Saturday: We left Houston, Tx on an early morning flight so we could make the most of our day in Cape Canaveral. We arrived at the Orlando airport at noon and got our rental car from Budget. We had a Ford Explorer that was perfect for luggage for 4 people. The cost of a one way rental from Orlando to Cape Canaveral was $56. Before leaving Orlando, we stopped at Chilis Restaurant for a celebration drink and appetizers. We were happy to find that they were having 2 for 1 drink specials so we all had 2 margaritas each and some snacks. Next we were off to the Ron Jon Resort in Cape Canaveral. We were able to check in early since they had rooms available. We got a 2 bedroom condo that faced the pool area. Our room was spectacular. It was decorated in yellows and oranges (very tropical). There was 2 double beds in one room and a bathroom, a full kitchen, family room with a queen sized pull out sofa, and a master bedroom with a king sized bed and bathroom. We also had a full sized balcony. We were on the top floor, which I highly suggest (less noise). The pools at the resort were beautiful and children would love them. While our husbands went to the liquor store and grocery store for some snacks, we tried out the Reefside grill at the resort. We sat outside at the bar area and had a few cocktails. When the husbands were back, we drove over to the Cove (an area at Port Canaveral that has several restaurants on the water. We ate at Grill's Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar. There was a band playing outside and the place was packed but we only had to wait ~20 min. for a seat.
Sunday (cruising day!): We got up and went for a quick jog around the resort and down to the ocean. We saw the Mariner as she was coming into the Port. After checking out of Ron Jon, we headed for Cocoa Beach (about 2 miles away) and had breakfast at IHOP and then went to the Ron Jon Surf shop across the street. At 12:30 pm we drove our rental car to Budget (1 mile away from the cruise ship terminal) and dropped off the car. They put all of our luggage into their van and took us to the terminal. This was the best thing we ever did. The rental car vans were able to bypass the traffic and we were dropped off right by the luggage drop. It literally took us about 10 minutes from the time we got into the Budget Van to the time we were in the cruise ship terminal. Embarkation went smoothly and quickly. This was the best laid out port that we've ever been to. After a quick photo stop, we were on the ship!!!! I had heard that the door were shut to the rooms but they weren't when we got on. We went staight to our room, dropped off our carry on stuff and started our exploring. The ship is laid out so perfectly. We had a cat. D3 (superior oceanview stateroom with a balcony). The room was very nice and spacious. The bathroom was larger than Carnivals and had a glass shower door instead of the curtain you have on Carnival. Our friends were in the cabin next to us and we wanted to have the balcony separator opened. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET THE BALCONY SEPARATOR OPEN IS TO GO TO GUEST RELATIONS AND MAKE A REQUEST, THEY THEN EMAIL THE CAPTAIN AND SECURITY HAS TO COME TO OPEN IT UP - AND THEY DID!!!!!!!!!!!!! We really enjoyed having it open. Our balcony now was twice the size and we were able to sit out with our friends and enjoy the view. My husband got the computor hook up kit at the guest relations desk while I was doing our balcony thing. FYI.... MY HUSBANDS LAPTOP IS VERY OLD, SO THE HOOK UP IN THE ROOM DIDN'T WORK, BUT WE WERE CREDITED OUR $100 DEPOSIT BACK. After the lifeboat drill we headed to the upper deck of the ship, got a pina colada and watched as we pulled out of the port. Our luggage was in our room by 6 pm and we changed clothes and went to do some more exploring before our late seating dinner. YOU CAN DEFINITELY BUY LIQUOR TO TAKE BACK TO YOUR ROOM, HOWEVER LET'S SAY YOU PURCHASE A BOTTLE OF ABSOLUTE VODKA FOR $9, THEY WILL CHARGE YOU A $9.50 CONSUMPTION FEE TO TAKE IT TO YOUR ROOM PER BOTTLE. SO YOU ARE BASICALLY PAYING ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD PAY AT HOME. WE DID SMUGGLE VODKA IN OUR SUITCASE IN WATER BOTTLES BUT THERE REALLY IN NO NEED FOR THAT SINCE YOU CAN BUY IT ON BOARD. We had read that you couldn't bring snacks and sodas onboard. WE HAD 2-12 PACKS OF DIET SPRITE, TONIC WATER, WINE, CASHEWS, M&MS, AND CHEX MIX FOR EACH COUPLE. We were never questioned or prevented from bringing on anything. We sat at a table for 8. It was the four of us and a nice family from Florida.
I won't bore you with what we had every night but let me say the food was just as good as any of the other ships we've been on - especially the soups, appetizers, and main dishes. We were usually too full for dessert but it looked good. After dinner there was a parade down the Royal Prominade which was fabulous. Sunday night we decided to go to the Dragon's Lair instead of the welcome aboard show in the lounge. They played great music and we danced our little feet off until about 1 am when the younger crowd came in and their dancing style made me feel ancient. When we got to our room, we here happy to see the towel animal that so many people had written was no longer done. We even had our bed turned down and chocolates on our pillow.
