This will be a fairly quick review. We arrived at the Port of Tampa at approximately 11:00am and were onboard eating lunch by noon. We checked out different areas of the ship to get acquainted before heading to our room at 1pm. It was ready for us. The aft junior suite (1602) did not disappoint. The cabin was huge, the bathroom was a nice size with a full tub, the walk in closet was smaller than most jr suites but was still a walk in and very adequate for all 3 of us overpackers. The balcony. Oh the balcony. It was massive (compared to the balcony cabins I'm used to). There were two chaise lounges, one small table and two chairs. You could easily fit another two lounges and two chairs on it if you had to. The view was perfect and sitting out on the balcony watching the water was amazing.
If you take this cruise out of Tampa, be SURE you do not miss going under the Skyway Bridge. Being from the area, we have driven over the Skyway countless times. The experience of going under it with the ship's horn blowing was something I will never forget. It was absolutely breathtaking. One of the highlights of the trip and we weren't even in open water yet!
Speaking of open water. The weather was not going to cooperate. It started getting very wavy about dinner time. I mean VERY wavy. My son and husband were fine but I was getting a little green so I went back to the cabin and called it an early night. Well, when we woke up the following mornings I was sure this was an impromptu audition for "The Deadliest Catch". I even said to myself "I'm sure I booked a Caribbean cruise, not a crabbing cruise". It was not good. We still managed to get around and do all the things we would have normally done - but for someone who gets a little seasick, let's just say it saved us plenty of money at the bar. It was ginger ale and club soda for me.
On the morning we were supposed to tender off of Grand Cayman, the captain announced that we would skip the port entirely due to the weather and will stay in Cozumel a little longer than planned. No big deal for us. We had been to Grand Cayman many times before. The big deal was all I wanted to do was to get on some dry land that wasn't rocking! By the time we got to Cozumel I just wanted to get off the ship.
Cozumel was absolutely beautiful. The water was royal blue, the skies were gorgeous and the temperature of the water was perfect. We did the Fantastic Paddle Board and Snorkeling excursion. Definitely fun. None of us had ever paddle boarded before. It's a great excursion for beginners. The tour guides were fantastic, helpful, patient and really fun. There was plenty of time to paddle board and snorkel. The restaurant on property had great food, but be warned, it takes FOREVER to get your food (45-50 minutes). Even chips and salsa took a half hour to get to the table! Nice little tequila tasting shop on property as well. We bought the aged sipping tequila and it is really nice and smooth. It is made by a local family and cannot be purchased online.
After we left Cozumel, the weather calmed quite a bit and you couldn't feel a thing. It was great. Having only a day and a half of good weather wasn't the best, but hey, I was on vacation and things could be worse.
The food was, in my opinion, not good. It was adequate, plentiful, and edible, but it was not great. Think upscale cafeteria. Let me say that I'm a foodie and enjoy cooking and eating food like it was a sport. I'm not saying that you couldn't eat it - I'm just saying the quality was not what I have always expected in cruise food. Maybe its just Royal Caribbean. I don't know but I was not impressed. Portofino was good. The food was very good restaurant quality. It was the only meal I truly enjoyed. Chops was awful. We had prepaid before the cruise and the manager removed the charge from our account for my meal. I couldn't eat two bites of the NY Strip. It was chewy, grisly and overcooked. My husband's filet was medium instead of medium rare but that was nothing we would send back. My son got the porterhouse. He said it was "ok" but not fantastic. The desserts were the highlight. The Mississippi mud pie was delicious.
All in all it was a nice vacation. Great staff and the casino was TERRIFIC for me - although it was all luck as I play roulette and won quite a bit. That made the whole thing, weather, food and all, just fine!