I surprised my husband for his birthday with a cruise on the Sovereign of the Seas leaving Port Canaveral on 3/4/01. I had arranged the time off from his work and included his sister and best friend in the plans. It was a very well planned execution , he had no clue til Friday afternoon when he came home from work that we were leaving the next day for Orlando. We picked up his best friend and wife and flew out from Dulles on Saturday PM 3/3/01. Had the feeling that this would not be a routine trip when the Delta flight was delayed due to them having to retrieve a part from Detroit to fix the plane,,,, all went well though and we arrived in Orlando about 45 min. behind schedule. My husbandsı sister was arriving on a separate flight and she surprised him in the baggage claim area.
Orlando Florida March 3rd, 2001 We phoned the La Quinta Inn and Suites Airport North to bring their van to pick us up. Took about 10 min and they shuttled us 10 min to their hotel. Checked in and went to the TGIFridays across the street for dinner that night. Weather was a wonderful 82 degrees and humid. After the dinner we took a late night swim in the pool, wonderfully warm, felt like a huge hot tub. Hotel is very clean, comfortable and well laid out. Good location, round trip shuttle service to airport, about 2 yrs old. Has decent continental breakfast in the morning. Only negative to location is the lack of any convenience store nearby, we had hoped to get some soda and water to bring aboard the Sovereign. Closest place was 2 miles away, couldnıt get the shuttle driver to detour. Rate at La Quinta was $62 plus tax with AAA discount.
Day 1- March 4th, 2001 Welcome Aboard! We returned to the airport at 10 AM and met the RCCL bus rep near by the Delta baggage claim. She sent us to the ground transportation station B-5... Our bus arrived about 10 min later, went to several other ground transportation spots until filled. We left for the port about 10:30... The blue skies of the morning changed to rain on the way east. Kept hoping we would be ahead of the clouds. Arriving in Port Canaveral was a thrill. Can see the Disney Wonder, Carnival Fantasy and the Royal Sovereign all docked ready for their new load of passengers. Our bus let us off at the terminal #9-- we were escorted into the building and sent up an escalator to the check in desks. There were roped off lines of passengers waiting to board. Probably about a 10 minute wait until we made it to the front of the line, have all your cruise doc. the birth certificates, photo idıs ready for inspection, also need a credit card for your supercharge acct. unless you are making a cash deposit. Check in took about 5 minutes, they give you 1 room key to open your cabin--you will find others inside the cabin for your use. One of our friends had these parachute pants with multi pockets and took several attempts to make it thru the security gate, he ended up being hand scanned. Had our embarkation photo taken..SMILE you are now officially on the ship!!!!!!! We were on the ship sometime around noon, the crew member in the centrum near the gangway told us the cabins were not ready yet, to go up to the Windjammer on deck 11 for a buffet lunch. We tried the miniature glass elevators near the centrum,,but the elevator would only bring us up to deck 7-- had to transfer to the other elevators to complete the trip up to deck 11. The windjammer is a very efficient place, the best of the 3 ships we have sailed on logistic wise. There are 4 buffet lines , and the tables and chairs are located on 2 levels, there is also a nice deck area out in the front of the ship that you can eat on (if you are not in the rain or wind like we were!!) Welcome aboard food is plentiful, not spectacular. There was roast beef carved to order, several hot entrees, mashed potatoes, several salads, rolls butter, only 2 deserts that were not remarkable. I would give the food an average rating... After this first meal, we looked a bit on the top deck, went to our cabins for a look around and then to the centrum to have a quick!!! tour of the ship. Got a 15 min. overview of the main public areas of the ship but with the rain we could not tour the outdoor areas on the 11/12 decks.
