This was our 16th cruise and we live about 25 minutes from the Port of Palm Beach. We had wanted to try this cruise for a long time and finally booked it and a 2 night stay at the Grand Lucayan resort on Lucaya beach a few months ago (we had previously stayed at the former Sheraton resort nearby) and our sail date coincided with the July 4th holiday. My wife had read quite a bit of the cruise critic reviews and our expectations going into this trip were fairly low. I must say we were pleasantly surprised.
Valet parking was rather slow and we arrived to park our car at 130PM or so hoping to avoid the big early rush. Took about 20-25 minutes or so to get to the point of exiting our car with our bags. My wife went with the bags and I discussed the parking with the valet and was told the parking fee was $64 and to pay in cash as their cc machine was down. I declined to pay on the spot and was told to pay it when I return and the valet noted what we owed on our ticket. Mental note to make sure we have cash on our return! I had money but mentally had it reserved for the casino. I then entered the building to a line of people trying to run their bags through the metal scanner, a few minutes of that and I met my wife on the other side. We then waiting about 30 minutes or so to begin the boarding process. There was some confusion as to where we exactly were staying at the Grand Lucayan but were told Breakers Cay is part of the main resort building and not an in a remote area. We then boarded the ship and proceeded to our room, they have you go past the photo stop and the tour desk and the restaurant reservations(just politely decline and keep walking or you will be there forever). We had paid for a slight room upgrade(slight being we had a double bed instead of bunk beds) and were on Deck 3. Yes, entering the room made you instantly feel cramped as this was the smallest cruise cabin room we had ever been in. There was a double bed and small tv with room under the bed to store our bags (we each brought a standard carry on luggage bag). There are only 220v outlets so nothing electrical would most likely work. Not a huge deal for us as we could charge things at our resort but something to be aware of and not mentioned anywhere. The bathroom was small but honestly on par with some previous cruises we have done for the size - just older. Everything was clean so that was a plus. Not much of a night stand but a small stand next to the bed to put water or tissues etc. This room had no window but on our return we would have one which had a sill and more room for stuff. We only had 2 pillows but there was a drop down bed on the opposite wall which we pulled out another pillow and asked our room steward to bring us 2 more as well as possibly try to get the room cooler (there was no AC control). He did call for a maintenance man but after checking out the vent there was not much they could do. He did, however, surprise us with an electrical fan which actually helped a bit so kudos to him (we left him a few bucks for his efforts).
Anyway, we went to explore the ship, yes it is dated but flows well and was clean overall. In our case the big advantage of the cruise was the short drive to the port and the ability to stay on Grand Bahama island so we looked at this as mostly transit ferry'ish with a casino.We headed up to the pool area where they were serving brats and hot dogs which we declined as we just had lunch. I had paid for the drink package as we boarded the ship at $69 which included 15% tip, you get 10 drink coupons good for up to $8.75. We ordered cocktails and enjoyed the afternoon rays on a beautiful but warm day. A few people were in the pool which was small but the water looked fine, there was also a hot tub. We ended up in rear stern area at Ocean Breeze and sat outside with our drinks. The sail away began at about 630PM which we missed as took a nap in the cabin, actually slept pretty good. We got ready for our evening and went to Pub 347 where a very good R&B guitarist was playing some Stevie Ray Vaughn tunes as we sipped on cocktails looking out on the sea. I actually saw a sailfish come out of the water pretty cool to see from the cruise ship and not our own boat. Our dinner was at 845PM in the Crystal Room (no fee) and we each ordered prime rib medium rare. The menu was fairly extensive and you had some choices, we were surprised. Our server was Stephen and he was very good, our meal came and surprisingly the meat was cooked to our liking, he did check on us to confirm everything was fine. Really no complaints at all and I wore jeans to dinner and my wife wore a dress. There were a few people dressed very well but most were dressed "business casual". We then headed to the casino and thankfully I did very well. I must say we frequented the casino more than any other part of the ship and the dealers were great as well as the cocktail servers. They ran a deal for a little while if you got aces or better at 3 card poker you got a free drink, this