8 Miami to Cruise to Nowhere Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas Cruise Reviews

This is a pretty disorganized review of our Liberty pre-inaugural cruise on May 14, 2007. The executive summary: Liberty is a destination resort all by herself. She's a beauty, too. I could easily be convinced to sail on her on a ... Read More
This is a pretty disorganized review of our Liberty pre-inaugural cruise on May 14, 2007. The executive summary: Liberty is a destination resort all by herself. She's a beauty, too. I could easily be convinced to sail on her on a cruise with lots and lots of sea days or ports that I don't care about, but if she's sailing to places I want to see, I would spend my days in port and my nights racing around trying to take everything in. My personality, I guess - I can't leave undiscovered nooks & crannies, and there were lots of them on this ship! Embarkation: After spending the night pre-cruise at the Hyatt Regency Miami (nice beds, but under renovation & I was awakened by hammering at 8:00 am) Carol and I took a cab to the port, arriving at about 10:30. In spite of having no real documentation other than an invitation from RCI, we were able to check in quickly. Boarding had just started as we were checking in, so we were able to go directly on to the ship. Cabins: We were assigned OV cabin 2338, in the same neighborhood as most of the Cruise Critics. Although we were happy just to be onboard, I confess that I greatly missed having a balcony to get some fresh air at will or to escape from the crowds. On the positive side there was a drape that pulled all the way across the cabin to provide some privacy for a late or early sleeper. We never met our cabin steward. He or she didn't impress - left dirty glasses & dishes in the cabin, refolded wet towels that had been on the floor (that gave me the willies) and would pile the bed pillows up onto the sofa at night, rendering it useless (they fit nicely right behind the head of the beds). RCI put many cabins on display, including the top suites, and we saw them all. At one point we went from the Family Oceanview near the bow to the Royal Family Suite on the stern. Halfway down the hall there should have been a sign: "If you were on Radiance, you'd be home by now"! The cabins are all nicely decorated, with very luxurious bedding and towels and the flat screen plasma TVs. I turned mine on as I left the cabin on disembarkation day just so I could say I saw it. There was far too much to cover to spend time watching TV! I'm normally an aft cabin fan, but the superstructure of the ship gets in the way of all of the cabins' views, at least from Decks 6-9 (didn't see any aft cabins on Deck 10). Because the side cabins have very spacious balconies, I would probably save myself the walk and book one of those instead. Bars: There were too many bars to visit on a two-night cruise, although I did my best. My favorite hangout was the Wipe Out Bar, where we could watch the surfers on the Flowrider and have a fabulous view of the ocean. The bartenders, Roger and Armando, took good care of us. The Sky Bar, Pool Bar, Schooner Bar, Catacomb (disco, actually) were the other venues I sampled, and they all had great service. Dining: We ate in the dining room for dinner, which was open seating. The food was good, although the service was a bit disorganized. More on that below... I snacked at the Windjammer, which has a good layout for traffic flow and very tasty offerings, and had pizza at Sorrento's which was ok. RCI pizza just doesn't compare to Princess - we had just disembarked the Diamond, so I had a fresh recollection there! Chops and Portofino are located on the same deck as the Windjammer. Both are gorgeous restaurants, although they were only open for certain groups for dining on this cruise. I could see spending my dinner times in there! Cruise Critic We had a good-sized group, and arranged to meet at the Sky Bar at 3:00, which was a good thing: the invitations to "our" party hadn't been delivered to our cabins, so somebody in our group kindly fetched them from Guest Relations and brought them to our gathering. The party was held in Cloud 9, located off the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 14. Richard Fain, Adam Goldstein and several other RCI key personnel attended the party and spoke a few words. I didn't hear many of them because I was at the other end of the room looking for a shrimp that had leapt off my canapE, rescuing it before it was ground into the carpet. And somebody (you know who you are) was snickering loudly at me, drowning out the speeches anyway. Oh, and my ears were filled with vodka at that point. RCI gave us a nice gift - a plastic gym bag (good for the pool or beach) containing an RCI computer mouse, Liberty commemorative pin and a Royal Champions mug. The Royal Champions are a new category of something, basically those of us who are die-hard RCI fans and who publicly promote the line. At least, that's what I think it is... Day 1: After the CC gathering we did something, but I really should have written it down earlier because now I can't remember what it was. Anyway, we then met at Bolero's (much smaller and less to my liking than Bolero's on the Monarch as it is bisected by a large stairway) and went to late seating. We had been assigned early, but didn't make it in time, and it was open seating, so there was no problem accommodating our tardy group. Our waiter was a little stiff, but our assistant waiter was a dream. Wine kept flowing, port was offered up, and Adam Goldstein worked the room. I do believe he hit every table - the man moves quickly! The food was the usual first night offering - lamb shank, shrimp, etc. The lamb was better than we've usually encountered. After dinner we went to the Schooner Bar to see Matt Yee. He is hilarious, and can get otherwise dignified people (who have consumed far more alcohol than they would if they had to pay for it) to do some pretty silly things. I tried my hand at the casino, broke even and walked away for the evening (I made a whopping $16 the next night, so I'm a WINNER!). It was 70's night in the Promenade, and the Village People appeared on the walkway above. They then came down to join the crowd and, like moths to a flame, found my roommate and started dancing with her. Sadly, I wasn't close enough to get a good picture, but her smile nearly cut her face in half! I spent the rest of the night at Catacombs, not getting to bed until after 5:00. If I do say so myself, I think I best illustrated our CC group's motto of "Sleep is for the Weak." Not sure that's a good thing! Day 2: After awakening around 11, I spent most of the afternoon at the Wipe Out Bar watching people on the Flowrider and chatting with some fellow passengers who had been at Catacombs with us. Amazingly enough, we all felt pretty good. We had a busy evening planned for formal night - we attended the Diamond Plus party at 5:30 (mostly horrid appetizers, but a great combo band - I missed having DH to dance with - and of course more free cocktails), went to the ice skating show at 6:30, which was phenomenal, did something before dinner, but I can't remember, then went to dinner, late seating again. The food was just so-so. My filet was overcooked just a touch and wasn't as tender as on the Monarch, but it disappeared anyway. We left before dessert (service was slooooow) in order to see Matt Yee again, then headed off to the production show, which was simply amazing. The special effects were terrific, and the singers, dancers & orchestra were excellent. Catacombs was dark for the night so we wandered down to Studio B for the post-80's party. It was basically a high school dance format - people were dancing on the rink (covered with a floor, of course), and there were quite a few men were standing around on the perimeter looking longingly at the action. I grew bored eventually, won my big jackpot in the Casino, & went back to the cabin about 2:30 am. Disembarkation: Because this was a cruise to nowhere, we didn't have to clear US customs on the way out. They began calling for people to leave at 8:00. My little band all had late-ish flights, so we relaxed in the Schooner Bar until the Captain came on and politely told us to get the hell out. We grabbed a cab to the airport (RCI had shuttle busses available but we didn't feel like dealing with the crowd) and were there in 20 minutes or so. It was a wonderful, albeit brief trip. I still prefer the Radiance class of ships - I felt a little closed-in on the Royal Promenade (I just didn't feel like I was cruising), and the ship has so much to offer that I would probably never disembark in port, which IMHO defeats the purpose of cruising. But I enjoyed myself immensely (yes, you can have too much fun), and wish to thank both RCI and Cruise Critic for arranging this boffo event! Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Liberty of the Seas, May 16-18, 2007 Can a Freedom class ship really get any better? For this cruiser it is wonderful to know that should I decide to get married again, I can do it while surfing onboard one of the most magnificent ships ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas, May 16-18, 2007 Can a Freedom class ship really get any better? For this cruiser it is wonderful to know that should I decide to get married again, I can do it while surfing onboard one of the most magnificent ships on the ocean, Liberty of the Seas! When you spend three days on a 160,000-ton ship, the time boils down to hours. As familiar as I am with this class of ship, it was a delight to once again encounter the gracious staff of Royal Caribbean. They must have a fantastic employee-training program, as everyone treats you like you are royalty. I have not run into one cross employee yet as I have on other cruise lines. I am especially fond of the new bedding and flat screen TV's in every stateroom. Since you spend 1/3 or so of your cruise in bed, it helps to really enjoy it. In fact, I missed the show the first night because my cabin beckoned me! The pillows are a little too high for my damaged neck, so I have to adjust and sleep flat. Perhaps they will offer a feather pillow option at some point. With 24/7 complimentary room service, having breakfast on the balcony in my pajamas is my favorite part. The food was just wonderful. For appetizers, we settled on the Escargot Bourguignon, which is baked snails in garlic herb butter in a perfect serving dish just right for dipping the crisp rolls into, plus Orange Carpaccio, orange slices, red onion, watercress, feta cheese and cumin mint yogurt. Delightful! Since I could not decide on so many great options, I asked my waiter to bring me several entree's in smaller portions. I just had to have them all! Linguini pasta folded in a creamy wild mushroom and white truffle sauce had so much flavor I pictured the chef with a syringe full of mushroom essence infusing my dish before serving! The Orange Lime Salmon with sauteed baby bok choy and tomato chili compote was light and divine. The Eggplant Mozzarella Tower with chunky plum tomato sauce and balsamic glaze was not my mother's, but a good chef's second. The surf and turf was cooked to perfection. The surf was incredibly marinated and seasoned shrimp which my son Dylan and I could not get enough of. The Roasted Duck with black currant sauce, red cabbage and croquette potatoes and the desserts thrilled the pallet. The complimentary pizza at Sorrento's was a fun selection of cheese, veggie, chicken and other delights. The sandwiches in the coffee shop! Oh la la! There was also Grilled veggies on scones, Brie and ham on croissants, and many different desserts like little chocolate soldiers standing in a row. All included with your cruise fare. I did not partake of the Ben & Jerry's, but my son said every flavor he had was up to par. I tried to get to Johnny Rocket's for lunch, but considering the exquisite alternatives, the wait was far too long for this tummy to wait in line. I want to save up all my money for as long as necessary to take my family on vacation in the Royal Suite! By far, the most incredible cabin at Sea. I have been on the exquisite Oceania ship Regatta, but I don't think it compares to this cabin on Liberty of the Seas. It was not the grand piano in the living room that thrilled me (although I could envision my daughter doing one of her tricks and playing chopsticks upside down and backwards) it was the gold freestanding bowls in the master bathroom