Before I report there are a few things that don't matter because of the changes that will be made during the ship going to dry dock as soon as we got off. We had a question and answer with the captain and cruise director about what was going to change. First, all of the carpet will be changed. All the wood on the ship will be sanded and re-stained. They will not paint everything, just the things that need it. At the elevators there are diagrams of the ship describing what is located on all of the floors. They will be taken down and be replaced with large interactive screens where you can put in your room number or another location in and it will show you exactly how to get there. One thing I didn't like about the ship was that there was wireless in only certain parts of the ship and wasn't in the staterooms. Now there will be wireless all around the ship and in every room. The restaurant Portofino will be removed and a new Italian restaurant will take its place. Other than the Wig and Gavel bar in the Promenade every shop will be demolished and redone. There will be a babysitting place for 6 months to 3 year olds. They are also adding a huge TV screen on the deck for movies and sports. The deck is getting completely torn apart and redone. Even the pools were going to get redone. The captain said that by law a cruise ship has to dry dock every certain number of years to get it checked out by authorities and since they have to do that they might as well get her updated.
About the ship
The ship didn't look like it needed to be updated at all. It was beautiful and has been well maintained over the years. I never saw a worn carpet or anything. Being a designer I really loved how they decorated the entire ship. Since they put in an ice skating rink in the middle, I thought it was strange you had to go to the 3rd, 4th and 5th floor to change elevators to get to certain things. You couldn't just walk across the ship. Some places were hard to find like the restaurant Johnny Rockets. Since no one knew where it was it was barely used. We went there one night and there were never more than 6 people in there at one time. All in all it was easy to maneuver around the ship. One thing I heard about has completely changed. It used to be rude to move a towel on a chair on the deck around the pool that someone had put on there to reserve a seat. Now they added signs telling everyone that you cannot reserve a seat. So now it has turned around 100% and it is now rude to reserve a seat. That I like.
There was way more activities on the ship than you could do even in 7 days. You could never be bored unless you wanted to. One day we decided to plan out the day, but the whole time we were saying that we had to stop and go to the next event. After that we decided that was way too much work so we just did something and then planned what to do next. For some reason there was a lot of the entertainment that didn't even start until 12:00 to 1:00 am. I wanted to go to more than I did, but after an excursion day I was just pooped. I was told about and even saw videos of the midnight buffet that I was looking forward to, but they decided it cost too much and don't do that anymore. I also really didn't like that they keep so much of the proceeds of the games you can play. For example in bingo there were about 100 people who played bingo at over $60.00 a piece spending about $6,000.00 and they only gave away about $1,200.00. One thing that bothered me was that in the casino, half of the slot machines did not work right. There is a spot where you put your Sea Pass card in to track your points, but half of them didn't work. On some of the slot machines they said to hit the card slot with your shoe and it would work. That worked on about 10 machines. They said they were not getting new slot machines just fixing the ones that were there. The slot machines were really tight but loved playing them any way. The best show by far was the ice skating show. Those people really know what they're doing. The only negative about the skating yourself was they only had hockey style skates without any give in them, and people ended up with a friction burn from the skate liner rubbing on their leg. They really should specify long socks to keep this from happening. The other good shows we saw were the Love and Marriage show which is like the Newlywed Game. There was this older couple that was hysterical. The magician and the comedian were also pretty funny. There was a different drink of the day every day and I wanted to try all of them. I found out you have to get them at any bar other than the pool deck because on the deck they give you a little plastic glass but everywhere else they gave it to you in a bigger hurricane glass you could keep. Now I don't know what to do with all of the glasses. I heard that you could take free tours of the galley and other parts of the ship, but they quit that and now they just have a big tour that takes 3 hours and cost $150.00 a person.
Our stateroom attendant couldn't have been any better. He kept the room spotless and I loved the chocolate on the pillows every night. It was a blast wondering what kind of towel animal was going to be in the room when we got there every night. I really loved the room service. Even if I was full I had to order something like pizza or cookies and milk every night. I used room service as a wake-up call every morning bringing a pot of coffee, juice, milk, fruit and pastries. I would have preferred to have more menu choices for room service.
Port & Shore Excursions
Every day we went to a port the weather was perfect. The first port, Cozumel, was by far the best place we visited. We went helmet diving and that was fun, seeing thousands of fish close up and being able to touch them was great. We just had to learn to hang on to the rope or our feet started drifting away because of the increase in buoyancy. But when you started drifting you couldn't help laughing to death because it was fun and looked so funny. They had plenty of staff scuba divers there to help you and guide you back to the ropes. After that we went to Margaritaville and that was a blast. Everyone was having a great time and we just kept getting shots because there was this beautiful woman giving massages after each one so you couldn't have just one.
