Departed Cape Canaveral, FL on FOS January 27, 2013, Eastern Caribbean, 7 day cruise. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites, Cocoa Beach, park and cruise package and room was great. We had a one bedroom suite (4 adults) has 2 queen beds and pull out sofa, and it came with breakfast. We could see the port and our ship from our room. We were in their Celebration room ready for transport to the ship at 10:00am Sunday and were to the ship by 10:30ish. Did not take long at all to board, very quick and very smooth. We headed for the Promenade deck for lunch, since we had heard how crowded the Windjammer could be. Ran into roll call members, what a coincidence! We sat and had sandwiches and treats there until our room was ready at 1:00.
We had a promenade room and parents had a balcony room on the 6th floor, mid-ship. Both were very nice and spacious. We were concerned we might have too much promenade noise once I realized our floor was only one floor above the promenade, but there was very little noise. The night of the 70's party was the only night it was loud and it was over by 11:30pm, so no worries! The promenade room has a 2 seater couch, glass table and a window seat to view the promenade from your room. There is also a vanity area with chair. Lighting in the room was excellent!! Plenty of storage in every place possible. There were 2 outlets at the vanity area. Full length mirror in room. We also never heard any noise from the room next door. We had a crew closet on one side, ice machine, etc. in there, so only had another cabin on one side. We did not have a connecting door. It was always quiet. Occasionally heard cabin attendants in the halls later in the morning, but nothing disturbing.
Bathroom was adequate for us, good size and a round shower with sliding doors. It was a tight fit, not sure how a large person does in there, but was fine for us. The shower head moves up and down the rod and will also come off for hand held showering. There was shampoo and bar soap provided, but we did not use it. Water pressure was great as was hot water. Good counter space and storage behind the glass door to the left of the mirror. Also shelf space underneath.
Hair dryer is in the vanity drawer, but I brought my own. I heard you have to hold the button in while using the RCCL one. I did not check that.
Good storage in closet and under bed space for bags. There were 4 drawers under the TV. 3 shelves above TV and small drawers and shelf space in 2 bedside tables. Safe in the closet that you set the code with. Ours worked great. TV in room and there were more channels than we had on a previous Carnival cruise. Towels were comfortable as was the bedding.
Our Cabin Attendant, Warren, kept the room clean and answered any request we had. He also made 6 towel animals!! Ice is not provided routinely unless you ask for it. There is something called a refrigerator in the room, but the contents are not even cool, much less cold. It's sort of like having an igloo cooler with no ice in it! You can ask your attendant to empty it for you, but there really is no reason, as it does not keep anything cold. There is some space in there for a few things, even with the contents left there.
I used room service twice and it was quick and good. There is a breakfast door hanger card you can fill out and hang on your door the night before, we did this on St. Maarten day, as we had an early tour. The room service menu was inside a book in the room, with lot's of other info. The phone had a wake up call feature that was very nice. There is no clock in room, so bring a travel one. I also brought a sound machine and used an extension cord to get it by my bed, since outlet was at vanity.
Went to the helipad off deck 4, for sail-a-way, after the muster drill. Then it was off to dinner.
The ship is beautiful and you can never see everything. We are not big drinkers, so did not use any of the bars, there were several to choose from. Views from olive or Twist were incredible and it is a large room. You can go sit and watch the views without drinking. The casino was a good size, not gamblers either, but Mom lost her allotted $8.00 in a slot machine! I figure odds of winning on a ship are not too good, so I stay away! I heard someone did win 1500.00 on slots one day.
There was some type of show in the main theater every night and all were good. 2 were production shows, music and dance, very good, one was Drew Thomas, illusionist who competed on America's Got Talent, some of his show drug a little, but the illusions were incredible and I had no idea how he did them, ice show was spectacular, despite the rolling of the ship, tough on the skaters! The last night was a farewell show with some aerialists and a comedian from Wales, very good.
We missed the adult comedian and some other fun stuff like marriage game and Quest because we were just too darn tired to stay up that late!