with the elegant tub surrounded by cream and black marble and the built in window seat backed by a hand painted mural. What elegance and masterful design went into this cabin? I liked it much better than the Presidential Suite, which sleeps 14 and does not have the ambiance or fabulous living space of the Royal Suite. They finally are selling socks in the gift shops, as I always forget mine and you must wear a pair before getting your shoes for the Rock Climbing Wall. After spending $24 on six pairs of socks so I could race my 6'4" son to the top, we found something better to do and missed the session. With all the bravado of a 24 year old, my son took on the challenge determined to beat the pants off of the President of Royal Caribbean, Adam Goldstein, in ping pong. It turns out that Adam has not been sitting behind a desk, is fit as a fiddle and put my son in his place with a win of 21-12. My son wanted to continue and take Adam outside to the full size basketball court, where he knew he would dominate, but Adam had other plans! My son had a ball surfing the first and every time he got up on the Flow Rider and we played the nine hole miniature golf for giggles. The one show I managed to get to in this brief two night stay, had a very Cirque de Soleil flavor and was wonderfully choreographed with clever stage props and sparkling costumes. The acrobatics behind a veiled stage gave the unbelievable impression that you were watching a show that was taking place under water. It was a lovely fantasy and a great production with contemporary music. Nothing stodgy about this company. I will make sure to attend every show when I get onboard again in October for a week long party with my cruisers. Bravo to Royal Caribbean for having the first Godmother in history, as far as I know, who is not a celebrity, but just a hard working American woman who cares about other people. Donnalea Madeley was voted the best one for the job, just a regular travel agent who has charities all over the world she supports. Things you can't find on other ships: Generation YSPA: Spa service menu for Teens; Vitality Program: Tai Chi, Meditation, Chinese Herbs, Acupuncture, Fitness path in port, lectures on wellness topics, fitness shore excursions, menu options in Vitality program every day. Also, every food description was in four languages, English, Chinese, Japanese, & Korean. Have the Latin people not found Royal Caribbean yet? You can also whiten your teeth, have a couple's massage or an exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow. Is this a vacation or heaven? Once again, great job Royal Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Liberty of the Seas Miami Pre Inaugural Embarkation: this is sort of irrelevant because we had no porters, had our luggage in tow and it took a while for everyone to board, but it was really fun because of the circumstances, a free ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas Miami Pre Inaugural Embarkation: this is sort of irrelevant because we had no porters, had our luggage in tow and it took a while for everyone to board, but it was really fun because of the circumstances, a free cruise for all the invitees. We hardly noticed the time. Cabin: We lucked out on our deck 6 cabin with balcony as RCI chose our cabin for us since it was on their dime. It was beautifully furnished and with ample space and of course, the new bedding which was luxurious and comfy. The only negative comment I can make here is that the pillows were too plump for me, I'm used to down pillows...and the duvet was a tad heavy and hot. I should have asked the steward for a lighter throw, but with all the fun activities we tried to pack into 2 nights and days, we fell asleep too quickly to really care. I just loved the big fluffy white Turkish towels. Mmmmmm! I really loved the balcony, our first, and yes, we will want to always book them. I liked the floor which was some spongy rubbery material that felt really good under your feet. Service: Cannot say enough about the service par excellence. As usual, the crew and their hospitality and solicitous service is what makes Royal Caribbean the best in the business. Ship: Liberty is all it was advertised to be and so much more. Firstly, she is the most beautiful ship I have ever had the privilege of cruising. No detail has been left undone to make her the most elegant, refined and fun to sail ship afloat. The artwork around the ship is unparalleled in my opinion. From Dale Chihuly glass to fantasy figures, to the framed movie promo photos in the hallways and the moving interactive pieces niched into the walls, everything was impressive. A well planned aspect was the lighting. Real attention was paid to color and placement of accent lighting of public areas right down to the bedside lights (which included LED reading spots built into the standard bedside wall-mounted lamps). I especially loved the carpeting in the beautiful and elegantly clad dining rooms, each one in a different color and motif, my favorite being deck 5 Botticelli, which had gorgeous topaz blue and cream carpeting. So many crystal chandeliers and intricate inlaid wood paneling were everywhere in these rooms and made dining an unbelievable experience. Only the best of construction materials has been used with a real eye for detail. Food: Windjammers food is about as expected. I like most of it but some things are just cafeteria food. The fruit is always good as are the desserts. It always seems to me as if a food service staff of non Americans is trying to adapt food to an American pallet and it just doesn't come off. However, I will continue to eat there on off dining times, etc. The Asian themed Jades is a nice addition to the mix but I don't really expect hot lamp food line veggies to taste like wok stir fried ones. So it works for me. The star for me here is the dining room food, which I would rate as good to very good with Portofino and Chops as excellent, even though they were closed this time. I had the fillet of beef that was the chefs special and it was outstanding and presented well. I have always wished that the dining room would follow the American taste for hot bread instead of serving it room temp, but I guess that's not going to happen. As usual, the soups were excellent. I heard no complaints except my own about the beef fajitas, which were what we in south Texas would call quesadillas not fajitas. They were not served in the classic Mexican way as fajitas here are but were toasted. At least the meat was tender but sparse. Desserts were pretty good, although I will not compare them to the ones we first had on Rhapsody 3 years ago, which were exceptional. All things considered, I am always content with the food on an RCI ship. This was a cruise to nowhere, so no excursions to report on. However, we did do all the water themed activities and really enjoyed the H2O Zone. It will be hard to keep the adults from taking over this place. They heat the doughnut pool for the kids to just the right temp, not too cold nor as hot as the jacuzzi's so I loved that. I don't think many people knew it was heated. It was rather windy and cold out so most people except the real swimmers stayed out of the water. The doughnut pool was a "secret", shhhh. We did Flowrider and I can report that you should try it yourself. Not too terribly hard to ride the easy whole body method. Just don't try to be a hot rod and you'll do fine. While you're in the solarium pool, don't miss the underwater murals in the swim up area under the bridge. If you don't get your hair wet and look at it underwater you'll miss the reef fish on the wall. It's cool. Also, the pools are not salt water, they are fresh water, with a salt sanitizing system. We have the same for our pool at home. I feel it is far superior to chlorine systems. Doesn't hurt your eyes and is like swimming in a saline solution. You'll like the water. Shows: The ice show is not to be missed, as has been said before. It was so good, I would repeat it every show time. The costuming was glitzy and fabulous and the skating was extraordinary. The death defying spiral, head down is frightening and hard to watch but spectacular. This was a highlight of the entertainment. We missed the production show this time, too much to do, but will be sure to see it in September when we cruise Liberty for our 7 day booking. Matt Yee, another experience not to be missed. Never had so much fun! Be sure to be there or be square if he is on the ship when you go. In summation, I really cannot say in words what a good time you will have if you book her. As for size, yes she is big, but so big you don't notice any crowds to speak of, big enough to work off those extra calories walking from one end to the other, and big enough to make you feel safe too. We loved it, loved, it loved it and cannot wait to repeat in September....hurry hurry hurry September! Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural Cruise May 16-May 18 BOARDING: We were fortunate enough to be invited by Royal Caribbean and the Crowne and Anchor Society on the last of the Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural events. We came to the ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural Cruise May 16-May 18 BOARDING: We were fortunate enough to be invited by Royal Caribbean and the Crowne and Anchor Society on the last of the Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural events. We came to the port around 12:00 pm, where we were delighted to find that there was NO ONE around! We were given little welcome gifts and were onboard and eating in the Windjammer Cafe around 12:25 pm. Culinary Sections The Windjammer Cafe is very nice on the ship, as it offers and expanded amount of selections and seating areas, thus it doesn't feel as crowded. Ben and Jerry's Ice cream, as usual, was fantastic and a joy to eat. ALso, this is a nice addition to the Royal Promenade. The Main Dining Room is very luxurious and takes from the Dining Rooms of the Voyager Class Ships. Very elegant, great views it you sit by one of the large windows, excellent service, and superb cuisine. I truly believe that Liberty OTS has some of the best cooks in the fleet. Sorrentos and Cafe Promenade are also on the Royal Promenade and offered great food and snack selections Johnny Rockets was in full swing, but we just didn't have enough time to give it a try. Maybe next time!! Squeeze at the H20 Zone is RCCL's new smoothie stand where you can have protein shakes, regular smoothies, energy shakes, etc. Very Very nice additions. The Ship: Liberty of the Seas Having never been on the Freedom of the Seas, I was thrilled with the extensive enhancements that Royal Caribbean did on the Freedom Class. A Longer Royal Promenade with beautiful art and great shops/restaurants, larger verandas in balcony cabins, more and more pools like the H20 Zone for Kids, the AMAZING addition of the Flowrider Zone (including stadium seating, WIPEOUT BAr, the Flowrider, and stairs to the deck below), and the extension of the gym forward on Deck 11. I was very pleased with the art on the Liberty, although some was a liitle "out there", but still very nice. The Ice Skating Rink was very nice, along with the addition of the Karaoke Bar and Lounge Area. The Ice Show, called ENCORE, was incredible, as this will be a new addition fleetwide of ice shows. As previously mentioned, the Royal Promenade is better than ever and played hosts to the Pirate's parade (Pirates of the Caribbean!) and dancing street party. The little shops are great and so are Sorrentos, Cafe Promenade, and Ben and Jerry's, as well as the pubs and Vintages wine bar. The Pool decks were very nice and didn't feel crowded at all. There wasn't a lack of deck chairs (which by the way are new and very very different and nicer than others fleetwide) and the Sports Area in the aft section is also very nice. As for entertainment, this ship has it all, from Platinum the theater, the Viking Crown Lounge, the Ice Rink, the Royal Promenade, and the Main Pool which transforms into an outdoor disco dance area at night. Closing Comments: We thank Royal Caribbean for the invite, as this was an amazing opportunity for us to go on such a great ship. If you want elegance, adventure, alone time, kid time, non stop entertainment, relaxation, fitness, fun in the sun, or just a vacation, the Liberty of the Seas if for you. And if you go onto the Liberty OTS soon, tell Ken Rush RCCLCARIB says hello!! Enjoy the Liberty, as she is a prime example of Royal Caribbean's commitment to innovation, the "WOW" factor, continued excellence in service, food and entertainment, as well as their consistent and amazing cruise vacation! Bon Voyage: RCCLCARIB Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
