My husband is 41 and I am 38. We did not take our kids this trip so it was just the 2 of us. We have sailed Carnival twice and RCL 5 times. We think RCL is a step above with classier people and nicer ships. We booked a Junior Suite on deck 10 towards the back on the starboard side.
Trip to Miami... We,fortunately, flew in on Saturday because they lost our bad on a direct flight from Dallas/Ft.Worth. We stayed at the Biscayne Bay Marriott that was a very old hotel but well maintained. Our lost bag was delivered Sunday morning. The bartender in the ship's casino said it happens alot and if you don't get the luggage before you board you will have to wait until they dock in Jamaica to receive your bag.Point being fly in a day earlier if possible.
Embarkation...I can't stress enough how important it is to be at the terminal very early. We arrived at 10:15a.m. and we already had our Sea Pass and were in the "holding" area by 10:40a.m By the time we finished the holding area was full by 11:00 with a 2 hours wait.They came on the intercom and told us we could board at 1:15 however; we were on the ship by 12:20p.m.
Ship....This ship is identical to Voyager class only a little bigger.The only time we noticed all the people was at the Windjammer (hard to find a table) and booking extra's like spa/salon and specialty dining. If you are going to do the spa or specialty dining please book the minute you get on the ship. They fill up VERY quickly. They have changed formal nights to Monday and Thursday.
Stateroom.....The rooms are very spacious if you get a balcony room. The inside cabins are very small but nice. There is no alarm clock and it only has 2 plugs by the mirror (none in the bathroom)My husband has a breathing machine so we always bring a plug extender and an extension cord. Although,there is a wake-up call service it is nice to have an alarm clock.Please take a travel size lysol and febreeze because the room can start smelling after a few days with dirty clothes and wet bathing suits. FYI, if anyone is insulin dependant the refrig. does not keep things cold enough so you might need to contact RCL prior to the cruise.
Dining....We did the "anytime dining". This is a new program so you must sign up with your travel agent to see if there is space avail. You must also pay all gratuities up front before you sail. This is a new program and they have some issues to work thru. It was nice to go anytime between 6:30 and 9:00 however; there were some major draw backs. The tables are sectioned off in the main dining room and the tables are very close together. There is no bond with your waiter because you have a different waiter all night. The first night we were rushed thru dinner and the other times we had terrible service. Please keep this in mind if you choose this option don't expect perfection.Johnny Rockets is also great but beware the 2 sea days you might have a long wait.
Shows/activities....We went to several shows and they were all great. The ice show is a do not miss. Although, the ice show is free you will need to look at the cruise compass for times to pick up the tickets. The show is limited nights. Rock climbing wall,putt putt, flowrider, boxing ring were great fun to watch.Picture taking is every night and it very expensive around $20 per picture (of course if you don't like them you don't have to buy them)
Pool......People,as usually start, "saving chairs" early in the morning around 9:00a.m. on the 2 sea days. We went to the pool around 12:00p.m. both days and had to go to the second level to find scattered chairs and move them side by side. The sexy leggs and belly flop contests are great that start around 1:00p.m. Childrens pool is awesome.
Excursions....... Let me start out by saying the cruise ship tries really hard to get you to buy excursions thru the ship. We learned hundreds of dollars later it is better to find your own. Finding your own is much more personalized and not as crowded. They will also discourage you by saying if something happens on your tour and you are late to the boat they will not wait on you because you did not book it thru RCL. Just schedule you trips for early morning and you will be fine. Cruise ship's and word of mouth is how people on the island make a living and trust me they don't want you being late back to the ship, they have too much to loose.
Labadee.......This is simply an "on land" version of the ship. Very nice island. We booked 2 massages on the cliff thru the spa the first day and it was one of the highlights of the trip. Please do it very early because it is outside and very hot. They also have 4 or 5 different beaches with chairs,zip line,wave runners,kayaks and water play area.They serve barbeque on the beach or you can go back to the ship at the windjammer the tenders are very quick here.
Jamaica....We are not fans of Jamaica but we got off the ship and headed down to the small marina and booked a private trip to deep sea fish. Dunn's River Falls is great and if you don't want to book it thru the ship you can take a private taxi and go by yourself. Martha Brae rafting is also relaxing.
Grand Cayman......Hands down this was the highlight of the week. We booked a tour thru www.fatfishadventures.com. Peter is the owner and all of his equipment is "new". He has 2 sea doo jet boats, 24 foot boat and several wave runners. He took us to Stingray Island where we got to hold a stingray and also feed them. Peter is very experienced and I promise you will have the time of your life. He will take you to a wonderful remote club to eat right on the beach. I promise,you will not miss the boat if you are with Peter. Shopping is expensive so beware.
Cozumel.....One of our favorites. A place called Pancho's Backyard is hands down the best fajitas and margarita's I have ever had. This is the place you want to do all of your shopping. The prices have gone up in the last couple of years but you still can't beat the prices. We take our boys here every summer. If you decide to go on your own; get off the ship,shop for a few hours, go have lunch at Pancho's Backyard and then go to Chaukanaub Beach. Small entry fee but they have loungers,full bar,snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins although that is pretty expensive but worth it.
Disembarkation.....We had an 11:10a.m flight back so we were the 2nd group off the ship and it was still a nightmare. Immigration takes way too much time with each person. This is not a fast process you will get frustrated but better to know before that morning.
If anyone has any questions please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org I love to cruise. we have also done a European cruise that was wonderful.