Before embarking on our first cruise, I read every review I could find online. Some were so negative that I began to worry. I discovered that some of the complaints may have been because the traveler's expectations were too high. This is a cruise. Things can go wrong. When you consider what it takes to sail a huge cruise ship, stock it with food to feed 4,000 (including the crew)people for a week, load the baggage, get 3,000 tourists on board, feed and entertain them, then get them off the ship while cleaning and preparing for the next 3,000 waiting in the terminal to board, you realize that things go amazingly well!
One complaint I read over and over was how long it took to board the ship and get to one's room. Remember that all those passengers returning from their cruise have to disembark and go through customs. The staff has to clean the rooms, change the sheets, and lay in supplies for the coming week. (It takes about 7 hours to load all the food for the week.) My advice is to not go to the port too early. Arriving early will not allow you to board early. There is a suggested boarding time on your cruise paperwork. Believe it.
When we got to our room, we unpacked and watched the welcome aboard video on television. Being first time cruisers, we were unsure about what to do next. After the safety drill, we noticed that some people were already in the spas enjoying their first tropical drinks! Next time we will start our vacation the minute we are onboard. I think the Champagne Lounge would be the perfect place to start.
Another complaint was that they didn't get towel animals every night. On our cruise we got towel animals on the two formal nights. Don't expect to get one every night. They were adorable!
We stayed on the ship during the stops in Honduras and Belize. We did go on a shore excursion in Cozamel. The tour guides got confused with the time change for daylight savings time and the Mariner passengers had to leave the tour and hustle back to the ship. We did the Salsa and Salsa tour. Had fun making and eating salsa, but missed the Salsa dance lessons.
The food was beautifully prepared and delicious. We went on a tour of the galley. What an amazing operation to run all of those dining rooms, restaurants, buffet, cafe, etc. The chefs and wait staff do a fantastic job!
There is more to do on the ship than you have time for. The ice show was wonderful. Next time we plan to see more shows. We spent most of our time relaxing on the balcony. A breath taking view and a glass of wine. What more do you need?
Debarkation was fairly easy. We did have to wait and left the ship one hour later than scheduled. Supposedly they didn't have enough customs inspectors due to budget cuts. Many people think they will be on their way faster if they carry off their own luggage. I suggest that you set your bags out the night before. Those of us in the line who had checked luggage were taken out of line, led to an area where the porters were lined up, got our bags right away, and were through the customs line and on our way while those who carried their luggage were still standing in a long line.
We had such a great time that we have already reserved our next cruise. Next one will be on the Navigator of the Seas.