We were on the October 3-10th sailing for our 10th Wedding Anniversary. We were the lucky ones who went through Tropical Storm Matthew. That only affected us on our last sea day, though, and arriving in the port. Even through that . . . it was WONDERFUL! One thing you should know, if you plan to park at the pier, they are working on it so you will have to park in another parking area and they will bus you over to the ship. We were the first ones who went through this and were VERY confused! Nothing but a little hiccup in an otherwise wonderful cruise . . .
Embarkation ~ Just a little snag from the parking (see above) but it seemed to be pretty quick. Of course, it was my first cruise so I didn't know any better. I was lucky enough to discover my Cruise Critic buddy (who I had met through the roll call board) was sitting in the chair right next to me! What a wonderful surprise! We were able to talk with her and her family throughout the wait so it seemed to go by fairly quickly. We were the second row of yellow chairs to be called and were on to get our pictures and then boarding. It could have been much worse, in my opinion, so I have the wonderful Military (also known as "hurry up and wait") to thank for my patience. LOL
The ship ~ WOW!!!! This thing is a small country! My husband and I were lost from the first day to the last. We just couldn't figure it out! LOL It tends to be a little awkward when you have to go down to a certain floor, walk to the other end of the ship and then take the elevator or stairs back to the floor you need to find what you're looking for. Or maybe that was just us. *wink*
Our Room ~ we had a balcony room on upper deck forward. My husband, who is known to be a little soft in the tummy area (LOL), never needed any motion sickness medication throughout the trip. He only took it one time on Saturday night and that was only as a precaution due to T.S. Matthew. Our cabin steward was wonderful, always cheerful and always made sure we had everything we needed (and more) so we made sure we tipped her VERY well. That was her last cruise, unfortunately. I'm sure it will be hard to fill her shoes. As far as sound, I used earplugs to keep noise out but my husband didn't and said there wasn't any noise in the halls or in the other rooms. The motion was very minimal throughout the cruise. We loved our balcony . . the times we could use it, that is. We had a very ummmmmm . . . high (??) family 2 doors in front of us who decided to smoke their stash out on their balcony. We had to be careful or we'd come back with a contact high. *eek!* Other than that, we loved it and even shared our bungee cord with our next-door neighbor.
Dinner ~ we had Monet early seating and Randall took care of us. What a sweet guy! He was wonderful and always had a great suggestion for each course. He even took care of us one day when we were extremely late and, even though he didn't have to, he brought us out the entree . . . one for each of us and an extra to share. He was always kind enough to bring us an extra dessert to taste, too. GREAT guy! The food was great and we tried many different things ~ most that I had heard about here. *Thanks*
We did our shore excursions through Carnival and had a wonderful time. We had planned on just hanging out at Sunset Beach in Jamaica but my husband found an excursion he couldn't pass up. We did the canopy tours and had a FANTASTIC time! Our driver was awesome and even took us shopping after the tour. He told us the safest places to shop and where NOT to go. Great guy! For Cozumel, once again, my husband found something better than a beach day. We ended up doing the Catamaran Snorkel, Sail and Beach Party. The snorkeling was nice but the reef is most definitely dying and it's sad to see. We then headed over to the beach and were given an hour to do what we wanted and then they would take us back. We opted out and hung out at the connecting beach for a few hours. We took a taxi back and had a nice relaxing day.
Debarkation ~ Can't complain. We were the second color called and were able to pick up our luggage and jump on the bus back to the parking area. Very quick!
Some things not to miss:
THE PIANO BAR: That guy (Jamie Mahn) was absolutely wonderful! He plays almost any song, sings, plays guitar and harmonica and it is very interactive. He is a blast and we have even kept in contact with him since we left. You HAVE to sit around the piano to get the full experience!
THE ARTIST: They have an artist from Romania who does portraits in pastels. He is amazing! We watched him creating these portraits and it was breathtaking. After watching him all week, we finally had to have a picture of our kids done. Beautiful!!! You must go see him work.
THE POINT: If you want an experience, make sure you book this EARLY! We actually went twice ~ once on Tuesday and then again on Friday for our Anniversary. My husband loves sushi and couldn't get enough the first time. By our Friday visit, we were so tired of eating . . . LOL . . . we had eaten our entire cruise and we really didn't enjoy it the way we did the first night. So, don't miss it ~ just do it early.
THE GAMES AND SHOWS: I really enjoyed these. Like I said, it was my FIRST cruise so everything was a new experience (so don't bash me for liking cruise entertainment! LOL). I also enjoyed the cruise director, Steve Cassel, because he reminds me of one of my friends. He seems to have fun with whatever he's doing and his enthusiasm is quite contagious. The games were a blast and it was so fun meeting those people throughout the cruise. If you want a full-out gut busting laugh, DON'T MISS the Newlywed/Not-So-Newlywed game! Whew! We were rolling in the aisles!
Hope that helps someone! Any questions, ask away ~ I'll try to answer the best I can. Can't wait for the next one!!!!