Flight Arrangements, Airport Greeting and Embarkation
I arranged flights using ChoiceAir on American, and the non-stop flight from Reagan National in DC to Miami went without a hitch. Upon landing, I followed directions on my transfer voucher to the luggage carousel, and after alighting from the descending escalator, I greeted by a nice RCI rep who checked off my name and confirmed w/me that my luggage could be found on Carousel #26. The blue suitcase was there, alright, and I took back to Carousel 24, where I was checked in and directed to the seats for waiting for the airport bus to take me and my fellow Majesty guests to the pier. The bus driver hefted everybody's luggage into the cargo area and the rep took our vouchers before boarding the bus. The driver gave a talk about the various sights on our way to the pier. I've been to Miami many times, whether cruising from there and visiting relatives who lived there, and the city always managed to impress me with new buildings.
Upon arriving at the terminal, another rep boarded the bus, and told the passengers where to go after exiting the vehicle. We were also told that to ensure all cruise docs were in-hand before entering the queues. Of course, I was well-prepared w/my SeaPass, credit card and passport ready to be inspected by the folks at the head of the line. After passing through this checkpoint, I board the ascending escalator for the queue lines to be checked in. Check-in almost always amazes me: Why can't other guests do the online check-in at home and be prepared as I was? But no, you have to complete those forms while in line. Anyway, I got signaled to go to the numbered check-in desk, handed over my docs and credit card, and the rep got my SeaPass card from another location. I completed the health form, and gave it back to the agent. Then I was directed to the ascending escalator to board the ship. But I had to pass through the security line to do so. Then I went to get my mug shot taken--I didn't bother to buy it because I had many of these embarkation mug shots at home. I also had my security mug shot taken for the SeaPass card, went up the ramp, and emerged at the end aboard the ship. Because the cabins weren't ready yet, I headed to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. I searched for a vacant table to put my carry-on luggage someplace, and got my lunch. I had previously bought a soda package for my cruise, but because the cup that came w/the package was in my unready cabin, I decided to go w/iced tea instead. The food was good, considering it was a buffet line. After lunch, I went to the pool area on Lido Deck to relax and be ready for the announcement that our cabins were ready. I took a seat by the Pool Bar at the forward pool, and had a Coke Zero. But I couldn't hear the cabins were ready announcement on the PA system, and decided to go there anyway. Elevators were in full use, even by able-bodied folks like me and kids.
I found my cabin, entered, and was nicely surprised, until I saw that my view of the ocean was obstructed by lifeboats. C'est-la-vie! The cabin was an outside double w/a window. The bathroom was smaller than what I had at home but with more storage space. As a single person, I had both twin beds pushed together to form a queen size bed. I also saw that the Bon Voyage gifts I had bought for me to celebrate my birthday were also there. Other items for my inspection included a welcome-back gift from the Crown & Anchor Society and the soda package cup. Unfortunately, the first big hitch hit me: My Discover Atlantis shore excursion ticket was nowhere to be found! Most likely, it'll be delivered that night--or so I thought.
I went around the ship to look at it again--the last time I had been aboard was back in 2010. The muster drill was coming soon, so I had to find it--turned out that Bolero's was the muster point, not the deck area! I found a seat, and saw that the room filled to the brim w/fellow guests. The muster drill went as usual, with demos on how to put on the life jackets, which fortunately didn't have to be taken from the cabins. We were told about safety aboard ship and that it was taken seriously. Following the all-clear signal from the Bridge, we were dismissed from the drill to go top side for the sail away party. But I wanted to unpack first, and by the time I got to the party on Lido Deck, it was crowded because it was raining. I found a seat, but I couldn't get a sandwich because there was no more food. Oh well, I was full from lunch and didn't need it. The departure from Miami despite the rain went fine, and everybody had a good time.
I returned to the cabin and found my suitcase. I also saw my cabin steward and introduced myself to him. I forgot his name though. I unpacked, and got ready for dinner. The dress code for the first night of every cruise is usually smart casual, and I dressed in nice chinos and a nice shirt. I then went to one of my favorite places aboard ship, and it's not a bar, disco or shop: it's the casino. The casino had many of my favorite slot games and with low denominations, too.
Just before the appointed time, I headed to the Internet Cafe near the dining room I was assigned: Moonlight. I couldn't sign on because the Internet was down. Then I waited in line for the doors to open and I could give me SeaPass card to the attending wait staff to guide me to my table. It was big: over 10 people could fit there, but my dining fellows were good folks: a couple from Newport, RI, another couple from Miami traveling w/their folks (her Mom and his Dad), and yours truly. That night was my 56th b-day, and after dessert, the waiters sang Happy Birthday to me. Nice! The waiters were attentive, and gave a briefing about what we would find on the menu, including their recommendations. Because it was my b-day, I decided to splurge w/a big steak. Folks--let's face facts: When you're eating and drinking in a big dining room like this, lower your expectations about getting gourmet fare. It's not happening: you're eating banquet fare, but of better quality.
As previously mentioned, my favorite form of entertainment is casino action. Besides, by the time I exited the dining room, the show in the Majesty Theater was almost in full-swing and probably w/no seats available. No problemo--at least I found the theater! There was a comedian the following night, but during the late night hour--it was adult comedy w/the usual swear words that parents don't like to expose their kids to.
The first port of call was Nassau, Bahamas, and I was scheduled to go on the Discover Atlantis tour. But I hadn't received my ticket last night, so I couldn't go--$59 down the tubes. I decided to stay aboard and relax by the pool. Then i got dressed for dinner: tonight was formal night, and I dressed accordingly, but not in a tux. I decided to take my b-day cake I had bought from the ship w/me to share w/my table mates. Then I went to the Internet Cafe to catch up on my email, and send a note to the family back home. Did I miss visiting Nassau and Atlantis? Nope: I've been to Naasau several times, and I'd stay there a couple of times, too, including the Atlantis, but when the resort was new and not built-up as it was now. But I still had to find out the problem about the missing tour ticket. Because the shore excursion desk was closed, I decided to wait until the next evening, after we had sailed away from Coco Cay. Regarding that place, it was nice, and I found a table to sit at to read my book from the small library. Good thing I had that table, because I needed a place to relax and have easy access to the bar nearby and the food areas when they started serving lunch. It was a good lunch--burgers, dogs, salads, fruit, beverages, etc. Several people sat at my table and ate their food. I sat there until I was ready to leave--it got too hot for me to stay on the island, so I returned to the ship to relax at the pool. Another good decision. I took a lounge near the forward part of the ship and had a Bud Light. That evening, just before dinner, I went to the Shore Excursion Desk to ask about my shore excursion ticket: it turned out that housekeeping had it all along, but I didn't get it until we were at Coco Cay! I asked my steward that question, and he said that turn-down service ended at 10, so he didn't have time to get my ticket to my cabin. Anyway, I got a refund, which appeared on my cruise account. Yeah.
I had a good cruise, good table mates, good food, and a great time aboard Majesty of the Seas. Will I sail aboard again! You betcha!