We booked this cruise in September as a quick getaway for the two of us. It's been 10 years since we last cruised without kids and 10 years since we've been on RCCL. We're both in our mid-40's and somewhat active. My wife was still recovering from an auto accident in the fall so we decided to be less active on this cruise. Another couple joined us on this cruise (first cruise on RCCL for them).
Normally we fly down to the port city on the day before embarkation, but it didn't fit our scheduled this time. We booked a direct flight (with one stop) on Southwest and made it to the port by 1:00. The line to get into the building was quite long, going all the way to the private car drop-off/pick-up area. As we got closer to the door, the port staff separated the Crown & Anchor members and suite guests into a much shorter security line. After passing security, we went into the Gold Level check-in line. They also had special queues setup for suite guests and other loyalty levels. After about 10-15 minutes, we were all signed in and headed to the ship. I sure hope that some improvements can be made for this terminal building. It was a very steep climb up the gangway!
Since our cabin was ready, we dropped off our carry-on bags and changed into shorts (a bit too cold in Detroit when we left). We then may our way up to The Windjammer for lunch. It was no problem to get a table and we did not find long lines at any of the buffet stations. Our friends met up with us as they had a longer check-in wait (not C&A members). During lunch, it rained a bit (had been raining on and off all day in Fort Lauderdale) but stopped as we finished. We explored the ship for a bit before attending the safety drill. I'm so glad that they discontinued the policy of wearing your lifejackets during the drill. We spent some time during sailaway in the Champagne Bar for drinks before returning to our cabins to unpack and rest before dinner. The Champagne Bar became our go-to pre-dinner cocktail venue each night.
We booked an inside cabin on Deck 7 to save a bit of money. We thought it was adequate for the two of us and had no problems storing our luggage and clothing. The darkness helped to have some nice mid-afternoon naps! Our stateroom attendant (Camelot) stopped by to introduce himself before we left for dinner. He was just a jem! Our room was spotless each day and he made sure to follow the door signs (do not disturb and make up room). We ended up giving him extra tip money and putting him in for a WOW award on our post-cruise survey.
We had 8:30 traditional dinner seating with our friends (4-top table). Our service team of Lenus (waiter) and Karen (assistant waiter) seemed a bit frazzled during our first dinner (but did get better during the cruise). It made us think that they may have been new in these positions. The food was good and we enjoyed dinner each night.
My wife and I had purchased the soda packages before we boarded however I decided to upgrade to the Premium Package once on-board. I think I got my money's worth although I may not have had as much to drink had I been buying by the glass. It's nice that RCCL now allows only one guest to purchase the package as my wife does not drink that much.
We hit some of the main shows: adult comedy (Luis Johnson), Encore (ice show), and Saturday Night Fever. We also played in The Quest. We finished each night off at the Schooner Bar with the improv piano of David Curtis. He was just fantastic! That was the highlight of the cruise for us.
In Cozumel, we took a taxi to Paradise Beach for a nice beach day before heading back into town for some shopping and drinks at Margaritaville. On the sea days, we enjoyed the sun (no problems getting loungers up on Deck 12) and the ocean air (plenty of space on Deck 4). I even won some money in the casino.
We signed up for the luggage valet service as we had a later flight out of FLL and did not want to hassle with the luggage. We were booked on a Southwest itinerary but on an AirTran flight. This caused an error when they charged us baggage fees. After about 15 minutes of arguing with one of the Guest Services officers, they removed the $85 charge. I sure hope they fix the issues with this service as it was great otherwise. We left the ship around 9:00am and snaked our way outside and over to the other terminal building. Again, I sure hope Port Everglades can do some upgrades in this area to allow for a better debarkation process.
All-in-all, we had a great time and look forward to our next cruise. We think this is a great option to book a B2B with the 5-night (perhaps we'll do that next year).
We loved Paradise Beach. It's about a 15-minute cab ride ($16) from the International Pier. For $2 per person, you get the use of a lounge chair and they ask that you spend at least $10 per person on food or drinks. We did not get the wristband for the water toys. The food was very good and the service was top-notch. The entire resort was very clean (including the bathrooms, changing rooms, and showers).
Shopping was OK - we did not like the constant chatter to get us inside stores as we walked by.
On future visits, we'll stick to the beach and the ship.