Majesty of the Seas ~ Group Cruise ~ July 21-25, 2008 Since this was a group cruise, the majority of us stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay the night before and took the shuttle over to the pier at 10 AM. We were pleasantly surprised that the charge was only $5 each and the service was promptly on time. Of course we were the first batch of folks to arrive so early which made boarding even easier.
About 11 AM or so the boarding process started, getting us on the ship by 11:30. Because we boarded so early, our staterooms were not quite ready. That didn't phase us as we all were planning on going to the Windjammer anyhow as soon as we boarded. This was the first time I had been on MJ since the refurb and having been on Sovereign since she was refurbed, I knew what to expect.
The Windjammer looked wonderful, the food was better than I had remembered, and the service exceptional. I quickly noticed that Sorrentos is upstairs in the middle instead of the side as on SV which made much more sense as well as give more room upstairs for seating. Once we checked out Sorrentos, we scoped out Johnny Rockets which also was in a different spot than on SV. Boy was I happy to see that! It definitely had more of the "big ship" look that you see on VY and FR class ships. My only complaint in the dining experience is the coffee! Not being one to like Starbucks or the like, their coffee fleet-wide is just too strong for me. I could not wait to get back to a simple Maxwell House cup 'o Joe, but figured I'd have to survive with just a few sips for now.
Our staterooms were ready around 1 PM. We quickly scurried down to the eighth floor which I had booked for our group even though the staterooms were partially obstructed. Again I was pleased that you can still see a great deal even though the bottom of the lifeboats is blocking the view. For the staterooms as small as they are, boy was I happy that they had removed the bolsters I remember having in my stateroom last year on SV even after its refurb. The beds were harder than I remembered as well but I definitely slept like a log on them every night and never had a complaint! You just can't get better than sleeping at sea for a great night's rest. Of course we didn't have ample space; in fact there was hardly any space to store everything. Thank heavens I knew that going in and was prepared to just live with it. The one thing I wish they would remind people to bring is an extension cord or outlet strip since there are only two outlets in the room. With plugging in all the electronics, it got to be quite confusing what was charging now and what still needed to be charged!
More kudos...my C&A coupons were on the bed as well as my welcome back gift. WHOOPEE!!! I have had instances in the past where it took a while to get these, but this time it was spot on. I quickly took the booklet apart and figured out which ones I would use and which ones I could give away to people in my group. Loved the number of casino coupons for Diamond members!
Since the majority of the group had never been on a cruise before, we decided to take a little tour of the ship. I was dying to get out to the sun, but the allure of raffle tickets and a spa giveaway always gets me. Soon we found ourselves at the drawing in the Chorus Line Theatre after mustering instead of on the pool deck. Several of the group won things and they stayed for the shopping talk that was right afterward. After hearing this so many times, I could not bear to hear about Del Sol or Tortuga Rum Cakes again. I bolted out of there to the pool deck while the rest of the suckers (yes, I said suckers!) stayed around.
The pool was nicer than I had remembered as well, but it was definitely crowded at this point. It was hot as heck and I was just happy to sit and relax for a change. The one missing thing was the Caribbean Band that I love so much! I don't ever remember them playing quite so late in the day! They finally showed up and we got to listen to only about a half hour's worth until we set sail. I was really hoping that they would have the same neat sayings on a stick that they had on Liberty, but I never saw one. Luckily I had packed several in my bag for some added humor! The sail away was just as fun as it always is but we had to be ready for dinner so quickly that we almost didn't get to watch us go all the way out!
The Edelweiss Dining Room's makeover was greatly needed. It's still a shame that many cruisers never get to experience the three story dining room found on the larger ships, but this one was lovely for a short cruise. We had a great table and the wait staff was as always very accommodating. The food was much better than I ever remembered. I can't say that I liked the selections any better, but the dinners were delightful.
Now for the cruise director. Of all the ships and the cruises that I've done, I have to say that Jimmy was my least favorite. It seemed like he was trying too hard to make the jokes and I never saw him around the ship other than the evening shows, etc. unlike other CDs. Maybe he's new and still a little green. The Love and Marriage Game Show was something I have always enjoyed. This time, though, it was like an old broken record with little life. The Quest was hilarious as always, BUT one of my group broke her finger as she was participating. Yes, things have gotten a little wild with this game…maybe too wild, but I still like it. The entertainment was good, not fantastic. I do have to remember that this is a four night cruise and not a seven night. I believe there exists a difference in the quality of entertainment provided depending on the length of the cruise, which is understandable to me. If you're paying more for your cruise then you should get that value for your money in everything. It was still enjoyable and interesting. The comic for me was the highlight for sure.
