Your main venue for prime evening entertainment is the 1,320-seat Platinum Theatre, located on decks 2, 3 and 4, forward. It's a venue with a majestic, Art Deco-throwback feel, from the cascading white marble stairs at the entrance to the 1920s design on the stage curtain and the gold-backed seats.
On most nights, there are two productions of the headliner show to accommodate for the early and late dinner seatings. The one show not to miss is the Cirque du Soleil-styled "In the Air," featuring the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers as they perform aerial feats with silks, swings and stunning costumes. The remaining shows lack the level of pizazz of "In the Air," with a somewhat tepid lineup of comedians, singers, impersonators and jugglers.
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Studio B (Deck 3, midship) is the secondary theater onboard, a much smaller venue that performs triple duty as an ice skating rink, movie theater and gathering venue. With a little more than half the seats of the Platinum Theatre, you do run the risk of missing the show if you don't arrive early to the performance of "Encore! An Ice Spectacular," which is performed twice two nights of the cruise. With a through-the-decades theme, this show is a crowd favorite.
During the day, you'll find the most action going on near the midship all-ages pool (Deck 11), where a small poolside stage functions as the performance space for belly flop contests, line dancing classes and other games, plus occasionally a steel pan band. There's also a large movie screen here that shows films and TV clips throughout the day.
The Royal Promenade on Deck 5 is another central gathering place. The shops here promote sales on various items during the week, with occasionally long lines of passengers waiting to purchase the hottest jewelry or discounted T-shirts and trinkets.
Trivia buffs will want to make the Schooner Bar (Deck 4) their home base, as there is usually trivia planned morning, afternoon and evening, plus the occasional family scavenger hunt or napkin-folding seminar.
Strap on a free pair of rental skates and make your way around the rink in Studio B (Deck 3) for one of the 30-minute open ice skating sessions throughout the afternoon.
At-sea art auctions (along with salesy seminars about collecting art) and a variety of spa seminars on losing weight or looking younger ("The Lips You Want, the Lines You Don't!") take up a sizable amount of real estate on the daily Cruise Compass and in the daily onboard announcements.
A stroll through the ship in the evening is a trip through various musical genres, from Latin music or classical guitar to piano and country and western music throughout the ship's bars.
One of our favorite quiet activities in the evening was to visit the helipad on Deck 4, forward, to watch the stars and look for lights from other vessels.
The Battle of the Sexes game show and Karaoke Superstar competition are always big draws for adults at On Air (Deck 3), located next to Studio B, with winners earning bragging rights and receiving high fives from strangers the next day throughout the ship. (One passenger on our cruise did a surprisingly good rendition of "Under the Sea" from "The Little Mermaid.")
Casino Royale (Deck 4), featuring a mural depicting old Hollywood celebrities is chock-full of nearly 300 slot machines and 19 gaming tables, including blackjack, craps, roulette, Caribbean stud, Texas Hold'em and three-card poker. Slot and blackjack tournaments, plus bingo are offered. Smoking is permitted in the casino.
Occasionally there are dance parties scheduled in the Promenade (Deck 5) or late-night adult comedy in the Platinum Theatre (Deck 3). Dance into the wee hours with DJ dance music up high at Olive or Twist (Deck 14).
On Air Club (Deck 3, forward): This fun space has a slightly retro-futuristic vibe, with blue walls that are covered with quotes from songsters from the past, and there's a stage that plays host to undiscovered passenger talent during the always-popular karaoke nights. During the day, passengers can play Wii games here, but it's probably the emptiest bar you'll find during that time.
Boleros (Deck 4, aft): Stunning blown-glass artwork frames the interior of this bar, while oversized porthole windows make it an ideal location for watching the ship pull into or out of port while enjoying a cocktail. At night, salsa and jazz bands inspire passengers to test out the small dance floor.
Schooner Bar (Deck 4, forward): Located just outside the casino, this nautical-themed bar with a mermaid figurehead, ropes and sails, tends to be a quieter bar during the day, and usually the meeting location for trivia and family games. At night, it's transformed into a sometimes-raucous piano bar.
Vintages (Deck 5, midship): This cozy, elegant wine bar located on the Promenade features a WineStation, which keeps open bottles fresh for tasting. Wine tasting events (including blind tastings) are frequently offered here, and you can always order flights, paired with tapas, cheese or charcuterie.
