Sunday, October 2, 2016

Liberty of the Seas Cruise Review - October 2, 2016

 Liberty of the Seas Review

October 2, 2016

Just The Facts
Ship:  Liberty of the Seas
Sailing:  October 2, 2016
Captain: Rune Johnsen
Cruise Director: Jeffrey Arpin
Ports: Galveston-Cozumel-Galveston
Weather:  Very nice and avoiding Hurricane Matthew

This is my 21th Royal Caribbean cruise, second time on the Liberty of the Seas, and my 118th cruise overall.  I am sailing solo.

Day One--Sunday—Embarkation
Manoelito's Classic Guitar in Boleros
I enjoyed the leaving/arriving later scenario we did on the previous cruise so did so again.  There are so many VIP’s that it now actually creates problems at embarkation…so the later arrival is a much smoother process. I left the ranch about 8:00 am and headed south to Galveston arriving at EZ Cruise parking about 12:45. Galveston was very busy today, but I was shuttled over to the Liberty of the Seas fairly quickly. I was after the initial boarding rush and zipped through security and check in and was on board about 1:30 pm. I went directly to the cabin on deck eight and since I rolled my bag on board with me I began stowing away my items.  I went up to the Windjammer and got a plate of Chicken, Vegetables and Mashed Potatoes and sat down and who shows up but Robert my waiter from the previous cruise.  He brought  Wontang the cute assistant waiter by as well.  I’m glad I tipped them a little extra that week since they made a big deal of me being back on board.  After a late lunch I returned to the cabin and finished set up until time for muster drill.  Soon Lennie, from Jamaica, my cabin Steward for the week came by to introduce himself…I think he will be fine.  Fortunately my muster station  D25 was located in the MDR (main dining room) so I could sit this time…much better than last time. After drill the Captain said we'll sail the regular itinerary as we'll be following behind Hurricane Matthews path.  After dismissal I went up to the Promenade on deck 5 to waste some time as all the elevators were packed as usual. They only offer limited beer selections until we sail, but they were passing out Pizza slices on one end and mini Ham & Cheese on the other of the Promenade...kind of nice. I didn't check on Terry's cookies and I ended up taking stairs so I could watch the Dallas Cowboys game on cabin TV.  The Diamond Lounge or even the Viking Crown Lounge, my go to place for cocktails, is not as appealing as a solo since they have larger seating areas and I wanted to see new area of the ship so I went to Boleros on deck four. RCCL pre-loads three complementary Diamond guest cocktails daily on your sail and sign card that can be used at any bar on the ship so that helps the ability to visit other bars.  Boleros was a good choice since it’s next to my MDR and they have live classical guitar music featuring Manoelito from Brazil.  He was very good as were my Cosmopolitan cocktails.  I’m dining this week again at 8:00 pm seating on level four in the Michelangelo Dining Room.  I have a six top table with a nice window location and still a view of the chandelier.  My waiter is Ceasar and assistant Joy, both from the Philippines.  I also met the Head Waiter for the area and the assistant Maitre’D who recognized me.  I bet I receive my special requests. Dinner was good, I ordered a Spinach Salad, the Seafood Spaghetti,  and the Slow Roasted Beef StripLoin entree.  The Mango Pudding and Carrot Cake & Ice Creme were great desserts.  The Welcome show was this evening, but after a long busy day I retired to the cabin after dinner. It was a fun first day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Two—Monday—at Sea
The Ice Show:  Encore
Very smooth seas and a very restful night.  The weather is beautiful today with blue skies and scattered clouds.  This cruise will be completely different from the recent Liberty OTS cruise as I don’t have the huge balcony. I will spend more time about the ship, no outdoor room service breakfasts, or lazy sail always.  I do like my nice dark interior and the cabin itself is actually more updated than previous balcony cabin.  I slept until 8:00 am and had internet time as is my morning custom then went down to the MDR for breakfast just before the 10:00 am close.  I ordered the Eggs Benedict with sides of melon, bacon and hash browns…good.  The C&A Loyalty ambassador is located on deck eight so as I returned to the cabin I asked him about my D+ status since I was issued a Diamond Card upon check-in.  He played on computer for a bit then gave me a new pin and benefit flyer and said it was taken care of and I could even get a new card if I wish.  Thanks…I noticed that the WiFi has a better discount for D+ so I’m glad I asked.  