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Liberty of the Seas

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A member of Royal Caribbean's Freedom class of ships, Liberty of the Seas is a large ship that can feel crowded but is ideal for families and offers peace and quiet if you know where to find it. The ship's heart is in the central Royal Promenade. With glass staircases and bridges that cross from port to starboard lit in cool purple and blue tones, this area, which soars four decks high, comes alive with daily deal seekers and character parades. You’ll also find several bars here, perfect if you like lingering over a pre-dinner aperitif while people watching.

Despite being 10 years old, Liberty of the Seas feels new and contemporary throughout most of the public areas (though the rooms are a bit worn). Cruisers on Liberty of the Seas can dine in style in a rich mahogany three-story dining room, each level named in honour of an Italian Renaissance painter, with sparkling chandeliers and romantic sunset views. And there are optional speciality restaurants, as well, making for an easy date night.

And when it comes to outdoor fun, Liberty's got it all with three distinct pool spaces plus an area for thrill-seekers who can't help but scream on the gut-grinding water attraction, Tidal Wave.

There are no two ways about it though: This is a large ship that regularly hauls 4,000 passengers, and it can sometimes feel crowded, particularly when you're waiting for an elevator or trying to angle for a slice of pizza in the Windjammer buffet. But while some areas of the ship feel cramped, others do not and once you get a feel for the flow of traffic and part ways with your at-home stress levels, you'll find the quieter, less-travelled areas -- if that's what you want.

Liberty of the Seas is an ideal cruise for families, especially given the quality of the onboard programming for kids. You won't find a ton of bells and whistles, technologically speaking, in Adventure Ocean (the kids' club) or the nursery, but children always have a full slate of age-appropriate programming, and without fail, ours asked every day to go back. That leaves plenty of time for parents to relax at the adults-only Solarium pool, in the casino or at the spa. 

Daytime: Casual clothing is the norm during the day.

Evening: The dress code on Liberty of the Seas is relaxed throughout the week, and passengers used to more strictly enforced cruise dress codes might be surprised at the shorts, tank tops and denim that their fellow passengers wear to the dining room -- even on formal nights (though technically these are against RCI's suggested dress code, no one seemed to be turned away). There are two designated formal nights on a seven-night cruise where women bust out their sparkly cocktail dresses and men don suits and ties for the pre-dinner photography (tuxedos are a rare sighting). And anything goes with kids' fashion.

Not permitted: Tank tops and shorts are prohibited in the main dining room and speciality restaurants at dinner. Shoes must be worn in all dining venues at all times.

Theatre

Your main venue for prime evening entertainment is the 1,320-seat Platinum Theatre, located on decks 2, 3 and 4, forward. It's a venue with a majestic, Art Deco-throwback feel, from the cascading white marble stairs at the entrance to the 1920s design on the stage curtain and the gold-backed seats.

On most nights, there are two productions of the headliner show to accommodate for the early and late dinner seatings. The one show not to miss is the Cirque du Soleil-styled "In the Air," featuring the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers as they perform aerial feats with silks, swings and stunning costumes. The remaining shows lack the level of pizazz of "In the Air," with a somewhat tepid lineup of comedians, singers, impersonators and jugglers.

Studio B (Deck 3, midship) is the secondary theatre onboard, a much smaller venue that performs triple duty as an ice skating rink, movie theatre and gathering venue. With a little more than half the seats of the Platinum Theatre, you do run the risk of missing the show if you don't arrive early to the performance of "Encore! An Ice Spectacular," which is performed twice two nights of the cruise. With a through-the-decades theme, this show is a crowd favourite.

Daily Fun

During the day, you'll find the most action going on near the midship all-ages pool (Deck 11), where small poolside stage functions as the performance space for belly flop contests, line dancing classes and other games, plus occasionally a steel pan band. There's also a large movie screen here that shows films and TV clips throughout the day.

The Royal Promenade on Deck 5 is another central gathering place. The shops here promote sales on various items during the week, with occasional long lines of passengers waiting to purchase the hottest jewellery or discounted T-shirts and trinkets. 

Trivia buffs will want to make the Schooner Bar (Deck 4) their home base, as there is usually trivia planned morning, afternoon and evening, plus the occasional family scavenger hunt or napkin-folding seminar.

