Embarkation went smoothly. We did early check in at the Queen Mary, and went directly to our line in Zone 1. We were on the ship by 12:30 and eating lunch by 1:00. Our Room was available by the time we finished lunch, and our luggage arrived by 2:00.
Our initial reaction upon boarding the ship was how big and beautiful it was. Some may think it is gaudy, or too over the top, but we thought it was awesome. Our cabin was spacious and very nicely decorated for our anniversary. There was plenty of storage room and our huge suitcases fit under the bed.
Lunch at the Mermaid Grill was delicious, and continued to be throughout the week.
The only problem we had was that our dinner seating was not setup with my DS and her DH. We went to the Normandy Restaurant and the head waiter took care of it right away. We had wanted to sit at a large table with other guests, but the only thing he could do was seat us together at a table for 4. So a couple of times that week, my DH and I had dinner alone as the my DS opted for the Mermaid Grill, and that turned out just fine. We dined at David's Supper Club on Tuesday night and there were not that many people there that night. The Dinner was awesome, our service was wonderful and the music and atmosphere was the best on the ship. If it wasn't so much food, I wish we could have done it every night, not to take away from our fabulous servers in the Normandy who kept us entertained each night with their stories and little tricks of magic.
Didn't use the Spa, but DH used the exercise equipment a few times. I would recommend going for a massage at the Krystal Hotel in Puerto Vallarta. We had a wonderful couples massage for 2 people for 75 minutes for $75.00 (for both, not each). I know that price sounds amazing and it was, and the massage was the best I'd ever had. By the time we were done, my DH was comfortably snoring over on the next table. We used the pool facilities there after the massage and just relaxed and enjoyed the resort. No one questioned us or asked us if we were staying at the Hotel, and we saw many of our other fellow cruisers there as well. Krystal Hotel is within walking distance from the Ship, just down the road (south), through a gate as you go through the terminal, or you can walk along the beach and get to it, about 8 hotels down from the Ship.
In P.V., we did the Jeep/Safari tour. I would not really recommend this one. The tour guide was nice, but basically he takes a caravan of jeeps thru the city into a very poor farm land area, where we saw dead cows and very poor towns. We thought we'd be going into the jungle and to the beach, so the description was misleading. We did spend the last hour at a beach resort where the bathroom facilities had burned down a couple of days before, so we had no where to change or use facilities. We couldn't believe they didn't take us to a different resort. Anyway, I know there were a few very unhappy people who complained and ended up getting their money back. We just went with the flow and tried to make the best of it.
In Mazatlan, we went on the Stone Island Tour that we booked through Mazatlan Frank on-line. It was a little unorganized because they didn't have our names, but luckily I had printouts of my e-mails and proof that I paid and there was no problem getting us on the tour. We had fun on Stone Island And because it was not a cruise tour, we met other people vacationing there, and a couple of really fun ladies from Alaska. We laughed all afternoon. The tour included a tour around the bay, lunch and all you can drink (sodas/beer/mixed drinks) all day, a couple of activities like the Banana Boat, horseback riding, boogie boarding, etc, all for about $40/person. It was a good deal, and ½ of what the Cruise excursion cost for the same tour. Overall it was a fun day.
In Cabo, we didn't book a tour because we're not there that long. Cabo is beautiful and we spent the day walking around and shopping, since it was our last port and we didn't get any shopping done in the previous 2 ports.
Shows were okay at best. They have a couple of comedians that come on board during the cruise and I’d say I could have done without those shows. I preferred the Carnival singers and dancers, and no they are not fabulous but they were entertaining and we did enjoy them. We had great fun during the Lido Deck Party on Tuesday night. We walked into the disco one night and walked right out. We are in our 40s and it just wasn’t our thing. We went to the Karaoke Bar a few nights and that was fun watching people go up and sing their hearts out, but after a couple of nights of the same people going up – it got old fast. But who am I to speak, I wouldn’t be caught dead going up there so I have to hand it to those folks that do.
As far as tipping, we left a little extra something for our room stewards in a thank you card. We also gave our waiter and his assistant something extra on the last night, and we gave one of our servers at David’s Supper Club an extra special tip (which she said she had never had happen before and she was very overwhelmed), but she was awesome and made our night special so she deserved it.
Debarkation: Well I would advise if you can possibly carry out all your own luggage to do it and you’ll get off early. We opted to wait as we had a lot to carry, so we were one of the last off the ship. There is not much to do while waiting, so make sure and have a book or magazine to pass the time. Once we got off, going through the Customs line took a long time as the lines were already very long.
Overall we had a wonderful trip, and great vacation and we will most likely do this same cruise again in the future.