Ship of Dreams…
…but not Realities. This was the mantra we cheerily sung to ourselves to slap a smiley face on the horrendous debacle of cruising aboard Royal Caribbean’s, Liberty of the Seas, this January. Our small family of three (including myself, my twenty-eight-year-old daughter and twenty-year-old son) have vacationed with many cruise lines in the past two decades, including Royal Caribbean, whose dedication to providing a relaxing and entertaining vacation experience seems to have plummeted into the abyss since we last voyaged with them.
Since that time, we mostly had occasion to cruise with Carnival, who managed to deliver a decent package so far as we had experienced, but from our understanding had a more pedestrian reputation than the more acclaimed Royal Caribbean. I decided to switch back for our most recent trip to reward my children for all their hard work in the past year with the expectation of a higher quality cruising experience. Yet, for far greater expense, of $900 for the same voyage, the ship, Liberty of the Seas, limped to the barn with far inferior quality accommodations, amenities and overall service than we had enjoyed on the less prestigious Carnival.
I pen this scathing review to save anyone else the disappointment, frustration, consternation, stress and hard-earned dollars our family spent on this floating tub of empty promises.
To begin with:
The Liberty of the Seas trumpeted a host of new refurbishments and upgrades in 2016 since its first launch in 2007. But when we arrived in our stateroom, our road-weary eyes were greeted with obscenely outdated furnishings that showed visible signs of age, wear and tear, all aside from being completely filthy. From carpets layered with dust to a bathroom covered in grime and pubic hairs (we have the photos to prove it), my exhausted children had to begin their vacation cleaning out the room before the staff arrived.
We spent the rest of the first day of our vacation waiting in line at the guest services desk attempting to address our grievances. After the first hour of waiting as they typed nondescript minutiae into a computer (stalling), they only tried to placate us with a flimsy apology note and a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries. By the time we finished ironing things out, we were utterly exhausted.
The only forms of refreshment available were ice-water, iced-tea and lemonade (the latter two being significantly watered down) obtained from the cafés on the promenade, several floors up in the buffet (with obtusely scheduled opening hours and dose monitoring by staff), or from our “complimentary” room-service (with a $8 “ service fee” ) that served it in tiny glasses that held less liquid than a shot glass. This is all of course barring the exorbitantly priced soft-drink cards or liquor packages placed conveniently in the oasis at the end of this strategically designed gauntlet of cut corners. We resorted to periodically squirreling away items of food and drink from the buffet to guarantee a source of refreshment that didn’t bleed us dry in other ways.
After a day of marching around the ship, it was clear that it was only “refurbished” into a glorified strip mall on the seas. At the cost of any attention to accommodations, the ships promenade was lavished with stores peddling the usual cruise-ship fare of snacks, knick-knacks and tacky jewelry. The ship’s shameless monetization bled into the retinue of activities as well. Whatever event didn’t charge out of pocket to attend (even towel folding lessons!), was a seminar designed to sell us exercise equipment, homeopathic snake-oil, or more tacky jewelry! It may be possible that some of these changes were unique to the Liberty of the Seas rather than Royal Caribbean as a whole, but the nature of these changes seems indicative of this cruise-line’s current priorities and business ethic.
The food was mediocre at best. The serving staff in the Buffet was truly “Stingy” with any items included in our fare. Drinks were poured in advance and ice left to melt making the beverage watered down and tasteless. We dined in the Dining Room to avoid the “TROUGH MENTALITY”.
All of this only just covers our impressions of the first day, and the first night provided no respite from our continuing ordeal. The “bed” required several comforters of padding supplied by the staff to be called remotely comfortable enough for two people. Our third party-member (my son) was supplied a precariously perched overhanging shelf bed (rather than the usual fold-out sofa) that strained and groaned under his weight. Fearing we would be crushed beneath it, my son instead opted to sleep on the (more comfortable) sofa despite it being 5 inches shorter than he is. After all of this we couldn’t even begrudgingly begin to sleep as our “closets” (panels attached to the walls with ill-fitting hinges) spent all night creaking and groaning with the motions of the moving ship.
We could go on listing every inconvenience, road-block, aggravation or full-on outrage we encountered in the following week, but likely wouldn’t finish before page ten. Suffice it to say that we were shocked that a company with such an exemplary reputation would have the audacity to pass off such sub-par performance as a vacation getaway. Liberty of the Seas has been, hands down, the worst ship we ever sailed on. I can only imagine with great difficulty that Royal Caribbean still manages to attract business because its clientele has/is:No experience of other cruise-lines. Content to celebrate its mediocrity. Not felt impelled to publicly decry it. Had more money than sense.
I, for one, will not let them get away with only a slap on the wrist. To anyone reading this I say only; book elsewhere.
P.S: None of the prior commentary was in any way meant to reflect poorly on the attendants or waiting staff, all of whom displayed a work ethic and devotion that belied the cruise-line’s overall slovenly performance. One attendant of note went by the name of Halsted, our room attendant and deserves special distinction for jumping through hoops to keep us happy and satisfied, as much of a Herculean task that presented given the circumstances. Mikola and Eldy in the Michelangelo Dining Room were staff members that provided outstanding service as well. Ross Clark, a musician provided outstanding entertainment. Nick, the assistant excursion director gracefully handled a pre-paid tour that was cancelled without our knowledge. Olie, was also helpful and accommodating in the ice-skating rink.