About noon I did a walkabout of the ship walking around decks 11 and 12 and pool areas…then down to deck 5 and the Promenade.  Lounged a while in the Solarium.  It wasn’t that busy on pool decks, I believe we have an older group or they were all going to the early ice show.  I had a late lunch in the Windjammer, they had ribs on the carving station and I had some pasta and mashed potatoes.  I did go the 4:00 pm Ice Show: Encore.  Royal Caribbean is known for it’s very entertaining ice shows and this one was great even having seen it just last month.  Very colorful and still amazing to think of an ice show at sea.  Since the elevators were backed up following the ice show I stopped for an early cocktail and turns out they failed to preload my new sail card with the D+ benefits so a trip to Guest Services straightened that out…I did get a free cocktail as it turned out.  Since the feature show is so soon (6:30) for late seating diners I’m passing and going down to Boleros again for cocktails before dinner.  Manoelito was again very good and did some Beatles tunes tonight as well.  My new bartender friend Roger from Genada has been preparing special Cosmopolitans for me.  Woo Hoo.  I may have found a ‘home’ for the cruise.  Tonight is the Captains night dinner and I ordered a Salad, the Lobster Bisque and the Carved Filet of Beef Tenderloin entree.  All were very good especially the beef.  They did bring me Hearts of Palm that I added to my salad so that made it even more special.  Thanks.  The featured adult comedy show is later tonight, but I retired to the cabin and watched the comedians performance from the Welcome Show on Sunday.  I really enjoyed watching from my big bed with four pillows.  It was a great relaxing sea day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Three—Tuesday—Cozumel
My San Miguel neighborhood
Smooth seas overnight and we were docked very early, about 7:00 am. I slept well but I didn’t get around until about 9:00 am.  Skipping breakfast as we have a short day in Cozumel today.  We are docked at the International pier along with the Allure of the Seas so there was a huge line at the taxi stand when I got down there about 9:40.  I skipped the line and went across the street and got a taxi strait away as I shared with a local lady who had just waved one over…she was going just one block past Angelo’s so it was perfect, Gentleman that I am, I paid for the taxi, but taxi driver may not of stopped for me as she had waved him over.  I got a nice haircut from Martin my barber of nine years then went down to Woody’s my usual HQ in San Miguel.  I had two Coca-cola lights, that always taste so much better in Mexico, while updating my cruise blog and updating all my iPhone applications.  Alma brought some great Guacamole and Pico de gallo and I enjoyed some good internet time using their fast wifi connection. I wish my wifi speed was as fast in Texas, I even downloaded the opera Carmen to get into a Spanish mood since we are flying to Barcelona on Monday.  The live music at Woody's is also nice and they have my favorite Mexican beer: Bohemia.  After a visit to the Farmacia, I took a taxi ($8) back to the ship about 2:30.  As soon as I hit the cabin I ordered room service as knew it’s an hour+ wait.  They really need an Guy’s Burger type alternative that feeds people fast.  I had time to clean up and cool off before I ate my Steak Sandwich & Ham & Cheese Sandwich as a late lunch.  They were hot, tasted good, and were served with french fries (not hot) and packaged potato chips. I went up to the Diamond Club in the Viking Crown Lounge for the first time tonight for cocktails and it was only partial full…in fact after I got my first Cosmo they brought them to my table afterward.  Super.  When I left I noticed that the Olive or Twist lounge was more empty than full as well.  Very different from my previous cruise On Liberty OTS, but better for the Diamond guests on board.  I also went to Boleros on the way to dinner to get my cocktail from Roger so he would continue to prepare my usual.  The MDR was only half full which is not usual for Cozumel day.  I ordered the Arugula salad and added my Hearts of Palm that made it a great salad, and ordered two entrees: The Chicken Cordon Bleu and the Braised Beef Duo. For dessert I ordered the BBB Creme Brulee and the Rum Baba Cake.  All were very good dinner of the cruise so far.  The feature show tonight was In the Air a great show with a lot of trapeze, colorful costumes, singing & dancing, and aerial scenes.  The show may have contributed to fewer guest in the Viking Crown tonight.  It's a very different show for a cruise, but having just seen it I retired to the cabin to watch the MLB AL Wildcard game.  The winner (Blue Jays) will face my Texas Rangers.  It was a great Cozumel day in paradise.

