My two cruises consisted of a 4-nighter out of Miami, calling Nassau, Coco Cay and Key West, combined with the 3-nighter calling Nassau and Coco Cay. I'm 42 and had my own cabin for the 4-nighter (the single supplement was so small it may as well have not even been considered one).
For the 4-nighter I was with a friend, her sister and her two friends, all around 45-55. We chose this cruise because there were some in our group who could only be away for five days and this one had a great price. It never would've been my first choice to 1) cruise for less than seven nights or B) cruise to the Bahamas in Feb but I had no choice and I don't turn down the opportunity to cruise, regardless.
For the second cruise I was with my sister (49).
This was cruises number 7 and 8 and numbers 3 & 4 with Royal (previous cruises were on the Grandeur and Enchantment).
I'm not gonna bore you and give you massive details about the night before but I'll include a bit in case it helps.
SUN 2/15 - NYC to MIAMI I decided to fly down a day early because I hate flying in Feb to catch a cruise because you never know if it's gonna snow. The others in the group flew Monday and had no problem, but 20/20, ya know? Besides I had $100 credit towards Comfort Inn hotels so it didn't cost much to have piece of mind.
For anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive hotel for a pre-night, the Comfort Inn & Suites (which is literally walking distance to the airport) is okay. The room was $130 and for Miami that's cheap. The area is lousy and the hotel is nothing great, but not NEARLY as bad as some reviews I've read. It is what it is if you're expecting nothing. The room was quiet enough (at least with my sound machine which I have to bring with me and literally put on my pillow because every tiny noise wakes me up) and it wasn't dirty or anything. They have an airport shuttle that runs every 30 minutes.
If you do stay here, here's the most important thing you should know. The airport shuttle is free and run by the hotel but the port shuttle is neither. You have to tell the bellman that you want an appt. for the port shuttle for the next day. I was told (or maybe read on the website) that the shuttle is $10 and starts at 11, so I told the guy I want the 11am shuttle. He said he needs a minimum of five people for the shuttle and there was no one signed up for it so he'll put my on the 12:00 shuttle, "Which is fine because they don't allow you to board until 1:30 anyway." I said, "No, they allow you to start checking in at 11," and he said, "No, it's 1:30" and I said, "Trust me it's 11, but I'll take the 12:00 shuttle."
BTW, the taxi is about $25-$30 so since I was alone it made more sense for me to wait until 12. An hour isn't a big deal.
MON FEB 16 - MIAMI This morning I happened to walk through the lobby at 10:35 on the dot and a woman was arguing that she had been told the hotel provided a free port shuttle, and what time is the next one? The guy explained that she had to sign up the night before and the next one is at 11. I stopped in my tracks. Turns out people started signing up for the 11am shuttle so it was now running.
This was a little annoying because he COULD'VE told me that the night before. Why not put my name on the 11 and wait for others to sign up? I'm sure this happens every week. And it's not like there were 5 people on it. There were THIRTEEN people signed up! So I ran upstairs, packed my crap, checked out and was on the 11:00 shuttle, which left at 10:55.
I got out of the shuttle at 11:15 (maybe 11:20) and that was with stopping at both Carnival and NCL to drop others off in the van. So it's pretty fast and painless. You need to pay the guy $10 cash when he drops you off. The porter wanted me to leave my bag but it really was considered carry-on size so after a bit of pleading he told me I could take it onboard with me.
I walked in at 11:30 (had to have a ciggy), showed them my passport and set sail pass, got my bag and me x-rayed (I had seven cans of Diet Coke in my bag and no one cared), went up the escalator and got in line for Deck 5. It's like a giant bank with every teller working so I didn't have to wait. I handed the guy my set sail pass and credit card and within five minutes I had my sea card. The only time I got stuck on a huge line was when we had our security pictures taken. That was a good ten minute wait which doesn't sound long but it was the first time I had come to a dead stop and the line really was pretty long. But again, ten minutes is really not long.
I literally walked into the centrum at 11:50. The whole thing took 20 minutes. Unfortunately they don't let you near your room until 1. I was standing next to a family who was asking the woman blocking the hallways. Dad said, "Where are we supposed to leave our bags," and the woman said, "I don't know...you could put them in the theater if you'd like." Interesting. So we all headed to the theater and literally opened the door and put our bags on some seats. I had my passport, wallet, license, money, credit card and camera on me. There was nothing anyone would want to steal and I really couldn't imagine anyone stealing anything. I had my cabin numbers on my two carry-ons and just left my stuff there.
I went up to the pool deck and waited for my friends to show up. We hadn't decided on a place to meet, but this seemed logical. I found them at 12:15. By now I already had a glass of red wine.
Speaking of wine, if you like wine and anticipate drinking a good amount of it (gotta save calories where I can so I avoided the delicious but deadly fattening (and low alcohol) frozen drinks and stuck to lite beer and red wine), the "house merlot" is fine. It's about $6.50 a glass with tax and tip.