The second port was Grand Cayman. Like Cozumel the weather was perfect and the water was some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. They just finished a port area there and it was beautiful. Like every port it had a lot of people selling stuff but not cheap. There were three Carnival ships already there so having about 16,000 people there they didn't have to negotiate prices with anyone. You have to leave the port area if you want to buy anything. We did buy some liquor, rum cake and Cigarettes at the duty free shop. One thing I liked is we didn't have to carry around the liquor we bought in the port. They would deliver everything to the ship. First thing we did was take an excursion on a submarine. It was really fun and educational too. We had to take a boat to the submarine and then get in. We went down about 100 feet and seeing all of the varieties of fish and turtles was great. The submarine would spit out fish food occasionally so the fish would come close to it. The submarine was pretty big so everyone had plenty of room. After that we went to Margaritaville there. What a complete change from the one in Cozumel. Everyone was bored. No one was even looking happy and it was boring. It is amazing how it seemed like a whole different place than the one in Cozumel. We wanted to go visit a city called Hell but no taxi would take us without 4 other people because they wanted $15.00 from each couple and wouldn't make enough on 2 people. So we just ended up going back to the pier. We did a little shopping then headed back to the ship. Since we had to get on a tender (ferry type boat) to get to shore and back to the ship, we were on 6 ocean going vessels (boats/ships/submarines) in one day.
The third port was Falmouth Jamaica. The beautiful weather held up here also. Our excursion started early that morning right as we got into port. We took a tour of Jamaica. First we went to a school house for 3-5 year old children. I thought it was kind of strange walking in on class but they get that once a day. You can tell no one had any money and the school gets paid to allow visitors to interact with the kids for a few minutes. The fun part I had was I had to cross the room at one time but had about 6 little ones hanging on me that wouldn't let go. The second thing we visited was a sugar cane field, then a papaya field, where we got to plant a papaya seedling. It was interesting learning all about both of them. The last stop was a building set up in front of an old house that the property owner lived in during the 1800s where we had a variety of local fruits, jerk chicken and rum. I need to find a place that sells jerk here. I did buy the seasonings they had for sale. When we got back to the port it was strange how it is fenced in and locked to everyone except those people on a cruise. There were about 300 people outside trying to get in to sell their wares. In the port I did have to buy a bottle of Jamaican rum and some Blue Mountain coffee at the duty free store.
Our stateroom was perfect for us. It had plenty of room and the most important thing was the balcony. For us it was worth every penny. I wouldn't travel on Royal Caribbean if they didn't allow smoking on the baloneys. Every morning except the last day the sun rose on our side and every day we got up before dawn to have coffee and cigs watching the sun come up. The only down side about the room was the refrigerator. We had the stateroom attendant take all of the stuff out so we could put our own stuff in. When I checked I noticed it wasn't cold inside. I called maintenance and they came out and it still wasn't cold and after the third time they said it wasn't broken but supposed to be around 50 degrees. That didn't make sense to me. I couldn't even keep milk in there and not have it go bad. So after that I got 4 ice buckets and kept everything in there and the stateroom attendant kept them full of ice. Other than that one little thing I don't think I could have had a better room. The only problem is if I take another cruise I have to get a balcony again. One thing I really wish they had had was a menu of all the restaurants on the TV (on Royal Caribbean TV) so you could decide what you wanted to eat that night without going to every restaurant every day to see what they were serving. The volume button for controlling ship announcements in the stateroom did not work, so we were constantly sticking our head out the door to hear what was being said.
All the food on the ship was better than your average food. The breakfast buffet was the biggest assortment. There wasn't anything that I would have wanted for breakfast that they didn't have. The first night we went to the dinner buffet. It was good. The second night we went to the fancy restaurant because it was formal night and I didn't rent a tux for nothing. The food was good but I realized that other than lobster night they had the same food on the buffet and the people that went to the fancy restaurant were people that liked to get waited on. It took 3 hours in the fancy restaurant and 30 minutes in the buffet for the same food. So we only ate in the fancy room that night and lobster night. We went to Johnny Rockets one night and they had one of the best burgers I have ever had, but other than the burgers the fries and onion rings were plain frozen ones and the malt was warm. I had to pay to eat there and for the malt. There were 6 people working there and three tables and they do this dance show. So when they did that there were 2 dancing in front of you. That part I didn't like.
We knew this was going to be easy. Our disembarkment time was 10:30 so we slept until about 8:00. What we didn't know was they had made an announcement that since it was the last day before dry dock they wanted everyone off early. So at 9:00 we were just taking our time and opened our cabin door and heard the announcement that everyone should be off the ship by now...OUCH. We dressed and packed up our last stuff in about 10 minutes and left and noticed there were no passengers and the contractors were working already. Even the elevators didn't work anymore. We ran down the stairs to the place we where we were supposed to be at 10:30 and it was closed and there were no one around. We thought weeeeeeeee a free cruise to Europe. It was so strange seeing not one person after seeing 100's every where all week. Well someone came by a little later and showed us how to get off the ship. Getting off there was real easy too. Our luggage was the only one left and customs just wanted us out of there. We were off and packed in the car by 9:30.
It was the best vacation we have ever had. They haven't raised prices much on cruises but they have started really nickel and diming you once you are on board. I had friends letting me know how cruises are so I knew all of that so I wasn't shocked at anything. One thing I know is I have never drank as many pina coladas or hurricanes in one week as I did last week. Also I can't remember the names of most of the others I drank but I have the glasses to prove it.