Fly into Tampa the day before, my DH and another couple on their first cruise, the shuttle from Howard Johnson Downtown picked us up. Rooms were nice, location close to the port area, so that they would shuttle you to Channelside area that night. We went down and ate in Channelside and then driver to us and a couple of other people to the store to buy water and soda.
Day 1-Next morning we shuttled over to the port around 10:45am and gave our luggage to the porter, easy embark, we were in group 5 and were on the ship and eating at 11:45am. Ship looks good, our friend remarked the whole time how clean they keep it all and how much they clean. The bathrooms have nicer fixtures now and the Serenity area chairs are to die for. We loved that area with the hot tubs and relaxed their quite a bit. Walked around the ship a bit, got to our rooms and had our luggage by 6, unpacked and had late seating for supper, it was good as always and initiated our friends into the wonders of chocolate melting cake. Also at Dinner we were seated with 4 ladies from Detroit, a Hi to Debbie, Patricia, Elinda and Linda, you made our trip so much more enjoyable, we all just couldn't wait to come to dinner every night and our waiter was Dante and he was so much fun also, we were treated very well. Went to the Welcome aboard show and it was good, Kenny Miller was the comedian and he was good. .
Day 2- At sea, weather was nice, smooth seas, we did Bingo, saw Love & Marriage game which we always love. Our friends went to a couple of the Trivia's and enjoyed it. We tried to watch the Ice cravings but unless you went and stood on the platform you couldn't see anything. We all went to Captain Reception, hadn't done that the first time, but always good to meet nice people. It was formal night so had the Lobster and Prime Rib. Our friends went to "Shout" and they liked it, and then we all went to Adult comedy, again Kenny Miller it was pretty decent.
Day 3- Grand Caymans, the tenders were easy to do and find, we did private excursion and had no trouble getting off on the first tender. They did a big tender (holds around 100) for the people with Carnival excursions out of one door and a smaller tender (holds around 50) for everyone else out another door. We went on snorkel and sting ray excursion with Sotos and they were great. There were only 9 of us on the boat so it was very personal, we first stopped to snorkel and it was so much fun, never had done it before and really enjoyed it, just one other small boat in the area with us, otherwise all to ourselves. Then onto Stingray City, which can't be helped but to be with all the other boats, our guys found a spot that wasn't to crowded to get into and took us into the water to explain about stingrays shows us how to hold and pet them and they had food for us to feed, we had plenty of stingrays around us.. When done we tendered back to the port got on for lunch, another day of lounging and .. supper again was good, we went to the Variety show that night, Magic & Illusion with Mark Miller and Comedy of Mark Hawkins, both entertaining enough for us. Our friends went to the guest talent show and like it. Side note, we had one couple missed the departure time and had to hire a boat to bring them out, they were seated next to a lady that we stood by while watching the people coming from Carlos and Charlies in Cozumel, she said it cost them $150, but missing it would have been lots more expensive, we hadn't gotten very far away before we slowed to pick them up.
Day 3- Cozumel, easy to get off, easy to get a cab and go where you needed, we had once again booked privately and went on Jungle hike. It was hard finding the meeting spot something I will address on the Cozumel boards later, but finally a bus came for us and off we were. They had said in the information "Mosquitoes" and we took it to heart being from Missouri were we also have them, so we wore appropriate clothing and had plenty of spray. Others (from Royal Caribbean ship, so maybe that was the problem) apparently can't read and were not prepared. The guide said it was the worse day he had been out for mosquitoes and they had been dry lately.. so since we weren't miserable the hike for us was good, lots of history and information about the trees and animals, not something I would do again but my DH loved it. I must say our group did not complain and just kept putting on spray and went the whole 3.5 miles. Others on our bus out were doing the biking part and were also not prepared and stopped their excursion early and had to wait on the bus for us to finish. When we got back we tried to find somewhere to eat not in the Mall area, I had a map and had ready about some places to try but honestly we got to tired of the vendors just hawking us every step of the way that we turned around and went back to the Mall area, where it was just as bad. We did not want to eat Carlos and Charlies or Senior Frogs and really the only shopping we wanted were a couple of T-shirts so we went into the store that didn't have people bugging you as you walked by. I have been to Progresso and another part of Mexico and the hawking was not near as bad as here. We went to the ship early and just had late lunch there and stayed there. Our friends went on an all day excursion with driving jeeps in the Caverns and Beach stop and had a really day and mostly avoided the venders except for having to get back on the ship. It was a nice day for us, but next time I would probably do what they did and do an all day somewhere, even a beach.. That night was Mexican buffet and Lido deck party the only night of Midnight buffet, but with us eating late dinner we really weren't that hungry and just sat out and listened to the music. Went to the Casino for an hour and lost at pennies.
Day 4- last day at sea, it was overcast and sprinkled a few times, but not enough to dampen our fun time, the girls beat the guys at mini golf, the weather cleared by late afternoon. Played more Bingo, we went to the Casino again and this time the Penny slots liked me enough that I moved to quarters, on my second spin I hit it pretty good, ended up $44.00 over for the night... Dinner again was good but we were so sorry to have to say good bye to our new friends. Our friends once again went to the "Fiesta Latina" show and liked it. Saw late night comedy with Mark Hawkins, he is R-rated for sure but seemed not to go too far with his jokes.
Day 5- Debark time. Had plenty of time to eat a breakfast and sit on the Lido waiting for our number to be called, we were off the ship around 9:30 and headed to the airport.
Other thoughts- We had a great time, we didn't use the pool or slides but saw several that did, not many kids at all on this trip, but all were very well behaved. We sat a few times and listened to the piano or the guy playing the guitar and enjoyed it all. The table next to us at dinner was in their 20's and very much enjoyed the Rock and Roll Lounge most every night. I used the gym some and it is nice, but mainly was up early and walked outside, it is usually pretty windy on the track area, so I walked on the Atlantic deck, that is the deck above Lido and no one is around except the workers setting up chairs (I gave them a wide berth so not to bother them) you can see more things, longer walk and not as much wind. Did notice a lot of chairs being saved but no one really complaining and still seemed like lots of available seating anyway. Buffet for Breakfast and Lunch, the Omelets are great and Rubens are the best.
Plan to cruise again although we will save up for a few years and want to do the Alaska cruise, our friend loved the experience to and also want to do that with us.. Any questions I will try to answer, we didn't participate in everything but enjoyed all we did and just the relaxing in general.