If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a chance you just may spot the largest cruise ship now docking in Galveston that has ever sailed from the Texas shoreline. It’s Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, a Freedom Class ship offering roundtrip, seven-night voyages to the Caribbean. The new ship replaces Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.
The massive vessel with 1,400 crew members and with a capacity to accommodate 4,000 passengers stretches 1,112 feet long and 185 feet wide. Packed into this floating hotel are 1,817 staterooms and a theater that sits 1,350. And that means a lot of tourists coming into Galveston for each sailing.
“It’s so impressive,” says Galveston Port Director Mike Mierzwa, who recently toured the cruise ship. “The one deck with shops and restaurants on both sides doesn’t look like you’re on a ship, but instead maybe in a large shopping mall.”
“I’m very pleased with the confidence Royal Caribbean has in the Port of Galveston to handle this large ship,” adds Mierzwa. “We’re very excited about making the necessary improvements to the port to make sure we can accommodate all the passengers embarking and disembarking.”
Those improvements include adding three additional moorings and increasing space in the passenger screening area, so there will be no passengers outside in the heat, cold or inclement weather while waiting on lines to board. “My hope is to have the improvements completed in February or sometime in the first quarter of 2016,” says Mierzwa.
With the new ship’s large number of staterooms and with added passenger capacity, Mierzwa projects that Galveston could see up to 30,000 more passengers per year embarking on the ship. “I think the trickle-down of having 30,000 more people visiting Galveston is going to have a significant impact on the city,” he says.
According to the Port of Galveston, the Liberty of the Seas will offer seven-night Western Caribbean cruise itineraries, including Isla Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Costa Maya, Mexico as ports of call.
Other features of the ships include a central on deck promenade stretching longer than a football field at 445 feet, a fitness center and spa, beauty salon, rock climbing wall, full-size basketball court, miniature golf course, jogging track, ice rink, bars, lounges, a multi-deck dining room and many shops and restaurants.
“This is an impressive ship,” says Mierzwa, “and we’re so proud to have it here.”