Strap on a free pair of rental skates and make your way around the rink in Studio B (Deck 3) for one of the 30-minute open ice skating sessions throughout the afternoon.

At-sea art auctions (along with salesy seminars about collecting art) and a variety of spa seminars on losing weight or looking younger ("The Lips You Want, the Lines You Don't!") take up a sizable amount of real estate on the daily Cruise Compass and in the daily onboard announcements.

At Night 

A stroll through the ship in the evening is a trip through various musical genres, from Latin music or classical guitar to piano and country and western music throughout the ship's bars.

One of our favourite quiet activities in the evening was to visit the helipad on Deck 4, forward, to watch the stars and look for lights from other vessels.

The Battle of the Sexes game show and Karaoke Superstar competition are always big draws for adults at On Air (Deck 3), located next to Studio B, with winners earning bragging rights and receiving high fives from strangers the next day throughout the ship. (One passenger on our cruise did a surprisingly good rendition of "Under the Sea" from "The Little Mermaid.")

Casino Royale (Deck 4), featuring a mural depicting old Hollywood celebrities is chock-full of nearly 300 slot machines and 19 gaming tables, including blackjack, craps, roulette, Caribbean stud, Texas Hold'em and three-card poker. Slot and blackjack tournaments, plus bingo are offered. Smoking is permitted in the casino.

Occasionally there are dance parties scheduled in the Promenade (Deck 5) or late-night adult comedy in the Platinum Theatre (Deck 3). Dance into the wee hours with DJ dance music up high at Olive or Twist (Deck 14).

Liberty of the Seas Bars and Lounges

On Air Club (Deck 3, forward): This fun space has a slightly retro-futuristic vibe, with blue walls that are covered with quotes from songsters from the past, and there's a stage that plays host to undiscovered passenger talent during the always-popular karaoke nights. During the day, passengers can play Wii games here, but it's probably the emptiest bar you'll find during that time.

Boleros (Deck 4, aft): Stunning blown-glass artwork frames the interior of this bar, while oversized porthole windows make it an ideal location for watching the ship pull into or out of port while enjoying a cocktail. At night, salsa and jazz bands inspire passengers to test out the small dance floor.

Schooner Bar (Deck 4, forward): Located just outside the casino, this nautical-themed bar with a mermaid figurehead, ropes and sails, tends to be a quieter bar during the day, and usually the meeting location for trivia and family games. At night, it's transformed into a sometimes-raucous piano bar.

Vintages (Deck 5, midship): This cosy, elegant wine bar located on the Promenade features a WineStation, which keeps open bottles fresh for tasting. Wine tasting events (including blind tastings) are frequently offered here, and you can always order flights, paired with tapas, cheese or charcuterie.

Hoof and Claw Pub (Deck 5, midship): You'll feel like you've gone to an English pub with dark wood tones, old-fashioned benches, vintage-looking glass lamps and pub chairs, which complete the backdrop for your Caribbean pub crawl. Beer tasting events are scheduled here throughout the cruise.

R Bar (Deck 5, aft): Formerly styled as a Champagne bar, and conveniently located between the Promenade and the dining rooms, this was one of our favourite places to grab a glass of wine before or after dinner. It's statement furniture pieces give it a fresh feel.

Star Lounge (Deck 5, forward): Black, white and gold accents give a sophisticated Art Deco vibe to this lounge, which has a stage and a large number of couches and chairs. This is where you'll find bingo, as well as the Captain's Corner (your chance to ask the captain and crew all your burning cruise-related questions) and a few game shows.

The Plaza Bar (Deck 11, aft): This is the bar located directly at the entrance to the buffet dining area, between the speciality restaurants. In the morning, you'll find speciality coffees and fresh-squeezed orange juice for sale here, but you can also order sake and tea, as well as regular bar drinks, the rest of the day.

Pool Bar (Deck 11, midship): The go-to poolside drink spot during the day serves frozen cocktails and buckets of beer.

Squeeze (Deck 11, aft): A pint-sized cheerfully coloured bar located near the children's pool area serves fresh juices, smoothies and shakes for $4 to $5.

Sky Bar (Deck 12, midship): Offering the same drinks as the Pool Bar, this is located one deck above, with a view of the pool and all the activities.

Viking Crown Lounge (Deck 14, aft): An expansive space offering great views of the pool decks below from atop the ship, this lounge was always fairly quiet and empty during the day. At night in the Olive or Twist bar area, a DJ spins tunes for adults to dance the night away. This area is also home to the Diamond Club and Suite Lounge.

