The People: Our family, consisting of Myself, My husband and our 15 year old son plus our friends who consist of two adults and a 14 year old & 10 year old daughters. We have cruised many times before, but this was the first cruise for our friends.
Pre- Cruise: We flew in a day early and stayed at the Grand pelican Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale. Our plane was delayed for 3 hours due to the president visiting Florida, but we finally made it. All the rooms in this hotel are suites. We had a King Oceanfront. It had a bedroom with a king bed and separate living room area that had a sofa bed. The sofa bed was small. The balcony was decent and overlooked the beach and the ocean. The hotel is right on the beach and has a pool and a lazy river. I will post photos if I can figure out how.
We enjoyed this hotel. They had a large deck off the back with rocking chairs. You could access the beach and they had beach chairs available. The lazy river and pool, though small were nice. We had breakfast on the back deck and it was lovely and the food was very good. I had the Mediterranean Frittata.
Negatives: the sleeper sofa was small (instead of the big sofa pulling out, the love seat pulled out). The location-- unless you wanted to eat at the hotel, you had to take a cab down to get something to eat.
Embarkation day: I had received an email stating that they expected long lines and that we should show up at noon instead of 11:30. We arrived at 11:45 and waited only about 5 minutes before we went to the counter and registered. Afterwards, we pretty much walked right on. No problems. Everything went very smoothly.
Our rooms were not ready yet, so we did a little ship exploration and then went up to Windjammers for food. As expected, it was packed. However, we discovered that they opened up the Portofino dinning room for you to take your food in and sit. Most people didn't know or notice this. We walked right in and sat by the window. Afterwards, we went to our room to drop off our carry on bags. Then we headed to the pool area to relax a bit before dinner. Our luggage was delivered about 5 minutes before our dinner.
Our Stateroom: 8374. It was fine. Not huge, but we seemed to have plenty of storage. The balcony was a good size. Everything was clean and our waters and wine had already been delivered to our room. Our cabin steward was pretty good. Not many towel animals, but since my son is a teenager, that isn't a big deal. They have put those foam egg carton things on the beds. The sofa bed was very good sized (my tall teenager fit on it no problem. All of our suitcases fit under our bed for storage.
Dinning: We ate all dinners in Rembrandt (the main dining room). We had the 6:00 dining time. The food was fairly good and I thought the variety was nice as well. Everyone found something they liked to eat (even the pickier eaters). The lobster tail on lobster night was big, and very good. I had the seafood option every night and liked everything but the sole. I had a bay scallop appetizer one night that was really amazing. I had talked to someone who worked for Royal and she mentioned that they just went through and revamped their menus. Overall I'd give the food in the dinning room a B+
Really, the only complaint was that our waiters were very slow. So slow, that we were the last ones out of the room most nights. They were slow to fill our waters-- we had to help ourselves one night. Slow to place the food. I think that this was their first time working on the ship. The assistant waiter spoke very little English, so I think he struggled because of that. Overall, it wasn't something that was a problem.
We ate most breakfasts and the lunches for the days at sea in the Windjammer. It was your usual buffet food. They did have some different curry dishes that I tried. Some I liked, some I didn't-- but that's probably just personal taste. I would give the food in the Windjammer a C+. But I didn't expect it to be fine dining, so no worries.
My son ate with the teens at Johnny rockets and liked the food. He really liked their milkshakes.
Day Two: At Sea
We selected our chairs on the top deck facing the pool and settled in for a relaxing day. My son met some other teens and he was off to go hang with them. They had dance lessons, live music and your typical belly flop contest around the pool. Overall, other than some older teens trying to take my husbands chair when he went to the restroom, we had a very relaxing day. The In the Air show that evening was very good (for a cruise). Make sure you are not sitting on front of one of the support beams in the theater.
I'll stop here and give my take on the teen program.
Teen program: My son, who is outgoing and has cruised many times before enjoyed the teen program. He loved the Living Room area and the arcade. If we were on the ship, he was hanging out with his new friends. He really like Luigi (sp?) who was one of the counselors who ran the program. Some of the activities they did included playing capture the flag, a speed climb contest up the rock wall, ice skating, DJ Academy, Air Hockey tournament, Scavenger hunts, Golfing Gilmore. He went to all the midnight parties and returned to the room around 1 am every day.
Day Three: Belize-- see my port review. When we came back onto the ship, we went to the adult only pool area. It was fabulous. Quiet. The chairs have added cushions. They even have a couple of swings that you can sit on. The pool is cold. But you can always go over to the big hot tub to warm up.
Day Four: Cozumel-- see my port review
Day Five: At Sea. Kind of a repeat of day two. Enjoyed relaxing by the pool all day. The Saturday Night Fever show was fine. The singing and dancing are fairly good. Then acting was blah. However, parents be warned-- This is not a show for kids-- The characters smoked, were drunk, dealt with unplanned pregnancy, talked about sex, offered drugs, got in a street fight, and there was a suicide. I was very uncomfortable seeing all the young children in the room.
Debarkation-- went very smoothly. I think the whole thing took 15 minutes.
Misc. Ship: The workout room was fantastic! Lots of equipment. Very clean. The ship was very clean. I was impressed. The crew-- not as friendly on this cruise as they have been on some of the other ships. That being said-- it was Spring Break season and I guess the cruise before us had a lot of College aged Spring Breakers-- nuff said.
After cruise: We went back to the Pelican Grand and had a pleasant day at the beach and pool.
Overall, a good cruise. I think our friends are now hooked!