Our first RCI cruise. We arrived in Miami on Sat. Oct. 4. Spent the night at Hampton Inn Blue Lagoon. Very nice hotel and nice staff. This is the 2nd time we have stayed at this hotel pre-cruise.
Embarkation: I was a little worried, but should not have been. We arrived at the port around 11:30 am on Sunday Morning. Handed the luggage off to one of the porters and off to stand in line. We had to stand in line outside of the terminal for a few minutes and then we were let into the building. After standing in line a few minutes we were sent upstairs to go through the metal detectors. If I remember correctly they had 4 lines open for this. It did not take very long. Then off to get in line to get our seapass cards. Next stop the ship. We were up on deck by 12:15. Very smooth and easy. We had checked in online so that made it very easy.
The Ship: The ship is beautiful!! What can I say. I was afraid I would have a hard time getting around, but it is very easy to find your way around. There were signs up everywhere showing you where you are now. Very helpful. By the end of the first night, I had no problem finding my way around. Loved the Royal Promenade. The only downside is it does not look onto the outside. We spent many a night in the Bull and the Bear. The guitarist in there Scott Perham was unbelievable, and the service was outstanding. We also would go into Vintages(the wine bar) before dinner for a glass of wine. Loved the atmosphere in this place. Again the service was excellent. We also frequented Boleros before or after dinner. Very nice also.
Our Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on Deck 8 on the Aft end of the ship. The cabin was very nice and clean. Loved the balcony. Our Room Attendant Eddie was spectacular. Room was spotless and he always made sure we had plenty of ice. The bathroom of course is small, but what bathroom on a cruise ship isn't.
Entertainment: We did not go to the shows. We just are not show people. HOwever we did go to the ice show and loved it. It should not be missed. Watched the Love and Marriage show on TV. Very funny. Rich Spacey the cruise director is very funny. He was great. Loved seeing him dressed up for the Village People when they had the 70's dance party on the Promenade. The parades were also very cool. Wanted to do the Quest but didn't make it.
Ports: We visited San Juan the first day and did not do much. Just walked around and had a few drinks. St. Thomas was the next day, we went to Secret Harbor Beach for the day. Wonderful day. In St. Maarten we walked around Phillipsburg and did some shopping. Since we were in these ports in March with the kids we decided not to do any excursions this time around.
Food: The food was good for the most part. MDR was hit or miss, depended on the night. I have to say the Venetian night was my least favorite. We had great tablemates. We had linked reservations with some folks from our roll call so that was a lot of fun. The food in the Windjammer was good(we ate Lunch and Breakfast there). Sorrento's had good pizza, and the Cafe had very tasty deserts. We did not partake in Ben and Jerry's or the speciality places.
Debarkation: This was a breeze. We used the Luggage Valet program which is well worth the money. Our flight home did not leave Miami until 5pm so worked out great to spend a day in Miami without any luggage, but our carryon. We started off the ship at 9:00 am and were getting into a taxi at 9:15am. With the luggage valet we did not see our luggage until we landed in Raleigh Sunday night.
Overall this was a great cruise. I would cruise RCI again in a heartbeat. We have always sailed Carnival. I would also sail Carnival in a heartbeat.
The staff on FOS was just outstanding. I was pampered all week long. What more can a girl ask for.