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emsff02

Give me Liberty annnd an $18 DX Package? I'll Take it! Liberty of the Seas Feb 16-23 Western Caribbean

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Well, we are down to our single digit dance until wheels up, so I guess its time to get this party started! This is Greg and Heather again, and we are coming to the end of our current dry dock. Thankfully it hasn't been too long since our last cruise live blog. This time we are sailing on Liberty of the Seas heading to Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. We again will be cruising with our kids Lydia who is now 10, and Johnny 6. We are also sailing with my sister Julie, and we are so ready to get away from the frozen tundra of NY. @Duke Grad here is the tag I promised, oh and Go SU, Beat DUKE!!😂

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Hopefully this cruise will go off without a hitch. Many have seen this post I Hate Kids... that is chronicling how we have been blessed by a child with the flu. We do have travel insurance so worst case scenario we will be covered. For those that have not purchased travel insurance, DO IT! It is not as expensive as you may think. We know from personal experience with a family member who was severely injured on a trip to Jamaica how expensive getting home to good medical care can cost. The cost of travel insurance pales in comparison to the cost of medical transport.   

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Okay, enough doom and gloom, and back to the fun stuff!

So this cruise is actually a take 2 version. Way back when Heather and I took our very first cruise, we had booked this itinerary while on the ship at next cruise. A little while after booking, we found ourselves with two new jobs and moving to a new house. This cruise was supposed to depart two weeks after starting our new jobs, so that cruise got cancelled and we finally were able to plan this one. We booked this pretty far out in advance in 2018, and got a great rate. I remember someone a while ago who is in a Facebook group for this cruise mentioning they were happy that they got a decent price drop. I called and our rate would have gone UP by $2000!! I can only imagine what they booked at. Remember folks book EARLY!

Itinerary:

So the cruise departs out of Galveston. We have 2 sea days, then we hit Roatan, Belize, then Cozumel, followed by one more sea day. Then back to reality. Wah waaaahhh.

While in Roatan, we booked a private tour through Victor Bodden Tours. We will be hitting up their animal sanctuary and will play with a sloth!!! I might be a bit excited about that part...

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followed by some horseback riding, and then West Bay Beach. The price for all this is amazing, and they have been great with their communication so far. There will be plenty of pictures and my thoughts on the whole experience when that day comes.

In Belize we will be doing the cave tubing and jungle trek through RC. 

Cozumel we will be going to Chakanaab and doing a Dolphin Swim etc.

Stateroom:

We are not afraid to say that we are suite snobs so we have a two bedroom grand suite #9708. With the 5 of us we need the space, and having more than 1 bathroom is a plus. We really liked the aft balcony suite on Navigator so this will be a similar experience. 

Stay tuned folks, more to come!

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@emsff02 Thanks for the tag.  I have your blog bookmarked and will be following.  We have a spacious (whatever that means) oceanview balcony for our first cruise.  Just couldn't justify a suite, though we did do a royal bid to a junior suite but doubt that comes through.  Anyways very interested in what you have to say.  Our trip is Roatan, Costa Maya & Cozumel.  BTW, came close to attending Syracuse on a football scholarship, but ended up at Duke (long, long, long time ago).  More importantly, beat the hell out of Carolina on Sat.  Have fun!

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Sorry for the hiatus, its been a crazy few days, so lets get caught up. Many have seen my I hate kids post about my daughter getting the flu. I am happy to report that after banishing Typhoid Marry to New Jersey with her mother for a cheer leading competition, she has recovered fully and the rest of us have remained healthy. The rest of the time has been busy with the usual pre-cruise preparations. 

Lets get back to the fun stuff.

Flights:

So living in upstate New York, February weather is unpredictable, and usually sucks so when it came time to book flights we knew way ahead of time that we were flying in a day early to lessen any impact of travel delays. We started tracking prices as soon as schedules were released. We knew that prices will be higher since its a vacation week here in NY. Ultimately we chose to book flights through the Air2Sea program, and so far we have been pleased. We also like the security that if there are issues, RC will work for you to get you to the port/ship and that we wont have to worry about that.

