Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas is almost twice the size of Disney Wonder—does it work for families?
|Disney Cruise Line Disney Wonder||Royal Caribbean International Liberty of the Seas|
|Double Occupancy: 1754||Double Occupancy: 3634|
|Gross Tonnage: 83000||Gross Tonnage: 154407||11 decks||15 decks|
|CDC Score: 99||CDC Score: 98|
|Launched: 1999||Launched: 2007|
Almost a decade younger than Disney Wonder, Liberty of the Seas is currently the third largest cruise ship at sea (along with siblings Freedom and Independence of the Seas), and in designing this mastodon for the masses, Royal Caribbean looked both inwards and outside for inspiration. The result is impressive, with blockbuster features like an ice-skating rink and snazzy ice shows, a theatre with productions that aspire to touring-show quality, a towering climbing wall and cool surf simulator, and tie-ins with crowd-pleasing brands like Johnny Rockets and Dreamworks (creator of the Shrek franchise). Based on sheer size alone, there is more to experience on Liberty of the Seas than most of us can tackle in a week—who needs ports of call?
But size isn’t everything. While we found dining on Liberty of the Seas about average for the cruise industry overall, from the buffet to the specialty dining venue Palo, meals on Disney Wonder were better. And Disney Wonder is a surprisingly elegant ship, smartly designed in an art nouveau style that may never age; Liberty of the Seas is a bit more like a big floating mall. Royal Caribbean hasn’t come up with anything as novel as the split bathroom concept Disney conceived for Disney Wonder (and sibling Disney Magic), a great solution when families are sharing a room. And by the way, cabins on Disney Wonder are larger than those of Liberty of the Seas (though you’ll also probably pay more for that cabin on Disney Wonder).
Perhaps the most important comparison is how the ships stack up for families, and here we’d call it a draw. For pre-teens the edge goes to Disney Wonder, where the stable of Disney characters inspires wide grins that go beyond what the Dreamworks characters can muster; the Disney crew seems particularly well chosen to interact with kids. For the tween-and-up crowd, Liberty of the Seas might appeal more because the Disney scene may be passé, and that rock climbing wall and surf simulator are great places for showing off at an awkward age.
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