My wife and I are in our 50s and this was our fifth cruise. We have never had a bad cruise having traveled previously on Regency, NCL and twice on Carnival. We booked the 4-nighter on the Majesty of the Seas out of Miami at the last minute as a quick get away without high expectations. Before going further I must say that the experience exceeded our expectations and I think it was one of our best cruise experiences ever.
The private island was a key factor in our choice of this cruise as well as the Monday embarkation and Friday disembarkation to allow a weekend front and back for preparation and travel since we live in the Midwest.
We booked our own flight arrangements and purchased RCL transportation right in the baggage claim at Miami International. This was easy and the cost was about the same as a cab and tip. We really lucked out. On that day the Port of Miami was practically gridlock and our bus was driven by a retired NYC bus driver who was in his glory.
We got to the ship in under 30 minutes. Embarkation was fast and we were in the Windjammer eating lunch by noon. We had all afternoon after getting to our cabin at 1 PM to explore the ship and sit by the pool and catch the sun and a drink before departing.
After having read previous reviews describing the ship as showing its age, we were pleasantly surprised to find new carpeting in the pool areas, clean glasswork, polished brass and everything appearing quite new and fresh. The small stateroom was comfortable and provided plenty of under the bed storage and the closet also was quite large.
The ship was completely booked, 2600+ passengers. We were concerned that it would be crowded. Not at all. The public areas were spacious, we always found plenty of good seats for the shows, there was never any problem finding deck chairs around the pool and we always found open and clean tables in the Windjammer Cafe.
The captain and the entire staff were friendly and accessible, always attentive and at the end thanked us for choosing RCL. And I really thing they meant it.
The food overall was above average to quite good. No disappointment there. The shows on the first and last night were well done and entertaining and the band was great, very professional. The comedy acts the middle two nights were also OK but not great. The casino was pleasantly large and not smokey like I had read on other reviews and I even came out ahead.
We had late seating in the dining room (8:30 PM) which we prefer since it gives us a chance to spend a full day in port so we don't have to rush back too early to get cleaned up for dinner. We also choose a table for eight.
We feel that a high point of any cruising experience is meeting new people, becoming friends and sharing the experiences of the ship and the day in port. I might say here that our waiter, assistant waiter & even our head waiter were outstanding and we enjoyed their service very much. Also our cabin steward was attentive and knew our first names. Of course, these are the folks you tip and tipping on The Majesty of the Seas is fairly traditional. You can have your tips put on your Sea Pass account but we prefer to put cash in the envelopes and give them out personally. We gave all of them extra. They work very hard and deserve it.
There didn't seem to be a lot of extra activities on this ship and that was fine with us. You are in port every day and there is plenty to do there. No so called "fun days at sea".
Shore Excursions: Nassau (day 1): The ship is in port from 8 AM to midnight. This seems too long but it leaves plenty of time for anything you might want to do there. I suppose if they left Nassau earlier they might get to Cocoa Cay (day 2) too soon. Anyway, we departed the ship and walked around the streets and shops for a while. The Bahamians are friendly, not too pushy and easy going. The shopping is somewhat expensive and the "straw market" was very congested. We got back on the ship for lunch and later about 1 PM took the Yellow Bird party barge tour. Do not miss this. When you board, they serve run punches as you cruise out to Pearl Island to spend about an hour at a small beach. While listening to commentary over the calypso music, you pass beautiful homes and boats of famous people. The beach on the island is quite pleasant and the island has restrooms and concessions. On the return trip, they serve rum punches again which are tasty but a little light on booze. Maybe just as well since the party really gets in gear. All in all a fun adventure.
Day 2 (Cocoa Cay - the private island): This is a real high point of the cruise. Plenty to do, snorkeling, hiking, just relaxing on the beach, water activities, shopping (again, a small straw market, pleasant but rather high priced). We choose to snorkel, an activity we had done on other cruises and one we enjoy. The area to snorkel in was quite large. The farther you got from the shore, the water was very clear and there were plenty of fish. We even saw a stingray. But I guess this is not unusual. Also I have to add that with all the people on the island, there were plenty of lounge chairs and you never felt crowded. The lunch they serve is picnic fare and is very good.
By now I should add that throughout the entire cruise the weather was perfect and the water was refreshing, not cold but not quite summer like.
On day 3 we docked in Key West. This turned out to be a neat experience. You have to go through immigration here since you are reentering the USA. This was very fast and efficient and I guess it saves time on the return to Miami. We walked up Duval St. Stopped at a few bars, Rick's, Crazy Gecko, Sloppy Joes and did some shopping. There was a better selection here than in Nassau and the prices were a whole lot better. We ate lunch on the ship and later walked around looking at some of the restored old homes with tropical gardens. Quite a beautiful place. I might add that this was spring break time and I guess that Duval St. really rocks in the evening.
The ship had to depart at 5 PM for Miami. A lot of people wished we would have left Key West at midnight instead of in Nassau. Could you have imagined the problem of getting everyone back on board! We departed for Miami and arrived about 7 AM. It is hard to believe that you could pack so much into a 4-night cruise. Royal Caribbean did a great job.
This cruise is a big value for the money. The disembarkation took only a couple of hours. We had plenty of time to get things together and eat breakfast. We never felt rushed and the staff was always friendly and helpful. In parting, however, I should comment that some felt that RCL markets merchandise and drinks on the ship rather aggressively. Some might consider this to be annoying but we realize it is a money maker for RCL. Maybe this keeps the cruise prices reasonable. We did not find this to be a problem as we enjoyed the entire experience.