Stayed overnight in the Hotel Sofitel, Miami before making our way to Port Everglades for embarkation.If we did a similar trip in the future We would try and stay in Port Everglades as it cost $89 for a taxi from Miami.
We waited about 25 minutes to check in and receive our cabin pass key. Following the crowd led us to the Oceanview Cafe where everyone seemed to be congregating. It was so busy we could hardly find a seat. Next time we would go straight to the Bistro, get a panini and sit in comfort until it was time to go to the cabin. There is a small cover charge but well worth it.
As well as the Oceanview Cafe there is a main dining room- on two floors- part of which is the Select dining area. It's the same food in both areas but if you ask for select dining you can choose your own time to eat and are not restricted to early or late dining. We managed to get select dining from the third night around 8.15pm.
There are 3 other restaurants which each have a per person cover charge - Silk, Murano and Tuscan Grill. We tried the Tuscan twice and enjoyed the meal on each occasion. The service was excellent,staff there are very nice with a lovely girl from Peru, Maria, who always had time for a chat.
There were two formal nights, second night at sea and second last night at sea.
For some reason the showtimes were changed to 8.45pm and 10.45pm from the usual 7pm and 9pm. It was just too late especially the 10.45pm show.
We enjoyed all the theatre shows as there was a good variety of acts - a Canadian concert pianist,an English violinist, a Scottish singer with a fantastic voice as well as several nights with the dancers and singers, a West End type show and a kind of Cirque du Soleil show. There were films on at the cinema but we didn't fancy any of them but if you wanted they could be viewed on the in-room TV.
The activities available were mainly different types of Trivia quizzes. More active folk could participate in the deck sports at The Lawn Club on deck 15. There is also a well equipped gym which is free to use as well as fitness classes like Yoga/cycling which incur a charge. Various wine tastings are also available (charge) as well as art auctions. There was very little in the way of talks/lectures by invited guests. My husband went to a couple which he really enjoyed.
During the afternoon, evening and later there were several very good music spots from a string quartet, an A Capella group, a Jazz Quartet,and singers and dancers from the ship in the Sky Lounge.
Ports visited - St Thomas, St Kitts, Barbados, Dominica, St Maarten. We had been to Dominica before and weren't too bothered about going ashore but we did walk round the market for about an hour or so.
The only trip we took was on St Kitts with a mini bus of other passengers to Cockleshell beach. It cost $7 each way per person and $20 for two deck chairs and a beach umbrella. It wasn't a very fancy beach but it was nice to just chill there for a few hours before heading back to the ship.
In Barbados we walked to a beach called the Boatyard where we rented 2 deck chairs and an umbrella. the $24 charge also included 2 drinks and a shuttle back to the port.
We also tried out the beach in St Maarten - quite long and sandy with that lovely bluey, green water. I'd like to go back there as we didn't get to see much of the town apart from the long "main street".
The shops in all the ports, apart from Dominica, are much of a muchness. Lots of shops selling jewellery and watches. The price on the ticket is never what you pay so unless you are a clued up jewellery shopper it hardly seems possible to know if the price you pay resembles any kind of bargain.
Taking everything into consideration we both enjoyed our cruise and met some really nice people from lots of different places who were more than happy to give us the benefit of their experiences as seasoned cruisers.
Lastly, a plea to any fellow Scots who might be reading this. Please take five minutes to visit Stephanie in Glitz (one of the shops on deck4) who is feeling a bit homesick after extending her contract for 3 months so she can travel with some friends to Vietnam.
This was our 6th cruise