I had read alot of posts on this cruise and on first time cruising before i embarked on my voyage July 6th. Alot of what i read, led me in the wrong direction and most was just un-true. I promised myself, on behalf of all first time crusiers, to post my expierences with the S.O.S 4 day Bahamas Cruise.
We spent the night prior at the Radisson Resort at the Port. Highly Reccomend it. Nice pool, bit crowded but scenic and reasonable. We got a hot tub suite for $120.Next morning got the free shuttle to port at 2pm. Arrived at curb in front of Departure building to confusion. You need to enter the bulding and head directly upstairs (provided you filled out all the on-line documentaion at www.rccl.com) Have your ticket books, drivers licenses, passports, and credit card page filled out and ready to go. Now you wait. Time to check out all the other faces. If your from NY like i am the first thing you notice is all the people from the southern USA. Lots of accents. After about 30 minutes we made it to the head of the line and breezed through customs to get on the boat. After a Couple of metal detectors and a quick picture for your sea pass, your on.
This is where my in-expierence was frustrating. No one is telling you "what now". People seem to be scrambling all over the place and i felt like there might me something i needed to do. Never the less, we navigated our way down to the 3rd deck and in fact found our room with no problems. First thing we noticed, NO Drawers. Guys if your bringing t-shirts and shorts, be prepared to live like you did in college, and pilling them up on the floor. Theres about 5 hangers i let my girl use but i know she needed more. We got most of our stuff put away and figured we'd book our excursions.
On our way in I noticed that they had several tables set up to represent the various services and departments the boat offered. You could buy the unlimited soda cup, book a trip to the spa, change your dinner seating etc. This is where the excursion desk was. We booked a Jet ski trip and Snorkeling in Coco cay, and the Black Beards Beach Break in Nassau. The total was $189. I was prepared to spend on this cruise but i felt weird about shelling out all that cash so fast. However you will learn from this post, this was only the begining of the 4 day spending spree.
We walked the 7th floor deck, had a smoke in the Scooner Bar next to the casino then headed back to the room to prepare for the Muster Drill. Again little to no information on what we were supose to do. We asked our Room Lady, and she said to head to Deck 7 and they would tell us. We snapped a few pics of us in our life Jackets and were waitng for an alarm or something. There was'nt one. We poked our head out and noticed the people were already heading up to get in line. Put you preserver on and go, dont be shy like us, everyone else is wearing them and look stupid as you! You get shuffled to the right deck and stand in line for about 5 minutes.
When this ended we returned to our room and stuffed the preservers under our beds and went to the deck for the Bon Voyage Party. This is exactly what i did'nt want on the cruise but had accepted that it was a part of the whole crusing mentality. The Cruise Directors (mobile DJ's w/ wireless mics) getting the crowd around the pool going with the limbo and electric slide. Very Cheesy but nice for all those Junior Crusiers and Cheese balls. We orderd a 2 mango daquris in what we found out were souveiner cups for $20. This was as expensive as it got as far as drinks go. This is when i noticed how the cruise ship staff works.
Service is what the preach over and over on this boat. And there right. There is always a waiter around. I never had to go to the bar. This is because the servers are paid a grutity on every order. The more orders they get the more the make. So they are always more than happy to bring you another. Enough on that. After spilling half my drink on my girlfriend due to the wind, we set off towards the horizon at what seemed like warp speed.
Headed back down to cabin which really isnt that small. Some would have you believe its ridiculous but its very tolerable for 2. Anymore and I wonder. Met our room attendent who like most employees spoke poor english but were charming and understandable.Tuned into the Info Chanell on the TV and began watching the Tipping video. I was amazed at the balls on these people. Im from NY, I tip, but on my own, i dont need to be informed on what they reccomend i tip. Anyways let me explain. RC (Royal Carribean) pays the waiters and attendents very little and encourage them to establish a releationship with the guests. So at the end of the cruise you tip them well. This is how they make the majorty of there money. We found that our attendent was invisable. The room was always clean and at night though and for turn down, the next days towels were twisted into animals. It was nice. Other than that, we never saw her.
Took a shower with the hand held shower head which had little pressure, but hey we were on a boat so we didnt expect much. It was nice to get cleaned up. I sort of stumbled out of the bathroom wondering how much alcohol was in my $10 Daquari. My girlfriend said she was feeling dizzy too. This is when me made the discovery that the boat's movement was messing with us. If you've never crusied before you dont know but its a weird sensation. Sort of like being Dizzy. Got dressed and Headed to 2nd dinner in the Kismet Room. Met our fellow table neighbors who were freindly but a bit older than us. Pleasent conversation but ackward. Our waiter was a dorky tool who was not as fun as the others. He had problems with drink orders and again like most, his English. Appetizer was yummy, salad sucked, bread was very crispy (weird), Entree was decent. This is when we met the Head Waiter (another guy they reccomend you tip). He skined my shrimp for me and gave us the same speech about service i over heard him give the prior table. It was nice though, he seemed sincere. They did a little song and dance and we made fun of our waiter who was just a tool, and had our desert wich also sucked. We said our goodbyes to our dinner friends and headed to the bar i think.
