Intro & Boarding:
My boyfriend and I take a trip every year, sort of a couples get away, but this year we chose to go on our first cruise! This cruise left out of Miami (4pm) and went to Nassau (8am-12am), Coco Cay (8am-5pm) and Key west (10am-6pm) in that order, May 16th-May 20th. We started our cruise vacation by driving to Miami a day before, as we live in South Carolina and have relatives in Miami. This was pretty cost effective, as the drive only cost about $120. On embarkation day we arrived around 1:00 (this was our boarding time) and check in was really quick! The line to get on the ship was not that long either, we waited for about 15 min. We were also able to carry on our snacks (chips & cookies), bottled water, and caprisans that I brought for our days at ports.
Unfortunately we arrived at the end of lunch and they were beginning to close up, so we barely had any food left to grab from. I did not expect this at all, but next time we know to try and arrive a little earlier. The buffet had a pretty ok assortment of food. From what I remember there was paella (really good), fried rice, veggies, Indian foods, and some other things. We only ate at the buffet twice for lunch and did most of our lunch off the ship. We ate breakfast most of the time in the dining room, which we learned on the last day it is better to eat in the buffet for breakfast, as there was way more food. The dinning area had menus to order off with a small range of food that wasn't too great and a small portion. Dinner was great! We had late dining since we knew we wouldn't want to have to cut our day short to rush back to the ship to eat dinner. You could always eat in the buffet too for dinner or Johnny Rockets, but we never did since we enjoyed the dining experience so much. The dinner wait staff was excellent, entertained pretty well and even remembered our names! we were seated with 2 girls from Washington state celebrating a graduation and we also had a window seat. First they give you a starters menu, ask for your drink of choice, and serve you a variety of bread of your choice(yummy). We didn't do the soda package as we are not big soda drinkers and we had a choice of water, tea (yuck), and lemonade. I chose either water or lemonade (pretty good, not too sweet or sour) different nights. I only say yuck to the tea cause I am from the south and we like our tea sweet, and it was nowhere near that lol. I am not going to go in to foods cause I enjoyed being surprised of what was on the menus, but the food was really good and if you did not care for something they gladly change it for something else. After starters, there were your entrees and dessert.
After we ate lunch and viewed the cabin we headed up to the deck to watch the ship sail out of port. There they had people selling drinks, which you'll see them all through your trip. I had a pina colada (my fav) which was delish and my BF had a long island ice tea. Now, RC does not allow you to bring alcohol on board so we enjoyed a few of these $7+ drinks and my boyfriend ordered a bottle of red wine at dinner the 1st night, which was maybe $27. This all stopped once we ported in Nassau and went on a little mission. Enough said lol.
Now on our first day we did most of our roaming of the ship (Casino, pool, jacuzzi, rock climbing, party areas and lounges), got in the pool, and spent a LITTLE time in the jacuzzi. I cant really tell too much about the ship's areas since we spent very little time on the ship but I can give small details. The pool was nice and was chlorine water, maybe 5 ft, but the JACUZZI was disgust! It was so dirty with build up on the walls from people's dirt that I didn't even sit back and was out in no less than 5 minutes. The only reason I was in there that long cause we were talking to a few other people who were in there and I didn't notice it sooner. We never got the time to go rock climbing as we were busy, busy, busy with other things and they had certain hours ( I think they closed at 7, but it did vary each night). I went in the casino for a little while and dropped a few quarters in some slots. I think this is the only place they allow smoking. The party areas were really deserted on the night we went looking for a party (2nd day) and I don't recall of any shows. We did hear an announcement for bingo every now and then, which you payed a fee for, I don't think it was too costly though.
Closing and Departure:
Since this was our last night we packed up most of everything, went to dinner, and went to sleep. By the end of the trip we were extremely exhausted and didn't realize it. The last night they put surveys at your door and if you haven't tipped they ask you to fill out your tippings. Since we fell asleep we forgot to put our bags outside the door and had to depart first at 8:30 am and carry all of our stuff off. It wasn't too bad cause we didn't have too much but, it would have been nice to leave a little later and get to eat breakfast. Departure was pretty smooth and didn't take but at most 15 min. After you leave the ship and before you exit the building you have to fill out a form that tells everything you purchased that you didn't pay taxes on. After that we waited for our ride, spent the day in Miami, and headed home the next day. Overall it was a GREAT trip and May is a good time to sail. The weather was nice and warm (minus Key West), there we rent a lot of kids, and it wasn't too crowded. I'm not sure how crowded Atlantis Aquaventure was, but in the morning when we first got there Atlantis wasn't crowded. I hope this review helps and look for my review of the Carnival Destiny soon!