The "Move it" parade is the first night, very late, mid nightish and there's another that was at 5:15 on Saturday on our ship. We went and sat on stools at Ben & Jerry's about 40 minutes in advance. The characters made appearances throughout the week on the promenade and the pool area. They would gladly take pictures with you and your camera. There were also photo ops with the ship photographers and there was a character breakfast for the kids. Since we did not have kids with us, I cannot speak to the children's program, but from what I saw in the daily compass' it looks like an awesome program and plenty of time for adults to themselves, up until 10:00pm. There was even an area for them on Coco Cay, so adults could engage in excursions there too.
Several pools and hot tubs and a great kids water area. The flowrider was fun to watch, boogie boarding and stand up surfing, though we did not try it. Also a rock climbing wall, mini golf, full size basketball court, also used for volleyball, ping pong, shuffleboard, etc. Huge arcade. Walking track, 4 laps was a mile. There is a solarium area for adults with their own pool and hot tub. Lot's of lounge chairs in all sorts of places, some more private than others. Shade and sun.
Sprinkles ice cream (soft stuff, like ice milk) on pool deck. Pool towel station at pool. You had to pick up towels there and return them, or face a $25.00 fee on your seapass card. One thing I like about Carnival in this area is they leave pool towels in your room at start of cruise. I assume if they are gone at the end, they will charge your card. This was more convenient to me than having to go back and forth to the towel station, etc., but certainly will not keep me away from RCCL.
"Walk and Skate for Wishes" was on Saturday, last sea day. You could purchase t-shirts at Sea Bar on deck 12 before Saturday, whether you walked or not. The $10.00 donation gets you a shirt and all proceeds go to the Make a Wish Foundation. RCCl also provides complimentary cruises for make wish recipients and one family was on board our ship. The Captain was there to start the walk. Fiona also joined us!
We signed up for my time dining, which is anything but! Another thing I liked about Carnival vs RCCL. RCCl wants you to make reservations and of course, hard to get reservations when you want them. We ended up eating around 5:30 every night, which would have been first seating anyway. With Carnival. We just walked up and were seated, as in a land restaurant, never had to wait long. The system RCCL has in place seemed to stress out the staff as well, trying to make reservations, follow them, etc. I heard more than one unhappy cruiser or staff trying to be nice yet get the point across that reservations were needed. I personally think RCCl is making it harder on themselves and staff trying to require reservations for my time dining. If you did not have reservations, they made it clear you should have made them. Just seat people as they arrive and if they have to wait, then that is how it is on land too.
However, despite those issues, our dining Waiter/Assistant were excellent and we had the same ones 6 out of 7 nights. Prakish and Jermaine were both awesome, friendly, never forgot names, our likes, drinks, etc. , despite waiting on 28 people all at the same time, they kept our food coming out on time, drinks filled, etc. and never got flustered. Jacob was the Head Waiter and equally attentive. He also pitched in to clean tables or do whatever was needed. He checked on us several nights. We did miss the waiter entertainment which took place on the lower dining levels, but we could hear them. My time dining is in the Galileo dining room, 5th floor. They also have dining rooms on level 3 and 4. We did go to Leonardos dining room one day for lunch while at sea and had the Tutti salad, awesome! And it was huge! They don't skimp on the servings, you choose your lettuces, veggies, meats, cheese and dressing. They combine it all and put in a bowl for you. Meat choices included Shrimp, Tuna (the fish, not salad) chicken, etc. There is also a daily lunch menu there. I could not have eaten the salad and another entree though.
We also dined in the Windjammer for sea day lunches and for breakfasts, lot's of choices, sushi, salad makings, veggies, meats, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. Breakfast choices were typical breakfast fare. One issue was drinks. They made them for you, so often had to wait for coffee, would run out of cups or have a line. There also is not tea/lemonade, etc. available 24 hours like on carnival. Once Windjammer closed around 9:00pm, no access to those drinks, except room service. The promenade cafe did have coffee and water, hot chocolate, various hot teas, 24 hours. I did prefer the self service drinks on Carnival and 24 hour access. In the dining room, you could also pay extra for fresh squeezed orange juice. And we noticed lemonade in the dining room at night was better than what was in the windjammer for lunch, had pulp so may have been fresh squeezed in dining room.
