just a smaller portion of the main dish) and the chicken breast. The lady ordered the classic steak and ended up with the prime rib. Oops! She liked the prime rib so there was no complaint, though they did point out the mistake to the waitress (as they should). Of course the waitress offered to get what she originally ordered, but she had already eaten the prime rib, she liked it, was not complaining and wasn’t hungry enough to eat another main course. I got to entertain them with some of my stories, such as the person who wrote a review about the cruise that was completely ruined because there was dust on top of the door. I don’t even check the tops of the doors. Now if there is a body under the bed that is a different thing. So I told them about the person who stuffed towels in his pant legs, put the pants partially under the bed, and added shoes to the bottom of the pant legs. The only problem is, you need a hidden camera to see how the room steward reacts. Then there is the joke about how you can tell the drunks when the ship is rocking? The drunks are the ones who are walking straight. Or, how you can shower by squirting the soap on the sides of the shower and then spin. For those of you unfamiliar with the standard Royal Caribbean shower, it is a tube with clam shell doors. The tube’s diameter is not much more than the width of the average person. Well, it’s been an interesting day, and not in a good way. Fortunately tomorrow is a day at sea, so I’m looking forward to the meet and mingle (which I still have not been notified about - at least I know when and where, so I think), checking out Splashaway Bay (which looks a lot better than the H2O Zone) and relaxing. So until tomorrow, good night. Monday, April 11, 2016 - Day at sea Well, we are southbound and I’m on the port side of the ship, which means my windows face east. So I am awake at the crack of dawn, which is about 6:45am today, and I have the pictures to prove it. After that I showered and got dress. Then I reviewed some of the paperwork I have and checked the TV. The good news is my account is showing the purchase of the missing shore excursion, so I should get that later today. The onboard credit is not showing, but that should show up later today. The bad news is that the ship information channel is not working. It still shows the ship in Galveston and we are somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. So I upload my photographs, review them, and then work on this. About 10:00am the room stewardess shows up and so I head over to the Suite Lounge to take pictures, which should put me near the Olive & Twist for the Meet & Mingle at 11:00am. I’m done taking pictures at 10:30 and I’m wondering what all those people are doing in the Olive & Twist. Then I recognize someone and realize that the meeting must have been moved up to 10:00am. Great, I just got over my disappointment from yesterday and now I find out that I may have missed something I was looking forward to. So now I’m upset again. I sit down and watch a raffle take place that I don’t have a ticket for. It’s not a big deal, especially since the only thing I wanted was gone after the first ticket was drawn. But then at the end someone gets up and gets up and starts talking about the roll call, and I realize it is going to involve me somehow. I’m a bit of a wise guy (okay, more than a bit) and someone mentioned something about digging up some information about Galveston. So I asked, where are we going to dig? And he provides a link to a website. So I reply that I bought a shovel for digging. I’m told to return it. So I say that I can’t return it because I engraved my name into the shovel. Well, then it took off. Everyone was adding the words engraved shovel to all their posts. New people who joined the roll were left wondering what all the talk about shovels was about. Now I was not the only “wise guy” in the roll call. Toward the end people were thanking some of us for making the roll call so much fun. I’ve had people say my posts were funny before, but this was the first time I’ve been thanked for making the roll call fun. So at any rate four of us are called up to the stage and given plastic engraved (taped on paper) shovels. Very cute and a very nice touch. And best of all, now I’m not upset any more. Still, I think I’ll avoid suites on Royal Caribbean for now on. They are bad luck. For lunch I had a plate full of pasta and a hamburger and I’ve taken it back to my cabin along with a glass of ice (water I can get, ice is worth its weight in gold) and have lunch on my balcony. Well, it is 2:00pm, and I’ve got my bathing suit and waterproof camera, so I’m going to check out the new Splashaway Bay and the working water slide. I’ll catch up with you later today. This is funny. I’m walking down the hallway in one direction. Three woman are walking toward me in another direction. I step into a doorway to let them pass. Guess which cabin they are in. What are there, eighteen hundred or so cabins? What are the chances I pick their cabin door to step aside in? All three of them were laughing out loud once it became clear what had just happened. I was able to get a few extra photos of the Splashaway Bay with my waterproof camera. Then I saw a ship just ahead of us off the starboard side. I can tell it is a Princess ship because of the carrying handle on the back (and also because a Princess ship will be with us in Roatan). Then I went to the adult water slides. We already know Tidal Wave is not working (and I didn’t see anyone working on it). But apparently on Sunday (that would be embarkation day) the green slide stopped working also. So let’s see, three water slides were added to the ship. One has never worked, and isn’t scheduled to begin working for another month. Another had been working, but now that it is a few months old, it has stopped working. So there is one working slide (for now). I was not allowed to take my camera, watch, or Crocks on the slide. At least I was able to take by bathing suit. There is a spiral staircase up to the top of the slide. I guess there are twenty people in line and it takes about fifteen minutes until it is my turn. The slide was okay. However, the landing area is smooth. It was like trying to stand up on ice, without ice skates. After that I went back to the cabin, washed off and changed into nicer clothing for formal night. I had something to give to the Loyalty Ambassador and I wanted to check in with the Diamond Concierge and at the very least say thank you (with a tip, he has been a fantastic help). He has been a fantastic help. Well the Loyalty Ambassador is nowhere to be found (yes, this is his normal business hours - the sign says he is helping someone else). So I go to the Diamond Lounge and thank the Diamond Concierge (Jorge Gutierrez) and gave him a tip. He didn’t have a reply from Miami yet, but he didn’t expect it until tomorrow. I mentioned that I could not find the Loyalty Ambassador. He said he would take care of it for me. So far he has been good for his word, so I gave him in Diamond Plus tour request. For me, this is the biggest Diamond Plus perk, a bridge tour. Then I went to the Suite Lounge for a special suite passengers’ event. The guard is at the door again and I flash my gold card. Inside what do I find? The captain is there. Soon most of the top officers arrive. The only other one I recognize is the hotel manager. I end up having a chance to talk to the captain and ask him a couple of questions. Apparently this is a suite perk. Suddenly I see a real live suite perk that has some value to me. Unfortunately the free drinks (and the sun) are getting to me, so I head down to my cabin to work on this and relax before dinner. There are still only three people at the table tonight. The couple I sit with have a drink package and it is obvious that he has taken full advantage of it. He didn’t do or say anything he will regret later, but it was obvious this was not the same gentleman I met last night. It was an uncomfortable dinner for both his wife and I. Yesterday we were talking about suites. I told the couple I am sitting with that I had pictures. Tonight I brought my computer so that I could show the pictures to them. I have pictures of the Royal Suite, one of the Owner’s Suites and my Grand Suite. They were very impressed. The wife decided to put booking a suite on her bucket list. I had a small chicken salad and the classic steak. I wanted it cooked medium and it was more like medium well. However, it was good. The drinks I had in the Suite Lounge were getting to me, so I decided to go back to the cabin and just go to sleep. Overall it had been a much better day then yesterday. So until tomorrow morning, good night. Tuesday, April 12, 2016 - Day at sea Woke up in time for sunrise. Unfortunately the sun rise was not that impressive. Since I didn’t get a plate full of fruit yesterday (I got a plate of cheese and some other goodies, which I ate) I went to the Windjammer to get breakfast. Then I brought it down to my balcony so I could enjoy breakfast on my balcony. After that I put my blue make up the room card out and worked on this until the room stewardess showed up, then I left so she could do her thing. I went up to the Suite Lounge just to see what was up. I enjoyed a nice cold glass of ice water out on the balcony overlooking the basketball court. Then I walked around a bit just to waste time (to give the room stewardess more time to finish) then went back to the cabin. There I read most of the paperwork that had been given to me. So let’s see what is available. First of all, there are thirteen light switches for the lights inside the cabin. That does not include the light switches for the bathroom, the desk or the balcony. Sometimes it is a challenge to figure out which light switch to use to turn off the lights. For those that want to know, there are two outlets on the desk (for those that want to charge more than one item at a time). As to all the concern about electrical equipment, I’ve got small power strips (three outlets), a surge protector (for use in the hotel, not on a cruise ship) and a long extension cord (so I can use the laptop computer on the balcony if it is cool enough (I’m referring to the weather, I like it cool). There is a sign that says, “Want your bed separated? No problem.” Separated from who, me??? Where will I sleep? Well, I believe I also have a sleeper sofa. I’ve got five life jackets (four adult and one child), so I assume the cabin sleeps four. Actually I didn’t know you could have suite beds separated into two twins. But watch out, the bed has rounded corners and the frame has square corners. My shins can confirm this. If you are Diamond or higher, there is a Diamond Lounge. The Diamond Concierge is there from 8:00am to 10:00am on sea days and 7:00 am to 9:00 am on port days (he is off on starboard days). Hors d’ oeuvres and bar drinks are available from 4:30pm to 8:00pm. In addition the following is also available: Continental breakfast during his office hours in the morning. Daily menus are available in the Diamond Lounge. The Diamond Concierge will make reservations for any of the specialty restaurants, sport activities, shore excursions, spa and salon appointments. Business services such as faxes, copies etc. You cannot bring non-diamond guests. There is a whole binder full of stuff for suite guests. Since I forgot my copy machine, I took photographs of each page (that is how I had to do it in my spy days before portable copiers were invented). There are special savings for Diamond Plus members: Purchase a dinner in one of the specialty restaurants with a cover charge on the first or second night of the cruise and the second cover charge will be waived. Buy any wine, beer or soda by the glass and get a second one free (hopefully the second one come in the glass rather than by the glass). Buy one, get one free Johnny Rockets milkshake (apparently both of these come in the glass). One complementary non-alcoholic specialty coffee drink with the purchase of dinner in any specialty restaurant. Three free spin to win at the casino (I wonder how strong you have to be to spin the casino). 30% off casino tournament entrance fee (excluding poker tournaments). Two free days of Internet usage or $80 off any Internet purchase which is valid for one device and two individual 24 consecutive hour sessions (for those of you who wish to spend 48 hours surfing the net). $10 off a $30 bag of wash and fold laundry on eight or more nights cruise (this is a seven night cruise). $5 off of any dry cleaning or pressing services of $25 or more. One free $30 wash and fold bag on five or more nights cruise (does this include eight or more nights?). 20% off one tuxedo rental package. Spend $25 or more on Royal Caribbean Logo products and receive 15% off (what are you going to do with 85% of a logo?). Free, any size photo of your choice from your existing printed photograph selection. 10% off a digital photo package or photobook (standard events only). 