Caught the late night comedy show which was funny, had some drinks, and went to the Scooner Bar for a smoke. On that note, If you do smoke, crusing is cool with it. One whole side of the boat, even in the bars, is devoted to burners. Also in the Duty free shop you can buy 2 cartons of Marbs, Camels, Winstons and more for $31!!!! It was a great deal.Just slap it on your seapass and try to pretend like it didnt cost you anything. After the piano guy (great) finished and a few slow dances we headed to bed.
Before i get into the islands, i wanted to comment on just a few things.
THE SMELL- its true. there is a definate odor on the boat. Sort of a port o potty smell in some areas (the bathroom, on deck). Its not re-volting, sort of like the back of a hotel on a hot day by the dumpster. Sounds bad but you get use to it.
COFFEE- unlike what other posts said, its good. STRONG. available 24 hours (they say) on deck 7.
ATM- available outside the casino
INTERNET- available but very expensive. .50 a minute w/ online postcards at $5
PHONE- $7 a minute
SHOPPING ON BOAT- over priced and pointless. Only good deal is one Alcohol and Ciggs. Asprin, antacid, and post cards w/ free stamps available+
MAPS- infrequent and confusing. My girlfriend and I were at eachothers throats all week on "Which way to go" to anywhere. The boat is very confusing. Some stairs only go to the 5 floor and some go all 12. Finding the Windjammer Cafe from deck 3 can be difficult if you make a wrong turn.
STAIRS- be prepared to get a workout. Up and Down all day
JR CRUSIERS- those 18 and under. We found that these kids are everywhere. In fact id say that at least 50% of the crusie was teens. They are very predictable. Traveling in packs usually 4 guys and 2 girls. Doing shots of creamer and being very annoying. God bless em, i hope they get a kiss but they really have nothing to do.
SERVE STAFF- "Friendly F*%k You" - they were there to serve you but not Really as excited about it as they would have you believe.
PICTURES- just like disney. everywhere you go the snap the tourist pic. 9.95 each we bought 2. good luck finding it.
Day 2 Coco Cay
This was the highlight of the vacation. The island is beautiful. No natives, all cruisers and staff. We were on the 50 min jet ski tour at 11am and we need to be there by 10:50 for a training video. We arrived and signed in. The told us to wait like 10 mins and they would call us. We walked down the beach to the water and just lounged for a while. Its really beautiful. The water is really clear and warm. The beaches are white w/ thick sand and a steel drum band was playing in the distance. I had achieved what i was hoping for. We thought we heard them calling us so we headed to the Jet Ski shack. The instructors were mad at us for keeping them waiting. Whatever. We were off on a bad foot and i could tell that the instructor thought i was some kind of a smart ass or something. After the video i needed to get my bag, again his eyes rolled. Finally we got out on the boats and had to follow this guy aroud to different islands where he told us some history and facts. it was cool, sort of. The Jet skis are very topsy though. The encourage you to go top speed but follow them to avoid rocks. We almost bit it a couple of times but being the brave boyfriend that i am, i managed to balance tha boat before my girlfriend got wet. All in all the Jet ski tour was allright. My GF had never been on one before so its was a nice thing, and the chance to jet ski in the bahamas is rare so i splurged. However the Jet Ski instructors were jerk offs. Reminded me of Skate Guards at a roller skating rink. Cocky, twirling a whistle, all they needed was a jacket that said JET SKI STAFF to make them cooler than they were. However i guess there focus on saftey is approiate. Later that day apparently some one broke they're neck when the deviated from the line. Not to worry, RC makes you sign a full waiver. I wouldnt reccomend this excursion. TOO EXPENSIVE. you can jet ski in Nassau for $50 a 1/2 hour and you can do whatever you want and you dont have to watch any videos.
I had read that the food is disgusting on CoCo Cay but i found it to be perfact. In fact i was so pleasently suprised my girlfriend told me to shut up about it. Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Chicken, Mac Salad, beans etc. Picnic food. Water and Puch to drink. There were some flys but it really didnt matter. Theres plenty of shaded huts w/ tables and a steel drum band was playing. It was sort of like Disney meets Island Vacation. Little huts/ villages/shops/shacks and international employees running around yelling COCO LOCO HERE
Snorkeling is what to do. Realatively cheap to rent, if you have your own bring them, and prefact for that tropical icing on your bahamas vacation. We walked down a bit to get away from everyone and got some chairs on the water. Saw stingrays, sea urchints and schools of fish, it was amazing. Had some very expensive CoCo Locos which were good in more souvenir glasses and returned to the "Tender" (shuttle boat) at 4:15pm.
Decided to to eat at the windjammer as we did for all of our meals for the remainder of the vacation. The food was decent here. There is less service but you can sit by yourself and serve yourself too. Also we figured we get out of the guilt of not tipping our waiter/head waiter if we didnt dine in the main dining room. Hope the people we sat with didnt think it was them.
