I suggest going the day before for two reasons: 1) just in case there is any delays on your flight and 2) to see ft. lauderdale! i would suggest going to las olas, its a beachfront street where you can walk around, see little shops and then see the beautiful beach! My husband and I went to a little crepe shop on south olas that had esgargot and gruyere cheese inside. mmmm yum! a must try for the adventurous foodie inside of you.
Like other reviews before me, I would suggest not going so early (around 1 or 2 in the afternoon is good) to get to the port. You miss the crowd and in 15 minutes, you are on the ship! Another good thing about going around this time is that your stateroom will already be ready for you so you dont have to wait around and you get to see your room right away.
We got a boardwalk balcony room on the ship. Some reviews said it was noisy, I found it to be really quiet when you shut the balcony door. I really liked the fact that we could people watch, still was able to see the ocean past the aqua theater, and we were able to see the oasis of dreams show multiple times from the comfort of our balcony! There was a nice breeze that passed through the open part of the ship so it wasn't so hot each day. I'm kinda glad we didn't get the ocean view, I think I would have gotten sick from it. But having the lights at night was really beautiful. If I had a choice, I would probably do the boardwalk balcony room again. I dont think I would do the central park balcony, it seemed like a valley, it was really hot in that part of the ship. Our stateroom attendant was AWESOME, per our request, he made the towel animals EVERY night instead of the 2 or 3 nights they usually do it. Also, he gave us robes to wear during the cruise, something I requested on the phone and was denied by the operator. It is true, bring a power strip if you need to charge more than one item since there is not really any power outlets in the staterooms. We actually started out with a inside stateroom and upgraded about a month prior to the embarkation date. If you are patient and willing to look for deals every so often, I would suggest doing this since we basically received a balcony room for the inside stateroom price! This saved us about $500 each, which is a good thing because you are probably going to be spending that money on the ship anyways!
on that note, do NOT go on this amazing cruise if you are not willing to spend money. yes, there is A LOT of things to do that is included on the cruise but you must be willing to spend at least $500 onboard for the little things, pictures ($99.99 is there special, comes with 4 8x10 photos, a dvd recap, a picture of the front or back of the ship, and a folio to put one picture in), cupcakes, and speciality restaurants (a MUST if you are adults going to dinner with kids).
We only went to the dining room once, I was NOT impressed with the food at all. The portions were great, but there was no flavor, so we just went to the speciality restaurants the rest of the week. those restaurants do NOT disappoint (and because you are paying for them, they better not disappoint!) i would suggest doing a dining package if you are willing to go to the speciality restaurants, it saved us about $30 per person! The one FREE place we did love going to was the park cafe. All the roast beef sandwiches are true, it was so good! Not only was the roast beef sandwich good, but they also have a make-your-own-salad bar and they make paninis too! the ambience wasn't bad either. just make sure you get there before 6 pm since that is when they close for the night. Lots of disappointed people came at 6:05. you do NOT want to be one of them. The seafood shack really wasn't my thing, but they did have a surf's up party that was pretty awesome. its $25/person and it comes with a LOT of food AND three alcoholic beverages. Not only that, there was a show and dancing to go along with it. Definitely worth the money. There are a LOT of food choices on the ship, and I was determined to try ALL of them (only one I didn't was the chef's table, didn't feel like having my meal narrated by the chef). But after the cruise, I only gained one pound! There are SO many things to do on this ship and you are DEFINITELY going to be doing a lot of walking so your weight shouldn't fluctuate that much.
if you are a planner/organizer, or have a type A personality (or at least someone in your group is), make sure to take advantage of all the things you can do pre-cruise online so you will have a smooth trip. We made all our show reservations online and didn't have to wait in one line to get in. Not only that, you get the best seats! So make sure to make reservations ahead of time, if you want to change a time of a show, just call from your stateroom, the guest services were always willing to help. Also, make sure to sign the activities waiver before the cruise, it makes the zipline, flowrider and rock climbing lines go by fast.
I didn't try the flowrider as I saw one girl lose her bottoms and I was NOT going to be a 32 year old woman that did the same thing. However, my husband did it and said it was fun. Zipline was awesome, just don't look down and make sure to remember to stop! Rock climbing was fun, remember that the purple "rocks" are the easiest and you will be fine.
The ports were ok, i'm from San Diego so to me, Haiti and Jamaica were TOO HOT to enjoy :(
Labadee, Haiti was fun, tried to snorkel but didn't really see anything. Falmouth, Jamaica - Dunns river falls were amazing, make sure to stretch first before going up the falls because you WILL be sore the next day if you dont. Make sure to bring your own aqua shoes, the ship charges $20 when you can buy them ahead of time for $10. The vendors are VERY VERY pushy, make sure to just try to walk away calmly if you are not going to buy anything since they will get IN your face and start carving YOUR name on their items in order for you to buy it.
Cozumel, Mexico - the BEST port ever. Make sure to try the 4x4 taverns. You can drive a jeep through mexico and it takes you to the famous chaak tun caverns. SOOOO amazing, definitely a once in a lifetime experience. You get to swim in a crystal clear cenote in a cave. Its so awesome. And then you drive out to a restaurant where you eat ON THE BEACH. Not only that, its AWAY from the general public so you can relax for a couple hours under a shade that you don't have to fight for.
I truly was sad to leave. I'm already planning my next one on the allure of the seas! I dont understand why people complain. If you already know that yes, people are going to try to sell you stuff (just kindly say no thank you) and yes, there are 6000 people on that ship with you (never felt crowded) then you will have a great time. Don't let people with negative attitudes bring you down. Just go with the flow and you will have the time of your life :)