There isn't a cruise line at sea that welcomes passengers back
like Royal Caribbean International (RCI). First day on board there
were several knocks at our stateroom door; each bringing the
following: One dozen American Beauty Roses, a bottle of Moet &
Chandon Brut Champagne chilling in an ice bucket with two glasses,
a tray of chocolate dipped strawberries, and finally a huge bowl of
fruit. VIP treatment for "Diamond + frequent floaters" is wonderful
and it signals a wonderful week to come: Exotic destinations,
unique experiences with old and new friends on board!
The first surprise was to see Captain Charles Teige as master,
since we had enjoyed meeting him on the Voyager of the Seas in
2006. What a pleasure to sail and dine with him again on the
Liberty of the Seas. This lovely ship is well run and affords
travellers such unique marvelous opportunities including the
following: the Flow Rider, a surf simulator; the Ice Skating Rink
presenting Olympic quality Ice Skating Shows; the Rock Climbing
Wall, the nine hole Mini Golf, etc., etc., etc! This, our first
review of the Liberty of the Seas, will cover the
entire ship and point out some of its exquisite decorations.
EMBARKATION On Saturday I-95 traffic was bearable, we arrived at
the Port of Miami at 12:45pm and had wheelchair assistance from the
point of luggage drop off --- all the way to our stateroom.
Check-in was simple, then we were escorted to a waiting area from
which the ship's crew took us on board. We were in our cabin in
less than one half hour. This was all simple and no hassle.
THE SHIP This Freedom class ship, the Liberty of the Seas, is
sister to both the Freedom of the Seas and the newest of this
triumvirate, Independence of the Seas. The Liberty made her maiden
voyage on May 19, 2007. She was built at Kvaerner Masa-Yards in
Turku, Finland. Her gross tonnage is 160,000 and she is 1,112 feet
long and 185 feet wide, with a draft of a mere 28 feet. She is
approximately the same as the Empire State Building laid on its
side --- nearly four times the size of the Statue of Liberty and
three times the size of the Titanic! She has a cruising speed of
21.6 knots and 15 passenger decks, 14 elevators, and can
accommodate 4,375 guests. This cruise she carried 4,100 passengers
and a crew of 1,360. This ship has 1,817 staterooms of which 1,084
are ocean view (842 of these have balconies). There are 733
interior cabins of which 172 have a view of the Royal Promenade.
The RCI Royal Promenade concept, in both the Voyager and Freedom
classes, is a village street in the interior part of the ship (with
a Pub, a Barber Shop, Logo Shops, Boutiques and restaurants). This
is an excellent place to stroll, shop, sit and read, or meet with
fellow passengers. Next will follow a deck by deck description of
the Liberty of the Seas.
Deck 1 has the medical facility and crew areas.
Deck 2 forward has the Conference Center and the Screening Room,
plus passenger cabins and the first level of the Platinum
Deck 3 forward has the Platinum Theater with its gorgeous
curtain "Pearls" with 13 separate panels, a total of 28 feet tall
and 46 feet wide with seven statuesque female figures with head
pieces and dresses of 76,000 hand sewn sequins and 4,000 Austrian
crystals. Their shoes are of 4,000 ruby red bugle beads. The total
effect is elegant. Also forward is the Art Gallery; mid ship is the
"Catacombs Disco" with Harry Cardross' Stained Glass Windows titled
the "Ravens of the Catacombs." Norse mythology call them Hugin and
Munin. Simon Dray has painted the god Odin, who gave one eye in
return for knowledge--- his other eye is the sun. Dray also painted
Frigg, Odin's wife. She was a strong woman who often got the best
of Odin. Needless to say the disco is striking.
Next is the Ice Center and the Studio B Entertainment complex.
Aft is the Rembrandt Dining Room which is the bottom level of the
tri level restaurant. It is a RCI triumph, with a massive
chandelier seen from all tiers. The triple staircase holds the
bandstand which provides live music each evening during dinner.
Deck 4 has the Schooner Bar and the Casino Royale with its
Hollywood, Casablanca and Oceans' 11 characters on murals ( Bogart,
Bergman, the Rat Pack of Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr. and Dickinson).