First Impressions: I was pleasantly surprised with the visual appearance of the ship, most of the public areas were nicely furnished, the carpet was in good condition, brass polished, all was well maintained,..there was not much evidence of anything drastically out of order, paint was fresh on all parts of ship. There were some lingering sewage odors in the cabin areas, that was better when we were out of port but still would be an unattractive smell at times during the cruise. 2 of the cabins for our group were on the Tween Deck (#6) both inside, ours had new carpeting and was already made into a queen size bed when we came aboard. The cabin size was smaller than I expected, we had sailed on the Nordic Empress 2 yrs ago and didn'tı think they could be any smaller. The closet was about 1/2 of what we had on the Nordic..this one was about 3 feet long and had an assortment of hangers that appeared to be leftovers from previous cruisers...just tacky. There was 1 shelf in the corner of the closet. Next to that was a desk/vanity with a mirror, 4 very tiny open shelves on the left side, and 4 shallow drawers next to where the chair went. On the desk were 6 cans of soda ($1.50 plus tip if you use) and a bottle of water ($2.95 if you use) The queen bed took up the rest of the cabin area except for a narrow about 2 ft. space along the wall near the desk. The TV was in the corner above the bed next to the bathroom. The TV carried several movie channels, CNN, ship news and a couple other satellite offerings. The movies were scheduled every 2 hours about 4 choices each day. The bathroom itself was about 6 ft. By 3 ft. the shower stall was @ 3ft. square, with a fabric shower curtain with a CLING factor that you just have to experience to believe. The main bathroom area was fine but there was a disgusting amount of mildew on the grout in the shower stall area. I had to fight the urge to ask the cabin attendant for bleach or soft scrub to have it removed. I ended up closing the shower curtain every day so that I wouldnıt have to look at it inches from my face when sitting on the toilet. The sign behind the toilet says to push the button to flush the toilet, but you have to pull it up instead. This is not normal plumbing, an ear popping whoosh will be heard each time you flush, but the results are not always as expected...seemed to be a very weak flushing mechanism and our toilet stopped working the last morning of the cruise. Our cabin attendant Glenn stopped by to introduce himself and gave us a letter with his hours and phone #-- we had a little card to place in the door when we left for breakfast and dinner to have him make our bed/turn down at night. We found the location on the tween deck to be very convenient. The other cabin for our group was on the show time deck #5, same size as the tween deck ones but did not have the new carpeting. Overall, the public areas were in good condition, the cabins compact and comfortable bedding...except for mildew, I was satisfied with the accommodations.
Muster Drill-- we were sent to the rainbow lounge about 4:15 on deck 7 for our mustering station. We brought the life jackets along and they noted the # of passengers in our cabin on their check in sheet. We did get safety instructions on using the life vest but we never did find out what lifeboat we would be assigned to. I imagine we were in one of the pod inflatable units on the deck #7-- but this was not confirmed...I was teasing our cruise buddies that RCCL would let us in the raft for free, but would want the blue cruise supercharge card to charge $5.95 for to inflate the raft with air when we would be abandoning ship..this was in response to their expensive welcome aboard drinks they were hawking in the windjammer at the welcome aboard buffet.
SailAway-- The Sail away party was canceled due to rain all afternoon. We were on deck 7 when the Disney wonder left port. Our engines warmed up for about 15 min. before we finally left port at 5:30 PM...no music or fanfare made this seem a very routine experience. They didnıt even blow the ship whistle or anything...
Luggage-- Our luggage arrived on deck 6 fairly early (4PM) and was put in the area near the elevators. We decided to just take it to the cabin ourselves instead of waiting for the porters to bring it there. We were able to get most of the clothes hung in the closet, a few items in the drawers, the rest I kept in one suitcase we could slide from under the bed. I was glad that we only had the 2 of us in the cabin this time instead of 4 like previous cruises... I donıt know where the stuff would go for more than 2 passengers.
Dining Room-- We were assigned to main seating table 037 in the Kismet Dining room on deck #4. Our table originally was set for 12 people and was a very crowded fit. There was our group of 5 at the table along with 2 other couples. After the first night they changed the table to seat 10 and it was much more comfortable. The menu the first night was Caribbean food...Our waiter Maruti was from India. Very competent he made the dining experience a very pleasant one. This made the trip for us. Our assistant Ot was new as an assistant waiter but very eager to learn his job and be helpful. I had Jerk Chicken for my entree, the chicken was tender and very tasty. The dining room staff did a show for us that evening, I feel that this is demeaning to these staff members, I donıt think they should have to perform in the dining room, they have paid cruise staff for that... I would rather just have a chance to converse with our waiter and enjoy the meal with out the ³plastic² entertainment. We also met the head waiter, he was pleasant as well but not important in our cruise experience.
Cruise Photographs- there is a photo display area on deck #3 where you can purchase the many posed pictures the Sovereign photographers have taken. We did buy our group embarkation picture and purchased the frame with the ship photo to put it in for a reasonable $14.95. Most of the photographs were taken in an 8x10 size that they price at $19.95. The smaller strange 6x9 size which is difficult to find frames for was priced at $9.95. It gets very crowded in this display area and it is not easy to locate the pictures of your group. We only bought that one photograph, tho several others were pretty good ones of our group.