20% off any spa or salon service - not applicable for medi-spa or discounted services (so I guess you can’t use the 20% off coupon on any service where you use the 20% off coupon). Book a signature spa service while in port and receive a complimentary add on treatment (the catch here is, how are you going to book the spa service while you are in port?). Stateroom phone discount of $2 per minute (you can imagine how much it costs if $2 per minute is just a discount). And of course the big one. Three free drinks each night (4:30 to 8:00pm) at almost any bar (meaning all the bars except the dining room, specialty restaurant, Windjammer or the bar that you are at). On day five is a Top Tier Event. Now I would think a top tier would be Diamond and above. But no, top tier is any tier above gold (gold is the lowest tier). Sunday I got a surprise. Okay, Sunday I got lots of surprises. This was a good one. Apparently my agent is giving me a free specialty dinner for two (she knows I’m single). So I choose lunch today at Sabor. I really threw the person who answered the phone for a loop when I pointed out I was by myself. Well, do I have any friends? Yes, but they are not on this ship. Did I meet anyone? Yes, but I don’t think her husband would appreciate my inviting her to lunch just because we stood near each other during the muster drill. I’ve eaten at Sabor for lunch on the Freedom of the seas and it is (and was again today) very good. I would highly recommend it. It is a Mexican restaurant. After lunch I planned to do a little swimming. However, the sun, heat, worry, and running around got to me and I just relaxed by watching TV (sort of - I was half watching and half napping). At least the ship’s information channel has us out of Galveston and near Cozumel). I did get up in time for Saturday Night Fever (it’s on Tuesday night???). It was very low energy and I like high energy. It is longer than usual (82 minutes). But it was good (for a low energy show). No videotaping but still pictures are okay, and I’ve got a camera and lens combination that works well in low light. I got lots of good pictures. Then it was time for dinner. I was the only one there. So the waitress took my order. Then the table next to me invited me over to their table. Then the other couple from my table showed up (sober this time). Then they got invited over to the table I was now at. They have an eight top and only four of them have shown up so far. So now there were seven of us and our waitress had nothing to do (well she did have other tables). So I did a little less swimming then I planned, but otherwise it was a good and relaxing day. Tomorrow is a shore excursion. I’ll be visiting with my second cousins. So until tomorrow, good night. Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - Roatan I guess I was a little more tired than I thought. I woke up after sunrise. No time to dilly dally this morning, as I have an independent shore excursion this morning at 10:00 ship time (9:00am local time) with Victor Bodden. I figure if I leave the ship around 9:00am ship time it will give me enough time to check things out and still be at the meeting place on time. This morning I decided to check out another suite perk, breakfast at Chops. The menu includes some very nice offerings, including steak and eggs. I had a custom made omelet and ice tea. This is a very nice suite perk. After breakfast I went back to the cabin to pick up the food for the monkeys and then down to deck one to disembark. I quickly toured the port area. A lady was getting her feet cleaned by algae eaters. At least that is would they would call them if you went to an aquarium store. I’m not sure what they call the fish here (they are fresh water fish that are about two inches long). The fish eat the dead skin as long as you hold your feet still. Move and the fish will scatter. The trick is, what the fish are doing tickles. Ten minutes was fifteen dollars, twenty minutes was twenty dollars and thirty minutes was twenty-five dollars. A couple of months ago I had the same thing done to my hands at Sea World for free (included in the price of admission). After looking around I found a couple of things I would like to purchase when I return. I found the Victor Bodden booth. I was told they just left and would return in five or ten minutes. Just left, I am thirty minutes early? Turns out what was meant is the other people I am with are looking around (just like I was) and they will return in five or ten minutes (and they did). So we left on our tour about twenty minutes early (an advantage of private tours). Well, the iguana farm is in one direction and the monkeys are in another direction. We headed toward the iguanas first. However, our first stop was to pick up some monkey food. We really over did it. One bag of peanuts and one bag of grapes would have been more than enough. We had five times that much, plus bananas, fruit, apple and banana chips (dried apple and banana pieces) which we ended up sharing with the other people there plus the staff (as we could not bring it back on the ship). I was here in April 2009 and was basically repeating what I had done before, just with more food this time. I was only interested in feeding the monkeys but the other two wanted to see the iguanas. So the iguanas was our first stop. There are five ships here today, totaling what I believe is about sixteen thousand people. Both locations were crowded. At any rate the iguanas proved to be more interesting than last time because this time someone was selling iguana food, two very large leaves for one dollar. This proved to be the land version of dropping bread in water full of fish. It was a feeding frenzy with iguanas running over and climbing over each other to get a bite of this leaf. I think I spent three dollars on food. I’ve got pictures and video of the action. Fortunately the iguanas are vegetarians, so I still had ten fingers when this was over. Next we went over to Victor Bodden’s monkeys. There are more than I remember. Though the monkeys like and eat the peanuts, they seem they like the grapes better. They suck the juice out. The parrots liked the peanuts. I don’t think any of the monkeys were hungry when we were done. The whole thing was thirty-five dollars each plus ten dollars for the iguana farm. It lasted about three hours and was very enjoyable. This is my second Victor Bodden tour and one of the things I really like about it is that you can customize your tour. We basically had a private tour guide for three hours. Upon our return I picked up a couple of souvenirs and head for the ship. I drop off everything in the cabin and head for lunch, which I bring back to the cabin and enjoy lunch on my balcony. Then I change into my bathing suit, grab my waterproof camera, and head for Splashaway Bay. The bucket is dumping and I want to get soaked and get some close up pictures of the bucket dumping its water. Then head back to the cabin, shower, work on this and just relax until dinner time. Today all three of us are at our own table. We share stories of what we did. For dinner I had the pasta as an appetizer and I ordered the Chops steak (that cost an extra $20 with tip). After dinner a nice surprise was waiting for me when I arrived back to my cabin. My crystal for hitting 210 points. Which reminds me. Jorge (the Diamond Concierge) left me a phone message telling me that he confirmed that my original Belize shore excursion was refunded to my credit card. I was hoping to find out why that happened. I did not ask to have it cancelled and I ended up buying it again. So any way, everything that went wrong on the first two days has been corrected (and I ended up not using my mini knife). Tomorrow I have an early shore excursion which includes a long tender ride (I’ve been told it is about five miles - this is my first time to Belize). It must be a short trip to Belize, as we are only doing 8.5 knots. So since I’m tired and it is 10:00pm, I’m going to hit the hay. See you tomorrow morning. Thursday, April 14, 2016 - Belize I have an 8:15am shore excursion today. Since the Chops’ breakfast does not begin until 8:00am, I don’t have time for a Chops breakfast today. So I settle for a banana, which is fine since I don’t normally eat breakfast. I’m in group eight, on the Wildlife Adventure tour. We are the seventh group call to the tender boats. One thing I noticed, there are only lifeboats on this ship, no tender boats. Thus all tendering is being done by local commercial tenders. One good thing about this is that the commercial tenders are open and airy, not closed and stuffy like the ship’s tenders (if it had any). Still it is 9:30am before we get to Belize, as it is a long tender ride. There it is a fairly long wait until we board the bus. It is an old bus, but the air conditioner works. It is a long ride to the zoo. It is a nice zoo, but not world class. There are three problems however. The zoo uses fences and electric wires to keep the animals in. That means most of the viewing is done through wires. Inside the cages is all natural vegetation, so the animals are hard to find and see. Which brings up problem three. Though this is a fairly small group of nineteen people, once an animal is located, there at least nineteen people that all want to see it at the same time from the same place. From the zoo we go to the river to have lunch (no, we don’t eat the river). Lunch was okay as far as tour lunches go. We had chicken, rice, beans, a small salad, and a drink. Then it is a boat ride down the river to a small town where we board the bus back to the tender dock. Along the river we see various wildlife, such as monkeys, birds, alligators, and landing 737s. Yes, the local airport landing path goes right over the river. We are back at the tender dock just after 3:30pm and the last tender to the ship is 4:30pm. Fortunately all of us are aware that the ship is one hour ahead of local time, since the tour guide thinks we have a two hour window, not a one hour window. A major drawback to Belize is that one loses two hours round trip because of the tendering. Also note, when approaching (and leaving Belize, the captain is not lost. The channel the ships have to follow was laid out by a drunken snake. I was trying to figure out what the captain was trying to do, as the ship made one turn after another until I realized the ship behind us was doing the same thing. I figured both captains could not be that crazy (or drunk). I later spoke to the captain and confirmed that the channel through the reef was not straight. Tonight is our second formal night. After a tender port? I think after Cozumel would have been a better choice, but nobody consulted me on this issue. I have a few pictures taken, two of which I like and buy. The captain cannot come to the formal night because he is busy trying to figure out how to leave Belize without making the evening news (got to stay in that channel when leaving Belize also). I’m the only one at dinner tonight, which is good because I’m dead tired and the faster I finish dinner the faster I can go to sleep. I’m done in less than one hour. Belize has two seasons (the same two Panama has), hot and hotter, and they are both humid. All I want to do is sleep. I’ll be back at you in the morning. Friday, April 15, 2016 - Cozumel (also tax day) Today is a day I am really looking forward to. The last time I was in Cozumel I swam with the manatee. It was great, my new favorite. My old favorite is feeding the stingrays at Stingray City. I book the 10:00 visit with the manatees online at a discount. The problem is, when you book you have to state which hotel or ship you are on. You can’t book without providing this information. You also can’t book if you are on a ship. The ship doesn’t offer the swim with the manatee as a shore excursion, so I decided to slightly misstate things. I said I was at a hotel and the name of the hotel was the “Liberty of the Seas” (since the ship really is a floating hotel). It worked. Booking online gave me a 10% discount. It got better once I got to the park. But before I go to the park there were two things I wanted to do. One, have breakfast, which this time was steak & eggs at Chops. The other thing was to find out if we are one hour head of Cozumel or not. For Roatan and Belize the Compass (which is the ship’s newspaper) said we were one hour head. However, for Cozumel it did not say this. I saw Jorge (the Diamond Concierge) on my way to breakfast. He said Cozumel in the same time zone as Roatan and Belize so he thought the ship would be one hour ahead, but he would have to check. My reply is that Galveston is in the same time zone also. I saw Anis (the Concierge) in the Suite Lounge. I asked him and he used a very simple method to get the answer. He logged on to the computer and checked the local time. Cozumel and the ship’s time are both the same. So after breakfast I head out to Chankanaab Park (also known as Dolphin Discovery). The taxi ride was $12 each way. Once there I didn’t have to pay anything extra for admission and I got a 25% discount on the 12:00 swim with the manatee session. Yes, I am doing the same thing twice. I have four wrist bands. Yellow and Pink are admission bands (apparently the park is both a commercial park (like Sea World) and a national park (like Yosemite). So there are two admission fees. Perhaps that is the reason for the 25% discount, since apparently the $59.00 swim with the manatee includes the price of admission. Who cares, I’m in. I was here is 2004 and did the swim with the dolphin and swim with the seal programs. The last time I was here was March 2013 and that is when I swam with the manatee. The swim with the dolphin program has clearly become more popular. Unfortunately so has the swim with the manatee program. In 2013 there were three of people and two manatees. Today there were fourteen people in the first session and four manatees. I don’t know how many people were in the second session. I would guess at least eight. Fortunately, the manatees eat 10% of their body weight per day. So a 450 pound manatee eats forty-five pounds of lettuce and I don’t think both groups combined came to that amount, and there are four manatees. So I didn’t have to worry about the manatees being not hungry (or fed-up - ha ha). In the first group there was a group of eight family/friends and six of us not with the group. So the family/friends where sent to feed three of the manatees while the other six of us interacted with the fourth manatee. When we finished interacting with the manatee, the two groups switched. As I finished feeding the manatees I wondered what to do next. Squirting the kids in the other group seemed to be a good idea. I can squirt water from between my two hands, a skill that takes some time to perfect. So the kids tried, but they could not squirt me back. Then I noticed two stalks from the lettuce. I know the manatees will eat that also. So ask for the two stalks and get to feed the manatees again. A word of warning. You are not allowed to bring your own camera. They will take plenty of pictures of you. Their taking the pictures is free. Your taking the pictures is not. I believe you can buy individual pictures (print or digital) but I wanted them all in a digital format. No problem, that came to $70 for each session ($140 total for both sessions). It cost more for the photographs than it is for the swim with the manatees experience. Between the