Day Four—Wednesday—(Grand Cayman) - at Sea
Mascot on Promenade Deck
I slept very well overnight and the weather was beautiful.  This was to be Grand Cayman day and I was going to stay on board to do ship activities while most passengers were off the ship.  However the Captain made an announcement that although the weather is now nice the seas are a bit high and an afternoon thunderstorm was expected to disrupt tender services to and from the island in the afternoon.  He was afraid that people would be ‘stuck’ on the island and unable to return to the ship.  So we are going to have a sea day today.  I purposely waited late to go to the MDR as there would be few there, but after the announcement seems many now went to the MDR for a leisurely breakfast.  My breakfast was very good, I ordered three fried eggs over easy with melon, bacon, ham, and hash browns.  I went on another extended walkabout on the outer decks as the guests are enjoying the swimming pools and outdoor activities.  The Captain is slowly sailing, avoiding the clouds, I assume towards Jamaica.  They distributed a new revised Daily Planner midday with more afternoon activities both indoors and out.  A busy day at the Rock Wall, Tidal Wave, Slides, and Flow Rider for the active guests.  I had lunch in the Windjammer, I had Pork Tenderloin from carving station, their very good Mashed Potatoes, small Strip Steaks, and Bread Pudding for dessert.  Cabin time, computer work, excursion research for Europe, and blog updating this afternoon.  I went up to the Diamond Lounge about 6:00ish and had a nice time visiting with other Diamond Guests.  It was not overfull at all and the two servers were very generous in bringing cocktails to you.  It was a nice party and no need to use the three drinks from sail card anywhere else.  I went to dinner in the Michelangelo dining room as usual and there were more guests at dinner tonight.  I ordered: the Insalata Mista salad and added my Hearts of Palm, the Eggplant Parmigiana, and Chicken Marsala entree.  Didn't care for the Eggplant (Princess has the best) but enjoyed the Chicken.  Not a major production show tonight although they did have the standard cruise line Love & Marriage Show in the Metropolis Theater.  On reflection I don't think the ship is near full.  Royal Caribbean never releases numbers and in fact usually announces it's full when it is not and I believe that to be the case.  It wasn't that crowded during my walkabout today, I easily got a seat in the Windjammer, The MDR wasn't full, and the relatively empty Diamond Lounge working as it should.  It makes it a very nice and enjoyable cruise.  A very easy relaxing extra sea day on The Liberty of the Seas.