Welcome Aboard Show-RCCL dancers and singers put on a very impressive music show. I thought the vocalists were extremely talented. The lounge is pretty crowded but we managed to always find seats on the right hand side near the stage.. this was good for our group that didnıt always get there at the same time. The cruise director John Blair was one we were familiar with as he had been aboard the Nordic Empress when we went to Bermuda 2 yrs ago. Enjoyed this first taste of the RCCL entertainment staff.
Shore Excursions- Our group signed up for the Black beards Cay beach break at the shore excursion desk. (scheduled to leave from deck #1 at 11:30AM the next day) Be sure to have the staff members staple the excursion forms together for any group you might have so that you can be kept together. We didnıt give a 2nd choice as the staff member said this trip should be available. We decided to wait to sign up for the shore excursion and snorkel stuff f in Coco Cay. Tickets are delivered in an envelope to your cabin that same evening.
Bedtime--we had a long day and turned in about midnight after a evening walk aboard the ship. Except for a coughing attack from a lingering cold, I had a comfortable nights sleep, the bed was very soft with several pillows for elevation. We left the bathroom door closed with the light on which left just enough light to illuminate the cabin so you could navigate in the dark safely. We had brought along an alarm clock so we could find the time, there is also time available on the television if you do not bring a clock.
Day 2 Nassau March 4th, 2001 Woke up early to walk out on deck 7 and see the weather. Was black clouds and windy at 7AM. Went back to cabin and watched Meet the Parents on the TV, checking every half hour for weather, hoping for improvement. Went up to Windjammer for breakfast. Not that wonderful of a breakfast buffet. There are premade omelets and scrambled eggs. I didnıt see toast, bagels etc. that you could make. There were assorted pastries, donuts and muffins. Apple, Orange and Cranberry juice, Milk, yogurt, fresh fruit, cottage cheese. Small boxes of cereal, some hot cereals, grits, sausage gravy. Bacon and Sausage in bins. Missed the made to order omelet station that we had on other cruises. Weather was still cloudy and not too hot, lots of wind. Watched the ship sail into port from the top deck. The sun decided to come out just bout the same time as we arrived into Nassau. Was interesting to watch the tug boats and ship maneuver into the slot for our ship. I called to room service to order sandwiches for our trip a few minutes before 11--was told I had to order after 11 for sandwiches even tho this was supposed to be a 24 hour menu that I was using for room service. I went down to the excursion desk to confirm our excursion. Found out that most of the water based excursions in Nassau were canceled. Got a new form with the ones available circled and went to find our group to make a new decision. Think RCCL should have some way for those with canceled excursions to have priority for rescheduling them. Just had to wait in line and see what we could do. Group decided to go on the Yellow bird party boat , but after going back to the excursion desk to book it, they only had 3 openings on it and we needed 5. At that point we decided to do Nassau on our own. Went up to Windjammer for a quick lunch, Lines were slowly moving, surprised at number of passengers on board as they had cleared the ship for Nassau and people were able to go ashore. More typical cafeteria food, had a cheeseburger and decent key lime pie for desert. Got our group together, didnıt know what we would end up doing, brought towels, swim suits and sunscreen in case we found a beach to lounge on. Off the ship we were approached by this van/taxi driver Johnny B. Good. He offered us a tour of Nassau for $20 per person, we tried to bargain him down to less and he agreed if he could find some other passengers to split the fare. After several attempts , we told him we would pay the $20 per person for our own van trip. (only 4 out of our group was there, my husbandıs sister decided to stay on the ship) We drove thru the downtown area with Johnny pointing out the different government buildings. Next stop was the water tower. Ugly cement round tubular structure with an ancient elevator. We squeezed into the elevator after paying the .50 per person admission. The elevator operator was also the tour director on top of the water tower,,, he also stated after his speech that this was a recording and If you enjoyed it please give me a tip.... The view atop the water tower was wonderful, we got good photographs of the ships in port, Atlantis resort etc. Next to the tower were some flea market type stalls with Bahamas merchandise, We took a quick look at the fort and cannons. Got in the van and went by the Queenıs staircase. Then Johnny took us to several neighborhoods, the first was very humble and poor, the 2nd more middle class and then to the more expensive housing, Johnny gave commentary about salaries, government taxation, supplements, etc. that helped us understand more of Bahamian life. We took