EMBARKATION: The line for the people who had completed everything online wasn’t any shorter than the one for the people who hadn’t thought ahead. This was a part of the cruise that I did not enjoy. We carried our luggage 3 terminals down to where we could give it to a porter. By the time we got to the gate to get in line we were already worn out. All in all it probably only took 30 minutes to board, but after a 12 hour drive to Miami, we were exhausted already.
ON THE SHIP: When we got onboard, we had no idea where to go. The people standing in the lobby were not much help either, we had to just search our way around. The good thing was that we boarded one floor below our room, so it wasn’t a long way to go.
CABIN: We had an interior cabin with no port hole, but it wasn’t as small as most people said. We had enough room to do what we needed to do. The beds were actually comfortable. The only problem I had is that I couldn’t tell what time of day it was when I woke up. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and think that it was morning. Next time, I would at least spring for a porthole room.
FOOD: We were very impressed with the food. We ate breakfast in the Windjammer everyday. It is buffet style and has eggs (not great), breads, rolls, pastries, bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles, cereals, grits, yogurt, etc. They even have an omelet station, which had very good eggs. Juice, water, and coffee were always available in the mornings. Lunch was either in the Windjammer or at port. Once again it was buffet style, but the food was more gourmet, with salads, soups, breads, pastas, and meats. Very good and hot despite what some people in previous reviews have said. At dinner we ate in the dining every night. They offered appetizers (chilled soups, hot soups, onion tartes, shrimp cocktail, etc), salads (cesar or house), entrees (duck, lamb, shrimp, steak, chicken, vegetarian, pasta, sides included mashed potatoes & veggies, breads), and desserts (fruit plates, chocolate cake/pie/ice cream, tiramisu, fondue, etc.) Tea, lemonade, water, and coffee are always available at no extra charge, or you can pay for soft drinks, wine, or mixed drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. They offer the dining room menu from 3pm until late in the night. At other times they offer salads, snacks, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. You can also order pastries, cereals, yogurt, and fruits to be brought to you at a specified time in the mornings instead of going out of your room to eat breakfast. There were also midnight buffets (chocolate & Caribbean) and at any time you could find pizza or something to snack on. You cannot go hungry on this ship.
SERVICE: Everywhere we went on the boat the employees were extremely helpful and nice. They directed us where to go if we were lost, offered us drinks, and in general went out of their way to help us. Our dining room staff and stateroom staff were all great.
PORTS OF CALL: We went to Key West first. It was a nice town, but we weren’t that impressed with it. We can now say that we have visited it and I think we got it out of our systems. Second up was Nassau, Bahamas. This town was very dilapidated and poor looking. I was not impressed with the straw market and have no desire to return to Nassau. Across the beach from Nassau was Paradise Island. Now this is a place you would want to visit, even though we didn’t. We took the glass bottom boat tour ( I recommend this, it was very fun) and they sailed us by Paradise Island and we got to see where all of the stars have homes there. (Nicholas Cage, Michael Jordan, and Oprah Winfrey) I would love to stay on Paradise Island sometime. The last stop was CocoCay. This was the best stop of the entire cruise. This is a private island that it owned by Royal Caribbean. All you do is play in the crystal clear ocean, snorkel if you want (very fun) and lay in the sun. We got EXTREMELY sunburnt with 45 SPF sunscreen on that had been applied 3 times. I recommend taking a higher SPF and slather it on if you burn at all. The ship brings out a BBQ lunch to the island (ribs, hamburgers, hotdogs, salads, and desserts). This was good, but not the best food on the cruise. CocoCay has a small straw market on the island that I enjoyed much more than the one in Nassau. It was cleaner and the people weren’t as pushy. Prices seemed a little better too.
SHOWS: We only went to two shows while we were on the ship, but we enjoyed both of them. We went to the comedian show and the last night had a show called “Boogey Wonderland”.
SHOPPING ONBOARD: The ship didn’t have amazing prices onboard, but if you were buying alcohol, the prices were really good.
EXCURSIONS: We decided before we went on this cruise that we would do one excursion in each port to save on money and still get to see some of the places we were visiting. In Key West we did a tour called “A Taste of Key West”. This was a really good tour that took you all around the city. You stopped at 5 different places to sample food from them. We got Conch Fritters (Ughhhh, not my cup of tea), mahi mahi fingers (amazing, a new fave of mine), Coconut Shrimp (yummy), Key Lime Pie (not my thing, but my husband loved it), and at a very cool little place called “Peppers of Key West” we got to taste all kinds of pepper sauces. (the asian marinade was so good I bought a bottle and got their web address to buy more). www.peppersofkeywest.com. In Nassua, Bahamas we went on the glass bottom boat tour, which I already stated that I really liked. You get to sit and enjoy the breeze with a tour guide telling you about all of the sites you are passing and they give a complimentary rum or fruit punch (rum one is yummy). Last, but not least, in CocoCay, Bahamas we rented the snorkeling gear. You get to use this all day at your leisure. This was very fun once you figure out how to keep water out of your mask.
DISEMBARKATION: Getting off of the ship was pretty much the same as getting on. It was tiring, hot, and long. But hey, when you get to your car it feels SOOOOOOO wonderful to get to sit down. My advice is to pack light, and try not to carry anything but your pocketbook and wallet.
Have a great cruise and try to relax, because you won’t enjoy it if you are tensed up!