This was my 4th cruise with RCCL and a sampler cruise for my husband and daughter to see if they liked cruising as much as I do (previously I had always gone with friends). We choose a JS because my husband is a larger man and we didn't think he would be able to shower in the stall showers in the standard rooms.
Boarding in Port Canaveral was a breeze. We arrived via a car service from Orlando and dropped our luggage with the porters who blantently asked for a tip! I am happy to tip, but a little surprised to be asked for one. In any case, we arrived at the check in desk and walked on to the ship within 5 minutes. I've never boarded so quickly before!
We had lunch at the Windjammer which was packed, but that is to be expected. After a quick lunch we hung out in the Centrum for all of 5 minutes before they announced the rooms were ready earlier than planned.
Our JS (8114) had the dreaded pole, but it was never an issue for us. The bathroom was new and the furniture (couch and two club chairs) seemed new too. The balcony was a good size with a lounger, 2 chairs and a small table. Those items were a little worn, but fine. The A/C in the room barely worked. I thought it would kick on once we set sail but that did not happen. I did smell the sewage smell in the room and hallways, but it was never that overpowering. It wasn't pleasant, but it did not hinder our vacation either.
We did not dine in the main dining room as my husband did not want to get dressed for dinner. Being such a short cruise, this was not a big deal for me. We ate at the Windjammer for the most part but also tried out the Park Cafe (huge hit) and room service (ok).
On the first day my daughter wanted to try the rock wall and bungee trampoline. The staff at both locations seemed gruff and a little put out to be working with the guests. I tried to chalk it up to just having a bad day but it was a little disheartening. Later in the cruise we returned to these venues and the same staff were working but seemed in better spirits. One of the dealers in the casino did tell my husband that the previous 2 cruises on this same ship were quite rowdy so I wonder if the staff were a little leery of having another crew like that on board. We were assured that our sailing was much calmer!
My husband spent a lot of time in the casino and had a great experience....even winning over $300 at blackjack! My daughter won at Bingo and I won nothing. :-)
As we got close to Nassau we sailed through a storm. This was a first for me! It was fun to watch the lightening strikes in the ocean and hear the thunder rumble overhead. The ship always had a gentle sway to it but nothing that ever knocked you off balance or caused seasickness.
We booked our excursion at the Explorations desk and the woman that helped us did not seem that friendly. It could have just been her personality, but she did not have that welcoming feel that many other crew seem to convey. When we visited the guest relations desk to claim our bingo prize, the gentleman that helped us there was extremely pleasant. Our stateroom attendant Anthony was also great.
We did the snorkel at Rainbow Reef in Nassau. It poured all morning but we still went out. It was a great experience, but the water was choppy due to the storm and a few people got sick. The crew was very good though and made us all give the OK sign about every 10 minutes or so. We had one lifeguard in the water with us the whole time, and another crew member swimming around to help. The captain of the boat stood at the back and helped people on and off. They gave us a little tour of the island, pointing out landmarks, on the ride back. Overall a great excursion. And the sun came bursting out at the end too!
Coco Cay was our second stop and was another great experience. We took one of the earlier tenders and pretty much had the beach almost all to ourselves for the morning. Some have mentioned the lines for the tender. The RCCL crew told us we were not allowed on the gangway until a tender was ready to board. So the line started on the 2nd floor and easily wound up the stairs. We waited maybe 10 minutes to board and another 10 for the rest of the guests to board and we were off.
My daughter wanted to do the Aqua Park at CC. While a fun time, it is EXHAUSTING! The equipment is anchored but you need to use all of your upper body strength to pull yourself up to use it. This was difficult for the younger kids and the adults trying to help them. We quit about 20 minutes earlier than our end time because we didn't have the energy for anything more.
My daughter did the huge water slide too and just loved it.
We joined the beach BBQ and really enjoyed it. Watched some of the contests while we ate and got a hair wrap for my daughter on the way out. On the tender back to the ship a pod of dolphins swam and jumped next to the boat much to the delight of everyone on board.
My daughter only participated in the kids club on one night and was not that thrilled with it. I do think this is because the majority of the kids on board were either much younger or teenagers. I think on a bigger ship with more families this would not be an issue. She did appear to enjoy the pirate parade and showcase even though she claims she didn't.
We watched some movies on the big screen by the pool and enjoyed that as well. This feature did not seem to have much participation by the guests so it felt like we had the whole deck to ourselves. It was a nice, easy activity after running around so much.
Diembarkation was a breeze as well. We hand carried our luggage off the ship and were waiting for our car service within 20 minutes of leaving our room.
Overall it was a great cruise. The ship seemed in good condition even though my husband felt it was a little worn and dated. It seemed comparable to my other cruises on Naviagtor and Voyager in terms of wear and tear. It is an older ship so I did not expect sparkling new chairs, railings and equipment. Everything was cleaned and worked just fine. The crew were constantly cleaning and polishing too. I would definitely recommend this cruise and ship for first timers or those looking for a quick getaway. Be warned that this can be a booze cruise for FL residents but you can always find a place away from those guests.