Hoof and Claw Pub (Deck 5, midship): You'll feel like you've gone to an English pub with the dark wood tones, old-fashioned benches, vintage-looking glass lamps and pub chairs, which complete the backdrop for your Caribbean pub crawl. Beer tasting events are scheduled here throughout the cruise.
R Bar (Deck 5, aft): Formerly styled as a Champagne bar, and conveniently located between the Promenade and the dining rooms, this was one of our favorite places to grab a glass of wine before or after dinner. It's statement furniture pieces give it a fresh feel.
Star Lounge (Deck 5, forward): Black, white and gold accents give a sophisticated Art Deco vibe to this lounge, which has a stage and a large number of couches and chairs. This is where you'll find bingo, as well as the Captain's Corner (your chance to ask the captain and crew all your burning cruise-related questions) and a few game shows.
The Plaza Bar (Deck 11, aft): This is the bar located directly at the entrance to the buffet dining area, between the specialty restaurants. In the morning, you'll find specialty coffees and fresh-squeezed orange juice for sale here, but you can also order sake and tea, as well as regular bar drinks, the rest of the day.
Pool Bar (Deck 11, midship): The go-to poolside drink spot during the day serves frozen cocktails and buckets of beer.
Squeeze (Deck 11, aft): A pint-sized cheerfully colored bar located near the children's pool area serves fresh juices, smoothies and shakes for $4 to $5.
Sky Bar (Deck 12, midship): Offering the same drinks as the Pool Bar, this is located one deck above, with a view of the pool and all the activities.
Viking Crown Lounge (Deck 14, aft): An expansive space offering great views of the pool decks below from atop the ship, this lounge was always fairly quiet and empty during the day. At night in the Olive or Twist bar area, a DJ spins tunes for adults to dance the night away. This area is also home to the Diamond Club and Suite Lounge.
Liberty has three main pool areas, all located on Deck 11. Midship is the main pool, with large hot tubs situated along the outer edges and a large movie screen. It can get fairly loud here. There's a spacious shallow ledge in the pool for lounging in the water with a beverage, as well as a small stage where musicians play and the cruise director's staff keeps the crowds entertained. There are several cascading deck tiers with lounge chairs (some reserved only for suite guests), but we never found it terribly hard to find a chair.
At the ship's forward is the Solarium adult pool area, for passengers ages 16 and up. This pool also has a ledge for lounging, as well as a bridge spanning its width; we're not sure what function this served, as we rarely saw anyone walking on it, but it did provide some shade for people in the pool. Inside the Solarium on either side of the deck hanging out over the sides of the ship, you'll find two half-moon-shaped hot tubs. There are also porch swings set up here -- almost always occupied. Because the Solarium is enclosed in glass, we found this area to be slightly warmer than the other pool areas, which benefited from the ocean breeze, but it was a relaxing kid-free space where we could have spent hours.
At the ship's aft is the H2O Zone and the kids' pool. If you have an "in-between" kid like ours, who is not quite big enough for the slides at the back of the ship, you'll be grateful for the water features here, including a dump bucket and two slides (kids must be 42 inches for the smaller purple slide and 45 inches for the yellow slide), plus various water cannons and splashing areas. For even smaller ones, there's a splash pad located nearby. Royal Caribbean has a policy that only permits potty-trained kids in the pools (no swim diapers), but in the splash pad area, swim diapers are OK.
Note that all the outdoor areas along the port side of the ship are designated smoking areas.
Liberty of the Seas polished up its recreational offerings during a 2016 refurbishment with the addition of several water slides. From the thrilling slides at the back of the ship to miniature golf to the rock wall, sports court and a FlowRider surf simulator, there's plenty of fun to be had.
Let's start with the newest thrill. The Tidal Wave, opened in summer 2016, is a steel slide designed for a two-person tube; it starts out with a steep drop that brings you uphill over the ocean, only to boomerang you backward before bringing you to a final stop. Rarely does a water ride get our hearts pounding, but this one definitely did. We screamed so loudly, we think the whole ship could hear us.