Day Five—Thursday—Falmouth Jamaica
Falmouth: new Cruise Village & old Falmouth in background
Very smooth seas overnight and a good nights sleep.  We arrived and docked at Falmouth well before 8:00 am.  The Allure of the Seas has also joined us here.  My only plans for the day is to go down the ship's new water slides and watch the Texas Ranger game in the afternoon.  I casually went to the Windjammer about 10:00 am for a nice buffet breakfast.  Since we do have two sea days returning and the unscheduled one yesterday I did go down to the pier and Cruise Village area of Falmouth.  It’s a very nice and clean area with all the shoppes one would expect in a cruise ship pier/village, at least they allow locals into a Craft area.  I’ve been here before and taken a tour of the old town, something I would not care to ever do again so I just did some people watching.  As I was sitting near the big Customs House where everyone enters and exits the village from the ships I did witness this gem:  After viewing the big and beautiful Allure docked across from us all morning this couple decides to come down to the pier, through the security into the Customs House then exits into the village plaza (where I am sitting) looks around and says, “Wow there’s another big ship” she took another few steps and says, “Oh…that’s ours”. Pretty funny and proof that not all the goofy people are on Carnival and yes she was blonde (not that there's anything wrong with that).  I didn’t think I’d see anything better than that exchange so returned to the ship early as they open the slides at 1:00 pm.  I had a very nice Windjammer lunch with German style pork cutlets and red cabbage.  One of my favorite Windjammer meals and I missed it last month.  I spent some time in the Solarium swimming pool and then the hot tub that sets over the side of the ship.  I was on the Allure side so it was easy to observe that ship from the hot tub.  A nice soak and the knees feel good.  I ordered some fruit plates and cheese plate for cabin delivery during the Texas Rangers afternoon playoff baseball game on TV.  The cabin makes a very nice man cave to watch the game.  I went up to the Diamond Lounge (plenty of seats) for cocktails and visit with new friends until time to go to the Michelangelo MDR.  Dinner was very good, I ordered the Royal Shrimp Cocktail,  the Garden Salad that I added my plate of Hearts of Palm, and two entrees: the Pork Scaloppine and the Crispy Chicken Kiev.  All really excellent, another great dinner.  The feature entertainment was comedian Tom McTigue but I couldn’t work that into my schedule, actually preferring the Diamond Lounge to my designated showtime.  It was a an interesting and fun day in Jamaica and on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Six—Friday—at Sea
El Gaucho
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well overnight. I had been going to the MDR just before closing in order to avoid lines, but this morning I went about 9:00 am that should be ‘prime time’ and there was no line what so ever.  I know my ‘sailing not near full’ theory is true.  I had a great breakfast with fresh fried eggs with bacon, ham, melon, etc.  I enjoyed a relaxing morning until the Texas Ranger game on TV at noon today.  We actually get two MLB feeds on the ship, the usual TBS feed and Latin ESPN2 that seems to ‘borrow’ the best sports broadcasts from Europe and North America.The baseball game wasn’t going well so I took a break for lunch in the Windjammer. They had Roast Pig on the carving station and an interesting Ukrainian dish of beef cubes with a hot sauce…different and good.  The special thing was it was Oatmeal Raisin cookie day…they are my favorite so I took some to the cabin to eat during the rest of the baseball game.  The ship has the usual sea day activities, but I enjoy doing my own thing and today it was baseball. I went to the Platinum Theater for tonight's Headliner show: El Gaucho. A show I have seen many times all the way back to the Rhapsody of the Seas days. The show includes comedy, music, and special effects according to the description and although the show is a bit ‘cheesy’ it is entertaining and I did find myself laughing out loud several times.  I did get a great seat in 4th row center again again confirming my ‘not near full’ theory. After the show I went to Boleros for my cocktails since it is close to dinner time and they are located next to the Michelangelo Dining room.  Dinner tonight was good, I ordered the Escargot, the Green Salad with Hearts of Palm, the Fillet of Beef Tenderloin entree, and Baked Alaska for dessert.  I have loved mixing my Hearts of Palm with my salads this week.  After dinner I retired to the cabin and watched TV.  It was a nice day at sea on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Seven--Saturday--at Sea
Olive or Twist Lounge
Rolling seas overnight and I slept very well…until 9:30 am in fact…so a dash down to the MDR before it closed for a nice sit down breakfast.  I ordered Melon, Custom Fried Eggs with bacon, ham & hash browns. All very good.  Afterward I went to Guest Services to make $ change for extra tips and while I was there I payed off my sail account…I don’t anticipate any additional charges so it's nice to have that taken care of since I’ll be busy traveling for a month.  I’m wearing my OU football jersey today since it’s game day, but all the sports feeds I mentioned are showing European soccer this morning.  OU vs. TX has to be more interesting to guests than Montenegro vs. Kazakstan (seriously).  I am able to get a live feed from FoxSports over the internet, but the bandwidth is so slow over the ship satellite it’s very spotty coverage.  But it is the game and it was a very exciting game at much I skipped lunch but my Raisin Oatmeal cookies allowed me to survive.  Today is the feature show Saturday Night Fever in the Platinum Theater.  This is a big theatrical production with great sets and costumes not just a song and dance routines.  The large cast of singers and dancers are very good and this is a show not to be missed if you have not seen it. I have really taken advantage of the Diamond level Crown & Anchor club complimentary cocktails this week.  Thank you RCCL, you helped make it fun. Final dinner tonight was good, I ordered the Eggplant and Kalamata Olive Tartare, Tomato and Baked Feta Cheese Salad with my additional Hearts of Palm, the Roasted Turkey entree, and Key Lime Pie for dessert.  I retired after dinner to do some packing and watch some football.  It was a busy and great final day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Smooth seas overnight and we were docked early before I was up and around.  I was up early and finished packing. No room service on debarkation morning, but a full breakfast menu is served in the dining room.  I am doing the self debarkation and could debark early with the VIP groups, but have decided to wait until towards the end of self-debark to avoid the anxious guests crowding the passageways although the early arrival will help that usual problem (You no longer have to request self-debark and get a ticket at Guest Services the day prior.)  They do a silent debark so a little harder to estimate debark progress from your cabin.  I went down to deck four about 8:10 am and the timing was fair, there were long lines but they moved fairly well all the way to customs. I took the EZ Cruise shuttle to the car and I was on my way about 9:00 am. (Galveston Raceway $1.92) I took I-45 through Houston and north then cross country on Hwy 7 to Hwy 6, Waco, then Bosque County.  Home at the ranch about 1:30 pm..