two sessions I ended up with 96 photographs of me with the manatees. That works out to about $1.46 per photograph, which isn’t a bad price on a per photograph basis. After my second swim with the manatees, I decided to walk around the park and take pictures. I don’t think I covered all of the park, but I believe I was able to photograph more than ninety percent of the area that most people would be interested in. As I got ready to leave I noticed that the 2:00pm swim with the manatees was the smallest group. Small groups are nice, however, the manatees’ appetite insures that if you have a head of lettuce, you will find that one or more of the manatees will become your friend. After boarding the ship I showered, dressed and then grabbed my good camera and went back out to photograph the outside of the ship, as this is the one port where I can stand on solid ground (not a bobbing tender) and take a clear photograph of the ship (no dock, people or small boats in front of it). On the way out I saw the hotel director who recognized me, and noticed that I was walking away from the ship. I assured him that I was not going far and would be back on time. After taking a few photographs of the ship I headed back and found the hotel director. I showed him one of the pictures I took. Back on the ship, I was feeling good. I had fun with the manatees and I had my clear full broadside ship picture. Well, all of this came crashing down with one phone call. The shore excursion to Bush Airport, which includes a brief tour of NASA, has been cancelled. So now I have a flight home, but no way to get to the airport. After having solved all of the Sunday problems and after a very enjoyable time in Cozumel, this has me down in the dumps, even though I realize that the worst case is a three hundred dollar taxi ride by someone who learned how to drive in New York. This time I head to the Concierge (Suite Lounge). One, can he get me to the airport on Sunday? Two, can he book me into Giovanni’s Table tonight (I need a nice quite meal)? He gets me a table at 6:30pm. I give him a tip and say THANK YOU! He seems fairly confident that he can get me to Bush Airport. I don’t share his confidence, but I am willing to wait until tomorrow morning to see what fate awaits me. I work on this for a while and then head for dinner. I have a cheese plate appetizer and steak for the main course. My waiter lets me have the pasta main dish as an appetizer also. He says it is very good, and it was, as was the steak. I leave him an extra tip and head to the cabin. I want to work on this. However, even though it is now about the time I would normally have dinner and I want to work on this, that phone call (and the sun) has zapped the will and energy from me. I end up watching TV for a while in bed and eventually fall asleep. Saturday, April 16, 2016 - Day at sea I wake up at the normal time, first at 4:00am and then again about 6:30am. Even though I want to go to Chops for breakfast, I don’t get out of bed at 8:00am. Finally I get up around 8:30am, shower and dress and head up to the Suite Lounge. The concierge is on the phone, and then it suddenly hits me, I never received my invitation to the bridge tour. So while one concierge is on the phone, I run over to the other concierge and find out I am on the 9:30am tour and it is now 9:22am. I run over to the Concierge who tells me he is still working on it. I ask how long he will be here (to 11:00am) and tell him I’ll be back. I have to be somewhere else now. A quick note, even though Royal Caribbean has eliminated the multiple daily announcements about various ways you can spend your money, the advertisements have not ended, they just come in other forms, messages on the TV, voice mail messages, and flyers. Some of those flyers come in envelopes. Make sure you at least look at them. My bridge tour invitation was in an envelope that I didn’t open until I started packing. I was lucky to make it to the bridge tour which I was looking forward to and had I known, I would have got out of bed earlier so that I would have had time to have breakfast at Chops. I make it in time for the tour which was very enjoyable. One of the cadets conducts the tour (I get a picture with him). But we only have a half hour as there is a 10:00am tour. At 10:15am is the Captain’s Corner, which I also enjoy attending. However, when I get there I run into the Captain (don’t worry, neither of us were hurt) and I end up talking to him. This has two unintended consequences. One, I don’t have any more questions to ask and two, all the good seats have been taken. By 10:30am the questions are ridiculous and I decide to go to the Suite Lounge to find out if I am going to be waving to my plane as it takes off. The Concierge came through again. I’m on the bus to the airport. No tour, but at least I’ll make my flight. I have a 4:20pm flight (designed for the tour schedule) and I’m figuring the bus will get me to the airport around 10:30am. Still it is a lot less than a three hundred dollar taxi ride (the bus is $47) and I have my laptop, so I’ll have plenty to keep me entertained. I gave the Concierge another tip. So with that I end up chatting with another Gold Card passenger until lunch time. I take lunch back to the cabin to enjoy on the balcony. After that I put on my bathing suit so I can ride the green water slide which has been fixed. The green slide is faster. However, both slides are fun. Tidal Wave is still not working, but I did talk to one of the people working on fixing the slide, so something is being done. Back at the cabin I showered and started the packing process. I then attended the 2:00pm ice show. It was okay, but not as good as other ice shows I have seen on other Royal Caribbean ships. Then back to the cabin to finished packing and then I worked on this until dinner. I had two sliders as an appetizer and the pasta as the main dish. Usually I have ice cream for dessert (anything cold) but tonight I had the key lime pie after verifying that the filling is yellow. Yellow filling is real key lime pie, green filling is not real key lime pie. The wait staff put on their second show and then it was time to head back to the cabin and put the luggage out for collection. Tomorrow not only are they going to kick us off the ship, but they are going to make us get up early to do it. So, until tomorrow morning, good night. Sunday, April 17, 2016 - Debarkation day I have to be in Studio B for an 8:30 debarkation. So at 7:30am I head to the Windjammer for breakfast which I take back to the cabin and enjoy on the balcony. By 8:15am I am in Studio B with many others. Our time keeps getting pushed back until finally at 9:30am they start to call the groups. However, there is no one verifying that the people getting in line are in the groups that have been called. This creates a backup getting into the terminal. Going through customs is no better or worse than other ports. The bus to Bush is full and leaves at 10:30am. This hour delay might be a problem for some, but by the time I get to the airport I still have a four hour wait, so I work on this for a while. Since I am just sitting here at the airport watching planes go up and down, it is time to reflect on the past week. Royal Caribbean, which is known for its service, fell well short in that regard in my opinion. However, that is just my opinion. You will have to decide how you want to view what happened. Did the two concierges come through for me? Yes. Should they have had to save the day for me? Not in my opinion. Bad service resulted in two people providing exceptional service. However, good service means that I don’t have to waste time getting someone to fix the bad service. I’ve been on thirteen cruises with Royal Caribbean and the only two times I have had problems is when I am in a suite. And no matter what you think of the service the concierges provided to me, I was still upset and or worried at a time I was supposed to be on a carefree vacation. Still there was a lot more to the cruise than problems. The room steward, waitress and assistant waiter were great. I tipped them extra. It was a great perk to have breakfast in Chops and to hobnob with the Captain and Hotel Director. The Suite Lounge was a nice quite place to meet and chat with others. There are other suite perks, but these were the two I enjoyed. The islands visited (technically Belize is not an island) where good. I would not mind returning to Roatan or Cozumel again. I know I am going to Roatan again in December. Belize would be a lot more interesting if two hours were not lost during the round trip from/to the ship. Look at it this way, one week has 168 hours. Flying cross country uses up less than sixteen hours or less than ten percent of the total trip. Spending even one hundred minutes out of an eight hour port visit tendering from/to the ship is still wasting more than twenty percent of the time (unless one really enjoys tender rides). Cozumel is one of my favorite ports. I would have loved to spend more time in Cozumel. As I noted, Chankanaab Park offers a lot. There are also a couple of all-inclusive beaches on Cozumel that many people rave about. And how about the ship. I think the Liberty of the Seas came out of dry dock looking better than when it went in. Have I been on the Liberty of the Seas before? No. However, I’ve been on the Freedom of the Seas twice and it is what the Liberty of the Seas was. I think the Splashaway Bay is better than the H2O Zone and that the water slides (when working) are the first water slides on a Royal Caribbean ship that an adult can enjoy. I also enjoyed the addition of Savor as a third optional extra cost restaurant. So, did I enjoy the cruise? Yes, but not as much as I could have had Royal Caribbean lived up to its reputation for outstanding service. So as I said earlier, this will be my last cruise on Royal Caribbean for a while, not because of this cruise, but because of the games it is playing with pricing (fake sales) and the new website which is very user unfriendly, which makes looking for a cruise very difficult (again, in my opinion). For those that are interested, my final onboard bill was $86.40. This includes $97.75 spend for food and drinks onboard, $111.65 for gratuities (really a service charge), and $109 for the shore excursion that was cancelled which I had to rebook once onboard. Of course there was also the $99 credit for the shore excursion to the airport that was cancelled and the $200 onboard credit which meant I really spent $385.40. While I sit here typing this apparently United decided to change the gate assignment. It is getting close to boarding time and there is no plane here. I check at the gate and the next flight is to Denver in two hours. I find a United employee who tells me the plane is at gate 33 (I’m currently at gate forty). So off I go to gate 33. I check in at the gate. No need, just get in line, boarding starts soon. This is an A319 and it is not nearly as nice as the 787. On top of that, apparently it was not the original plane when I picked my seat. So when I discovered the change, the only window seat left was in the 1F. The problem with that is, there is no seat in front to store things under. This means I would have to put my computer in the overhead bin. This means I would have to climb over someone to get my computer. Fortunately there is plenty of legroom making that a little easier. What made it even easier is the guy sitting next to me had the same problem. When he got up I got up I got up. Same when it was time to land. That worked out great for both of us. Being in 1F allowed me a view of the entry door. There is a handle marked “RME” and on the door it is marked “A D”. So while everyone was boarding I sat there trying to figure out what “RME” and “A D” meant. When the stewardess closed the door and pushed down the handle, I finally realized it stood for “ARMED”. If the door is opened while armed, the escape chute will deploy. Now as you know, the senior stewardess is in charge of first class. So this is kind of funny. Between the two seats is a small tray for holding glasses of whatever (water, orange juice, wine …). Something under it was loose. I was fiddling around with it when suddenly it opened. It is a second drink tray. Very handy. Naturally we took advantage of my new discovery. After serving everyone else, the stewardess, who must have seen me fiddling with it, ask me how I opened it. Apparently this hidden tray is a well-kept secret, apparently only known to one passenger and one stewardess (and anyone reading this). So how do you open it? You push it in and it pops out (sometimes you have to push it in a few time to get it to pop out). So, if you are ever flying first class in a United A319 and you want to impress your stewardess, just pop out the hidden tray and enjoy the extra room for the drinks. The flight was unremarkable (which is good). I managed to sort the pictures from the first two days, so I still have seven more days of photographs to sort through. For those that are interested I took over two thousand photographs. We landed and I went to baggage claim and waited. While waiting I looked up and notice a suite case that looked just like mine. Then suddenly I realized there were two bags that looked just like mine. At that point I realized what had happened. My bags went on an earlier flight. So I grabbed them. I didn’t realize there was a guard. She asked my last name. I gave it to her and she let me take the bags. She also mentioned that someone had tried to take one of them. This is a problem when you get to the airport too early. Bags tend to be put on planes based on destination, not based on flight number. I’ve had this happen before with Delta when going to Kona, Hawaii. I do appreciate United checking on who was taking what bags. This review is a summary of one person’s experience. It is not the gospel for what anyone should expect when cruising with Royal Caribbean. Nonetheless, I hope people find this review helpful and/or entertaining. Here is a link to the review on the main boards which includes the photographs ... http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2364155 You may have to copy and paste it into your address bar.

