Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
hukoli

Liberty 02022020 - our experience

Recommended Posts

Introduction

 

This might be a live-ish review of our family's (no idea if that is how it is spelled, and no internet to help me check. English is officially my third language, so expect some mistakes in spelling, and lot more with grammar.) vacation. My family consists of me, 34, gf 33, son 11 and daugter 9. Kids have been on one cruise before this one, and we have been on two. And we all are finnish, so it might affect how I look at some things.
This site was and still is a great resource for information to new cruisers. Without many reviews and posts here I would have been totally lost on our first cruise, and information from this site helped me to get the courage to book it. And everything went eventually well with good planning. So now I think it is time to pay back something to this site.
I don't usually take much pictures, so don't expect them here. Might try to put few in, but we will see. Also remember that I am on vacation that we have waited for almost two years, so if I don't feel like writing, I won't do that. I hope that this review will help someone else who has doubts about cruising in the Caribbean. Or if everything goes to hell, show them that staying home is the better option. And if someone has questions, feel free to ask. I might or might not have the answer. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Planning

 

 

We wanted Freedom class ship, and 7 night cruise. Options were limited to Freedom from San Juan or Liberty from Galveston. We chose Galveston, as flights to San Juan seemed bit hard for a group of this size with all the connections. And we wanted to spend some time shopping, so Houston was the better choice. As I'm writing this in the plane, I will admit that if I could go back in time and choose differently, we would do Oasis class out from Florida because of shorter flight times.

 

After locking in the ship, we had to choose our sailing date. This was really a coin toss, and we picked 02.02.2020 since it would be easy to remember. This was in December of 2017. We priced different options from two insides to Grand suite with 2 Bedrooms. We wanted some privacy for us, seperate beds for kids, and a view. Finally we picked Family sized panoramic ocean view. Kids will have their own bunk bed behind a curtain, and we will get a nice view. This will be our first time cruising without a balcony, so now we'll see if we really need one. Pricewise this cabin cost us less than a balcony with a inside for kids, and bit more than 2 insides. Total cost with grats and some OBC was about 3200€. And as a bonus, these cabins were made full suites sometime after our booking.

 

Then it was time to get other members of our family into cruising. First hit was my sister in law, and her family. They wanted in, and picked same type of cabin. Next one was my mother in law. Simple balcony did the trick. After few months my mother agreed to join us, balcony for her. And finally my brother joined us with his gf.
So our group consist of total of 5 cabins and 13 passengers.

 

I decided that since there had been issues with fog in Galveston, we would stay on the island for one night before and after our cruise. That way possible delays would't ruin our transports to Houston and back. And based on past experience with long flights, we wanted 2 nights in Houston after our arrival. One to deal with possible flight delays, and the other with adjusting to new timezone. And after the cruise we thought that 5 nights in Houston would give us enough time to do some shopping. And we would return in Finland just in time for our kids school holiday, so they would have a full week to adjust back to local time. 

 

Since our group grew so large, I didn't want to do all our hotel and flight bookins. So it was time to find a travel agent to handle our flights and hotels. Eventually it was easy, I just walked into one office while I was in town, and found a great agent. This was in late 2018, so no flights were available to choose, but she took down all our details and promised to get back when they could be booked. Few months later I got an offer in email detailing the costs and hotels. Price was reasonable, and after asking few changes to our hotels (didn't want to stay at airport hotel during that 5 day shopping time), we told her to book us. Flights would be on KLM, with short transfer in Amsterdam. Total travel time to Houston would be around 15 hours. Hotels would be Ramada Houston Intercontinental South for the 2 nights, then Comfort Suites Galveston for one night before and after the cruise. And finally Hampton Inn and Suites near the Galleria for our 5 nights in Houston. 

 

Next problem was getting our group from Houston to Galveston and back. There were many choices, and I can just hope I made a good one. With our group of 13, and all the luggage we have, I counted that we would need 4 Ubers or taxis, or a small bus. We decided to go with the bus route, since that way at least we could be sure that our group would stay together. After researching here and online, I asked quotes from couple companies. We settled on Sam's Limousine, based on price and promt responses to my questions. We should be picked up by a shuttle bus from our hotel at 12.30 pm Saturday, and the Monday after our cruise same time from Galveston. I'll let you know how it turned out when the time comes. 

 

For transport from airport to hotel most of us will use hotel's shuttle service, and I will be renting a car to get around during that one full day we spend in Houston. And I have other rental booked for our 5 day period. I have used Avis after Hertz didn't have the vehicle I had booked and payed for me after our first cruise. Last trip with Avis worked out fine, although after we landed they had my vehicle in wrong terminal. Hope this trip goes better. Rest of our group will use uber or taxis, or even public transportation.
In Galveston we will use Uber or taxis to get from hotel to port and back. I couldn't find anything better, or the prices were too high for our needs.