Now's my time to rant about the casino. Of the entire cruise, this was my only major complaint! If you do a total refurb of a ship, why is it that you don't put in the fun penny slots???? There were a total of about six two-centers (only one of which is the typical FUN type of slot machine) in the entire casino! There were several nickel slots (but still not many…about 10 and they were BORING), with the rest being quarters or dollars. Being a slot junkie, I would have easily dropped $500 in the casino on a typical four night cruise, but because these slots were not only boring but never gave you any sustainability of play, I walked away disgusted when I had only spent $100. I decided instead to stop at our local casino on the way home from the airport instead to play. Bingo was not tempting either. I used to love playing bingo on the ship because they would do different games like the lucky seven or the six pack that you never get to play anywhere else, but for whatever reason, they decided to stick with the usual four corners, big diamond, regular bingo, and coverall for their sessions. So again I never went back, even for the final bingo. If I'm paying $30 each time to play, I had better win more than $88 a game and that wasn't happening. Hey, that meant more to spend on shore or when I got back!
Let's talk about the shops. Yes they are the same as you'd have on any RCCL ship and that is what I was hoping for. I had an Inch of Gold bracelet that I got last year which tarnished and needed to be replaced. They did so gladly and quickly! That is a treat! I was really looking for some great RCCL apparel which sadly to say I did not find. The t-shirts were wonderful for guys but not for ladies and the other items that had RCCL on them were for the teenie bopper crowd only. Too bad. Again, I would have loved to have bought several shirts and jackets, but didn't see anything new. I was really looking for a Del Sol RCCL shirt like the FR one that I already have but with Majesty on it…no dice. Oh well!
I thought that the spa area was redone very nicely and I had no trouble booking myself for a hot stone massage. Keisha (the massage therapist) was wonderful as I had expected! Now if I could just get them to tone down the sales pitch at the end. If I already spent $200 on a spa treatment, I don't want to spend another $300 on the home version. I do like the Elemis line of oils that they use and am happy to note that I have yet to be disappointed in my treatments on any ship. Oh my, I forgot to give kudos to one of the best additions since the refurb that's not available on SV…wireless Internet in your room!!!! How wonderful to not have to go to the Internet cafe to write or get mail! Yippee!!! For us tech folks, that is a breath of fresh air! Even though the price was a little high, the speed was better than I've ever encountered on any ship. Again, kudos for that!
The C&A gift was a hat, very much a disappointment. When you're diamond, I expect something really cool and perhaps gender specific. I would never wear a hat and will put it on eBay today. BUT…the gift I sent my group was a beach towel. Now that far exceeded my expectations. It is lush and large! Whoopee!!!
The ports were as always…really fun! There is nothing that beats doing the slides, the pools, and the beach at Atlantis for the day. It stormed in Coco Cay so we didn't get to visit the market, and Key West was just a fantastic shopping day with a lot of walking! Yes I would like to see some different ports, but I would most like to have two days in Nassau for people who had never been there before, one day at Coco Cay (actually, they could skip that, but since it's their own island that will never happen), and one day at Key West. Maybe a five night cruise on a larger ship that did Nassau would be refreshing. To anyone who works on a ship…there are not enough words to thank you for your tireless work away from home! There isn't one crew member I met who was not the usual pleasant and upbeat person, despite having to work what seems like 20 hour days. I can't imagine doing that. I don't think you ever get enough thanks, but you are really valued! Thanks again from the bottom of my heart for all the work you do to make the cruise experience a delight!
Overall, I was exceptionally pleased with the refurb and the new look. As I had mentioned before, I think this gives guests a taste of a seven night cruise. The only downfall is convincing those around me that they do need to try the larger ships if they liked this one. I liken it to being in Orlando and only seeing Universal Studios but not Disney. If you never saw Disney, you wouldn't know what you were missing, but if you had seen it, then you'd never be satisfied with anything else. The same goes with balcony cabins. Yes, they are a lot of money but I really miss them when they only way to get them is to have a suite and I would never settle for anything less.
This is a fantastic ship for those short on time but who want to have a lovely cruise. Just remember that you're not on FR or LB going into it and keep an open mind. You'll be pleasantly surprised.