September 23, 2006
When you check in, you will get a key card (like a credit card) for your cabin. Go to the purser's desk and ask them to punch a hole in it (they do this all the time). Attach a lanyard to it so you can carry it around your neck. This will eliminate any need to carry a purse or wallet, since everything on the ship is purchased by swiping your key card; your credit card will be on file with them. The morning you disembark, you will get an itemized list of your purchases for your records, and they will be charged to your credit card. If you'd prefer, you can give the purser cash when you embark, and spending on your key card will be set to that limit.
Cabin - Our cabin had plenty of storage space. The balcony has a small table and two chairs (not lounge chairs). The door is a very heavy sliding glass door that locks. Shampoo, conditioner, shower cap, soap and lotion are all provided.
The cabin has a small safe about 12 inches square. You select your own four-digit code and it is free.
The Library has many books you can check out, as well as a lot of games, cards and dice.
The ship has a wedding chapel that hosted three weddings on this cruise. The chapel is lovely and they decorate it just before a wedding. The room has a piano and seats 34.
At the Lotus Spa you can get a pass for the week ($70 for one, $109 for two). This will let you into the private area with a pool and hot tub, several saunas, several different showers, and heated stone beds. There is a changing room with lockers, robes, towels. This is all separate from whatever spa treatment you might get.
On our Mexico cruise, the only tender port was Cabo San Lucas. It's a quick little trip to port. I was surprised to find out that the tenders come with the ship. They double as the lifeboats and at the end of the day, they are hauled back on the ship.
Things that cost extra include bar drinks, the casino, specialty drinks, special meals on your balcony, two restaurants (Sabatini's at $20 per person and Sterling Steak House, $15), the ice cream stand, Lotus Spa treatments (or a weekly spa pass), wine in the dining rooms, Internet connections (50 cents a minute), Bingo, use of the laundromat (one on each cabin level), photos taken by the ship's photographers ($20 for each 8x10), and the Arcade.
Free things include food and non-alcoholic drinks from the buffet or dining rooms (you can pop into the buffet anytime for soda, coffee, tea or water); the pizza stand (absolutely delicious, by the way); the hamburger/fries stand; poolside buffets; standard room service; library books or games; afternoon movies.
I took photos of the kids' area. There is one room for ages 3-8 and another for ages up to 17. I do not know if there is any charge here as I didn't have occasion to use it. I rarely saw kids on the ship, because they were kept busy all day with their own activity directors in these rooms. The rooms were really amazing and had all sorts of things to keep the kids busy. I think they had their own little pool also.
The midnight chocolate buffet seems to have been phased out. Instead, they have an afternoon dessert buffet around the main pool area.
This ship had two restaurants that required a surcharge (see above). There was also the Horizon Court Buffet (always available) and five dining rooms available for dinner (all with the same menu). One of those -- the International Dining Room -- was also open for breakfast from 7:30 a.m. until 9 a.m., and for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. I tried them once for breakfast (same food as the buffet, except you sit down and they serve you -- less choice, though). I also tried them for lunch, but was quite disappointed in the limited menu choices. The dining rooms all had marvelous food for dinner -- a choice of three appetizers, three soups, one salad, five entrees, and about five desserts. In addition, they had quite a few entrees and desserts that were standard and available all the time.
For medical needs, the liquor store onboard carries small packages of quite a few things, like aspirin, Motrin, Rolaids, Dramamine, etc. Surprisingly, the only thing I did not see was Immodium, or any kind of medicine for the bowels. The doctor onboard will happily give you an injection for about $100, so be sure to bring your own meds for Montezuma's revenge!
The water onboard is probably more pure than any you can get in the world -- bottled or otherwise. It goes through quite a number of filtrations. I took a water bottle and refilled it as necessary to carry around with me. If you take a tour in port, there is always bottled water you can purchase; my tours provided it for free at our stops.