Speaking of beer, the But Lite comes in a great aluminum bottle and is 16 oz. With tax and tip it's a little over $6.
Speaking of tax, you don't get taxed every day. I think it's only when you're in FL so some days the beer was 5 and change.
We sat around, all in our airplane clothes for a while before going to the Windjammer. They all had their luggage still with them and could've changed but quite frankly it was too freakin' cold. I didn't take my sweat jacket off once. I was in a tank top and capris and I think I remember wrapping my legs in a towel most of the day to keep warm.
At about 1:30 we went to our cabins to unpack. By now my suitcase was all alone in the theater but still there! We then had lunch in the Windjammer. There's not much more to write about today because I don't think we did much. Just sat by the pool a lot. Muster was from 4:15-4:40. I mustered in a lounge. First time I was lucky enough to do that! I was separated from my group because I was the only one with an odd-numbered cabin. EVERYONE musters somewhere on deck 7.
I'm a huge fan of the sail away party so I went back on deck. It was still cold and windy but not too bad.
I'm really annoyed because I saved all of my Compasses for this review and now they're gone. No idea what happened to them and my memory is crapola.
Dinner was at 8:30. My friend and her sister never showed up. Turns out they were feeling a little seasick. The water was quite choppy that first night but I was loving it. The more it sways the more I love it.
There are two dining rooms, Moonlight (deck 3) and Starlight (ours, deck 4). This is far from a "grand" ship, so there's no staircase, no double levels...just a basic, nice dining room. Our waiter and assistant waiter were okay. Nothing great, nothing horrible. It just didn't seem like it was in the old days. I remember getting waiters on various ships (both RCL and other lines) that were just so nice, so much fun, etc. He was fine though and when I asked for iced tea and it came with lemon, I said (in a joking, not obnoxious way), "And when you bring me iced tea every night after tonight, don't put lemon in it," and sure enough every night I got my tea without asking, and no lemon (although I did have to ask for a straw more than once, lol). Some nights he was so slow that we didn't get out of there until almost 10:30.
We were supposed to be at a table for six (again not my choice, I prefer meeting new table mates at tables for 10) but were at a table for eight, with a mother and daughter from CA, both of whom were fabulous.
The food was fine. It's far from 5-star and it's far from bad. No one complained about anything they ordered and mostly everyone said, "This is really good." It's certainly better than what most people cook at home and I'm amazed at how people sometimes slam the food. Maybe Carnival's is better but I haven't tried Carnival yet (and am not sure I ever will) and the food probably is a bit better on a 7-night cruise but again it was yummy. No there's no lobster on this ship and yes the steak is an extra $14.95, although there's still always a meat dish. My problem is I tend to love everything I put in my mouth. I LOVE 5-star, fancy restaurants that truly have food that gives you that experience in your mouth like no other...and I love Lean Cuisine's Lemongrass Chicken...and everything in between. And I'll admit to liking airplane food as well..you know, when you used to actually GET it.
Tonight's show was some comedian guy who was good but more on him later. (And boy you can really feel the rockin' in the theater.)
At about 11:30 they had a 70s disco party in the centrum. The male cruise staffers dressed as the Village People and everyone was dancing. It was a LOT of fun.
By now I was alone with our two table mates. We went to the club whose name I can never remember. They were playing house music and people were dancing. I sat for a while and went to bed.
CABIN: I was in cabin 5077, category K, interior, deck 5. It was the highest level interior cabin before they switch to ocean view. I have NO problem not having a window...a window I'll never look out of and a window that lets sunlight in. I'm such a light sleeper that I think the only time I'll ever get a great night's sleep is when I'm in the grave. At least it'll be dark, cool and quiet.
Here's the cabin: [IMG]http://i44.tinypic.com/2ylr38g.jpg[/IMG]
Speaking of noise this reminds me again of my sound machine. If you need to plug anything in, bring an extension cord. The only plug in the whole joint was by the desk. This also reminds me of more cabin stuff. My cabin didn't have a fridge (although my next one did) or ANY storage space. I mean none. The desk had 3 or 4 REALLY SMALL drawers on ONE side and the closet had not one shelf. I used the safe as a shelf, and the floor. No cabinets, nothing. Luckily there were enough hangers. In the tiny shower was a dispenser labeled, "Shampoo plus conditioner," and there was soap. No other amenities. Oh and there was a hair dryer in the desk drawer.
Being a Crown & Anchor member, I had a coupon book and a baseball cap in my cabin as well. The coupons really aren't that great except for the 2-for-1 cocktail one and the "free Johnny Rockets" one (although I didn't end up going there). A couple of them were only good on 7-night cruises and a couple were for places like "Vintages," which isn't even on the Majesty.
TUE FEB 17 - NASSAU - docked
We had breakfast in the Windjammer. The food, again, was fine. I really was trying not to eat horribly where possible so I didn't taste the majority of the stuff. I DID have a DEEEEELICIOUS egg white omelette at the omelette station. There's always a line but very worth it. Just fab. I also discovered the "Asian" section and was very excited to see they have "congee" which no one in America knows about but I've had. Unfortunately they didn't have it every day but what can ya do. I had it when they had it! But all the usual stuff was in the Windjammer. Even lox which was great. I haven't heard good things about the pancakes and waffles, but I don't think any of us had them.