The promenade cafe had sandwiches and sweet treats 24 hours, breakfast pastries in mornings. Open 24 hours. One server had an attitude, but may have just been tired or having bad day. We had to remind ourselves these folks work 7 days a week with little time off, etc., away from family, so I guess a bad day here and there is understandable. The only thing I don't like about promenade cafe is they don't really give you time to look and the signs for the sandwiches are not the easiest to read. As soon as you walk up, they are asking for your order. I felt rushed, even when no one else was standing there. Could be a cultural thing too.
We did not eat at Sorrentos Pizza any, but they are open from about 1:00pm till 3:00am. Kids seemed to like it!We did not eat at either of the signature restaurants for extra charge, Johnny Rockets, the cupcake place or Ben and Jerry's. There was plenty enough food for us with the included meals and I really could not eat between those meals, too full!
I did go to the Windjammer after dinner and get cheese for late night snack. They usually had cheddar, brie, some white cheese, blue cheese one night, carrs crackers or bread.
We took one bottle of wine on board, you are allowed 2 per stateroom. We also took a 6 pack of bottled water and mom took sodas with no problems.
We did make our port at CoCo Cay and the tenders ran back and forth. We did not have a long wait going or coming, you do have to go through customs/security coming back to the ship, so is a little slower. Not sure what they thought we were going to get off the island and take back with us, but.....
Plenty of lounge chairs all over the island. Water was too cold for us, so we stayed out. Lots of people participating in various watersports though. Barbeque was hamburgers, hotdogs and some ribs I think. Typical outdoor picnic type foods. We did not go through the straw market, would be Ok if it were island made, etc., but most stuff is from China, etc.!
Hammocks throughout island. The cabanas looked nice, not many in use this trip.
St. Thomas, we did a RCCL tour of Island for 2.35 hours (STF6). Big difference in drivers and transportation in St. Thomas vs St. Maarten! We w ere in an open air vehicle, that wasn't too bad, but we were in the first seat so our view most of the trip was the inside of the driver's truck front! We made 3 or 4 stops, I forget how many, with great views for photos and there were folks selling stuff at most. The second stop had the cheapest deals, from China or somewhere else of course! Bags with St. Thomas on them for $4.00-8.00 bucks, hats for $5.00, not bad for cheap souvenirs. We contributed to the economy! The top of the Mountain was the last stop, great views, much higher prices. World famous banana daiquiris apparently. My hubby had strawberry one, said it was alright, nothing spectacular. Driver took us back to town or ship, we elected for town and went to a few stores, then caught a taxi (4.00 each) back to ship, no air & it was quite warm that day.
St. Maarten, we took Bernard's shopping tour (less beach time) and it was hot that day. Our driver was John and he was awesome!! Personable and informative. It was about 4.5 hours in a very nice air conditioned mini-van, also had mini-busses. He also offered water, soda, beer or rum punch throughout trip. Much more comfortable than St. Thomas. You can go to his website and see where all the stops are. Did go to Orient Beach and did see some au naturale!! One side is nude and one side not so nude. Hmmm, naked old men doesn't do much for me..... even though I am 55! LOL! We were at Maho beach about 40 minutes and saw several planes come in, including a large American and United plane. It was very hot there, bar there and people swimming. Beach is beautiful, but water was rough. My mom took a swim and sand was the type that stuck all over her. Anyway, after tour, John dropped us off either in town or back at the ship, we stopped in town and did a little shopping, then water taxi to ship ($5.00 one way, $7.00 round trip from ship). Beach there in town is gorgeous. It was hot that day, I'd hate to be there in the summer! This is January!!
Plenty of activities on the ship throughout the day and night. If you can't find something to do, well, I just don't know about you.....
