Or endless fun in a vibrant city where attractions, cuisines, entertainment and shopping await your discovery at every corner?
Or a journey of timelessness amongst majestic, awe-inspiring ancient monuments that turn streets, town squares and districts into richly textured, outdoor living museums of culture and heritage?
How about all of the above? And more!
|In many ways, I feel that a cruise getaway is a holiday within a holiday because getting to the destinations is as much fun (if not more fun) as the destinations themselves!|
I haven't gone on many cruises so I don't know about the rest but I think the Royal Caribbean fleet kicks ass. After the amazing experience onboard Legend of the Seas, I figured that that's about as good as a cruise trip can get. But having returned from the Western-Mediterranean fly-cruise onboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, my cruise experience has been risen by another notch. It's a WOW WOW feeling throughout the trip!
|My parents and I arrived at Terminal B of the Moll D' Adossat port in Barcelona to board Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. The ship is the 3rd largest cruise ship in the world! Check-in time is from 11 am - 3 pm. To hasten the physical check-in process, use the Online Check-in facility up to 3 days prior to the set sail date. It saves a lot more time when you're at the port.|
|View of Barcelona's harbour and waterfront area from Liberty's buffet-style restaurant, Windjammer Café. Starting from Barcelona (Spain), our voyage brought us to Cannes (France), Pisa (Italy) and Rome (Italy).|
|View of Barcelona city on Liberty's sports deck (Deck 15). The church with the green crane is the Barcelona Cathedral and the one with the yellow crane is the world-famous masterpiece by Gaudi Antoni, Sagrada Familia.|
There are many shore excursions to choose from at each port-of-call to suit different preferences and budgets so your total cost for this portion may vary. For my parents, I paid a total of S$846 for land tours at the 3 ports-of-call. That's S$423 per person. I also paid S$34 per parent for a specialty dinner at Chops Grille (a reservation-only steak restaurant). Total cost per person : S$3,425 (all prices after conversion from USD).
Although I came on this cruise for free, I'm not obligated to say nice things about it because I won it as a prize. But frankly, the experience is pretty darn great! Except for 2 crew members who sulked rather than smiled, the rest of the staff were just super in friendliness, warmth and service standards.
Above good service, what made the whole cruise vacation so wonderful for my parents and I were also the quality of food onboard, the jaw-dropping shows, the comfortable stateroom, and the full range of activities!
Here are some highlights about the ship and the things one can do onboard. It is not possible to cover every aspect because there are just too many possibilities but this should represent about 70% of the ship's potential...
Outdoor Play Arena
I used to think going on a cruise means being couped up indoors all the time but not any more. There are no lack of outdoor adventures one can go on while sailing on Liberty! Let's feel the winds of freedom blowing on the open decks...
The open decks on level 12 and 13 houses a whole lot of sports and fun facilities for people of all ages. The full-sized sports court was used for dodgeball sessions and friendly basketball and football matches.
Join a team and get to make new friends! But I avoided the games here because the ang mohs who play are so much bigger than me!
|The water theme park is a kids magnet and also bound to bring out the child in every adult.|
Why not rock climb, play golf, have a game of table tennis or even go surfing onboard? I don't have a chance to do all these while on land but here, I could do them all!
My fave was the Flowrider. First time I've ever tried surfing and it's really fun! Very challenging to keep balance and my session was over in 5 seconds... after I queued for about 30 minutes to try it. The Flowrider is a hot favourite with passengers but it's worth the wait.
Before you go on the rock climbing wall, Flowrider or go ice-skating, you need to sign an indemnity form on the sports deck. Once that is signed, a wrist tag will be issued and that's your passport to these exciting 'destinations' on Liberty.
Indoor Fun House
Having seen the open decks, let's move indoors to the beautiful interior that feels like a floating city on sea. The ship is served by 2 lift access to the various decks and they are linked by a grand-looking promenade flanked by shops and F&B outlets.
|Called the Royal Promenade, this horizontal axis forms the ship's colourful spine that connects both ends of the ship internally. Located on Deck 5, it is one of the most gorgeous part within Liberty.|
|The promenade feels like a walk down an urban street that's decidedly Western in flavour with a wine bar, live music open pub, cupcake confectionery, retail shops, and many more.|
The casino is situated below the Royal Promenade. Not into gambling but it sure was a delight walking through the hyper flashing lights of jackpot machines and seductive colour of money.
If you would like some respite, a great place to be would be the library on Deck 7 that overlooks the Royal Promenade. You can surf the net or read a book here while observing the hustle and bustle below.