We went to bed early to prepare for our long day in Nassau.
We are not club/dance people but if you want the Music Man lounge plays top 40 dance stuff for those 18 and over till 3am. Emphasis on 18. I peeked into the club on night 3 and it was like a high school dance with beers. Kids can drink on the boat. 18 and over wine and beer. Its also easy to give minors alcohol, one really cares. Its a weird thing to see kids drinking but if i was 18, i would've had a feild day.
Day 3 Nassau
Bring cash. Prepare to say NO. Locals hound you to buy there stuff. My girl to get their hair braided and me to buy Coke and Weed. Maybe it was my tshirt or something. We went to the straw market and got harrassed but no big deal all you got to day is no, there is so many other people there that they move right on to the next person. Boughta Cuban cigar for 14 bucks and my girl got scamed into buying an $8 pack of colored ciggarettes by this lady who then asked to bum one off her. I had thought breifly about buying some w#ed for a doobie on the beach, the guy wanted $40 for a 1/4 oz which is way more than i was looking for, and i was nervous cause i had heard about the undercover bahamas cops doing that sort of thing. Plus i wasnt sure about bringing it on the boat (dogs maybe) so i didnt buy any. But it would have been very easy to get it on board. Security was very lax and they were only checking for metal. Nassau was nice but touristy, lot of walking and shops.
Had the Blackbeards Cay Excursion. Needed to be back to the pier (boat) by 12:50. It was okay. Very crowded. We bought snorkels and masks in Nassau for about $20. Drinks were expensive. They say theres free rum puch with your raffle ticket but they mean free fruit punch and $2 extra if you want rum in it. Laid on the beach and relaxed for a while until 3:45 when we had to get to the boat. FYI- We found out that if we had opted for the earlier ferry to Blackbeards Cay we could have stayed all day. Also this is where the Jet SKing is only $50 a 1/2 hour. Some locals come buzzing over from another island and offer the service. Be careful, they warn you that Bahamas dont regulate water sports, and the thought to renting a jet ski from a 12 year old was a kind of weird. But if you have to jet ski, do it here.
It was Formal night, we blew it off and had dinner at the windjammer, got dressed and went to Atlantis. Taxi $4 per person, no problems. It was fun to say yes after a long day of saying no. Got to the hotel around 6pm. I reccomend coming later no crowds and the hotel staff isnt loking for hotel wristbands. We breezed into the aquarium, and on the the beach for one of the most amazing sunsets Ive ever seen. Took some great boyfriend/girlfriend pictures and best of all no one was around. We had paradise all to our self. Walk the grounds with your camera. The hoel is beautiful and free. Its was easy to spend 3-4 hours just browsing the pools and beaches. Taxi back to ship $8 sort of scary. Driver took us through the ghetto. Back to boat by 9:30p.
My girlfriend and i commented that we had not really caught a buzz of any of the drinks thus far so we thought that gin might help. Began drinking Choclate Martinis for the Love and marriage game show. The cruise director is a total cheese ball but the show was clever and very entertaining. The contestants were funny except for the young couple who were annoyingly gay. Immediately after that Lenny Welch (a 60's pop star with two hits that were remakes) performed. We didnt know who he was but by the time we left, i bought a cd and had my picture with him. He was great. He is a star. His show was really for older people but the songs were beautifully performed and Lenny interjected smart & classy jokes and stories with the big band behind him which made for an extremely enjoyable vegas louge style show. Now i remind you i was about 3 martinis into at this point and had broken a glass, so im still not sure if he was really that good but i remember it being truly excellent.
Woke up sweating, found some asprin (dont forget to bring) and slept till 11 on our last day they described as a "FUN DAY AT SEA".
At this point we were really beging to get sick of the boat. We deterimned that the ports were the best part of the crusing expierince. Jr Cruisers, annoying southern people, spending so much money on sea pass, stairs, weird dining hours, crowds at the pool and lame pool games led us to take a nap to, eventhough we wont admit it, pass the time. Played bingo for $35 bucks, came close to winning $2000 but some fat southern lady took it. Had dinner at the Windjammer and prepared our luggage for the pickup between 8-12am.
On the last morning We left our attendants tip in the envelope on the desk instead of handing it to her. We walked by her on our way out and she snubbed us hard. They reccomend 3.50 per person per day which works out to be 28 bucks. I was glad then we left her 22. We were one of the last to de-board. Customs was non-existant. Wish i would made a purchase in Nassau. Picked up bags, dropped card into a box and we were off to our rental car shuttle.
i would only cuise again if it were 18 and over and had made more stops at more islands. We ended up spending close to $500 on the seapass and we really didnt drink that much. 1 or 2 at the most. Being trapped on the boat kind of sucked too. If your into Drinking by the pool by day, gambling in the casino in the evening and drinking and going to the club by night, you'll love this cruise. Otherwise you might wanna find a hotel to stay at instead. Overall we gave the cruise a B. With the highlight being Coco Cay.