Artists Smolover and Zaiba call the murals "Casino." These two
artists also did the primordial garden of glass floral sculptures
in the Bolero Bar. They are fantastic giant agave blooms in warm
colors of yellows and oranges. The Michelangelo Dining room is
Deck 5 is the most used passenger center, since it has the Guest
Relations Desk, Exploration Desk for shore excursions and the
Shopping Desk and the Promenade with the following:Shops on Board
(perfume, sports and logo), Ben & Gerry's Ice Cream, a Barber
shop, Wine Bar, Hoof & Claw Pub, Cafe' Promenade and Sorrento's
Pizza featuring antipasti, artisan breads, pizzas, and desserts of
fresh fruits and biscotti! The walls inside have photos of many
famous Italo-Americans from Caruso to Mario Lanza and Joe
Aft is the Botticelli Dining Room with a mural of "Venus
rising..." Forward is the Sphinx Lounge. Its entrance is flanked by
huge statues of Pharohs, while on its walls are murals of "Views of
the Nile" and "Figures from Daily Life, Egypt" by Clarissa Parish.
Look for the Novidis statue of Tutankhama, it is a representation
of the one in the Cairo Museum. Its beauty is in black and
Decks 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are mainly cabins plus the Business
Services area, the Library, the RCI computers and the Concierge
lounge all of which are located near the aft elevators.
Deck 11 forward has the fitness center and the Solarium with an
excellent pool and two giant whirlpools which extend out over the
ocean! On this deck there are 6 whirlpools, 3 swimming pools and
the Sea Trek Dive Shop. Mid ship is the Sprinkles Ice Cream and aft
are two specialty restaurants: Chops Grille, excellent filet and
veal chops, etc. and superbly run; the Portofino, with Italian
cuisine, featured a new menu with updated items; all the way aft is
the Jade (oriental food) and the Windjammer Buffet serving all day
long everything from soup to desserts.
Deck 12 has the Johnny Rockets Restaurant, a nineteen fifties
railroad car diner, all chrome and red Naugahyde booths plus juke
boxes with all the golden oldies. They specialize in hamburgers,
hot dogs, French Fries, onion rings and old fashion soda fountain
fare: Ice cream floats, sundaes and apple pie a la mode. Here also
are the Adventure Ocean Youth Center, Fuel Teen Disco and the Game
Deck 13 is the Sports Deck with a Rock Climbing Wall, Mini Golf
and Golf Simulator, Basketball Court, Flow Rider (for surfers) and
the Wipe Out Bar.
Deck 14 has the Sports bar and night club Olive or Twist, the 7
Hearts Card Room, Cloud 9 Club and the second Concierge Lounge
overlooking the sea.
Deck 15 holds the Skylight Chapel which accommodates 45 people:
Great for weddings at sea!
The ship is artfully decorated with designs too numerous to
mention here. It reflects the excellent taste of RCI. Suffice it to
say there is a surprise around every corner and in every
CABIN We had wheelchair accessible cabin #7624 on Deck 7. It is
a large roomy stateroom decorated very tastefully in teal blue and
gold. When entering, the door is a bit too narrow for a wheelchair
and we had to do special maneuvers each time. On the left there are
armoires with both shelves and hangers and a personal safe. Then,
there is a long desk/vanity with lighted mirrors.
When entering on the right there is a large bathroom with safety
rails all around and a shower stall with a fold away seat. The
mirrored medicine cabinet is roomy. Then there is a sofa, a coffee
table, and an upholstered chair. RCI has a new bedding program
featuring a king size bed, upgraded sheets and a nice duvet (the 20
pound variety, which is a bit too much for the Caribbean).
Two night stands flank the bed with two reading lamps. The far wall
is all windows, floor to ceiling and a door to the balcony, which
holds a chaise, two chairs and a small table. The balcony is extra
long and deep, and very spacious. Our Cabin Stewardess was Evelyn
Marcosa, the sweetest, and most efficient we've had. Brava!
SERVICE & FOOD The Hotel Director Christos Karavos is a very
capable man who gave us much detailed ship data. We can't thank him
enough. He runs an excellent ship, where service is always smiling
and fast. We used Room Service every morning for breakfast and the
RS Supervisors Theresa and Teeana should be proud of the prompt and
RCI's Crown & Anchor Society has many perks to offer
returning passengers in the way of cocktail parties, gifts (i.e.