None of us got off the ship today because we weren't interested in walking around Nassau. So it was a day of relaxing by the pool but good Lord was it cold. Don't go to the Bahamas in Feb. It was brutally windy. I had on a tank top and shorts, my sweat jacket and TWO towels wrapped around my legs like swaddling. I felt like a mummy.
There's not a lot going on onboard when a ship is in port. I'm actually a bigger fan of Days at Sea, but we didn't get any. Unfortunately I now don't remember anything we did this day except play trivia (we always played trivia...at least a couple of us and we always won or came in second) and Bingo. For $30 each, we got an electronic machine that plays 18 cards at once, plus a sheet of six manual cards plus we had a coupon (like everyone else on board, practically) for one free card. Halfway through the game I remembered that you should never play Bingo until the final NIGHT because no one ever wins the jackpot until then. So the prize for this game (they only play one) was $300 which of course we didn't win.
However while at Bingo, one of the cruise staffers asked if anyone wanted to play Cyndi Lauper tomorrow night at the 80s party. My hand went right up and later I was told I'd have to put on a costume and lip sync "Girls Just...Fun" while two of the cruise staffers danced along side me. Woohoo!
I think there were pool games today but they must've been canceled cuz I never heard anything and it was like 65-70 degrees out.
Tonight's show was by the RCCL singers and dancers. Two in our group went along with one of our tablemates. I wish I had some clue as to what the heck I did instead of going to the show. Oh this is so annoying.
Anyway tonight was the night of the outdoor deck party/buffet which is always nice. Unfortunately the two in my group who didn't go to the show decided to go to bed, so I told the broads who did go to the show that I'd meet them at the pool at 11:30. That gave me plenty of time to put my "airplane" clothes back on (ie long-sleeved shirt and pants, which was a shame since it was formal night).
Here's the deck party at night: [IMG]http://i42.tinypic.com/308csvq.jpg[/IMG]
Sure enough when the show was over, the others came to the pool deck, stayed five minutes and went to bed. I never even saw them. They told me the next day it was because they were cold. I was actually pretty comfortable but not thrilled that I was alone.
While I like being alone, I don't really like to do line dancing alone. So I nibbled off the buffet and watched everyone do the usual dances with the cruise staff...One cent, five cent, ten cent DOLLAH!!! Stuff like that. Went to my room at about 12:30 and watched the Love & Marriage game show on TV. The TVs are all small, flat screens now. Mine was hanging from the ceiling and when you look at these types of TVs from anything but head-on, they look very dark and hard to see. Luckily right before bed was the only time I watched TV and it was dark but not impossible to see.
WED FEB 18 - COCO CAY - (Chicken) Tender
Yay! I love the private island day (although labadee, if I remember correctly is nicer). We had breakfast and then three of us chicken tendered at about 9ish. The island is more built up than I remembered it and there were tons of deck chairs so it's not like it was in the old days where, if you weren't on that first tender (which I think was 8:30) you could forget getting a chair. Also, a word of note, when we left, there was a VERY short line to get off the ship and to the tender. When the other two met us, they said the line was backed up to deck three. I think they left at around 9:30 or 10.
Unfortunately I forgot my sweatshirt and froze my nuts off, which then got blown away in the wind. So there everyone sat in the gusty cold wind, reading, chatting, etc. Cursing the clouds when they'd cover up the sun (which was out about 70% of the time) causing the wind chill factor to drop to about 35. Okay maybe more like 60.
At 12:30 we went to the buffet and the lines were MASSIVE. I was shocked. They had salads, corn, beans, dogs, burgers, chicken and ribs. It took at LEAST 15 minutes to get food (maybe 20) and about five to find a table, which we had to share with strangers because there were no empty ones.
So after lunch we went back onboard. I don't think I've ever left a private island so early but we were hoping it wouldn't be so windy on deck. No such luck. But what can ya do. But it really was as bad as I remember weather ever being in terms of temperature and wind (thank God it never rained which has been a problem before). One of my FAVORITE cruise things to do is sit on the pool deck practically alone at about 7, 7:30am and eat breakfast with the warm sun shining. I've done that in Feb/March in the Caribbean but it ain't happening in the Bahamas in Feb.
Sometime this afternoon I climbed the rock wall. It's something I've always wanted to do and somehow never had the chance. The wall is open about four hours a day, in two-hour spurts. I suggest getting there early. Today it was open from 4-6 and we got there at 3:45, the first ones. I was holding a glass of wine when we got there and he said, "You can't drink before climbing," and I said, "I'm not drinking it, I'm just holding it," and I handed it to my friend and he let me sign up, lol.
