Travel & Embarkation:
We traveled from Louisiana to Beaumont, Tx. & stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. Beaumont is only 1 hour from the Galveston ferry & has plenty of nice restaurants & is priced quite a bit lower than the hotels & restaurants in Galveston. The morning of the cruise we hit the ferry @ 9:15 & were on the island by 10:15. Thanks to the other fine cruisers on this sight we paid for our cruise parking through Light House parking $45 & everything went well.
Our first rookie mistake was carrying on too much of our luggage. Don't be afraid to check your hanging garments as well as your big luggage. We recommend that you only carry on a swimming suit or something to change into in case your luggage arrives a little late.
We hired a porter who took care of tagging our luggage properly & getting it through security. We did sneak a few ounces ( about a gallon actually ) of our own brew onto the ship. Won't disclose how, but it can be easily done. We left the porter with our big bags & toted small ice chests, hanging clothes, & case of bottled water through the check in lines. We actually started boarding process about 11:00 & were on the ship exploring by 12:15. A lot of this time was waiting for everyone to use the bathroom & rest from luggage toting.
Ship, Cabin, & Dining:
The ship was very pretty & well kept. The artsy fartsy thing was a bit cheesy & gaudy, but if you're into the french art thing you'd love it. We started out at Sur Med & had some fish & some kind of octopus salad. It was ok, but the Lasagna & chicken dish on the buffet were very good.
We were able to store our carry on luggage right away, even though we were requested not to occupy the room yet, as they hadn't completed cleaning to their satisfaction. We changed to swimming trunks & headed to the Lido deck whirlpool for some fun.
Our cabin Steward whose name I could not pronounce was fantastic & his helpers were also very nice & kept the room immaculate & lots of cold ice for the drinks. They fulfilled our every request & were a lot of fun.
We dined in the Monet, late seating, at table 327 & Glenn & Marco were our waiter & assistant. These guys were very prompt & once again we were absolutely spoiled. The main dining food was outstanding. The lobster was the best I ever ate & the beef tenderloin was to die for. The chocolate melting cake was very good, but I went with Glenn's recommendations on appetizers, entree's, & desterts, adding an appetizer here or a desert there & was just knocked off my feet. Every desert was wonderful as were all the entrees & appetizers.
We got dressed early for formal night & went to peek in on the early Captain's party. When we got to the front door Ralph, the cruise director made us come in. I told him we were just checking out the party & he insisted we come in. We were fed & poored drinks until we begged them to stop. When it was over I informed the misses that we still had to attend the late party with some buds we had made the first day. When we saw Ralph the 2nd time we told him we were just checking things out the first time & he said he'd get as much free booze as he could too.
We ate at the Point the last night of the cruise & absolutely loved it. The only thing I can compare the experience to is being a little kid & being held on the ground & being tickled until you can't take it. The lobster biscue was indescribable & whatever anyone on this ship offers you with mushrooms in DO take. The citrus cheese cake was also a world class desert.
Anything these people bake will get you sinfully fat. Bon Appetete.
The only bad experience for us during the whole trip was the picture taking. After we had spent several hours waiting in line & posing, looking for, & deciding which portraits we wanted, we were told the prices of our pictures was actually over twice the price we were led to believe we were going to pay. the pricing of these portraits is confusing at best & deceitful & dishonest at worst. If a portrait cost $22 a piece then they should just post the price on the wall up front. They hide the charges & mislead people into making a very expensive decision based on emotion & time invested in the process. We decided based upon the way we were mislead not to purchase any of the seven portraits we were going to buy.
Based upon a lot of negative hearsay, we did not really plan a big excursion into Jamaica. We were leary of the bad attitudes & safety concerns for our kids. I thought this might be overplayed, but did not want to risk a bad experience. Had we to do it all over again, we would not hesitate to take any excursion anywhere on the island. The people at Sunset Beach Resort were very nice & our cabby Morris didn't mind letting us know he was the number one cabby on the whole island. We would have had no fear of going anywhere with him & when we finished up the day at the resort he was right there to pick us up.
We wish we would have saved more cash & time to do some serious shopping in Cozumel. That is the place to shop & those guys will bargain just for the fun of it. they will not let you walk away empty handed. We wish we had more time in each port for getting a better feel of each place, but I guess that's why we'll have to go back.
Forget self assist. wait for your number & hire a porter to handle your luggage. We saw people who had done self assist leave an hour before & were waiting in long lines while we hung around & ate a liesurly breakfast & cruised right by & out the door with a porter. Hope this isn't too long & have a great cruise.