Embarkation: First I would like to say that sailing from Galveston is a breeze. If you are within driving distance of Galveston, Texas, it is great not to have to deal with the airports! There is lots of parking available. This time we parked in "Parking lot D" and the cost for parking for a 5-day sailing was $45.00 paid in advance. They have a shuttle that will take you to the ship with luggage or without if you drop off your luggage in advance.
Boarding in Galveston was smooth. They have a separate check in line for Platinum and Diamond past passengers and they have a separate line for handicapped.
Cabin: We had an ocean view cabin on this cruise on deck 6. It was midship and very convenient to the elevators and stairs and it was just around the corner from the "Seattle's Best" coffee shop! The window in this cabin was huge! I missed not having a balconybut this was the next best thing! The cabin has a small desk and chair and even a small loveseat and table. The bathroom had a lot of storage inside the mirror and a caddy in the shower area for more storage. The room also has a safe (no charge) and an ice bucket that the cabin steward always kept full. This category does not have a refrigerator. They provide a hair dryerbut never enough outlets so be sure to bring an outlet strip and extension cord to plug in your curling iron, cell phone, digital camera, video camera, cd player etc.I would also recommend a small flashlight so you can find the bathroom at night in the very dark cabin! Also, always remember to bring a travel size clock since there are no clocks in the room.
Food: There was always plenty of food available. On the first day the Windjammer buffet stayed open until 4:30 pm with lunch and then the Solarium grill opened at 5:30pm. The first night we were tired and our luggage did not arrive right away. Be sure to have anything you may need in the first few hours in your carry on. On a few of the nights we went to the Windjammer for the dinner buffet and found that it was very good and there were waiters to pick up plates and stations that were both carving meat and cooking to order fajitas or crepes on different nights. As good as the dining room is - the Windjammer dinner buffet on Royal Caribbean ships is a well-kept secret.. until now. They offer pretty much everything that is on the dining room menu and it is plentiful, fresh, you can dress however you like, and it is a whole lot quicker than the dining room and of course there is no surcharge to eat there.
I am a traditionalist and have been on many, many cruises - but even I can see the benefits to this more casual style. They also offered a grill area by the Solarium pool that had pizza and burgers and fries. This ship does not have any alternative surcharge restaurants - except the Seattle's Best coffee shop and Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop.
The ship: The Spendour of the Seas is a great size at 70,000 tons.easy to get around and easy to get to know. The ship is clean and well kept. The lounges are nice.they try to keep the smokers separate..it doesn't work in the Schooner Bar, it was too small and smoky for me. It worked better in the Viking Crown because it is a bigger area.
The main pool area is very nice, it has the shallow ledge around the pool, which is nice to sit out in or walk in to cool off. This ship has a small work out area and a nice sauna and steam room in the ladies locker room. The spa is rather large and has many treatment rooms. We got a good work out just walking around the ship on the upper deck in the wind. Be sure to bring a jacket with a hood or a headband so you will be able to tolerate the wind if you want to take walks.
Cozumel: We were really glad that the ship was going to Cozumel. This is one of my favorite ports and I was anxious to see what is going on there. This port has come a long way in the recovery after all they have been through. I have seen pictures that were taken in the days just following the hurricane and I can tell you what I saw on January 28 was a miracle! They have made this port spot clean in the shopping area with new paint, new foliage, new roofs etc. it looks even better then before! Now don't get me wrong.they still have a lot to do with the piers and hotels that were destroyed but for what a tourist will do for a day from the ship the tours and shopping are up and running. The ships are tendering into town. Our ship tendered in to the Punta Lagosta pier and we exited out of the port area right across for Carlos and Charlie's which is up and running. They are using the very large 2 level tenders so they can transport a lot of people at a time and it seems to run smoothly and is a quick ride.
We spent our day shopping with lunch at Casa Dennis and then took an afternoon boat through Dive Paradise with divers and snorkelers. It was a great day. I could really see the devastation of the piers from the dive boat trip. It is still hard to imagine (even though I saw it with my own eyes) that the whole International pier is gone! This is the pier that the Carnival ships all dock at and there was a huge shopping complex on this pierit is all gone,(for now). This island is resilient and is bounding back. They need the support of tourism and the ships. Check out www.diveparadise.com for any snorkeling or diving excursions that you may be interested in. The owner has been a friend for many years and can use our support.
If you have any questions, or need help planning your cruise, I would happy to assist. Email me at C2Cmarci@yahoo.com