He let me sign up at about 3:55 and by then there were a few more people. Unfortunately, even though two people could easily climb at once (and sometimes do, when they have "adult race") they seem to only do it one at a time, which makes for a very long wait. I felt bad for the people waiting because he told me to use the yellow "rocks" and some of them were quite far apart for someone who's only 5' 4" so I had a lot of trouble. I made it to the top but there were times I wanted to quit because it was so hard. My knees got scraped and my hands were so numb at the end that I actually couldn't untie my shoelaces. (You only have to bring socks - they give you little lace-up booties.) I really don't know why he had my follow the yellow path but I was glad I finished it and rang the bell!
Later, I'm sure we played some more trivia. I know tonight we played a name that tune type of game where you had to fill in the lyrics.
It was also the night of the 80s dance party. I had to leave dinner before dessert to meet Amy of the cruise staff at 10pm. I was taken into the back office which is the dressing room for the bar we were in...and I'm totally annoyed that I can't remember the name of the place. Oy. So it wasn't really a show, but a dance party and they were playing 80s music and everyone was on the stage dancing and after the 3rd song my song came on and we ran out and I lip synched and danced and it was great.
Me as Cyndi: [IMG]http://i39.tinypic.com/2ujjmsn.jpg[/IMG]
Later on, someone who had volunteered to play Madonna came out but she had NO idea of the lyrics (I think she was BORN in the 80s) so she was pretty bad. We old people know all the words to these 80s crapfest songs. At the end we got to bow with the cruise staff. It was great fun and it was fun really getting to know the cruise staff since I'd be with them for a week and it's a job I've always wanted.
Before dinner we saw a guy named Levant who did a really fun magic/comedy act. I've been a performer so I'm pretty cynical when it comes to ship shows, but this was fun. I ended up running out five minutes early because I had promised my friend who was also Crown & Anchor that I'd meet her for some free champagne and hors d' oeveurs at the "Welcome Back" party.
After dinner, I'm pretty clueless as to what the heck we did!
THU FEB 19 - KEY WEST - docked
YAAAAAAAAAAAY IT WARMED UP!!!!!! Last night my table mate and I decided we'd do a biking excursion since the four in my group wanted to walk around and see the historic homes. When we went to sign up we were told it wasn't running because of lack of people. Turns out they only need a minimum of TWO people to run it and had we signed up the night before, we would've been able to do it and being only two of us, it would've been our own private excursion. Grrrrr! So we opted for the kayaking one instead. There are two listed. One includes a boat ride but ours was ONLY the kayaking. It was about $45.
There were twenty of us on the excursion so we were taken in two separate vans on a 15-minute drive through Key West to the site. We were in the kayaks for almost two hours. You can do a 2-person or solo kayak (what I opted for). It was REALLY nice. Beautiful. We kept stopping so the guides could show us the creatures that she'd find in the water and pass them around for us to hold them (like star fish and non-stinging jelly fish which was super slimy but great). Really a fun day.
We were dropped back in downtown at almost 2pm. My table mate went back onboard to get her mother and I roamed around town. (Thankfully I brought shorts with me because you HAVE to do the kayak in a bathing suit because when you lift the paddle out of the water you get wet.)
I got a henna tattoo (what a waste of $24 because it's now covered up under long sleeves!) and a couple of beers and then discovered a place that has a raw bar. So I sat at the bar (next to a bachelor party) and drank a few Bud Lites and had 6 raw oysters thinking, "I could do this every day." It was SO nice now that it was around 80 and sunny and I had beer and raw seafood. What more could I want? Well, someone to be sitting with me that I was actually friends with would've been nice but on vacation, I'd rather do something alone than not at all.
I roamed around a little more and then went back onboard. When you leave the ship for anywhere but Coco Cay, bring you sea pass card and photo ID. For Coco Cay you don't need the ID. I left my passport in my safe all week and just took my driver's license to Key West. You'll have to show it and you and your bag will be x-rayed (again, not Coco Cay).
Tonight's final dinner had all the waiters coming out singing to us. The show was the same comedian as the first night but this time it was at 11pm and for adults only. No one would go with me except my new table mate. We ended up missing the first 20 minutes because we were enjoying drinking (and me smoking) in Bolero's, listening to the latin band. I'm sorry we missed the beginning because he was VERY funny. He wasn't dirty sexually but he was definitely doing racial jokes and cursing a LOT. The audience loved him.
I ended every night like this night. Watching the one Texas Hold 'em table ($100 buy in) in the casino while smoking. (There's one night on the 4-nighter where the entire casino is non-smoking. I think it's Tue.)
Speaking of smoking, you can smoke in the bars (except Schooner, which is non-smoking) on the starboard side, half of the casino and anywhere outside on the starboard side. When you're in a place like Bolero's or the one whose name I just can't remember and you're sitting on the port side, you really can't smell the smoke.
