Last Feb. I was reading all the reviews before my March cruise. Some of the reviews weren't pleasant, and some sounded wonderful. After the cruise I realized your everyone's experience will be different especially depending on your expectations. My experience was one of the best and most relaxing vacations I ever had. First let me explain I am an early 20s female, this was my first cruise, and I went with my boyfriend and two other friends. So I didn't know what to expect my idea of a cruise was a clean slate.
On the review I read about how one of the cruisers decided to stay at a local Radisson at the port. They have a cruise package where you stay the night before your cruise and you can leave your car at the hotel for free as well as a complementary breakfast and ride to the port. This was great since the cost of the hotel equalled the cost of leaving the car at the port for 5 days.
DAY1- We arrived at the port early in order to get on the boat early enough to explore before it left port. We got on in less than 20 mins other than the fact that one of my friend's bags was searched because he had tweezers in them. At the entrance they were selling drink packages, and giving away sample cups of booze. We went to our cabins on the second floor and thankfully we got one cabin per couple because the rooms were small. We met out cabin steward, and his name was Derrick. We went the the Windjammer and piled our plates with a lot of really good food. At dinner we met our waiter named, Mertol, and when my boyfriend asked for his opinion as to which entree he should choose Mertol replied, "Why not get all?" and that was the sentiments of dinner every night whether or not it was escargo or steak we could get as many entrees, appetizers, or extras of whatever we wanted. We ate the price we paid for our cruise in food, and some wonderful food to top it off.
DAY2- We were in Coco Cay by the time we were up. The interior cabins are great because you sleep in the complete dark without the morning sun shining in your room. We got a wake up call at 8:00am because we were going Scuba diving that morning and decided to get dinner in the dining room. We were once again blown away by the quality of the food. The diving was great and completely worth the money. If you decide to go diving I suggest the dive in Coco Cay because it is short enough to still be able to do whatever you want, and still be able to see the beauty of the Bahamas under water. We took our own snorkel gear because we didn't want to pay to rent it if we had our own at home, and we snorkelled some after and walked around the island. There are some beautiful beaches that are isolated if you continue to walk away from the launch. Drink the Coco Locos and asked for extra rum The best drink-ever! Overall it was a great day topped off by a great meal. When we got back Derrick had left the much talked about towel animals in my cabin.
Day3- In the Bahamas and this time we decided to sleep in and get up late since the day was long in the Bahamas. We could have slept until noon except at 9am the captain sounded an alarm and spoke over the loud speaker to the crew members in the cabins. So we got up went to the islands that were really breezy, so take a windbreaker if you go in March. We walked around looking for cheap liquor. Word to the wise don't buy at the first store you see; look at a few that sell what you want and get the best price. The first store is like the first gas station off the interstate the price is high because they know it is the first one you see. We went to Atlantis by taxi but the water taxi is the same price and you are less likely to have a maniac driver. We looked at the beautiful aquariums in the dining room, but apparently if you can get into the pool area they have a water slide that goes through a shark tank (we didn't see that). But the hotel is amazing and should be seen if you have time. We got back to the boat in time for formal night. My friends didn't bring formal dress after reading these reviews and felt completely out of place. My suggestion for formal night is what I wore which was perfect: A nice very dressy drees, it doesn't have to be your prom dress though some were that dressed up. I wore a red strapless dress that went to about mid-calf the bottom half was poofed out like a prom dress. My boyfriend wore a bottom up shirt with khakis and a dark jacket. And that was very appropriate for the guys. But girls are harder, going back to girl dress think of a dress you would have worn to a very nice high school semi-formal (if you are older bring the style into the current decade). That night they had a chocolate buffet at midnight, I missed it because they boat was a rockin and I don't mean party-wise. And I was very thankful for my 2nd floor room because the rocking to a minimum down there while the pool was rocking so hard the pool had waves of water pour out onto the deck. Bring motion sickness tablets even if you don't get sea sick, or if you are worried about drinking and taking those tablets (a big suggestion against that) buy the wrist pressure point bracelets. Yes you will look like funny but hey you will be enjoying yourself.
Day4- My personal favorite because we had no where to rush off to. There were classes on how they cooked some of the favorite dishes on the cruise as well as recipe books, wine tasting classes. Very relaxing. We said bye to Mertol, and everyone hugged him since he was leaving to go back to Turkey the next day. We said bye to Derrick and he left us 2 towel animals that night. Very sad day knowing we were going home the next morning.
Day5- The ship was docked when we woke up. We got our things and waited 2 hours for our color to be called. Picked up our luggage off the belt,and walked by a person with a "customs" shirt on.
Suggestions: -Don't find wierd ways to hide to booze you sneak on. We put our liquor in water bottles, gatorade, coke bottles and etc. They don't check! Plus our friend just put his booze in his luggage and they never said anything. Also be ready when getting off the island with liquor they will take it from you until the last night so don't plan on drinking it on the ship. Let me tell you even though we brought stuff with us we bought every drink on the ship and never touched what we brought.
-Don't drive down Interstate 95 before, after, or during Bike Week in Daytona (we came from north Florida so we drove). We were in the same place for 30 mins which made the drive twice as long.
-Have a great time and an open mind. Yes the rooms are small and the bathroom sometimes stinks. And the shower is the smallest one you will ever bathe in. Here is how to battle that. Only sleep two people to a room, and take air fresheners and close your bathroom door when not in use. Very small things to make the journey a lot more comfortable.
-Go to the shows they host. They had one gameshow (forgot the name) where they required groups and certain things from the audience. Suggestion bring a big purse with everything you brought from home. It was the most fun and we were on the floor laughing. But don't bring your children and don't be a stick in the mud it is all in good fun. Also go to the newly-wed game and the other shows they put on every night.
-Read the itinerary every night that they slip under the door, and circle or highlight everything you want to do. But don't get frustrated if you don't do everything. Just remember it is a vacation.
-Get the lowest floor as possible that has the cabin you want. Because as said above if the boat is rocking a lower floor will be more stablized. And the younger kids/collge kids party and run around on the mid/upper floors and can get very loud. The lower floors are virtually silent.
-Eat in the dining room as often as possible. Yes the windjammer is good if you miss the dining room times or for a good snack and the food there is good, but not a good as the dining room.
-You will be blown away by the superior service and dedication of the RCCL staff. And yes remember the tip money it is easy to forget and spend everything you have. But most of these people don't make much outside of the tips and send everything they make to their families back home.
SORRY this review is so long! Happy Cruising!