This was our first cruise, kind of a late 15th anniversary trip. I read many reviews about this ship and did a lot of research about the ports of call before choosing this itinerary. We checked in online and printed our SetSail Pass.
We flew out of Des Moines to Salt Lake City and then to Houston, arriving around 1PM. This was the scenic tour arranged by RC, instead of the direct flight to Houston that would have saved alot of time. We were met by a RC Rep at the baggage claim and directed to the bus to Galveston. The traffic was a nightmare due to road construction, so our driver decided to take a detour around it. We arrived at the port around 3:15PM and went through check-in and got our SeaPasses with no problems. We were on the ship and found our cabin by 3:45PM. We booked an inside cabin and it was small but clean and comfortable. The bathroom is tiny, but serves it's purpose, kind of like being in a motorhome. By the time we got our bearings, they called for the lifeboat drill.
The lifeboat drill was long and hot. There must have been several people trying to skip it, because they kept calling for people over the intercom.We were due to sail at 5PM, but the captain announced that there were technical difficulties and it would be closer to 6PM. We went up on deck and watched Carnival Conquest leave about 4:45PM. After that, we walked around the ship and waited for dinner. The main dining room was supposed to open at 6:00, but it was at least 6:15 before they let us in. While being served dinner, we noticed the ship was moving. We sailed about 2 hours late with no announcement.
We were seated at table 19 by the window on the upper level with 2 other couples and 2 girlfriends that left their husbands at home, all from TX. Everyone was very nice and we became a family that week. Our waiters, Roel and Milos, and headwaiter, Enrico, were the best! They went out of their way to meet our requests and make our dinner very enjoyable. The food and service was outstanding. We ate dinner every night there, including the 2 formal nights. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and found the food to be good and there was always plenty to choose from.
We booked our shore excursions online. Due to a docking conflict, Ocho Rios was cancelled and we received a credit on our account. We did not book anything for Montego Bay due to the short notice and just went shopping. At Grand Cayman, we had booked a Stingray City trip with Moby Dick Tours on their website and had a great time even though it rained most of the day. The tendering process was easy and we caught an early one that did not require a ticket. In Cozumel, we booked an Eco Jeep and Snorkel Tour through RC and it was a beautiful, scenic trip.The entertainment is really good and the ship's singers and dancers are very talented. The other performers around the ship are also very good and there is live music somewhere most of the time.
We charged our tips to our account, but also included extra for the wonderful service in the envelopes provided.
Disembarking was kind of slow, but once off the ship, we found our bags easily. It also took awhile to get through Customs, but we had no problems. The bus ride back to Houston Airport was alot quicker than the trip to the port had been.
Overall, we had a great time and would recommend this ship for first-time cruisers because it is easy to find your way around. Even with the delay in leaving Galveston and an exciting Coast Guard air evacuation on our way back, this was still a wonderful experience and we are looking forward to planning our next cruise in the near future. We will be sailing with Royal Caribbean again.