I was both honored and thrilled to be invited on a two day Liberty pre-inaugural cruise through my participation in Cruise Critic. It was one of the highlights of my life and I will never forget it. I would like to start this review with a ... Read More
I was both honored and thrilled to be invited on a two day Liberty pre-inaugural cruise through my participation in Cruise Critic. It was one of the highlights of my life and I will never forget it. I would like to start this review with a MAJOR thank you to the Crown and Anchor Society. I've been told by a little bird, that they had a team of people who handpicked the Cruise Critic members that would attend this event and I am just blown away by the caliber of the people I traveled with. Every one of them was gracious, humble and more fun than a box of puppies! Pre-Pre-Cruise: My husband had to work. On top of that, we have four children, two special needs. YOU find them a babysitter, so we can leave the country. We can't find that special combination of Mary Poppins and a Drill Sergeant, so he could not come along. I narrowed it down to my friend Amy and my friend Cathy in about the space of a heartbeat. Since I am scared to cruise, after the Crown Tipping incident of the summer of 2006, I picked Cathy. She's in Michigan and can fly out of the same airport. I could not see bringing Amy out from So. Cal. for a two day cruise. Shelbylook, hereinafter known as, SL, and I headed to the Detroit Courtyard by Marriott Airport Hotel to spend the night before our cruise. This sucker was MUCH anticipated. From the day I got the invitation to the day I sailed, my brain was on stir-fry. The Courtyard is a decent hotel, NO HAIRDRYER! An appalling abomination in my world, but anything I didn't bring, SL did. We had a lovely dinner and got our drink on at the Merriman Road Grill. No one ate a whole lot, but the food was excellent. My husband had leftovers for the weekend. We were back at the hotel and crashed out at a reasonable hour. Darn it. Actually, my theme for the trip was, "I'm tired." I got a lot of good quality sleep on this trip. I was not expecting it, but I actually relaxed! Pre-Cruise Up and at em early on Sunday, Mothers Day. Went to Big Boy where we encountered the world's worst waitress. Yes, she really was. She yelled at another waitress and rolled her eyes at her tables. I'd like to suggest she take up another line of work. Maybe a bouncer at a biker bar? Breakfast was pretty good. I had a half order of Eggs Benedict and that was enough. Perfect, actually. They have yummy hash browns. I'm a hash brown snob. Yes, it is too possible. Dropped SL's car at Airline's Parking and off to Detroit Metro. We hauled our crap into the airport for the moment of truth. Would it weigh under fifty pounds? Breath-held, we crossed our fingers and PASSED! WooHoo! Sunday morning saw us breeze through security and off to the gate, at the end of nowhere. Northwest's terminal in Detroit is HUGE! A mile long, in total, it's a half mile in either direction. I abhor that funky train of theirs. It's always too full and the person next to me is always un-washed. Seriously, I win the lottery for standing next to the only person on the train who does not know what the word, 'antiperspirant' means, every time. So we hoofed it, using the moving walkways. I hit every book store in the airport, but never saw my book. Since airport bookstores are teeny, I was not surprised. I'd also been told that it was all, but sold out in Michigan, anyway. Still, a girl can hope (I'm an author. Romance). I ran into a poor woman who spilled her coffee on her laptop and boarding pass. She ran from the table, to get napkins and left her wallet sitting open and out! I stopped her, got her napkins for her and in general helped her out. You don't leave your wallet out at the Detroit Airport, or anywhere. SL is a nervous flyer. Scratch that. The woman needs a Xanex. She paced and sweat (but knows what deodorant is) for almost an hour and a half. I had no clue what to say to her to fix it. I'm a fixer and it about broke my heart to see her like that. We got on the plane and into our lovely and large exit row seats and all was well. I detest that NW asks you to pay more for decent seats. I think it's an abomination. They are my least favorite airline to fly. We paid it, but I always feel held up at gunpoint for safety. Except her fear telegraphed itself to my empathic little heart. I started to be anxious. So I do what I always do when I'm scared, I called my husband. About fifty times. I think SL suspects I'm too tied to him. I probably am. Still, after thirteen years of marriage, that's a good thing. A non eventful flight saw us in Fort Lauderdale. Sunny and warm. AHH! This is what I'm looking for! Michigan has had an iffy spring. The only thing wrong, was the smoke in the air. Much of Florida is on fire, right now. I believe there were thirty-seven fires ongoing, for the duration of this trip. The air was hazy and smelled a little of smoke. We were told the day before was worse. Our luggage was almost the first off the plane! I loved that. We met Bill and Rita of CC! What a neat couple. She had me autograph my book, which she brought along and I was gob-stopped. I'd not had that happen before, outside of the Romance Writers convention I'd attended. Into our shuttle and we were off to the Miami Hyatt. Check in was a breeze and the hotel was nice enough, but there was a run-down feeling to the place. The room smelled so strongly of deodorant spray, that we could not breath with the balcony door closed. Open the door and it all smells like smoke. I'd used points, so I did not want to complain. It was tolerable, but barely. The room is large, but the area is very commercial and I would not recommend it, for more than a night. Those at the Radisson were very complimentary, but I'd stay out on South Beach, if I were to do it again. We chucked our crap onto the beds and headed off to Bayside Marketplace. SL and I are pretty adventurous and I've traveled a lot. I'm not intimidated by cities. I'm a HUGE fan of Jamaica and people are always saying they feel unsafe there. I never have. We decided to take the People Mover thingie in Miami. We headed into the basement to take the underground tunnels to the thing. MISTAKE! It's creepy on Sunday's. No one is in downtown Miami on Sundays, but a few tourists and some people who are probably homeless. A few made the hairs on my arms stand up! I was shocked and bothered. I take the EL in Chicago, without blinking. I just don't get bugged by strange people and the smell of urine. This time I was bothered. I strongly suggest another hotel in Miami if you don't have a car. STRONGLY! We made it to Bayside. We both acted like it was not a big deal and did not feel like we'd just taken our lives in our hands, but we admitted our nerves once we got to our destination. We're just a couple of sissy chickens, but we're alive and that's good. I've never clutched my purse like that, in my life. We hit Bayside, which was very lively. I was not impressed with the fancier stores, but the ones to the right, as you enter, are funky and fun. We headed to Hooters, to eat. I'd never been to a Hooters before. It was interesting. I was not impressed with our waitress, who appeared bored and grumpy with us, and others, (we sat outside) but was a hoot indoors with the other waitresses. She seemed like a different person, when I went to the ladies room and ran into her. Very strange. This was not our week for good wait staff, bar one person. I loved the wings, which were medium and the pitcher of Sangria. Very yummy and COLD! A pitcher is about right for two thirsty people. We were not drunk when we left, and sitting out in the sunshine, enjoying the people watching was a fabulous thing to do. Then, off to wander Bayside. I would have loved to stop and dance with the band playing, but SL didn't appear to be a Salsa dancer, so I just sort of moved my hind end, as I walked. We could clearly see, The Freedom of the Seas, in her dock and the RCI offices. I raised a glass of a fruity drink in their direction, to thank them. We wandered back to the hotel (via cab) and relaxed for five minutes. Then, Becciboo called. They were at the end of Government Cut at Smith and Wolinskey and wanted to know if we would join them? Would we? In a heartbeat. I changed skirts, changed shoes and we ran out the door, to not miss the Freedom as she sailed. A twenty dollar cab ride later (we were taken, to the tune of about five bucks), we were at S and W, on the rocks with Becci and Todd. What a FUN couple! We looked at the menu and while the prices are HIGH, we thought, "what the heck, it's vacation." Our waiter was great. There was a huge contingent of beautiful people there, but I never felt out of place. Our group was fun and our waiter made us feel special, even though we were not spending a grand. As it is, we probably dropped three hundred bucks, between us. Which is cheap, for S&W. The Freedom sailed about an hour late. Which was fine, cause Becci was busy describing a drink she created. I have to say, it sounded gross, but it tasted FABULOUS! I don't know what's in it, to this day, but it was potent and I could not take more than a sip. The cars outside S&W are high priced and exotic. We saw a Bentley, several Rolls and a Lamborghini in a lovely pearl color. Didn't take pictures of them. I thought it would be too hick-like. Dinner over, we headed back to Bayside and Lombardi's to meet with our fellow Cruise Critic members. Bayside has parking from HELL! We went to the self serve lot and could not figure out how to pay for parking for the life of us. Turns out the thing only takes five dollar bills, despite the instructions that said otherwise. Got to Lombardi's and the group was not there! Turns out the plans made for the reservation and separate checks was not honored by the restaurant. The group ended up splitting up and going their separate ways. Some stayed at Lombardi's, some went to the Hardrock (which was VERY accommodating and helpful) and some went back to their hotels to eat. Lombardi's lost a lot of business and some key recommendations that night. It's a shame. Parrothead8 and the CC group had really been looking forward to eating there and worked hard to plan it. The restaurant was selected because a CC member had been assured that they would accommodate them. Back to the hotel. Early night and the end of Survivor. So glad, Dreamz did not win. Wish Yeao-man had. Sail Away Day We SAIL TODAY! WOOHOO! Up early and SO excited. Had a buffet breakfast in the hotel, to the tune of $20.00 a person. YIKES! Was it worth it? Maybe not so much. Good, but not outstanding. We didn't much care. We were supposed to meet Critterchick and Dirtgirl in the lobby at ten, but some people slept in. So we headed to the port at ten. Crossing the bridge and seeing our big girl turned our excitement to HIGH! I was about to jump out of my skin and lost all pretense of cool at this point. I gushed and made a monkey of myself and I just didn't care! What a treat! She is pristine and sexy and gorgeous. I am not, typically, a fan of HUGE ships. Liberty made a liar out of me, in every way. Into the terminal and a quick show of my invitation, had us past the first security checkpoint. At this point, SL beat me as a CC member, in a way that had me in awe. She studied the faces and names of all the CC members who posted their photos. She looked around and picked members of CC out of the crowd! Yes, many of them were wearing LoS T-shirts, but she still looked like an in-the-know kind of gal. I called everyone by their screen names. Made it easy. This is where the refrain started. "You don't look like your avatar. You look younger. Get a new one." If I heard it once, I heard it a bazillion times. I think I need a new avatar. We chatted with the other CC members and there were hugs and kisses, all the way around. My only wish was the cruise had been longer, so I could talk to the CC members more. RCI hand-picked us (this from a big-wig in the C&A department) and they did a good job. What an amazing group of people. We got through security, to learn we had an Oceanview room. I have to admit, I