The flight arrangements made through RCCL with Continental Airlines were quite acceptable. However, the embarkation procedures in Fort Lauderdale left much to be desired. From the buzz in the pier holding area, we were told that this was only the second time that this pier had been used and that the personnel working here were former Celebrity employees who were now part of the combined Celebrity/Royal Caribbean Family.
We got off of the bus from the airport to find a large room full of people sitting around not knowing what to do. There were a few employees "checking papers" and handing out the Bahamas immigration forms and debarkation surveys. After what seemed like an eternity, our papers were checked, found to be filled out correctly, and we got into a line which wound around the room. At the next door, we were escorted to rows of chairs. There we sat for another 30 minutes or so before our row was called. From there, we finally got into a line where our papers were once again gone over and our on-board credit card/room key/boarding pass was issued. We were then clear to get onto the ship. It had taken us 2 1/2 hours to get to this point! We wound our way onto the ship- needless to say, our welcome aboard photo showed three very tired people.
Once on board, it was like a new day had dawned. The ship was beautiful and the crew delightful. Our adjoining cabins were well-appointed and despite initial appearances, the storage space was quite adequate. Our cabin steward was a very nice lady who quickly figured out that one member of our party preferred to sleep quite late and never disturbed him. She also made the most creative pillow displays and turned our night clothes into imaginative shapes.
The My Fair Lady Dining Room was beautiful. The engine noise is most noticable there but was not annoying. The menu was varied, and our waiter and assistant waiter were able to give suggestions so that there was never a bad meal served to our table. We also ate in the Windjammer Cafe for some breakfasts and lunches which serves cafeteria style. The staff was quite attentive. The food was well attended to so that hot food was hot and fresh. A beverage cart circulated around so that you didn't have to get up for that second cup of coffee.
The entertainment selections were varied from musical reviews to magic to comedy. The Orpheum Theater is large enough with comfortable seating. There are only a few bad seats. For those who prefer a quieter section, avoid the upper level where the honeymooners seemed to congregate.
The lounges, bars, and public areas were all quite spacious. Music was played in most areas for all tastes. There are also quiet spaces such as the Library and Card Room.
The pools were nice but as usual there are never enough deck chairs. People are asked not to save chairs, but we discovered that some folks were out there as early as 9 am saving seats. If you are persistent, eventually someone tires of laying in the sun and chairs do open up.
The casino seemed to be layed out oddly and was rather noisy. None of us gambled, but the folks that we met at shows said that the casino was not paying out much. Not that that kept anyone out of there. Bingo was also very popular, but we did not play.
The ship has an area for computer usage. We sent a postcard and an email. You are charged for the time used while on the computer. The postcard was an additional charge, but my friends at work got a big kick out of the card with my picture on it. I would use the services again.
There were several medical mishaps on the ship while we were aboard so we got to see the speed at which the medical staff moves. Within what seemed like a minute from the overhead broadcast alert, the stretcher with doctor and nurse in tow were present and the patient was attended to. The hostess was called to be with the family, and the patient was handled very professionally so that the emergency only caused a minor amount of disturbance in the dining room.
This trip was an Eastern Caribbean trip with stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Nassau. The shore excursions were typical of those available on most lines. As one of our group had physical limitations, we did all of the sightseeing tours on each island. Those for St. Maarten and St. Thomas were very good. Unfortunately, Nassau really did not have much on there tour. For those who desire to shop, this trip is definitely for you. We did a small amount of shopping, but had decided prior to arrival exactly where we were going. Quite a few of the shops duplicated from island to island.
To keep us all oriented during the trip, the carpets in the elevators had the day of the week woven into them. We were all sad when carpet read "Saturday" because we new that our trip was near the end. Despite our embarkation difficulties, we would all highly recommend this ship and the line. We hope that the staff works out the embarkation situation soon.