a detour to the local grocery store where we stocked up on sodas and water enough to save us $$ to pay for the tour and avoid the RCCL ripoff on board prices for the same. Next we went to the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. This is some hotel!!! We toured thru the lobby, casino, saw the aquarium on the inside and outside, just the publicı areas which left me wanting for more... someday!!!!! Their lagoon and beach areas were very nice., made us wish we could put on our suits and pretend to be at a tropical place. (if we had known our trip to Coco Cay would not be, we probably would have) After visiting Atlantis, Johnny took us back to port, let 2 of us off near the straw market and 2 were taken to the gangway of the Sovereign. I was one of the straw market departures. I planned on a half hour power shopping trip thru there to pick up presents for the 3 kids we had left at home. I had read many very depressing stories about Nassau, how dirty it was, how hassled the ship passengers were in the market, the poor selection of merchandise, I was surprised how easy this shopping expedition was. I bargained for each item without any hassle, made it out of the market which was mobbed with shoppers in about 30 min. and I was satisfied with the experience. I was only once asked if I wanted my hair braided, I felt safe and comfortable there, I had a much more negative experience in Cozumel at their market last year. After the market I went in search of conch fritters that I had read about on someoneıs review. We were given directions to a restaurant near the Dunkin Donuts called Conch Fritter, nice place and good fritters tho the pina colada was not that wonderful. We rushed out of there and headed back to the Sovereign so that we could make our early dinner Captainıs party in the Follies Lounge. On the way we passed what I think must be the conch fritter place I read about on the internet. It is located on the waterway near the ships in tiny shack with conch fritter and pina coladaıs on it in spray paint....probably a stomach bug in waiting place but if I ever get back, I am gonna try a fritter from there. Ship security checks your blue cruise credit card but didnıt check any of the bags we brought back on the ship.
Captainıs Party We got back in time to dress up for the Captainıs party located in the Follies lounge. We arrived to trays of drinks, I had whiskey sour tho you could make a request and they would make what you wanted from the bars. There were small bowls of mixed nuts on the tables. Entering the lounge you were photographed with the Captain and also as a couple with this pedestal with some fern on it. I could do without the posed picture...especially since they like to make them in the large $19.95 8x10 size. Captain introduces his officers on the stage. Then time for dinner.
Formal Night Had good filet minion this night for dinner, donıt remember the other choices. Food and service were excellent as usual. You could order several entrees, appetizers etc. as wanted. In the dinning room you could get soda without charge from the assistant waiter. Good bread too. Yummy Deserts. Dinner was the highlight of every day on the cruise. We enjoyed getting to know the other 2 couples at the table as well as share in the activities of the day with our group.
Show time: Tonight the Not so Newlywed game was a hoot. Nothing like strangers willing to act like fools to make you laugh. John Blair did a good job as host of the show which has actual questions designed by Bob Eubanks. El Gaucho was scheduled to be the act on the ship but either they or their equipment did not make it to Nassau. The comic Tom Drake filled in admirably for them. We had seen El Gaucho before on Nordic and had been looking forward to their unique talent. Mr. Drake was a low key not too raunchy type of comedian. His humor has been gleaned by listening to many passengers stories on his many cruises over the years and gave us a lot of laughs that night.
Dancing under the Stars: the calypso band was playing in the windy chilly pool side party on deck 11. There were many cruisers line dancing and having a good time. We went into the Windjammer for the Caribbean Buffet. Salads, meats, some hot entrees, several desserts...was a lot of food choices but not much that we wanted to eat. Sampled some of the different dishes and then watched the crazies on the deck a bit. Was really too cold and windy to really hang out on deck.
Off to Bed-- arrived in cabin and found the compass newspaper with the schedule for the next day at Coco Cay. I went to bed hoping that we would have our day on the beach there, tho the wind and cold at Nassau was making it difficult for me to really believe it would happen. Had a nice map of the island and information about all of the activities that should be available on the island. I was psyched, as I had read that they usually announced the night before when they Coco Cay was canceled...I really wanted that day on the island!! I think that RCCL didnıt want to let anyone know on Mon. night that Coco Cay was no way as it would make the passengers grumpy and less likely to spend $$ on the ship.