Here are some observations, and how our experience went. When looking at prices we were surprised that Air2Sea had really good prices. We fly with Southwest mainly and the ticket package with Air2Sea was $1000 cheaper than Southwest, so that was a big plus. Since there are 5 of us we are using the shuttle provided by RC as well. We didn't want to have to split up ubers etc to get to the port. We figured this would be a less stress way to get to the port. When I called and booked everything we are flying on United out of Albany and landing at George Bush. I know Hobby is closer, but beggars cant be choosers here, and with having a pre-booked shuttle I don't have to stress too much about the drive etc.

Note this, because it affects what happened next, when you book with Air2Sea the cost of the flights gets added to your cruise reservation, and gets paid at final payment date.

We booked the flights and were all set, and the waiting game began, and this is where it got interesting. A few days after booking the flights, I got an email that there was an itinerary change. Looked at the email and couldn't really find what changed at the time. But then I noticed that our seat assignments were gone. I thought to myself, well that no good. I really don't want to be separated from the kids on the flights (as peaceful as that does sound though). I called up Air2Sea and was told that they couldn't do anything and to call United since it was on their end. I call up United and was told that since the flights weren't actually paid for yet, just held since we were before final payment date, they couldn't do anything about the seats yet. He said once they were paid for I could call back. Okay, no big deal, and that promptly got flushed from my brain as life happened.

I suddenly remembered that conversation a few weeks back and thought crap, this call could be interesting at this point. I pull up the app to get my flight numbers etc for the phone call, and I see we now have seat assignments back. I thought to myself, well this is good news, but look at the numbers closer and see that they are for 5 middle seats one behind each other. Well those aren't great, so I still call United to see if they can at least put us in the same rows etc.

Thankfully I had a great agent on the phone. He listened to my story, did some tapping on his keyboard and told me yes, he saw where the itinerary changed and said it was an aircraft change. He said that since the change was their fault, he not only could put us all together, he moved us all to the Economy Premium seats which offer more space etc. He also waived the fee too which would have been about $500. I was just hoping for seats together in the same area. I will gladly take the free upgrade.

So long story short, we have one of the first flights out of Albany, with a brief 1.5 hour layover in Newark, and then on to Houston. Hopefully Newark behaves itself and we have no hiccups there. I have been on flights were that 1.5 hours were spent sitting on a taxiway waiting to get to the gate.....

I all goes smoothly we should be in Houston at 1:30pm.

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Houston: 

We are staying at the Homewood Suites by Hilton right near the airport. We were able to get a 2br suite for all 5 of us. My sister has friends in Houston so she will visit with them. The rest of us will be probably just hanging out and relaxing. We have plans to go to a place called Fajita Willies for dinner that night. My dad has been there a few times when in Houston for work and strongly recommends that place.

We have chosen to rent a car for the day we are here. With the 5 of us and luggage it is more cost effective and easier than using multiple ubers for each jaunt that we want to do. The shuttle to the ship leaves from the airport, so the hotel location is ideal as well. The plan will be on Sunday to drop the car off and hop the shuttle back to the airport, meet the RC shuttle at there and start the unwinding. 

Another bonus for using the RC shuttle. I guess Mardi Gras is going on in Galveston, and there is also a marathon being run Sunday as well. With RC organizing the shuttle, I dont have to worry about traffic, timing etc. I can just get on the bus and take a nap.

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Pre-cruise purchases:

As you can probably tell, we are #teamDX all the way, and were able to snag it during the $18 intern day. We realize that we are lucky that RC honored that price and plan on tipping the bar tenders way more than we normally would as well. 

On black Friday we also grabbed a voom surf and stream package, and a photo package. 

We booked the Mystery Dinner Theater for night 1. We are looking forward to that because this will actually be our first foray into specialty dining. I'm sure there will be some shocked faces here. We may be suite snobs, but we have been more than satisfied with the meals in the MDR and have not felt the need to pay extra for our meals. We shall see what happens after this though. 

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1 minute ago, Vangrizz said:

Looking forward to hearing about the Mystery Dinner. This is something we've been considering for an upcoming cruise, but wasn't too sure what to expect. 

Safe travels!

You won’t have too long to wait. It’s night 1 of the sailing and held in Giovanni’s. I will have a full, spoiler free report for you.