Liberty of the Seas Outside Recreation

Pools

Liberty has three main pool areas, all located on Deck 11. Midship is the main pool, with large hot tubs situated along the outer edges and a large movie screen. It can get fairly loud here. There's a spacious shallow ledge in the pool for lounging in the water with a beverage, as well as a small stage where musicians play and the cruise director's staff keeps the crowds entertained. There are several cascading deck tiers with lounge chairs (some reserved only for suite guests), but we never found it terribly hard to find a chair.

At the ship's forward is the Solarium adult pool area, for passengers ages 16 and up. This pool also has a ledge for lounging, as well as a bridge spanning its width; we're not sure what function this served, as we rarely saw anyone walking on it, but it did provide some shade for people in the pool. Inside the Solarium on either side of the deck hanging out over the sides of the ship, you'll find two half-moon-shaped hot tubs. There are also porch swings set up here -- almost always occupied. Because the Solarium is enclosed in glass, we found this area to be slightly warmer than the other pool areas, which benefited from the ocean breeze, but it was a relaxing kid-free space where we could have spent hours.

At the ship's aft is the H2O Zone and the kids' pool. If you have an "in-between" kid like ours, who is not quite big enough for the slides at the back of the ship, you'll be grateful for the water features here, including a dump bucket and two slides (kids must be 42 inches for the smaller purple slide and 45 inches for the yellow slide), plus various water cannons and splashing areas. For even smaller ones, there's a splash pad located nearby. Royal Caribbean has a policy that only permits potty-trained kids in the pools (no swim diapers), but in the splash pad area, swim diapers are OK.

Note that all the outdoor areas along the port side of the ship are designated smoking areas.

Recreation

Liberty of the Seas polished up its recreational offerings during a 2016 refurbishment with the addition of several water slides. From the thrilling slides at the back of the ship to miniature golf to the rock wall, sports court and a FlowRider surf simulator, there's plenty of fun to be had.

Let's start with the newest thrill. The Tidal Wave, opened in summer 2016, is a steel slide designed for a two-person tube; it starts out with a steep drop that brings you uphill over the ocean, only to boomerang you backward before bringing you to a final stop. Rarely does a water ride get our hearts pounding, but this one definitely did. We screamed so loudly, we think the whole ship could hear us.

Next to this slide are orange and green spiral slides, the Cyclone and the Typhoon that extend over the port side of the ship. These are much gentler in comparison to the Tidal Wave, but they are still great fun. The green slide offers a slightly faster racing experience and has dizzying coloured lights throughout the interior.

The slides are popular, particularly at midday, so try getting there first thing in the morning after they open to avoid lines. There are height and weight restrictions on these slides (minimum height of 48 inches for Cyclone and Typhoon and a maximum weight of 300 pounds.; for Tidal Wave, 52 inches is the minimum height, and there's a minimum/maximum weight of 75/280 pounds, and minimum/maximum combined weight for both riders of 200/450 pounds.) A scale is conveniently located near the base of the slides for you to check.

The FlowRider is a great way to get your feet wet with surfing without getting in the ocean. Surfing lessons are offered throughout the week for a fee, as well. Also located in this area are the sports court and the climbing wall. Check your Cruise Compass for games and open times.

One of the best ways we found to spend a morning together as a family was at Liberty Dunes, the free miniature golf course on Deck 13. This whimsical nine-hole course featured a bus, giant seashells, a lighthouse and other obstacles.

Sun Decks

Sun worshippers can grab a chair anywhere on Deck 12, overlooking the pool area. And there are three tiers of reserved seats for passengers in suites. A gold SeaPass card will gain you access to these chairs located near the Sky Bar. For a quieter experience, climb up to Deck 13, either forward or aft, where you'll find plentiful banks of unreserved chairs, either in the shade or in the sun.

Liberty of the Seas Services

Most of your necessities you'll find arranged on the Royal Promenade on Deck 5, starting with Guest Services and Shore Excursions. There are several retail stores lined up here, mall-style, for clothing, jewellery, perfume, liquor and souvenirs. Depending on the special running that day, you may see long lines of shoppers in the Promenade waiting for the sales to start. Also on the Royal Promenade is Next Cruise, a storefront exclusively staffed to book passengers' next RCI cruise (with occasional incentives available for booking while onboard).

