Bayport terminal – plus/minus an hour to board; parking easy and close; people for the next cruise were showing up right at noon – no lines to board; the area around the terminal is an industrial area, not very attractive.
The ship is showing its age – indentations in the carpeted wall areas in the cabin corridors; worn portions of carpet in the cabins; sheets threadbare in places; bathrooms with evident caulking repairs; chipped plastic etc. The common areas were generally in good condition. One recommendation, if you are not a smoker, don’t get a cabin near the front of the ship. The forward elevators/stairs are next to the casino on the 6th floor and the cigarette smoke flows up the stairs and into the corridors. We were on the 9th floor and basically tried to avoid these stairs.
Finally, two other comments on the ship, one positive and one negative. The equipment in the fitness center was modern, clean and in good working order. The hot tub in the back of the ship never got above lukewarm despite requests from a number of passengers.
Horizon court had a good selection and decent quality; however, usually there was a line to get to the buffet. The Caribe Café had less of a selection, but usually no line. We had the late formal dining in the Palm Restaurant. The menu had a number of selections and the staff, while not overly friendly, was professional and very careful with some of the dietary restrictions that my group had (no gluten). Pizza and hamburger/hot dog places were accessible and pretty fast.
While we did not go to most of the shows, the magic show was good as was the presentation by one of the ship’s 3rd officers regarding navigation and the ship itself. The music groups on deck were mediocre and the DJ in the Skywalker lounge was horrible (played the same sound track every night including 30 second snippets of a collage of Michael Jackson songs that no one could dance to). He would then switch to rap at about 10:30PM which basically ran off the 30 year+ crowd. While it was a spring break cruise, there was not a lot of late night activity.
We didn’t book any excursions through the ship as we typically book directly with the excursion provider. Little French Key in Roatan was very nice; although somewhat pricey (they limit the number of guests which is a plus). Unless you like scuba diving/snorkeling/cave tubing or Mayan Ruins, Belize is not a great stop. The city itself is poor (similar to Montego Bay), although we did not feel unsafe. We walked out of the gate in the terminal area and found a private driver to give us a tour of the city and surrounding area ($20/person). This allowed us to set our own schedule and agenda.
Although ship did not meet our quality expectations with regard to the furnishings (due to the length of time since last refurbishment), the cruise itself was fine for a seven day “downtime” escape. The passengers were primarily from Texas and mid-western states which we viewed as a positive (relative to some cruises we have been on that depart from the east coast).