Monday (sea day): We got up at 9 am and went to the exercise room. There were plenty of treadmills and other machines available so we went for a quick jog on the treadmill and then headed down to the Windjammer Cafe for breakfast. We had breakfast here every morning except for the last day. They had the usual stuff, all delicious, and we DIDN'T HAVE TO PAY EXTRA FOR JUICE LIKE SOME HAVE WRITTEN. We had our choice of orange, pineapple, grapefruit, lemonade or tomato juice. We always were able to find a table by the window so we could watch the ocean go by. After eating, we went to the sports deck to participate in the golf tournament at the mini golf course. My husband won and received a metal and a thermal RCCL mug. Afterwards we went to lay out in the sun. It was a little challenging finding 4 chairs together but we did and we ended up in the same area each time we were out by the pool. The drink of the day - Mango Tangos- was being served on trays so we had to try one or two of them. We didn't want to lose our chairs so we went down to the Royal Prominade and got pizza at the Cafe Prominade to take back to our lounge chairs. The Cafe Prominade is open 24 hours a day and they have 3 types of pizza, 2 different types of sandwiches, 4 or 5 desserts and cookies. We had lunch here most of the time. Sometimes when we came back from shore excursions we would stop by for a sandwich or pizza to take back to our cabins. Tonight was formal night. We went to the Captain's Welcome aboard reception and had appetizers and champagne and got our picture taken with Captain Johnny. Then we had our formal portraits done, had martinis at the Vintage bar and had a wonderful filet mignon dinner. We didn't go to any shows after dinner. We sat at our dinner table and talked until 11:30 pm.
Tuesday (Labadee): Thank goodness the RCCL is going back to Labadee. We got up and opened our curtains to find a beautiful day with the beautiful island of Labadee right out our balcany. We grabbed a quick breakfast and got on one of the first tenders to Labadee. The set up here is so nice. We walked over to Hideaway beach because we were told it was more secluded. It was! We were close to the bar and the Dragon's Rock Cafe. In Labadee we rented waverunners. It was $99 for both of us to be on 1 waverunner. That wasn't clear when we signed up for them on the ship. At first we thought it was $99 each person, but it's $99 per waverunner. We had to follow a guide which my husband worried about since he likes to ham it up on the waverunners. But much to our surprise the guide was a hot dog and we could barely keep up with him. He took up way out and far down the coast. We even had a chance to get off and swim in a cove before coming back. Once back on land, we had a Labadoozi at the bar. It's kind of like a strawberry daquiri and a pina colada mixed together and topped off with a shot of rum. The lunch that RCCL provides at the various cafes included: hamburgers, hot dogs, barbeque ribs, corn on the cob, many different kinds of salads, cookies and desserts. The food was great. You could eat at much at you wanted. We played in the water, sunbathed, napped in the hammocks and visited some of the shops. Let me say one thing: THE BATHROOMS ON LABADEE WERE AMAZINGLY CLEAN AND NICE. We were on the last tender back to the ship and Captain Johnny set sail at 4 pm sharp as planned. We loved Labadee and wouldn't have minded if we had missed the tender and had to live there like we were on our own deserted island. We stopped by for some pizza and then went to get ready for some bar hopping. We had drinks in the Ellington Bar then went to view our pictures and unfortunately I bought every one of them. Dinner was great as usual and then we headed for Studio B (also known as the ice skating rink) for the Dancin' Through the Decades show. There was music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It was a lot of fun with great music.
Wednesday (Ocho Rios): We love Ocho Rios. We've been here 3 times before on cruises. Had breakfast in the Windjammer and got off the ship at 10:30 am. Our plan was to go to the Island Village shopping area right at the end of the pier. We went into a couple of the shops but ended up at Margaritaville. We had drinks and played on their water slide. The music, food and drinks are always great here. I could have stayed here all day. After going down the slide 5 or 6 times, having 5 or 6 shots of tequilla (the lifeguards? give you shots for free after you go down the slide), we headed back to the pier to meet up with our shore excursion. We did the Sanara Catamaran snorkel and Dunns River Falls cruise. After boarding a beautiful trimaran we headed out to laughing waters to go snorkeling. Since we had been drinking, the ladies stayed on board and watched the men snorkel and listened to music. After this we headed to Dunns River Falls. We had a blast as usual on the falls, we had done them 3 times before. We decided to go on our own on the falls. We took the harder way up and it was fun!!!!! After getting back on the Sanara, we were served Rum punch and danced back to the Mariner. We got back right at 4:45 pm and the ship left at 5 pm. Yes we stopped by and had pizza and sandwiches to take to our room. That night we ordered room service (Fruit, Cheese, Crackers and chips) to have on the balcony with our drinks. WE WERE NOT CHARGED A ROOM SERVICE FEE LIKE I HAD READ BEFORE ON THIS BOARD. We had tickets to the 7 pm Ice Show tonight. The show was amazing. It was one of our favorite show we saw. Tonight we had dinner in Chops restaurant. The charge was $20 per person and you could have anything you wanted. We had crabcakes, shrimp cocktail, french onion soup, clam chowder, 10 oz. filet mignons, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, sauted mushrooms, creamed spinach, french fried onion strings and asparagus. That's what we all had of course not just me. We were too full for dessert, couldn't even look at it. It was definitely worth the $20. At 10:30 pm we went to see the Love and Marriage Game show in the Savoy Theatre. It was really funny. Afterwards there was dancing under the stars on the poolside deck. There was food and drink and great music. It started sprinkling so we packed it in for the evening.