Day 3-- Coco Cay No Way, trapped at Sea March 6, 2001 Woke up at 4:45 am and could feel the boat really rocking. I got dressed and went to the pursers desk to get some Bonine to make sure I wouldnıt be sick. Went back to sleep and then awoke at 8:20. Called to the excursion desk to confirm the Coco Cay excursions. Found out that Coco Cay would be canceled and announced at 8:30AM. I questioned whether or not we could have our day there on Wed. instead, said no cuz the Majesty would be there at Coco Cay that day. Got dressed and went to the pursers desk to complain about the missing Coco Cay and request that we be rescheduled for Wed. Told couldnıt do it cuz of Majesty, I said I knew that they had done it before on the Christmas and New Years weeks (when passengers pay top $$$, RCCL finds a way for them to make Coco Cay, the rest of the year, tough luck) Majesty has 3 ports for their 4 night cruise and to me it made more sense for them to miss Coco Cay instead of us with only Nassau on the schedule. Didnıt get anywhere with the purser staff member who just gave me a business card with the RCCL customer service # to call to vent my disappointment. I was a very frustrated soul!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Coco Cay was what I had fantasied about for most of the winter, I had read it was often missed due to rough seas...but I really couldnıt accept easily that it would not be...I kept hoping that they would change their minds , or change the itinerary--- that some other port would be substituted. Announcement came and voiced that we would have a bonus day at Sea.... revised compass schedule would be available at purserıs desk. Since I was the cruise planner for our group I was feeling bad about having them on this disappointing cruise....but they were understanding. Went to breakfast in the dining room which was a treat compared to the Windjammer breakfast. After that went to Bloody Mary Bingo in the Follies lounge... they promoted this $1.50 bloody Mary special as a make up for missing Coco Cay but there were only 3 waiters in the lounge and it was impossible for you to get an order..after waiting for 45 min. we finally got a waiter to take our order. Seems that they should have had premade drinks at the bar available for all the bingo players to pick up as needed. Just another frustration that I didnıt need that morning. I had read that previous didnıt make it to Coco Cay passengers were given several hours of free drinks as compensation, but that did not happen on this cruise. Revised compass schedule had changed the Olympic games to pool deck, added several movies to the lounges, cooking demonstration and a comedy talk by Tom Drake--I guess it was all they could do but I was not satisfied with the substitution --not a bit!!! Didnıt win at Bingo and felt sorry for the person who was supposed to win the Jackpot of $1800 but her friend had removed the paper chadsı and it couldnıt be verified...they really were having a BAD day!!!!! Had a good lunch in the dining room, open seating but our group had itıs own table. Waiters were attentive at lunch and didnıt even grumble about missing their break that they expected to have with everyone on Coco Cay...not today!!!!!!!! After lunch saw the movie Space Cowboyıs in the Cinema. Deck 2 nice sized theater with stadium type seating-- enjoyed that except No popcorn!! Was teasing the waiter in the dinning room that I wanted popcorn for the movie and he claimed there was none on the ship..never did see any either. Went up to the Viking Lounge for Margarita Madness at 5PM... hot salsa and chips were available too.
Internet- there is a small internet cafe on deck #4 between the purserıs desk and the Kismet dining room. Simple instructions in use are posted at each of the dozen or so stations. I was able to retrieve email fromAOL and check in at home at the cost of .50 per min. charged to your supercharge card. I would have liked to have a timer on the menu that would keep track of time online. Also a printout of the charges that would flash on the screen when you logged off would have been useful. I emailed to the RCCL customer service the day that we had to miss Coco Cay. I thought that using a shipıs connection to voice my being upset about the change in itinerary would have more impact. As of today, 6 days later, I have not had ANY response from anyone at Royal Caribbean Customer Service.
Dinner was yummy, Italian Night, had the shrimp scampi. Maruti was wonderful even removing the shells from the shrimp. Enjoyed the dinner as usual and listened to the other couples at the table talk about their dashed plans for Coco Cay... overall the passengers seemed to accept this change in itinerary very well. (way better than me@!!!!) There wasnıt this feeling of gloom or anything on the ship, singing by waiters in dining room, again felt that this was a humiliating experience for these young men.
Show time- Blast from the Past-- nice mix of old tunes , good vocals from the Sovereign singers. After the show went up to the music man lounge for the quest... Had remembered it from our Nordic Cruise, had about 40 teams of wild and crazy passengers. Good laugh of night was when our cruise mate was watching the bra stripping and toppled his chair. Luckily no one was hurt. Sock hop band was excellent, I really thought this was a very versatile group-- Romeo as Chuck Roast and the Mashed potatoes. Got up and danced a few tunes. Next stop Chocolate Buffet at midnight.