Caps and beach towels), concierge services by Pretty Shamu, Anthea
Helmsing and Mario Reyes who preside over the two lounges on Deck
10 and Deck 14: Great service and cordiality from all three,
especially from Anthea who made our dinner and show reservations
and provide us with the Italian language newspaper. The lounges are
open for breakfast 8-11am and cocktails 5-8:30pm. It is a nice way
to meet new people on board and to connect up with old friends.
Most cruisers equate service with the treatment in the dining
rooms and restaurants. This cruise Exec. Chef Johan Petutschnig was
on board; he is another old acquaintance of ours. Feeding over
5,000 people every day is a daunting task, but he is up to it and
he can be seen making the rounds of the many various venues
The Captain's Dinner on Formal Night was exquisite -- escargot,
Lobster bisque, Caesar salad, linguini Alfredo with truffled wild
mushrooms (Mary's choice) and a perfectly done Filet of Beef
(Vincent's selection). The Chef's Surprise dessert was a delicate
mousse topped with a spun sugar basket filled with wild berries.
What a way to end dinner with Captain Teige. Excellent
conversation, delicious food and a sweet taste in our mouth.
Each evening we dined in the Botticelli Restaurant Deck 5. Head
Waiter Myra Fuentes was constantly watching that everything went
smoothly. Our Waiter was Pedro Arevalo and both he and his
assistant Ning were perfect. They brought each course at a nice
pace, but not rushed. The food was typical RCI, good quality and we
are happy to note smaller portions. Vincent felt that the beef was
not of consistent quality.
We especially enjoyed Sorrento's on the Promenade and highly
recommend Chop's Grill where quality was top notch, with meat
cooked to perfection, and served well. The Mississippi Mud Pie is
the ultimate in chocolate. Food and service are alive and well on
ENTERTAINMENT This Freedom Class of ships has so many diverse
possibilities for fun for everyone. For the sports minded there are
unique items only to RCI venues like the Flow Rider: stand up
surfing from 8-9am and 3-4pm and boogie boarding from 10-11am and
4-6pm. Then there is Rock Climbing Wall and ice skating. No other
cruise line offers all of these. There are also skating, golf,
jogging, shuffleboard and ping pong. For those enjoying gambling
there are Bingo, poker and slots tournaments and other Casino
games. For the less athletic minded, there is Daily Trivia, and a
great library with many comfortable leather sofas and chairs
overlooking the the Royal Promenade. This is a much coveted spot
for viewing the many Parades on the Promenade.
The nightly shows include comics, variety shows and Broadway
style musicals --- all very entertaining. Cruise Director James
Andrews keeps passengers informed of the many activities on board.
James is very friendly and approachable. We cruise for rest and
relaxation, but many cruise for activities and RCI has the best and
most afloat. "Get out there!"
PORTS OF CALL Saturday: Port of Miami, FL Sail Away 5:00pm.
Sunday: At Sea. Monday: At Sea. Tuesday: Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Arrive 9:00am Depart 6:00pm Wednesday: San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive
7:00am Depart 2:00pm Thursday: Labadee, Haiti Arrive 8:00am Depart
4:30pm Friday: At Sea Saturday: Port of Miami, FL Arrive 7:00am
CONCLUSION We have cruised two years ago on the Freedom of the
Seas, sister ship of the Liberty of the Seas, and were amazed by
the immense dimensions of this "giga" ship and, most of all, by the
many innovative features first seen at sea. However, now we spend
more time going around and admiring the individual pieces of
artwork which decorate the various areas of these ships. It is like
visiting a museum. Each day we tour different areas, take the time
to enjoy the interesting sights and learn something new. We rarely
visit the ports of call, since we have been there many times, but
we leisurely enjoy the ship.
We are addicted to cruising. This was our 75th cruise and our
35th on RCI ships, thus it is evident that RCI is one of our
favorite cruise lines. The main reason is that the perks and
benefits offered to Crown & Anchor Society members are
substantial, especially to those repeaters ("Frequent Floaters")
who have achieved the Platinum and Diamond levels. We are looking
forward to sailing on the newest of the RCI ships, Independence of
the Seas, Nov. 29th. Other cruises already booked are the Norwegian
Pearl, on Jan. 4th, Ruby Princess, on Jan. 24th, Celebrity
Solstice, transatlantic cruise, on April 19th and the inaugural
cruise of the Oasis of the Seas, on Dec. 12th 2009. Happy