Thursday (Grand Cayman): We had room service for breakfast this morning before tendering to Grand Cayman. We had omelets and toast, juice and coffee. We got on the 8:15 am tender and met up with our shore excursion at 9 am. We did the Cockatoo Catamaran to Stingray city. We were taked by bus the the Grand Cayman Yacht Club to meet our boat. After a nice and entertaining ride we arrived at stingray city. My husband and I had done this before so it was hilarious to see the faces of the screaming adults swimming with the stingrays. I did it too, but I got a little queezy when we had to kiss the stingrays, which I did reluctantly. After the ride back, we stopped by a rum cake shop and had MANY samples. Next we went shopping. Surprisingly we didn't buy anything this time. We had lunch at a Subway restaurant because all of the local restaurants were very crowded. We got back onto the ship by 3:45 just before we left for Cozumel. Of course we got pizza to take back to the room. I did the 5 pm aerobics class and my husband ran on the treadmill. The class was fun and not crowded at all. We did some shopping in the Royal Prominade shops before dinner. If you plan on buying liquor on board to take home, buy it early! They had great specials at the beginning of the cruise but once the liquor was gone, it was gone! Tonight was the second formal night. After dinner we went to the "Pure Energy" show in the Savoy Theater. It was great, alot of music from my era and dancing.
Friday (Cozumel): We thought we may go through this whole cruise without a rainy day but we had one in Cozumel. It pretty much poured all day. We had a Catamaran Sail, Snorkel and Beach Party excursion at 2 pm. So we got off the ship at 10 am, caught a taxi to town, shopped a little, had a drink and nachos at Carlos and Charlies, danced a little and then took a taxi back to get our shore excursion. Much to my amazement, we were able to cancel our shore excursion. While we were standing in the pouring down rain, a rep from RCCL stopped by and I just asked him if we could get a refund because of the rain. He said absolutely. All we had to do was turn our tickets in to the Shore Excursion Desk that evening. With our afternoon free now, we went to Senior Frogs 1/2. It is at the end of the pier and much smaller than their other restaurant in town. We stayed there from 2 pm until 6:30 pm. and staggered back to the ship in the rain before they left us. We didn't get any pizza, didn't even feel like dinner. We managed to get ourselved dried off and cleaned up to go listen to music in the Royal Prominade before dinner. The seas were very rough!!! It was the first time in the whole cruise that I knew I was on a ship instead of in a hotel. Dinner was fabulous - lobster and shrimp. After dinner though, we headed for our cabin and the dramamine and went to bed. Never got sick though, just felt like we were on a roller coaster.
Saturday (at Sea): This morning the rain was gone and it was partly cloudy (but there was plenty of UV rays out there, we got scorched). Had breakfast, went to a kick boxing class and headed toward the pool. We just laid around in the sun all day, dranks somemore Mango Tangos and had lunch at Johnny Rockets. We each paid $3.95 and had onion rings, double cheeseburgers, french fries with chili and cheese, and apple pie. They didn't even end up charging us for our sodas (I'm not sure why?). The food was great and I didn't mind at all paying $3.95. We went and played golf again and the husbands played basketball. We went to the Karaoke Ikol Championship at 5 pm. There were 8 finalists and they were fantastic! After that we went to the 19th Hole Bar for a drink and then on to dinner. It was a sad dinner, we didn't want the cruise to end. The family we ate with each night bought champagne for the table and then we had shots to toast the end of a fabulous vacation. After dinner we went to the final parade at the Royal Prominade. We had to turn in early tonight (11:30 pm) because we had to have our luggage out by midnight.
Sunday (Debarkation): We were out of our rooms by 7:30 am and decided to try breakfast in the formal dining room. It was alot of the same stuff you could get at the Windjammer cafe but it did have eggs benedict. Our tag color was called at 8:45 am and we were off the ship, through customs, past luggage pick up and in the parking lot to catch the Budget Car rental van by 9:20. The system RCCL has is great. Our luggage was on a conveyor belt like at an airport instead of a huge warehouse like other cruise lines. It was easier to get off than on, and getting on was a breeze. The Budget van was waiting and took us to get our Ford Explorer. This time it was $49 one was back to Orlando. We stopped briefly at Ron Jon Surf shop again, then at McDonalds, and headed for Orlando. We ended our vacation just like we started: we went to Chili's Restaurant and had 2 for 1 margaritas and snacks while we waited for our flight back to Houston.
I have 250 digital photos that I hope to post. If anyone could tell me how to do it, I will post them. If anyone has any questions at all, let me know and I will answer them. If you are going on this ship, you are a lucky dog. I can't wait for our next one (we are going again in November). Sorry this was so long. Happy sailing.