Next to this slide are orange and green spiral slides, the Cyclone and the Typhoon that extend over the port side of the ship. These are much gentler in comparison to the Tidal Wave, but they are still great fun. The green slide offers a slightly faster racing experience and has dizzying colored lights throughout the interior.
The slides are popular, particularly at midday, so try getting there first thing in the morning after they open to avoid lines. There are height and weight restrictions on these slides (minimum height of 48 inches for Cyclone and Typhoon and maximum weight of 300 pounds.; for Tidal Wave, 52 inches is the minimum height, and there's a minimum/maximum weight of 75/280 pounds, and minimum/maximum combined weight for both riders of 200/450 pounds.) A scale is conveniently located near the base of the slides for you to check.
The FlowRider is a great way to get your feet wet with surfing without getting in the ocean. Surfing lessons are offered throughout the week for a fee, as well. Also located in this area are the sports court and the climbing wall. Check your Cruise Compass for games and open times.
One of the best ways we found to spend a morning together as a family was at Liberty Dunes, the free miniature golf course on Deck 13. This whimsical nine-hole course featured a bus, giant seashells, a lighthouse and other obstacles.
Sun worshippers can grab a chair anywhere on Deck 12, overlooking the pool area. And there are three tiers of reserved seats for passengers in suites. A gold SeaPass card will gain you access to these chairs located near the Sky Bar. For a quieter experience, climb up to Deck 13, either forward or aft, where you'll find plentiful banks of unreserved chairs, either in the shade or in the sun.
Most of your necessities you'll find arranged on the Royal Promenade on Deck 5, starting with Guest Services and Shore Excursions. There are several retail stores lined up here, mall-style, for clothing, jewelry, perfume, liquor and souvenirs. Depending on the special running that day, you may see long lines of shoppers in the Promenade waiting for the sales to start. Also on the Royal Promenade is Next Cruise, a storefront exclusively staffed to book passengers' next RCI cruise (with occasional incentives available for booking while onboard).
The photo gallery is located one deck down (Deck 4). A small library is located on Deck 7, and a computer hub with about 20 computers is on Deck 8. Both of those areas were fairly vacant throughout the cruise, given the prevalence of smartphones and tablets onboard.
Royal Caribbean's Wi-Fi service, called VOOM, allows passengers to surf or stream online content with a per day, per device fee (ranging from $13 to $20, depending on the speed you want). Quantity discounts are available for more than one device. We found the internet speeds to be inconsistent throughout our cruise, with some days much slower than others, so keep in mind that your mileage may vary.
There are no self-serve launderettes onboard Liberty, and the wash-and-fold laundry packages are on the pricy side, so bear that in mind while packing.
The ship has touch screens located near the stairwells to help guide passengers through the ship, as well as view the day's scheduled activities from the Cruise Compass.
Upon check-in for your treatment at the spa (Deck 12, Forward), you'll be seated in a waiting room with zebra print carpet, modern yellow art on the walls and oversized leather chairs. There are 17 treatment rooms on this level, in addition to a hair salon.
Examples of services include a 50-minute facial and massage combo for $159, a 75-minute Thai herbal poultice massage ($195) or a couples bathing ritual with full body massage for $329. Botox, acupuncture and teeth whitening treatments are also on the menu. For men, there are a variety of grooming services, such as a deep cleanse grooming treatment with shave for $75. Your teen can join you at the spa with treatments designed for him or her, marketed as "YSpa," such as the Acne Attack facial and the Sole Mate pedicure.
A spiral staircase in the center of the reception area leads down to the gym.
A light-filled space with floor-to-ceiling windows is almost enough enticement on its own to get you to the gym on vacation (almost). The spacious interior is stocked with free weights, Life Fitness weight machines and cardio machines. There's a studio space for group classes, such as Fab Abs (free), and spin class and Pilates, priced at $15 per class, plus gratuity.
Also inside the fitness center you'll find a spacious, cream-colored locker room stocked with fresh towels and separate steam and sauna rooms (open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily).
The fitness center is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Passengers 16 and up can use the gym; ages 13 to 15 are permitted with a parent or guardian and a signed liability waiver.
For walkers, joggers and runners, you can get in your oceanside laps on the track on Deck 11 — four laps equal a mile. But keep in mind that the later your start in the morning, the more people you'll have to dodge in the process of working up a sweat.
