Miami Arrived in Miami early Friday afternoon and was transferred very smoothly by Royal Caribbean to the Marriott in Dadeland. Spent the rest of the day shopping at the Dadeland Mall which was a 5 minute walk away but due to jet lag we crashed out at 7:30pm!!!
Day 1 - embarkation All I can say is WOW have these guys got it sorted at Miami. We arrived at approx 1pm and was onboard and all sorted by 1:45pm and headed straight to our cabin - we had 8288 which was really lovely although I will NEVER book mid ship again as it killed us every port day with the long walk LOL Then headed up to Windjammer for lunch - not as packed as I had expected which was great and very easy to find a seat. Muster drill was organized as usual but horrendous in the heat - definitely don't go there early as it makes it worse in that humidity! Our cases arrived about 7pm which meant it was nice to change for dinner and we found we had a table of 6 with 2 excellent couples and had a real giggle. Robert who was our head waiter on AOS was with us again this year and it was great to catch up, he even remembered when we sailed last year!!! For the parade we decided it was going to be really heaving so watched from the balconies on deck 8 and had a much better view although most of the parade seems to happen as usual mid ship.
Day 2 - sea day The weather was perfect and boy did I get burnt!!! Had lunch late at 3pm which was a mistake as it was awfully busy in WJ. Formal night was fab and it was great to see lots of people making the effort.
Day 3 - Labadee Boy this place is FAB!!! Loved it so much that we chilled until 2pm at Hideaway Beach - definitely the best beach there and the BBQ was real nice too.
Day 4 - Jamaica We had booked the Best of Jamaica tour and turned up just as they were leaving...it took us 20 mins to get off the ship and they had almost given up waiting. They did leave 1 couple behind as they refused to wait any longer! We spent some time at Shaw Beach Hotel for lunch before getting the catamaran to Dunns River Falls. No I didn't climb and yes Im really disappointed that I didn't as everyone looked like they were having a ball. Then we had the return 2 hour coach trip back to the ship. We were extremely disappointed with this excursion as when we had originally booked it had stated that we would go to Ocho Rios for 30 mins shopping and then spend 2 hours on the beach - this was not part of the final itinerary. Once on board I complained to the excursion desk and luckily had taken a copy of all the excursions with me - they said that even when you book you need to double check them on board as they are subject to change and they always recommend this! Hmmmmm never heard that before, and certainly not for them to change to such a huge extent. We ended up with a 30% refund as a goodwill gesture so it was nice that they had listened. Would I return to Jamaica? No - we both found it very threatening and intimidating and couldn't wait to get away from the craft market at the falls however it is a really beautiful country.
Day 5 - Grand Cayman I could go back here time and time again it is so lovely and so accommodating. The tender was really easy and we were straight on but probably as we had an excursion booked. We were off to Stingray City and then 7 mile beach. Stingray City I would definitely do again as it was such a wonderful experience and we were lucky that we went straight there and there was only one other boat at the time, by the time were leaving there were 5 or 6. 7 Mile beach was gorgeous and so relaxing. We made our own way back into town rather than wait to be picked up as we really wanted some shopping time - there didn't seem much there other than jewelry shops but it was lovely to wander. We got the last tender back and it wasn't overly busy at all.
Day 6 - Cozumel Again we had a trip booked and this time it was a relaxing catamaran and snorkel in the afternoon which gave us all morning to shop!!!! We took the taxi from the port into downtown which was $3 each and wandered our way back to Senior Frogs were we picked one up to return for our excursion. The snorkeling on the trip wasn't all that really and a bit close to the shore. The beach we went to was lovely and I spent ½ hour there horse riding which I didn't think was bad at $20. Also free beers onboard so who could complain LOL
Day 7 - sea day Much the same as Day 2. Did find it hilarious though in WJ when someone shouted whale and the entire restaurant rushed to the windows only for a member of staff to start parading around with an inflatable whale LOL
Disembarkation Went like a breeze as we had an excursion booked - however this did mean we left the ship at 7am ouch!!! The Miami Everglades tour was an excellent way to end our holiday and we really enjoyed this.
Our flight was a nightmare coming home which really ruined the end of the holiday in a way. We had to make an emergency medical landing in Ireland and then spent 6 hours sat on the tarmac as there was no ground staff at the airport at 5am in the morning. After a 9 hour flight its not what you need at all. BA were good though and put us up in a hotel overnight.
PROs The size of the ship never felt a problem and you could always get a bed on sea days - yes it was a lot busier near the pool but we're always up on Deck 12 as its nicer there. There were hundred's of Henry's in the halls everywhere - I got so excited to see him there! Cabin steward and dining room staff were superb - couldn't fault them at all.
CONs We were very disappointed with the entertainment as each show seemed to be lacking continuity and some sort of a storyline. Yes the Ice show and Quest were fab as usual so this made up for the general shows. Also the bellyflop and sexy legs should have been split over 2 sea days as they seemed very rushed on Day2. No sign of horse racing or line dancing by the pool either L We were also extremely disappointed with the food - yes the quality was good but it was an exact repeat of the menu we had in November on AOS and did expect some variety to it. No sign of handwashes at all on the ship - we always use our own but it seems as if RCI are just asking for trouble and should be taking more preventative measures.
I know I've missed out loads as I still feel really ill at the mo so feel free to ask any questions. Pics and videos of stingray city are below.