was a little bummed. Yes, RCI told everyone they would be in Oceanview rooms, but we all had hopes. I was not as disappointed as the TA two rows down. She told the poor agent that she deserved a suite and that RCI should be ashamed. WHAT? We were INVITED on this cruise. It was a FREE cruise. Shut up and be grateful. I just had no patience for it. We were gifted with the greatest honor, to sail a ship before she is Christened. Any accommodations would have been okay. Was I a little sad that I didn't get a balcony? Yes. Still, I was happy I was going at all. I think our entire group felt that way. Which was good. As it turns out, everyone invited through CC was in the same area we were. We went to the cattle pen, I mean holding area and parked ourselves till it was time to board. Which happened between 11:30 and 12. I think. I hardly looked at my watch for two days. I loved that. Onto the ship and down to our room and the only real disappointment. I've sailed in ocean view rooms before. They are affordable with the kids and I don't spend a lot of time in the room. The only time I got a balcony, the Crown Princess, I spent too much time in the room. An ocean view drives me out. Still, we lost in the porthole parade. SL and I got the smallest porthole I'd ever seen! The cabins on either side had large portholes. The kind I normally get. We got a puny porthole. There are photos on my website, go look for yourselves. We joked about the small size of our porthole the whole cruise. If I was a man, I would feel inadequate. The room was thoughtfully laid out. Small, they're all small, but well done. I'm happy to report the hairdryers have enough power to blow my hair! A good thing, cause the plugs by the mirror are situated in a way that you cannot use an electric appliance with a transformer by the plug. If you have a lot of electronic gadgets, bring a power strip. You will need it. You can plug a hairdryer into that. I didn't need mine, so it was all good. The lifevests are on the closet floor. A bad place for them. The safes do NOT require a credit card to activate. They are push and go and worked perfectly. The new beds are VERY comfy and I loved the pillows. Our Steward never showed his face. They were traveling with a greatly reduced staff. He did leave us ice and the room was clean. I wish I'd had more towels, but life went on. Soap was fine. Never tried the shampoo. I'm fussy about shampoo. The shower was fine to shave my legs in. Others have said it is too small. I never tried the couch. We put SL's luggage there and mine on the floor of the closet, on the lifevests. Done with our inspection, it was off to the roam the ship. SL and I really liked the artwork on the Liberty. I found the art on the Mariner to be a bit garish at times. The art on the Liberty seemed to be well chosen. I was pleased. I did not see all of the ship. I never do. Lunch in the Windjammer was a hoot. Mostly because we met up with Ottawapuppy and Schplinky. Two great guys who are so interesting and fun, I would look to cruise with them again. The food was Windjammer bland, but filling and not a disappointment. I do think RCI is weak in the food department. Meals seemed hit or miss. That's what you get when you're feeding that many people. After the Windjammer, we went to our CC meet-up at a bar. It was near the pool, the deck above. At this point I should say that there are thirty-five bars on the Liberty (it might be 37. I'm close). SL and I made it our job to hit them all. The drinks were free. I had many. There are memory lapses. That's all I'm going to say about that. I will say that I don't like Mojito's. Which is a major disappointment in my life. I wanted to like them. The group took photos at the meeting and we all wondered why we were not given invitations we'd been assured we would receive to the party for the internet invitees. Becci, being a rather resourceful woman, and pushed by me, went to Guest Relations to find out. Turns out that there was a mix-up with the manifest and some people got them that we not supposed to. A lovely woman came up and handed us our invitations personally. Off to the room to grab our Mae Wests and get to Muster. Typical Muster. Hot, miserable and ugly. I do think Princess handles muster better. You're seated in a lounge and never have to put your vest on, till the last minute. I detest RCI musters, but I NEVER MISS ONE! No one should. You hold it up for the rest of us. Back to our cabin for a Houdini-like change of clothes. Thanks to SL who dried my ponytail, while I put on my make-up. I dress for dinner every night. It's my choice. This cruise was a gift, from RCI. I felt that dressing up was important. Many other CC members felt the same way. A few didn't, but there are those folks who don't. It does not bother me if someone dresses down. Okay, it does, but I would never penalize them by treating them badly. Just sayin. At some point, I saw the Flowrider and decided I needed to try it. More on that, later. We headed to the Olive and Twist bar for the RCI Champions Party. This was set-up for the internet supporters of RCI. WOW! Fabulous appetizers (not super fancy, typical of the Champagne bar, before dinner), passed champagne, Richard Fain and Adam Goldstein! These are THE RCI bosses. These are people you want to meet. I looked like an idiot as I gushed like a moron. I'm sure they think I have all the social grace of a poo-tossing baboon. Sorry about that. There were short, but meaningful speeches and Becci presented her poem. A touching moment. SL and I had a tear or two. Not as many as Becci. Who should hereinafter be referred to as, "Balcony Becci." Darn pig won a balcony! Next time, I write a poem! LOL! The meeting over we were all to be given gifts. They ran out. Turns out they were to be one per couple and someone handed out one per person. I got a bag, only. I was a little sad, but only told a couple people. One of them was Rita. She got one for her and one for her husband (they did ask and were told one per person) and she insisted I take her water mouse and cup. I was shocked and humbled, once again. How amazing was that? I also feel a little guilty about it. If we cruise together, again, she's getting drinks from me. Off to dinner. I must say, the food was not so hot. I don't remember my appetizer, but my main course was the chicken. DO NOT ORDER THE CHICKEN! I'd never tried it, never seen it. Now, I know why. Ugly, hard and nasty. I looked so forlorn, that Schplinky ordered me the shrimp, better, but not outstanding, in any way. Our server was okay. I later found out that she was at the tail end of her contract and just wanted to go home to see her kids. AHA! Can't blame her. I'd be pissy and grumpy, if I'd not seen my kids in months, too. Then again, while I'm typing this the two year old, is throwing himself to the floor over a chicken nugget issue. Bring on that four month contract! LOL! The company was the prize! What an amazing bunch. SL and I headed to the casino. I lost my twenty bucks and told her I was calling it a night. AFTER I cruised the promenade. Know the nice thing about cruising with people? You can always find someone. I sat with Breal6 and Cameraguy and found out she and I have a big thing in common! We yapped until the 70's dance party started in the Promenade (this was after some yummy Ben and Jerry's Butter Pecan. A small scoop). I had a ball! I ran into Dirtgirl, Critterchick and JudyJBest. Judy's husband was there too, but he stood off to the side and watched Judy. We danced and then Dirtgirl had a happy time flirting with the dancers (dressed as the Village People). I somehow got into a conga line, and the rest of the time is a blur. I know my cheeks hurt from smiling. I got to my room at 12:15 and felt like a party pooper. SL got in at 3:30. She was bobbing and weaving and we were in light seas. Wonder why? Day Two: At Sea SL and I awoke with watery sunlight streaming in our pee-wee porthole. I think it was seven something. I know SL got little sleep, but I had the best sleep I’ve had since the Crown tipping incident. I tried to not let the Crown get to me, but it did. I’ve had sleep issues for months now. Honestly, I was afraid to sail again. The Liberty restored my faith in the sea and her ships. Thank you, Liberty! We headed to the dining room. I have a thing for dining room breakfasts. I like the atmosphere. The food was, again, okay. The eggs are powdered. What everyone who cruises needs to remember is RCI, and many other lines, serve the equivalent of banquet food. Now, I happen to love banquet food, but it is not gourmet. The food in Chops and Portofino’s *is* much closer to gourmet. Delicious and well presented, the specialty restaurants are not to be missed. Since we were on a pre-inaugural, the specialty restaurants were not available to the peons of the world, like me. Hey, I’m certainly not complaining! We saw something dang interesting from the dining room. The ship was well within three miles of Miami, closer to one mile. We could clearly see the shore. There was some chop. Now, I’m going to digress badly here. Chop is relative. People who’ve been through a hurricane KNOW what chop is. I’d consider this a moderate sea, seven to ten foot waves, but others thought it was very calm and glasslike. I don’t buy the glasslike metaphor, not that day, but there are folks who cruise who look at me like I’m a loon when I say it’s choppy. SL and I watched a pilot boat wend it’s way toward the ship. We’d not heard an announcement that we were headed into port, for any reason. SL said, “I bet they’re picking up a big wig.” What? Picking someone up? Someone had to make their way from our ship to the pilot boat in THAT? The pilot boat would disappear in the waves, then pop up again. I felt whoever was being transferred was an unlucky puppy, that’s for sure. We watched as much of the procedure as possible, when the pilot house on the pilot ship was entered by, Richard Fain! We mentioned this unlikely transfer to other CC members and got a response that cracked me up. “We didn’t see that.” CC members have a habit of being in denial when they don’t see it for themselves. We’re naturally skeptical and it’s all over the boards. I’ve done it too. Someone mentioned he was scheduled to speak that morning and would be there. He was not. Trust me, please, I did not exaggerate about the Crown and I saw Richard Fain get on a pilot boat. I’m not sure what I did that morning. I know it involved watching the Flowrider, hanging out with a drink in my hand, most of the day and wandering. Very creative, but I was just soaking it all in. SL kept mentioning the wonderful quality of the art and I cannot, but help to agree. Lovely. I know I said it before, but it bears repeating. SL and I split up for lunch. I wanted the dining room. Same waitress kept waiting on me. All couple days. This is where she mentioned she was about to go home. I had tropical salad AND a special Greek salad with shrimp! Both, to die for. The tapenade was world class. I’m VERY fussy about food. I’ll eat almost anything, but I seek out delicious. When I say it’s good, it’s good! This was wonderful. The company was good too. After lunch I changed into my bikini (don’t worry, I never actually wore it without the cover) and put on my t-shirt and board shorts. Why so covered? IT WAS FLOWRIDER TIME! Now, I’d watched those poor suckers wipe out like mad. Todd was there and he is a VERY analytical man. He told me, in depth, how to approach it, deal with the board (boogie board) and make the most of my experience. I was ready to try. Signed my life away and got in line. The line was about twenty minutes long and the sky was darkening. Yep, it started to rain. Wasn’t going to stop me. I was so nervous, but if I can be the oldest, fattest woman at a triathlon, I can get my hiney onto a boogie board. The wave is something like parking your bod in front of a fire hose. It was intense. You grab the board, jump off and hang on. Place the board low on your belly and your hands high. My armpits hurt the next day. My biceps would have been sore, had I not been doing regular pushups. Push down on the board to go forward and keep your feet in the water. That’s it! I was out there for about three minutes, when I thought it was time to give the gal behind me a turn (Becci). I would have done it again, but it started to pour and they closed it down. You might want to know why the board shorts and t-shirt. It’s a fire hose. It will get you nekkid in 3.5 