Internet connection doesn't come cheap though as access is via satellite. An hour of access costs US$35.00.
Work . Pray . Rest
Liberty of the Seas comes with private and secluded function rooms for business events and meetings. I think it would be a great arrangement to have a company retreat onboard as the ship sure puts the pleasure in business.
One of the most interesting finds was a chapel on the ship! It's very simple with a few rows of curved benches and a muted skylight but imagine how special this place will be for those getting married in it. And after the couple exchanged vows and they can kiss and start their honeymoon right away!
Possibly the best place to start a life together would be the bedroom. I'm still hoping to share my bed with someone special but for the meantime, waking up alone in the Stateroom with Oceanic View isn't such a sad affair. Well, I'm practising cold comfort here.
Because it's so bloody romantic waking up to a view of the open seas, past loves came back to memory and I imagined what would it be like if we are still together and share a vacation like this. Well, at least my parents in the next room can enjoy that feeling. I hope they still have romance going on. Heh.
My stateroom was very well-maintained, neat and clean. The bed can be joint or split. Other than the apparent comfort of the beddings, the best thing was getting up and catching the sunrise over an open stretch of horizon. A different city each morning.
|Isn't it enchanting to have the golden disc peer into your room with the ocean just outside your window?|
Now we come to everybody's favourite subject... food. Liberty of the Seas has no lack of places to eat, be it all-day buffets, fine dining or specialty cuisines. I shall talk about the food in another post but here are some photos of the deliciously decorated Rembrandt Dining Room on Deck 3. It is located just next to the entrance to the corridor that leads to my stateroom!
|Opulently Baroque with frieze floral motifs, chandeliers and heavy-wooded finishings.|
We shared our table with a lovely family of South African origin. Only their son, Juan, speaks English but it's so interesting that the parents also tried talking to us even though we don't speak the same language. There's a sense of passion and warmth talking to them, like they're really interested in what you have to say.
If it's another Asian family, I have a feeling we would just be tucking our heads down into the food and feeling the awkwardness of having no topic to talk about. Then again, I could be wrong. But I really enjoyed dining with these 'strangers'.
Rembrandt Dining Room's elegant rotunda is a photographic must-do while onboard. More Liberty of the Seas food pictures and reviews to come so stay tuned!
Sweat in Style
With so much good food around, overeating is almost always guaranteed. The solution? Find some time to gym... if one could drag oneself away from the food table that is. But there's good reason to do so. If keeping that waistline trim isn't motivation enough, the view from the gym should.
I took the gym photos at night so you can't see the view in front of the treadmills but I had a workout during one of the evenings and the euphoria that adrenalin brings is heightened by the panoramic sea view.
The gym is very spacious and well equipped. It even has a full-sized boxing ring and it's a great place to spot some of the cast members from the nightly musicals and shows.
Group exercise sessions such as yoga, aerobics and spinning are conducted everyday. Some of the classes are freen while some comes with a fee.
No Excuse to Sleep Early
As the sun sets, Liberty of the Seas lights up for another set of fun - world-class entertainment acts, open deck pool parties, clubbing and pubbing. There are really no reasons to sleep early!
It's a very refreshing feeling to drink and dance in the open air especially with the cool Mediterranean temperature. Every night, there's a different program planned.
The first night we participated in the Dreamworks parade at the the promenade, the second night there was a retro street party also at the promenade, and the third night we were given a treat at the open deck with live band and party food.
Alcohol is not expensive too, only US$8.95 (S$12.95) for a huge glass of Tequila Sunrise and you get to keep the acrylic glass with chasing blue lights. Very disco! I managed to friend-friend one of the Jamaican bartenders and he poured me a double shot of Tequila. Woohoo!
There's really no time to feel bored onboard. If the day activities haven't yet drained you, be sure to catch the great live entertainment every night. We were lucky to catch the premiere of the Saturday Night Fever musical, the first time this show was ever put on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and the show pretty much blew me away!
Upon boarding on the first day, listen out for annoucements about booking your seats for the shows as they are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Book all of them! The shows are visual treats of high production standards and artistry.
|Heart stopping stunts and performances during the ice show left the audience cheering and wanting more. During the day, this area is converted into an ice-skating rink. Do not attempt what the performers do! :o)|
To wrap up this entry, here's a video that captured people in action at the Flowrider and ice-skating rink, as well as the energy of the nightly parties. Set sail and explore!
Related post :
An Epic Travel Adventure - Summary of the entire Liberty of the Seas fly-cruise trip including pre and post cruise extensions in Barcelona.