Background As others have said, I feel that by writing this review, I am giving back some of what I got from others who generously gave their reviews.
Trip Background We decided last minute to go on a Caribbean Cruise. With that said, we live in Northern California and this was going to be the first cruise for DH and I. The last minute logistics were a little tricky, but we got er' done. Before we knew it, we were on our way to Florida from Sacramento.
We arrive in Ft. Lauderdale the night before sailing. As other suggested, we stayed at the Ft. Lauderdale, Holiday Inn Express Cruise/Airport. Suggestion, ask for a room not on the main road. We arrive late and they gave us a room on the main road. Lots of noise all night long. Not to worry, we would soon forget our worries.
Again as recommended by another Cruise Critic Member, we used Holland Limousine to take us from the Hotel to the Port of Miami. It was $78.00 round trip, tip included. I felt like a celebrity!
We arrived at the port at approximately 1:30 p.m.. As soon as we got out of our limo a porter took our bags and away we went into the terminal. The security line moved quickly and as soon as you pass through security you get in line to check-in. We had a Junior Suite and went to the line for Suite Check In. Even if you didn't have a suite, the lines for check-in were short. I'd say within 10 min. we had our room keys/cards and were on our way to our room.
Cabin We were on Deck 10, Junior Suite, 1594, Midship, Port Side. The Junior Suite is enormous. Unless you have an unlimited budget or need to entertain the rich and famous, a Junior Suit will suit your needs. Heck, a Balcony Cabin would have met our needs, but they were sold out.
The Junior Suite was spacious and clean. Notes-There is a huge walk-in closet, the bathroom has a tub and shower combo. Beware of the hairdryer. It is the type that requires you to keep your finger on the button at all times to keep it turned on. This problem was corrected with a rubber band. The suite was bright and airy. We were on deck 10 and did hear occasional noise from above, but nothing to worry about. The best part is, that we never heard loud, drunk people in the hallways!
Television was limited. You will get what they want to give you. You will get Fox and CNN, but very limited sports. We are huge Red Sox fans and were going through withdrawal, We were not able to watch any of the Sox/Cleveland games!
We did have internet. I brought a laptop and bought a package of minutes. 130 minutes for $50.00, but completely worth it.
Our room attendant Tamara, did an excellent job of keeping things clean, keeping the ice bucket filled, providing extra towels and making awesome towel animals.
This ship is as majestic as described. There is no way in a 7 day cruise if you get-off and enjoy each port of call that you could possibly do everything!
Ports of Call
After Monday at sea, we were ready to get off the ship. Our first port was Labadee. Not much happening here. You tender to the island, and must decide where to go. Keep walking, unless you have kids. The further you walk, the less crowded the beaches will be. RCL provides a lunch, but the drinks are on your own. It was a nice beach day, but that's it. For those not beach inclined, you may want to stay on board and enjoy the less crowded pools.
Ocho Rios Jamaica,
We did not book an excursion for this port. My husband simply got off the ship, hopped in a cab and away he went to Dunn's River Falls. Between the taxi and the cost of admission, he spent less than ½ of the cost of an excursion through RCL. There are vendors at the falls who want to sell photos, videos, etc.
I waited for my DH to return at Margaritaville. If you want to use the beach club, you will have to pay $5.00 for entrance and $3.00 for a chair.
Ocho Rios will also be your first opportunity to shop for jewelry. Holy smokes! Who knew this jewelry shopping thing was out of control. I did not shop in Ocho Rios.
Grand Cayman. Absolutely Beautiful. We booked an excursion through Shoretrips.com and it went flawlessly. We went through Captain Marvin's doing the snorkeling, stingray city, lunch package. They were wonderful. They knew our ship sailed earlier than the Princess and Carnival ships in port and made sure we got back in time.
Cozumel If you have been to Mexico, Cozumel may not hold much for you. Again using Shoretips.com, we booked the Royal Swim with the dolphins. Definitely worth it. Memories forever.
Way too much to do. We went to a couple of the production shows, the ice show and that was about it. We missed the best show, the Love and Marriage game. Our cruise director was Richard Spacey and he is clearly was deprived of attention as a child. He did a great job.
Things they don't tell you about this cruise
Pictures! I had no idea how many pictures they take and want you to buy. I must admit that I was a sucker. Don't feel compelled to buy.
Alcohol. The prices weren't all that bad. If you plan on eating in the dining room and drink wine, buy a bottle. They will mark it and hold it for you for other nights. I think the alcohol prices were competitive with what you would pay at a bar at home.
Don't settle for bad tablemates. We had incompatible table mates. Trust me, you don't want to know the details. Just ask your head waiter for a new seating assignment.
Enjoy Sorrentos. We loved the pizza and the antipasto. We would grab a plate of antipasto and make our way down the promenade to Vintages wine bar.
You don't need a tux for formal nights, but you do need to dress-up. A dress shirt with a tie and dress pants will do it for you if you can not do a tux or suit. If you feel like it, do use the onboard tux rental service. Very convenient.
Smoking. Smoking is allowed in all bars except the Champagne Bar. No smoking at the pools, restaurants or theaters. There is smoking allowed in cabins. Our cabin had a couple of burns in the carpet, but amazingly did not smell like smoke.
Watch the TV to get tips on shopping, ports of call etc. We even watched it to see where we were headed.
Our suite status allowed us to get off in the first group, but we opted to wait for about an hour. Grabbed some breakfast and then got in line. Yikes! Chaos, or so it looked. It wasn't al that bad and we were off and on our way to the Hertz Car Rental Office in about 40 min.
We had such a great time we want to do the Eastern Caribbean too. Please email me if you have questions, want photos or to see the Compass.