seconds. I saw more crack than a drug dealer with a major score. Remember, crack is whack! Men, tighten those shorts and women, at least wear a T-shirt. I did see someone’s girls. Let’s leave it at that. Oh and I saw more of Emmy’s husband Rick’s anatomy, than I’d planned on. He’s a good looking guy. Did I say that? Off to the slot pull. We lost. The slots were VERY tight. Just squeaked. It’s the high seas. All the slots are tight. After contributing to the RCI retirement fund (slots), I headed back to the cabin, by way of the Promenade. I LOVE the Liberty Promenade. It’s not much bigger than the Voyager class, or V-ger class and my husband and I call it (Star Trek, the first movie. Yes, I need to get a life), but there’s just something about it. The barber shop is awesome! The food at either end in Sorrento’s and the other place (mental melt down) is excellent. I ran into a CC member (Lorna) and we chatted and ate snacks. I had a tapenade and ricotta Sammie that was unbelievably good. Hmm, the food was looking up! Off to the cabin to shower and get ready for my fantabulous formal night. The CC members met for din-din at 6:30. SL and I did a formal portrait, but we were lazy and never picked it up. We tried the next day, but learned they’d only had them out for two hours. We also grabbed a glass of champagne. YUM! Lots of champagne floating around. We never did meet the captain. I was sad about that. HE’s so adorable, in his photos, that I want to pick him up and squeeze him. Maybe he was avoiding me? Dinner? GOOD FOOD! Too many yummy choices. I got more than one entrée. I’ve never done that before on a cruise, ever. I don’t even have seconds of lobster tail. I had duck AND fillet. They were both outstanding. I also had the escargot. Wish I’d had two. The lobster bisque is not good. It’s salty and off, somehow. I remembered that, too late. I ate it, but wish I’d not. I did not have salad. I was so full I could not eat dessert. Almost everyone had the Grand Mariner Souffle. They were all perfectly puffy, but half the people had cold Sauce Anglaise. The other half had warm sauce. The warm sauce MAKES the souffle. End of story. Get cold sauce and the dessert is forgettable. Remember that. WARM SAUCE! Now the sad part comes in. I’d sat in a hot tub for a bit that day. I have a condition. I’m not going into it here, but hot is the enemy. I did the hot and I’m a moron. I lost all feeling in my left hand. I dropped my fork several times and I knew I was done for the night. So, I’m the only one who can report on RCI TV. It was good. Good movies, good specials. If you ever get Noro and are stuck in your room you will be bored to death, but not for a long time. I watched Dreamgirls and felt 100% entertained! I know, there was a show, I missed the show. I wish I’d gone, but I was entertained in my room and watching a movie in my cabin is a boon to cruising, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I’m going to schedule a movie night with my family on my next cruise. We’ll order off the dinner menu and park it in the room for dinner. I think that sounds like a thing we never get to do as a family at home and wish we did. A vacation is supposed to be relaxing and I think that one night hiding out and enjoying my family one on one sounds like a nice way to spend a night. I LOVE traditional cruising, but enjoying the kids is a good thing too. By the way, it’s a great movie. I crashed about midnight and SL came in, sober (LOL!) at 2 or so. We slept fitfully, we both knew it was about over. sniff. I woke at 5 to find our ship almost to the dock. We packed up, showered, ate and they dragged us off, kicking and screaming. Okay, we were adults about it, but there was a tear in my eye and I’m not exaggerating. Flight home was uneventful. The best I can say about Northwest. Continental is still a premier airline. They have movies and sandwiches and they are in the black with similar pricing. I’m in Ann Arbor, MI so I need to fly NW. Their hub is here. Sometimes I just have to give in and fly NW, but not if I can help it. RCI restored my faith in service, cruising and safety on the high seas. They were gracious to extend this invitation to me and I am beyond honored. I felt I made an excellent choice in companions. I would 100% sail with SL again. She loves dogs more than I do. To see her smile at doggies was like watching a child at Christmas. Just a great joy. She was polite and kind and generous to a fault. She and I split costs well and I would travel with her in a heartbeat. I suspect our husbands would get along like a house a fire. What a great gift. Overall: Not so hot: Northwest Airlines. Please fix it. You used to be good. Your customer service sucks rocks, through a straw. You’re a MUCH better airline than that. Even in financial troubles. The Hyatt in Miami. I will not stay there again. I LOVE HYATT! It’s my properties of choice. Just not in Miami. The food the first night. RCI, you are too good for that. The placement of the light switch for the bathroom in the cabin. Outside on the wrong side of the door. You forget and either use the facilities in the dark, or get up, go out and turn it on. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go. The porthole. Did I irritate the wrong person? I’M SORRY! LOL! Don’t let your TA do this to you. I was in cabin 2596. Beware. Things I loved: The food the second day, all day. What RCI used to be. Yummy and just good on almost every level. Except the bisque. The fillet was almost Chops quality and that’s saying a lot. Still think the Bahama Mamma is the best drink on the ship. I tried others. I felt it was my duty, but for my taste the Bahama Mamma is the best. Oh, I love Bellini’s. They stopped using peach juice in the Bellini’s. My friend, Lill, had some bad peach juice on the Mariner once. Probably a good reason to not use it anymore. The beds. Soft, comfy and the best sleep I’ve had since the Crown Tilt. I did feel nervous a few times onboard. Seeing the aft stairs for the first time was like a flashback. I could see the water pouring down the Crown stairs. Very unsettling, but overall I was not uncomfortable. A couple times the ship heeled a tad and that was unnerving, but there was no screaming. I consider that a boon! The waiter at the pool bar. I cannot remember his name, but he was tipped well and earned it. VERY entertaining. The waiters at Bolero’s. Many of them tossed drinks and bottles and caught them. I’ve always wanted to see flair bartending up close and I felt I was entertained all over the place. The seventies dance party. When they started everyone on the Promenade was moaning and saying, “how cheesy.” Ten minutes in almost everyone was into it and having a ball. To be able to get the party going, like that, is a talent I will never have and I was awed by it. I’m the first one to roll her eyes. I was so smiley that I had delayed onset muscle soreness of the jaw the next day! Well worth it. The workout room. I didn’t work out, but I’m a certified personal trainer and had to check it out. I can tell you it is all state of the art and well equipped. I almost wish I’d brought my workout gear so I could box. Next time, I’m boxing. The Flowrider. I first thought, “Stupid gimmick.” I was WRONG! It was wonderful and more fun than I’ve had in a long time. My kids would be in love with it. Of course succeeding my first time might have something to do with my fun. Remember, keep your feet in the water and the board low on your body. PUSH DOWN with your hands to go forward. Push down hard. The kids pool. Beyond outstanding. I loved it and my kids would be in love. Adventure Ocean. I could only peek in, but I know my little ones. The older two love AO and number three is going to have to be dragged out of Aquanauts. The people. I always go out of my way to talk to strangers. I compliment people I’ve never seen before, if I like their clothes. Yes, some people think I’m a crazy lady. I am, good call, but I love to make friends and a cruise ship is a good place to do it. This group, these people, so grateful so honored, so blown away. Very few people acted entitled. Everyone was gracious. I am, once again, thankful to Cruise Critic. Without CC, I would not love cruising like I do. It’s a wonderful place and some of my dearest friends were met there. Come to think of it, almost everyone I am close to, but maybe five people, came out of CC. Would I sail her again? Yes. I cannot, for the foreseeable future. Liberty and Freedom are pricier than the V-ger class and that’s understandable. Because I am the proud mom of four boys and married, we will be in two rooms, on deck two, without a balcony (the autistic one would go into the ocean, or his ocelot would). I am 100% okay with that. I like the boys in the next room. It’s a good set-up for us and I suggest it for families. I never feel too cramped in these cabins, *IF* they have a large porthole. Last thoughts: This was the trip of a lifetime and the honor of my life. I’ve used the word honor throughout this report, but it’s a good word. It accurately describes my heart as I went on this journey. The ship is outstanding, the company, better. I’ve made lifelong friends and I am moved to tears by the gift RCI gave me. Thank you RCI. I am now loyal, 100%. I will sail your ships from now on. It’s a good choice for me and mine. You will get my group cruise in 2008. You deserve it. God bless the Liberty of the Seas. May all who sail on her find joy, relaxation and the trip of dreams they so well deserve. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural Sailing - Royal Champions May 14-16, 2007 - Miami, FL Pete & I were invited to a very special Pre-Inaugural sailing on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. Liberty is the second of three ... Read More
Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural Sailing - Royal Champions May 14-16, 2007 - Miami, FL Pete & I were invited to a very special Pre-Inaugural sailing on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. Liberty is the second of three Freedom Class ships, which are currently the largest passenger ships at sea!! Liberty made her first revenue sailing on May 19, 2007 and we sailed on her less than a week before that! What a truly special invitation! Pre-Inaugural sailings are usually filled with VIP's, Diamond Plus (many, many cruises with Royal Caribbean), and travel agents, etc. This year, Royal Caribbean chose to thank many of their internet "cheerleaders" with special invitations. The Royal Champions, as we are now called are made up of cruisers who love Royal Caribbean and share their experiences, suggestions and reviews on websites such as Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. I am an active member on Cruise Critic and was included in the 38 members that were invited to sail as RCCL guests! Wow!! This was not your typical cruise by any sense of the word. The excitement of being on a brand new ship is amazing! The cruise was a 2-night "Cruise to Nowhere" out of Miami, FL. This gave us just a short time to explore this massive ship, but we did the best that we could to get it all in. Just enough to get a taste of it and create the NEED to return on a full voyage in the future. The cruise was a gift from Royal Caribbean, so our only out of pocket expenses were airfare, hotel, and any spa treatments or casino activity. The cruise, drinks, specialty coffees, Johnny Rockets, Ben & Jerry's, internet, video games, parking at the port, and other amenities that are normally charged a fee were included - including my temporary tattoo of the Crown & Anchor logo! They even made sure the crew was taken care of by paying our tips for us (cabin steward, wait staff and even bar staff!) This was a great "deal" for everyone, as we got to experience the ship and they also got a "shake down" for the ship and crew. And I do believe that the bar staff was the hardest working group on this cruise. They were extremely busy and FANTASTIC!! After flying to Miami on Mother's Day, we checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn that is across from Bayside and the Port of Miami. We received a bay view, so we could see the ships coming & going. After checking in, we went across the street to Bayside for some shopping and dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. We originally planned to meet a group of Cruise Critic members for dinner. However, I suspected that we would be too tired from our early flight to make it - and I was