Liberty of the Seas - Western Caribbean

Liberty of the Seas Cruise Review by Cuizer2

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2016
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Grand Suite - 1 Bedroom
LIBERTY of the SEAS - April 10 -> 17, 2016 - Western Caribbean

Saturday, April 9, 2016 - Travel day

Good morning from beautiful downtown LAX. It is about 9:15am and my plane is set to take off at 10:55am. I’m actually kind of excited, as this will be my first 787 flight. Best of all, I’m in first class. When I originally booked this flight, it was a 757 and the price was (and is) less than one third of what it is now.

So a little about myself. I am Diamond Plus. This is my 13th cruise with Royal Caribbean and thirtieth cruise overall. I am platinum on Carnival, and I have also cruised on Princess and NCL. This is my first time on the Liberty of the Seas. However, I have been on the Freedom of the Seas twice. I’m in a Grand Suite this time. I have also been in the Royal Family Suite on the Freedom of the Seas. Nonetheless, normally I travel in a balcony cabin. However, I have become a little disenchanted with Royal Caribbean starting with the day I booked this cruise.

I was not impressed at all with my experience in the Royal Family Suite on the Freedom OTS in June 2007. So I decided to do my homework and then I booked this cruise on embarkation day on the Explorer repositioning cruise from New Jersey to Florid in November 2014. I had printed out the price of the cabin from the Royal Caribbean website which was a little more than $4,000. The Loyalty Ambassador booked me at a little more than $5,000, but I get a $200 onboard credit. I showed the Loyalty Ambassador the printout of the website price, but she said that this was the best she can do. After the two-week cruise on the Explorer I contacted my travel agent and had her rebook the cruise for a little more than $4,000. However, Royal Caribbean told her that I would lose the $200 onboard credit. Okay, I’m still saving $800. But as far as I am concerned, the Loyalty Ambassador lied to me about the best deal. In the end Royal Caribbean did not take away my $200 onboard credit.

Since then, Royal Caribbean has offered fake sale after fake sale. Royal Caribbean increases the price of the cruise, then offers a discount, which ends of being very close to the undiscounted price original price. For example, if a cruise normally cost one thousand dollars, Royal Caribbean would increase the price to $1,500 then offer one third off, which makes the cost, wait for it, you guessed it, $1,000. Because of how I feel about how the Loyalty Ambassador treated me on the Explorer of the Seas, I did not purchase a future cruise on my last Royal Caribbean cruise (Freedom OTS in April 2015), nor will I on this cruise. Besides, Royal Caribbean has changed the rules on opened ended future cruises purchased onboard to the point that I think it offers no additional value to me. Given the games Royal Caribbean is playing with the pricing, I’ve decided to check out other cruise lines. My last cruise (earlier this year) was on Princess (giving me three) and my next cruise is on NCL (that will also give me three). Then next year I’ll be on Princess again.

I’m not saying I will not return to Royal Caribbean, I will. But it seems now is a good time for me to explore other lines. I’ve been on five different cruise lines and hope to increase that to eight different lines in the near future. Then I will reevaluate which cruise line I wish to be loyal most loyal to.

The Liberty of the Seas has recently been upgraded during a dry dock earlier this year. It has three new water slides, though one is not working yet. My main interest, besides visiting Belize for the first time, is to evaluate if the additional cost of the full suite (which gets me a gold SeaPass card) is worth double the price of a balcony cabin (which is about $2,000).

So, with my background out of the way, my trip started at 8:00am when the limo driver arrived. Why a limo? Because I’ve had it with unreliable taxis and rude dispatchers. The limo people are much more reliable and professional and from home to the airport are only a few dollars more than a taxi. From the hotel in Houston to the cruise port it is actually less expensive than a taxi.

Well the boarding call is being made, so I’ll be back at you in Houston.

I made it to Houston in one piece. The 787 was really neat, but from my point of view it was more evolutionary than revolutionary. There are no window shades. Instead with a push of a button you can control the tinting of the windows, from clear to dark blue. One hundred twenty-volt AC power is easily accessible behind the seat where there is a little shelf. The seat goes from full upright too full horizontal. There is a note not to put anything on the shelves in front of the passenger during taxi and takeoff. The person sitting next to me found out why on takeoff. With the nose pointed up, the shelf is pointed down and his book fell off twice hitting him in the shin. You would think that someone who is able to afford a first class seat would have figured it out the first time the book fell and hit him.

The music offerings were a little strange, so I didn’t listen to any. The free headphones were nice (very comfortable). There was a movie I had my eye on, but when I realized it was longer than the flight time remaining, I decided to wait until it appeared on my home cable system (we had a strong tail wind and arrived about thirty minutes early). In fact, I had my luggage and was in the taxi on my way to the hotel about three minutes after the plane was supposed to arrive. At any rate, I ended up watching the plane move across the map for a while, then played some of the games (trivia, FreeCell, and Bejeweled 2). Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I could line up five in a row in Bejeweled, the thing froze (and I already had the high score). I just realized I haven’t installed Bejeweled two and three on my laptop computer. I’ll have to take care of that before my next cruise. I do however have my current favorite game, Civilization, installed on my laptop computer.

I checked into the hotel and realized it was the same one I stayed at in April 2009, which is the last time I cruised out of Galveston (both times I booked the hotel via Hotwire). After checking in I decided to check out a steakhouse I looked up a few days ago from home. The only problem is, all I remember about the steakhouse is about where it located and that is it. I don’t even remember the name. I walked in the direction I remember I had to walk and didn’t see any steakhouses. As I headed back toward the hotel I saw a sign that looked like a steakhouse sign. It was hidden from view when I was walking the other way.

Sure enough it was a steakhouse. A little on the expensive side ($105 with a tip), but the food was good and the service was great. I had ice tea, bacon wrapped shrimp, creamed corn, fourteen ounce rib eye (I didn’t know ribs had eyes) pecan pie and one (small) glass of scotch whiskey. Then I walked back to the hotel, checked out the books on the coffee table (this is a true two room suite - I got it for $84 on Hotwire), and then worked on this.

Which reminds me, because people like lots of details in the review, I work on the review while on the ship. And since people like having pictures, I also post pictures with the review. The only problem is, posting pictures is boring and time consuming. However, I have learned how to post some photographs and offer a link to others, so I can now post some of the pictures, and for those that like to see more photographs, all they have to do is click on the links at the end of the review.

Well, it is about 8:30pm and I am a bit tired, so I’ll catch up with you tomorrow morning. Good night.

Sunday, April 10, 2016 - Embarkation day

I woke up around 6:00am. Watched TV for a while. Then showered and dressed and turned my cell phone on around 9:00am. At 9:01 the limo driver was here. He is not due until 9:30am. Oh well, I checked out and hopped into the limo. Originally I scheduled the limo for 9:45am. However, our roll call group kept referring to all the construction and traffic, so I rescheduled for 9:30am. We flew, well actually drove, right through. The biggest problem I had was convincing the driver that I was not going to terminal one (the Carnival Magic was docked there) but rather I was going to terminal two. While driving I told him I was on Royal Caribbean. He tells me they both use the same terminal. I know this is wrong, so I tell him I’m on the Liberty of the Seas. It uses a different terminal then the Carnival Magic. As we arrived, I point out the Liberty of the Seas. As we continue driving (both ships use the same entrance - but not the same terminal) we end up at a red light between the two terminals. I point out that the two terminals are not connected. He turns into the entrance and gets in the Carnival Magic line. I again have to point out that he is taking me to the wrong ship. Finally we arrive at the correct place.

After all of that, getting into the terminal (from the limo) was easy. We were early (it was about 10:15am) and nobody was in what I though was the suite line. Turns out I was in the Diamond line (nobody was in either line) and as soon as I got to the front the line there was a receptionist ready to check me in. After checking in I started working on this, but only got half way through the above paragraph before it was time to board the ship. I went straight to my cabin. I found someone who claimed to be my room steward. I told him I wanted to drop off my carry-on bags and then I would leave. He was apparently new and decided he had to get his supervisor’s permission for this. I’ve never had this happen for the last twenty plus cruises (on Royal Caribbean or any other line). The supervisor approved it. I put my bags in the closet and headed out to take pictures. By this time it is about 11:00am.

Since the rooms were open, I took pictures in one of the owner’s suites (the owner was not there yet) and the Royal Suite. I’m half way done taking pictures in the Royal Suite when I realize there is someone else in the cabin. It is a maintenance man doing maintenance, and he is ignoring me. I finished taking the pictures I want without getting the maintenance man in any of my pictures. He should have at least challenged me, but as I said, he ignored me.

