Liberty of the Seas -- a Great Ship for Teens

| Friday, 21 Mar. 2008

This huge Royal Caribbean vessel has plenty to keep you busy

CruiseMates Teen Editor

If you're not interested in destination cruising but are more into going on a cruise for the ship amenities, then look no further: Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas is the ship for you! Along with its sister ship Freedom of the Seas, Liberty is 1,112 feet of pure fun! They're currently the biggest ships in the world, and that means more space for amazing new features. I traveled on Liberty in February 2008 from Miami and it was one of my favorite cruises. Since it was winter break, there were plenty of teens and plenty of things to do.

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Liberty at Night   Miami Sunrise

Embarkation/Disembarkation Process Even though there were more than 4,000 passengers, the embarkation/disembarkation processes were not as time-consuming as you would think. We were able to board within 45 minutes of our arrival at the port. Disembarkation took around the same amount of time. What took the longest was reboarding the ship while in port. Since everybody seemed to come back at the same time, it took quite a long time to get back on board after a fun day ashore.

Staterooms My family and I stayed in a balcony stateroom and it fit all four of us. As on all ships, the bathroom was tight but we got used to it fast. My only complaint was a lack of storage space. Since my mom and I bring plenty of clothes, there wasn't a lot of room to put all of our "stuff." Other than that, it was great.

Service I found the service onboard to be very good. One would think that on such a huge vessel, the crew would be cranky from serving so many guests. But that was not true on this ship. The crew members were very friendly and did everything they could to make our trip more enjoyable and relaxing.

Food Royal Caribbean is not usually my favorite line for food, but I found the cuisine on this ship to be very good. Although nothing totally wowed me, my taste buds were pleased. The dining room had a wide selection, and so did the Windjammer Buffet. The Windjammer also includes Jade, a buffet section serving Asian food.

The two specialty restaurants are Portofino and Chops Grille. You have to make reservations and pay extra for these restaurants, but they are worth it. The cost is $20 per person for Portofino and $25 for Chops. We didn't dine at Portofino, but we did go to Chops, which is known for mouth-watering steaks and really good side dishes (such as home fries, baked potatoes, etc.). Portofino serves up fine Italian food and is located across from Chops.

If you want a fun 50s-style diner for lunch or dinner, check out Johnny Rockets. Along with delicious burgers and milkshakes, every once in a while Johnny Rockets waiters and waitresses perform a song and dance to a 50s tune. There is a $3.95 per person charge here.

For a quick bite that doesn't charge extra, try Sorrento's Pizzeria. Besides different types of pizza, you'll find Italian appetizers and desserts.

Public Facilities You might think that on a ship this size, all public areas would be totally packed and uncomfortable. But that was not true (at least not on this sailing). There were so many fun things to do that people would be in different places at different times, which solves the crowd issue (except for getting a deck chair, which people saved very early in the morning so none were left by mid-morning).

The Freedom class ships are known for their amazing features. Their most innovative is the Flowrider -- a surfing/boogie boarding simulator. There is a height restriction, so this is not for small children. If you're under 18 years old, you need a waiver signed by your parents. Once you get it, you can easily spend hours there either watching or hanging ten yourself.

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The Rock Wall   The Flowrider

Every Royal Caribbean ship has a rock climbing wall. On Liberty, the rock wall is bigger than others (except Freedom) and even has another section jutting out in front of it for extra climbing space. Like Flowrider, you need a waiver signed by your parents for the climbing wall. Bring socks for the climbing shoes you borrow. Helmets and harnesses are supplied. Also, right by the Flowrider and rock wall is the nine-hole mini-golf course.

For younger kids, there is the H20 zone, a mini water park. Fountains spray water everywhere, and you can run through arches of water or swim under a waterfall. Nearby is the main pool, where live entertainment is provided on sea days. Only adults (age 18 and up) can use the Solarium, a quieter, more relaxing place to swim and hang out. One of the cooler features onboard is found here: On either side of the ship are two hot tubs that extend twelve feet off the side of the ship. You could also kick back and relax in one of the many hammocks in the area.

Cutting through most of the ship lengthwise and through four decks is the Royal Promenade. It really is the heart of the ship, with shops and bars along the walk. Here you'll find the Champagne Bar, Hoof and Claw Pub, Vintages wine bar, Café Promenade, Ben & Jerry's, and Sorrento's Pizzeria. You'll also find a perfume shop, fashion boutique, jewelry shop, souvenir shop, A Clean Shave (shaving and hair cutting), and Get Out There (RCI's sportswear store). On two nights during each sailing, parades are performed along the Promenade.

