This was my 11th cruise overall and my sixth cruise on RCL. We chose this trip notwithstanding the weather (August in Florida and the Bahamas is so hot and humid that you come to welcome the intermittent afternoon rain squalls), but because my three children (girl-18, girl-15, and boy-13) were already visiting their grandfather in Tampa and wanted to take their first cruise. After visiting Gatorland and the Kennedy Space Center we drove to Miami to meet more relatives and take the cruise. We stayed at the Clay Youth Hostel in South Beach which also offers double hotel rooms with a/c and a mini-fridge that were quite adequate in a fantastic location for $60-80. A steal!
We arrived at about 3:00 p.m. There were no lines whatsoever in the reception area. After the lifeboat drill, my children explored the ship. Neither of the younger children was impressed by the kids club program. I nursed a mojito in air conditioned comfort in the Viking Club lounge. Having been born in Havana, I was dubious about the available "flavors." I settled for the original recipe which proved so refreshing (with fresh mint) that I had a second. The lounge was a beautiful location offering the best possible view of the scenery as ship left port. I was joined by my son who also remarked on the view of the parade of feminine pulchritude packing the pool deck.
Overall, the food was good. As has been my experience on every other cruise, breakfast never changes. It seems great the first day, okay the second day, and boring by the third day. Service in the main dining room was good, but not as excellent as on Celebrity.
The cabin attendant was very attentive and helpful. Having scarcely looked out the window in our outside cabins on my first two cruises, I now only book inside cabins. Both the standard inside and outside cabins are TINY and lack shelf space. Even the captain acknowledged the cramped quarters. Fortunately, however, you do not need much room to pack warm weather clothing for such a short excursion and you don't mind the conditions when you are only in your cabin to sleep. I have traveled with my wife and my second brood (now aged 5, 4, and 2) in a single inside cabin on Celebrity and NCL. We would not have survived these cramped quarters here. Notwithstanding that we were in the bowels of the ship, on deck 2, near the engine room, the cabin itself was perfectly quiet.
I noticed no foul stenches onboard. The girls enjoyed the exercise facilities. I skipped the art auction (which I usually love) because it was crowded onto the Centrum stairs.
The straw market in Nassau was cramped, crowded, and hot. Rather than book a tour to the Atlantis Resort ($60 each for a beach towel and a lunch), we had reserved a room at the Comfort Suites. We caught the ferry, checked in, paid $212, got our vouchers, and walked over to Atlantis to get our wristbands. The kids and I had a blast using all of the pools, waterslides, aquariums, and other facilities available only to guests for less than the price of the official excursion! Next time, I would take a taxi since we had to slog through a rain squall to get from the water ferry dock to the hotel.
Coco Cay was peaceful (apart from the jet ski tour where my son volunteered us to be the first in line, following the guide at top speed). The snorkeling was good at the islet across the bay where a huge aggregation of fish hung out by the wreck of two submerged planes, mediocre elsewhere. Lunch was a pedestrian barbecue. The escargot that night, however, were exquisite. I even persuaded the girls to try some.
Key West was as pretty and entertaining as ever.
Disembarkation was a breeze since we had cleared immigration at Key West.
The individual acts at the shows were very amusing. The production numbers, however, were not especially exciting. They were reminiscent of a tawdry afternoon show in Laughlin, not like a dazzling evening performance in Vegas.