Up on deck twelve I saw someone untangling some beads. The roll call group agreed to wear beads. We talked a little, then I continued taking pictures. Finally ended up in the Windjammer, so I decided to get lunch. Then, as a gold card passenger, I know I could use one of the specialty restaurants to eat. It was full and nobody was checking whether I had a gold card or a lead card. Fortunately I ran into more people wearing beads and they made room for me. So far the beads are doing more for me than the gold card is.

As I finished lunch, the announcement that the rooms were ready was made. So I went down to check on my luggage. No luggage yet. So back outside to take pictures then back inside to check on my luggage. No luggage yet. Back outside to take more pictures, then back inside to check on my luggage. No luggage yet. By this time it is 3:00pm and one, the muster drill is at 3:45pm and two, everyone next to me has their luggage, so I decided to wait inside. The doorbell rings and my chocolate-covered strawberries arrive and later some fruit arrives. Along with the fruit is a napkin with knife and fork wrapped up inside of it. I’ll explain why I mentioned this later. But still no luggage.

The Masters is on and even though I’m not a golfer, it is a major tournament, so I decide to watch it. When the muster drill is over (it was fairly short) I go back to the cabin to find one of my two bags has arrived and the leader board has been turned upside down. The prior leader was leading by five or six shots and when I get back at least two others are ahead of him. I later found out he had landed in the water two or three times, and that cost him the tournament.

When I get back from the muster drill I find one of my pieces of luggage and I also find out I have a new room steward, I mean stewardess. I tell her I want ice, I am missing a piece of luggage, I only received one of my shore excursion tickets and I have late dinner.

I start to unpack when I look out the window and notice everything outside the window is moving toward the aft part of the ship. We are underway. I want to unpack, but I finally I decide I am missing sail-away and head to the Sky Bar. But I don’t see any beads, so I head to the helicopter pad. Nice view, but I don’t see anything worth photographing. Back to the Sky Bar, but now sail-away is over and nobody is there. I would like to go swimming, but my bathing suit is in the luggage that is missing.

I decide to go look for my luggage. It is not lost and found (there is a lot of luggage with no cabin numbers in lost and found). I ask if there is a “naughty room?” Yes, on deck one. Well despite what everyone says, it is not a room, it is a hallway. I give them my cabin number, but nobody says anything. I start looking around for my luggage. Just when I have given up hope, I find it. They send it through the x-ray machine. Do I have anything electrical? No. They send it through the x-ray machine a second time. Do I have anything electrical? No! I do in my carry-on, but not in my checked luggage. They send it through the x-ray machine a third time. By now my luggage is glowing a nice shade of yellow, orange, and red. Do I have a knife? Yes, a very small one. The security guard asks me a question. I ask her to repeat it. She wants to check the knife. Okay (I thought she had asked me about a machete - this knife is barely big enough to be a knife). I show it to security. They laugh (no, I am not kidding, they are laughing at my “knife”). The blade is about 1 ¼ inches long.

Why do I have it? I’m not sure if this is a real question or if they are just curious (once they laughed at it I knew I would get to keep it). I treat it as a real question, but the answer (which is the truth) is going to sound strange. I am on an excursion where I get to feed some monkeys and we get to stop at the store to pick up some apples, grapes and bananas and I need the knife to cut the fruit. Okay.

Now remember I mentioned the knife that came with the food. That blade is about six inches long. That is okay, but my little one and one-quarter inch knife it going to have me on the terrorist list? Something is wrong here (okay, they are not putting me on the terrorist list, but you get the idea). Now I’m not upset that they flagged the luggage for the knife. They are just doing their job. I’m not upset that they laughed at my knife, a bigger one would work better on an apple, but they might object at the sight of a four-inch blade. What I am unhappy about is that after asking three people about my missing luggage, nobody told me where it was. Sometime after 8:00pm they finally called me (I was at dinner at the time and I already had the luggage, including the miniature machete, in the cabin). I found out around 10:00pm by which time I would have been pretty upset thinking that my luggage was lost.

So with the luggage issue resolved I then decided to check on my missing shore excursion. I go into Diamond Lounge which is where the old sports bar used to be. I was unaware that the suite lounge is now where the old card and game rooms are (I know now). At any rate I am the first one in line. After spending a long time speaking with a lady about shore excursions, the Diamond Concierge is then able to help me. Watching him work I begin to realize why it everything takes so long. I have written three page letters with fewer keystrokes. Finally I am informed that my reservation was cancelled and refunded. Why? He will have to contact Miami for that. At any rate there are still openings and he rebooks me. But now it is on my SeaPass card instead of my credit card (hopefully, since this is just one more thing that Royal Caribbean never told me about and thus I cannot verify the refund until I get home and can check with my bank). That just means I’ll spend that much less onboard.

It is interesting that the Suite Lounge is bigger than the Diamond Lounge, even though there are more Diamond and Diamond Plus passengers then suite passengers. It is true that the Suite Lounge has no card reader. However, when I went in there was a guard at the door.

So let’s see, what else happened to me today. I wore my Cruise Critic shirt. Some of the people who saw it are also members and asked for my screen name. Some people saw it and make comments indicating that they thought I was a professional cruise critic (small “c” rather than capital “C”). One person said, “I like your website.” It was easier to just say thank you then to explain my real connection (for those of you reading this, no, I do not work for Cruise Critic).

One couple actually engaged me in a conversation. They have been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean and thought Royal Caribbean was the best. Did I agree? Clearly this was the wrong day to ask me that, but I gave an honest answer. I said no. I said I look at what is promised and what is delivered. I said that Carnival does not promise much and delivers on that promise. Royal Caribbean promises a lot and does not deliver all that they promised.

For example, if you are in a suite on Carnival all that is promised is a larger room and priority embarkation and debarkation. Carnival delivers on that promise. Royal Caribbean promises treat you like a king and a queen, but falls short of that promise. Is Royal Caribbean better then Carnival? Yes, Royal Caribbean does offer more, but also charges more. Then I brought up NCL. She had never heard of NCL. So I used the full name, Norwegian Cruise Line. She still hadn’t heard of it. Had she heard of any the advertisements about Freestyle? He had.

So, which is the best? I told her that would be Crystal, Seabourn, Silversea or Regent. However, you will pay more. I then mentioned that Celebrity is owned by Royal Caribbean and it fits between Royal Caribbean and the luxury lines. The same with HAL which is owned by Carnival.

I’ve been in a suite on NCL (and in fact my next cruise is also in a suite on NCL). NCL promises more than Royal Caribbean does, and delivers on that promise. So let’s compare prices. My last cruise on NCL was in a suite and lasted 13 nights for $6,000. This was the second leg of a repositioning cruise from Hawaii to Los Angeles to Miami and finally ending in Europe. Clearly $6,000 for 13 nights is better than $4,000 for a week. However, the cruise was underpriced. As final payment became due one of the cabins I was in was put back into inventory and resold for $10,000. My next cruise is eleven nights and the cost is $5,600. So I am paying $571 per night for the cabin I am in now. The NCL cabin will run $509 per night. In all fairness, the Grand Suite is a little bigger on the inside. What makes the NCL cabin so nice, for me (besides knowing I’ll be treated like a king) is the balcony. Not only is it bigger, but it is also forward facing. Last time I was on a full transit of the Panama Canal. This time only a partial transit of the Panama Canal. However, since I am in a suite, I know I’ll be on the part of the ship that goes through the canal (HA HA).

Finally it is time for dinner. The main restaurant takes up three decks (three, four and five) at the back of the ship. I’m on deck four next to the center so that I have a good view of the staff when they gather on the steps to sing and say good-bye. I’m at a table for six, with a very nice couple and three empty chairs. I covered for the three missing people by saying they fell overboard when the ship started moving. The couple cruises every other year and they are platinum. Once they found out how experienced I was they started asking me all sorts of questions. When they found out I was in a suite there were even more questions. I told them I had pictures and that I would show the pictures to them tomorrow night.

Nothing on the menu jumped out at me (that could be good or bad, depending on how literally you interpret that). I ended up ordering off the classic menu (the every night offerings). I had the pasta as an appetizer (which is just a smaller portion of the main dish) and the chicken breast. The lady ordered the classic steak and ended up with the prime rib. Oops! She liked the prime rib so there was no complaint, though they did point out the mistake to the waitress (as they should). Of course the waitress offered to get what she originally ordered, but she had already eaten the prime rib, she liked it, was not complaining and wasn’t hungry enough to eat another main course.

I got to entertain them with some of my stories, such as the person who wrote a review about the cruise that was completely ruined because there was dust on top of the door. I don’t even check the tops of the doors. Now if there is a body under the bed that is a different thing. So I told them about the person who stuffed towels in his pant legs, put the pants partially under the bed, and added shoes to the bottom of the pant legs. The only problem is, you need a hidden camera to see how the room steward reacts. Then there is the joke about how you can tell the drunks when the ship is rocking? The drunks are the ones who are walking straight. Or, how you can shower by squirting the soap on the sides of the shower and then spin. For those of you unfamiliar with the standard Royal Caribbean shower, it is a tube with clam shell doors. The tube’s diameter is not much more than the width of the average person.

Well, it’s been an interesting day, and not in a good way. Fortunately tomorrow is a day at sea, so I’m looking forward to the meet and mingle (which I still have not been notified about - at least I know when and where, so I think), checking out Splashaway Bay (which looks a lot better than the H2O Zone) and relaxing. So until tomorrow, good night.

Monday, April 11, 2016 - Day at sea

Well, we are southbound and I’m on the port side of the ship, which means my windows face east. So I am awake at the crack of dawn, which is about 6:45am today, and I have the pictures to prove it.

After that I showered and got dress. Then I reviewed some of the paperwork I have and checked the TV. The good news is my account is showing the purchase of the missing shore excursion, so I should get that later today. The onboard credit is not showing, but that should show up later today. The bad news is that the ship information channel is not working. It still shows the ship in Galveston and we are somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

So I upload my photographs, review them, and then work on this. About 10:00am the room stewardess shows up and so I head over to the Suite Lounge to take pictures, which should put me near the Olive & Twist for the Meet & Mingle at 11:00am.

I’m done taking pictures at 10:30 and I’m wondering what all those people are doing in the Olive & Twist. Then I recognize someone and realize that the meeting must have been moved up to 10:00am. Great, I just got over my disappointment from yesterday and now I find out that I may have missed something I was looking forward to. So now I’m upset again. I sit down and watch a raffle take place that I don’t have a ticket for. It’s not a big deal, especially since the only thing I wanted was gone after the first ticket was drawn.

