Monday, September 12, 2016

Liberty of ths Seas Cruise Review - September 11, 2016

Liberty of the Seas Review

September 11, 2016

Just The Facts
Ship:  Liberty of the Seas
Sailing:  September 11, 2016
Captain: Rune Johnsen
Cruise Director: Jeffrey Arpin
Ports: Galveston-Roatan-Belize-Cozumel-Galveston
Weather:  Sunny with occasional clouds…Warm

I am cruising with my Dear Wife (DW) and another couple both good friends and experienced cruisers.   This is my 20th Royal Caribbean cruise and first on the Liberty of the Seas.  I had booked this cruise very early in order to get one of our favorite aft facing cabins with large balcony on deck seven.

Day One--Sunday—Embarkation
Liberty of the Seas - Promenade
We left the ranch about 8:00 am (later than usual) and headed south to Galveston making a stop at the  Buc*ees in Waller, Texas.  We arrived at EZ Cruise parking about 12:30 and we were shuttled over to the Liberty of the Seas strait away. We were after the initial boarding rush and zipped through security and check in and were on board about 1:00 pm.  I believe there are now so many VIP’s that it is easier to arrive after the initial rush of embarkation.  We went to the cabin on deck seven and since I rolled my bag on board with me I began stowing away my items.  We met our friends on Lido to eat and visit then proceeded to boat drill about 4:00 pm.  D28 meets outside on deck and that is becoming hard on me…I prefer inside and seated.  After boat drill I had cabin time and watched the Dallas Cowboys football game until we went upstairs to the Viking Crown Lounge to meet our friends for cocktails.  It was very busy but we got a nice table with a view of the ship and Gulf of Mexico. Very nice watching the sundown and I enjoyed a few Cosmopolitan martini’s.  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.  At 8:00 pm we went down to dinner in the three level Main Dining Rooms (MDR) deck five to the Botticelli Dining Room.  We have a nice four-top table at a window that turned out to be fortuitous as the beautiful Carnival Breeze sailed along side of us during dinner.  This used to be common with cruise ships sailing the same route, but rather uncommon now days.  It is a beautiful sight seeing the large cruise ships lit up at night.  Dinner was good, I ordered the Grilled Pork Chop entree and the Carrot Cake & Ice Creme was a great dessert.  The Welcome Show was this evening, but after a long busy day we retired to the cabin after dinner.  A busy day.