The photo gallery is located one deck down (Deck 4). A small library is located on Deck 7, and a computer hub with about 20 computers is on Deck 8. Both of those areas were fairly vacant throughout the cruise, given the prevalence of smartphones and tablets onboard.

Royal Caribbean's Wi-Fi service, called VOOM, allows passengers to surf or stream online content with a per day, per device fee (ranging from $13 to $20, depending on the speed you want). Quantity discounts are available for more than one device. We found the internet speeds to be inconsistent throughout our cruise, with some days much slower than others, so keep in mind that your mileage may vary.

There are no self-serve launderettes onboard Liberty, and the wash-and-fold laundry packages are on the pricy side, so bear that in mind while packing.

The ship has touch screens located near the stairwells to help guide passengers through the ship, as well as view the day's scheduled activities from the Cruise Compass.

Spa

Upon check-in for your treatment at the spa (Deck 12, Forward), you'll be seated in a waiting room with zebra print carpet, modern yellow art on the walls and oversized leather chairs. There are 17 treatment rooms on this level, in addition to a hair salon.

Examples of services include a 50-minute facial and massage combo for $159, a 75-minute Thai herbal poultice massage ($195) or a couples bathing ritual with full body massage for $329. Botox, acupuncture and teeth whitening treatments are also on the menu. For men, there are a variety of grooming services, such as a deep cleanse grooming treatment with shave for $75. Your teen can join you at the spa with treatments designed for him or her, marketed as "YSpa," such as the Acne Attack facial and the Sole Mate pedicure.

A spiral staircase in the centre of the reception area leads down to the gym.

Fitness

A light-filled space with floor-to-ceiling windows is almost enough enticement on its own to get you to the gym on vacation (almost). The spacious interior is stocked with free weights, Life Fitness weight machines and cardio machines. There's a studio space for group classes, such as Fab Abs (free), and spin class and Pilates, priced at $15 per class, plus gratuity.

Also inside the fitness centre, you'll find a spacious, cream-coloured locker room stocked with fresh towels and separate steam and sauna rooms (open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily).

The fitness centre is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Passengers 16 and up can use the gym; ages 13 to 15 are permitted with a parent or guardian and a signed liability waiver.

For walkers, joggers and runners, you can get in your oceanside laps on the track on Deck 11 — four laps equal a mile. But keep in mind that the later your start in the morning, the more people you'll have to dodge in the process of working up a sweat.

Overall, the dining onboard Liberty of the Seas was one of the least exciting aspects of the cruise, but the great service made up where the cuisine might have lacked. The dishes were consistently average and just didn't measure up to previous Royal Caribbean cruises we've been on in terms of flavour or imagination, both in the main dining room, the buffet or in the speciality restaurants, with occasional exceptions.

Passengers have their choice of dining in the main dining room or Jade and the Windjammer buffet for breakfast and lunch. Vegetarian, gluten- and lactose-free items are always available on the menu. Fee-based dining is available in five speciality restaurants for lunch or dinner, and there is a variety of snack-type options throughout the ship.

Free Dining

Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Botticelli (Decks 3, 4 and 5): These three dining rooms are stacked atop one another, with filigree iron railings overlooking an open atrium filled with the warm glow of chandeliers. Passengers seated near the oversized windows are treated to premium waterfront views. A grand staircase toward the aft of the dining rooms is the backdrop for various songs and dances performed by wait staff on select evenings.

Breakfast and lunch are served on Deck 3, when the Rembrandt dining room is called Royal Brasserie; breakfast is from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Choose from cooked to order eggs, breakfast meats, yoghurt, fruit and cereals, French toast, pancakes and pastries. Lunch is only available on sea days from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The daily menu includes soups, sandwiches, pastas and speciality entrees such as hamburgers, enchiladas and a fish of the day. A salad bar during lunch in the main dining room involves a chef assembling your ingredients for you and whisking them together with your chosen dressing.

For dinner, you can choose traditional set seating dining (5:30 or 8 p.m., with the 5:30 slot being the most popular, especially among families) or My Time Dining, which gives passengers flexibility on when they'd like to eat. The menus are the same, but you won't necessarily have the same wait staff or tablemates, as you will with traditional dining. Families with kids old enough to attend the Adventure Ocean kids' club can enrol their kids in My Family Time Dining, which means counsellors will pick them up outside the dining room and escort them to the kids' club near the end of dinner, saving parents a trip to Deck 12 (and maybe giving them some time for a quiet dessert course).