But then at the end someone gets up and gets up and starts talking about the roll call, and I realize it is going to involve me somehow. I’m a bit of a wise guy (okay, more than a bit) and someone mentioned something about digging up some information about Galveston. So I asked, where are we going to dig? And he provides a link to a website. So I reply that I bought a shovel for digging. I’m told to return it. So I say that I can’t return it because I engraved my name into the shovel. Well, then it took off. Everyone was adding the words engraved shovel to all their posts. New people who joined the roll were left wondering what all the talk about shovels was about.

Now I was not the only “wise guy” in the roll call. Toward the end people were thanking some of us for making the roll call so much fun. I’ve had people say my posts were funny before, but this was the first time I’ve been thanked for making the roll call fun.

So at any rate four of us are called up to the stage and given plastic engraved (taped on paper) shovels. Very cute and a very nice touch. And best of all, now I’m not upset any more. Still, I think I’ll avoid suites on Royal Caribbean for now on. They are bad luck.

For lunch I had a plate full of pasta and a hamburger and I’ve taken it back to my cabin along with a glass of ice (water I can get, ice is worth its weight in gold) and have lunch on my balcony.

Well, it is 2:00pm, and I’ve got my bathing suit and waterproof camera, so I’m going to check out the new Splashaway Bay and the working water slide. I’ll catch up with you later today.

This is funny. I’m walking down the hallway in one direction. Three woman are walking toward me in another direction. I step into a doorway to let them pass. Guess which cabin they are in. What are there, eighteen hundred or so cabins? What are the chances I pick their cabin door to step aside in? All three of them were laughing out loud once it became clear what had just happened.

I was able to get a few extra photos of the Splashaway Bay with my waterproof camera. Then I saw a ship just ahead of us off the starboard side. I can tell it is a Princess ship because of the carrying handle on the back (and also because a Princess ship will be with us in Roatan). Then I went to the adult water slides. We already know Tidal Wave is not working (and I didn’t see anyone working on it). But apparently on Sunday (that would be embarkation day) the green slide stopped working also. So let’s see, three water slides were added to the ship. One has never worked, and isn’t scheduled to begin working for another month. Another had been working, but now that it is a few months old, it has stopped working. So there is one working slide (for now).

I was not allowed to take my camera, watch, or Crocks on the slide. At least I was able to take by bathing suit. There is a spiral staircase up to the top of the slide. I guess there are twenty people in line and it takes about fifteen minutes until it is my turn. The slide was okay. However, the landing area is smooth. It was like trying to stand up on ice, without ice skates.

After that I went back to the cabin, washed off and changed into nicer clothing for formal night. I had something to give to the Loyalty Ambassador and I wanted to check in with the Diamond Concierge and at the very least say thank you (with a tip, he has been a fantastic help). He has been a fantastic help. Well the Loyalty Ambassador is nowhere to be found (yes, this is his normal business hours - the sign says he is helping someone else). So I go to the Diamond Lounge and thank the Diamond Concierge (Jorge Gutierrez) and gave him a tip. He didn’t have a reply from Miami yet, but he didn’t expect it until tomorrow. I mentioned that I could not find the Loyalty Ambassador. He said he would take care of it for me. So far he has been good for his word, so I gave him in Diamond Plus tour request. For me, this is the biggest Diamond Plus perk, a bridge tour.

Then I went to the Suite Lounge for a special suite passengers’ event. The guard is at the door again and I flash my gold card. Inside what do I find? The captain is there. Soon most of the top officers arrive. The only other one I recognize is the hotel manager. I end up having a chance to talk to the captain and ask him a couple of questions. Apparently this is a suite perk. Suddenly I see a real live suite perk that has some value to me. Unfortunately the free drinks (and the sun) are getting to me, so I head down to my cabin to work on this and relax before dinner.

There are still only three people at the table tonight. The couple I sit with have a drink package and it is obvious that he has taken full advantage of it. He didn’t do or say anything he will regret later, but it was obvious this was not the same gentleman I met last night. It was an uncomfortable dinner for both his wife and I.

Yesterday we were talking about suites. I told the couple I am sitting with that I had pictures. Tonight I brought my computer so that I could show the pictures to them. I have pictures of the Royal Suite, one of the Owner’s Suites and my Grand Suite. They were very impressed. The wife decided to put booking a suite on her bucket list.

I had a small chicken salad and the classic steak. I wanted it cooked medium and it was more like medium well. However, it was good.

The drinks I had in the Suite Lounge were getting to me, so I decided to go back to the cabin and just go to sleep. Overall it had been a much better day then yesterday. So until tomorrow morning, good night.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 - Day at sea

Woke up in time for sunrise. Unfortunately the sun rise was not that impressive. Since I didn’t get a plate full of fruit yesterday (I got a plate of cheese and some other goodies, which I ate) I went to the Windjammer to get breakfast. Then I brought it down to my balcony so I could enjoy breakfast on my balcony.

After that I put my blue make up the room card out and worked on this until the room stewardess showed up, then I left so she could do her thing. I went up to the Suite Lounge just to see what was up. I enjoyed a nice cold glass of ice water out on the balcony overlooking the basketball court.

Then I walked around a bit just to waste time (to give the room stewardess more time to finish) then went back to the cabin. There I read most of the paperwork that had been given to me. So let’s see what is available.

First of all, there are thirteen light switches for the lights inside the cabin. That does not include the light switches for the bathroom, the desk or the balcony. Sometimes it is a challenge to figure out which light switch to use to turn off the lights. For those that want to know, there are two outlets on the desk (for those that want to charge more than one item at a time). As to all the concern about electrical equipment, I’ve got small power strips (three outlets), a surge protector (for use in the hotel, not on a cruise ship) and a long extension cord (so I can use the laptop computer on the balcony if it is cool enough (I’m referring to the weather, I like it cool).

There is a sign that says, “Want your bed separated? No problem.” Separated from who, me??? Where will I sleep? Well, I believe I also have a sleeper sofa. I’ve got five life jackets (four adult and one child), so I assume the cabin sleeps four. Actually I didn’t know you could have suite beds separated into two twins. But watch out, the bed has rounded corners and the frame has square corners. My shins can confirm this.

If you are Diamond or higher, there is a Diamond Lounge. The Diamond Concierge is there from 8:00am to 10:00am on sea days and 7:00 am to 9:00 am on port days (he is off on starboard days). Hors d’ oeuvres and bar drinks are available from 4:30pm to 8:00pm. In addition the following is also available:

Continental breakfast during his office hours in the morning.

Daily menus are available in the Diamond Lounge.

The Diamond Concierge will make reservations for any of the specialty restaurants, sport activities, shore excursions, spa and salon appointments.

Business services such as faxes, copies etc.

You cannot bring non-diamond guests.

There is a whole binder full of stuff for suite guests. Since I forgot my copy machine, I took photographs of each page (that is how I had to do it in my spy days before portable copiers were invented).

There are special savings for Diamond Plus members:

Purchase a dinner in one of the specialty restaurants with a cover charge on the first or second night of the cruise and the second cover charge will be waived.

Buy any wine, beer or soda by the glass and get a second one free (hopefully the second one come in the glass rather than by the glass).

Buy one, get one free Johnny Rockets milkshake (apparently both of these come in the glass).

One complementary non-alcoholic specialty coffee drink with the purchase of dinner in any specialty restaurant.

Three free spin to win at the casino (I wonder how strong you have to be to spin the casino).

30% off casino tournament entrance fee (excluding poker tournaments).

Two free days of Internet usage or $80 off any Internet purchase which is valid for one device and two individual 24 consecutive hour sessions (for those of you who wish to spend 48 hours surfing the net).

$10 off a $30 bag of wash and fold laundry on eight or more nights cruise (this is a seven night cruise).

$5 off of any dry cleaning or pressing services of $25 or more.

One free $30 wash and fold bag on five or more nights cruise (does this include eight or more nights?).

20% off one tuxedo rental package.

Spend $25 or more on Royal Caribbean Logo products and receive 15% off (what are you going to do with 85% of a logo?).

Free, any size photo of your choice from your existing printed photograph selection.

10% off a digital photo package or photobook (standard events only).

20% off any spa or salon service - not applicable for medi-spa or discounted services (so I guess you can’t use the 20% off coupon on any service where you use the 20% off coupon).

Book a signature spa service while in port and receive a complimentary add on treatment (the catch here is, how are you going to book the spa service while you are in port?).

Stateroom phone discount of $2 per minute (you can imagine how much it costs if $2 per minute is just a discount).

And of course the big one. Three free drinks each night (4:30 to 8:00pm) at almost any bar (meaning all the bars except the dining room, specialty restaurant, Windjammer or the bar that you are at).

On day five is a Top Tier Event. Now I would think a top tier would be Diamond and above. But no, top tier is any tier above gold (gold is the lowest tier).

Sunday I got a surprise. Okay, Sunday I got lots of surprises. This was a good one. Apparently my agent is giving me a free specialty dinner for two (she knows I’m single). So I choose lunch today at Sabor. I really threw the person who answered the phone for a loop when I pointed out I was by myself. Well, do I have any friends? Yes, but they are not on this ship. Did I meet anyone? Yes, but I don’t think her husband would appreciate my inviting her to lunch just because we stood near each other during the muster drill. I’ve eaten at Sabor for lunch on the Freedom of the seas and it is (and was again today) very good. I would highly recommend it. It is a Mexican restaurant.

After lunch I planned to do a little swimming. However, the sun, heat, worry, and running around got to me and I just relaxed by watching TV (sort of - I was half watching and half napping). At least the ship’s information channel has us out of Galveston and near Cozumel). I did get up in time for Saturday Night Fever (it’s on Tuesday night???). It was very low energy and I like high energy. It is longer than usual (82 minutes). But it was good (for a low energy show). No videotaping but still pictures are okay, and I’ve got a camera and lens combination that works well in low light. I got lots of good pictures.

Then it was time for dinner. I was the only one there. So the waitress took my order. Then the table next to me invited me over to their table. Then the other couple from my table showed up (sober this time). Then they got invited over to the table I was now at. They have an eight top and only four of them have shown up so far. So now there were seven of us and our waitress had nothing to do (well she did have other tables).

So I did a little less swimming then I planned, but otherwise it was a good and relaxing day. Tomorrow is a shore excursion. I’ll be visiting with my second cousins. So until tomorrow, good night.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - Roatan

I guess I was a little more tired than I thought. I woke up after sunrise. No time to dilly dally this morning, as I have an independent shore excursion this morning at 10:00 ship time (9:00am local time) with Victor Bodden. I figure if I leave the ship around 9:00am ship time it will give me enough time to check things out and still be at the meeting place on time.

This morning I decided to check out another suite perk, breakfast at Chops. The menu includes some very nice offerings, including steak and eggs. I had a custom made omelet and ice tea. This is a very nice suite perk.