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I was also eyeing the mystery dinner, we have one in Chicago that is a hoot and a half. The food is a bit meh, but the show makes up for that. For some reason I would guess its the opposite on Liberty. Either way I look forward to hearing all about it. I hope your fights are uneventful and everything is smooth.

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1 hour ago, emsff02 said:

You won’t have too long to wait. It’s night 1 of the sailing and held in Giovanni’s. I will have a full, spoiler free report for you.

Also curious about this.  Most ships that we sail don't have this option but Adventure (in July) does.  I couldn't bring myself to try it out at $79pp...

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1 hour ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Also curious about this.  Most ships that we sail don't have this option but Adventure (in July) does.  I couldn't bring myself to try it out at $79pp...

I wasn't thrilled about the cost, but I know of someone who keeps going YOLO this and YOLO that, so I guess maybe that is rubbing off on me.

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Here is the email from the concierge for those who are interested. Does anyone have any thoughts on Francis?

It’s a great pleasure to welcome you in advance via email onboard the beautiful Liberty of the Seas. We are honored that you have selected Royal Caribbean International for your cruise vacation.

My name is Francis, your Suite Concierge onboard. I am available to assist you with any special requests you may have throughout your cruise vacation. My desk hours in the Suite Lounge are daily from 8:00 am to 11:00 am and 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

As a special VIP guest you are offered exclusive amenities and services not available to other guest’s onboard Liberty of the Seas. For your convenience, here is a brief summary of those services:

·        Access to use of the Suite Lounge, located on Deck 14 Aft by using your GOLD colored Seapass card.
·        Continental breakfast and specialty coffee is available inside the lounge daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 am on sea day & 7:00 am to 9:00am on Port days.
·        Complimentary bar setup and Hors d’oeuvres, petit fours is served inside the private lounge every evening before and after dinner from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.   (Selected Beers, Wines and Mix drinks are available to be consumed at the lounge)
·        Daily snacks available inside the Suite Lounge by noon time until 3:00pm
·        Daily dining room menus displayed at the lounge and assistance on pre-ordering for your dinner wine.
·        Complimentary pressing on the first Formal night only and one set per person only.
·        Full Dining Room menu for room-service complementary daily privilege. (Available during Dining Room open hours only & dial 1012 for room service to place your order)
·        Reservations assistance for our specialty restaurants, shore excursion and spa appointments.
·        Business services such as copies, printing and etc.
·        Reserved VIP seats for production shows located at Deck 4 Platinum Theater & Ice shows located at Studio B, Deck 3. Seats will be reserved until 10 minutes prior to the show time and no need for reservation. (Please kindly show to Cruise Director’s staffs your Gold colored SeaPass card at the theater.)  
·        Private exclusive breakfast at Chops Grille located in Deck 11 aft, daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 am on Sea days & 7:00 am to 9:00am on Port days. Exclusive for gold colored card suite guests holders only.

The Suite Lounge is a private lounge accessible on a 24-hour basis, with your golden colored suite key you will have access. The private lounge has been designated a smoke-free area. We respectfully request that guests observe a proper dress code when visiting the lounge (no swim or pool attire is allowed, footwear is required at all times).  To ensure all our guests are able to enjoy this exclusive lounge we require that all guests 20 years old and younger must be well behaved and accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. We also kindly ask not to bring any friends or a family member who is not registered on the Grand Suite and above room category.

Please come and visit me in the Suite Lounge or kindly contact me by dialing 3812 from any ship phone. If there is any way I can be of assistance to make your cruise vacation more enjoyable, please do not hesitate to ask. We hope you will have the vacation of a lifetime onboard the Liberty of the Seas.

Kind regards,

Francis
Concierge | Guest Services
Suite Lounge Ext # 3812

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5 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Francis is a great Concierge. One of the best. I’m glad to see that he is there and that Iliana (I think that was her name) is gone.  I think you will like Francis.

Thanks for the info. So far we are pretty low key suite guests and have had limited dealings with the concierge. We shall see how it goes this time around. I would like to make more of an effort to use some of our benefits, and get to know the concierge too.

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