This was our second cruise. We traded in our time share to receive a nice discount on a balcony cabin. The cabin size I suppose is about the norm for these ships. Our first cruise was on the Dream(ward), New York to Bermuda. The cabins were about the same size except for the balcony on the Victory. As soon as we arrived at our cabin, they announced the dreaded drill. It was hot and stuffy in an enclosed area. After the drill, to my surprise, the ship had already left the dock. I didn't notice the ship move at all. I was waiting for the screws to start turning but found out later these modern ships don't use screws, but jets instead. After we returned to our cabin we set out to explore the ship. I might note that after the cruise, we still had not ventured everywhere on the ship. It's too large for a seven day trip. We had close to 3,000 passengers with a lot of kids on board. However, even with that many people, the only crowded places on the ship was on deck. We aren't deck people, More
so that didn't bother us at all. We loved the variance in food choices from one of the many small eateries on deck. We dined in the dining room for dinner and met a nice couple from Melbourne Florida. That's one thing about cruising. You never know who you may be dining with. The food was excellent and plentiful and our waiter was also excellent. The shows were also great. I think the only real complaint I had about the whole experience was my lack of any jackpots in the casino. My wife and I limit ourselves to $200 each and when it's gone, it's gone. Although there were close to 3000 passengers, we never felt restricted in movement about the ship. Our first stop was Cozumel. I wasn't impressed at all, having been to Mexico several times. I couldn't wait until midnight when we pulled away from the pier (that pier was ripped apart by another hurricane a few cruises later). The next morning we anchored off Georgetown, Grand Cayman. We were tendered into the dock. There were five cruise ships anchored at the time and when we reached the pier, we were crushed with people everywhere. We bought the submarine tour. It wasn't very interesting due to hurricane Ivan having ripped out most of the foliage and the sea creatures went elsewhere. This was also the case on Cozumel where the beaches were almost 100 percent coral reef. They had to truck in sand from the mainland. A day at sea (I love sea days) and we were at Ocho Rios Jamaica. This was the best stop of the cruise except for the pushiness of the natives to sell you something like pot. The guy in the cabin suite below us bought some pot and we could smell it all the way back to Miami. A lot of passengers got hooked buying pot and Cuban cigars. Jamaica is beautiful and I want to visit again for a week or so and stay at a resort. Of course we went to the falls and the rain forest like every good tourist does. We found a nice little bar where we had a couple drinks (no ice), then we went shopping for local items to bring back home. We departed Jamaica around 4 p.m.. The next day was a day at sea. At dinner that night I noticed people sitting on the bulkhead getting up and looking out the window. I grabbed a peek and lo and behold, it was one huge waterspout about a mile or so away from us. It was the only night I didn't bring my camera to dinner. I've never seen anything like it and I live in tornado alley. All in all I give this cruise my top rating in every category although boarding and embarking in Miami could have been quicker in the heat. We drove to Miami, therefore we didn't have to rush to catch a flight home. One thing about driving to your ship is the fact you are not limited on baggage. I suggest to everyone wanting to bring more with them on a cruise to ship your things ahead via UPS to a connection in Miami like maybe the hotel you will be staying in. I also recommend everyone spend the night in a hotel the night before the cruise so you won't be rushed upon arrival in Miami. An extra day in Miami at the end of the cruise would be nice as well so you can ship your laundry back home and take a Miami tour. I hate to rush on vacation. We are now looking at my dream cruise - Panama - east to west and fly back home. We will try Royal Caribbean or maybe Holland America line for that trip. Our cruise was on 911, and they had a huge American flag hanging over the main bar in the atrium. It was a very nice touch. IMPORTANT - purchase trip insurance before you go. I think I paid about $130 for ours and it covered emergencies and sickness that would have prevented us from going on the cruise and it provided for medical care and evacuation back home if required. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind. Less
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