We drove to the port since we live in Clearwater, FL. Embarkation was the easiest ever. Within one hour - we arrived around 1:00 p.m. - we were on-board, had dropped our carry-on luggage in our stateroom, had our first of several Guy Fieri burgers and were enjoying a cold bucket of beer.
We really enjoyed the tropical décor of the Breeze and the layout. It's a big ship and although we guessed this voyage was not sold out as we met alot of people like ourselves who got great last minute deals, we still never felt overwhelmed by crowds. We also rarely waited for anything. The longest lines were Mongolian Wok on embarkation day and Jimmy's barbecue on the first Sea Day (UGH the latter sooo not worth waiting for btw). We really liked the open promenade area on Deck 5. There is an outside section of the Red Frog Pub there so you can get food and bar service and there are also loungers and tables on both sides of the ship along with two hot tubs on each side. We didn't use them but they were never crowded. We met some other cruisers who were disappointed that these hot tubs closed pretty early - 7 or 8 I believe. We spent a good deal of time at the main pool and pool in the back of the ship and got great service at both. The back pool was always quieter and less crowded and also there are tables and a bar where we were always able to find a seat to eat.
We tried out both water slides and they were quite fun. Once in a while the water would stop flowing through them and we all were shooed back down the steps ... a few minutes later it would start again. This was a little annoying. We liked he Seaside movies - Ride Along and part of Gravity. Great relaxing atmosphere in the evening and you can enjoy a beverage ... and some pretty awful popcorn...not sure what's up with that, but good movies overall. Wish they would play more concerts during the day and skip some of the redundant "Y-M-C-A" stuff at the pool and goofy games.
Dining. We ate in the main dining room with anytime dining in Sapphire about three times for dinner. None of them was memorable as far as food and the service was actually just OK. Not slow, but we were not usually offered a second beverage from the bar or coffee. Even the lobster and prime rib were just OK - we found the food pretty bland overall and stopped eating there. Our favorite like most people's was Guy's burgers and we probably went there about four times, always fresh and tasty. We also had the breakfast burritos two times from Blue Iguana. They are fresh and our only complaint was that fresh tortillas would have been much better. Also, as someone else said, how about some chips for all those salsas? Luckily we were already on Deck 5 when Jimmy's barbecue opened on the first sea day ... we only waited a few minutes and I wouldn't want to have wasted any more time. BLECH. UGH. Very greasy pork with no flavor, an odd dry rub on the super-dried out chicken breast, canned flavorless beans. We enjoyed the fresh omelets a couple mornings and the other breakfast items were very fresh too - bacon, ham, etc. The buffet had fresh carving stations daily - turkey, prime rib, ham, etc. We had room service every day for our morning coffee and rolls. Always on time and fresh. We also had room service a few nights and enjoyed the reuben, pastrami, grilled cheese, hot sandwiches and the blt, ham and cheese cold ones and really excellent tropical fruit salad. Sometimes in the afternoon we would get salami, ham and cheese and fruit from the buffet and make a snack platter to go with our bucket of beer by the pool. The meats and cheeses were always nice and cold and fresh. We also had pizza slices from the Pizza Pirate several times - they always had a white cheese pizza and pepperoni slices hot and fresh. We didn't order any whole pies but the ones I saw looked good as well.
Bars - we spent time at the Red Frog Pub on Deck 5 and met fun people. Several of us played all kinds of music from the juke box and enjoyed the video screens everywhere and talked about memories of concerts, songs from high school, etc. Sadly, a couple times an awful acoustic act takes over in this bar and ruins the whole juke-box/video fun. The Iguana on the pool deck makes great margaritas by the pitcher with freshly crushed limes - sooo refreshing. We also got great service at the back pool bar.
We don't normally go to the shows but are admittedly somewhat entertainment snobs after living in Las Vegas for 10 years and attending many many shows. We attempted to go twice on this cruise and left after 10 minutes each time. One was because the cruise director was basically using the time for a Carnival commercial and the other was one of those audience participation "you sing" etc. When I attend a show I expect to be entertained, not to be part of the entertainment but if you like this type of cutting loose it may be an option you may enjoy.
We loved the Cove balcony cabin. They are located on Deck 2 so you are really close to the gangways at the ports and for disembark and also the dining rooms and the fun on Deck 5. Obviously farther from the pools, but we never waited too long for elevators.
We didn't do any excursions at our ports. We know Key West very well and shopped and ate lunch on our own. We like the mahi sandwich at Hogs Breath and split one. I have previously visited Hemingway House; Southernmost Point, the Lighthouse, and been parasailing, snorkeling, etc and enjoyed all of them. In the Caymans we went to 7 Mile Beach Surfside resort. It was $5 a piece in a super crowded hot van ...no DOT regs over there. If they could have strapped some people to the top they would have. However the resort was pretty and had great service. Remember the menu is in Cayman dollars though. I snorkeled and enjoyed the water. It also has free wi-fi if you are unable to disconnect. I didn't use it so I can't say if it was fast or slow. We had also been to Cozumel - Passion Island is my favorite excursion there, but we didn't do it this time. We have also been on a snorkel party boat to Palancar Reef. I had a fabulous time, but the reef I found pretty color-less. We wanted to do the "Behind the Scenes" tour on the ship, but we didn't bring any closed-toed shoes so we couldn't do it but hope to next time.
Disembark must have been a record of some sort. We left our room at 8:30 and were in our vehicle at 8:48 leaving the parking garage. The drive from Miami to Clearwater is a hard four hours after a fun six days of partying and sight-seeing, but the hotels near the port are ridiculously expensive so we'd probably do this again and save our money for alcohol and excursions!
My husband booked this cruise for my 50th birthday and it was a really great choice. I enjoy cruising more than he does. On smaller boats he's gotten seasick or really bored, but finally with this big ship and all the activities and food choices, I think the Breeze and this cruise has finally made him a believer. He is already looking for our next one ! Yay !