Tonight's also the night where you get your colored luggage tag and have to have your suitcase out by midnight. The four in my group opted for Express Check Out, which means you have to carry your own crap off the ship yourself between 7am and 8am. For some reason, one of the group thought that meant they had to leave at, oh, about 7am in case there was a line to exit. The rest of us tried to explain that you can GO TO THE LINE at 8am. They're not gonna do anything if you're stuck in line after 8. One kept saying, "THEY'RE STILL GONNA LET YOU OFF THE SHIP" but the other just wasn't getting that. So I told them forget it, I'm not meeting them for breakfast at 6:45am (the Windjammer doesn't even serve until 7) and they can knock on my door when they were leaving. I'll still never understand why they didn't stay onboard until 8 on the dot.
FRI FEB 20 - MIAMI
Today was the day I started my back-to-back (B2B) portion. I was switching cabins and was told to leave my bag in my room (and leave my room altogether) by 8am so my attendant could move it for me. When I saw him the day before, I mentioned it to him and he had NO idea that I was doing B2B. Apparently someone didn't relay the message and it was up to ME to make a call to have them then tell my attendant (I'm SO sorry I don't remember his name) to move my stuff. So I did that and the next time I saw him he told me he did it as well, so everything's fine. I appreciated that he looked into it immediately. So I went to the Windjammer at 8am with my new cabin number's tags (9024, Superior Ocean View) on my bags.
I had ALSO been told by Guest Relations the day before that I had to fill out my immigration card and be at the library at about 10, 10:15 with my sea pass card, passport and new set sail paper.
After bfast I sat on the pool deck but again it was a bit too chilly, so I went into Bolero's with my book and cigarettes and just killed time. They started announcing the first colored tags at 8:15. At 9:40 they announced that any final stragglers were to get off the ship.
I decided to head over to the library. Three times I was questioned by a staff member as to why I was roaming around aimlessly and not getting in line and I told them I was B2B and they said, "Great! Have fun!"
I got to the library at about 9:45 and within about 10 minutes, a security-type woman came over to me and said, "Amy?" I said, "Yes?" She handed me my new sea pass card and said, "Have fun!" I did NOT have to hand her ANYTHING, I didn't have to get a new picture taken and I didn't have to get off the ship.
I had been told previously by RCCL on the phone that I'd be escorted off the ship, taken to a little room and given breakfast, taken through immigration and then taken immediately back on board. My guess is they tell everyone that and it's different for each ship, depending on where the ship had sailed that week. I was just thrilled that I didn't have to get off the ship.
Being 10am, I now had the ENTIRE SHIP TO MYSELF for the next hour and fifteen minutes. It was very odd. Of course there were crew members all over the place cleaning up but being the only passenger was crazy. I did hear someone announce to the rest of the crew that they were expecting 2,450 passengers and remember to smile at all passengers and fellow crew members as you pass them in the hall! I went to Guest Relations and asked for an upgrade and was told the ship was sold out but I should come back 30 minutes after departure (5:30pm) to see if anyone canceled and being B2B I'd get first priority. I'll say here that I did that and was again told it was sold out so forget it.
I walked up to deck 9 and immediately saw a cabin steward in the hall. She said, "Amy?" I said, "Okay that's the third time this week a crew member has called me by name...how do you do that?" lol. Obviously she was my attendant and knew I was the only B2Ber onboard. I told her I was going to go check out my new room and she had no problem with that.
What a difference in cabins. My first cabin was SOOOO much smaller (not that you'd consider this one big, haha). At least this time there was plenty more storage space and even a little love seat. It was also nice to see both of my bags were already in the room as well. Very efficient.
Cabin 9024: [IMG]http://i41.tinypic.com/6qifdd.jpg[/IMG]
Cabin 9024's obstructed view: [IMG]http://i41.tinypic.com/zohnpx.jpg[/IMG]
At 11:20 my sister (I'll call her Sharon from now on, but only cuz that's her name) called to say she was already onboard. I told her to meet me at the pool. I had also told her that FL was expecting a cold front and I needed a pair of pants. Well let me tell ya, every single weather report was wrong because this turned out to be a really beautiful, warm sunny day. In fact the whole cruise was warmer every day than the previous week.
We sat on our deck chairs, watching the deck (pretty quickly) fill up. One thing I noticed, probably within two hours, was the difference in demographics. Because Cruise 1 was during President's Day Week, there were a LOT of families onboard. There were also a lot of seniors. Suddenly we lost ALL the families and were bombarded by 20-somethings and large groups of friends looking to get away for the weekend. I chatted with a crew member and he said the 3-night cruise usually skews younger than the 4-nighter.
We had lunch in the Windjammer and dropped Sharon's bags off in our room. I was pleasantly surprised to find a bottle of Moet champagne on ice and a plate of fruit. My guess is it's because I did the B2B. My new coupon book was also there (for being Crown & Anchor) and my C&A baseball cap.
Muster, again, was at 4:15. This time I was outside and we spent the whole time talking to a crew member from Jamaica and had a lot of fun with him. We then went right back to the pool for the sail away party. God it was SO beautiful. What a difference four days made. Because I now knew all the Cruise Staff (and vice-versa) we joined them in the dance area by the pool but stood up on the pool's ledge alongside them. It was so much fun.
