We booked this last minute through our travel agent and we were able to get a nice ocean view room on deck 2. We left for Miami (daughter, girlfriend and I) from Tampa around 6:30am and arrived in Miami around 11:30am. We followed the signs at the port (Dodge Island) for Royal Caribbean and quickly dropped off our bags by the porters and parked our car. The porter immediately hinted that he was in need of tips...I hate that.
Embarkation: After parking we went upstairs to the check in and security. All went pretty smooth considering there were thousands of people around. The Royal Caribbean staff directed traffic really well. One thing to note is that they asked for a picture ID for my daughter who is 6. They just asked her a few questions and after check in continued on to the ship. I never saw or heard anywhere before that a picture ID was recommended for children. Total embarkation time was about 45 minutes. Once on the ship we immediately got my daughter a bracelet that showed her emergency assembly station. We went to the Windjammer to eat and it was slammed, but we managed to find a seat. After we ate we walked around the ship for a while and our room was ready at 1pm.
Our room was nice and had a very comfortable bed and my daughter slept on the Pullman bed that she thought was the best thing since she could look out the window from her bed. There was a couch, a little coffee table, desk with mirrors, flat screen TV (with many AV inputs but I couldn't get them to work, they may disable them?) The bathroom was small and the shower was just enough to do just that...shower. If you drop the soap you might break your head trying to get it :) There was plenty of storage under the bed for luggage and the closet was ok and our clothes filled it up quickly. The safe was electronic and you didn't need a card with a magnetic stripe to you it....just put in a 4 digit code and press lock! Our stateroom attendant was a nice older gentleman named Oniel and he consistently had our room prepped when expected. We signed up my daughter the first day for the Adventure Ocean club and she enjoyed it immensely. They had activities daily and on port days she could stay there all day (We only utilized this option for Cozumel.) On cruise days we had to get her for lunch and dinner. They would watch the kids up to 10pm at night and from 10pm to 1am it was 5$ an hour, which is a deal! They put a bracelet on the kids that sets off an alarm if they leave the Adventure Ocean area....that's a nice peace of mind. They had different activities for the children every thirty minutes and even had a circus performance for the ship. The arcade next to Adventure Ocean was really nice for a cruise ship, but it was pricey (as to be expected).
Since we had my daughter with us we didn't spend a lot of time in the bars so I can't really comment on them. The Olive or Twist was nice on deck 13 aft. The shows were great, especially the ice show which was "sold out" (free tickets). Get your tickets early for this. The show was about an hour and even my daughter loved it. The production shows in the theater were great, the singers and music were excellent. The show "In the Air" was the best.The pool areas were nice but did get busy quick as there were many children on board. The frozen yogurt machine by the main pool was a nice treat. There were no incidents of chair hogging that I saw and the only violations that I saw were parents allowing children that were obviously still using diapers to be in the pool. My girlfriend and I did the FlowRider once and it was quite fun. I would suggest going to the FlowRider on the mornings of days at ports. We only had to wait 20 minutes to ride it on the morning we were in Cozumel.
Food on the ship was not bad. I always enjoy the Windjammer. Within the Windjammer is Jade, which is Indian and Japanese type food. Good Sushi there. The wait staff at the Windjammer is very helpful and will get you anything if you ask. We didn't get a chance to eat at Portofino or Chops (but we are going back in October so I will let you know then). Johnny Rockets was yummy and had great entertainment. The main dining was excellent and our wait staff was outstanding. They took care of my daughter and remembered what we all liked and disliked. The head waiter would come by once a night and chat for a bit and he would also help us with our meals if needed. The best meal was the lobster and they even brought us out extra without asking. I always ate too much at dinner! We sat at a table for 6 but the other family hardly went to the main dining so was sat by ourselves most nights. We had a window next to the table and that made it even better. The shipped was booked full and being that we booked last minute our dining room was in the overflow dining room next to the main dining room. This was nice because it was not as noisy but on the other hand you could not see the "entertainment" that would happen in the main dining room. We ate at Sorrento's a few times and the pizza was awesome. You could get as much as you wanted and you could get it to go if you needed. They even had some nice desserts there. The Mexican pizza was the best!For the ports of call: Labadee, Haiti - This is a great place to relax and/or enjoy what's on the ship if you are not into beaches. There was a playground for the kids and they had the Adventure Ocean team there to do activities with the children. The Haitians will ask you to bring lounge chairs out for you for a tip. They have floating mats available for $10 but I would suggest bringing your own $2 mats from your local store like we did. They have a small flea market next to the beach but they locals plead and beg with you to buy their items. It was not a fun experience as all you here is "Madame, Sir, Madame, Sir, this way, this way." I have read in previous reviews that they are pushy…that is putting it lightly. They have a zip line available for about $90 which I find to be too expensive for 30 seconds. Wave runners are available as well, but I am not sure of the price.
Montego Bay, Jamaica - We took the advice from multiple people that you should do a group tour in Jamaica as it is not safe to be alone. We did the Rose Hall excursion. This excursion was $63 a person and the description said it included transportation to Rose Hall for a guided tour and then they would go to a beach. What really happened was we took a tour bus to Rose Hall for a guided tour and then they took us to a couple of shopping areas and then we only had 1 hour to enjoy the beach. The tour of Rose Hall was very interesting and scenery was beautiful. The shopping they took us too was not that great. We first stopped at a place next to Rose Hall. The prices were expensive and there were mostly jewelry stores. The last place they took us was a small store that sold touristy items. The beach they took us to was Doctor's Cave Beach. We were starving by this time and decided to eat at a place there on the beach called the Groovy Grouper. The service here was horrible and it took almost the whole hour to get our food. The food was ok, but not worth the wait. Unfortunately we only had a few minutes to enjoy the beach itself. The beach was very busy and not as big as I thought it would be. The water was very nice though. I would suggest doing a lot of research on excursions in Jamaica before reserving one.
Georgetown, Grand Cayman - We reserved an excursion to Stingray City through Moby Dick tours. We had a great time! The excursion was 4 hours and included snorkeling. I would suggest that it if you don't know how to swim then don't do this. I was amazed at the amount of people on the excursion that got in the water and flipped out.
Cozumel, Mexico - We had been here once before on a previous cruise so we didn't plan on doing anything extravagant at Cozumel. We ended up going snorkeling at the El Cid hotel beach adjacent to the ship pier. For $12.50 a person you could use their beach and the lounge chairs. The snorkeling was amazing and there was plenty to see as far as marine life.
Debarkation was about a 30 minute process from getting off the ship to getting our bags. The ship always seems so drab on the morning of debarkation, but I suppose that is because everyone is depressed they have to get off of the ship.