We just got back from a RC cruise leaving out of Galveston and going to the Western Caribbean and it was fabulous!!!! We travelled with 3 children under the age of 10. We flew into Houston IAH and were able to get a rental car from Budget online for 80.00 for three days and stayed at the Hilton Homewood Suites near the airport (we got into town at 8:00 a.m. and the hotel let us check in right away-we didn't have to pay for the room the night before like most places have you do). The hotel was full from the night before-however-someone had checked out so they cleaned a room immediately while we had their hot breakfast. I cannot say enough about that hotel. When we came back from the cruise I had booked another hotel-country inn and suites by the airport-that was a big mistake-they were very unprofessional-so we cancelled and went back to homewood and they got us into a room with the best price right away (thanks Kim).
The day of the cruise my husband dropped the girls and I off at the ship and returned the car to Budget in Texas City before coming back to the cruise ship. In hindsight it would have been easier if we stayed together. You can drop your car off at Budget in Texas City where they will take you to the cruise ship in the car you rented as long as they can fit in it with you for 50.00. I DO NOT recommend this. You can call a cab for 40.00 to pick you up there -your whole family and you do not have to wait for someone at Budget to be able to take you OR wait for them to take other people before they take you. I recommend PINKY's cab service-she has a minivan that you can easily fit into. She picked us up at the cruise ship when our trip was over and took us back to Budget rental in Texas City where we picked up our car for a 2 day rental for 40.00. Google her and you should be able to find her info.
Boarding the Navigator was easy. We loved our family ocean view room in the front of the ship. I bought my kids a soda package and I got the royal replenish. You can take 2 bottles of champagne or wine on the ship. I also saw a lady taking a 12 pack of soda. There is a lot of info on rum runners and they work. Research them. In hindsight after adding our drink cost on the ship (probably each of us had 3-4 drinks a day-averaging 550.00) and then addiing the cost of the beverages and soda package for the girls and I- approx 200.00-we would have been better off buying an alcohol package that included soda and juices for my husband and myself and then just getting the drinks and juices for the kids on our card..
Ports were awesome. Despite some of the research rec. no private tours in Jamaica-we found lots of great reviews on Patrice Bailey for private tours and decided to book her-She was awesome and for the same amount of money we had our own air conditioned van that took us wherever we wanted to go and then some places we did not know. I cannot say enough about Patrice Bailey and I am so glad that we booked with her. We visited a school and took them school supplies and ate where the locals do-6 of us for less than 40.00 and shopped away from the pier-buy coffee n Jamaica and you can deal (2 bags for 20.00) however, do not buy liquour there-buy it in the Caymen islands-way cheaper.
Next stop-Grand Caymen Islands-I tried to book a tour with Marineland tours due to their awesome reviews but if you come in on RC they will not-they contract privately with them so book them through the ship for the Deluxe Stingray City tour-it iis well worth it-they are the only boat that has a stairway down to the water so if you have older people or small children this can come in very handy getting on and off their boat or just hanging on the steps and looking at the stingrays. THis port the boat is tendered and you take a small boat in to Grand Caymen and the tour people are right there to meet you as soon as you go in the gate.You can buy alcohol and rum cakes the cheapest here. There is a store as you are heading into the gates on the left that had a 11 percent discount on their already great prices before 12:00. They also pack all of your liqour and send it to the ship for free so you don't have to deal with it on your tour. We bought rum, appleton, havana club and 11 bottle altogether with 4-6 rum cakes for 140.00 approx. If you have kids and time eat at Margartiaville across the street-they have great food-it is a little pricey but so worth it-their coconut shrimp and seafood was amazing! The best part is if you have kids there is a water slide into a 3 foot pool right in the restaurant and the kids can swim while you sit. This was one of the highlights for my kids on the whole trip.
Last port-Cozumel-we did swimming with the dolphins. I booked through Chankanaab and got a better rate and it included a buffet lunch. We did the swim adventure-all 5 of us-for 400.00 and I got them to throw in the manatee experience. We took a cab at the port for 16.00/20..00 with tip and the park there is amazing! You can see a sea lion show, there is a small kids beach n one side and then a regular on on another side-very close to each other. There is kayaking and all kinds of things to do there. They do not let us take pictures. However, I am thinking you could sit at the tables with a good camera and snap away. They take their own pictures and charge a ridiculous amount for them.-150-200 dollars. I just wanted one of each of my kids with a dolphin and bargained down to 75.00 aftr telling them that if I dont buy anything then theyw ill just throw them away and not make any money at all so wouldn't it be better if we both got something out of it vs. neither of us getting anything. Shoppin at port great-some stores will bargain and others will not.
All in all the cruise was amazing and the best time ever. RCCruises does a great job and I am looking forward to travelling wtih them again!