This was our first cruise ever and was pleasantly surprised. I was originally a little reluctant because of some of the previous reviews I read. Because of this, I decided that I would write up a review of my experience for other first time cruisers. My husband and I are in our mid 40’s and have a 15 year old daughter.
Pre-Hotel – Since we were flying into Port Canaveral from Denver, we booked a room the day before just to make sure we made it to the port in time. We stayed at the Courtyard Cocoa Beach Cape Canaveral. It was a nice hotel and was walking distance to the beach. Cocoa Beach was clean and uncrowded.
Ship information – We arrived at Port Canaveral around noon and the check-in was a breeze. We heard that there was a long line earlier in the morning (check in started at 11:00). We reserved a Jr. Suite room. We knew that we did not get all of the perks that the other suites got, but we did get priority check-in which was great. There was still a pretty long line and we were able to go right to the front. Staff greeted us as soon as we got on the boat and directed us to the Windjammer for some lunch. Be prepared for a lot of people. Rooms were not available until around 1:00 or so, so most of the guests are here. As soon as the rooms were ready, it cleared out quickly. The ship was clean and well taken care of for the age. I can’t imagine what the newer ones are like.
Activities – There is a daily Cruise Compass that is put in your room which has all of the activities for the day. It tells you important things for the day, open hours, events not to miss, activities and entertainment highlights, and a breakout of all of the activities for the day. Activities include everything from movies by the pool, workshops, games, raffles, dance classes, karaoke and many more.
Service - The service was wonderful. Every staff member was friendly and helped out whenever asked. You will have the same waiter if you dine in the My Fair Lady dining room and ours was excellent (Oscar & Raj). After the first dinner, they knew what we wanted and were very attentive to our needs. You will not leave hungry. The bartenders were also very nice and professional. We mainly hung out at one of the two bars by the pool. You would never have to wait long to be served. Daniel and Ligia went over and beyond to serve us.
Shore excursions –
Coco Cay Beach - We decided to sleep in a little and go over to the beach around 11:00. We did not book any tours and wanted to just hang out in the water. The boats that took us over to the island ran continually and we did not have to wait at all. I assume if you decided to go first thing in the morning, there would have been a line. There was another Royal Caribbean boat docked and the beach was full (no chairs) but you could still put your towel down on the beach. As the day went on, chairs opened up. There is a BBQ lunch for a couple of hours but we were not very hungry and the lines were long. The water was warm and calm and the beach was clean. It was very nice. Getting back to the ship took a little longer since it was toward the end of the day but was still not bad.
Nassau Bahamas – We decided that we wanted to see the Atlantis Resort since there is so much talk about it so we purchased the Atlantis Adventure excursion. It was a little confusing on where to find the tour guides. Once we did find them we took a bus to the resort where they took us on a LONG tour of the resort. I could not hear half of what the guide was saying and feel that they needed some sort of microphone. They then let us loose way on the other side of the resort (the resort is very big and laid out poorly) and you were on your own. The employees were helpful when asked, but I feel that the resort is so spread out and the signage is nonexistent, that you will get lost easily. We looked through the aquarium (which is pretty small), went on the lazy river, which was OK but very hard to find and my husband and daughter rode the slide that goes through the shark tank. They had to wait over a half an hour to go on the slide. I personally would be very upset if I was staying at Atlantis and had to wait that long. We went to the beach at Atlantis and was also not impressed. It was VERY crowded and the waves were very rough. As you can tell, I was not impressed with Atlantis at all and I would not waste my money. I would not even waste money on the beach day. By the time we got back to the ship, we were so exhausted from wondering around that we did not do any shopping and just got back on the boat and had a snack before dinner.
Cabin – As I said above, we reserved a Jr. Suite and it was very nice. It had a king size bed and a pullout couch which my daughter said was very comfortable. There was a desk with a chair, two other chairs, a large closet, a good size bathroom for a ship (with a full size tub) and a balcony which had three chairs and a table on it. The bathroom included shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, bar soap, lotion along with a liquid soap on the wall. There is a hairdryer. The shower head was adjustable and the handle could be taken of the base. The sink water at times smelled kind of funny, the bath water was an orange color sometimes and at times the toilet took a while to flush but we are used to camper trailers, so it was not big deal. Our room attendant was nice and made sure to make the bed up at night and clean it promptly. The best part of the room was the balcony. I highly recommend getting a room with a balcony if you can. It was so nice to sit out there and enjoy the view.
Drinks – We were unsure about the drinks so I purchased the Royal Replenish package for my daughter and the Ultimate package for husband and me. The Ultimate package was perfect for my husband since he likes his beer and got his money worth. Next time, I would purchase the Royal Replenish package for myself since I am more of a coffee (they have Starbucks) and bottle water drinker and would just pay for my drinks individually. The Royal Replenish package was perfect for my daughter since she could get water, soda, frozen smoothies and juice.
Windjammer - The Windjammer is the main casual dining area and has breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. I was very reluctant about the food since my husband hates buffets, but we were all happy with the food. There is a lot of food to choose from. I know I read that the food was cold, but we did not experience any of that. The only negative thing was on the first day before the rooms were ready and the morning we left, tables, plates and silverware were hard to find. You just needed to be patient.
My Fair Lady Dining – We loved the food and service in the dining room. We choose the anytime dining option and requested our own table which we got right by the window. Our servers were wonderful. There were some items on the menu that they had every night and had at least 6 new items to choose from. The shrimp cocktail and desserts were great!!! We did not try the Chops Grille. We were satisfied with the dining room.
Children’s Club – The teen program had many activities to choose from and my daughter went to some of them.
Entertainment – There are many things going on all of the time from piano players, singers and nightly shows. They had a comedian, magician, and a musical when we were there. We went to the magician show and it was OK, nothing to write home about. They had a Love and Marriage Game Show which is like the newlywed game, which was hilarious. Not for young kids (some adult subjects), but my 15 year old liked it. They also had a 70’s disco dance party which was fun to watch.
Leaving the ship –I did not know how they were going to get all of us off of the boat in an orderly fashion but they did. You are assigned a number which told you where to meet and at what time. Luggage was to be left outside your door the night before. I think we were off of the boat in 15 minutes or so. I was very impressed.
All in all, we enjoyed the cruise very much and will be going on another one for sure. I hope this helps first time cruisers!!!