Day Two—Monday—at Sea
A very restful night and beautiful weather today.  We slept late for us although I went down to the MDR fro breakfast just after 9:00 am.  The lines were super long so I went up to the Diamond Lounge to see what they offered there for breakfast and make queries about the Ice Shows.  They no longer require tickets as it’s first come first seated as the show in the theater…really better.  I went back down fro the MDR about 9:40 and the line was manageable so I had a nice breakfast: Melon, Fried Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Hash browns, and toast.  DW had a nice room service breakfast as she usually does on a cruise and was finishing when I got back to the cabin.  We have a really cool balcony and I’m planning to take advantage of it this cruise so I began that right away.  I did a tour of the ship about 1:00 pm walking around decks 11 and 12 and pool areas…then down to deck 5 and the Promenade.  I popped into the pub to see which beers were on the 2:00 pm beer tasting and looked at the various shoppes.  They have more eating places than the Voyager class ships on Promenade…I sampled a Pizza at Sorrento’s and a then took cookies and sandwiches from the Cafe Promenade back to the balcony for snacks and more balcony time.  We were considering the Ice Skating show at 2:00 pm, but ordered Cheese Plates and Fruit Plates from room service, These are IMHO the signature items on RCCL room service menus and something we love to order and enjoy on the balcony.  So we had a lovely balcony day.  We went up to the Olive or Twist in the Viking Crown Lounge and enjoyed cocktails.  Our server Dado from Montenegro brought very nice Cosmopolitans from the bar and not the Diamond Lounge.  Much better and might as well use our allotted three on our Sail card.  Tonight is the Captains formal dinner and the Botticelli Dining Room was very enjoyable.  I ordered the Bay Scallop Gratin and two entrees: Pan-fried Silver Covina Fillet & Carved Filet of Beef Tenderloin.  All were very good especially the beef.  Our waiter Robert from the Philippines has been very good and efficient. There was a 10:30 Adult Comedy Show in the Theater, but after a great sea day I retired.  The others enjoyed the ship.  It was a nice sea day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Three—Tuesday—at Sea
I don't care for any
I slept very well overnight and the weather was beautiful.  Room service was delivered about 9:00 am. and we enjoyed a nice breakfast on the large balcony enjoying the weather and view.  We ordered fruit plates, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and pastries.  This will be our norm for the cruise especially for DW.  We plan on another relaxing day today and we even had a brief shower during balcony time, but our balcony is completely covered so it was fine and really cooled us off too.  We didn’t go to lunch until 2:00 but it was still bust in the Windjammer.  I had roasted pork from the carving station with some vegetables and mashed potatoes.  We went down to the Promenade and had desserts from Sorrentos...DW says the Coconut Macaroons were best she has had.  After browsing the Promenade for a while we returned to the cabin and balcony time although it was warmer and more humid than the perfect cool morning.  We met our friends in the R Bar on Promenade early for cocktails as the designated Show time was 6:30 for late seating guests.  The R Bar is quite busy but we were able to get a table.  I think I prefer the Olive R Twist in the Viking Crown Lounge.  The production show was In the Air  There were more aerobatics than I have seen on a cruise production…basically every scene by the entire cast of singers and dancers..  It was a very different show and did have great costumes. We had time to get a cocktail or wine from the Diamond Lounge before dinner and we did so.  Dinner was good, the Matre’D sent along some Hearts of Palm that I appreciated and enjoyed.  I ordered the Crab Cake and two entrees:  the Chicken Cordon Bleu and the Braised Beef Duo (Square Rib & Flank Steak).  The Cordon Bleu was very good.  I ordered the Cherries Jubilee for dessert and DW “I don’t care for any” dessert.  (photo)  After dinner we retired for the evening.  It was another nice sea day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Four—Wednesday—Roatan
A friend at Mayan Eden Park
A little rocking overnight and a good nights sleep.  We arrived and docked at Coxen Hole about 8:00 am.  We had a full ‘Room Service’ breakfast that was delivered a little late at 8:45 am so we enjoyed that on our balcony before debarking just after 9:10 am.  We met our friends on the dock and found the person who arranged our car and driver.  The four of us loaded up and our first stop was an overlook of Coxen Hole and the cruise ship. Even though the island has cleaned up and improved with better garbage collection, it was still a crappy spot although the view was nice.  The car’s A/C was not working so we requested a return to terminal for a new car.  We did get a nice new car, but the girls decided they would bail and just stay around the ship today.  I don’t blame them it was not a good start and DW has really seen everything.  The guys went on and it turned into a great day overall.  First stop was the very nice Zip Lines at Mayan Eden Park.  It was an eight station zip on the mountain at Spanish Town and overlooking Coxen Hole.  They were exciting and located in the jungle environment.  The last zip station is in the zoo/wildlife area. Here we get play with the monkeys, see the butterfly exhibit, interact with the birds, and more.  It was a great experience.  We then drove to the West End tourist area to Eagle Ray’s Bar & Restaurant located over the water.  Here we had our first Salva Vida beers of the day and some Nachos and Quesadillas.  After relaxing and enjoying the views, breeze, and beers we continued on to West Bay Beach and found a spot at Earl’s a beach dive next to the Fosters resort.  More Salva Vida beer and a dip in the water to cool off.  We even had a nice beach massage and then needed another dip in the water from the nice beach.  I did make a beach vendor purchase for the DW of what they call Roatan Jade (actually a nice green agate).  As we began our return to Coxen Hole, we continued ‘cutting up’ with our driver Peter an interesting guy who seemed to know half the people we passed along the road all day on our Guy Adventure in Roatan.  We were back at the ship by 4:00 and it was time to shower and wash the sand and massage oil from myself and hair…took a couple of attempts.  I really enjoyed our sail away from Roatan.  We sailed from Coxen Hole at the same time the Carnival Magic sailed from Mahogany Bay so we sailed around the west end of the island together and I had the perfect view from my aft facing balcony of the island getting smaller and the Magic getting closer.  We met our friends at the Olive or Twist for cocktails and we had a view forward as the Magic had now passed us.  It was fun reminiscing about the days guy adventures with the DW’s…the cocktails were nice as well.  Dinner was good, DW enjoyed her vegetarian Spinach appetizers and entrees.  After dinner was the Love & Marriage Show in the Platinum Theater, but I will watch it later on cabin TV.  A great busy day in Roatan.

