First off, as so many other people have said, this ship is amazing! I traveled with a total of 26 people, 3 generations. This is the only way to do such a large group!
We flew in the night before, arriving at 11pm. We called our hotel, the Roadway Inn and Suites, Ft Lauderdale from the baggage area. Once we found the pick-up area, it was only a 10 minute wait for the shuttle driver to come get us. We were in bed by midnight! The hotel is a bit shabby, but it is clean, the people are friendly and the landscaping is pretty. And anyway, we weren’t there for a fancy experience. We just needed a cheap place to stay that gave us the amenities we wanted. We got a free shuttle, both from the airport and to the dock, and a free, perfectly adequate breakfast. I would definitely recommend staying here. My only complaint was they didn’t have enough shuttles in the morning and we had to wait an hour.
We were at the dock at about 11:15 and were on the ship by noon. I would highly recommend that you go up to the 15th floor and do the zip line and the wave rider ASAP on the day you arrive. They both open up at 1:00, so plan accordingly. This is the slowest they will be all week! My sons were on the wave rider with only one other person! They essentially got a free, private lesson!
The room is beautiful and one of the largest I have seen on a ship. We had a window looking out over Central Park. I loved the window seat! I loved sitting on the window seat and watching the activity below. Just be sure to close your curtains TIGHTLY, or you will inadvertently be giving everyone a free trill! There was a couch and desk area, so we really felt like we had plenty of space. We opened the connecting door between our room and my sons’ room, which made things very convenient. Our room attendant was courteous, accommodating and worked his butt off! My kids were complete slobs and he even hung up their clothes for them! He definitely earned the extra tip we gave him at the end of the trip! I have read some complaints that conditioner is not provided. However, I found that by just asking my room attendant, I was able to get conditioner, lotion and shower gel! So just ask!
All the professional shows were great, and I cannot think of one that I would say to skip. I loved Hairspray and the comedians the best. And the improv show! I saw a few of the guest inclusive shows: the love and marriage show is always a hoot and a half, but the battle of the sexes show was stupid and boring. The belly flop contest was fun, as was the karaoke contest. They had a “whats the next line of the song” contest that my sister won!
Definitely go to the meet and mingle! We met a family that had 2 sons, one my younger son’s age, and one the age of my nephew. The four boys hung out together several times and it made a big difference in how much fun they had on this trip. Also, they give away quite a few nice prizes. For some reason my extended family was extremely lucky! We won 2 bottles of champagne, 1 bottle of wine, a travel mug, a hat and visor set and 30 minutes of internet time! I did not personally win anything though.
The Opus dining room gave us some good meals and some excellent meals and was the best place for breakfast. The Solarium had a nice breakfast and a very interesting lunch. I did not like the Windjammer. The little café up on the pool deck had burgers and tacos and such and was a fun place for a quick snack. We had dinner at Izumis and Chops. Both were good, but not worth spending extra money on. Just stick to the free venues! Donuts were good as was Sorentos pizza, but nothing outstanding. Even room service had its hits and misses (hamburger and cheesecake are really good, the chocolate pear tart is disgusting!)The park Cafe has excellent roast beef sandwiches, a nice salad bar and much more. It was my favorite place for lunch!
Haiti is lots of fun! It is just a lovely beach to spend the day on. They do have beach wheelchairs if you need them, which we did. Just be prepared that they do not just let you take them. They send a porter to take you to the beach, who you then have to tip, and then they take the chair back so you have to ask for it again. You do not get to keep it while on the beach. I saw no need to spend money on any of the extras at Haiti. The zip line looked fun, but not worth the ridiculous amount of money they charge for the 10 minute ride. I just could not justify the costs for all the extras and felt it was just as nice to relax and swim. We did bring a cheap blow up air matt from home which we then threw away so that we did not have to rent one at $12 for the day. We also brought our snorkel gear from home. Lunch was surprisingly good and served in multiple locations.
In Jamaica we chose to do the Dunn River Falls hike and Green Grotto Caverns tour. Excellent!!! Both tours were great and I could have hiked another 200 feet on the falls and been even happier. We had so much fun! On the falls, I would recommend you leave your camera on the bus, unless it is waterproof. The guide will take it for you and keep it safer than you can, but I still saw cameras getting wet, losing lens caps and such. They video tape the whole thing and will sell it to you for $40. Yes, that is expensive, but I thought it was worth it. Avoid the “village” if you can. They are super aggressive. Same thing on Haiti. The caves were really interesting and we saw rats, tons of bats, and even a snake. Our guide made the whole experience a lot of fun! I loved this tour!
In Cozumel I went outside of the cruiseline and booked our own tour through John Adams at Cozumelcruiseexcursions.net. We were supposed to do both an intro to scuba class as well as a Jeep tour, but the weather caused all water excursions (not just with our group, all the tours booked through RCL, too) to be canceled due to rough waves. We had a bit of a rough start due to a bunch of people changing their canceled snorkel tours to jeep tours and having to make all the arrangements. This took quite a while and was frustrating when we just wanted to get going. But once we got going we had a great time! Our tour guide was David. We rode in ancient Jeeps and got to see some tiny ruins, and I do mean tiny! Also saw some salt water crocs, a nice lighthouse and rocky tidepools. Then we had a fabulous lunch of fajitas and went to the most beautiful beach where I could have spent the whole day! Last stop was a tequila tour where we learned about tequila, but did not get to actually see the factory. We did get some great samples though! All in all, a great day! And, just like everywhere else, the people selling stuff were so aggressive. I got things for 50% of their asking price and am pretty sure that I still got ripped off!
On the ship I never got to go to the rock climbing wall or the ice skating rink or even sit in the hottub! I did get a pedicure at the spa which was quite good! I love my blue toes! But skip the “free ladies pamper hour”. They told me it would be free mini services and lots of pampering. Instead it was lectures about all their services and how we needed to buy stuff. After 40 minutes I got mad and left. We did see one parade which was fun, but crowded. The workout room was very nice, but the touch screens didnt always work on the eliptical. The track was pretty cool!
So all in all, it was a wonderful trip and an amazing ship!