Specialty restaurants/Night life
This was the part of the cruise that was sometimes eerie and was not the same. The specialty restaurants were quite empty. There were times we walked by Giovanni’s for example and so no one in there. They even sent some of their staff from there up to Coastal Kitchen to help out. The pub rarely had more than a dozen people when we would often have to work hard to find seats on previous cruises. Dazzles had weird distancing in place so not many seats there. The Schooner bar was never packed- how odd is that?! They also didn’t have the trivia in there.
In the evening, there was not as much energy as I like as we walk around – this isn’t really a complaint as I was glad to be there every minute of the cruise. But it felt much more sleepy. We were at the NextCruise desk and even they commented how quiet it was on the promenade. This isn’t unexpected given the number of guests but I will appreciate when capacity increases and those elevators are full again!
The pub at 9pm one night!
Live music in Central Park
We attended the comedy show (fantastic!), and the Ventriloquist act in the Amber theater (had seen him before. We did not attend Mama Mia as we both fell asleep while attending it on the last cruise (don’t judge us!! LOL!) They also had the Aqua Theater show for the first time back on our sailing. We watched them practice one afternoon and then attended on Day 7. It was not full. You had to make reservations but it was not full that night and people just walked up. Also there was no suite reserved seating…not a complaint…just letting you know. As it gets more busy, I imagine they will bring that back.
We enjoyed live music in the Schooner Bar, Jazz on 4, Boleros, Central Park, Dazzles and on the Promenade. It was enjoyable to wander and find a spot with live music. We very much appreciated what they called V lounges – vaccinated only venues where we could take mask off!
Hurricane Grace hit Cozumel the day we were supposed to be there so we skipped that port and sailed behind Grace. There were some rolling seas that morning but we enjoyed time on the walking track and in the Solarium. It didn't really rain...just cloudy and wavy. And the sun was back by late afternoon. A great job by the captain and Jim Van Fleet!
First time in a Loft Suite
We typically stay in Grand Suites and a Loft suite was on my bucket list. We scooped up one that randomly showed up online for this cruise for a great price. The view is AMAZING! I loved that. The loft suites typically cost more than the grand suites so I don't think it would be worth it to me every time. Deck 17 is far away from everything except the SL and CK and as I mentioned we take the stairs, that meant long walks back to the room. We typically stay on Deck 12 which is a sweet spot for us to SL and the rest of the ship. The shower upstairs in the Loft suite was awesome but there was only one sink - total first world problems...but just my thoughts about the suite... comparing to our other experiences. If I get a good deal, I would definitely do a Loft suite again...but I don't need one and love my Grand suites.
Masking while on board
I’m not going to lie- I hated having to mask. We are mainly stairs people on a cruise and this cruise we were on deck 17. Holy crap – climbing 13 decks wearing a mask was NO fun! There were so few people that we often could go most decks without seeing a person- so we would at least pull mask down. Now the plus on this cruise was if we didn’t want to take the stairs, getting an elevator never took longer than 30 seconds!!! I sincerely hope the masking is done when we cruise again in December. I did what I had to do because I really wanted to cruise but I don’t want to have to do it again honestly.
Disembarkation WAS different. There was no guided exit for suite guests. When I first heard that I wasn’t happy. However, they asked our preferred time to disembark and that was the time we got. For us it was 9:15 as we had a 2:00 flight out of MCO. So we ate breakfast in the windjammer, went back to the room to shower and do the final pack up and watched for our group on the room TV. No gathering in a public place- just wait in your room. They were ahead of schedule so we got called around 8:55 and walked down to promenade and walked off the ship. No line waiting- went directly to passport control – facial recognition done immediately and then got our bags. The hall was SO empty compared to usual. It took minutes for all of this.
I had arranged transport with Cortrans who I used last time we were at Port Canaveral. I HIGHLY recommend them and they also could use the support!! Good communication, great price, very reliable and a totally relaxing and comfortable ride to the airport. They only had 5 of us on the shuttle.
This cruise was more the same as usual than it was different. I ate a lot, laughed a lot, enjoyed beautiful sunsets over the sea with a drink in hand and smiled more than I have in a long time!
If you are vehemently against some of the requirements I mentioned, you may want to hold off. If you love cruising like I do, it is worth it- to support the crew and RC! It felt totally SAFE, clean and organized.
A friend asked this week how my trip was and my answer to her seems like a good parting thought: You know I love traveling and cruising and I felt pure joy being able to do it again.
That really does sum it up…and I can’t wait to do it again in December on Symphony! Thanks for reading and I hope I gave you a good overview!