Doctor break- one of the people in our group had been bothered by a toothache most of the day...her husband went by the pursers desk at close to midnight to check on what could be done. Despite some communication problems with the purser they were able to get ahold of the shipıs doctor and have a dr. visit after midnight. They felt the dr. was very competent despite his limited dental training. An antibiotic and pain medicine were prescribed saving the passenger from major discomfort. They were pleased with the attention and the bill of $124 seemed reasonable for emergency after hour treatment and medicine. Hopefully their thinking ahead purchase of travel insurance will reimburse them this not planned for expense. The ships hospital is located on Deck #1,hopefully you will never need to visit there.
Chocolate buffet-there was a chocolate buffet in both dining rooms at midnight. Long lines and lots of photographs made things move slowly , but it was a treat to make it to the buffet. Chocolate Dragon Sculpture with assorted deserts all arranged nearby is the start of this gluttony!! Huge strawberries to be dipped in melted chocolate, white or dark were amazing. I especially liked the giant bowl of chocolate mouse. We sampled a few of these delicious treats and took a quick walk on deck 7. Not the day at Coco Cay we had planned but it was an enjoyable day for the most part.
Day 4- Man Overboard--- More rocking at Sea-Happy Birthday Wednesday March 7, 2001 Woke up early and went up deck 7 for an early walk. Captain made announcements at 7:30 and 8 AM requesting a passenger report to the pursers desk. Announcement again at 8:30 requesting that anyone with this person in their cabin please bring him to purserıs desk. Had ordered room service continental breakfast to be delivered between 7-7:30 Am..it arrived before 7 and my husband had to dress to answer the door since I was still up on deck when it arrived early. Nice pot of coffee, croissants and Danish. Just what we ordered, this was my husbandıs birthday so we started with breakfast in bed. Later we went up for breakfast in Dining room again. Good food and service. Captain announces that a young man had gone overboard, that he was picked up by another ship and taken to Freeport for medical attention. I was surprised that he was found alive, had read stories of others who had jumped ship but none had survived that I had heard of. Rumors on ship were flying, from what we later learned , the young man had run up a large debt on the ship and in Nassau. He had gone overboard sometime about 1am, the ship didnıt begin searching until 5am, I was told that he wore his life preserver when he abandoned ship. He was rescued by a casino ship and was taken to Freeport with only minor injuries. He may not have been lucky in the Casino, but he sure is a lucky dude-- when I look down from one of those decks and think about all those hours in the water. Even with a life preserver it would have to be a very traumatic thing!!! Saw several ships cruising near us, donıt know if they were also getting a ³bonus² day at sea, or were in the area searching for the missing passenger.
Cruise Crafts and Cooking Demo- after breakfast I went into the Rainbow lounge for cruise crafts which ended up being Napkin Folding lessons. It was a nice time waster. After that the head chef came in to make some desserts for the crowd. Good rapport between the chef and assistant cruise director Katrina Blair made it interesting. Next did lunch in the dining room again. eating meals in the dining room 3x per day wastes about 5 hours..... in a pleasant way!!!!
Suntan in a wind tunnel??- After lunch went up on deck 12 in the bow and tried to catch some sun but the wind was so strong you felt like you were in a wind tunnel. Lots of brave souls huddled around the pool, the 2 hot tubs were crammed with all they could hold. Had some pool games, horse racing, contests and activities for the crowds that wanted to participate.
Shopping- There are about a half dozen shops near the Centrum on deck #5. One with ship logo merchandise, a photo shop, a liquor/cigarette/sundries shop, a fancy clothing store, jewelry shop. There were also tables in the lobby area with daily special merchandise. I was able to purchase an unusual battery for my camera at the photo shop. Had a bracelet made at the inch of gold stand in the lobby area. Prices were typical for a resort type of shop.
Happy Hour- from 3-5 they had happy hour in several bars with discounted drinks. We headed up to the Viking Crown were we could watch the ship rock up and down from the aft part of the lounge, Had a couple margaritas before going back down to dress for our last dinner.
