We arrived in Miami a day early and stayed in the Holiday Inn on Biscayne Dr. It was nice and as requested, we received a room overlooking the port. The parking was $10.00 a day, and there wasn't enough spaces for the hotel, so get there early and leave the car there until you are ready to leave for the port. We wandered over to Bayside Marketplace and ate dinner at a restaurant called Bubba Gump's. It had a Forrest Gump Theme and our waiter entertained us with Trivia from the movie. (Free dessert for answering them all right!) The food was excellent and the prices were about 15-20 dollars a person.
We got up the next day and ate breakfast then headed for the port arriving around 10:30 am. This was way too early. We were corralled into a waiting area with about 150 others and had to wait there until 11:30 to get past the security checkpoint. Once past security, we arrived in another room where the lines were separated into those that had pre-registered on line and those that had not. We had and we were hurried into another line to await our sea pass cards. This process took about 10 minutes for our group of 5 and then we were off to have our photos taken. After the photos, we were placed in line along the wall and given a boarding group number. We received an 8. It was close to 12:30 now and we were told we would not be boarding until around 2:00pm. Thank goodness, at 12:45 they allowed us to start boarding and we were aboard and found our way to our cabin by 1:00 pm.
We found our cabins, and met our room steward. I pre-tipped as we had teen-age boys travelling with us and I knew he would be busy in their room. Next it was off to explore the ship. We thought she was nicely decorated and fairly easy to navigate around her. We made our way to the Windjammer and ate lunch. The food was average for a buffet style eatery, but breakfast was our favorite meal to eat there as the omelette stations were great. Next came the Muster drill which went smoothly. We waited about 15 minutes at the station and then were released. We spent the rest of the night unpacking and exploring the ship.
We had a table for ten in the main seating in the Columbus dining room. There we met our tablemates. We had two folks form the United Kingdom and three folks from Scotland at our table and the were all related. At first we were nervous they wouldn't like sitting with the kids at the table, but soon found out they were marvelous tablemates and they engaged the kids in conversation and really seemed to take to the kids. This was the highlight of the trip for the kids as they picked their brains for information about the two areas they were from.
Next, the kids were off to Adventure Ocean, the kids programs on the ship. The 11 year old was allowed to sign himself in and out and we had preset times and locations for him to meet with us. The teen age boys were allowed to come and go as they pleased, in the teen area and soon had made friends and disappeared except for the prearranged times.
Our first stop was Belize, and I had booked a cave tubing tour through Reggie's Tours, online. We were met outside the port and driven to the caves. Reggie's son, Jamal, guided us and gave us interesting facts as we drove. There were the five of us and a couple from the Carnival Glory in our group. We enjoyed the trip and at the end we stopped at a small outside hut, where lunch was provided (5.00us). It consisted of barbecue chicken, rice and beans, fruit salad,the absolute best bread ever, drink, and dessert. No shopping in Belize due to the wife having a migraine upon our return to the port area.
Next, was Costa Maya, I had arranged horse back riding online and we found our way to the tour operator. It was HOT. We were able to move our ride time up by an hour and had plenty of time to shop. Costa Maya was nice, but we may have done the wrong trip for our group. The boys were ready to get into the water and the beaches there were not inviting as they were mostly rocky.
Next, was Grand Cayman. We booked a stingray swim with the cruise line. We enjoyed that and upon our return to Georgetown, we walked a short distance to Eden Rock, and snorkeled there for about an hour. Then we found a woman selling hot dogs and drinks from a vending cart and ate lunch. (15.00 for dogs and drinks for five) We finished with shopping then returned to the ship.
The ship is beautiful and we had lots to do. We managed to go ice skating, rock climbing, played golf, and swam in the pools and hot tubs for hours. The vast majority of the kids on board were well behaved. The staff did an good job entertaining us and with service, with the exception of one day in the Windjammer, when the tables were not getting cleared fast enough for the crowd looking for tables. It was only a problem that one day.
Overall, we enjoyed the cruise and the ship, staff, and entertainers. We are planning our next cruise now, and will cruise with RCCL again.