Jet lag sucks. Yes, I know, “Ooh what a hardship for you Karin!” However, jet lag caused me to have a very fitful night’s sleep which resulted in me being awake from 2:30am having had about 3 restless hours of sleep. After too many hours spent in my hotel room awake and bleary eyed, I met up with my fellow #royalmums for a restorative breakfast and utterly rubbish cup of tea. We enjoyed a leisurely morning and then, just after noon, departed en masse for the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas port.
The organisation of putting 3000+ plus guests and their luggage onto the Liberty of the Seas is quite impressive. We were pointed toward the baggage drop, placed our luggage in the hands of a helpful, if somewhat bold (he blatantly asked for a tip) porter and proceeded to the departure terminal.
You just can’t get 3000+ people onto a cruise liner in a glamourous or speedy fashion but the progress through security and check-in was as painless as it could have been. It was fascinating to queue and just people watch. All shapes, sizes, languages and questionable attire blended into a map of the world in the guests preparing to board. It was highly entertaining to say the least. I did notice that there were not tons of families preparing to board which may just be down to the time of year and the fact that school holidays have just ended in the UK and US schools don’t have their holidays for another month or so. Interestingly enough, of the families that I did see, quite a few included a child with Downs Syndrome. I believe there was a group meet-up of some sport. How lovely is that?
Unfortunately for me, as we were queuing, I began to get a really upset tummy. Whether it was my Coeliac disease flaring up or if it was down to the jet lag and exhaustion but I felt pretty rubbish for a while. Thankfully, the “facilities” were readily available and my fellow #royalmums waited for me. Order restored, we boarded the ship as a group and began to ooh and ahh and point a lot.
We proceeded to the 11th deck (there are 15 in total but 1-12 are used by guests) where we met up with Katherine, our highly capable trip host, who welcomed us into the Windjammer Cafe for a quick lunch. The Windjammer is sort of like a cafeteria with every type of lunch/dinner/dessert available and is included in your trip package. It’s laid out buffet style with various “kiosks” with different styles of food. You can get burgers, pizza, pasta, fruit and salad and limitless drinks like lemonade and iced tea. Special dietary needs can be catered for by asking the various food servers in the buffets themselves and from the staff that are in abundance. I was brought a plate of freshly made, gluten-free bread as well which was lovely.
We then received a wonderfully thorough tour from one of the Cruise Director staff. The Liberty of the Seas is MASSIVE! Some of the things we discovered on our tour: an ice rink (think Dancing on Ice size), a fully-equipped fitness centre, a spa and salon, children’s areas for all age groups, restaurants, a performance theatre, a casino, a shopping promenade, various bars and adult areas, a Karaoke studio, pools and a millions places to just sit and breathe. Impressive doesn’t quite describe but it will have to suffice.
After our tour, we were free to locate our staterooms. My stateroom has an ocean view and is on deck 10 which is the highest deck for staterooms. My luggage had not yet arrived but I was able to inspect the room fully and was really pleased. The room is about the size of an average UK/European hotel room. There is a spacious wardrobe with plenty of hangers and shelves, an adequate (compact but perfectly acceptable) bathroom with a shower, a sitting area with a couch, coffee table and desk/vanity area and a delightfully comfortable and fluffy double bed. Honestly, when I laid down on it, just for a test you know, it was so tempting to just stay there and sleep off my jet lag! But then I had to check out my balcony! The balcony is about 4 feet long and 6 feet wide with a glassed in wall that is about 4 1/2 feet high. You get a great view and it’s impossible to climb as it’s solid glass. If you had small children, as I do, you wouldn’t need to worry about danger but of course you would always supervise your children on the balcony anyway. My stateroom attendant (Mailene) came to introduce herself and my inspection was complete!
Prior to departure all passengers are required to attend the “Muster” drill. This is where they show everyone how, in the event of an emergency, to put on your life vest and where to go. This was very efficient (albeit blazingly hot) and informative and was the final bit of business before we could depart. By the time I returned to my stateroom, my bag had arrived and I was ready for takeoff, so to speak. I didn’t even notice, to be honest, when we started moving! The Sail Away Celebration was held on decks 11 and 12 and was great fun. The #royalmums bloggers met up again and we enjoyed a celebratory drink as we watched the horizon fade away. What a day!
We ate our glorious and highly entertaining dinner at the Portofino restaurant and swayed back to our staterooms to sleep. As I sank into my utterly blissful bed, I was so happy. I adore my children and would do anything for them. My husband is the love of my life and we love spending most of our time together. But somewhere along the way I have lost a little bit of me. I am realising that it isn’t healthy for anyone to stiffle yourself away. This trip is more than a press trip to report back to you on the family-friendliness of Royal Caribbean cruises (rest assured, there is loads!) but it’s also a chance for me to unfurl my slightly dusty and damp wings and open myself up again to new possibilities. It’s a bit of an AWAKENING moment…and how lovely it is!
Tomorrow is a full day at sea where we will have interviews, champagne and our formal dinner…as you do!