This was the third cruise for my husband and me; our second on the Sovereign. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson cruised with us; their first cruise. We drove down to Jacksonville, FL on August 13th, supposedly in the direct path of Hurricane Charley. Fortunately for us, Charley changed his course and we experienced very little inclement weather. Our prayers are with those whose lives were forever changed on this date.
We drove on to Cocoa Beach, FL on the 14th and spent two nights at the Quality Suites. After sightseeing for two days, we drove to the Radisson Resort in Cape Canaveral and boarded their shuttle to the port. The shuttle, as always, was on time and our driver was extremely courteous and professional - to the port and on the day of disembarkation.
Embarkation - We arrived around 11:30 and were on the ship and in line for lunch no later than 11:50. Everything was fast and efficient. This was our second cruise aboard the Sovereign and she is just as grand as when we sailed her two years ago.
Cabins - The cabins were the same as before - small but with enough space for 2-3 people. You don't spend that much time in the cabin anyway. Gershwin, our cabin steward was the best. We never ran out of clean towels or ice, and everything was spotless. He noticed that I was collecting the souvenir cocktail glasses and brought me two special ones from the Schooner Bar. He was very attentive to our 13 month old grandson and made a special effort to learn his name and speak to him whenever he saw us. We received the traditional towel animals each night after the first, along with a mint on our pillow at turn down.
Dining - the Windjammer was great as usual. The food was always hot and there was always plenty to eat. Again, several of the crew would stop by each time we were there to speak with Titus. He eventually warmed up to them and would give them all hi-5's. We had late seating dinner in the Gigi dining room. Our waiter, Lantin, and Belman his assistant went above and beyond to ensure we had whatever we needed - and some things we didn't. They both gave special attention to Titus and treated him as they would an adult guest. After the first night, they knew what each of us enjoyed drinking and always brought our drinks w/o our having to ask. I had coffee on the first night with dessert, and after that Belman always brought a cup for me after dinner. Their attention was extra special; the best we've received. We were serenaded one night and played especially for Titus, who smiled sweetly at them as he gave them a tip. I could go on and on about our dining experience. It was one of the best parts of our cruise.
Entertainment - spectacular. The singers and dancers were amazing. The juggler had a very good act, and I couldn't stop laughing at the comedian during his act concerning walkie talkies. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was performed one night and Titus was beside himself. He really got into the music; probably helps that his mother has played a Michael Jackson cd for him since he was born.
CocoCay - Somehow one set of our excursion was misplaced. Not to worry - we headed for the corresponding huts on the island and our names were checked off a list and we were on our way to snorkeling and floating on beach mats in beautiful water. The water is the prettiest blue I've ever seen. We were on an early tender over and stayed until around 4:00. There were a lot of jelly fish floating around; due I guess to the storm the week before. My daughter and son-in-law took lots of pictures of rays and other fish, and we saw a baby barracuda swim by in the shallow water. The photographers chased us around taking pictures of Titus - and then we bought lots of them.
Nassau - one word - HOT!!! We've been in April and June, but the heat in August is so intense. We didn't buy many souvenirs due to having been before, but my daughter did buy a "My First Hard Rock" t-shirt for Titus. He was a little trooper the entire day. After shopping we hired a stretch limo to take us to Atlantis and the aquarium. Watching Titus here was worth the trip - it was like seeing everything through the eyes of a child. He couldn't be still; stamping his feet and waving his hands - he talked a mile a minute - too bad we couldn't understand a thing he said.
The day at sea was very relaxing. We walked around the ship; shopped; bought more pictures; drank more pina coladas, etc. I am always in amazement at the vastness of the ocean. There are no words to explain the feeling of standing on deck and seeing nothing but water - calm and serene.
Disembarkation - a nightmare as always. This is the worst part of the entire cruise - although I know that it is necessary. The Homeland Security checkpoint slows the process down more than before. I found it quite comical that there are so many check points on and off a cruise ship, but our borders are so free. I do appreciate, however, that the cruise industry has safeguards against anyone who should not be aboard the ship.
I would like to point out that although many people frown upon cruising with toddlers/small children - we had no problems whatsoever. Titus was a happy, friendly child. Crew members were constantly vying for his attention, which he happily gave. We did not encounter a single fellow cruiser who seemed put off that we were traveling with a toddler. Everywhere we went on the ship, we were approached by someone who had heard of this little boy with the curly hair. Our dinner partners were equally receptive, and on the one night Titus was a bit grumpy, they asked us to be patient with him. Let me add that he did settle down momentarily, or we would have removed him from the dining room.
This was so far the best cruise experience we've had. The Sovereign is an older ship, but she is still glorious. The worst part of the trip was the disembarkation, which I know is a necessity - that and the muster drill - which was very, very hot. All in all, the whole experience was wonderful, and I won't hesitate to cruise aboard the Sovereign of the Seas or any RCCL cruise ship again.
Thanks again to Gershwin, Lantin, and Belman for making this a memorable vacation.