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LHARTWICK

Just back from Liberty

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Just returned from LOTS on 8/25.  32nd cruise; 7th on RCCL; 3rd on LOTS.   Embarkation was a nightmare for us as we waited in the security line for one hour, and it was very hot, even inside the terminal.  When we arrived we were extremely disappointed to learn that Platinum and Emerald level passengers are no longer given priority embarkation until AFTER the security line, at which point it didn't really matter.  Only Diamond/Diamond+/Pinnacle Club/Suite passengers receive priority embarkation upon arriving at the terminal.  (I only saw 5 people go through that priority line while we were waiting.) The terminal staff indicated this began in January 2019.  I asked the onboard Loyalty Ambassador about it, and she said it had been in place for about six weeks, and it was a fleet wide policy now.  We are also Platinum on 2 other lines, so this will only encourage us to sail with them even more, as they still honor the priority embarkation.  This is a huge perk for us. Enough about that.....

 

Pros:  Food/service in the MDR was very good. Beef tenderloin was amazing!  Windjammer food is definitely improved since our last sailing. Don't miss the ice cream in WJ each night! Crew/staff are great! Captain James was out and about mingling with passengers on a regular basis - nice to see. Cabin steward was fabulous! Eagles cover band was amazing - saw both shows!  The In The Air and Saturday Night Fever shows are both good - really enjoyed them even though we had seen them twice before. Cabin was extremely quiet, even with a lot of kids on board. A/C in cabin worked very well - a plus in August!  Solarium pool area has lots of shaded areas to sit (although the music is way too loud!). Get to Solarium early on sea days for best choice of seats. Olive or Twist is always a great quiet lounge to use day or night. This is one of the ships that allows you to go to the front bow of the ship, conditions permitting (deck 4) - really neat view. Cafe Promenade is really handy for cookies/fruit/pastries if you don't want to fight the crowds in WJ.  Ship is easy to navigate. Debarkation was much improved since our last two sailings on LOTS - we did self assist and were in our car by 8:00 AM.  I will say it seems more and more people are doing self assist. My husband made the same observation.

 

Cons:  Ship is in very bad need of a deep cleaning throughout.  Window sills in Windjammer area were full of old food and dirt; same for pool area. We tried to avoid public restrooms, but used them on occasion - they smelled of urine at all times.  I asked for a robe, and it was in shreds. Carpeting in our hallway was very worn and stained - steward said it was being replaced in 2020. I've already addressed embarkation above - our biggest disappointment for sure.

 

Overall we definitely had a relaxing vacation, as we stayed on board the whole cruise.  We have been to these ports several times, so we just enjoyed the quite by the pool. The pros definitely outweigh the cons.  Hope this brief review is helpful!

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Bummer that your embarkation took so long.  What time did you arrive?  We typically have the longest lines when we get on the ship on the early side (10am-noon).  Our most recent cruise out of Miami on the Navigator we showed up at 1pm and we literally had zero wait.  We arrived later because we flew in the night before but didn't get to our hotel until after midnight and needed some rest so we slept in and took our time in the morning before heading to the ship.  Arriving at 1pm, we walked straight to the bag scanners , directly to get our key cards, and onto the ship with no other passengers in front of us.  The really nice thing about this is that the rooms were also ready immediately so no need to walk around with any bags or luggage.  Also, since we ate lunch off the ship, there was no battling the craziness of the Windjammer which is always the busiest it ever gets and really a bad first impression.

 

I understand why people want to get started ASAP, but on a 7 night cruise arriving 2 -3 hours later isn't a big dent in your ship time, but can make for a VERY nice embarkation process.

 

We're sailing on the Liberty in March 2020 and I hope the condition of the ship isn't too bad.  We loved the crew and ship in Jan 2018.  My parents and 18 y.o. niece are going with us.  My parents haven't sailed in over 10 years (Alaska, Celebrity Summit) and it will be my nieces first cruise and we hope they have a great experience.

 

Dan

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Sorry about embarkation; we sail on LOTS 9/15/19 and are getting very excited. Like you we will probably stay on the ship most, if not all, of the cruise. Hope we have the Eagles cover band/ Thanks for your review.

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21 hours ago, LHARTWICK said:

Just returned from LOTS on 8/25.  32nd cruise; 7th on RCCL; 3rd on LOTS.   Embarkation was a nightmare for us as we waited in the security line for one hour, and it was very hot, even inside the terminal. 

Yeah, the cruise terminal in Galveston really isn't very nice at all. If it's any consolation at all, embarkation is usually not that much better for suite passengers.

 

We're going on LOTS in ten days, so we're pleased to hear that the food has improved. Last time, it was inconsistent at best. Like you, we plan to stay on the ship for port days. It's so relaxing and the crew-to-passenger ratio is SO much better. 🙂 

 

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Thanks for the current review.  We are going on LOS Dec.8.  We were told by our travel agent that LOS was now strictly abiding by assigned boarding times in order to manage the lines.  Has anyone recently had that experience in Galveston?  Also, we have been on 1 other cruise on LOS last year (our first with RCCI} and also loved the ship, but stood in line 2 1/2, arriving at 12.  We are considering waiting till 1PM just to avoid that.  

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I have a hard time seeing RCCL being able to manage the suggested arrival times.  Even if they decided to enforce it, it would make for a cluster of people just standing around waiting for "their time".  

 

Dan

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23 hours ago, LHARTWICK said:

Embarkation was a nightmare for us as we waited in the security line for one hour, and it was very hot, even inside the terminal.

This was also our experience back in June. The wait wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't so HOT in that building. We have sailed Carnival from the other terminal in Galveston and it did not seem nearly as bad (to us). 