Formal nights, people tend to dress up more on this ship than they did on Carnival, though I did see a couple men in jeans or sport shirts. It was about half or less on our last Carnival cruise. I personally do not care what people wear as it does not affect my dining experience. There were 2 formal nights on this cruise. One would probably be sufficient, but I guess the photographers like it! We did not buy any pictures. To be honest, they just weren't that great, my eyes were completely closed in one shot. And after several cruises, I don't need more 8 x 10's (19.95). My guess is they would sell a lot more photos if they offered smaller sizes (4 x 6) and less expensive. But, I guess enough people are paying the exorbitant prices that it doesn't matter to them how many don't buy. I took almost 600 pictures on the trip and got them all printed for 80.00, 4 x 6 sizes.
The ship was very clean. Purel hand sanitizers at every dining venue and they asked you to use it before entering dining rooms.
General store, upscale clothing store, Micheal Kors store, Britta store, perfume/cosmetic store, liquor/cigar store, & jewelry store. There were a couple days of 10.00 T-shirt sales on the pool deck. Watch sales several days, 10.00 and up. On last sea day, Bella Perina bracelets for sale, 29.95 and 39.95, then at some point, they were 24.95 and second one 19.95 and 39.95. They are pretty, supposed to be similar to Pandora. They also had some necklaces and rings maybe???? I wasn't looking at those too much, not a big jewelry person.
Freedomfest was the last sea day. Music, food booths, no chocolate covered strawberries when I hit that table though.....darn!, had ice carvings, chef carving all sorts of animals from fruits/veggies, towel animal table, napkin folding table, etc. Lasted from noon-1:30pm. It was nice.
All sorts of music offerings throughout the week in various venues. Band at the pool was nice. Movie screen at pool (music type videos during the day), we did not go watch any movies, pretty windy and cool out there at night. Movies were also occasionally shown in Arcadia theatre. There is also a library, rooms for card games, various trivia games, etc. There is an internet cafe area and you can get wifi on your own computer/ipad. My mom got the least expensive package just to check a few things on her ipad. I forget what it was, not very many minutes for about 35.00??? maybe! Sorry, forgot the costs.
Some folks would hang all their towel animals in their promenade windows, I did not think to do that, was cute! I guess if everyone did it, they'd run out of towels though! I did think to take a picture of the "day" in the elevator each day. Now I'll see if I can get the pictures matched with the right days! I used a lot of camera batteries this trip, if you like to take pictures, bring those with you.
I of course packed more than we needed. Could have left about 1/3 of the clothes at home. I think there were 3 casual nights in the dining room, so hubby did not have to change shirts and could wear jeans. I'll know next time! The only think not allowed were short pants & tank tops.
Our cruise Director was Drew Devine and I thought he did a great job. Morning show was fun and informative. He also had a box at guest relations and you could give comments, suggestions, "shout outs", etc., and he would announce them the next morning between 6:00 -- noon on channel 14. His father happened to also be cruising, so he could see his son, as he put it, and we ran into him several times. Very nice man. Many of the activities of the week were re-played on channel 14, such as the marriage show, sexy man, farewell show, etc.
If you don't know by now, some things on the ship are an extra cost. Sodas, liquor, wine, etc. There is a soda package. They have the Coke Freestyle machines on this ship, so you get a cup with a special chip in the bottom, so you can use these machines. I think they also have a wine package. You can get tea, lemonade, coffee and water free with meals in the dining room and in the Windjammer, they also had strawberry-kiwi flavored water. Other extras are the two specialty restaurants and you must make reservations; Ben and Jerry's ice cream, the Cupcake place (and they also do classes for a fee, you sign up for those), Latte place, and Johnny Rockets has a cover charge of $3 or $4.95, I forget which. Spa charges of course. There is a minimal room service charge between midnight and 5:00 am. Charge for Photos and casino of course, bingo as well. Ship sponsored excursions have associated fees. That's all I can think of right now! There is enough complimentary that you don't have to use any of those if you don't choose. Fortunately, the character breakfast for kids is complimentary! Hope that does not go away! You do have to make reservations for that.
You can make dining reservations, excursions reservations etc. online prior to your trip. I found it very difficult to do so. The site was very slow and often did not keep my requests. If you do make them, my suggestion is to make them as soon as they become available for your cruise, especially for my time dining. Maybe the website will work better for you!
Great cruise experience, highly recommend it!