My boyfriend had never been on a cruise before so I booked us this cruise through a timeshare promotion. I had been on the cruise before and knew what to expect. The timeshare company was very upfront about what the fees would be (port charges, parking, and gratuity/fuel). I can say that after our experience on this ship, he is sold on cruises for life. We are already planning Alaska for next year.
Boarding was easy. Yes, they try to sell you a lot of things, but if you don't want them just say no and keep moving. Once on board, since the rooms weren't ready yet, we went to the Rio dining room and enjoyed the lunch buffet. I love this ship's coconut fried chicken. The seafood rice was also really good. We toured the ship afterwards and got some ice cream. Before we knew it, the room was ready. I knew we were booked in the cheapest class of cabin but we weren't exactly prepared for bunk beds. Oh well, we made the best of it. If you are spending time in the room on a cruise you are wasting your vacation anyway.
After some pool time, we washed up for dinner in the Rio, the casual dining room. I enjoyed the seafood pasta. The second night we ate dinner in the Crystal formal dining room and enjoyed really good beef wellington and superb service. We ate several snacks in the italian trattoria. Breakfast was each morning pool side and it was a very good buffet. The only complaint I have about the food is that I was served a coke zero in a Christmas themed can that was out of date by three months. Once I brought it to their attention, I was able to get a replacement though.
Our snorkeling excursion was cancelled due to weather, a disappointment to be sure, but not anything that could be done about it. We were given a refund and then booked the excursion to go to Taino beach for a beach day. We spent the day lounging around the pool and using the slide and lazy river. Lunch was in the Freeport marketplace at Rum Runners. I had some excellent fried shrimp and my boyfriend had what he described as the best tuna salad ever.
We played bingo both nights and played some in the casino. I didn't win any money but did win a free drink. The shows both nights were entertaining with circus type acts, magic, music, and comedians. We paid the extra 12 dollars to see the adult comedy show and it was well worth it. Pat Brown, the headlining comedian, turned out to be one of the highlights of the cruise for us. We still quote her jokes and talk about how funny she was.
One thing you pick up on really quick, is that everyone on the boat seems to be having fun. The cruise director, who seems annoying at first, really is enthusiastic and gets you to having fun quickly. We danced, laughed, played, ate, and just overall had a great experience on the cruise and the island.
Disembarking is a pain. The department of homeland security is so slow. We traveled with only backpacks and didn't have any huge luggage and the man let several people ahead of us because he said we didn't have our luggage. No matter what we said, he didn't believe we only had our backpacks. Welcome back to the US. Getting the car was quick and we were on our way soon with great memories of our first cruise together.