On the way to dinner (again, second seating, 8:30) we actually noticed we weren't at the same table. Now how odd is that? Two in a room and two different tables?! So we did what we had to do and were moved to deck 3's DR (Moonlight) and put at a table for 10.
Unfortunately there were only two other couples at dinner that night, but they were lovely people. I told the waiter it was Sharon's birthday (not that it was) so they brought her a piece of cake and we sang Happy Birthday. She was like, "What the hell?" Fun.
Tonight's show was the same comedian that was on Cruise 1 and I told Sharon we should avoid it in the hopes that he'd do his adults-only version Sunday. No such luck, unfortunately.
Like last week's cruise, tonight was the night of the 70s dance party in the Centrum. Same village people, same music, same fun.
SAT FEB 21 - COCO CAY
Yay, Coco Cay again! We got off the ship at about 9:30 and found our deck chairs. Again it was a bit chilly (I still needed to wrap my legs in my towel) but a bit warmer than last week. And of course that wind was still whipping around. No chance of going near the water again. At about 10:30 we went to the bar and convinced a bartender to make us two super-strong top shelf LI Iced Teas. Only on vacation do you drink an Iced Tea at 10:30 in the morning. He used SOOOO little mix (I'm talking a splash) and so little soda that it was basically just a large cup of pure alcohol. We were definitely feeling them by about 11, while sharing a fabulous hammock. It finally started to warm up a bit and it was just a great, great day of lazing and drinking.
I had warned Sharon of the HORRENDOUS lines for lunch but this time there were practically NO lines. Odd how that works out. I guess it's just all in the timing. We were even able to find seats immediately.
After lunch we went back to the hammock and I decided to go to another bar (BTW, all drink purchases on Coco Cay can be made with your sea pass card) and get a Bud Lite. There was a little hut-thingy at the bar (where they have a couple of chairs, a table, and a storage closet) so I sat inside smoking, drinking beer and chatting with the bartender. Suddenly the bartender decided to give me another beer so I said what the heck. THEN, omg, he said, "Wanna do a shot with me?" Yoiks!!!! I was already filled with four shots of alcohol from the Tea and two beers. So naturally I said, "Sure!" We went into the storage room and each took a shot of Cuervo (yuk). When I noticed there was just a small amount of tequila left, I was like, "Well that's a waste...we should finish it." ANOTHER shot. ::hic::
Soon after, maybe about 2:30, we chicken tendered back to the ship and boy was I feeling tipsy. Yoiks. I staked out a deck chair...not sure what Sharon did. Just as the belly flop competition was starting (4:00) I fell asleep. Okay I didn't fall asleep so much as passed out. I knew I passed out because I'm the WORLD'S lightest sleeper and I slept through all the noise around me for two full hours. I eventually met up with Sharon soon after and either this was the night we climbed the rock wall (this time I was sent along the green, easier path) or it was last night. Who remembers. Maybe we played a trivia game.
Tonight in our room, we found a plate of fruit with a nice chunk of brie! Again, I guess it was a B2B thing. This was the end of our free gifts but it was a nice little gesture.
Dinner was formal night. This time we had another couple join us at our table, but still not the final, elusive couple. Unfortunately by dinner time, my hangover set in. I didn't feel remotely sick or even bad...I just had a headache that lasted until bedtime and even woke me up at 3am.
Here's me (on the left) and Sharon on formal night: [IMG]http://i42.tinypic.com/v42agg.jpg[/IMG]
Tonight's show was the RCCL singers and dancers which again, I (we) avoided and did some other stuff...I think tonight was the 11:30pm deck party/buffet again. Yeah, I remember changing out of my formal dress and into warm clothes in anticipation of the cold.
It was actually pretty warm and beautiful out and I would've been fine in my dress. Oh well. Still lots of fun. One cent, five cent, ten cent, DOLLAH!!!!!
SUN FEB 22 - NASSAU
At Sharon's insistence I/we got off the ship today. I could've stayed by the pool all day but had no problem leaving...esp. since they don't have the annoying chicken tenders in Nassau. I'm not a fan of mindlessly walking around stores LOADED with tourist stuff.
Fortunately we noticed a scooter rental place. Sharon owns a scooter and I've never driven one, so we rented just one and she was the driver. You could rent it for one hour, two hours or all day. We opted for two hours. The sign said it was $30 for two hours ($50 for the day) but of course $30 turned to $50 when they added $10 for gas and $10 for insurance. Plus we had to leave a $20 deposit which she said we'd get back as long as we returned within 2 1/2 to three hours. She wrote down 10am even though it was really almost 10:10 AND we had to walk to the place where they had the scooters AND we each had to drive it down an alley to test our skills. So we didn't even leave until 10:30! BTW you drive on the left in the Bahamas.
We decided to head west because when the woman at the counter pointed out Atlantis to the east Sharon kept saying, "Ugh, who wants to go there, it's too crowded, ugh, why do people bother." I had never been there and would've liked to have seen it but it wasn't THAT big a deal. So we headed west and found a great-looking zoo but it was $15 to enter and we didn't have that much time. Back on the scooter. We passed by a beach but it was a bit too chilly and cloudy to sit alone on a beach so we continued on.