 

That is the plan. Let's see how it plays out.

Edited by hukoli

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, hukoli said:

And after the cruise we thought that 5 nights in Houston would give us enough time to do some shopping.

That's a lot of shopping. 😲

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Am I right that you booked ~2 years in advance?  Were you able to book that cabin type directly yourself? Would love to see how you liked that cabin.  I would have loved to book one on our upcoming cruise, but I didn't see any available online.  guessing that they sell out quickly since I don't think there are too many.  Look forward to review, as we will be going in October.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

5 days is a very long time for shopping in Houston. You might want to spend a day driving out to San Marcos, where they have designer outlets. Austin and San Antonio are close by. It’s doable in a day. 

 

Your kids will also enjoy the museum district, there’s a great natural history museum and the zoo is right there too. For the Saturday before your cruise, since you’ll have a car, I would recommend checking out NASA since it’s close to Galveston. You don’t need a full day to see it all. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My husband and I are on this cruise too!  Looking forward to it!!!  Safe travels

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Biker19 said:

That's a lot of shopping. 😲

 

Might include one day of shopping, and 4 days of sightseeing. Or half a day of shopping, if I get to decide. 

 

7 hours ago, feisty77 said:

Am I right that you booked ~2 years in advance?  Were you able to book that cabin type directly yourself? Would love to see how you liked that cabin.  I would have loved to book one on our upcoming cruise, but I didn't see any available online.  guessing that they sell out quickly since I don't think there are too many.  Look forward to review, as we will be going in October.

 

Yes, you are correct. We booked our cabins over 2 years ago. And we don't get refundable deposits. Have to book early, since there are just 2 of those cabins. We used a TA to make our bookings, I have never dealt directly with Royal Caribbean. 

 

33 minutes ago, lbjen said:

5 days is a very long time for shopping in Houston. You might want to spend a day driving out to San Marcos, where they have designer outlets. Austin and San Antonio are close by. It’s doable in a day. 

 

Your kids will also enjoy the museum district, there’s a great natural history museum and the zoo is right there too. For the Saturday before your cruise, since you’ll have a car, I would recommend checking out NASA since it’s close to Galveston. You don’t need a full day to see it all. 

 

We don't have a car on Saturday, I'm returning it before we leave Houston. Nasa, Zoo and natural history are definately on our to do list when we are staying here after our cruise. As for other things to do, we'll see how much kids can manage. 

 

And to anyone coming on board with us, welcome! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 1

 

 

I woke up around 03.00, and we left to the airport around 04.30. Agreed meeting time with our group was 05.00. I dropped family of the car and parked at the airport garage. Prepaid parking cost 72€ for 18 days. We had some problems with checking in with the automated kiosks, but at the counter everything worked out fine. At 06.00 we were through the security and at our gate.

Boarding went smoothly, and plane pushed back on time. After quick de-icing, we were airborne at 07.20.

Landed in good time at Schipol, passport control had some line, but nothing major. On board next flight at 09.30.

We landed at Houston early, and our plane was quite empty. Everyone in our group had at least one extra seat, and few had a whole row. Even I managed to nap few hours. Immigration went very smoothly, and we were waiting for our hotel's shuttle at 14.30, or 2.30 pm as they use here. After we got our rooms, I went back to the airport to get my car. Avis had picked me a Toyota 4 Runner, or something like that, but I got it changed to Mustang. After all, tomorrow is MY day, and somehow I feel that V8 is what I need more than decent backseat.

We ate in some diner that is in the same lot as our hotel, food was good and portions were better than we had on the plane. After dinner we put kids to bed, and headed for Walmart to get some water and Dramamine for gf. And now I'm in my room writing this before going to sleep. It's 8.30 pm here, so that means 04.30 at home. We'll see what day 2 brings. 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to Texas! The weather can be crazy around here, but your sail away weather seems pretty good for this time of year.

 

We were on Liberty a couple years ago and had a great time!  Hope your cruise is everything you hoped it would be!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe we'll see you on board. Wife and I are fairly local (closer than Finland) so we'll drive over Sunday morning. Liberty is a good ship, and we Texan's are pretty easy to get along with. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm happy to see you plan to do a live-ish review! My daughter and son-in-law (around your ages) are on this sailing, along with another couple. Our granddaughters (around your kids' ages, 12 & 7) are staying with us and their other grandparents. I'll be sure to follow along and they'll be surprised when I tell them I did "sort of" get to go along as well! LOL Glad to read that sailaway weather looks good.  Have a great cruise!