 

The rest of our cruise was great, though.

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We arrived right at 12:45 PM.  Of course we were also expecting to bypass the lines with our priority embarkation status as we've done in the past, but since RCCL has done away with it, that didn't happen.  Hindsight we would have arrived much earlier.  We sail often out of Galveston, and when we've arrived earlier in the past with Carnival, it was super easy.  We also have priority embarkation with them.  I suggest getting to LOTS early or after 1:30 PM.  That's about the time I noticed that the line was no longer extending out the door. 

 

The whole priority embarkation issue with RCCL is just a matter of principle for us.  If you say you're going to do it, then honor it. 

 

As for boarding times being enforced, I haven't noticed RCCL having assigned boarding times like Carnival does. I do know that Carnival enforces theirs; at least that's what I've noticed in Galveston.

 

I do appreciate the Galveston security staff going over the luggage VERY thoroughly at the x-ray machines.  My husband noticed it, too.  If there was any question at all about a bag, they were hand checking it. 

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12 minutes ago, LHARTWICK said:

We arrived right at 12:45 PM.  Of course we were also expecting to bypass the lines with our priority embarkation status as we've done in the past, but since RCCL has done away with it, that didn't happen.  Hindsight we would have arrived much earlier.  We sail often out of Galveston, and when we've arrived earlier in the past with Carnival, it was super easy.  We also have priority embarkation with them.  I suggest getting to LOTS early or after 1:30 PM.  That's about the time I noticed that the line was no longer extending out the door. 

 

The whole priority embarkation issue with RCCL is just a matter of principle for us.  If you say you're going to do it, then honor it. 

 

As for boarding times being enforced, I haven't noticed RCCL having assigned boarding times like Carnival does. I do know that Carnival enforces theirs; at least that's what I've noticed in Galveston.

 

I do appreciate the Galveston security staff going over the luggage VERY thoroughly at the x-ray machines.  My husband noticed it, too.  If there was any question at all about a bag, they were hand checking it. 

 

Thanks!  This is really useful for us, and I agree about the priority boarding thing.  If the Crown and Anchor perks state that you get it, then you should get it. 

 

We'll plan to arrive later then, around 1:30pm .  I've done enough early boardings to know that I'd rather arrive when cabins are open and we can set our carry-on stuff down immediately, and also not have to battle the embarkation day crazy town which is the buffet.  🙂

 

Glad to hear that your dining room food was very good.  Our last time on the Liberty we had the same experience, and also had our best waiter pair of any cruise so far.  I just hope ship is in nice shape, but I'll prepare our group that it may not be as fresh as we're used to.  (especially considering that the last cruise we went on was the Navigator within the month out of it's extensive AMPED refurbishment)

 

Dan

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Posted (edited)

Hmm, we sailed on the Liberty on the June 30th sailing a couple of months ago. It was our first cruise with Royal, so we don't have anything to compare with, other than 7 cruises on Carnival and 3 on NCL. Anyhow, I don't remember it being hot in the terminal back then. If it was very warm, my husband would probably have complained, lol. Maybe the ac started acting up just recently?  As far as getting on the ship first, we were pre-gold, so definitely the lowest of the low. Husband grumbled that we were going to be dead last in line, but honestly, once they started calling the groups in order of priority, it seemed like there was a difference in maybe 5 -10 minutes before the groups being called went from the  Key Club and Pinnacles to the pre-golds, and this happened to be with a full ship (holiday week.) So we weren't far behind  the rest of the folks and  we managed to make our way to Guest Services and then to Windjammer for lunch, in a matter of minutes. 

 

Now comparing the buffet restaurant to the ones we visited on the Carnival ships and NCL, the Windjammer won in both taste of food and service provided by the staff, as well as the iced tea! I don't recall the iced tea on NCL  being good or bad, and I learned to mix Carnival's free iced tea with lemonade and lots of Equal to make it tasty. Royal's free tea tasted liked raspberry tea to me, and husband and I both enjoyed it. 

 

I don't recall dirty or worn carpet on our deck, but maybe we weren't assigned to the same deck as the op.  We were up on the 10th deck, which was good, imho, because it was only one level below the Windjammer. I didn't see anything wrong with the carpeting on our deck or in the public areas, anyway. 

I don't know about the windowsills, because we usually sat rather far from the windows in the Windjammer. 

 

The only real negative thing about the cruise was the delay involving both of our shore excursions. Fortunately for us, the one that made us return on the very last tender  to the ship before sailing was sponsored by Royal, so at least we weren't left behind. It was the boat that took us to Stingray City - they must have had engine trouble because it was slow-going on the way back from the sandbar.

 

Because husband did well enough in Liberty's casino to earn us 2 comped cruises, we are likely going to stay exclusively with Royal for awhile (unless their great casino perks go away; let's hope not.) 

 

Finally, I recall using the Carnival terminal several years ago for a cruise, but don't remember issues with the ac there (it may have been winter, however.)  In any case, we are usually so excited about going on a cruise that we will put up with quite a bit!

 

 

Edited by sushitex

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On 8/29/2019 at 11:50 AM, jannray said:

Thanks for the current review.  We are going on LOS Dec.8.  We were told by our travel agent that LOS was now strictly abiding by assigned boarding times in order to manage the lines.  Has anyone recently had that experience in Galveston?  Also, we have been on 1 other cruise on LOS last year (our first with RCCI} and also loved the ship, but stood in line 2 1/2, arriving at 12.  We are considering waiting till 1PM just to avoid that.  

My boarding pass for our October cruise does not list a specific time. It just says 10:45-3.  So you probably can go at any time.

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