After breakfast I went back to the cabin to pick up the food for the monkeys and then down to deck one to disembark. I quickly toured the port area. A lady was getting her feet cleaned by algae eaters. At least that is would they would call them if you went to an aquarium store. I’m not sure what they call the fish here (they are fresh water fish that are about two inches long). The fish eat the dead skin as long as you hold your feet still. Move and the fish will scatter. The trick is, what the fish are doing tickles. Ten minutes was fifteen dollars, twenty minutes was twenty dollars and thirty minutes was twenty-five dollars. A couple of months ago I had the same thing done to my hands at Sea World for free (included in the price of admission).

After looking around I found a couple of things I would like to purchase when I return. I found the Victor Bodden booth. I was told they just left and would return in five or ten minutes. Just left, I am thirty minutes early? Turns out what was meant is the other people I am with are looking around (just like I was) and they will return in five or ten minutes (and they did). So we left on our tour about twenty minutes early (an advantage of private tours).

Well, the iguana farm is in one direction and the monkeys are in another direction. We headed toward the iguanas first. However, our first stop was to pick up some monkey food. We really over did it. One bag of peanuts and one bag of grapes would have been more than enough. We had five times that much, plus bananas, fruit, apple and banana chips (dried apple and banana pieces) which we ended up sharing with the other people there plus the staff (as we could not bring it back on the ship).

I was here in April 2009 and was basically repeating what I had done before, just with more food this time. I was only interested in feeding the monkeys but the other two wanted to see the iguanas. So the iguanas was our first stop. There are five ships here today, totaling what I believe is about sixteen thousand people. Both locations were crowded.

At any rate the iguanas proved to be more interesting than last time because this time someone was selling iguana food, two very large leaves for one dollar. This proved to be the land version of dropping bread in water full of fish. It was a feeding frenzy with iguanas running over and climbing over each other to get a bite of this leaf. I think I spent three dollars on food. I’ve got pictures and video of the action. Fortunately the iguanas are vegetarians, so I still had ten fingers when this was over.

Next we went over to Victor Bodden’s monkeys. There are more than I remember. Though the monkeys like and eat the peanuts, they seem they like the grapes better. They suck the juice out. The parrots liked the peanuts. I don’t think any of the monkeys were hungry when we were done.

The whole thing was thirty-five dollars each plus ten dollars for the iguana farm. It lasted about three hours and was very enjoyable. This is my second Victor Bodden tour and one of the things I really like about it is that you can customize your tour. We basically had a private tour guide for three hours.

Upon our return I picked up a couple of souvenirs and head for the ship. I drop off everything in the cabin and head for lunch, which I bring back to the cabin and enjoy lunch on my balcony. Then I change into my bathing suit, grab my waterproof camera, and head for Splashaway Bay. The bucket is dumping and I want to get soaked and get some close up pictures of the bucket dumping its water.

Then head back to the cabin, shower, work on this and just relax until dinner time. Today all three of us are at our own table. We share stories of what we did. For dinner I had the pasta as an appetizer and I ordered the Chops steak (that cost an extra $20 with tip).

After dinner a nice surprise was waiting for me when I arrived back to my cabin. My crystal for hitting 210 points. Which reminds me. Jorge (the Diamond Concierge) left me a phone message telling me that he confirmed that my original Belize shore excursion was refunded to my credit card. I was hoping to find out why that happened. I did not ask to have it cancelled and I ended up buying it again. So any way, everything that went wrong on the first two days has been corrected (and I ended up not using my mini knife).

Tomorrow I have an early shore excursion which includes a long tender ride (I’ve been told it is about five miles - this is my first time to Belize). It must be a short trip to Belize, as we are only doing 8.5 knots. So since I’m tired and it is 10:00pm, I’m going to hit the hay. See you tomorrow morning.

Thursday, April 14, 2016 - Belize

I have an 8:15am shore excursion today. Since the Chops’ breakfast does not begin until 8:00am, I don’t have time for a Chops breakfast today. So I settle for a banana, which is fine since I don’t normally eat breakfast. I’m in group eight, on the Wildlife Adventure tour. We are the seventh group call to the tender boats. One thing I noticed, there are only lifeboats on this ship, no tender boats. Thus all tendering is being done by local commercial tenders. One good thing about this is that the commercial tenders are open and airy, not closed and stuffy like the ship’s tenders (if it had any). Still it is 9:30am before we get to Belize, as it is a long tender ride.

There it is a fairly long wait until we board the bus. It is an old bus, but the air conditioner works. It is a long ride to the zoo. It is a nice zoo, but not world class. There are three problems however. The zoo uses fences and electric wires to keep the animals in. That means most of the viewing is done through wires. Inside the cages is all natural vegetation, so the animals are hard to find and see. Which brings up problem three. Though this is a fairly small group of nineteen people, once an animal is located, there at least nineteen people that all want to see it at the same time from the same place.

From the zoo we go to the river to have lunch (no, we don’t eat the river). Lunch was okay as far as tour lunches go. We had chicken, rice, beans, a small salad, and a drink. Then it is a boat ride down the river to a small town where we board the bus back to the tender dock. Along the river we see various wildlife, such as monkeys, birds, alligators, and landing 737s. Yes, the local airport landing path goes right over the river.

We are back at the tender dock just after 3:30pm and the last tender to the ship is 4:30pm. Fortunately all of us are aware that the ship is one hour ahead of local time, since the tour guide thinks we have a two hour window, not a one hour window. A major drawback to Belize is that one loses two hours round trip because of the tendering. Also note, when approaching (and leaving Belize, the captain is not lost. The channel the ships have to follow was laid out by a drunken snake. I was trying to figure out what the captain was trying to do, as the ship made one turn after another until I realized the ship behind us was doing the same thing. I figured both captains could not be that crazy (or drunk). I later spoke to the captain and confirmed that the channel through the reef was not straight.

Tonight is our second formal night. After a tender port? I think after Cozumel would have been a better choice, but nobody consulted me on this issue. I have a few pictures taken, two of which I like and buy. The captain cannot come to the formal night because he is busy trying to figure out how to leave Belize without making the evening news (got to stay in that channel when leaving Belize also).

I’m the only one at dinner tonight, which is good because I’m dead tired and the faster I finish dinner the faster I can go to sleep. I’m done in less than one hour. Belize has two seasons (the same two Panama has), hot and hotter, and they are both humid. All I want to do is sleep. I’ll be back at you in the morning.

Friday, April 15, 2016 - Cozumel (also tax day)

Today is a day I am really looking forward to. The last time I was in Cozumel I swam with the manatee. It was great, my new favorite. My old favorite is feeding the stingrays at Stingray City. I book the 10:00 visit with the manatees online at a discount. The problem is, when you book you have to state which hotel or ship you are on. You can’t book without providing this information. You also can’t book if you are on a ship. The ship doesn’t offer the swim with the manatee as a shore excursion, so I decided to slightly misstate things. I said I was at a hotel and the name of the hotel was the “Liberty of the Seas” (since the ship really is a floating hotel). It worked. Booking online gave me a 10% discount. It got better once I got to the park.

But before I go to the park there were two things I wanted to do. One, have breakfast, which this time was steak & eggs at Chops. The other thing was to find out if we are one hour head of Cozumel or not. For Roatan and Belize the Compass (which is the ship’s newspaper) said we were one hour head. However, for Cozumel it did not say this. I saw Jorge (the Diamond Concierge) on my way to breakfast. He said Cozumel in the same time zone as Roatan and Belize so he thought the ship would be one hour ahead, but he would have to check. My reply is that Galveston is in the same time zone also. I saw Anis (the Concierge) in the Suite Lounge. I asked him and he used a very simple method to get the answer. He logged on to the computer and checked the local time. Cozumel and the ship’s time are both the same.

So after breakfast I head out to Chankanaab Park (also known as Dolphin Discovery). The taxi ride was $12 each way. Once there I didn’t have to pay anything extra for admission and I got a 25% discount on the 12:00 swim with the manatee session. Yes, I am doing the same thing twice. I have four wrist bands. Yellow and Pink are admission bands (apparently the park is both a commercial park (like Sea World) and a national park (like Yosemite). So there are two admission fees. Perhaps that is the reason for the 25% discount, since apparently the $59.00 swim with the manatee includes the price of admission. Who cares, I’m in.

I was here is 2004 and did the swim with the dolphin and swim with the seal programs. The last time I was here was March 2013 and that is when I swam with the manatee. The swim with the dolphin program has clearly become more popular. Unfortunately so has the swim with the manatee program. In 2013 there were three of people and two manatees. Today there were fourteen people in the first session and four manatees. I don’t know how many people were in the second session. I would guess at least eight. Fortunately, the manatees eat 10% of their body weight per day. So a 450 pound manatee eats forty-five pounds of lettuce and I don’t think both groups combined came to that amount, and there are four manatees. So I didn’t have to worry about the manatees being not hungry (or fed-up - ha ha).

In the first group there was a group of eight family/friends and six of us not with the group. So the family/friends where sent to feed three of the manatees while the other six of us interacted with the fourth manatee. When we finished interacting with the manatee, the two groups switched. As I finished feeding the manatees I wondered what to do next. Squirting the kids in the other group seemed to be a good idea. I can squirt water from between my two hands, a skill that takes some time to perfect. So the kids tried, but they could not squirt me back. Then I noticed two stalks from the lettuce. I know the manatees will eat that also. So ask for the two stalks and get to feed the manatees again.

A word of warning. You are not allowed to bring your own camera. They will take plenty of pictures of you. Their taking the pictures is free. Your taking the pictures is not. I believe you can buy individual pictures (print or digital) but I wanted them all in a digital format. No problem, that came to $70 for each session ($140 total for both sessions). It cost more for the photographs than it is for the swim with the manatees experience. Between the two sessions I ended up with 96 photographs of me with the manatees. That works out to about $1.46 per photograph, which isn’t a bad price on a per photograph basis.

After my second swim with the manatees, I decided to walk around the park and take pictures. I don’t think I covered all of the park, but I believe I was able to photograph more than ninety percent of the area that most people would be interested in. As I got ready to leave I noticed that the 2:00pm swim with the manatees was the smallest group. Small groups are nice, however, the manatees’ appetite insures that if you have a head of lettuce, you will find that one or more of the manatees will become your friend.

After boarding the ship I showered, dressed and then grabbed my good camera and went back out to photograph the outside of the ship, as this is the one port where I can stand on solid ground (not a bobbing tender) and take a clear photograph of the ship (no dock, people or small boats in front of it). On the way out I saw the hotel director who recognized me, and noticed that I was walking away from the ship. I assured him that I was not going far and would be back on time. After taking a few photographs of the ship I headed back and found the hotel director. I showed him one of the pictures I took.

