We arrived at the Port of Los Angeles around noon, and embarkation was a breeze! The only slight delay we had was waiting for a porter to get our bags when we first arrived. It took about 10 minutes to flag one down; we handed over our bags and a tip ($5.00) and we were on our way! We waited maybe 5 minutes in line to check in, received our SeaPass cards and walked right onboard! We had to try out our cards on a Welcome Aboard drink, and then found our way to our stateroom.
We had booked an oceanview cabin, because I was afraid that I would get claustrophobic, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had two large windows that gave us a great view! At night the lights from the side of the ship reflected off the waves, and filled our room with a beautiful glow. Our room was small, but comfortable, with a small couch and dressing table. Plenty of room for the two of us, and we were able to store our empty suitcases under the beds and out of the way. Our stateroom attendant (Brendan) was still working on our room when we arrived, so we made our introductions, and went to have lunch while he finished up.
The food in the Windjammer Cafe was very good! Lots of variety for lunch, and although breakfast had the same choices every day, there was a lot to choose from. I became addicted to the Bircher Muesli - a sort of cold oatmeal with fresh fruit and almonds. We ate there every day for breakfast and lunch, and had no complaints - except for the coffee. It was bad, even in the Aquarius dining room.
Our first meal was over, so we headed back to the room to see if Brendan was done. He was, so we unpacked our carry-on bags and checked out the room. My only complaint about the room is that it smelled; the previous occupants must have been pretty heavy smokers. Next time I will bring air freshener! After a day or two the smell was gone, so not really a big deal. The mattress was a little hard also, so after the first night we mentioned it to Brendan, and he brought us two 'egg crate' foam pads and put them on the bed and it really helped! I just have to add here that my husband was not too thrilled with the tip system before we left for the cruise. He is not a big tipper anyway, and thought that the $150.00 or so that we would be asked to pay at the end of the cruise was a bit much. Well, after being treated so well he was a changed man - and he was so impressed with Brendan that he gave him much more than the minimum on the last day! Between the foam pads and the towel animals on the bed every night, not to mention the impeccably clean room every day, he worked hard for his money and deserved every penny.
The ship was beautiful. We were on the Thanksgiving cruise, and they had started decorating for Christmas throughout the week. The pool area was the most crowded, but we didn't have any trouble finding lounge chairs and spent a lot of our time there on the deck. There were plenty of places to get away from the crowds if you chose to, however. We also enjoyed watching the sail-aways from the Viking Lounge - the view from there is fabulous. The only real complaint I have about the ship is the public restrooms. They really smelled bad! They were spotless, but stinky. The one in our room was fine, and I usually went back to our room if I had to go rather than go into the public ones - they were that bad.
We noticed on our SeaPass cards that we had not been given a dining room assignment, so we went to the Aquarius dining room and waited in line to get assigned a table. We decided to change to the 2nd seating, and that was a wise decision, because we didn't have to rush to get ready for dinner on the days we were visiting the ports. We were offered a table for two, and that sounded good at the time, but we regretted it after a day or two. We could have changed seating assignments and chose not to, but it would have been more fun to sit with a group of people. Also, our waiter (Mustafa) was not very attentive with us, but spent most of his time at the larger tables next to us chatting with the guests. Our assistant waiter (Oliver) was great however, and we really enjoyed talking with him.
After getting our dining room assignment squared away, we went back up on deck and wandered around a bit checking out the ship. We found the jogging/walking path and did a few laps to work off lunch, then headed back to the cabin to see if our bags had arrived. The hallway was filled with bags waiting to be brought into the rooms, and we spotted ours and took them in ourselves. We were glad we did, because the pile only got higher as the afternoon wore on, and even late that evening there were still several bags out in the hall. We unpacked and watched the ship sail out of Los Angeles from our room. We got ready for the evening, and went to the Welcome Aboard show in the Masquerade Theater before dinner. It was very entertaining, and previewed some of the shows and activities that were going to take place later in the week. It was hosted by our cruise director, Parker. He and his staff were just awesome! They were all so entertaining, and they really kept things fun the whole week.
After the show we went to the dining room for our first dinner. For the most part, the food was very good in the dining room. Most dishes were excellent, but a few were just so-so. On one of the formal nights we had steak and lobster. The steak was tough, but the lobster was wonderful, and plentiful. Mustafa kept asking if we wanted another, and then another - I think we could have sat there and eaten lobster all night if we wanted to! The desserts were fabulous, as well as the breads and rolls we had with dinner.
The shows on the ship were pretty good. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers shows were fun, the singers were really good! They had one act that was totally lame - Los Ritmos Duo. They were a very low budget act that probably would have been booed off the Gong Show! There was a comedy/juggling act that was our favorite, Sean and Dave. They were hilarious! We missed the Beatlemania show, but heard that it was very good. The best part was the late night fun in the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge. Every night there was a different theme, complete with dance lessons and fun with the cruise director and his staff. They replay some of the evening events on the TV the next day, so be warned if you go and make a fool of yourself - you will be the star of the cruise the next day! The midnight BBQ and the Midnight buffets are not to be missed - even if you don't eat, you have to go just to see the spread they put out!
The ports were great - we took the cruise ship tours in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, but we just went out on our own in Mazatlan. I would recommend taking a tour if you are uncomfortable in Mexico on your own, but we could have done the same things for much less money, and would have been on our own time schedule, so next time we will do that. Not that I am knocking the tours, because we really did enjoy them, especially the Snorkel and Sail Fiesta in Cabo San Lucas. The Jungle Tour in Puerto Vallarta was good too, but what was supposed to be a 3 hour tour ended up being more like a 5 hour tour, and we didn't have any time for walking around downtown in PV, which I really wanted to do. Mazatlan was very easy to get around in - we took a taxi to the beach resorts, and after fighting our way through the 'time share' salesmen everywhere, we found our way to the beach and spent the day under a palapa sipping margaritas and swimming in the ocean. We walked back to town for some shopping before heading back to the ship - there were taxis everywhere and they were very inexpensive.
When the last day arrived, we received our debarkation info, and our tags. The colors of the tags determine when you are allowed to leave, and we were in the last group. We went to the purser's desk and asked to be given white tags (first group) because we had a long drive home and wanted to get an early start. They gave us a bit of a hard time, saying that the white tags were only for people with confirmed early flights, but eventually we got our way and our white tags. Debarkation was a breeze! We had to be out of our room by 7:00, so we got up early and went to breakfast. They called the first group right at 8:00 and we were off the ship and on the street by 8:15. If anyone has any questions that I didn't answer here, feel free to email me!