This was the 4th cruise for my wife and I- 2 with Carnival and 2 with Royal Caribbean . We were looking for an extended weekend trip to get some end of the year sunshine before winter sets in and thought a 3 night cruise would be perfect.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami due to the significant price difference between the airports about $100/person and there for 4 of us traveling). Here's a tip: Rent a car at the Fort Lauderdale airport from Enterprise Rent-a-car. They have a drop off branch within a mile of the cruise port in Miami and they do not charge a drop off fee for a one-way rental. You will need to take a taxi from the drop off location to the ship, but it's about $10. Total for the car and taxi was $49 vs. $42/person for the shuttle. We found it much cheaper to rent the car for 1 day then to take the cruise-line offered shuttle (as it's a per person price) or a taxi as it is a fairly significant distance from Fort Lauderdale to Miami cruise port (about 30 miles).
We arrived a bit early (around 10:45A), but the porters were there checking in luggage already. Initial check in lines were open and we walked right in with very little wait. Our SeaPass was completed and we moved on to security. The ship had not yet been cleared to accept new passengers, so we waited in the security line for about 15 minutes, but it then opened and we were allowed to proceed. Since the crowd was still relatively small, we moved quickly and soon were having our photos taken before we were allowed on board. By 11:45, we has crossed the threshold and entered the atrium of the ship. We grabbed a bite to eat in the Windjammer buffet an were allowed into our cabin's at 1:00p
We had traveled on other ships before, but this was the smallest ship we had been on for a cruise. One would expect that the staterooms would be a bit smaller due to both size and age of this vessel. While it was a bit smaller, it was still functional and we didn't step on each other all weekend. The bathrooms had been updated and had appeared to be upgraded to allow as much space as possible, They were comparable to all of our previous ships. Moving the TV up onto the wall (flat screen) seemed to create some extra space. For the length of the cruise, the stateroom was just fine. You really don't spend much time in there anyway.
This might have been the only slight disappointment we had on this cruise. Our food was great for the most part in all areas (buffet, main dining room, deli, pizza station). Make sure you get to Johnny Rockets for that late-night craving. However, our waiter for dinner in the dining room was not the best. Mind you, he was kind, but he really didn't have much personality and there were some gaps in receiving our items. Our assistant waiter was helpful and did a good job of keeping our wine and water full throughout the evening. One thing we found a bit disconcerting (and this has little to do with the staff) was that there were many people allowed into the main dining room with shorts and tee-shirts. Now, I'm not that snooty to expect suits every night (after all this is a Bahamas cruise), but a little respect for a nice dinner would have been appreciated. The staff did nothing to stop those there were a bit underdressed. Also, several people came up an hour late for dinner. This created chaos for the staff as they tried to have those people "catch up" with the rest of the guests so the room could be cleared for the late seating.
Coco Cay- We did not book an actual excursion at this location as we were really only interested in doing some snorkeling and relaxing on some deck chairs. Since this is Royal Caribbean's private island, we were advised that if we saw something that caught our attention once there, we just have them charge our Seapass. One thing did catch us off guard. We had brought our own snorkel gear, but when we tried to enter the water, we were advised by the lifeguards that we had to have snorkel vests. I'm assuming this is a liability issue, but there is a "snorkel shack" on the island and they were easily rented for $6. Not a big deal but a bit surprising. The island is beautiful and most of it easy to walk. TIP # 2. While it may be tempting to get really isolated on the far side of the island (and believe me you can), MAKE SURE you have access to shade as it gets hot really fast. In most of the areas where there were palm trees for shade, there were lots of chairs/lounges available for sitting. We did snorkel and there are wonderful fish and coral. We even saw 2 stingrays, so "shuffle" your feet when entering the water so you don't step on one. Lunch is provided by ship staff and they have plenty of food located at several BBQ stations near the area where you arrive on the island.
Nassau-We booked the Atlantis Beach Day excursion for this stop. This excursion allows you spend a day at the beautiful Atlantis resort and have access to their lagoons and beaches. However, it does not allow you access to their pools/Jacuzzi's-those are reserved for Atlantis guests only. You are allowed to "upgrade" your pass to include the waterslides once you arrive at the resort. Atlantis has an incredible aquarium, a casino and several restaurants. The aquarium (also called "The Dig") is part of your day pass, so you can see it as much as you like. Restaurants and casino action along with shopping is at your expense. You will need to bring a significant amount of money here if you plan on doing any buying. This is not your local arts/crafts/tee shirt shopping (read Coach, Cartier etc.). The reason we chose this excursion was because it allowed us two big benefits. One, we'd have access to a resort that we would likely never be able to stay in (Atlantis has rooms for up to $25000/night with 4 might minimums-yes, $100,000), and two, it had a shuttle that left the resort every 30 minutes returning to the ship. So, we could come back whenever we were ready (as opposed to a normal excursion that has a specific time). We did leave Atlantis in time to make sure we did some souvenir shopping. The area right outside the port has plenty of shopping available.
There are always so many things to do on a cruise and this voyage was no exception. The staff did a good job of making sure there were events throughout the day and evening. Make sure you stay awake long enough to get to the "Midnight Buffet" on the pool deck of the second night. This is not the day you want to follow up dinner at Johnny Rockets. Be patient and migrate up the pool deck about 11:30p and watch the feast unfold. The casino was fairly busy on all nights, but it's big enough to handle the crowd and you'll have plenty of room to drop a few bucks in the bandits. As far as lounges/bars, we got to everyone of them with the Schooner Bar on deck 5 becoming our favorite.
This was actually the easiest disembarkation we had ever participated in. We had placed our large luggage outside of our room the night before (as normal for all ships) and it was collected about midnight and transferred to a storage area. We would see it again the next day after getting off the ship. We kept our "carry-on" luggage with us and after a shower in the morning we went up to the buffet and had breakfast. Just as we were finishing, our color was called (each area of the ship has a specific color) and we proceeded down to the main entrance floor (deck 4). With clever routing of the line through the dining room, were kept moving until were had departed the ship. The entire process took less than 10 minutes. Our luggage was moving around a conveyor belt similar to an airport carousel and we were on our way.
This is a good cruise for first-timers or for those that are just looking for a quick, fun trip. If this is your 10th cruise, you may be a bit disappointed as the ship is a bit smaller and not as fancy as some others, but it is by no means "run-down". Majesty recently went through a dry dock makeover and is in excellent condition. In speaking with the staff, we found out a lot of them were very new to the business-many less than 6 months on board. This is probably normal as it's better for the cruise line to do "training" on short cruises rather than week-long or longer trips. RCCL would be transferring their more experienced personnel to bigger ships with longer itineraries. On the whole, you will absolutely have a good time on this trip. The Bahamas are beautiful and the ship is charming. Have a little bit of patience with some staff, and you'll have a fabulous vacation.