We had such fabulous cruise and I'm depressed now that it's over. It was truly a wonderful experience. I was traveling with my husband and two daughters (ages 8 and 10) and my parents had the cabin next to us. We arrived in FLL two days before our cruise and stayed at the Gallery One. Our flight was delayed getting into town so we arrived around midnight but our shuttle driver from Quality Limo Service was there waiting for us (the poor guy had to wait 3 hours) and drove us directly to our hotel since we were the only ones on the shuttle. I'd highly recommend using this service if you are traveling between Miami and FLL.
We had a 2 bedroom suite at the hotel and it was a perfect set up for us. We got up early the next morning and headed to the pool. It wasn't crowded and my kids basically had the pool to themselves for a couple of hours. Later in the afternoon we got on the water taxi (there was a stop right at our hotel) and loved seeing all the mansions on the water. We got off at the beach and walked around a bunch and then finished off the water tour. It was a great way to see the town.
The next morning we got ready to head to the ship. They had a bus shuttle that took us to the port from our hotel. When we arrived at the port, our terminal was pretty chaotic. Our shuttle driver had to wait in a long line before he could drop us off. Once we got off the bus, there were people immediately waiting to take our luggage which was nice. Then we had to get into a very long line. I was told that the ship before us was a charted cruise and there were some paperwork issues which caused a delay for those passengers to get off which bottle necked our cruise. We were out on the hot sun for over an hour before we set foot into the building. Being from Seattle where it's been so cold and rainy, the sun felt really good to me and I had no complaints standing in it all day. However, the majority of passengers around us were not as pleased but there was no outright complaining or bitching. People were excited and ready to cruise and most people were pretty patient. My only complaint was having to use the port a potty in line since I was drinking so much water from the free water bottles they were handing out.
Once we got through security, we moved relatively quickly and were on the ship in about 2 hours from being dropped off at the pier at 11:45. I think we were eating lunch around 2 in the Windjammer.
We had a balcony room on the Deck 7 toward the aft. The room was clean and nice and our room steward immediately introduced himself and was visible for most of the cruise. 4 people in one stateroom can get tight at times and when my kids are a little bit older, I'll most likely end up getting two rooms.
The food on the cruise was great! I found there to be quite a bit of variety and everything tasted good. We ate in the main dining room every night but one and absolutely loved our waiter, asst waiter and head waiter. This was the first cruise I had been on where the head waiter came and talked with us every night. She always made an appearance was so interactive with my kids. We loved her! Our waiter and asst waiter was also very attentive and we looked forward to seeing them every night. I wanted to cry the last night when we said goodbye. They were just so special to us. We had a bar waiter that we went to every night and enjoyed his company as well.
The ports were great. We went to St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan and Labadee. On the first 3 ports we didn't do any excursions and just basically walked the town and shopped. On Labadee, we rented a cabana on Barefoot Beach. This was definitely the highlight of our entire vacation! My kids want to just take a vacation to Labadee next time and skip the cruise. I have to say that port is like heaven on earth. Our cabana attendant had to basically kick us out of there when it was time to leave! Royal Caribbean really puts on a first class act with this port experience.
I didn't hit any shows on this cruise for some reason. It may have been because I was in the casino every night! Had a great time in there and met some wonderful people. My kids were in Adventure Ocean every night after dinner until 10:00 (and sometimes later if there was something going on and they didn't want to leave). The staff at Adventure Ocean is excellent and my kids loved being in there. They also met some great people and were very sad to say good bye to their new friends.
The pool deck was a lot of fun. We spent a few hours out there every day lounging by the pool. The water wasn't too cold to get in and felt really good when you needed to cool off. They had funny entertainment going on around the pool in the afternoons that was fun to watch.
Leaving the ship wasn't too bad. We carried off our own bags and it took about 45 minutes to get off. We were told it was taking longer than usual due to it being Easter. I'm not sure what Easter had to do with anything but it wasn't too bad. I was just bummed to be leaving such a great vacation. Our shuttle driver from QLS picked us up and got us to the airport with several hours to spare.
It was a long travel day going home since we didn't have a direct flight but we made it home safely.
Until next time....