Day Five—Thursday—Costa Maya
Mahahual today
I slept well overnight and we were docked at Costa Maya by the time I awoke about 8:00 am.  Room Service was early this morning right at 8:00 not 8:45 as yesterday.  I ate on the balcony with a nice close up view of the Carnival Magic docked across our aft.  Costa Maya is to our right down the long Pier.  We have decided to stay on board today, but our friends are off to Mahahual the nice fishing village and beach just south of the port.  We had a little rain shower but nice balcony time and I had was able to get in some good internet time as well.  We went up to the Windjammer about 12:30 and I had Chicken Breast fillets, Mashed Potatoes, Carrots & Peas, and a very good Bread Pudding.  It was a very good lunch.  We went down to Promenade Cafe and they did have the Coconut Macaroons that DW likes so much and I did get some cookies for my afternoon balcony time too.  When we got back our balcony view had completely changed as The Carnival Magic had just pulled away from the dock.  We now have a nice view of the south coast, the Caribbean, and Mahahual.  It was another very clear and warm day with a few occasional clouds…this just serves to change the colors of the beautiful Caribbean water.  We sailed away about 5:00 pm for our short cruise around and to Cozumel.  We went up to the Olive or Twist for cocktails as usual and it wasn't as busy as the Diamond (and up) party was also this evening...we were even able to get some h'orderves from inside the Diamond lounge.   Dinner was very good and the Maitre'D has done very well by me, tonight I again had Hearts of Palm and he also brought us Escargot that is no longer on the everyday menu.  I ordered the Roasted Poplano Pepper and Corn Soup, Snow Crab Salad, Slow-roasted Prime Rib, and Baked Alaska for dessert.  Again we retired to the cabin after dinner although there were a lot of ship activities this evening.  It was a easy relaxing day on the Liberty of the Seas.

Day Six—Friday—Cozumel
Smooth seas overnight and we were docked very early, about 7:00 am. I slept well and got around about 8:00 am and we’re not in a rush today.  We are docked at the International pier along with the Freedom of the Seas and I watched the Carnival Dream dock at Puerto Maya Pier from the balcony.  We had the usual room service breakfast delivered about 8:30 am and it was double helpings of everything…nice.  It's a beautiful warm/hot day today in Cozumel so passengers will enjoy their beach or excursions today.  We left for San Miguel about 10:30 am arriving at the main square about 11:00 am.  Very busy today being Mexican Independence Day and they are hosting a world class Triathlon competition. There are a lot of temporary booths and exhibits in the main plaza. We went to Woody’s our usual HQ in San Miguel and had a nice visit with Nelly the owner.  I updated all my apps and got some good internet time in using their fast wifi connection.  Our friends soon joined us and we enjoyed guacamole, beer,  music, margaritas, and quesadillas.  The girls did some shopping and found some great bargains including ‘Day of the Dead’ items for our Halloween cruise.  We took a taxi ($8) back to the pier about 3:30 and the girls shopped at the pier shops and I boarded and went by the Ben & Jerry’s for an ice creme as I went back to the cabin.  We ordered room service and it’s an hour+ wait, they really need a Guy’s Burger type alternative that feeds a lot of people fast.  We sailed away from the beautiful blue waters of Cozumel just after 5:00 pm and began our journey back to Texas.  It became comfortable on the balcony on this typical hot Cozumel Day once we were underway and I ate my Steak Sandwich & Chicken Sandwich on the balcony as a late snack.  They were hot and tasted good and were served with french fries.  About 6:45 pm we went up to the Viking Crown Lounge for our evening cocktails with our friends and enjoyed the view until time for dinner.  Tonight I again had my Hearts of Palm, and ordered light: the Escargot from regular menu and the Chicken Marsala entree.  I ordered the Sticky Bun with Ice Creme for dessert.  After dinner I retired to the cabin to relax after a long and busy day in Cozumel.