The Liberty of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s current ‘Texas’ ship sailing year round in Galveston.  With a large ship there are a lot of people and the pools can be very crowded during peak times and the elevators are always full, but the additional size also means that there is room for an ice skating arena, the photo gallery, casino, bars, etc. without any one of them dominating an entire deck.  The Grand Promenade is very impressive indeed and must be experienced.  We couldn’t determine if there is theme to the ship but it’s decorated nicely. They have the Sabor restaurant, Diamond Lounge, and Digital photo displays on deck three, and much more.

I had cabin 8397 an interior on starboard side near the aft.  The room is a standard size interior with: key pad safe, hair dryer, refrigerator (empty), small couch, full chair at vanity/desk, nice sliding shower door, and good lighting. Another great feature was the flat screen TV that could be adjusted to view from anywhere in the room.  Very well designed.  The air conditioning & water pressure worked well, but I’m glad I brought my personal cabin fan for circulation.

Overall very good. My cabin steward Lenny from Jamaica was very adequate, My MDR wait team, waiter Cesar and assistant Joy both from the Philippines,  were very good.  The two bartenders in the Diamond Lounge were fantastic.

My assigned 8:00 pm dining room was the Michelangelo Dining Room, deck four the mid level of the 3 level restaurant. The bread and appetizers were especially good, the entrees very good.  The Windjammer is the buffet  area and the quality of food was very good.   Room service was always good but averaged an hour for delivery.  Johnny Rockets is a good alternative for lunch or afternoon snack.  Lunch in the Sapphire Dining Room has the same menu each day with one special item that does change daily. There are several ice crème and yogurt machines.  The Cookies on this ship are outstanding my favorite was Oatmeal raisin.

Thank you for reading.  As an older/experienced cruiser my activities will be much different from a newer cruiser as I will be doing fewer things on board simply because of the 'been there done that' factor and frankly I don't have the energy as I once did...Priorities do change over time. I do love to cruise!!

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