I booked the cruise through the same agency we booked the Mariner cruise this past January and their internet-only service provided the least expensive offering. When combined with our C&A coupon, we paid less than $1400 for our cabin...number 8519.
We arrived at the pier after a pre-stay at the Hyatt Downtown (secured via Priceline for about $40) around 10am. We waited inside the terminal at the bottom of the stairs for about 20 minutes while forms were handed out for the Bahamas. Some people get these in their paper-tickets, those of us who get e-docs will be handed them at this point in time. We were required to have them filled out before being allowed to proceed up the escalators toward security. We moved through security and up to the lines for check-in which was painless and took no more than 10 minutes. After check-in we moved into another line waiting for the ship to be cleared for boarding. While I didn't pay close attention to the time, I believe we started moving in the line around noon. The room was not ready, so we went to Windjammer and had lunch after which we stopped by our room to drop of a few bags.
We were initially a little skeptical about the inside cabin and reduction in space and lack of any natural light. We had booked an inside in January on Mariner, but at the last minute (literally) we text messaged our agent and he secured us an upgrade to balcony for $700 two days before sailing. When we got to the room and unpacked, we found it to be perfect for two people. We stored two pieces of luggage under the bed and the other two in the closet. Extra hangers arrived later in the evening as we had asked for them upon arrival and there was plenty of room for all of our clothes, shoes, etc. From now on, unless we get a super bargain, we've been converted to inside cabin sailors!
Maybe it has gotten better, maybe I'm not as picky as I thought, and perhaps I was just hungry...but we didn't mind the food at all. Having been on a cruise just nine months earlier, many of the menu items went unchanged, but in some ways that was comforting. I knew my chilled banana soup and other fruit soups would be offered and the Caesar salad was unchanged. We had reservations for Portofino's and Chops on the formal nights; we just don't enjoy the menu in the dining room and prefer a smart casual feeling. Portofino's was better than I remembered from Explorer. We missed Chops this time as a friend traveling with us developed a cold and so we ate in Windjammer instead so she would feel comfortable. (We did eat in Chops on Mariner and really enjoyed the food.) We tried Johnny Rockets, using the C&A coupon, and enjoyed the 'simple' food including their shakes. We ate lunch sometimes in the main dining room and others in Windjammer. Breakfast was either in Windjammer or on port days, a quick bite at the Promenade cafe.
While we chose to eat elsewhere on formal nights as we don't care to dress in a tux and evening gown, there were a few who stayed with the usual attire and they seemed perfectly content. I saw some with shorts and jeans on regular nights being admitted just like the rest of the passengers to the main dining room. So it seems the opinionated banter than normally takes place on this board regarding attire is limited to the board. On the ship, people dress as they like and still dine next to everyone else, served the same food, on the same tableware from the same kitchen. Moving on...
Well maintained and beautiful...we much prefer the newer Voyager class ships due to the addition of Vintages and Chops along with the expansion of the Windjammer. I used the gym every day for a 1-1.5 hour workout and enjoyed the lack of a crowd most days. I also had two 25-minute massages in the spa, once on the second day and the last on Friday which were great.
Our waiter was lackluster; our assistant waiter was much better and received a bigger tip than the standard. Our stateroom attendants were good, always sneaking in to clean when we stepped away from the room and always filling the ice bucket and providing extra towels after I mentioned we shower twice and sometimes three times a day (due to working out). The Champagne Bar was our favorite place to meet up before dinner to have a cocktail, be served pre-dinner snacks and play UNO. (Yes, if you saw a trio playing UNO all over the ship, it was us! We don't know what to say other than we really had fun!) Ken Rush is great at what he does, but since we had heard his routine on Mariner earlier in the year, it was a little worn. The captain, well...I'll say this in a very soft voice, "aklsjdflioirmsdkfjoiwuerjfajsdio ajsodiufoiewjr jasidfoij." Ring any bells? That man needs to speak up a little, we NEVER could understand a WORD he said other than at the C&A party, but even then it probably had more to do with the fact we were only 20 feet away from him AND he had a microphone. Guillermo in the spa was very skilled and truly a professional massage therapist. (Please don't forget to tip when you have a massage, it is not included in the price and they work very hard and make a very small percentage of the treatment! - less than 8%) I decided instead of having one 55 minute massage I would rather have one at the beginning of the cruise and one at the end so I was relaxed while on vacation and relaxed as we prepared to leave. All of the staff was very friendly, with only a few minor exceptions and we enjoyed our stay.
Nassau - okay shopping, had to get off the ship to buy Bacardi Pina Colada Rum Cakes!
St Thomas - good shopping, wife found jewels - as usual, and liquor and cologne/perfume was cheap
San Juan - blah, maybe we'll take a wilderness excursion next time
Labadee - after being on a ship on water all week what did I do, rent a mat and float in the water...always a great port of call, very relaxing
Overall the vacation was one of our best on RCCL! Nothing major to report, we had a lot of fun, and aren't sure we can wait until October 15 when we go again!
Any questions, I'll do my best to answer...
Travis and Jake
Until we sail RCCL's Liberty of the Seas...
03/07 New Century | 10/06 Mariner of the Seas | 9/05 Navigator of the Seas | 10/04 Navigator of the Seas | 1/04 Mariner of the Seas | 1/03 Voyager of the Seas | 7/01 Explorer of the Seas | 1/97 Sovereign of the Seas
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."