right. Since we had not slept the night before (well, we got one hour of sleep!) and had come in on a VERY early flight, we were in bed early that evening. We woke up to the view of our beautiful Liberty of the Seas outside of our window. Just in front of her was her very little sister, Majesty of the Seas. You can't fathom the size of this ship until you see her right next to one of the smallest in the fleet. It is a beautiful sight. We got ready and went down to meet our Cruise Critic friends in the lobby. Those that had driven had offered to drive the flyers to the port. What a nice gesture!! The kindness of some of the members of Cruise Critic never ceases to amaze me. We checked in and then waited a short while before we were allowed to board the ship. The terminal at Miami is a very nice terminal and found the staff equally nice. Once we were allowed to board, the excitement was almost too much to handle. This ship is just gorgeous! I often caught myself standing there staring with my mouth wide open. It still had that "new car" smell. We dumped our luggage in our stateroom. We were in cabin 2610, which is a Deck 2 Oceanview. If you are taking notes on cabins, this one has the larger porthole, as opposed to the Lifesaver sized porthole window that Nancy & Cathy had. ? The stateroom was of average size for Royal Caribbean, small but efficient. The flat screen TV was a nice touch and is a space saver. The upgraded bedding was wonderful and the bed was VERY comfortable. They have put shower doors in all cabins, so the shower curtains that attack you while showering are gone for good - at least on this class of ship! Yeah!! We only saw our cabin steward once, but again - this was not a normal cruise and we didn't spend much time in our cabin at all. The motto with our Cruise Critic group was, "Sleep is for the weak" - and we did our best to live up to it. After checking out our stateroom we went up to the Windjammer for lunch. We love how the Windjammer is laid out so that you can go to different stations without having to wait in line like a cafeteria. The food was yummy. We didn't return to the Windjammer until the morning of debarkation. In order to give the dining room staff a proper shake down, the Windjammer was not open for dinner on either night. Off we went to explore the ship and take lots of photos!! The ship is laid out so nicely, we never felt lost. That is truly amazing on a ship this size!! It was very easy to navigate. After exploring the ship, we met up with Cruise Critic friends and the Sky Bar. Everyone was so very nice!! It was great to put faces to names. Many of us had worn our Liberty logo shirts or buttons that Brenda was so KIND to make for us. (Did I mention the generosity of so many Cruise Critic members?) The pins & shirts made it easy to spot everyone, even before the gathering. After the Sky Bar, we went to explore a bit more and then get our life jackets for muster. Royal Caribbean holds their musters out on deck and require you to wear your life jackets for the duration. Did I mention this was in Miami? Very humid and made for a hot 45 minutes. Note to futures cruisers on ANY ship: Please go to muster when you are asked to. Please don't meander in when you feel like it. It only delays the fun for the others that did show up on time. ? After muster we went up to change for a very special sail away party followed by dinner!! The Royal Champions were invited to a special sail away party up in the Cloud Nine/Lucky Sevens Lounge area - the highest lounge on the ship (next to Olive or Twist.) They had refreshments for us as we enjoyed the view while sailing out through Government Cut. Since it was raining at this time, we appreciated the private area. As if this wasn't enough, we were greeted & thanked by RCCL President - Adam Goldstein, Chairman & CEO - Richard Fain, and other officers. Ken Rush, one of the best cruise directors on the sea also came for a visit. What an honor to have them here for our gathering!! It really does show how much Royal Caribbean values their customers and really does listen to what we have to say. We were then gifted with a wonderful logo duffel that included the ever popular Aqua Mouse, a maiden voyage pin and my personal fav - a coffee tumbler made especially for the Royal Champions!!! After the sail away party, Pete & I headed for dinner. Oh! First we tried to catch the parade at the Royal Promenade. Another note: be early or miss out. We did our best to see it, but it was tough. If you want to get a good view, either book a promenade room or get there early. What we saw of it looked fun. It was the Soca-Licious Parade. I believe there was a Pirate Parade on other Pre-Inaugural sailings. We ate in the Deck 4 dining room, which is named Michelangelo. The dining room on this ship is the most stunning area of a ship that I have ever seen. It is simply magnificent and the crown to this masterpiece is an opulent chandelier, which I believe was priced at $750,000! We had a wonderful dinner on our first evening. Our waitress was Adina (formerly of Sovereign of the Seas.) She did a wonderful job and we enjoyed chatting with her. Dinner was delicious! We had no complaints whatsoever. After dinner we did some more exploring and visited the shops. Sadly, the duty free liquor store was not open so I missed an opportunity to pick up some Sheridan's. The rest of the stores were open. They are very good at pointing out that we were not spending money on drinks and such, so should easily be able to spring for some pretty jewelry. Works for us! Pete bought me a beautiful pink sapphire ring for our upcoming 15th anniversary. Thank you honey! I also found it is easy to purchase the Scrapbook Page Kit. The images weren't exactly my style, but I will make use of them. And any scrapbooker knows how hard it is to pass up scrapbooking supplies that were designed specifically for your ship! The entertainment for the evening was Tito Nieves, but we did not attend. When you are on a short cruise on a ship this size, choices have to be made. We explored some more, which is our favorite thing to do. We ended up at Schooner's toward the end of Matt Yee's performance. We had heard that he was a "don't miss", and that is true! The place was packed, spilling out into other areas nearby. He was hilarious. Word of caution: If you go to a Matt Yee performance - do what he says or he will call you out and make you pay. ? We then headed off to our cabin. We missed the fairies that change the day on the elevator floors! Darn! Had a great night's sleep and we were up at a decent hour the next morning. We wanted to make sure we got to the dining room for Eggs Benedict. On our way to the dining room on Tuesday morning, we ran into our friend Henry! He is just as adorable as ever and we were glad to see him on the ship. Breakfast in the dining room was quick & yummy. We did some more exploring and then attended the Common Ground seminar. We then went out to the pool area. The H20 Zone was not up & running due to wind. Apparently, those that were sitting by the pool didn't want to get wet... That was a disappointment since it was our only full sea day. But we made the best of it by getting a drink and chatting with friends, Karen & Jerry. Then off to the Flowrider!!! I must preface this with the statement that my husband does not like the fly. We have never sailed the Caribbean because of this. However, when presented the opportunity to sail on a Pre-Inaugural of a brand new ship, he put that aside without hesitation. With that said, after playing on the Flowrider for a couple of hours, Pete declared that the Flowrider was worth the flight to Miami from California! It really is fun! Of course, the guys wouldn't do it until they saw how I did. So, I went up and signed my life away to get my wristband that allowed me to ride. The crewmember took one look at my bikini top and suggested I find a shirt. Nancy mentions in her review that it is a fire hose - and she is quite right! I quickly stripped Pete of his shirt. Sorry about your sunburn, honey. Next time, I will bring my own shirt - I promise. I waited in line a bit hesitantly, yet completely geared up to try this. I knew that if I didn't at least try it, I would be soooooo sorry when I got home. While I waited for my turn, it started to pour down rain! I wasn't about to leave and I was hoping they wouldn't shut it down. Glad to say - they kept it up and running thru the many rainstorms that we sailed thru that afternoon. Then my turn came. I have to tell you - it was so much fun! I felt like a little kid again! I urge anyone to try this! I was barely done when Pete was handing me the camera so he could go sign up. Again - this guy reads every thing that is put in front of him with a fine tooth comb. But he had no problem signing, initialing and speeding thru the release so he could get his turn. Just before his turn, they decided that they needed to put the divider up so they could speed the line along. After Pete's turn, he was hooked! We took another turn each with video and then put the camera away so we could just have some fun! We were out there for about 2 hours and loved every minute of it. When it rained, the lines would shorten up - which we didn't mind at all. Definitely give this a try the next time you are on a Freedom Class ship. You won't regret it. I have a few bruises, but they are minor and worth it! After Flowrider, we put our name on the list for Johnny Rockets - went back to Wipeout for a drink and then had lunch. Johnny Rockets was fun. The food was good and the service was wonderful. It was now close to our early dinner time and we just had lunch. They had no problem with us electing to go to late dinner that night. We went to the ice show before getting ready for dinner. It was amazing!! If you sail on this ship - go to this show. It was amazing what they can do on such a small surface on a moving ship. Go early and get a good seat. Studio B is not very big and if you aren't in a prime spot, your view will be obstructed. Dinner was wonderful. We were seated next to our Cruise Critic friends that we had kept running into all day - so they invited us to their table. It was a wonderful evening of food & conversation. Hi Karen & Jerry!! Later that evening we went to the show, Somewhere In Time. Although we did not stay for the entire show, what we saw was good. Great costumes & sets. Other notes about Liberty: ** Sorrentos was yummy. We ate there a couple of times. Give it a try. The pizza is much improved over what we had on Legend of the Seas. ** Ben & Jerry's - well, that speaks for itself. Yum ** The Royal Promenade is simply wonderful. It is the focal point of the ship and makes orientating yourself easy. At times, you can easily forget you are even on a ship. ** This ship handled very nicely - with very little movement. Pete feels the effects more than I do - and he was quite impressed. Granted, we didn't go out very far and never got up to full speed - but the movement was minimal. ** We tried to hit as many bars as possible. At last count, I think there were close to 25. We managed more than a fair amount of them, even if it was just to order a soda. Bolero's is the happenin' place and you must order a Mojito there. Yum! The Love Connection is still my fruity fav! The best was from the Wipeout Bar near Flowrider. ** Ken Rush was the CD - although I believe that he will be moving on quickly. He did not get a chance to show his stuff, so we look forward to having him as CD on another ship soon. ** We did tour the staterooms - see pics for specifics. I think the oddest thing we saw during the tour was the horrible view from the Presidential Suite. ??? There is an odd amount of gray space that is not used. If you are looking to get a traditional water view from any of the aft cabins, this probably won't be the best ship to attempt it. The bubble of the aft on this ship is not conducive to a nice water view. ** The Adventure Ocean and Teen Area are amazing! Each group has their own area and teens actually have two areas. Loved their own dance floors with their own bars where they could order non-alcoholic drinks & snacks. We were very impressed with the rooms and think RCCL has really put a lot of thought into these areas. ** There was no way to try it all in 2 days.... I would be hard-pressed to try it all in 7 with ports involved. Once again, the crew is the star. We have sailed on other lines. With all of the differences & similarities, it always comes back to the crew. RCCL has the best crews on the water and they truly do make a difference! ** We are very tempted to book this ship or one of her sisters, Freedom or Independence (unveiling next year) - although we are a little concerned about the crowds. This sailing was not full and since it was basically adult only (I think we saw 2-3 children of officers) - we didn't feel the full effects of a normal crowd. Would booking this class (instead of a Voyager Class) in hopes of spending a fair amount of time on Flowrider be trumped by the large amount of kids & teens? Will tendering be a nightmare? Hard to say. I was of the school that said that I wouldn't like the large ships. But we sure did enjoy Liberty! We booked a NextCruise while onboard, so just need to decide WHERE & WHAT ship! Such a problem to have, isn't it? My review would not be complete without thanking Royal Caribbean & Cruise Critic. It was such an honor to be invited for this special sailing. We will always remember it! Many scoffed at the fact that some of us that were invited were "just Gold members" - we know how very special the invitation was and did not take it for granted. And you accomplished something that I wasn't able to - getting my husband to fly to Florida! Thank you for that too! Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Introduction My husband and I were extended a special invitation through Cruise Critic to attend the May 14, 2007 two day Pre-Inaugural sailing of the Liberty of the Seas; this review will not focus so much on our experience during those ... Read More
