Because of our agency's sales, my wife Sharon and I were recently invited on the Inaugural Cruise for Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Liberty of the Seas.
The Liberty is the sister ship of Freedom of the Seas and the two of them are currently the largest cruise ships afloat. Some prefer the small ship experience for their intimacy, but if you like large ship cruising, the Liberty has a lot to offer. It truly is a "floating resort."
A Royal Caribbean innovation first introduced on the slightly smaller Voyager Class ships is the long, indoor Promenade. On the Liberty, this Promenade is as long as a football field! Like walking down a small town street, the Promenade features 13 shops, restaurants, and bars of all types. There's a Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop, a Seattle's Best coffee shop, a barber shop, a Sorrento's Pizzeria, an English Pub, a wine bar, and a cafe, as well as, gift shops, jewelry shop, perfume shop, and apparel shops. Walking down the Promenade is like visiting a new town! Passenger cabins add to this feel with their promenade facing windows overlooking the "street." All they need is a few window flower boxes! (Be careful to keep your curtains closed at appropriate times because cabins across the "street" can have views into your private life.) In the evening Royal Caribbean puts on a parade and street festival down the Promenade. Was it Mardi Gras??? Sharon was looking for beads!
For other dining, the Liberty has three dining rooms with the main room being three stories high. A beautiful, large chandelier adorns its center above the Captains Table. (Sharon & I weren't invited to that table. Maybe the Captain was afraid he would have had too much fun. For an small extra fee you can dine in one of the Liberty's specialty restaurants; Chops Grill for steaks and Portofino for Italian. Basically, the extra fee is like paying a tip to the staff as they are not included in the normal dining room tipping. The service is excellent and the food a notch above. Especially for special occasions, I would recommend at least one night's dining in a specialty restaurant.
For any meals you don't want to go to the dining room, buffet dining is available. I like how Royal Caribbean has divided up its buffet. Instead of only having one or two lines for the buffet, they have also added different "islands" for such things as a carving station, desserts, sushi, etc. I'm not big on waiting in long lines and this breaks it up a bit. You can also catch a hamburger and milk shake at the Johnny Rockets Diner! There, the wait staff even does a choreographed dance to the Bee Gee's "Stayin-Alive!"
The pools on the Liberty are generous in size. The H2O Zone is a kids pool area with whimsical, spurting fountains. There a numerous hot tubs in the pool area, but in the Solarium Pool area, two large hot tubs jut out from each side of the ship and are suspended 12 stories above the water! What a view to relax in the swirling waters and stare out into the ocean!
For the active, the Liberty has areas like a full size basketball court, a tall rock climbing wall (Sharon made it to the top), miniature golf, golf simulator, large fitness center overlooking the ocean, and a boxing ring. The full service spa is large. (And they always smell so nice!)
Two other innovations by Royal Caribbean on these larger ships are an ice skating rink and a surfing Flowrider. The ice skating rink seems about two thirds the size of a hockey rink and you can skate or take lessons. Sharon & I saw one of their night-time Ice Shows and it was one of the best shows we have ever seen! The Flowrider at the back of the ship shoots a high speed sheet of water that allows you to "boogy board" it or, for the well balanced, learn to surf. Women should be cautioned to were something other than a bikini because the rushing water tends to knock off bathing suits!
Night time grown-up fun is plentiful with a huge casino and a variety of bars and show rooms. The casino is probably the largest I have seen afloat. Sharon and I are not big gamblers, we usually stick to the slot machines (we broke even this cruise!), but we saw a roulette table with a dollar minimum and are told that's unusual (but affordable for us novices!) for a casino. You can go to a champagne bar, a martini bar, a piano bar, disco, or regular bars. Anyone like Karaoke? Sharon took in one of the nighttime shows in the theater and said it was one of the better shows she had seen on a cruise ship.
The Kids Club seems extensive with a large arcade, computers for use in an activities room, and a Fisher Price affiliated program for those under three. The cabins feature Royal Caribbean's new updated beds, linens, towels, and flat screen TVs. The bed was too comfortable!
If you want to be able to have a wide variety of things to do and places to go aboard a cruise ship, the Liberty of the Seas is a good place to Live the World!