We planned this trip March 2011 and traveled March 25 on this beauty sailing the Eastern Caribbean. We flew from Chi town to Orlando on 3/23 and took a limo to the Residence Inn in Port Canaveral and I highly recommend this hotel. We were able to walk to dinner that evening to Kelsey's ... a great place for Pizza and really anything they serve is great. We took advantage of their pool that Saturday. We took AAA taxi to the port. I highly recommend this taxi company ... we took them on disembark day (more on that later). They were fair on pricing and great on efficiency and customer service.
We arrived at the pier at 10:30. Yes, your docs say you can board at 1:30 ... ignore this ... I read many reviews here telling me they were on the boat by 11 ish and in the Windjammer by 11:30 ... they were spot on! The boarding process was very smooth and they did have chairs while you waited. We were actually on the boat at 11:20. Get there early and enjoy this beautiful ship. We had adjoining balcony cabins. We traveled with my folks, my husband's folks, our three kids (14, 12, 9 -- girl, girl, boy) and our dear friends who have two boys (11, 9). We had four balconies and our steward was kind enough to open them all up together which was so nice for the kids to float (ha, ha) around to their grandparents. Our friends had adjoining promenade cabins and really enjoyed them as well. The beds were ultra comfortable and our room steward David did a great job taking care of us all! The room was comfortable and the bathroom shower was great. I asked for a robe right away and did receive one. My luggage was held hostage for suspicion of alcohol ... we had NONE! Not a single bottle. We made the mistake of locking our luggage and assumed they could unlock as they are TSA compliant. So we had to go down after dinner and unlock and of course, they held it for nothing. Somewhat annoying especially since my 9 year old and I brought it all up by ourselves.
We did every show you could book online ahead of time (not required but helps) and we loved them all ... I would say that the magician was my least favorite but the kids enjoyed it ... again, it was really a good show but I have seen better magicians. The other shows we just loved ... Tony Tillman was awesome. The skating shows, as you have read, were great! The food was very good ... there was nothing I ate in the dining room that I didn't like ... the windjammer was very good ... certainly a ton of choices and the food was good. The service here was also amazing. I like egg whites and every time I would go back to sit down and then get up with my number to pick up my eggs, a staff member would do it for me. They had lox every day ... lox is not cheap and this was great lox. The dining room had great selections every night and was delicious. We did Johnny Rockets one night and it was worth the money and fun for the kids. My kids loved the Promenade and visited Ben and Jerry's numerous times and we each had one cupcake at the cupboard and they were worth the money (about 2.75). We visited Sorrentos many nights late at night and the pizza was good. The casino was fun and there was one non smoking night (loved that)! They had two family disco nights which we enjoyed. We didn't use the kids club. With five kids, they just loved visiting the promenade from about 10:00 until 11:00 then they went to their room(s) and watched TV. It worked well for all. There was plenty to do on the ship each day and we never had a problem getting a chair. I read many complaints about that but, honestly, I only need one (I don't need one to house my kids stuff; they share mine) and it was never a problem. The elevators were SOOO slow but we took the stairs all the time to combat the weight gain. We didn't get to stop at CoCo Cay and we were disappointed. I was looking very forward to this but it happens. We were fortunate every day with our weather on and off the boat. Here's what I can say about My Time Dining ... we signed up and pre paid our tips when we booked 3/11 and when we got there they told us it was too hard to accommodate our group of 13 or even if we split adults and kids (8/5) ... so that was upsetting but I think it was more the fault of our TA who should have known that. We ate every night at 5:45 (only 15 mins diff than a reg seating) ... I would have preferred a 6:30 esp. on port days ... our server was Alicia and Jason as the asst. waiter ... they were fabulous ... they made it worthwhile and we loved them! My girls did the Rock wall and one daughter and my son did the Flowrider. During the day the kids just loved the pool (it was ice cold but they didn't care). The kids played mini golf a couple of times. There is enough to do on this boat, trust me! We didn't want to go home :( We did not visit the adult's only pool but it looked lovely. I passed by it many times and really never saw kids there (there were 1,000 kids on this ship this week) as many have also written about. There were always fun things at the Promenade and the Pool area (always was excited to get the compass). Two last points ... we did have Graham Seymour as the CD and he was fabulous ... so funny! He did adults only comedy show and it was hysterical. Also, we did the Quest for adults and it was fun. Here's a tip ... the last night they had a farewell show ...we took a vote and picked the family quest instead ... OMG ... we were so glad ... the kids enjoyed it. Then, we watched the show in our room on TV and it was PAINFUL to watch ... there was a terrible comedian (you know that uncomfortable silence during a comedy show ... yep! ... don't go to this ... don't waste your last night doing this ... ! REALLY! Again ... all the other entertainment was top notch! There was trivia with diff. themes every night and that was fun too!
Here's some advice I wish I had read ... when we got off on Sunday, we had a rental car booked (as did a TON of others) with Budget. Well this is so unorganized and it's not the fault of RCC it's the fault of the Port Authority. There is no dedicated waiting spot for ANY rental company, etc. We waited over an hour and couldn't get on the two budget buses that come for you ... finally, we took that AAA taxi who has no trouble getting a spot to wait ... it was worth the $5.00 a head to get to the rental agency ... we were heading to Sea World. If you were even waiting for a shuttle it seemed to be unorganized. I think the taxi company has a regular waiting space. We would love to take this ship again and sail the Western Car. And I am happy to know this for getting off next time (hope there is a next time). We loved this ship and it lived up to our expectations.
Here's a short PS of our ports ... we took the ferry (from RCC) to St. John and went to Trunk Bay! Here is my only true negative ... RCC was not organized where this was concerned ... when we got off on one could really tell you where to wait ... when we did it through NCL ... they had you meet in the theatre and all leave together. The ferry was a beautiful ride there and beautiful beach to snorkel. In St. Maarten we went to Maho Beach to see the planes. The water at both ports was crystal clear. The waves in St. Maarten were a lot of fun for the kids. There is a restaurant there so you can eat and drink. And, the PLANES were a highlight! I highly recommend this stop in St. Maarten. We also tried to get to Orient Beach but we had a scam artist taxi driver (too long for an already long review) so we had to skip it but we weren't sorry after the great day we had there. Have a great trip. It really would require effort not to!