Just got off Liberty OTS yesterday to MASS port confusion-more on that later. NOT Royal's fault.
I have three rules of cruiseing.
1) Don't sweat the small stuff.
2) It's ALL small stuff, and therefore
3) Refer back to rule #1
That said, this review will be more OBSERVATIONAL on my part.
The first thing is that this was my FIRST ever transatlantic. In some respects I was plesantly surprised; refer to rules. The passangers are a significantly older crowd (as am I). I don't think we saw maybe 75 kids under the age of 10 on the entire ship. Worldly wise, many of these people are WAY out of my league. They have traveled all over Europe for weeks and months prior to boarding Liberty. I was on vacation. Having said that, I have NEVER heard so much whinning and complaining about food, staff, entertainment, the ship in general on ANY of my past 8 cruises! I just sat there and thought to myself the other cruise lines that you are saying did such a better job of pampering your sorry butts probably should be where you spend the rest of your cruise money in the future. The entertainment was scarce since between La Palma and Fort Lauderdale there was 7 days of nothing but water and sky!! How did they expect to get headliners onto the ship two days out from the Canaries? There was a great cast show of "Saturday Night Fever", and the usual cast shows as fill, but to complain about it was worthless. There were four "Alpha" calls, one which required a flight off the ship WHEN we got close to the Bahamas, which would have been much more important to my thinking than not enough to do or watch or listen to, etc.
Our cabin attendant and wait staff were GREAT, and went above and beyond, even to the extent that our section Head Waiter came over every night and actually spent a few minutes with EACH table in his area! I have never seen another headwaiter so much as walk past our table in the past! Our whole table was impressed (one couple were as described above, but their complaining was basically dismissed by the rest of us).
Windjammer food was on an equal par with other ships; and as warm and bad was that orange stuff they passed off as orange juice, I would NOT pay $3.50 a glass for fresh squeezed OJ. Main dining room food was also pretty good with some exceptions. Deck #5 MDR was set aside as My Time Dining, with decks #3 & #4 as usual 6 and 8:30 seating. There was no staff parade, one night of lobster, NO entertainment other than piped in music, even tho there was a grand piano on the 4th deck stairwell inside the dining room. First night service was slow at best, but after that evening, our waiter asked us all if the pace was ok or not. we asked it to be slightly faster, and they did a fine job of changing the pace.
The Diamond event was moved to the Sphinx lounge on deck 5 due to over 1300 Diamond and above cruisers, and was very well done. The Diamond lounge was still up in the Viking Crown Lounge area overlooking the pool deck. All of your coupons for discounts are pre-loaded onto your Sea Pass card, as are (as Diamond members) three well drinks to be used anywhere on the ship except the MDR and Chopps or Portifinos.
One thing tickled me a bit- two lines of 60-80 somethings waiting for their turn to get a soft serve cone on the pool deck! My minds-eye went to the days when we stood on the street corner waiting for the "Good Humor" truck to come down the street!!
The Atlantic ocean, I thought, behaved itself for our trip; fairly calm seas and warmer then I thought it would be. I have only been on three different class of ships, Freedom, Voyager and Radience; does anyone else think that the Freedom class ships ROLL port to starboard more than any other class? Fore and aft if to be expected, but this was our second trip on Liberty with also one on Freedom, and both ships had a very noticable roll? Oh well, back to the above rules.
Ok, now I'm gonna break my 1st rule; NOT about Royal but the port. Saturday in Fort Lauderdale is cruise capital, and it is that EVERY Saturday. Per the cruise compass, we all were to be off the ship by 10am (tag #31). The wife and I were Tag#21, and we got off at 11:10am to a MOB inside the building. Better than 3/4 of the people on the ship were from other countries; if their first impression of the way our government works was customs, they'll never come back!! There wer over 3500 passangers on Liberty, and they had FOUR customs agents!! They claimed due to sequestrtion the couldn't hire any more!! BS to the inth degree!! Then, to top it off, the Coast Guard chooses 10am as a great time to inspect the ship and test their emergency skills!! Liberty arrived in port at 4am (I know-I watched).SOME of this could have been better planned by the port people.
I LOVED this trip!! I am a SHIP and SEA DAYS guy! Ports were nice-did not see much of Barcelona but the bus ride to the ship, however ran into four men who had their pockets picked on the Off & On bus around town. Old Cadiz was nice to walk around and see the shops and cobble stone streets and churches, as was La Palma. Sad that we had to go to a McDonald's at the end of the pier in La Palma because it had FREE WiFi!! In this day and age, most people cannot be out of touch for so long; Royal HAS to come up with something better (I'd go with FREE WiFi, but that's just me).
Lastly, I got to meet Mario Saucedo, Royal's #1 cruiser! This man is MY HERO! He was interviewed by the cruise director, where he stated that he LIVES on one ship or another all year!! The man is a genius!!!
Ok- "venting" is done. I only have to wait until November 1, 2015 to get back on Liberty for our first BTB!!
Thank you for the very balanced and fair review of your cruise. And, about Port Everglades I have my own opinion.....that opinion is that the Customs and Border Protection management at that port have deliberately decided to be annoying, just because they can, and because that unit is angry about budget issues that didn't go their way.
I say this because I've lately done lots of cruises out of the port of Miami and, regardless of the debarkation day, I've been quickly screened and sent on my way by very cordial CBP officers at Miami. And I've exited ships on weekends and weekdays. So, if Miami can handle it why is it a problem at Port Everglades? I blame management of CBP. It seems the CBP management at Port Everglades is too scared to give some officers regular work days on Saturdays and Sundays.
Dave, in a police department (of which I'm familiar) we have shifts that start and end on different days of the week, based in senority. Customs should have almost everyone working that port due to the amount of ships that come and go (cruise lines, I mean). There's NO excuse for that, period. We got into Barcelona at 6:15am their time, and there were three customs agents there waitinf for ONE plane, ours!!
Hopefully, some day, our government will wake up.
Exactly. The bulk of their scheduled off days should be other than Saturday / Sunday. Their duties involve regular weekend work. I worked rotating shifts for 25 years and missed a lot of holidays and weekends off. No reason CBP shouldn't be doing it too.