Each night, you'll be presented with a menu with a variety of entree choices, as well as a speciality dish that highlights an ingredient the chef has chosen to spotlight. For example, on different menus, you might see Mojo (mojo-marinated pork chop), Saffron (pan-fried fish with saffron cauliflower) and Shiitake (Japanese shrimp dumplings), paired with appetizers such as escargots, shrimp cocktail, Caprese salad and chilled mango and pineapple soup. There are also "Classics," dishes that are on the menu every night, including beef sliders, pasta, fish, strip steak and chicken. You can always add a lobster tail or a premium steak for an upcharge, as well.

Menu symbols indicate which dishes are vegetarian, gluten-free or lactose-free, and a "Vitality" symbol indicates that it is health-conscious. A bread selection is always offered (the freshly baked rolls were a family favourite) and if you have room for dessert, there are a handful of options, including housemade ice cream.

The service in the main dining room was generally impeccable -- we found that the wait staff remembered our likes and dislikes (including bringing a dish of fruit and a glass of iced tea for our kids at the start of every meal), and were quick to refill drinks and remove dirty dishes.

Jade & Windjammer Cafe (Deck 11): One part nautical theme, one part breathtaking (with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the aft of the ship) and two parts madhouse depending on the time of day, the Windjammer is the quintessential casual cafe for grabbing breakfast, lunch, dinner and the occasional snack. It might take you five minutes to find seating during peak times, but you can usually reliably find a table in the lesser populated areas near the front of the restaurant.

The Windjammer opens for breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., lunch from noon to 3:30 p.m. and dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. You'll be greeted by a row of hand-sanitizing stations and an attendant who reminds you to smile and wash your hands before diving into the buffet ("no washy-washy, no yummy-yummy," one crew member on our cruise was fond of saying). 

For breakfast, passengers can enjoy a variety of fresh fruits, eggs, breakfast meats, Asian-style dishes such as congee, plus pastries, cereals and an omelette station. The lunch menu features a rotating menu of Asian dishes in Jade, like curries and fried rice, plus pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and various hot entrees (ribs, honey fried chicken) and soups. A variety of salads are always available, as well. Dinner usually features a variety of sushi options in Jade, plus entrees you might find in the main dining room, like fish, steak and chicken, plus side dishes and desserts.

A departure from other Royal Caribbean cruises we've been on, we found the Windjammer's cuisine to be occasionally a bit better than what was served in the main dining room. In particular, the Asian cuisine in the Jade Restaurant portion of the buffet was authentically prepared and delicious. Another surprise: Although there is a much-heralded lobster night in the main dining room, we were shocked to find lobster tails also being served in the Windjammer late one random evening during a snack run. Seafood fans: keep your eyes peeled.

Cafe Promenade (Deck 5): If you're interested in some light bites, like cafe-style tuna sandwiches on a croissant or cranberry-coconut macaroons, pound cake and other baked goods, head to this cosy bookshop-styled Promenade coffee shop, open 24 hours. This is somewhat of a hidden gem on Liberty, as many people don't realize that you can get a free snack or light lunch here. All the food in the display case is available for free, along with serve-your-own iced tea, lemonade and coffee. If you want a Starbucks coffee drink, you'll pay an extra $3 to $5.

Sorrento's Pizza (Deck 5): Styled like a fast-casual Italian restaurant with red vinyl booths and porthole windows, Sorrento's is open in the Promenade from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Here you can order up a slice of pizza, made with various toppings, along with a variety of salads and sides -- such as an olive tapenade and a Caprese salad, along with a selection of desserts. During lunch hours, there can be a short line here. We found the pizza looked better than it tasted, and we opted not to return for another meal after our first experience, though as the line attests to, others seemed to enjoy it. It does make a great stop-off for a stack of cookies if you're in need of a snack.

Sprinkles Ice Cream (Deck 11): If you don't feel like splurging for Ben & Jerry's, you can twist your own soft-serve ice cream into a plain cone, generally open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. next to the main pool. Don't let the name "Sprinkles" fool you -- it's garden variety soft serve in rotating chocolate, strawberry or vanilla flavours, no extras.