Back on the ship, I was feeling good. I had fun with the manatees and I had my clear full broadside ship picture. Well, all of this came crashing down with one phone call. The shore excursion to Bush Airport, which includes a brief tour of NASA, has been cancelled. So now I have a flight home, but no way to get to the airport. After having solved all of the Sunday problems and after a very enjoyable time in Cozumel, this has me down in the dumps, even though I realize that the worst case is a three hundred dollar taxi ride by someone who learned how to drive in New York. This time I head to the Concierge (Suite Lounge). One, can he get me to the airport on Sunday? Two, can he book me into Giovanni’s Table tonight (I need a nice quite meal)?

He gets me a table at 6:30pm. I give him a tip and say THANK YOU! He seems fairly confident that he can get me to Bush Airport. I don’t share his confidence, but I am willing to wait until tomorrow morning to see what fate awaits me.

I work on this for a while and then head for dinner. I have a cheese plate appetizer and steak for the main course. My waiter lets me have the pasta main dish as an appetizer also. He says it is very good, and it was, as was the steak. I leave him an extra tip and head to the cabin. I want to work on this. However, even though it is now about the time I would normally have dinner and I want to work on this, that phone call (and the sun) has zapped the will and energy from me. I end up watching TV for a while in bed and eventually fall asleep.

Saturday, April 16, 2016 - Day at sea

I wake up at the normal time, first at 4:00am and then again about 6:30am. Even though I want to go to Chops for breakfast, I don’t get out of bed at 8:00am. Finally I get up around 8:30am, shower and dress and head up to the Suite Lounge. The concierge is on the phone, and then it suddenly hits me, I never received my invitation to the bridge tour. So while one concierge is on the phone, I run over to the other concierge and find out I am on the 9:30am tour and it is now 9:22am. I run over to the Concierge who tells me he is still working on it. I ask how long he will be here (to 11:00am) and tell him I’ll be back. I have to be somewhere else now.

A quick note, even though Royal Caribbean has eliminated the multiple daily announcements about various ways you can spend your money, the advertisements have not ended, they just come in other forms, messages on the TV, voice mail messages, and flyers. Some of those flyers come in envelopes. Make sure you at least look at them. My bridge tour invitation was in an envelope that I didn’t open until I started packing. I was lucky to make it to the bridge tour which I was looking forward to and had I known, I would have got out of bed earlier so that I would have had time to have breakfast at Chops.

I make it in time for the tour which was very enjoyable. One of the cadets conducts the tour (I get a picture with him). But we only have a half hour as there is a 10:00am tour. At 10:15am is the Captain’s Corner, which I also enjoy attending. However, when I get there I run into the Captain (don’t worry, neither of us were hurt) and I end up talking to him. This has two unintended consequences. One, I don’t have any more questions to ask and two, all the good seats have been taken. By 10:30am the questions are ridiculous and I decide to go to the Suite Lounge to find out if I am going to be waving to my plane as it takes off.

The Concierge came through again. I’m on the bus to the airport. No tour, but at least I’ll make my flight. I have a 4:20pm flight (designed for the tour schedule) and I’m figuring the bus will get me to the airport around 10:30am. Still it is a lot less than a three hundred dollar taxi ride (the bus is $47) and I have my laptop, so I’ll have plenty to keep me entertained. I gave the Concierge another tip.

So with that I end up chatting with another Gold Card passenger until lunch time. I take lunch back to the cabin to enjoy on the balcony. After that I put on my bathing suit so I can ride the green water slide which has been fixed. The green slide is faster. However, both slides are fun. Tidal Wave is still not working, but I did talk to one of the people working on fixing the slide, so something is being done.

Back at the cabin I showered and started the packing process. I then attended the 2:00pm ice show. It was okay, but not as good as other ice shows I have seen on other Royal Caribbean ships.

Then back to the cabin to finished packing and then I worked on this until dinner. I had two sliders as an appetizer and the pasta as the main dish. Usually I have ice cream for dessert (anything cold) but tonight I had the key lime pie after verifying that the filling is yellow. Yellow filling is real key lime pie, green filling is not real key lime pie. The wait staff put on their second show and then it was time to head back to the cabin and put the luggage out for collection.

Tomorrow not only are they going to kick us off the ship, but they are going to make us get up early to do it. So, until tomorrow morning, good night.

Sunday, April 17, 2016 - Debarkation day

I have to be in Studio B for an 8:30 debarkation. So at 7:30am I head to the Windjammer for breakfast which I take back to the cabin and enjoy on the balcony. By 8:15am I am in Studio B with many others. Our time keeps getting pushed back until finally at 9:30am they start to call the groups. However, there is no one verifying that the people getting in line are in the groups that have been called. This creates a backup getting into the terminal.

Going through customs is no better or worse than other ports. The bus to Bush is full and leaves at 10:30am. This hour delay might be a problem for some, but by the time I get to the airport I still have a four hour wait, so I work on this for a while.

Since I am just sitting here at the airport watching planes go up and down, it is time to reflect on the past week. Royal Caribbean, which is known for its service, fell well short in that regard in my opinion. However, that is just my opinion. You will have to decide how you want to view what happened. Did the two concierges come through for me? Yes. Should they have had to save the day for me? Not in my opinion. Bad service resulted in two people providing exceptional service. However, good service means that I don’t have to waste time getting someone to fix the bad service. I’ve been on thirteen cruises with Royal Caribbean and the only two times I have had problems is when I am in a suite. And no matter what you think of the service the concierges provided to me, I was still upset and or worried at a time I was supposed to be on a carefree vacation.

Still there was a lot more to the cruise than problems. The room steward, waitress and assistant waiter were great. I tipped them extra. It was a great perk to have breakfast in Chops and to hobnob with the Captain and Hotel Director. The Suite Lounge was a nice quite place to meet and chat with others. There are other suite perks, but these were the two I enjoyed.

The islands visited (technically Belize is not an island) where good. I would not mind returning to Roatan or Cozumel again. I know I am going to Roatan again in December. Belize would be a lot more interesting if two hours were not lost during the round trip from/to the ship. Look at it this way, one week has 168 hours. Flying cross country uses up less than sixteen hours or less than ten percent of the total trip. Spending even one hundred minutes out of an eight hour port visit tendering from/to the ship is still wasting more than twenty percent of the time (unless one really enjoys tender rides).

Cozumel is one of my favorite ports. I would have loved to spend more time in Cozumel. As I noted, Chankanaab Park offers a lot. There are also a couple of all-inclusive beaches on Cozumel that many people rave about.

And how about the ship. I think the Liberty of the Seas came out of dry dock looking better than when it went in. Have I been on the Liberty of the Seas before? No. However, I’ve been on the Freedom of the Seas twice and it is what the Liberty of the Seas was. I think the Splashaway Bay is better than the H2O Zone and that the water slides (when working) are the first water slides on a Royal Caribbean ship that an adult can enjoy. I also enjoyed the addition of Savor as a third optional extra cost restaurant.

So, did I enjoy the cruise? Yes, but not as much as I could have had Royal Caribbean lived up to its reputation for outstanding service. So as I said earlier, this will be my last cruise on Royal Caribbean for a while, not because of this cruise, but because of the games it is playing with pricing (fake sales) and the new website which is very user unfriendly, which makes looking for a cruise very difficult (again, in my opinion).

For those that are interested, my final onboard bill was $86.40. This includes $97.75 spend for food and drinks onboard, $111.65 for gratuities (really a service charge), and $109 for the shore excursion that was cancelled which I had to rebook once onboard. Of course there was also the $99 credit for the shore excursion to the airport that was cancelled and the $200 onboard credit which meant I really spent $385.40.

While I sit here typing this apparently United decided to change the gate assignment. It is getting close to boarding time and there is no plane here. I check at the gate and the next flight is to Denver in two hours. I find a United employee who tells me the plane is at gate 33 (I’m currently at gate forty). So off I go to gate 33. I check in at the gate. No need, just get in line, boarding starts soon.

This is an A319 and it is not nearly as nice as the 787. On top of that, apparently it was not the original plane when I picked my seat. So when I discovered the change, the only window seat left was in the 1F. The problem with that is, there is no seat in front to store things under. This means I would have to put my computer in the overhead bin. This means I would have to climb over someone to get my computer. Fortunately there is plenty of legroom making that a little easier. What made it even easier is the guy sitting next to me had the same problem. When he got up I got up I got up. Same when it was time to land. That worked out great for both of us.

Being in 1F allowed me a view of the entry door. There is a handle marked “RME” and on the door it is marked “A D”. So while everyone was boarding I sat there trying to figure out what “RME” and “A D” meant. When the stewardess closed the door and pushed down the handle, I finally realized it stood for “ARMED”. If the door is opened while armed, the escape chute will deploy.

Now as you know, the senior stewardess is in charge of first class. So this is kind of funny. Between the two seats is a small tray for holding glasses of whatever (water, orange juice, wine …). Something under it was loose. I was fiddling around with it when suddenly it opened. It is a second drink tray. Very handy. Naturally we took advantage of my new discovery. After serving everyone else, the stewardess, who must have seen me fiddling with it, ask me how I opened it. Apparently this hidden tray is a well-kept secret, apparently only known to one passenger and one stewardess (and anyone reading this). So how do you open it? You push it in and it pops out (sometimes you have to push it in a few time to get it to pop out). So, if you are ever flying first class in a United A319 and you want to impress your stewardess, just pop out the hidden tray and enjoy the extra room for the drinks.

The flight was unremarkable (which is good). I managed to sort the pictures from the first two days, so I still have seven more days of photographs to sort through. For those that are interested I took over two thousand photographs.

We landed and I went to baggage claim and waited. While waiting I looked up and notice a suite case that looked just like mine. Then suddenly I realized there were two bags that looked just like mine. At that point I realized what had happened. My bags went on an earlier flight. So I grabbed them. I didn’t realize there was a guard. She asked my last name. I gave it to her and she let me take the bags. She also mentioned that someone had tried to take one of them. This is a problem when you get to the airport too early. Bags tend to be put on planes based on destination, not based on flight number. I’ve had this happen before with Delta when going to Kona, Hawaii. I do appreciate United checking on who was taking what bags.

This review is a summary of one person’s experience. It is not the gospel for what anyone should expect when cruising with Royal Caribbean. Nonetheless, I hope people find this review helpful and/or entertaining.

Here is a link to the review on the main boards which includes the photographs ...

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2364155

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Cabin Review

Grand Suite - 1 Bedroom
Cabin GS 1578
The cabin was fantastic. I covered it in detail in the review and pictures of the cabin are available in the review on the main boards. The link to the review with the pictures is at the end of this review ...

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2364155
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews