A little background: I am a 24 year old graduate student that travelled with my girlfriend (also 24), her mother, two of her friends, and one of her friends mothers (six people total). We were in two cabins - 2537 and 2543, each with 3 people in them. My girlfriend and I have cruised together twice before - once on Majesty in 2004, and once on Radiance last November.
Precruise: Booked this cruise about a year ago through our travel agent. Although I had apprehensions about cruising during spring break, it was the only week that my girlfriend and her friend could go that they did not have classes. We were able to get affordable flights to FLL through US Airways from Reagan National Airport in DC. The flights were fantastic and could not have asked for better. We were transported from FLL to the Port of Miami by my girlfriend's cousin. A+
Embarkation: There were a lot of groups travelling on this cruise, and it showed at embarkation. We were able to get checked in and on the ship after about a half an hour wait we quickly checked in and received our Seapasses. We then had to wait in another line to get onto the ship. This was an additional 15 minute wait or so. Overall, embarkation was ok, but not as smooth as I had experienced previously. B
Cabin: As I stated above, the cabins were on deck 2 with 3 people to a cabin. Although I was expecting very cramped quarters for 3 people, it really was not too bad. The room was of adequate size (we were only there to sleep). The bathroom had a very roomy shower with new shower head. The room is showing its age, as there are plenty of dings on the furniture, stains on the walls, and discolorations in the carpet, but it was still immaculately clean despite this damage. Our room steward, Neissa from Trinidad, was wonderful. Unfortunately, she disappeared for about 2 days because I believe she was sick. The service by the other stewards was still good, but we missed Neissa. B+
Public Rooms: Majesty is a beautiful ship, but unfortunately is in desperate need of a refurbish. Stained carpet and dinged furniture was more prominent on this cruise compared to our previous Majesty cruise. Perhaps it was more noticeable due to the immaculate condition of Radiance when we were on her a couple of months ago. Although these imperfections were more noticeable this time around, they were not significant enough to detract from our cruise. Everything was still functional, even if it was a little less pretty than the last time. A-
Overlords: The Captain for this cruise was Per Kristofferson of Norway. He was also the captain for our previous Majesty cruise. I believe that our cruise was he last cruise with the ship for awhile, as we saw him and his family disembark from the ship. He was friendly and funny, and tried his best to make this a memorable cruise and keep the hoards of spring breakers under control. The cruise director was Johnny O from Britain. He was outgoing and friendly, and we saw him on the ship a few times throughout the cruise. We liked him much better than Duane Davis (1st Majesty cruise), but the activity schedule and variety wasn't quite as well organized as Marc "Bing Bong" Walker on Radiance. B+
Underlings: This was a mixed bag at best. There were a few all-stars: Jack, the bartender in the Schooner Bar, and Lucy, a drink waitress at the Viking Crown Lounge, were outstanding. Most of the other bar waitstaff were good. However, there was a particular incident that detracted from it: During the Captain's Gala, with free drinks being served, on waiter decided to card us. Now, here is the problem - on our last cruise on Radiance, we were told that a SeaPass with no punches meant you were over 21, one punch was for 18-20 with parental permission for beer and wine, and two punches was for no alcohol. As everybody in our group was 24 or older, we were under the impression that since our cards were not punched that we were all set to go. Throughout the first half or so of the Captain's Gala, not a single waiter asked for ID. Then, this one waiter asks for ID and refuses to give drinks to anyone without ID, even if they had an empty glass with them. Now, don't misunderstand why I am complaining: It is a spring break cruise, and I agree it is a wonderful thing for them to card (which is apparently a new policy). However, the change in policy was not well advertised (one fine-print line in the Cruise Compass) and poorly implemented (this was the only waiter that was checking IDs - three rows ahead of us in the theatre, 15 year olds were being served by a different waiter without checking IDs). This is the general problem we experienced with this cruise: with the spring break crowd on the ship, we were treated by many of the staff as though we were drunk college kids on our first cruise paid for by our rich parents, instead of graduates just trying to relax with our families and repeat customers. Customer service at the Purser's Desk was also hit-and-miss - some people were very helpful, while others were downright rude. Another incident that occurred during the Quest - one of our party had her hand stepped on by a fellow cruiser wearing high heels and was in pain. She asked for some ice at the bar, and was given a baggie of ice (which was fine). After the Quest was over, she went to the Purser's desk to request an ice pack (the baggie had started to leak water). She was told at first that to get an ice pack they would have to open up the MedBay for her after hours, and would cost her $130 (for an ice pack!). She explained what happened, and was given a Royal Caribbean t-shirt to prevent the baggie of ice from leaking. She tracked down the activities director (Hamish from Jamaica) who was present at the Quest, explained what happened, and was taken to a member of the Captain's Staff who tried his best to help her. He personally went down to the MedBay to find an ice pack, and discovered that the ship did not carry ice packs (huh?). It would have been nice if the Purser's Desk could have explained this instead of her having to wander around to find some help. Also, the Purser's Desk personnel had very little interest in filling out an accident report. And, the ship really does need to carry ice packs. So, some service was great, and some was downright terrible. Some deserve A+, others deserve F- == Overall, a C.
A note on the Pools/Hot Tubs: Despite the sign right in from of the pool and hot tubs that say "No food or drinks" and "No glass", servers were serving alcohol to spring breakers in both the pools and the hot tubs. Also, the same sign says that the pools are open 24 hours a day. I understand one may be shut down for cleaning, but was lead to believe that the other stayed open. One night, at about midnight, both pools and both hot tubs were shut down for routine cleaning - so much for that sign being accurate. Special Grade of F
Food: The food on the ship was EXCELLENT - a vast improvement from the last Majesty cruise and about on par with the Radiance cruise. A+
Food Service: Our team of waiters were not fantastic. We noticed this time that the RCI service that had impressed us constantly before simply was not there. There were a number of times that we had to flag down the wait staff for iced tea refills, more bread, sour cream for our potatoes, etc. We didn't starve, but it just was not the same as before. B-
Nassau: We took the Rainbow Reef excursion and had a lot of fun. We love to snorkel, and this was my first time actually snorkeling over a reef. After returning, we did some shopping then reboarded the ship in time to get ready for the dinner show. A-
CocoCay: We were unable to stop at CocoCay due to high winds. This apparently has been true over the past several cruises to the island. This was a disappointment as this was our favorite stop the last time we took this cruise. We were really looking forward to snorkeling here again, and were very thankful that we had snorkeled in Nassau. Because I use these message boards, I knew that CocoCay was one of the ports that was often missed due to the high winds, so we were prepared for that possibility. Disappointed, yes, but we were not planning to stage a riot and we believe in the Captain's judgement. Thus, we spent the day at sea. This day turned out to be the best of the entire cruise, however, as this day I proposed to my girlfriend (she said yes!). A++++++
Key West: We arrived early (arranged by the Captain because we had missed CocoCay). Immigration was different this time compared to our last Majesty cruise, and we kind of wish we had known the procedure had changed. In 2004, all the passengers had to go through immigration before the ship was cleared to let people get off the ship. Now, as people were cleared by immigration, they got a special punch on their SeaPass to signify they had cleared immigration and they could get off the ship as soon as their pass was punched. If we had known that, we would have tried to get through customs before our deck was called. Key West was wonderful - the weather was warm, and the people were friendly (unlike last time). I highly recommend Kermit's Key Lime Shop - it was fantastic. A
Fellow Cruisers: Some were pleasant, but most were loud and obnoxious Spring Breakers. We will not be cruising again during spring break - ever! D-
Disembarkation: Relatively painless - we were off the ship and had our bags by about 9AM. A
Overall: Our trip had its ups and downs, but there were several lessons to be learned for the future. 1) RCI's customer service is its weakest point, and must be treated like an insolent child for any results. 2) Spring Break cruising, as I predicted, is a terrible idea. Anyone who cruises during spring break should completely discount the experience as a fluke and come back some other time of the year. And pack earplugs! 3) A cruise really is what you make of it. Out of the six people in our group, I think only 1 really did not have a good time. I am not sure she was really trying to have a good time. Although it was not the product standard we had gotten before, my fiancee and I still had a wonderful, memorable cruise despite some minor shortfalls. Overall, I give the cruise a B+.