Terri

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our family will be cruising on a July sailing of Liberty of Seas out of Galveston.  Have a great cruise!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/30/2020 at 2:42 AM, hukoli said:

And finally Hampton Inn and Suites near the Galleria for our 5 nights in Houston.

Good choice!  The hotel is set back from the freeway - a little quieter.  And if I remember correctly, it's in an area surrounded by a few apartment complexes, next to a small park.  Plenty of eating across the freeway on Post Oak and in the Galleria, but I'd be careful about walking over there - Houston is not walking friendly, and the traffic crossing under the freeway is fierce.

 

     --bruce T.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a nice outlet mall in Cypress (north Houston) Premium Outlets. It is about an hour -45 minutes from the Galleria. You can google the designers and stores. Usually good prices and selections.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Btank said:

... Houston is not walking friendly, and the traffic crossing under the freeway is fierce.

 

     --bruce T.

 

 

I have noticed that, and I think everyone knew that most of the USA is built for driving around in cars. But still got few laughs over the "sidewalks" near our hotel. 

 

5 hours ago, kristicruise said:

There is a nice outlet mall in Cypress (north Houston) Premium Outlets. It is about an hour -45 minutes from the Galleria. You can google the designers and stores. Usually good prices and selections.

 

Unfortunately my gf is aware of the Premium Outlets thing, and has placed a clear order that she has to be taken there. So that will be our first stop after we get back to Houston. 

Happy wife, happy life, but sometimes I really wonder if it is worth all the trouble. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 2

 

Earplugs are a must for this hotel. Planes taking of right over us, and really nothing to block the noise. Windows are really thin and not really insulated in any way. Not quite what we are used to back home. But I'm used to sleeping with earplugs and I slept fine. After breakfast we went to Walmart with our boy to get  him some long sleeved shirts, as he had packed only one with him. Needless to say that we might have bought few other things while looking for those. 

After that trip, I basically left my gf with the kids and rest of the group. Visited a shooting range while waiting for a karting track to open. Had googled back at home, and settled on Athena gun club. It was a very nice experience, and I plan to visit them again after we get back to Houston. After that I left to the track with my brother, and dropped my mother and brother's gf to some mall on the way there. We stopped at the mall on our way back, and before picking them up, I found a new pair of shoes for me. 

Rest of the group had taken Ubers to Walmart, and a good 3 hours there had exhausted the kids completely. Who needs sightseeing when you have Walmart? After dinner at that next door diner, kids were basically ready to sleep. Speaking of dinners, everyone in our group ate at that next door diner, don't know if it tells more about quality of their food or lack of our imagination. 

 

Overall a slow day, and pretty meaningless to this review. But I had a great time. Tomorrow we'll head to Galveston. 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 3, part 1

 

After breakfast I took my brother's gf back to Ross. She had seen a suitcase there yesterday, but wasn't sure if they could get it back to Finland. They managed to fit one of their current ones into the other one, so she wanted that new one. I bought few water bottles for our kids.
Returned my car back to the airport, and took the hotel shuttle back. Now we are all just waiting for our bus.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope you’re enjoying our beautiful weather today! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 3, part 2

 

Our bus arrived on time. After we got our luggage into its own compartment, it was time to leave Houston behind. One quick stop at Buc-ee's (too little time, but we might find one later), and we arrived at our next hotel 2.30 pm. First impressions about Sam's limousine & Transportation were great. Our bus was clean and comfortable, and our driver told us about all the landmarks on the way. I hope the way back to Houston goes as smoothly as the drive here went.

 

After settling in our rooms, it was time to start looking for food. Right on the seawall was Jimmy's on the pier. Food was good, and after eating we walked to the end of the pier to take some pictures. Finished the day by walking along the seawall to Walmart. Had to get those allowed 12 bottles of soda, since we didn't buy the drink package for this cruise. Another first time for us.

 

Royal's email told us today to arrive at the port 12.30 pm. Liberty is running late because of some medical emergency, but since we have to check out at 11 am, I think we will start making our way to port around that time. Maybe we will just leave our bags to porters and walk around Galveston if lines seem to be too long.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, hukoli said:

One quick stop at Buc-ee's (too little time, but we might find one later),

 

From my frequent trips to Texas, I have come to learn that no trip to Texas is compete without at least one stop at Buc-ee's. It's more than a rest stop or roadside gas station.....it's an experience!

 

Very tasty Brisket sandwich served fast, hot and fresh!  Make sure you find time on the way back.

Edited by HBE4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Buc’ees in Katy has the longest car wash in the US I believe. Their brisket sandwiches are delicious. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...