Yay! What a fun time! OK, here it goes:
Stood in line for about an hour, but really didn't mind as I was so excited to get on the ship! We took one rolling suitcase (mostly for our drinks) and one backpack. Yes, we pack light, and in fact, I still think I overpacked! Next time, I bet we can go with just one rolling suitcase. Unfortunately, we didn't get on board until after 3:30, so I missed the CC get together as the Sky Bar, and for the rest of the trip never figured out who the CCrs were; so sorry guys!!
Monday and Tuesday: SEA DAYS
The ship is a delight to explore; it was decorated for Christmas and I found the Impressionist theme divine. Lorenzo and I have traveled abroad several times and we always make art hopping a focus of our trips, so to be surrounded by our favorite artists and art themed venues was a treat.
Our cabin was fantastic: Lido Deck with a balcony. We spent so much time on our balcony, watching sunsets, dolphins, and flying fish. A glass of wine and our tiny portable Ipod speaker system and we were good to go for hours. And of course, I loved that right outside of our door were the buffets, pools, sun, and fun! I hear a lot of complaints about the bathrooms, but I thought it was great. Lots of shelves to put bathroom bottles and whatnot, plenty of room to get ready, for me anyhow.
Of course, we did plenty of walking and people watching, as well. The casino was always hopping; we don't know how to plays slots, so I lost a dollar on a nickel slot machine; then, we lost $20 bucks playing roulette in about five minutes OH well, it was all in the experience, but I must say, I'm really not into gambling and losing my money. So, that was enough for me.
Formal night was fantastic; everyone that I saw followed the dress code and were dressed to kill! Security at restaurants did not allow people who were not adhering to code to come in.
Definitely attend the art auctions if you're into art and free champagne! I didn't think that the waiters/servers were pushy at all; people talk about being "nickel and dimed" but I never once felt that way.
Um, what the heck are people complaining about!!?? I loved this port; it was my favorite day of the cruise. We were not hassled in the least; in fact, we were treated most graciously; people went out of their way to make us feel at home. Of course, it helps that Lorenzo has dreadlocks and we know some people in Jamaica; when we got off the ship, a cab driver was waiting outside. He asked us where we wanted to go; I said "No shopping; take me to a beautiful beach where we will get taken care of." And he did. Aqua Sol is a breathtaking beach with fantastic food, prices, and staff. We mentioned to the cab driver, England was his name, a few names of people and places around the area, and like that, we were buddies! He dropped us off at Aqua Sol where his friend Steven came outside to take care of us; anything we wanted could be found and we spent the day in Caribbean heaven. The waters are crystal clear and the romance level is fantastic! I plan on going back to Jamaica, sans cruise; perhaps get a resort or something. Anyhow, all I can say is that we were not harassed by anyone at all; again, I didn't go to the touristy shopping areas, so that probably helped.
Thursday: GRAND CAYMAN
Another gorgeous day!! We got off the ship at 9:00 and went straight to Royal Palms Beach Club where we snorkeled the day away! Again, the waters were pristine and breathtaking. Again, I did not shop or wander the city; we simply beach breaked and loved it!
This was my least favorite port; no big complains, it just didn't rock my world. Perhaps because I am Mexican-American and Lorenzo is Spanish-Mexican, but the city didn't seem like anything different from our local natives. Kind of like visiting our local flea market; people selling silver, bracelets with your name on it, vanilla, etc. We went to Paradise Beach; the beach left much to be desired, in my opinion. It was cool to have free chairs/umbrellas, but there were so many that there wasn't really a beach left; it was two steps from the last row of chairs to the water. Also, the water was kind of funky; a step up from the Gulf of Texas but not the waters/beaches we were seeing in Grand Cayman/Jamaica. We did, however, eat a delicious authentic tacos meal at a little beat up shack called Costa Brava: right by the pier, I highly recommend it. But next time I go on a cruise, I might skip the port of Cozumel; but again, that's just me.
Saturday: SEA DAY
Same as other sea days.
We didn't want to get off the ship anyhow, so it didn't bother us that the ship was about three hours behind schedule due to the fog in Galveston; however, I am sorry for the people who had early flights and probably missed them. Us? We had a 6:00 pm flight, so we got off ship at 1:00, walked to Fudruckers for a burger, then went down the Strand for about twenty minutes, stopped in a bar and got a beer, and then went back to the cruise terminal. At 3:00, just as planned, a shuttle from Galveston Limo picked us up and had us at Houston International Airport by 4:30; perfect timing.
Well, what can I say? the quality of food was comparable to your local Furr's Cafeteria; I really don't have major complaints because I wasn't expecting gourmet perfection with a crew that is serving 3200 people a day, all day. Breakfast buffet was tasty; I did dining room breakfast once and was not impressed. We ate all lunches at either the pizza place, the burger place, PC Woks, Pauls Deli, or Sur Mer, which I HIGHLY recommend! Also, hit up the sushi place whenever you can; it has limited hour but is well worth the wait!! Desserts were tasty as well.
My only complaint, and it is minor, is with the formal dining. The appetizers and desserts were superb; the main courses were awful. We only ate dinner in the dining room three times, and each time my main course was terrible (rubbery lobster, burned risotto, soggy stuffing inside of quail, bland prime rib). Also, I don't like sitting with other people. Conversation is stilted; the atmosphere is uncomfortable. But I loved our waiters, Tibor and Jose; they were a dream team!
Well, we didn't really participate in any of it. We didn't go to any shows in the lounge or any of the games/trivia/bingo/etc. We did go to Mardi Gras one night, and it was fun, but not really our style. Lorenzo and I are good at making our own fun, which is exactly what we did. However, it looked like others were having a fabulous time at the entertainment venues, so it must have been pretty good.
We never once got in; really! We tired ourselves out swimming and snorkeling for three days at the ports, and the first two days at sea, when we left from Galveston, was a bit cold. But everyone else looked to really be enjoying the pool decks, so that's cool.
No cheese plate from room service, which was disappointing. The dining room had a delicious looking dessert plate with cheeses like blue stilton and brie, which would have been fabulous with my wines, but they said I couldn't get it.
Bring your own corkscrew; I had one packed, but then I read from several people on the boards that you could get a corkscrew on board. Well, when we got to our room Sunday, we asked our cabin steward, Mario (who, by the way, is wonderful!!) for a corkscrew. He told me to go to the purser's desk. So I did. The purser said he would have to get one from a bartender; then, he would give it to our room steward and he would deliver it to our room. So, on Monday we asked Mario; he said no one had contacted him with a corkscrew. Back down to the purser's desk; this time, a different purser tells me I have to order room service and have one of them come to my room and open it for me. So I went back to to my room and did that; two hours later, still no one to open my wine. So, finally, on Tuesday, I took my bottle of wine to a bar on Deck 5 and asked the bartender to open it; he did and gave me a wine glass to take back to my room. So, for the rest of the cruise, I had four bottles of wine, and anytime I wanted one open I had to take it to a bar and get the bartender to open it. So, in the future, I will pack my own corkscrew.
Our ship bill was tiny; I had a budget set and we stuck to it. For less than 325.00, we had both of our tips covered, a pashmina, a couple of packs of cigarettes, a few beers, 20.00 in the casino, an underwater camera, a bottle of wine, a picture package, and two froo froo drinks. WE also had four drink coupons apiece, prepaid. I thought we did pretty well
So, all in all, I would say I had a blast on my cruise! I would give it a B+. I would probably never take a cruise-to-nowhere, but I would definitely cruise again. Jamaica and Grand Cayman were awesome and the ship was pretty fun, too!