We're first time cruisers, although I actually travelled by ship several times back in the dark ages (the 60s). I have travelled a lot, and am pretty fussy, so I was somewhat hesitant to book a cruise. I am happy to report that this cruise was totally enjoyable, which was a very pleasant surprise.
Day 1: Boarded in Ft Lauderdale. A bit of a wait at the pier, but we probably arrived at the very worst time. We were on board by about noon, and in our room by around 1 pm. Our luggage was spotted shortly thereafter, and we helped ourselves to it from the luggage carts. I guess it would have been delivered eventually. Comfy room, everything worked properly.
Day 2: At sea. Very relaxing. We ate at Chops, which I highly recommend. It was my husband's idea, I wouldn't have bothered, but I'm glad we did. It was well worth every cent. The food was excellent, and the service was top notch, and the wait-staff couldn't have been nicer. That was a definite thumbs-up.
Day 3: Belize City. There was massive confusion about getting the heck off the ship. This is a tender port, and RCCL was not particularly good at communicating the exact nature of when and how we were going to be allowed off the ship. The bottom line is that they give precedence to anyone who has booked an excursion through them, and everyone else is at the back of the line. We booked an independent excursion with Major Tom's Cave Tubing. That was a lot of fun, and very interesting. Major Tom is very quick and efficient at getting info to you by email, and his guides (George and Mike, also Tom Jr) were great guys. We thought the entire excursion was fascinating. The Belizean people we met were extremely nice and full of life. Major Tom is half the price of the RCCL cave tubing tour, and I'd bet is much better. On our cruise, the RCCL cave tubing tour was cancelled due to high water, but we had no problem with Major Tom, nor were there any particular safety concerns on my part. One thing: be ready to walk. Someone on our tour had recent foot or leg surgery and had a very difficult time making the trek to the river entry point. It's not a hard hike, but you definitely need fully operational legs and feet.
Day 4: Cozumel. We had nothing planned, and just shopped in the city, which was a $6 cab ride each way from the pier. We were not impressed, as it felt like a huge rip-off operation, and most of the jewelry I looked at was not the best quality. I thought I could get better deals at home. We should have gone to the beach instead. There's just something creepy about feeling like you're being continually fleeced. We got back on the ship early because we don't especially enjoy being ripped off. How do YOU spell Tourist Trap?
Day 5: Key West. This was a nice port, but again, there was quite a large exercise in patience regarding getting through immigration and then off the ship. I do realize that it's quite an endeavor to get 2400+ people processed. We didn't end up having all that much time in the port, maybe only about 4 hours. We rented bicycles ($10 per person) and rode around the town. That was a good way to see all the back streets and neat homes. No time to do much else. One thing I learned is that Key West Lime Juice is NOT the same as Key Lime Juice from Key West. The numerous Key West Lime Juice outlets around the town are selling regular lime juice, not Key Lime Juice. If the bottle is opaque, you're probably not getting Key Lime juice. There IS a difference--I bought both. Read the label carefully before buying.
Day 6: Back in Ft Lauderdale. The ship was delayed by weather getting back into the port. We had a noon flight, and needed to be at the airport by 10. We didn't get off the ship until 9:30, which was the first possible moment we could make the escape. For some inexplicable reason, RCCL staff chose not to use their very sophisticated PA system to announce when the heck we'd be allowed to debark, and when they finally did make some kind of announcement, it was not through the PA system -- at least nothing was comprehensible on our floor. A lot of people were quite frazzled by the lack of information as to why we were being held captive for so long, and once we were able to start getting off, there was a lot of confusion about where the actual line was. Not a problem unless you had to catch a flight, which we were. We walked off with our luggage, and passed through customs painlessly. Got a cab immediately. Expect to pay about $25 to get to the airport.
Overall: Wonderful food, great service, fine accommodations, top-notch entertainment, and unlimited opportunities to drink yourself into oblivion. I was not prepared for how much money you could spend on the ship AFTER spending the big bucks to book the cabin. My recollection from the dark ages of cruising in the 60s was that we went first class and all the booze was free. Oh well, that was the good old days, right? We don't drink much, and didn't book any excursions with RCCL, and still I ended up owing over $250 on my account. It could have easily been well over $1000 without much effort. Beyond room and board, RCCL does not give you so much as a peanut without swiping your card. Anyway, all in all, it was a fine vacation. I'd do it again.