First off I'll say this was my very first cruise. Husband and I were invited to cruise with some very good friends who happen to be frequent cruisers. The thought of cruising never appealed to me, and I never thought I would. But when asked by friends to join them, I thought, "why not?"
We had a wonderful experience. We arrived at the port at 10:45 and with unloading, parking and getting through security, we were on the ship by 11:15. I have to say that the port employees were great. Especially going through security. Unlike airport security, these people actually smile and are friendly!
What a massive ship! We took time to explore and take pictures. We then had lunch at the Windjammer and then we were off to our room, a DI balcony on Deck 10. It was ready for us at 1:00.
Our cabin was very nice. We were extremely happy with it. Our room steward was great. Bedding was wonderful. Very comfortable. We slept with our balcony door open the last night as it was cool enough when returning to Miami. Very nice except for the neighboring cabin that kept their balcony light on all night. People, turn off those lights!!!
The ship is beautiful. The Royal Promenade huge and spectacular! Café Promenade is great, as is Ben & Jerry's and Sorrento's. One draw back is the shops. So much jewelry and just not enough other shopping available.
We met our friends at the Olive or Twist lounge at 2:00 the first day. This was our favorite lounge. We left to go get our life preservers to attend the muster drill, then returned to Olive or Twist for Sail-away.
The muster drill wasn't too bad. It could have been worse had it took much longer. It would seem that as long as everyone arrives promptly and all instruction is done in a timely manner, it's okay.
There are many lounges to enjoy. As I said, Olive or Twist was our favorite. But we enjoyed many of them including Boleros and the On Air Club. Catacombs is a really neat lounge.
Dining: We ate at the Windjammer twice for lunch. It's okay. I'm not much for cafeteria style dining where one has to make their way through throngs of people, search for a table and then the food is just okay. Sorrento's was great. And on one day, I picked up a plate of croissant sandwiches at Café Promenade and took them up to the room. That was nice to do. I found the dining room experience to be very nice. We found the food to be very good and tasty. I was however disappointed in the lobster. Small tail and almost impossible to get out of the shell as it was dry and stuck to it. Ordered room service most mornings for early coffee and a plate of fruit and then met up with our friends for breakfast in the dining room. Very good. Ordered in room service a few other times and they were very prompt and food was of the right temperature and good. We did Chops one evening. Very good and worth it.
Formal nights were very nice. There does seem to be a festive feel in the air as most are dressed up and pictures are being taken in several locations. We hope formal nights will continue to be a tradition.
Husband enjoyed the casino playing Blackjack. Kept winning the money we were spending elsewhere. We didn't care to do slots. I did spend some money on Bingo, hoping for a possible "wipe out" of some of my Seapass expenses. No, I never won!
Many appeared to enjoy the flowrider and rock climbing wall. We played some miniature golf. It was fun. It's great to have so many activities to do onboard. We only experienced a small fraction!
The fitness center was very nice. Whereas I thought we would forgo fitness on our vacation, the fitness center was a joy to go to.
As far as shows, Somewhere in Time was so-so. Not great. In the Air was good. But the Encore! ice show was fantastic. Wonderful show and such talented skaters. A do not miss!
Much of the live music entertainment was very good. We especially liked Trio Elegance who we listed to in Olive or Twist and they also played in the dining room during dinner.
I did attend the Port and Shopping show. I won't do that again. Not worth the time it took away from my day, and the shopping coupon book for $25., I felt was a rip-off.
San Juan was okay. It was raining when we got to the port and continued to lightly rain for most of the day. We still braved the weather and got out. I think I'll stay onboard next time.
St. Maarten was nice. Walking and visiting the shops and the board walk was good. Biggest complaint is there is so much jewelry, jewelry, jewelry! Don't get me wrong, I love jewelry. But it was just too much!
Labadee was our favorite stop. It is really quite beautiful and there are a lot of trees so you don't have to feel like your getting baked in the sun. We did the zip line and that was great. Would love to do it again.
Disembarkation went very smooth. They actually called our color about 30 minutes ahead of time. The whole experience was fast and smooth.
I felt that the overall service onboard as fantastic. No complaints at all. Whereas I never thought I'd enjoy cruising, I'm ready to go again!