Here is my quick review, please forgive the spelling.
My wife and I flew from Chicago to Miami on Saturday 4/2/05, and stayed at the Doubletree Surfcomber Hotel in South Beach. We had been to South Beach in Feburary for a long weekend, and stayed at the National Hotel. We scouted out hotels for this trip, and the Surcomber looked nice, and it was. The weather in Miami on Saturday turned colder with a strong storm in the afternoon, so we did not get to enjoy the pool. It is right on the beach, and I highly recomend it.
Took a cab Sunday Morning to the ship, around 35.00 with tip. Arrived at the pier at 11:30, and breezed through and on the ship by 12:15. A very simple process. They ask that you NOT go to your stateroom until 1:30 so the rooms can be cleaned, and we played by the rules. Others would wonder around trying to get to their rooms, and be mad if they were not ready.
Had a nice lunch at Rosies, good selection, typical cruise fair. Sat by the pool for about 15 minutes, then off to check out our room. We had room 7258 on a Suite. Very nice...a large bathroom with jacuzzi tub&shower, and double sinks. The room is actually 1 1/2 times the size of a regular balconey room. Wonderful furnishings, and wood trim everywhere. This was the nicest room we have ever had. We had a mini-suite on the old Ocean Princess years ago, but this room was better.
Monday - Full day at sea. We slept in till about 9:30, went up to Rosie's for Breakfast, not a long line, maybe 10 people in front of us. (hint: there are 4 lines, the 2 lines farthest back seem to have the shorter line). Again usuall cruise buffet, lots of fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon, etc. In the middle of the line they have an omlett station, they will also fry eggs. Also a cereal station. And in a seperate station fruit and pastries. The pastries are WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!
Went up on deck around 10:30 to begin the hunt for 2 deck chairs, and surprise, no problem. As long as you don't have to be right in the thick of things by the main pool, we always could find deck chairs on deck 11, especially the area between the 2 main pools....We did see alot of chair saving, just seems no way to control that.
Tuesday - Grand Caymen - Had schedule a tour with NativeWay, for the Sail, Snorkle, Stingrays & Rum Point. That tour was scheduled to have us back in port by 3:00, but per the capers, and signs, the last tender was at 2:30. So after a quick call to Sharon at NativeWay, (there were 20 other Valor folks on this tour) she changed the tour and cancelled the lunch and rum point portion, we did get a cheeper price. Snorkling was great, Stingray City was interesting, but VERY croweded. Overal a very nice excursion. We were panicked gowing back that we would miss the last tender, but we got back to the docs at 2:28, and found a line for the tender a MILE long. It was insane. Some people had already been in line over 2 1/2 hours already! Needless to say, rushing back was not needed, and we could have done the longer tour. Instead of waiting in the LONG line for a tender, we walked around the shops close to the pier, keeping an eye on the line. We hopped on a tender at 4:30!. The tender process in Grand Caymen is a joke, and the only downside to our hole trip. Grand Caymen needs to build a pier like all the other Islands are.
Tuesday night was one of the big production shows, DO NOT MISS. We had 6:15 dining in the Lincoln room, and enjoyed it every night. The severs do a little dance number after dessert. Very entertaining. Overall the dinning room food was good to excellant. And the service was impecable.
Wednesday - Isle Roatan - Belize. We booked a horseback ride, and beach combo through Fosters. Had a GREAT time. Conway from Fosters (the owners son) picked us up at the pier, and drove us to the horseback ride section. A very nice leasurly paced ride along the beach that ends at Fosters Resort. A beautiful slice of paridise on the beach, had a great day.
Thursday - Cosa Maya - Mexico - Booked the speed boats and beach break through the ship. A short bus ride (1/2 hour) and we arrived at Ureo Beach, an OPEN BAR and great beach awaited. Good thing we also booked the little speed boats/snorkle portion. This was Jellyfish season (lasts 2 - 3 weeks) and there were literally MILLIONS of these TINY ( the size of a dime) jellyfish along the shore. They warned about going in the water as they may sting, but it would be a little sting, like a misquitto bite. Out were we snorkled, away from shore, no jellyfish. Overall a great day. But a word of warning. They have an OPEN BAR, and ANYONE could get served. If you don't want your child/young adult to drink, keep an eye out. We saw SEVERAL very drunk and very young teens.
Costa Maya also has a neat little shoping area and pool/bar right next to the pier. Best way to describe the pool/bar.....Girls gone wild video comes to mind. Girls (YOUNG) dancing and grinding to music, tops coming off, bottoms comming off.....It was crazy. I'm no prude, and would have thoroughly enjoyed this if I was 12-30, but now in my 40's, I kept thinking, thank God I have no teenage daughter. I can't explain, but imagine your 15 - 17 year old daughter drunk, and stripping to nothing infront of screaming boys/men. Later that night on the ship, there was an "incident" when a Father came back to his room to find his daugher and another teen in the throngs of "it" and went balistic, security was called and saved the young man, it was the talk of the ship....My moral here is watch you kids.
Friday - Cozumel - We had scheduled the Bike and Snorkle through the ship, and they offered a full refund since the snorkle portion was cancelled, again due to the ZILLIONS of jelly fish in the water. We took the refund, but still wanted something, and were able to get on the catermaran sail and snorkle and beach break. We thought at the very least we would at least get a nice boat ride. The snorkle part was first, and not far from the ship, and again it was at your own risk due to the jellyfish. And at this spot they were EVERYWHERE. We decided to risk it and went in, NO STINGS, they just freaked us out a bit....again not one sting, and you literally were swiming amoung thousands of these things.
Friday nights show was another big production, not to be missed. The Shows were great on all nights.
Friday we ate in Scarletts. I had a GREAT steak, it was a wonderfull meal, but did not "WOW" me like some others have reviewed..
Saturday - Our last sea day Again we slept in, and had very little trouble finding deck chairs. I actually snagged two by the back pool, a very good spot. Heard others complain about chairs, but all you had to do is walk around a little and you could easily find a few together.
Overall a great time, great ship, great food, and except for the jellyfish problem a very nice cruise.