This was my fourth RCI cruise, and the second on this particular ship. Living in Miami, RCI and Carnival are the only major cruise lines I am aware of that are currently operating these quick 4-day/3-night itineraries.
==Embarkation== Very smooth. We arrived at the port early in the afternoon, around 1pm, and walked to the check-in area with no wait whatsoever. For such a short cruise, we didn't see the need to check in any luggage and carried everything by hand. Our IDs were checked a few times (standard security), our bags were run through x-ray, and we were issued our "SeaPass" room/charge cards. We had the opportunity to have our photo taken before boarding the ship, but we bypassed this. As part of ship's security, our photos were taken in conjunction with the SeaPass card (this took only a few seconds), and we then crossed the gangplank and entered the ship's atrium. One of the greeters advised us that all of the cabins were ready so we headed down to Deck 2 to unload our bags.
We quickly unpacked and then headed up to the Windjammer for some lunch. It was the typical buffet fare, but not bad at all. There was, as usual, plenty of choices to choose from.
The muster drill was a a bit chaotic, if for no other reason than everyone converges on Deck 7 at the same time. It was over, thankfully, in about 20 minutes. While the crowds dissipated, we stayed on deck to watch our departure from Miami. Carnival's Fascination left shortly before we did and it was interesting to watch another large ship navigate its way out of the channel.
==Ship Layout/Design== Its hard to believe that 15 years ago, these "Sovereign Class" ships were the largest in the world. The Majesty is, however, by no means small. Finding your way around the ship and from one venue to the other is not difficult. The only complication was elevators that were either inoperative or just plain full. We were on Deck 2 (as low as you can go unless you're a crew member) and got in quite a workout every day taking the stairs. We also experienced a lot of other passengers sitting in the stairwells, engaged in conversation or just waiting for friends, and this created an obstacle course as we had to work our way around them.
The Centrum continues to be the ship's focal point. The main restaurants, bars, boutiques, casino, excursion desk, purser's desk, etc., are all located here. I'm a fan of atriums on cruise ships (Royal Caribbean was the pioneer of this concept) and I hope its a trend that continues in future ship designs.
There are two pools and jacuzzis on top of the ship, as well as a variety of bars and access to the Windjammer Cafe. Everything was functional and in good order with the exception of the sports area on Deck 11. This was closed for the duration of our cruise, apparently due to the upcoming refurbishment.
The entire ship is looking VERY tired and is due for a drydock overhaul next month. This is a good thing. Frayed carpet, torn furniture, scratched walls, tarnished brass, etc. were the norm on this voyage. The ship's furniture and other interior appointments were also looking very dated (very 1980s).
==Our Cabin== Our cabin was completely ready for our arrival. It was clean, the bed was made, and the bathroom was stocked. Unfortunately, there is not a refrigerator in the room (I don't think there is room for one), but there is a safe in the closet. We had a porthole instead of a window and it was tiny. There wasn't much to see from our vantage point, but at least we could tell when the sun was up, and whether we were in port our out at sea.
The standard cabins on the Majesty are small. The running joke is that they're so small that you have to step outside to change your mind. For a cruise as short as this one, its not a big deal. We had more than enough space for our clothes, luggage, purchases, etc.
As with the other parts of the ship, the cabin furniture was well worn and dated in appearance. Also, being so low in the ship subjected our cabin to a lot of noise from Deck 1, i.e. loading and unloading of cargo and other ship's noises. No "disturbance" last for more than a minute or two.
Our cabin steward was excellent. We saw him every day and he kept our cabin neat, tidy, and well stocked. We also appreciated the "towel animals" he created. We had a "sea-monster" on the bed one night, a stingray the next night, and a swan on the last night.
==Ship's Crew== Overall the crew was good, with plenty of friendly conversation with bartenders and restaurant staff. This was, however, the first RCI cruise I'd ever been on where I was disappointed by bad attitudes. I was chastised by one of the sales people in a ship's boutique, for not presenting a coupon before she started ringing up my purchases. She also shut down her register after completing my order, and walked away without so much as a word to the ten people standing in line behind me. Suffice to say, the customers she walked away from were speechless. This "indifferent" and "short tempered" attitude was also experienced while on Coco Cay, and during some elements of the dining room service.
==Dining== We ate breakfast each day in Windjammer, and dined each evening in Mikado. Breakfast was strictly the buffet variety with a copious selection of pastries, fruits, cheeses, meats, eggs, etc. Majesty was designed before the "island" concept of buffet dining started, so the lines were long and moved fairly slowly. Made to order omelets were available, again with a long line, but they were excellent.
Mikado looked like it had already received some overhaul work, with new lighting fixtures and the carpet may have been new as well. Overall it was very attractive. The food was very good, but the service was a bit uneven. Plates often sat for a long time before being cleared, and dinner orders were frequently mixed up. I don't know if this was because of an inexperienced wait staff, or whether our waiters just did not work too well together.
There was a midnight buffet on the pool deck during the 2nd night of the cruise, but we didn't stay up for it. Those in our group that did stay up said that it was pretty good.
==Lounges/Bars== We usually had drinks in the Shooner Bar on Deck 5 before dinner. As with the other parts of the ship, its in need of a serious refurbishment. The staff, however, was extremely friendly. This was a great place to start off the evening, or to wind down after dinner.
Other bars are scattered throughout the ship. As is usual on cruises, the drink prices are nothing to write home about, and they bartenders are frequently skimpy on the alcohol.
The Viking Crown lounge is on Deck 14. This is such a great vantage point to see the ship and the ocean, but the furniture and overall appearance of the lounge is also tired and dated. Also, at night, the lights in the lounge were too bright and created reflections on the windows, so it was impossible to see anything outside other than the pool area.
==Entertainment== Excellent from what we were told, but we didn't attend any shows. RCI produced all of the entertainment "in house" and the performers are reportedly quite good.
The casino was very busy whenever it was open. It too is looking dated, but that did not detract people from pouring their money on to the betting tables or into the slot machines.
Television in the cabin consisted of a variety of live and previously recorded programming. There was a "moving map" display so that you could know the ship's position and speed at all times; two CNN channels (one in Spanish); a channel called "Retro TV" which ran oldies but goodies, i.e. Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Partridge Family, The Little Rascals, etc.
==Fitness/Recreation== The gym is well equipped and located at the back of the ship. I didn't see too many people utilizing it, but on an itinerary this short, I was not surprised.
==Shopping== The boutiques were open while the ship was out at sea, and there was a large selection of clothing, duty free alcohol/cigarettes, jewelry, etc. Prices on many items were reduced on the last day of the cruise, so this area of the ship was packed for most of that evening. Prices on some goods such as jewelry and watches were a bit more expensive than could be found in Nassau, but the alcohol prices were very competitive.
==Internet Cafe== Located off of the Centrum, I saw only a few people utilizing the computers. You have to pay for the access, and its a bit expensive.
==Library== Extremely quiet, nicely stocked, but yes, due for an overhaul. We heard that this entire area and the neighboring champagne bar will be ripped out during the overhaul and replaced with a larger conference center.
==Ports of Call== Only Coco Cay (RCI's private island) and Nassau were visited on this short itinerary. Apparently NCL's island, Great Stirrup Cay, is right next door to Coco Cay as one of their ships, the Norwegian Jewel was anchored just to our port side. We could see their tenders running passengers to and from their island just as often as our tenders were running.
Coco Cay has been seriously upgraded since I was last there a few years ago. The bathrooms, buffet areas, and beach areas have all been vastly improved. There is also a water park of sorts that you can take advantage of, but only for $15 per hour. We didn't take advantage of that, but the hammocks were plentiful and the weather was beautiful.
We were docked in Nassau on Sunday and we were the only ship in port. The shops in town usually close at 1pm on Sunday's, but were open until 3pm because of the upcoming holidays. The inventory of many stores was very limited due to the sales of the previous day. I'm assuming more ships were in port on Saturday and that no deliveries took place afterwards. We did, however, find some good deals on cologne and watches.
Tours were available to Atlantis and many other points of interest on the island. Having been here several times before, we opted to head back to the ship and enjoy the peace and quiet before everyone returned in time for our 5pm departure.
==Disembarkation== Unfortunately we did not receive our room bills until 7am. There was an error on my room charge, which took 30 minutes to rectify, but that was the only hiccup.
Passengers carrying only hand luggage had the option to depart early and we took advantage of this. We were off of the ship and through customs and immigration in about 20 minutes. This was the easier departure I've ever experienced from an RCI cruise.
==Problems== Nothing major aside from the dated/worn appearance of the ship and some lapses in customer service. Admittedly, I have never experienced problems with crew members on any RCI cruise, ever, so I'm hoping that my few negative experiences were just an exception to the rule and not the beginning of a negative trend.
==Other== We're members of RCI's guest loyalty program, Crown & Anchor, and appreciated the goodies they left in our room. The gifts were nothing spectacular, but it was nice to be recognized for being a repeat guest.
==Conclusion== As I said at the beginning of this review, RCI and Carnival are the only major cruise lines who currently operate this sort of itinerary out of Miami. The Majesty may be an older ship by today's standards, but its perfect for what it is being used for.
On one day of the cruise, one of the television channels was running a Discovery Channel documentary on the refurbishment of Majesty's sister, Sovereign of the Seas. If Majesty comes out of her refurb looking as good as Sovereign, she will no doubt continue to serve RCI very well for years to come.