Last dinner-- had gone to purserıs desk in afternoon to get change for the tip envelopes that the cabin attendant had left on the desk in the cabin. $3.50 per day per person for waiter and cabin attendant, $2per day for the assistant waiter, we put a token amount in the envelope for the head waiter feeling that we did not receive any personal attention from him and did not think a large tip was warranted. Left the envelope for the cabin attendant on the desk. Dinner last night had prime rib. Food was good, enjoyed the baked Alaska for dessert. Waiters sang this hand across the sea song that was a bit touching... still think the dining room staff should not have to do this act for their guests. This was my husbandıs birthday and Maruti had a small cake presented to him along with several of the waiterıs who gathered to sing Happy Birthday to him. I enjoyed the embarrassment that this caused him!!! Had the cake cut to pass around the table for all of our table mates. Took photos of Maruti- and table mates. Maruiti shared with us about being on the ship for 12 yrs now, how he works 6 mos and then has 6 weeks off, has 3 children in India. I guess it is a preferable life to what he might be able to have in India..many hours of work on the ship, and not much besides tip $$ as payment. Windjammer is closed for dinner on Wednesday night, I expect because it helps prevent the people who might skip out on tipping the dining room wait staff.
Show time- The talented Don Ware Comedian was on stage tonight, We especially liked his wanting to encourage the passengers to commit mutiny on the ship and hijack it to Bermuda. His jokes about Coco Cay, the tiny cabins etc and all the quirks of this cruise week on the Sovereign made for a humorous ending to our cruise experience. During the show we were visited by Pirates from the Kids group. According to John Blair there were 250 jr. cruisers under age 18 on the ship this week. Most of them appeared to be preschoolers. The Sovereign kids staff seemed very competent and fun loving with the kids. We didnıt see any obnoxious kids aboard, we didnıt find them until we hit the Orlando airport and ran into the Dead from Disney whiners waiting to go home. After the show we went back to our cabin and got the luggage packed,,,was even more difficult getting it condensed into 2 suitcases on the return journey. Have to have the luggage in the hallway by midnight. At 11:30 PM we went back to the follies lounge for the adult comedy by Tom Drake...not as raunchy as a lot of comedians we have heard but a lot of laughs anyway. Good show..just sad to have our last night aboard the ship. After the show we walked around the ship for the last time. Went to the disco and enjoyed the dance music with Romeo-- lots of young people in lounge, we felt like the oldest around. Had yucky midnight delightsı by strolling waiters available in room. Think they figured we were leaving tomorrow and it didnıt matter what garbage they tried to feed you at that point??? Hated to go to bed but at 1am decided to go there as we had the alarm set for 5:30AM to make the shuttle launch the next day.
Last Day!!--Port Canaveral-Shuttle Launch, journey back home- Thursday March 8th, 2001 Woke up to alarm at 5:30 Am and had a last time struggle with the shower curtain. The toilet stopped flushing for some reason. It was still on the ship as we had docked in Port Canaveral sometime during the night. Our shipboard bill had also arrived during the night and was a reasonable $76 for the 2 of us...course the canceled shore excursions helped to keep that amount low. I went up on deck #7 to look out at the sunrise... Pretty day, not too windy but very cool, probably about 50 degrees. Went up to the windjammer for coffee, there were crowds building near the open areas on all of the decks in anticipation of the shuttle launch at 6:42. We decided to go back to Deck #7 port side to see the launch, even with binoculars you could only get a glimpse of the triangular shaped shuttle ready for launch. Right on schedule there was a flash and a cloud of smoke on the horizon, the trail of vapor arched upward and all were a bit amazed by the sight of it illuminated by the sun. It quickly did the separation and was just a silver glint in the sky trailing upward in a few minutes. We quickly exited down to the dining room to have a last morning breakfast with Maruti. The Windjammer only has a continental breakfast on the last morning. Food and service ok as usual. We stopped back at cabin to gather our carry on bags-- went up on Deck 7 to enjoy the sun and last looks out of the ship into the Port Canaveral Area. You could already see the busy forklifts, trucks and busses arriving to load the ship up for the next group of passengers. Our group went off to wait for our blue tags to be called in the Follies Lounge. The laugh of the day was when the RCCL staff member was calling out Trivia Questions. One passenger was getting a lot of the answers correct so the RCCL staff asked him,,ıIs there anywhere in the World that you havenıt been?² and the passenger said, Yeah, Coco Cay!! It was a perfect comeback to the question!!!!!! First colors to be called off of the ship left about 8:30 AM,,,we followed in the 2nd group about 15 minutes later, this was the quickest by far for our getting off of a cruise!!!! Followed the lines off of the gangway on Deck 4-- found our luggage in the terminal area. Had some very aggressive porters fighting for space in line. Probably the rudest encounter we had had with any cruise personnel the entire time. Customs agent grabbed our form and we exited the building. Porter took us to bus for Delta Airlines, got seats in front and I ran down to the area in front of the Sovereign to get one last picture.
