Embarkation: We arrived around 1pm and parked at Galveston Park N Cruise. It was advertised as being right “across the street” from the cruise terminal and so doesn’t provide a shuttle. In reality, it was a 3-4 block walk. The traffic around the terminal was crazy and I didn’t want to make DH navigate it, so we walked and hauled our stiff. Next time, I’d pick a parking location with a shuttle. Once we arrived at the terminal, luggage drop-off was a complete zoo. Disembarking passengers were tying up the porters and it took a good 20 minutes to find someone to take our luggage inside. At that point we went to the check-in line and it was crazy long. We decided to go get something to eat and come back, hoping it would improve or at least that we wouldn’t pass out from hunger while waiting to board (DH is diabetic, so this is a serious concern). We returned around 2pm and found the line was even worse. It took us two hours to get through the line, check in, and board. We had just enough time to drop our carry-ons in our cabin before being rushed off to the muster drill. The drill was held up by all of the people behind us in the line who were still waiting to board. This wasn’t their fault, but it was hot and miserable standing around for 30 minutes waiting for the drill to begin.
Cabin: We decided to splurge on a balcony cabin. The cabin itself was a good size and had plenty of storage. We found the bed and pillows uncomfortable (too soft for our liking). Our room attendant was great, aside from an unfortunate incident on the last morning when I emerged from the bathroom partially clothed to find him changing the sheets. I am someone who can laugh such things off, but I think he about died from embarrassment. The wind was terrible on our sea days, which limited our use of the balcony. It was nice to have, but I could go back to an OV or inside and not miss it.
Sea day activities: This was our first RCL cruise. We’d cruised Alaska with Princess and wanted to try another line for comparison. We thought RCL would offer more activities, which may be true but, at least on this cruise, they were focused on families. Tons of kids were aboard, so I get that two adults sailing alone weren’t the main focus, but we didn’t find there was much of interest for us to do on the sea days. We aren’t big drinkers and don’t gamble, and those were the main adult-focused activities. We enjoyed relaxing in the solarium and walking around the ship, which was decorated beautifully for Christmas. We went to the nondenominational service on Christmas day, the ice show (which was great) and watched a movie poolside, but beyond that we didn’t find any activities we wanted to participate in. By contrast, when we sailed Princess we often had to make a tough decision about which activity to do because there were several of interest happening at the same time.
Food: We ate nearly all of our meals in the MDR. We had first-seating dining and were given a table for two, which was a surprise. I wouldn’t have minded sharing a table and enjoyed the people we met while sharing a table for breakfast and lunch. We found the Windjammer breakfast and lunch not to be very appetizing the one day we went there instead of the MDR. Lunch in the MDR on sea days was very good, especially the salad bar. Breakfast was hit-or-miss in the MDR, which seemed to suffer from inconsistency. Sometimes the eggs were spot-on the way we ordered them, sometimes not. One day the French toast was amazing, other days it was dry from not enough time in the batter. Our dinner serving team, Anisha and Michael, were beyond wonderful. We got to know Anisha quite well as she often came to chat with us between courses. Michael was attentive and playful, giving us toothpick puzzles to solve over dessert. Anisha also provided good suggestions on food choices and we enjoyed nearly everything we were served. We dined at Chops for the Wine Pairings Dinner on the last night of the cruise and didn’t enjoy it. The food and wine were just OK and not worth the $75/person charge.
Ports: We booked a private excursion in Ocho Rios to Dunn’s River Falls and the Cayoga Gardens. It was a crazy, busy day in Ocho Rios (Boxing Day, a national holiday) and DRF was crazy, but we had fun. If you go, avoid all eye contact with the vendors in the craft market unless you really plan to buy something. We had a bad experience here of letting ourselves get swindled when a vendor sucked DH into looking at his items. In Grand Cayman, we were a bit leery of scheduling anything due to the tendering situation, so we just shopped and walked around town. In Cozumel, we took the Chankanaab excursion through the ship. There were 6 or 7 ships in port that day and the terminal area was a mad house. Once we got out of there and over to Chankanaab, we had a wonderful time. In retrospect, we would have had more time there if we’d taken a taxi on our own and would have spent less on the excursion.
Debarkation: Getting off the ship was almost as unpleasant as getting on. We spent an hour in line after our number was called. I don’t really understand why they called us given that there were so many people in line ahead of us. I guess they needed us off ASAP.
Other notes: We are big college football fans and were very pleased that many of the bowl games were shown on the poolside screen and in-room TV. That constituted our evening entertainment since we aren’t much on going to shows.
Overall experience: We might cruise RCI again, but wouldn’t do a Christmas cruise. We had hoped for more holiday activities that weren’t focused on families with small children. The ship was unpleasantly crowded and given the upcharge on the cruise over a non-holiday week, we felt we didn’t get our money’s worth in terms of activities or the onboard experience. I’m sure many of those with children or large family groups might find it worth it, but in general I felt like we paid extra to subsidize activities we weren’t invited to participate in.