We selected this cruise because it was inexpensive for a last minute deal. My husband and I went alone. Our ages are 26 and 37 so we are still relatively young. It was my first cruise and his first cruise since childhood.
PRE-CRUISE: We stayed at the cheapest place we could find, Howard Johnson's, across from the port. We drove in from North FL and we were able to park our car in the garage at Howard Johnson's for the length of the cruise and a fee of only $5/day which was less than at the port. Let me say that the Howard Johnson's is not, by any means, a fine hotel. But, as I said, we decided to do this cruise only two weeks before departure so we were looking for a very inexpensive tropical vacation. Howard Johnson's is within walking distance to the port and at the time it fit our needs.
EMBARKATION: We got up early, ate breakfast at the hotel and then called for the shuttle to take us to the port. We had to wait forever for it. Several people from our hotel were headed to the port also, including a group of single women who'd been out partying hard the night before and they were barely dragging out. They were on our ship so we shared some conversation with them on the way. We arrived at the port and went in. We waited in line for a while, then got to the desk and gave our credit card and documents. We were sent through a hallway and then we waited in another line for our ID cards. They didn't have our cards and we were told we'd have to go to the purser's desk when we got on the ship. We were ushered through to a huge waiting room alongside the ship. We waited for what seemed like an eternity but I think I was just really excited. FINALLY, we were able to get on the ship, around 1:30 pm. We had our picture taken and we were on our way onto the ship. The line at the purser's desk wasn't too bad and we were finished before long. Total embarkation time was a little over an hour.
THE SHIP: The ship was pretty but as has been previously mentioned here, is decorated with a lot of neon. I'm also not a huge fan of orange and it seemed there was a lot of that, too. The carpets and stairwells were showing some signs of wear. Aside from that, everything seemed in decent condition, given the number of people who have sailed on her.
OUR CABIN: We had a low category, inside stateroom on the Empress Deck. I enjoyed being on the Empress Deck because its central to where you get on/off. Our room was in a great location and I didn't notice much noise. We did feel a very strong vibration in the mornings as the ship pulled into and out of port.
After we got onto the ship, we went straight to check out our cabin and we were very satisfied with it. It was spacious enough and we made ourselves at home. The buffets weren't ready yet and I feel asleep until the muster drill was called. We went down to the lounge where it was being held and I'm estimating it took around 40 minutes. I was a little nervous since it was my first cruise and the muster drill made me feel a little better.
After the drill we went to our cabin and relaxed for a while and then we went out to watch the ship pull off. Very cool!
FOOD: We ate in the dining room, late seating, for all meals except one where we ate on the Lido deck at the buffet. We were not too keen on the idea of having to have dinner every night with people we'd never met but it turned out so much better than we could've imagined. All of our tablemates were around the same age as us. We really hit it off with one couple and we hung out with them on the last night, going to clubs and bars on the ship. They were so fun and we were bummed to leave! The food was mediocre and I wasn't all that impressed with any meal I had on ship. It wasn't horrible but I've had better. I ordered steak one night, seafood newburg one night and prime rib one night. They were all decent, but not thrilling. Desserts were decent, also. There wasn't much dessert variety and we ate a lot of tiramisu. I got the fountain fun card for adults since I'm a coca-cola addict and my husband had alcohol with his meals or tea. We ordered a few really good mixed drinks but we aren't huge drinkers so we are by no means connoisseurs. The buffets were all well presented. One night, the midnight buffet had salami and similar meats and we passed that up. My husband loved the pizza from the Lido deck.
PORT (we only had one): We went on the itinerary that docks in Nassau for 24 hours. We loved the idea of having time to explore the day and nightlife of the area. We didn't do any of the excursions offered by the ship because some of my friends who are more experienced cruisers said we could get the same thing for less by finding our own way. That was a HUGE mistake. We took a water taxi over to Atlantis.
The cost was $6 per person for a round trip ticket on the water taxi. The only problem was that I am very proned to motion sickness. I had the patch on but the driver insisted on filling the boat past capacity and since we were some of the first people on the boat, we had to sit and wait while he went out and recruited other passengers. The boat rocked heavily up and down and I started to feel really queasy. Just when we were about to get off the boat, he returned with our fellow passengers and the boat took off. From there, things were fine but I refused to ride it on the way back and so we took a land taxi. Atlantis was gorgeous and we looked around but never could find the entrance to the aquarium. They are very careful about not letting anyone on their beach who isn't staying at Atlantis and you can only enter and exit through certain doors. We ended up gambling in their casino for an hour or so, where I won a little money!
As you get off the ship, you'll have people harassing you to have your hair braided and even little children asking if they can sing you a song for a dollar. Who can say no to that? After the third song, however, my husband informed me we were going to have to say no if asked again! It was very obvious that there was a lot of poverty. We went to the straw market and we were grabbed by the arm and ushered to various tables where ladies were trying to sell their creations. I ended up buying a really neat dolphin bracelet for $14. I also got a few bottles of nail polish and a T-shirt that change color in the sun from a store in Nassau.
Nassau was a neat port and when we go again in three weeks, I'm going on the ship's excursion so I can actually see the beach! EXTRAS: This was a fun cruise for the $500 we paid for both of us to go. It was a reasonable was to get away for a few days and we had a very good time. We found our own little table by a window at the casino bar that was very quiet and we could stare out and just chat and we returned to this spot several times over the course of the cruise. The cruise was very relaxing and I was so sad to leave.
We are cruising on Celebrity's Mllennium in 3 weeks and I am so excited. It will be our first 7 day cruise!