Arrived in Miami on Saturday. Stayed at the Holiday Inn port of Miami. Great location no complaints about the hotel. I wish they would have had free cruise parking but we made arrangements.
Arrived at port about 10:45am checked bags with porter. Lines were short and we were on board around before noon.
Went straight to pursers desk and had balcony divider removed and was not disappointed of the appearance of the ship. Clean and bright. While in line with the friend in the next room we joked to each other about a piece of tape on the wall. Yea I see how people say this place is run down (laughing sarcastically).
We went straight to our cabins and dropped off the carry-ons. It was at this time that our families found out we had balcony rooms. We had told them we were booking inside cabins this time to save money. They were excited and surprised.
Went up to Lido to get some lunch. Had a few things from the buffet nothing special but not bad.
We then went out back to the room to change and took my youngest to the slide. Yes it was open while we were still docked in Miami. Not sure if this is common but had seen the question asked before.
Went to our meet and greet at 3pm and met all but 2 from our roll call. Very fun group of people. Wish we could have spent more time with some of them.
Bags arrived at the cabin by 4pm and we had the 6pm dinner. We were in the lower level of the Paris dining room. This is where I did notice the vibration from the propellers. Not bad but you could feel it. We sat at a table for 10 with 7 of us and another mother and son who were first time cruisers. Food in the dining room was very good. Never had any complaints
Went to the orientation for Camp carnival for my 7 year old. Everyone was pleasant and the rules were explained well so we had no surprises. My son enjoyed camp a lot and went there every day at some point even if it was only for an hour to do an activity. He only had dinner with them 1 time and that was the last night because he wanted to say by to his friends. Camp was great and I have nothing but nice things to say about the activities and the staff.
Sea days were filled with some casino time every day and just hanging out with our family and friends. Did not do any sun bathing but the areas did not seem overly crowded around the pools most of the time.
We did a private horse back riding excursion.There were 17 who did this all from our roll call. The people were very nice and the 2 hour trip lasted about 3 hours. I did not care for the trails where we rode it was very rocky and slick and the horses seemed to have a tough time. When we would get to an open road or trail we would run or gallop the whole time. This was very uncomfortable later if you could imagine. I think the whole group came away with the same though. We had fun but would probably not do this trip again. We then had a taxi take us on a tour of the island and we saw the ocean side which was very nice. We all went back and got cleaned up and had a fun evening at senor frogs. I love that place it can be expensive but it is always fun.
Took an island tour through the ship. Went to the turtle farm and hell. I did not really enjoy this and think everyone especially the kids would have just enjoyed a day at the beach. The beaches are beautiful and if you have never been the rays are a must but we had been there and done that.
Went to Sunset Grande Beach Resort. That place is very nice. We arrived early and had breakfast there. Then had a couples massage with the wife and tried to get my moneys worth of drinks. I think I did a good job. The resort has about 6 or 7 pools and 2 beaches with free use of snorkel gear and water toys (trampoline, paddle boats, sailboats, kayaks) There is a large lighthouse with 2 water slides. They also have a grill with burger and jerked chicken and a buffet style lunch. This was by far our best shore day. We may go back for a vacation at the resort.
Getting off the boat was very orderly and we were off by about 9:45am. Nothing really to say about this process it was uneventful.