We'd been to Miami in Nov 2006 which was our 1st trip out there...we'd always wanted to go and Miami was great! So we decided to come back to Miami and combine it with a short cruise as neither myself or hubby had done that sort of a holiday before and we were rather intrigued by those great big ships leaving the port and everyone waving them off down the highway to South Beach.
So we managed to get a great deal with Trailfinders in the UK to combine Virgin Atlantic flights, hotel stays and the cruise itself.We stayed in the Park Central Hotel in Nov 2006 and decided that we wanted to stay there again before and after the cruise in 2007. The hotel is authentic Art Deco and is very reasonably priced - apart from the drinks at the bar, both bars in fact! One cocktail (ok it was a great cocktail) was 13 dollars!!! We had flown in for the 2 NASCAR races beforehand as hubby is a great fan so we hired a car and then drove it back to the airport on the Monday am for the cruise...I think we were planning on getting to the ship for about 1pm or so,,I think we were a little earlier but quite a few people were already on board! Now I did remember from hiring out an Alamo car last year that they took people down to the Port on a shuttle bus so that's what we did, saving 24 or so dollars!
Getting onto the ship was really easy..the only hard thing was being Brits we had to go through immigration but that was hidden in a very small room..everyone was really friendly and helpful on the pier (now us Brits call a pier something on the outside) a pier here is a building!
After a few minutes, we were directed to the room and then we were going on board! Our suitcase had already been taken and we were advised our stateroom was ready! So we decided to check that out first before exploring the ship...I had booked the classic Romance package for my hubby as a surprise and the champagne and choc covered strawberries were already in the room...wow! We were pleasantly surprised by the cabin, it was really nice and had a good view from the window...not having being on a cruise before I had heard that the older RCI ships don't have a lot of room but it was more than adequate for us! Hubby was very pleased with his package and I was almost hyperventilating wanting to explore everything! We decided to use the stairs quite a bit to save time waiting for the lifts which were being used a lot...we had lunch in the windjammer..which was great, bits of bread, salad and mexican food yum and lemonade although beer and cocktails were being pushed quite heavily(this seemed a bit like hard selling but did ease off) We went around the gym and the spa area and went out on the decks and had a beautiful sail off into the sunset! We had all our dinners in the formal dining room - The Moonlight and had excellent service, food and dinner partners...the portions weren't huge but that was a good thing!Cocktails on board were very reasonably priced at 6 dollars so we were drinking a few of them! Our
1st port of call was Nassau, we had booked 2 trips and on receiving the ticket envelopes we realized that the trips had clashed (this wasn't the case on the booking off the RCI website) guest relations sorted that out with no probs and promptly refunded us the cost of 1 trip. We were recommended the Americas Cup experience but unfortunately it was very windy that day and I chickened out big style...the staff there were very good and we got refunded for that too..even the crew said if I was scared there was no point in going out as it was very rough! So we went around Atlantis instead which had been one of our trips...you can buy tickets to see the Dig, go round quite a lot of the hotel (although security there is tight to stop you going where you shouldn't go) and you can see the shark tunnel and aquarium, tickets were about 32 dollars each. The shops at the Marina village are very expensive but worth going in to browse and the yachts moored there are absolutely beautiful! Nassau itself seemed quite run down from what we saw of it, there were a lot of locals just hanging round street corners and some parts didn't feel too safe, that was in the town!Although you ranged from lovely boutique shops to a couple of shops next to them boarded up and falling down..very strange...would have to go back for a 2nd opinion....it was the formal night that night on board and it was great to dress up! Hubby even agreed after dragging his suit from the UK!
The next port of call was Cococay..initially we weren't that bothered about it..I booked a spa treatment in the morning, 89 dollars for 5 mini massages(hand, arm, neck, shoulder and feet) and a facial, was in there for an hour and a half, that package was good value for money..then we had breakfast in the Windjammer before getting the tenders to the island. We decided to do the nature trail or part of it in any case and were rewarded by getting away from the crowds and being treated to an island paradise..the waters are very shallow indeed, fish swim in between your feet..it was idyllic, white almost pink sand and palm trees..anyhow lunch called and we walked back to take in the BBQ lunch which was lovely...then we had a quick look round the marketplace for souvenirs. Next time, we'll get the tenders earlier...it was great to lie in a hammock and do nothing! We were pretty hungry when we got back to the ship and got a slice of pepperoni pizza from Sorrento's which was great, really tasty! In fact, we ate very well on board the Majesty..on the formal night we had yummy canapes delivered to our cabin(part of the romance package) and also some nice chocs for bedtime (part of the package) We had breakfast in the bed the next morning - again part of the romance package so we had a special menu to pick from and give to the head waiter the night before and arrange a time..and it came bang on time..excellent service!
The next port of call was Key West..hubby didn't think he's be that impressed with the place but in actual fact we both were very impressed and would like to spend some more time here. We set out from the ship early just after 9am and boy did we pack a lot in! We had booked tickets for the Old Town Trolley tour ourselves on line as it was cheaper and you could hop on and hop off all day..in fact we also did 5 of the 9 stops in any case as we then walked around Key West! We checked out a bit of Mallory Sq and the very strange cat(he looked scruffy and a bit like a dog!) that was sitting there (most of the day it seems!)and we started shopping early in the small mall that had the Cat and Dog boutique in it.We then caught the trolley bus to the Hemingway House and went round that and the gardens..although I was more keen to see the cats!!! Yep, there's plenty of them! We then went across the road and climbed the 88 steps to the old Key West lighthouse, great views from the top, although the staircase is spiraled which can freak some people out! We then walked down the road to check out some of the Southernmost point stuff like the hotel and also the actual point where we had our pics taken. We then walked up the entire length of Duval St back to the ship! Ok, we did stop loads of times on the way...we went to the Butterfly museum.conservatory which was ok.We shopped - buying t shirts and jewelry. We had margaritas in the John Bull bar and we had a Key Lime meringue pie at one of the Blond Giraffe shops which was divine! We went back up to Mallory Sq again and then were back on board at about 4.30pm! Key West is certainly very quaint, it's tacky in places too but it all works great and we want to come back there one day! It was actually Thanksgiving Day and we did have a traditional turkey dinner that night in the formal dining room!
What else did we do on board..well we played the slots in the casino quite a bit and after winning on the 1st night..we lost over all! We enjoyed the bars on board, in particular the Schooner Bar and the Viking Crown lounge. We watched a couple of shows which were a good standard...and most of all we enjoyed being on deck watching the ship sail in, sail off to ports..most of the time with a cocktail in our hand!
The service on the ship was great..our stateroom attendant, Fernando couldn't do enough for us..he kept our room very clean and tidy and had a repertoire of towel animals! Our waiter and head waiter were also very polite and friendly as was the assistant waitress... getting off the ship was very easy..everything was color coded to your deck..there was no particular hurry to leave at your appointed time so we had breakfast and left the ship at about 9am,collected our case which was already waiting for us and that was it!
Would we do this cruise again? Definitely...initially I was a bit worried that my hubby wouldn't like cruising but he loved it too and we couldn't find anything to fault as we went in with an open mind....so now we are looking forward to out next cruise and I am now a cruising addict!