There are a lot of one-way streets (which are NOT clearly marked!!!!!) so it took us a really long time to get anywhere. Sharon brought up Atlantis and when I told her I'd never been there she said, "Oh then we have to go. It's beautiful and you should see it." So I got us to the bridge with my fabulous map-reading skills. The bridge was exciting. She got us up to 50mph and we were zooming along.
So we got to Atlantis and asked where we could park the scooter and he told us to go back out and make our second left and then our first left. We drove in circles for THIRTY minutes (maybe 20) and ended up right back where we started. This was a HUGE fiasco to figure out where the heck the scooter parking was. Turns out it was about 100 yards from the entrance where this guy was and all he had to do was say, "Walk it along that sidewalk and follow the path for a few feet and park." Instead he sent us on a wild goose chase and had to ask two more people where this parking area was.
We headed inside and she told me the best part was the grounds so we went outside and boom, were stopped by a security guy who said it was THIRTY DOLLARS just to walk around and SIXTY to sit on the beach and have (included) lunch. It was frustrating to have to pay $30 just to walk around for 30 minutes but I understand it; they probably don't want the place overrun with people who aren't staying there...that would be annoying to the guests, I guess.
So Sharon being Sharon, was determined to sneak us in. I was not a fan of this but I went along. Peer pressure and all. So we found a different guard and when we were asked for either $30 or our room key, Sharon said, "Our husbands are already in there - they have the keys." She kinda looked at us and said, "Okay." LOL! How disgusting. So we roamed around for awhile and then went over to the beach. No problem walking onto the beach but then we did the dreaded thing of sitting on beach chairs. About 10 minutes later a guy was leading a couple to beach chairs next to us and I got up and said to Sharon, "He's definitely gonna come over to us and I have no idea what to say...ack!!!!" So I sat there waiting and sure enough he came over and just asked for our room numbers so he could mark it on his little paper. Sharon: "We don't have our room numbers yet - our husbands are still checking in."
He looked at us for a really long time, probably thinking, "If you don't have your room numbers or keys yet, how did you even get onto the property??" Finally he just said, "Okay" and walked away. YOIKS. I felt so guilty that we left after maybe another 10 minutes.
By the way, if you do legitimately go to Atlantis and want to sit at a beautiful outdoor bar and have a drink, bring a credit card. They only take credit cards or room keys as payment. I was DYING of thirst and only had cash, so I had to have a cup of ice.
Back onto the scooter, I got us back to the general scooter rental area but we both realized we had no idea what street the rental place was on and the dopey woman at the counter had circled their location on HER map, not ours. So we drove and drove and finally, when we started driving the wrong way down a one-way street (NO SIGN!) and everyone stopped us, I asked where the straw market was. I figured that would get us to the right location, which it did. It was 12:30 and of course that made us late and the woman didn't want to give us back the $20 deposit but we were like, "We didn't even LEAVE until 10:30 and you said we had a grace period!" So she relented and gave us back our $20 and we gave her a few bucks tip.
I must say that the Bahamians are EXTREMELY friendly. People were waving at us in the street (even when we were going the right way, haha), everyone said hello, the guy selling drinks at Atlantis was great...
Back on board we headed straight for the pool deck, had lunch in our deck chairs and enjoyed the sudden warmth and sun. We pretty much sat there the rest of the day until it was time for DUN DUN DUN!!!!!! Academy Awards trivia. We ended up tying for first with one other team and since I got my umpteenth RCCL prize, I gave it away. Lots of fun though.
Before dinner I decided to do karaoke. I wanted to do it last week but they didn't have the one song I sing decently so I didn't sing.
But I saw someone sing "I Got you Babe" with the host and she kind of destroyed it so I decided to sing it with him tonight. We sounded fabulous, I must say! Also, the quality of singers on this cruise was much better than last week. Last week was a bit painful but the fun thing about karaoke is you can suck and no one cares cuz half the people aren't listening anyway.
Guess who showed up at dinner tonight? Couple number five! Turns out they didn't come to dinner the first two nights because they drank too much, lol. And these were not kids. They were celebrating their 39th anniversary!!
Tonight's show was Levant again, the comedian/magician. I told Sharon I'd sit through it again since it was fun the first time. This time we sat in the front row and Sharon was the one he picked to join him onstage at one point, which was great. I was glad he didn't pick me (neither of us raised our hands) because I knew exactly what was going to happen.
After Levant it was QUEST time. We didn't do Quest last week. Four of the five of us had cruised before and seen Quest and it's always the same on every single cruise. I also knew Sharon would want to do it so I held off until tonight. Word to the wise: If you play Quest, sit in the front row. That helped us get so many points, we came in second, and there were over 30 teams. It didn't hurt that we hooked up with two other, very enthusiastic, fun couples. As hokey as it is, it really is great fun and I'm glad I did it once again. Sharon loved it. That's all I'll say about Quest - they say you should never reveal anything about it so people can experience it for the first time, so I won't say any more.
