I romanticised the idea of a cruise ship with all the entertainment, places to eat, exotic ports of call etc, and the reality was simply much different for a first time cruiser.
The reality is you are camping in the mall for five days two days before christmas. You are completely alienated from the rest of the world because there is NOTHING but water and the boat under your feet to look at which takes about an hour to see everything it has to offer. You get hustled 24/7 to buy buy buy and all this trouble is so you can step foot in a place like delapidated run down progresso or beautiful georgous cozumel for a mere 5 hour port call where the hustleing still coninues but is alot more fun if they havent already bled you dry on the boat. (14.50 for sunblock)(every drink is $10)(beach bag $20) you can even take the towels out of your room for $22 and robe $40, pictures are $16 a piece and someone is taking your picture atleast 5 times a day. So with $80 for parking, about five drinks total form my wife $50, soda card for me $35 shopping $$$$ we spent between $350 and $400 in what I will call hidden fees(no excursions).
I will say that the food was pretty good no complaints at all here. and the dining room staff was great. Anna Marie from Romania was awsome and we love her. Our room stewards were also fantastic. we spoke with them daily and they were always smiling and asking about our adventures. Now the bad part was the rest of the crew. Anytime I ordered anything other than the $10 alchaholic mixed drink every waiter I came into contact with looked horribly appauled to be in my presence. a few times they didnt even come back with the drink at all and I just went to the bar and got it on my own, where by the way the same attitude was witnessed without exception. At one point I had to go to medical due to severe dehydration which was another $50 just to get them to take my BP and tell me I needed to drink water. No problem I went up top feeling horrible and asked one of the waiters for some water. His response" how about a bucket of beer instead" no thank you just some water please I am dehydrated and feeling poorly. his response " no problem I will make sure the beer is cold" No thank you some water will be fine I can go get it myself from the bar if you would rather I did that. "no I will get it" he said. I never saw him again. and ended up just aking the luke warm bottle from my room $3.95
Along with this we prepaid for tips and gatuities to the tune $115 when we purchased our tickets. Still we were looked at like we had two heads if we didnt throw at least two dollars in every hand that brought a diet coke or glass of water etc etc.
One of my favorite tricks was we ordered room service three times. Each time they would hand us the tray and so you would not take it and shut the door with out tipping they would say I need you to sign this. the first time it was a reciept that said I owed $0 no problem I thought pretty normal I guess this is necessary, the second and third time it was a cocktail napkin and once a blank piece of paper.
Shopping: When we first got there we saw these beautiful rings watches etc etc. Some of the rings were $90 and the watches $149 people were buying them left and right, my wife even bought one on the third day when they lowered the price to $40 or the rings. By the end of the cruise on the last day they had a huge watch sale and all the watches were $19.95 and the $90 rings were $4.48 yes 4 dollars and 48 cents marked down from $90 and I bet they were still making money on them. LOL.
They really push diamonds from a company called diamonds international with the claim that they are cheaper because they are straight from the mine, they even have a whole siminar on how debeers gets the diamonds and how DI gets them which result in such great savings for you. the problem is they arent graded on the same scale as Debeers and carry no recognized grading certification. so the same diamond can be had for 1/4 the price on ebay and about 1/10 the price of the Debeers diamonds
So how was my first cruise? I will say it had its good moments but in no way was it nice to enough to say that it was about the journey and not the destination. As for the destination? Progresso not good, Cozumel spectacular. I wondered why they just dont do an overnight in Cozumel and then the thought hit me that the more they have you on the ship the more they make off of you. the more you are off the ship the more you spend on shore and they dont make money of off you from the locals. they still get kickbacks from the stores they recomend you shop at and tell you stories about how diamonds fall out of every ring from the stores not on their recomended list. So even though Cozumel is awsome, your time there is so short that it def is not worth getting there by cruise ship.
SO would I do it again? probably not I am glad I did it though just because I loved spending the time with my wife and that was great but I could have spent time with her in any venue and would've felt better about the surroundings.