also happened if you got blackjack. Went to bed about 1130PM and slept ok, nothing great. We went to breakfast at the Rio where you find the typical cruise ship buffet with a custom omelet bar. We declined on the omelets and had some smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, fruit, decent breakfast. We looked forward to exiting the ship and we knew we were taking a cab to Grand Lucayan and previously declined their transportation bus fees when we boarded the ship. The cab was $27 plus tip for the both of us. We were so happy to get there and be first in line but note the check-in for Bahamas Celebration is upstairs and not the main check-in area. We did not pay for an upgrade ocean view room but were informed our room was available, yay! The people were courteous and said about 20 rooms would be ready but most of the busload hordes of people would have to wait all day for their room to be ready. Proceeded to our room on the 6th floor to views of the tennis courts and Port Lucaya marketplace. Room was fine, clean with tub/shower and very good AC and comfy bed. We went to the beach passing the main pool and Hurricanes swim up pool bar. I was in the water for nearly an hour and we got some cold Sands beer at the bar, awesome day and weather. We got cleaned up and went to our favorite casual restaurant across the street for lunch-Zorbas Greek/Bahamian. Just awesome rotisserie chicken, greek salads and gyros, really tasty and about $10 each, we love this place! We did not have big plans on this trip and went back to the room and cranked the AC and watched the world cup game and napped out for bit, ahh vacation! We went to a very good funky restaurant for a late dinner, Flying Fish where we had a great meal. Ended up at the Treasure Cay casino for some action, unfortunately we were not very lucky and the AC was broken. Not the most friendliest dealers to say the least, some were downright ornery. Next morning was July 4 and we had afternoon fishing plans weather permitting. We just headed to the east and another beach area with a beautiful Serenity infinity pool, no one was even there at this point, I snorkeled a bit, viz was cloudy but saw a ton of bait fish. We headed to the main pool area and had a few cold ones in the pool at Hammerheads, met a few couples with their kids visiting from a town just south of us, Delray Beach. Anyway, went and called our captain who notified us the weather was the problem and canceled our fishing trip, oh well. Ended up later that day back at the serenity infinity pool. Had dinner at Giovanni's Italian Restaurant, very good meal overall in a small family owned establishment. Late night back at casino. I should mention we did not take in any of the shows or bingo. Up the next day a bit groggy, basically packed up and checked out leaving our bags with the bellman and had lunch at Le Med, phenomenal blackened grouper with peas, rice and veggies, just a so so french dip...they and the entire area also lost power for awhile.
Decided on early taxi to head back to Freeport cruise terminal thinking Senor Frogs would be open...unfortunately that was not the case and we guess they would only be open when the Carnival cruise ships are there. Cleared our bags quickly and checked in to our new room with a port hole - the benefit of not taking the shuttle back and forth. Left the ship and picked up a couple of beers at a duty free store and took a few quick pictures. Came back on the ship and made dinner reservations at specialty restaurant The Rock where you cook your meal on a lava rock. Was notified lunch was being served at the Rio but checked our day sheet and it said dogs/burgers being served up on a pool deck, went up there but they were not serving anything. It also said mimosas were $4.50 a5t Pub 347, went there and the bartender was unaware of any specials so my wife purchased a prosecco for $6.50. A bit annoying as they advertise these things and none of them were happening. Met a nice couple visiting from Vancouver while at the Pub. Dinner at 8PM was great, cooked up some wonderful beef tenderloin, scallops, shrimp and ahi tuna, delish! We ordered a bottle of wine which was initially poured but the server forgot to refill our glasses a few times, the only hiccup in an otherwise wonderful meal for $25 each for 2 items and $5 extra for a 3rd. Hit the casino again, thankfully scored a straight flush at 3 card poker and did well at roulette. Again, great service, great dealers and threw a very nice buffet surprise attended by Uncle Sam on stilts, lot of fun and some more drink specials were running like our first night. A late night was had and barely slept with the engine noise as this cabin was closer to that side of the ship. Up early and very groggy, waited in line for our departure to clear customs and finally get our car at the valet where I had to pay cash for the parking. Overall, we really enjoyed our trip and would do it again although probably choose to stay 4 nights instead of 2 on the island.