Introduction My husband and I were extended a special invitation through Cruise Critic to attend the May 14, 2007 two day Pre-Inaugural sailing of the Liberty of the Seas; this review will not focus so much on our experience during those two days as it will on general information for those planning to cruise the Liberty of the Seas in the near future. We are from Northern California and are not affiliated with the travel industry. Royal Caribbean put on an awesome show and we were very grateful for the invitation. The Liberty of the Seas is the newest baby in Royal Caribbean's fleet - and a sister ship of the Freedom of the Seas. If you have ever been on any Voyager class vessel, you will find it very similar. It's a little larger and has a few extra features, like the Flowrider, but in general, much of the ship's design is identical to that of the Navigator or Mariner or Explorer or any other Voyager/Freedom class ship out there. If you love Voyager class ships, you'll adore the Liberty of the Seas! As you read my comments, please keep a few things in mind. First, remember, this was an invitation only sailing meant to impress the travel industry. Staff was on their best behavior and food preparation and quality were very high compared to what I typically see on other Royal Caribbean ships; it was a free cruise with an open bar. Because the ship is brand new (it even had that new car smell when you first boarded the ship), everything around you - public areas, staterooms, deck space, etc. was sparkling. Since we are from Northern California, we made the decision to take a three night cruise aboard the newly refurbished Majesty of the Seas prior to this voyage. Interestingly enough, we had outside staterooms on both ships and the same dining room menu on both sailings. Embarkation We flew into Miami on a red-eye out of Northern California and made arrangements to take the cruise line bus to the port. We arrived around 12:30pm - our flight was almost an hour late. Finding a Royal Caribbean rep in the baggage claim area was a breeze. They had us on a list, and they were aware that our flight was late. After getting our bags, we were escorted to the bus. Interestingly enough, our bags were loaded into a large truck and were not to be seen until after sail-away! We got the last two seats and were off to the Port of Miami to board the Majesty of the Seas. I am only passing along this info as I believe the same system will be in place if you opt for cruise line transportation to the Liberty of the Seas. I wouldn't recommend the cruise line bus normally, but we knew coming in the day of the cruise, this was our best bet. Could we have opted to take a cab or shuttle? Sure. Even if it was false security, the fact we were arriving the same day as the cruise made the cruise line shuttle seem more secure. Would the ship wait if the bus broke down? Not sure. But I kind of like to think it would! Embarkation for the Liberty was quick and easy, but the ship was not sailing at full capacity, so again, I will refer to the boarding procedures we experienced for the Majesty. Because we are Diamond members, we had no wait at all. We arrived much later than is the norm for us - around 1:30pm - and were greeted by long lines. But like I said, because of our Crown and Anchor past guest status, there was no line to speak of and were on the ship in under 20 minutes. The check-in area for the Liberty is huge. Because we were disembarking off of the Majesty of the Seas, we arrived at the Liberty's terminal very early - around 9am. The check-in and boarding process began around 10:30am - that would normally be our preferred time for check-in after spending the night in Miami. We happened to be among the first to board the ship - we tagged along with the Media group and were on the ship by around 11:00am. We didn't encounter an embarkation day photographer, but that will slow down the boarding process. All in all, your best bet is to arrive at the port early. With 4000 plus guests, it's going to take a while to get on and off this ship! Luckily, the terminal has air conditioning and is large. Our Stateroom We were assigned cabin 2616 - a standard outside stateroom. The room was comfortable and had adequate storage for a seven night cruise. There were two large half circle windows in the cabin above the bed - we opted to have the beds together, but they could also convert to two twin beds. As you would expect, everything was clean and new. The bed was very comfortable - crisp white European style bedding with a comforter completed the package. We had a small pull-out couch, and a coffee table. There was a small closet, but enough drawer space to easily accommodate 7 nights worth of clothes. There was a hair dryer in one of the drawers - it worked well, but it's the kind that has the button you must keep depressed to work. This is pretty much the same type they have on most Royal Caribbean ships, but since it's new, it worked very well. The bathroom had a shampoo dispenser that had shampoo & conditioner printed on it, but all it had was shampoo. The special shampoo and soap were okay, but if you are used to salon quality shampoos like Paul Mitchel, you won't like it, in my opinion. There is a lot of storage and the bathroom design is identical to other Voyager/Freedom class ships. The towels are to die for - thicker and more absorbent than those on other ships, but heck, they are brand new! No telling if they will be like that when you cruise, but we can only hope! For the sake of comparison, we also had an outside cabin aboard the Majesty of the Seas. Our cabin window was different, but the over all look to the room was very much the same. The bathroom was also configured the same, but had a shower curtain instead of shower doors, as you see on most Voyager class ships and the Liberty. I would venture to say our room aboard the Majesty was a little bigger with slightly more storage, but it was a high end outside cabin on Deck 9 whereas the one we had on the Liberty was a basic model on Deck 2. On the Majesty, we had bottles of lotion, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner as well as the shower dispenser of shampoo (the kind you see on all other Royal Caribbean ships). We saw none of this on the Liberty, but you might. Remember, we were on a special sailing with limited amenities. Not everything we experienced will be identical to what you might. Dining Our dining experience aboard the Liberty of the Seas was not typical of any other Royal Caribbean ship we have been on lately. We sailed aboard the Radiance in September 07, the Explorer in late December 07 and on the Majesty just days prior to this Pre-Inaugural. We have logged in 24 or more (I don't recall the exact number any more) cruises on Royal Caribbean including multiple voyages aboard the Mariner and Navigator and although the food has always been good, the food quality and preparation on the Liberty was far superior, in my opinion. I hate to say it, but I suspect it had something to do with the fact this was a Pre-Inaugural voyage. Maybe not; I'll let you be the judge. Suffice it to say, my husband and I were impressed and enjoyed our dining experience very much! Keep in mind the ship was not sailing at full capacity and they were there to impress. Our dining room menu aboard the two night pre-inaugural was identical to the menu on the Majesty. But the cuts of meat were of higher quality, the items were served fresh and HOT, and up in the Windjammer, the selection was better (much, much better than aboard the Explorer in December or the Majesty just days before). Some examples: there was large shrimp every afternoon in the Windjammer - I have never seen this on any other cruise with Royal Caribbean for lunch - only once saw some on the Mariner at dinner. I don't want you to think that the food on other Royal Caribbean ships was terrible. On the contrary, I've always found what I liked and although it's not what I would consider to be 4 or 5 star cuisine, it's quite good. But the meals served on our two day Liberty cruise as well as what we ate in the Windjammer, was markedly improved - it blew the others out of the water! Tender cuts of meat cooked to perfection in the dining room and lots of higher end items in the Windjammer. You should note that food is very subjective - what may impress me may not be the case with you. Regardless, others in our company were just as impressed. Some people we ate with complained about the service in the dining room, but that's because of the open seating system they had in place for our sailing - you will have an assigned table at an assigned seating time. The waiters we spoke to were all very polished and pleasant - I doubt you'll find a bad apple in the bunch. Dinner was a little hectic, but we got lucky and met some very nice people at dinner. Entertainment This is where Royal Caribbean really shines! We saw the Ice show and one production show; we also had an opportunity to check out many of the lounge entertainers on the ship and I came away very impressed. The guy at the piano bar, (correct me if I am wrong - Matt Yee I believe is his name), seems to have a loyal following. We got there early and watched his act - very polished. I can't say I am into sing-alongs, but he was very entertaining, and by the numbers of people present, very popular. There was a guitarist in the Hoof and Claw Pub on the Promenade who was very good. He didn't have what I would call an act but he was familiar with contemporary music and was very funny. The classical guitarist in Boleros was also very good, but he didn't play very often. The purpose of these pre-inaugurals is to give you a taste of what you can expect. From what I can see, they entertainment on the Liberty will not disappoint. Like all Voyager and Freedom class ships, there is a lot to do. Two days was not enough to do everything! The flowrider was a lot of fun, but ladies, you should plan to wear a one piece or a tee shirt over a two piece bathing suit, because when you wipe-out you could lose your top! And guys, make sure you tie on your trunks! The pool area is large and includes a kiddie water park - a great place for kids to play. There is no shortage of activities - they have a regulation size volleyball court and basket ball, and miniature golf. Suffice it to say, this class of ship is made for more active people and families on the go. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly The Good Just about every aspect of this pre-inaugural would make me want to book a cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas. I am totally sold on the Voyager/ Freedom class ships! The Bad Luckily, I found the ship to be great, but I have to say that there were several areas on the ship that got very crowded - namely the Promenade during the Parade (a not to be missed show). It was impossible to find a good place to watch the parade - we had seats in the front at the Hoof & Claw Pub and people stood right in front of us. Unless you push yourself to the front, tower above everyone, or are watching the parade from your Promenade View stateroom, it's hard to see anything. Same thing happened at the 70's party they had there. As I am familiar with other Voyager class ships, you can expect other area so of the ship to get very crowded - including the pool areas when the ship is sailing at full capacity, which from what I understand will be the norm. That's really the only negative I can really find about this class of ship. I love the design and I love the layout. But I didn't see any major design changes to overcome some of the crowding issues on Voyager class ships. The food these days isn't what it used to be, but there is more to a cruise than the food. And if you are like me, you too will find plenty to choose from. The Ugly While at the lifeboat drill, a foul smelling odor permeated the deck - we never found out where it came from or why. But that just goes to show you these kinds of problems don't just affect older ships! The problem seems to have been corrected, as I never noticed the smell later in the cruise. But that wasn't a good thing to have happen at a pre-inaugural! Luckily, that's the only ugly I could find. Conclusion I would cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas in a heart beat if it offered a more creative itinerary in the Caribbean. If I choose to cruise, I do so based on the itinerary, not necessarily the ship though I can see where in Liberty's case, the ship can be considered the destination! As I stated earlier, the cruise line made every effort to show off the Liberty to us in the best light possible; it did not sail at full capacity, the food quality was absolutely the best we have had recently and the entertainment top notch. Like the other pre-inaugurals I'm told, in attendance were mostly travel agents. Because I am already a huge fan of Voyager class ships, I wouldn't hesitate to sail on this ship and if given a choice, I'll always go with a Voyager class ship. I feel comfortable on this type of ship, though I realize not everyone does. We are very active and prefer many of the sports activities these types of ships off us. Between ports of call, it's nice to have so many choices on days at sea normally not available on other ships. We came across a few people who could not imagine themselves taking a cruise on such a large ship. But all agreed that this particular ship was very impressive, Most people we met who had never been on a Voyager class ship were in awe of the Liberty. Those who were familiar with Voyager class ships all felt very much at home. The design, to my surprise, was nearly identical to other Voyager class ships - with a few extras here and there. Please note that I am no expert - I work in education and lead a few cruise groups every year. We enjoy cruising, but that's not the only type of travel we engage in. Itinerary is by far the most important factor for us; as we get older, we are finding cruises more to our liking than "live aboards". We are okay logging in 6-8 dives while on a cruise - gone are the days of logging in 24-30 dives in 7 days! As we get into our mid-40's, we are finding the activity level on these Voyager/Freedom class ships perfect for us and our family. Any questions? Please don't hesitate to ask! Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
I had never cruised before. But I work in ecommerce for a travel agency, so I was lucky enough to be selected to go to the Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural cruise on May 14 - 16 out of Miami, Florida. Dummy! I flew in on the red-eye ... Read More
I had never cruised before. But I work in ecommerce for a travel agency, so I was lucky enough to be selected to go to the Liberty of the Seas Pre-Inaugural cruise on May 14 - 16 out of Miami, Florida. Dummy! I flew in on the red-eye from Seattle, Washington directly to Miami, Florida. I arrived in MIA at 7:00 am, but the transfers weren't going to be running until 11 am. So I decided to take a taxi to the dock instead of waiting at the airport. We went across a bridge right in front of the Liberty, and her sheer size took my breath away. I was dropped off in front of the terminal, and went inside. I made it past the first security checkpoint with the invitation I had received from RCCL, and told to wait in the waiting area outside the baggage x-ray machines. And wait, I did! While the glass art in the waiting room is pretty, it can only be examined for so long. I was in the waiting room from 8:00 until about 11:00... which I want to point out was my own fault for getting there so early. The invitation said 11:00 am. A coffee or snack cart would've been very welcome in that waiting room, though... and I know I for one would've been willing to pay any price for a coffee at that time! Lines At 11:00 everyone started to line up to get through the x-ray machines. This was a pretty quick and painless process, and everyone was lined up again to get SeaPass cards (stateroom assignments and keys). The gentleman who assisted me had a kind smile and processed me quickly and efficiently. I received my assignment and card, and went to stand in another line. While all the lines may sound tedious, I'd say the atmosphere in the terminal was one of excitement... it was anything but tedious! We were finally allowed to go up the ramp to scan out cards and have pictures taken. The machine in the line I was in went down, so it took a little while longer to process using one machine for two lines, but it didn't damper anyone's enthusiasm. Stateroom I was assigned to stateroom 2368, an Ocean-View. I had a hard time finding the room because I went to the 2nd deck on the wrong side of the ship... and the ice making equipment cuts the deck in half, making my room inaccessible from where I was at. So I was directed up to the 4th floor, through the Casino, and back down. I finally found my stateroom. Upon approaching the stateroom, I noticed that the door was open. I walked right in and placed my stuff on the couch. I was lucky, my Ocean-View window was a large round winder where I could place some pillows and stare out into the cobalt blue ocean. It was lovely! I decided to check on the bathroom, and I must say it's a pretty good sized bathroom and shower, much better than I expected being on a ship. A few minutes later, my Steward came in and asked if everything was ok, and would I mind if he looked around to make sure everything had been cleaned properly. I said OK, and he quickly scoured the room and left. I shut the door, and then heard an announcement over the intercom that lunch was available in the Windjammer. Since I hadn't eaten for awhile, I decided to high-tail it over there. Windjammer - Embarkation Lunch I was so hungry that the food here actually tasted pretty good! I had fried rice (bland), penne arribata (yummy, not too spicy), and an orange mango beverage that was pretty good. Dessert was the best, it was a fruit tart and tasted very good. Entertainment The Sail-Away Party: This party was supposed to be outside, but heavy rain and high winds brought the party to the Royale Promenade. It was a lot of fun watching the RCCL employees dance and smile and serve some kind of "foo-foo" drink to everyone. It was a great way to start the cruise! Ice Show (Encore): This show ROCKED. There was a skater who changed her outfit on the ice about 12 or more times, and I don't know how she did it! All of the skaters were strong and looked like they were having fun out there. I especially loved the Japanese kimono outfits the girls wore that made them look like butterflies. It was just simply amazing! Stage Show (A Moment in Time): This was a fun musical that featured a lot of music from when I was growing up. The performers' vocals were top-notch and the sets and lighting were just brilliant. This was one of the few times on the ship on Tuesday when I was able to forget about being nauseous for a bit and just enjoy the show. Casino Royale: In addition to having my all-time favorite slot machine there (Super Jackpot Party), they also had other slots machines (plenty!), blackjack, roulette, let it ride, and three card poker to name a few. This was a terrific casino with really friendly dealers and cashiers. Karaoke: The Karaoke booths were located in studio B on the 3rd deck. They had a huge variety of music, but once you select something and step in, there is no microphone. So you are trying to sing in "dead air". It just didn't work for me, I didn't like that. Of course, it could be that I tried it at 7:00 am to assure that no one would be around to see me... Royal Caribbean Online: Ever the computer nerd, I had to check out their online area. I must say, service was no where near as slow as I expected. AIM and other instant messenger services wouldn't work, though, so I had to contact my husband and chat with him via email. Inefficient? Sure. But I was still communicating with him, so it all worked out in the end! Arcade: I really enjoyed this area and played a number of the games here. In Room Movie: I opted to get an in-room movie because I couldn't sleep on the ship. I can't remember even what I selected because the movie was SO BORING I had to turn it off and watch Pokemon on the Cartoon Network. But the ordering process was quick and easy. The Royale Promenade: This place was cool. They had several shops. I shopped at the RCCL logo store, the jewelry store and the "fashion" shop. The atmosphere in the Promenade was very laid back and comfortable. I almost purchased a necklace in the jewelry store, the prices were very reasonable. Bars / Lounges The alcohol was free on this cruise, but I am not a big drinker (especially when I'm by myself!) Casino Bar: (Rum and Coke) A bar in the middle of the casino. The bartenders here were very quick and joked around with the passengers and with each other. It made it more of a party atmosphere. The drink was perfect! Boleros: (Mojito) This bar was near one of the stair cases if I remember correctly. It wasn't much more than a bar, but it did have two bottles of tequila in lighted pyramid shaped boxes... not sure why. The drink was too strong; I wound up not drinking it at all. Schooner Bar?: (Lemon Drop) This bar was located just outside the casino on deck 4. The drink came recommended to me by a fellow passenger, and was very good. Restaurants Windjammer / Jade: OK! It was typical buffet food, nothing special. Main Dining Room: Good! Good quality, great service. One of the waiters professed his love for me. *sigh* Johnny Rockets: Great! Yummy BLT, and the coke float really helped with my nausea (yeah, I got seasick). Sorrentos: OK! Pizza didn't even look good. BUT they had a fabulous fresh mozzarella salad and apricot cream dessert with almond cookies. Seattle's Best Coffee: Great! Coffee and spirit coffee drinks were wonderfully well made and delicious. Desserts and snacks were ok. Everyone was upbeat and happy. The service was quick, efficient and friendly. All of the RCCL employees I came in contact with were just wonderful, from the dealers in the Casino to the "front desk" personnel (when I locked my key in my stateroom). Disembarkation We were told on the Cruise scheduler that we had to be out of our staterooms by 8 am and off the ship by 9 am. All of the monitors on the ship on Tuesday night stated that we had to be out of our staterooms by 8 am and off the ship by 9 am. Announcements over the loud speaker told us that we could leave the ship on deck 4... and that we had to be out of our staterooms by 8 am and off the ship by 9 am. It was beaten into us! But actually leaving the ship was quick and easy. I just took my luggage, wheeled it off, scanned my card and left. Transfer back to MIA There were fire ants on the motor coach. Seriously. I got bit a couple of times... and it REALLY HURT! The little buggers died for their transgressions, though. I changed seats on the bus and was fine the rest of the way. Thank you to RCCL for the invitation. The ship is a beauty and may she sail in calm waters with people who appreciate what she has to offer. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Liberty of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.3
Family 4.5 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 3.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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