Fee Dining

Room Service: Passengers can order room service 24 hours a day, with a continental or American breakfast served from 6 to 11 a.m., and items such as chicken noodle soup, chicken tenders, salads and Philly cheesesteak served the rest of the day. There is a charge of $7.95 for all room service orders except continental breakfast (which includes coffee, tea, juice, cereals and pastries).

Sabor (Deck 4); $20 for lunch/$30 for dinner: We were immediately drawn to the vibrant pink, red and orange floral hues of this Latin American-styled restaurant, which serves lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. on select days, and dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. each night. We checked out the tequila tasting and guacamole demonstration, followed by lunch. (The entire experience cost $30.) The guacamole and handcrafted margaritas (made with reposado tequila) are definitely tasty, as was the queso fundido and pollo picante tacos.

Wine Pairing Dinner in Vintages (Deck 5); $40: Offered on select evenings in Vintages on the Promenade, this features dinner selections from the main dining room paired with wines that complement each course.

DreamWorks Dining Experience in Botticelli Dining Room (Deck 5); $15: You can make advanced reservations for a breakfast with the DreamWorks characters on select mornings of your cruise in the main dining room. The menu features kid-friendly breakfast favourites like Donkey's Favorite Chocolate Waffles, Three Blind Mice Scrambled Eggs and Chocolate Love Potions (hot chocolate or a chocolate milkshake). Two characters visit each table, and you can take your own photos. (Royal Caribbean will end its partnership with DreamWorks, starting with all sailings that depart on or after April 1, 2019.)

Cupcake Cupboard (Deck 5); a la carte: Located on the Promenade, the Cupcake Cupboard is the place to take kids' and adults' cupcake decorating classes (for a fee), or just stop in to treat yourself to a decorated cupcake with prices ranging from $3 to $5. Open 11 a.m. to midnight.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (Deck 5); a la carte: Because you need ice cream to go with your cupcake, stop over at Ben & Jerry's for a scoop or two of the flavours you know and love with prices ranging from $3 to $5. And here's a Liberty insider secret: If you happen to score cabin 6305, located directly above Ben & Jerry's with a view of two cows' rear ends, your room will be decked out in moo-velous decor, and you'll receive daily coupons for complimentary ice cream, as well. Open 11:30 a.m. to midnight.

Giovanni's Table (Deck 11); $15 for lunch/$30 for dinner: Tiled walls, Italian countryside murals and gold accents lend an elegance to Giovanni's Table, located near the entrance to the Windjammer. You can choose from appetizers and salads such as antipasti, Caesar salad and focaccia, freshly prepared pastas such as gnocchi and risotto, and entrees including grilled strip loin steak with truffle fries and veal tenderloin. A waiter wheels a cart with dessert selections like cannoli and tiramisu. Open for dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. each night, and for lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. on select days.

Chops Grille (Deck 11); $19 for lunch/$39 for dinner: Dark wood-toned walls and golden club chairs add a touch of sophistication to this restaurant, located opposite Giovanni's Table. Start with a salad or forest mushroom soup, select from a seafood appetizer of shrimp cocktail, scallops or Dungeness crab and shrimp cake, and then it's onto the main course: filet mignon, slow-braised short rib, chicken or seafood. Shareable sides include Gruyere croquettes, spinach and garlic mashed potatoes and end your meal at Chops Grille with a slice of chocolate mud pie or red velvet cake. Open for dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. every night and for lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. on certain days.

Chef's Table (Deck 11); $85: For an exclusive dining experience, make reservations for this multicourse dinner and wine pairing meal hosted by a chef and sommelier, offered on select nights during the cruise and limited to about a dozen people. Passengers who have experienced these meals say they are among the best available on the ship, and advise that people budget three hours for the meal (and a little extra room in the waistline).

Mystery Dinner Theatre (Deck 11); $79: You can book reservations for a murder mystery dinner hosted in Giovanni's Table, which includes a four-course meal paired with wine. Passengers who have attended past dinners say the performance skews slightly on the cheesy side, but for others, working to solve the crime is a fun way to spend a meal.

Johnny Rockets (Deck 12); $7: Much like the stateside chain restaurants, you'll find the same selection of tasty burgers, fries, onion rings and shakes here, plus a regular song-and-dance routine that just might get you out of your booth and dancing with the crew. A fountain soda is included with your cover charge; you'll pay extra for shakes.