The only other thing going on was, right after quest was the final night dance party, which really was just people dancing on the dance floor to the DJ. I had enough of dancing so we just roamed around and then went to bed.
MON FEB 23 - MIAMI
Wahhhh I'm finally getting off the ship. We had a 2:40 flight so they gave us purple (last call) tags but we decided not to put our bags out (they have to be out by midnight) and just go express. Express, again, is from 7-8am but we didn't leave until about 9, 9:15. We did, however, have the purple tags on our bags (!) but they had no problem with us walking off before we were called. Luckily there was no line to exit. Again, last week, there was a long line of people waiting and this time nothing.
I'm not gonna bore you with what we did before going to MIA because it doesn't really have anything to do with the cruise. But Hooters and raw oysters were involved.
So here are my final impressions. The ship is small. In 1992 I'm sure she was considered HUGE but today, wow. Tiny. It's hard to say if I'd recommend this ship. People do like smaller ships...I like them because it's great fun hearing, "Hi Amy," from the cruise staff. And I like not having to walk for miles. But I miss the other activities, the bigger selection of bars/places to hang out, the grand staircase in the 2-level dining room, the multiple pools (especially the solariums!!!).
I also prefer Days at Sea to port days because then there's just SOOOOO much to do onboard. No days at sea on this ship (which, of course, has nothing to DO with the actual ship). But that's where it becomes hard to recommend this cruise, especially to a newbie. My sister hadn't been on a cruise since her one and only Costa cruise in 1980 so she was basically a cruise virgin. I would've preferred her seeing a grand ship with days at sea, to get the full experience. I miss the deck announcements in the elevators (not that I took the elevator more than maybe five times the whole week).
The waitstaff on both cruises wasn't like the old days. I don't know if it was just luck of the draw or if they're not as fun, attentive and friendly as they used to be. I was on a cruise once where I mentioned to the waiter how much I loved spicy Indian food and believe it or not, on the last night, he literally had the chef make me my own dish that wasn't on the menu because he decided I'd like it. It was amazing and something I'll never forget.
Speaking of food, yes you can order as many appetizers, entrees and desserts as you want, and everyone did.
Then again, this is a great way for newbies to test the waters (pun intended) and see if they if they like cruising and would want a 7-nighter.
You no longer have to go to Guest Relations to settle your account (unless there's a problem). You get your bill in your door the morning you leave and if you agree with it, they automatically charge your card on file. What I did, however, was go to Guest Relations on the last night of Cruise One and ask what my bill was. I then paid part of it in cash and the next day that payment appeared on the piece of paper in my door, and the balance went to my card.
As for tips, you can put them on your account (fill out a form you'll find in your cabin around day 3 or so) or you can give cash in envelopes.
This cruise is definitely more relaxing than active. There were many times we said, "Well we have to kill time because there's nothing going on until the next activity." There were times on the Grandeur and Enchantment where I've said, "Jeez, there's so much going on I can't fit everything in." And those are no longer considered large ships either...it probably has more to do with the multiple days at sea on those itineraries.
As for my cabins, 5077 (Interior, cat. K) was incredibly small, but perfect for one (minus the lack of storage space...even in the bathroom I had to leave everything in my case). 9024 (Sup. Ocean View) was a bit bigger and perfect for two. There are people out there who would complain that in the bathroom the bucket had rust, the lower counter had scratches, and the wall had rust or permanent dirt stains or something on it. Did it bother me? Not really. But I was a bit disappointed. I've never seen that on a ship.
I didn't do the soda card. I think for adults is $6/day and you get fountain soda. Cans of soda cost $1.95, which was pretty reasonable. Beer and house wine averaged $6. Drinks ranged anywhere from about $6 to $10. The Drink of the Day was about $6.80 but I think that's before tax and tip. I also didn't buy a wine package, even though I had intended to. One plus I see of the wine package is you can take the unfinished bottle with you and drink it in your cabin.
The bartenders BOMBARD you wherever you go, to buy drinks. Some people get annoyed but it doesn't bother me. I'd rather be bombarded than sit there for 20 minutes wishing someone would show up. (Then again I usually walked to the bar by the pool because that was faster, no matter what.) The only time it was annoying (and this happened a LOT) was when we were in a bar and CLEARLY all had drinks and were STILL asked if we needed service. Who's going to order more drinks when there are FULL ones all over the table?
If you smoke, cigarettes are RIDICULOUSLY cheap. I pay $65/carton in NY. On board I paid $21.
You can't bring alcohol onboard (I got cans of soda on with no problem) and if you buy it in their store (again, amazing prices...Kettle One in NY? $40. On board? $24) you'll get it when you leave and of course you then have to check your luggage on the plane.
The drinking age is 21. I thought I remembered it being 18 in the old days. Interesting.
I'll be glad to continually check this thread and answer whatever questions I have. Thanks for reading!