Day Seven--Saturday--at Sea
Saturday Night Fever Show
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well.  A beautiful day today so guests will have a nice day of sun and pool deck activities.  For a change I had breakfast in the MDR and ordered Melon, Eggs Benedict with dides of bacon & hash browns. Very good.  DW had her balcony breakfast.  Enjoyed cabin/balcony time until the first Ice Show: Encore.  Royal Caribbean is known for it’s very entertaining ice shows and this one was great.  Still amazing to think of an ice show at sea.  Following the show we went up to the Windjammer for lunch, I had the Baked Ham from the carving station with Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli and Bread Pudding for dessert.  Very Good.  DW had her balcony breakfast.  Enjoyed cabin/balcony time until the first Ice Show: Encore.  Royal Caribbean is known for it’s very entertaining ice shows and this one was great.  Still amazing to think of an ice show at sea.  Following the show we went up to the Windjammer for lunch, I had the Baked Ham from the carving station with Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli and Bread Pudding for dessert.  Some NCAA football and brief rest before meeting our friends in the Schooner Bar for early cocktails due to the early show time.  We have really taken advantage of the Diamond level Crown & Anchor club complimentary cocktails this week.  Thank you RCCL, you helped make it fun.  The production show: Saturday Night Fever was this evening at 6:30 pm in the Platinum Theater.  This was a big theatrical production with great sets and costumes not just a song and dance routine.  The large cast of singers and dancers were very good and this is a show not to be missed as the packed theater attested.  It was dinner time when the show ended so we made our last walk down the Promenade to the Botticelli dining room for our last meal.   I really had a feast: Hearts of Palm, Escargot, Green Salad, Linguini Pomodoro, and a small NY Strip Steak.  For dessert the BBB and small Key Lime Pie. It was a very good and very filling dinner.  I retired after dinner to do some packing and watch some football.  This was the busiest final sea day I think I have ever experienced on a cruise with two major shows and several other events.  It was a busy and great final day on the Liberty of the Seas.


Smooth seas overnight and we were docked early before 6:00 am. I was up early and finished packing. No room service on debarkation morning, but a full breakfast menu is served in the dining room.  We are 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 (BTW-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.  We went down to deck four about 8:20 am and the timing was excellent even meeting our friends (on a different deck) at the elevator lobby area…and we were able to walk right off the ship and onto the gangway.  We made our way down the new ramps and passageways of the terminal into a well organized waiting area to go through customs.  A little delay at customs, but overall very smooth process.  We took the EZ Cruise shuttle to the car and were on our way about 9:00 am.  Got fuel at the Galveston Raceway ($1.89) and were off to Houston Hobby to drop our friends and head north to the ranch.  We took I-45 through Houston and north then cross country on Hwy 7 to Hwy 6, Waco, then Bosque County.  We did stop at the rural Kosse Cafe for lunch and DD in Waco.  Home about 3:45 pm.

The Liberty of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s current ‘Texas’ ship sailing year round in Galveston.  Hopefully in two years it will be an Oasis class in Galveston, but the Liberty is currently the largest cruise ship sailing from 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.

We had cabin 7708 an aft corner port side with an oversized covered balcony…my favorite location on every ship in the fleet.  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, but the cabin steward was just adequate, Our wait team was outstanding, especially our waiter Robert from the Philippines.  His assistant Wongtang from China was very good and the Botticelli Maitre’D Lucan from Romania was outstanding. 


Our dining room was the Botticelli Dining Room, deck five the highest level of the 3 level restaurant. The bread and appetizers were especially good, the entree very good.  The Windjammer is the buffet and the quality of food was very good.   Room service was always good but averaged an hour for delivery.  Johnny Rockets was 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. DW and I agree that the Cookies on this ship are outstanding…her favorite was Coconut macaroons and favorite was Oatmeal raisin.

Cruise Highlights
Sailing with Friends
Complementary cocktails loaded on Sail Card for Diamond Guests
Roatan Excursion
Production Show: Saturday Night Fever
Our excellent waiter Robert in the Botticelli Dining Room
the Cookies
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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!!