We arrived in Miami the evening before we were to set sail. We stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay, which was a short cab ride to the pier. While we generally like to stay at Marriott properties, this was not our favorite. While the room was clean, we found it to be quiet noisy, including a “mystery banging” all night from the water pipes or something similar. The room was also very small; I would not book here again personally.
We arrived at the dock quiet early, around 11:30. While it was quite busy, with lots of eager travelers there already. The line ups seem to go fairly quickly, our line up was a bit longer, it took us around 20 minutes to get through.
The ship itself was quite beautiful! There are many impressive areas on board. We will get into some detail: The royal promenade was very impressive. The mix of shops was very cool, from the expected gift shops and duty free, to the unexpected barbershop, wine shop, tattoo parlor. There were several specialty shops, one for light snacks and coffee, one for pizza, salads etc. Both of these were a bit confusing. We thought at first that they were both “pay” shops where you would buy everything. It turned out that the food was included in your cruise price, only the drinks were extra. Highly recommend these shops, the pizza was excellent! The wine bar was also very good, with a lot of wines to try.
Almost every area of the ship was amazing. The mini golf was lots of fun, a bit busy but expected. The Flow rider looked like lots of fun, however my adventurous side took a pass on this one. There were tons of activities on this ship; it was very hard to be bored.
Our cabin 9704 was on the back of the ship. The room was clean, and comfortable. We found it to be a bit on the small side, but was acceptable. Our balcony had quite an odd shape to it, almost triangular. It too was small, but room enough for a couple to stretch out. We found the ship to be generally quiet, and hardly noticed when pulling into ports. There was a very gentle vibration at times, but we found this to be relaxing.
The food on board was plentiful, and quite good. The windjammer was “chaotic” with many food stations along the serving area, it kind of turned into a “free for all” at times. Line up’s were not too bad, but get used to being cut in front of in the Windjammer. It seemed to handle the big crowds with some ease, we dined here the most. We also used the dining room 3 nights. I thought the food was good, but could have been hotter. Our waiter "Juan" was very funny and quite good. You would be lucky to have him. Room Service was fast and good, with no problems.
Entertainment was as expected. The comedian was lame and many people walked out, the shows put on by the crew were entertaining, and the theatre was very nice. This still remains an area that the cruise lines could improve, either with some "name" entertainment, or a movie theatre with first run movies onboard.
We went on 2 shore excursions, both in St.Thomas. Blackbeards castle is a scam, don't waste your money, It turns out that Blackbeard never lived there. The tram ride to paradise point was nice, with some great views.
All in all, the nicest ship we have been on. Clean, modern and a great vacation! I would highly recommend it.