We flew into Ft Lauderdale the day before the cruise to meet up with friends. Our flight was leaving Newark, NJ at 6:00 AM so I arranged to have an early check in the with Hilton Gallery One in Florida. The hotel was beautiful and we upgraded to a suite which was magnificent.
The next morning the six of us took a van to the port. Two of the members in our party are diamond members which was a plus for all us. Embarking on the ship went smoothly. I will admit, the staff working at the port were not that friendly. We weren't allowed to sit in the diamond member area before boarding, although we told him we were traveling with members until our friends arrived. This was the only snafu we hit during our entire trip.
We were one of the first of board and was this ship amazing. We went straight to customer service to put cash on our accounts as we are drinkers and didn't want the credit card bill to be outrageous. After we all went to Central park cafe and had the roast beef sandwiches everyone was talking about. They are the best I have ever had.
We got to go into our state room at approximately 1 PM and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. Rooms were a little small, and my husband said I chin zed out as I got a balcony over central park instead of over the ocean. He was disappointed, but I loved it. I am a people person so for me it great. Our state room girl was Athena, and she was just lovely. Always there if I needed anything and also let me in to my room a few times when i forgot my card. We did get some of laundry cleaned while on the ship. Everything came back the next day pressed, hung and or bagged. Thanks Athena Miss you already girl......
We had early dining at 6 PM. Service was impeccable. I do think this is due the fact we were linked to the diamond members. Our waiter was Tyrone and he was just awesome. Attentive and remembered our likes and dislikes every night. We were always the last table to leave the dining room. The ten of us had so much fun with all of the staff here. The food was good, some of the people in our party were disappointed with some food, but Tyrone would tell them to order and try something else. Not a problem. Three of us in the party submitted him was WOW cards and greased his pocket extra.....Hope you all could get a waiter as good. We ate in the specialty restaurant Giovanni's and this was by far exceptional. Everything we ordered was family style with the exception of our entree. Service was good and the food incredible. It was the wedding anniversary of a member in our party, so the whole restaurant sang to them and roses were delivered to the table. We only ate in the Windjammer once and was not impressed. We ate breakfast room service once and the other days ate in Johnny Rockets. Nice meal and not big. For lunch we mixed it up. Usually I would run down to Central Cafe from the pool for salads, chips and sandwiches but we also tried the Wipe Out (not too great), Sorentos for pizza, or the Solarium had a nice spread of not so fattening things.
Drinks, we discovered the beer pass day 2. The passes are not advertised on their web page or I would have purchased this before sailing. For a total drink package (mixed drinks, everything) it was $380 a person. We chose the beer pass for $315 pp which included all beer, soda, water, non alcoholic frozen drinks, espresso, etc. It was well worth the money, especially if you drink alcohol because drinks are very expensive on board. Shout out goes to Alex of the solarium bar and Central park bar. He was amazing as were the pool bartenders (too many to name) but we tended to tip $1 almost every time so we had them swarming around us and was never without a drink if we wanted one. These people work hard and deserve every penny they earn. Alex also was given one of our WOW cards.
We only got off in St Thomas and walked around and did some shopping. I have been to St Maarten and Bahama's previously but my hubby has arthritis and his legs were bothering him. We enjoyed the ship on those two days and was surprised there were many people whom stayed on the ship. I did miss seeing St Maarten again as this was one of my favorite islands.
Shows were great. we reserved all of them in advance. My favorites were the comedy, aqua show and cirque De soleil. The headliner show was good as well. I didn't make it to the ice skating rink and I have to admit I chickened out at doing the zip line and it isn't very far, but I am not fond of heights. Some in our party zipped and also did the surf board.
Shopping was great. I donated to Make a Wish foundation and got some t shirts. The shops on the ship were reasonably priced but the day of $19.95 watches was insane.
We got the express valet luggage, which was $20 a pp and well worth the money. We put our bags out Friday night and didn't see them until we were back in Newark Airport. Disembarking went smoothly.
All in all, it was a great vacation. We all want to cruise together and are thinking about doing Allure next. I would recommend this ship. Although there are over 6,000 passengers, it never felt crowded. Sometimes you had to wait for an elevator. Plane was delayed for a few hours due to high winds in NY. We spent the night in Jersey before driving home!!! Hope you all enjoy your upcoming trips.