All standard cabins aboard Liberty of the Seas include two twin beds that can convert to a queen bed, a private bath with shower, a mirrored vanity, small couch, mini-fridge, flat-panel television, phone, hair dryer and a safe. RCTV offers 29 channels, including CNN International, ESPN International, Discovery and the Cartoon Network.

As for storage space, you'll find standard compact storage options including a small closet with built-in shelves, along with two columns of small drawers on either side of the living room vanity.

Bathrooms (which start at 18 square feet for an interior cabin) typically have a small stand-up shower with rounded sliding door and a soap dispenser, small toilet and sink area, with small shelves hidden within the mirrored medicine cabinet. Your stateroom attendant provides shampoo, conditioner and soap as needed.

About half the staterooms aboard Liberty are cabins with balconies, and there are various accessible cabins and rooms designed especially for families that include separate bedrooms and larger sitting areas.

Generally speaking, we found the staterooms to be in need of a cosmetic makeover. The tired drapery, aged furniture and worn carpeting reflected the age of the vessel more so than any other area on the ship. We did note that some of the staterooms in higher categories appear to have newer furnishings.

Interior: Inside cabins average a tiny 150 square feet. On Decks 6, 7 and 8, there are inside cabins with views of the Promenade that are 160 square feet. There are six Family Interior staterooms on the ship that sleep up to six people and offer 324 square feet of space, with two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, a sofa that pulls out to a double bed and two pull-down beds.

Oceanview: You can choose from a standard Oceanview (159 square feet) or additional categories that offer a bit more space: a Large Oceanview (175 square feet), the 24 Panoramic Oceanview staterooms on Deck 12 with floor-to-ceiling windows (191 to 215 square feet) or the Larger Panoramic Oceanview staterooms (283 square feet). Families can enjoy the space to spread out in a Family Oceanview (338 square feet) or a Panoramic Family Oceanview (406 square feet), both of which can accommodate up to six passengers. 

Balcony: Entry-level balcony cabins offer 184 square feet of space, while a Superior Ocean View Balcony sits at 199 square feet, with a 66-square-foot balcony. Balcony furniture includes two deck chairs and a small table.

Junior Suite: This stateroom offers 297 square feet. You'll have noticeably more storage in the closet in these rooms. Suites offer upgraded furnishings from the lower category cabins, and some include sofa beds. The bathroom is also larger, with a full bathtub/shower instead of the standard tiny shower, and sliding-glass doors lead to a large balcony of about 100 square feet. Special suite amenities include expedited luggage delivery, upgraded bedding and bath amenities.

Grand Suite: You can choose from a one- or two-bedroom Grand Suite with 401 square feet or 587 square feet, respectively. The two-bedroom suite sleeps up to eight. You'll have a bar, spacious seating area and a marbled large bathroom with tub. The 104-square-foot (one bedroom) or 270-square-foot balcony (two bedroom) comes with upgraded chairs and a larger table.

Passengers in Grand Suites or higher receive access to reserved seating in theatres, reserved lounge access at the pool, access to the Suite Lounge on Deck 13, luxury spa bathrobes, complimentary pressing service on formal nights and priority check-in and departure.

Royal Family Suite: This 587-square-foot suite sleeps eight, between a master bedroom and a guest bedroom, in addition to a living room with sofa bed and dining area. A private veranda offers 270 square feet of space.

Owner's Suite: At 594 square feet, you'll have a separate dining area, living room with sectional couch, bathroom with separate shower and tub, bidet and double vanity. This suite sleeps up to four people. The balcony is 204 square feet.

Presidential Family Suite: There is one Presidential Family Suite onboard Liberty, which sleeps up to 14. The cabin measures 1,209 square feet. There are two master bedrooms and two smaller bedrooms, each with two beds. You'll have four bathrooms total (including two off the master bedrooms), a large living room with sofa bed and a dining area. The 805-square-foot balcony includes a dining area and a hot tub.

Royal Suite: This suite, the ultimate in luxury aboard Liberty, is the largest at 1,358 square feet and sleeps four. You'll have a master bedroom with king-sized bed, private bathroom, 313-square-foot private balcony with hot tub and a baby grand piano in the living room, among other amenities.

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