We stayed one night at the Holiday Inn - Port of Miami. I had requested a room on a high floor with a view of the port...got exactly what I wanted! We were on the 10th floor with a great view. We watched the ships sail out that night and when we woke in the morning, our ship was there! We ate lunch and dinner at the Bayside Marketplace and did a little shopping. We also walked to Walgreens to buy some things we forgot to pack. We had the breakfast buffet at the hotel since it was included in my price...it was good. Then we were off to the port. The doorman at the hotel was very helpful in getting everyone loaded up.
Embarkation: We arrived right around 11am. The cab driver told us we were way too early...he was a little grumpy that morning. Anyway, we were dropped off, passed our luggage to the porter, and walked in the doors. We were on the ship in less than an hour. We went to check out our rooms and drop off our carry-on bags. Both cabins were ready so we dropped stuff off and went to check out the ship.
Our cabin: This was my first cruise with an OV cabin. It was great. The window became my son's favorite place to sit and play his gameboy while waiting for me to get dressed in the morning. Plenty of storage. Our cabin steward "IDA" was fantastic. He met my son in the hallway with a "high-five" and made towel animals every night. He was quick to unlock the fridge and put in some regular coke for me.
Dining: I think everything we ate was better than expected (I didn't expect much after reading several reviews). Within our group we tried the pizza, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, deli sandwiches and fish and chips. I don't believe anyone tried the oriental place. The buffet was always good and the dining room food was excellent. The kids menu in the dining room was the basic hot dogs, chicken strips, etc but our waiter "CHRISTOPHER" always got them what they wanted. (Spaghetti and Mac&Cheese weren't on the menu). He found out my son loved strawberries and my friend's son loved grapes...so every night there was a plate of strawberries and grapes at our table. CHRISTOPHER always made sure we never left hungry. He brought us lots of stuff to try. He was super with the kids! There was a magician that came to the table one night...he was just okay.
Activities: We hung out by the aft pool most of the time. It just seemed better with the kids and it was right by the grill, pizza and ice cream! The kids loved playing in the pool and my only complaint is the area around the pool...it was very slick. There were lots of people who slipped or fell. One child fell so hard he knocked himself out and was taken to the infirmary. From what I hear the main pool was different and not slick. The boys went to Camp Carnival one night for two hours... that was the extent of our break from the kids. They enjoyed it and we went to the show but the rest of the week they went to the shows with us and loved the shows! The shows were well done and I enjoyed the 80's one a lot. The singers were just okay. We missed the Legends show which is at 10:30pm on the last night. We just couldn't stay up that late with the kids so I'm sorry we missed that one.
Ports: We did the stingrays and Island Tour in Grand Cayman. Cave tubing in Belize. Just a tour of the island in Roatan. We didn't get to stop in Costa Maya...very disappointing! Oh well, guess I have to take another cruise and try it again. We enjoyed all the ports but didn't book anything through the ship. Tendering wasn't a problem, we just went to the theatre when they told us and waited until they called our letter. Belize was a rough tender but the kids thought it was fun.
Debarkation: We put our luggage out the night before and went to breakfast to wait for them to call our color. We were off the ship, got our luggage, got picked up by the limo, and I was at Ft. Lauderdale airport for my 1:00pm flight with lots of time to spare.
All in all it was a great trip! I was back to work on Monday and got busy researching my next cruise!