Off to Orlando-- We had purchased transfers from RCCL ($32 round trip) so we were taken to the Coach USA bus area when we left the terminal. Bus ride was uneventful until we reached the gate to the ground transportation area at Orlando International Airport. They made the driver change lanes and wait for a ticket, then the gate was jammed half open so they had to have a mechanic come to fix it.... we were ready to unload the luggage and hike from the gate there....Had efficient sky cap take our luggage and check it in for our flight so that we could avoid the long check in lines with Delta and not have to drag the stuff along with us any longer. Shopped in the main terminal area and then went by the monorail to the gates. Had a decent lunch at the Shipwreck Brewing Company restaurant.
Flight home- Delta Flight 2422 left Orlando on time but after being in the air a few minutes, the pilot came on and said that he had heard a clunking noise in the front of the airplane. They believed that it was caused by the air conditioning but they wanted to return to Orlando to have the mechanic check it out. The plane circled back to Orlando, they were revving the engines and going up and down I imagine testing the airplane for this noise, but every change in altitude and noise had me mentally rehearsing prayers and thinking we were gonna crash before we made it to the airport. Everyone on the plane was acting as tho this were business as usual but I was not feeling calm at all. After 10 min of this the pilot came on again and claimed they had solved the problem by ejecting ice from the air conditioning units. The flight attendants immediately began serving the beverages and snacks as usual. I was still a wreck every time we hit turbulence or a noise/vibration began. It was a relief to be back on land again, I think my delta flying days are over. On the flight down waiting for a replacement part from Detroit and on the way back having a clunking noise, I think I want the cattle stampede of Southwest again!!!
Home again! --My husband missed the exit to the Washington beltway giving us a frustrating journey thru some of the neighborhoods near by the beltway before we spotted the ramp leading us home. It was a long day of traveling that brought us back home but the kids were happy to see us and pilfer thru our suitcases finding the straw market goodies that we had brought back for them. Hard to have to face having to cook, clean up and do laundry again after being pampered on the ship all week.
Overall Impressions- Enjoyed this cruise despite the let down of the missed fantasyı island experience at Coco Cay. Think that RCCL should have at least responded to the email that I sent them from the ship (and paid $4 to do it too!!) I believe a token $25 on board credit per passenger and a 25% or more discount on a future cruise would be a nice way for them to handle this situation. I really think they need to examine the itinerary for the 4 night Sovereign Cruise and find an alternate port when Coco Cay is not available. They could try to split that 3rd day with the Majesty when weather prevents their tendering on the planned 2nd day aboard the Sovereign. I would not take this cruise again or recommend it to others because of the potential of not making Coco Cay. The Majesty at least still has Key West and Nassau to visit on their 4 night cruise. When we booked our airline tickets with Delta they gave us the information that they had a 70% on time rate, I think RCCL should also believe in truth in advertisingı and let the potential guests on the Sovereign know when booking their cruise that there is a real possibility that their vision of paradise beach day may not come to pass. The dining room staff gave exceptional service, I found the food in the dining room to be very good, the Windjammer was acceptable. Midnight chocolate buffet was wonderful, the other Caribbean one just ok. Entertainment was good, daily activities were fine even with the extended time at sea. Overall the physical facilities aboard the ship are well maintained, think attention to the shower stall mildew problem in our cabin would be warranted. The check in and embarkation were the smoothest of the 3 cruises we have sailed on. Having sailed on RCCL before, I found this ship to have equal facilities as our previous cruise, it is remarkably well maintained and does not show the age that you might expect in a 13 yr old ship. The elevators are in a bank of 6 near the cabin areas, we were often frustrated waiting for them and found them very crowded when we could get them to stop on our deck. We used the stairs for the most part and being on the Tween deck made navigation fairly simple. Shopping , internet, cabin movies all were very nice amenities to have especially after being trapped at sea. I would give this cruise a 6 out of a scale of 10--discounted from what I believe would have been a 9 had we made the stop in Coco Cay. As they say the only cure for after cruise withdrawal is to book another cruise. We have a trip planned for Thanksgiving on the Carnival Victory--this one with no tendered ports so we hope to have a beach/snorkel experience on this cruise!!!! Hope all of you future Sovereign sailors have calm seas and enjoy a Coco Loco on the island for me. Hope to make it to Coco Cay someday!