The children's programming aboard Liberty of the Seas was among the best we have experienced, and several families we spoke to with kids of different ages echoed the same thoughts. Kids can spend most of the day having organized fun in Adventure Ocean starting at 3 years old, and programming and exclusive spaces for teens are also available.
Throughout the day, DreamWorks characters make appearances on the Royal Promenade, in parades and at character breakfasts, making this cruise truly a magical experience for your little ones. (Royal Caribbean will end its partnership with DreamWorks, starting with all sailings that depart on or after April 1, 2019.)
Liberty of the Seas also offers a variety of family-friendly accommodations, including the Royal Family Suites and Family Ocean View staterooms.
For children younger than 3 (and who are not potty trained), Royal Babies and Tots Nursery offers child care for $8 per hour, which can be billed partially if you don't fully use your time. The nursery offers various age-appropriate toys, cribs and rocking chairs for fussy babies. Food will be provided to your child (you can also provide your own). You must provide your own diapers and wipes.
Infants must be six months old to cruise on Royal Caribbean, and children must be potty trained to attend Adventure Ocean (no pullups allowed). There's also a cruise line policy that children must be potty trained to swim in any of the pools -- swim diapers are not allowed. In Liberty's H2O Zone, however, there is a splash pad for toddlers where swim diapers are acceptable, and they are sold in the onboard gift shop. You can order diapers, wipes and other baby supplies to be delivered to your room before the cruise. Note: Diapers are otherwise not sold onboard, so order ahead, bring plenty along with you or prepare to stock up in port.
Liberty offers kids' programming at Adventure Ocean for ages 3 to 11 in the following groups: Aquanauts (3-5), Explorers (6-8) and Voyagers (9-11). The home bases for these programs are all on Deck 12, past the arcade inside windowed rooms that are stocked with toys and supplies to inspire movement and creativity (though to be honest, they don't look all that exciting at first).
If you have children in these age groups, you'll receive a Kids Daily Planner alongside your Cruise Compass delivered to your stateroom each night. This planner details the kinds of activities that your kids can attend throughout the day. Hours of operation are generally: morning session from 9 a.m. to noon; afternoon session from 2 to 5 p.m.; and evening session from 7 to 10 p.m. On port days, these hours get extended to provide child care for families who don't want to disembark with their children.
There is also a Late Night Party Zone on select nights from 10 p.m. to midnight for a $7-per-hour fee (including one activity called "Trash the Room"). And on formal dinner nights, you can sign your child up to have dinner (for free) with the Adventure Ocean crew if you'd like.
As an example of some of the planned activities, a morning session for the Aquanauts might include: face painting, arts and crafts and a game of "Catch the Crocodile." In the afternoon, they might play Color Bingo, I Spy and do another craft. In the evening, they might explore games that involve pretending to be doctors or nurses, have a story time or do a fitness challenge.
Explorers might have daily activities like toilet paper football, LEGO challenge and Adventure Science experiments. Check-in and check-out was quick and easy, and after just a day or two, several staff members knew our child's name.
The Voyagers group enjoys similar activities to the Explorers, with a slightly bigger emphasis on team sports. Voyagers can sign themselves in and out only on sea days, with parental approval.
Kids seemed to enjoy the programming, including our son. It's always a good sign when your kid begs to go to the kids' club.
Liberty of the Seas also provides programming to teens 12 to 14 and 15 to 17 (18-year-olds are not permitted). There are two exclusive teen-only areas. The Living Room is a hangout featuring funky high-backed chairs, televisions and Wii games. In the evening, the action moves to Fuel, where a DJ keeps the dance floor interesting. There are also regular pizza parties.
Organized activities include games like scavenger hunts, basketball competitions, air hockey tournaments, video game competitions and movie nights at the pool. Crafts, like homemade slime, decorating bandanas and scrapbooking also are scheduled throughout the cruise.
Aside from that, teens are pretty adept at finding their own fun throughout the ship's pools, water slides, sports court or FlowRider. A cheesy Royal Caribbean-produced TV show called "Royal Crush," featuring a lovestruck teenage couple whose young love blossoms through myriad cruise activities, airs on stateroom televisions and elicits a few chuckles among the too-cool-for-school crowd. Full disclosure: We were hooked on this show.