If you're sick of the normal cruise stage shows, try going to an ice show! The ice-skating rinks on every Voyager and Freedom class ship offer free shows a couple times during the cruise, as well as family skating sessions. The show was pretty good for being done at sea.

If you brought a laptop and plan on checking your email or surfing the web onboard, you can purchase a WiFi access plan. All you have to do is create an account, choose a plan, and you're set. Until you run out of minutes, you can browse the Internet from your stateroom or anywhere else on the ship.

Teen Club and Activities It's no fun going through the awkwardness of meeting others at the teen club the first night. But if you want to make friends and have a good cruise, it's a necessity. (I unfortunately learned this the hard way on previous cruises.)

From game nights to dance clubs, Liberty of the Seas offers plenty to do for teens, who are divided into two age groups: 12-14 and 15-17. Usually, the 12-14 year-olds occupy The Living Room and the 15-17 group occupies Fuel -- but that is subject to change depending on the activity. Most nights, Fuel is a dance club where teens can hang out with their friends and dance. One night, however, teens get to "take over" the Catacombs, the adult disco. Make sure you're in the proper age group because they scan your card at the door.

Most of the time, there aren't any formal activities going on but teens flock to the Living Room to "chillax" with their new friends. There was usually a Guitar Hero match going on whenever I was in there and they also put out other video games.

On one night, there's a teen pool party and boogie boarding night, when teens take over the Flowrider and main pool area. There are also a couple of theme nights in Fuel such as Dusk and Prom Night. As on most cruises, there are scavenger hunts and sports challenges to keep us all (sort of) active. One of Royal Caribbean's special teen activities is the Scratch DJ academy. After a couple of lessons you can learn the basics of DJing.

Royal Caribbean strongly enforces a 1 a.m. curfew for all passengers under 18. (There is an exception if you're involved in an activity after 1 a.m. at the Living Room or Fuel.) A word of advice: don't spend the rest of your night after 1 a.m. trying to outrun the security officers. There are a lot of them onboard, especially on the last night, and you'll get in a bunch of trouble if they catch you more than once. Either go hang out in a friend's cabin or go back to your own.

Ports On this seven-day cruise, we stopped at three ports: San Juan (Puerto Rico), St. Maarten, and Labadee (RCI's private island).

San Juan: We didn't arrive in San Juan until 4 p.m. (and left at 10 p.m.), so it was not a beach day. Right by the dock is a little craft market that sells blankets, pocket books, baby clothes, souvenirs, jewelry, and much more. (It was a great place to buy presents for my friends back home.) Right outside the market is a stand offering horse and carriage rides. We did this the last time we were in Puerto Rico and enjoyed it, so we did it again. We took the Grand Tour, which costs about $90.00 and took us all around Old San Juan with its Spanish style architecture. (The price range for tours is anywhere from $45.00 to $90.00.)

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One of the forts in Old San Juan

St. Maarten: We decided to beach it in St. Maarten. We got a taxi right by the docks and headed to Oyster Bay. It was a small beach but very pretty. It was right on a resort, so food and bathroom facilities were available right there. Some local ladies come around selling jewelry and hair braiding. If you're one of those hair braiding people, get it done here. The lady did a good job on my hair for a good price. Despite being a little crowded, the beach was very relaxing.

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Oyster Bay

Labadee, Haiti: Royal Caribbean purchased a little peninsula in Haiti to turn into its own private island. It is beautiful! There are several beaches on all sides of the "island." For kids and teens, the Arawak water park is a fun place to jump and splash. Nearby is a huge water slide. (There is a charge for both of these activities.) There are two different places to enjoy a barbeque lunch.

The more adventurous might want to try zip lining. Labadee has the longest zip line that goes over water in the world! You start in the treetops, zip over one of the beaches, and end at the tip of the peninsula. The cost is $80 per person, and you must book ahead at the Sea Trek desk onboard.

Labadee also has a craft market with local Haitians selling their goods. A word of caution: Don't bring too much money in with you unless you plan to spend it all. The people at the market will hassle you to buy things, because the island is poor and it's hard to make a living. Just be careful and be smart about it and you'll be fine.

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Arawak Water Park   One of the many Labadee beaches

For anybody who likes to "get out there," I recommend this wonderful ship. I had a blast and I'm sure you will too.

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Liberty in Labadee   Sunset over Labadee

 

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