Pre-cruise in Miami-- We drove from Orlando on Thursday afternoon and stayed at Holiday Inn, Port of Miami. This hotel was not fancy but clean, comfortable and the staff was friendly. It was quite reasonable as well. One of the best things about the hotel was that the Port of Miami is only one mile away. Also, an added advantage was that you could walk across the street to Bayside Marketplace where there are many nice shops and restaurants. We ate at Lombardi's and had a nice table facing the water. They served good italian food at a reasonable price.
Embarkation— This was one of the most painless we have encountered. Make sure you do your advance registration and print out your Sea Passes. We arrived at the port at 12:30pm and were in our cabins at 1 pm.
The Ship— As many have already mentioned, the ship shows signs of wear. The only thing that really bothered me was that the elevators were very slow or were not working at all. We had a superior ocean view cabin on level nine. Even though the room was a bit worn looking, the layout was very good. The desk/dressing table was well lit. It had 3 drawers and 2 mirrored cabinets each containing 4 shelves. The wall unit holding the television had 2 sets of cabinets each with 3 shelves, suitable for storing clothes. The cabin had a small curved sofa and table, which we used to have our coffee in the morning. The bathroom contained 3 small glass corner shelves which were great for holding bath products. I am going into such detail because I have found lodging so different on different cruise lines. It is always so helpful to me to know exactly what to expect. The shower had a small clothesline but was tiny. Our room contained both a refrigerator and a safe.
Dining Rooms— Windjammer Cafe—We had breakfast twice and lunch once here. The breakfasts were nothing special, just the usual fare. I should have had a freshly made omelet but didn't realize there was an omelet station until I had already selected my breakfast. The omelet station was not open on the final morning. I did love the smoked salmon, tomatoes and cream cheese that were offered. Lunch in the Wj was on the first day and I must say that the selection was pretty good—roast beef, pasta, chicken, pork and fish dishes with both a hot and cold vegetable selection. Maytime Dining Room—We had all our evening meals here. This was a delightful experience partly because we enjoyed our tablemates and partly because we had an ace wait staff. Our main waiter was Andrae from Jamaica and our head waiter was Wellington from India.I must say that they did everything they could to make our dining experience wonderful. Andrae always made recommendations and I learned to trust him. DH requested a special dish for our final evening and Wellington had the chef prepare it for us. Every night there was some kind of singing or dancing which made for an enjoyable evening.
Ports of Call— I must preface this section by saying that this trip was intended to be a restful, relaxing 3 nights so we did not book any excursion of any kind. Coco Cay—I really can't say anything more about this island that has already been said. We tendered over about 11 am and walked around the island. DH went in the water for a while and said it was quite cold. The barbecue was pretty good. There were, of course, a couple of bars on the island and we sat in one of them for a while just to get out of the sun. Nassau—We have been to Nassau several times so basically we just walked around the town shopping for a while and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. We then took a water taxi over to Paradise Island to visit the Atlantis Hotel Resort. We found out that it did not drop you off at the hotel. It is quite a walk from the dock to the hotel. The water taxi cost $3pp one way plus a tip for the narrator. We played the slots awhile in the casino and then returned to the shop via a regular taxi @ $4pp. It was a much quicker trip.
Entertainment— As I said before, our only mission was to relax so we weren't up half the night in the clubs. We saw the "Welcome Aboard" show the first night which was pretty good. The casino was pretty small and very smoky. On the first night, I could not get a seat at a blackjack table but was able to on the second and third evenings. DH played the slots a lot and said they were very tight.
Lounges— We visited the Champagne Bar, Schooner Bar and Viking Crown lounge. The Champagne Bar has martini specials for $5.50 between 5:30—8:30pm. Nice lounge but very smoky sometimes. We stopped by the Schooner Bar on Sunday afternoon to see the football game on the big screened TV. The wait staff was very friendly and they served free hot dogs during the game. The Viking Crown Lounge was lovely and had a fantastic view of the pool and ocean. It is on the 14th floor. There was a musician there when we visited one evening. He played all types of music and also took requests. I wished we had discovered this lounge earlier.
Shops on board— There are several shops on board—jewelry, t-shirts, liquor, etc. My only recommendation here is to purchase your liquor before the final evening. We waited until then and there was quite a line of people out the door, waiting to purchase liquor. The prices are very good in there so stock up early.
Disembarkation— They start the process from the bottom of the ship. Since we were on level nine, our level was one of the last called to leave. We always find disembarkation in Miami to be a bit slow. We were in our car and on our way by 10:15am. Not too bad, but not nearly as pleasant as embarkation.
Final words— I would recommend this cruise for a quick 3 night getaway. We found the crew very nice and helpful and the itinerary permitted either a relaxing or busy cruise. Also, don't forget to use your Crown and Anchor membership number when booking your future cruises. We received a discount book in our room which we used for purchases all over the ship.