About us: We are a married couple in our 30’s with a 3 ½ year old daughter. This was our 10th cruise, 6th on Royal Caribbean. We live in Northern Virginia about 25 miles outside of Washington D.C., and have cruised out from the ports of Baltimore (1), New York (1), Bayonne, New Jersey (2), Canaveral (2), Everglades (2), and Miami (2).
Travel to Port: We flew from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) the night before our cruise, with a short layover in Atlanta. Since this was a short 3 night weekend cruise, we did not have any checked luggage, just a carryon for each of us. We arrived at FLL around 11:15 p.m. and were outside by 11:25 p.m. We had reservations at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport. The hotel shuttle picked us up for the short 5 minute drive, and we were checked in to our room by 11:45 p.m. The hotel room was a nice standard room with a King size bed on the 7th floor. It was clean and comfortable. We had a rate of $99 a night (which was really good for this hotel; rates are usually around $169 a night or more).
My wife went straight to bed. She was exhausted from a long week at work, and school finals (she is almost done with her Masters Degree). My daughter was excited from the plane ride, and asked about the pool (which I had told her about on the flight over). So my daughter and I hit the pool a little after midnight. The water temperature was so warm, that the pool almost felt like a Jacuzzi. It was very relaxing, and fun to spend some time with my daughter. After about 15 minutes in the pool, it looked like she was finally starting to get tired, so I thought I would head back to the room to put her to sleep. However, just about the time we were getting ready to leave the pool, the Fire trucks showed up!!!! Apparently there was a false alarm!!! However seeing all the lights flashing and the firemen walking around the pool area got her all bushy eyed again, so we spent another 15 minutes in the pool, and then headed up. She was out cold in about 5 minutes… Finally some down time… I watched a movie and got some shut eye (I am normally a night owl anyway).
The next morning we checked out of our room around 10:30 a.m., and caught a taxi from the hotel to the port of Miami. The 35 – 40 minute cab ride costs around $80 however the driver agreed to match the “Go Shuttle” price of $21 a person from FLL to the port of Miami. The travel industry is hurting for business, so you should not be afraid of shopping around, or negotiating prices.
You have a few options to get to the port of Miami from FLL. You can take a private taxi (around $80), you can take the “Go Shuttle” ($21 a person), you can take the “Tri-Rail” (around $5 a person) however this only takes you to Miami Airport and then you will have to catch a taxi from there for about $15.
Embarkation: We were dropped off at the port around 11:30 a.m. Went through security and straight to check-in, which was a breeze. We had all our boarding passes filled out and printed off already, so getting our sea passes took less than 5 minutes. We are Platinum members, but did not even use the priority boarding for Platinum and Diamond, Crown and Anchor members because there was no line. We were on the ship and having lunch by Noon.
Stateroom 5533: The stateroom we booked was an interior on deck 5. The rooms on Majesty are very small, however manageable for us, since we don’t spend that much time in our room anyway. For a short cruise, the cabinet space is doable; however for longer sailings you might not be able to unpack everything. The room configuration was not arranged the way we had requested (the beds were apart on the bottom instead of together, and the bunk was not pulled down for our daughter). We simply let our stateroom attendant know, and they had it rearranged by the time we sailed. The room was clean and comfortable, and had a flat screen TV.
Food: The food on Majesty of the Seas was very good. We had late dinner seating in the main dinning room, and were seated with two other couples. One of the couples also had a 3 year old daughter, which was great because our daughter had a companion during dinner, which made it a little easier for us to enjoy dinner as well. Dinner in the main dinning room was very good. The lamb shank was excellent!!! Very juicy and tender, the meat fell off the bones. I also love the tiger shrimp with yellow rice and steamed asparagus, which seems to be served on all the Royal Caribbean ships we have been on. The fillet of beef and Sea bass were also both very good. Each served with mashed potatoes gravy and steamed vegetables.
We enjoyed breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer. The views (wraparound windows in the entire dinning area were you can enjoy views of the ocean, islands, or ports of call) and the food there was very good, with several options to choose from each day. There was an Asian Fusion station, a Pasta station, a Mediterranean station, a Carved Meats station (Turkey, Beef, Pork, etc.), a Salad Station, Indian and Taco station, and of course the Dessert station. Our daughter and I loved the pasta station where you made your own pasta by choosing the noodles (bow ties, angel hair, or linguini), sauce (plain marinara, marinara with ground beef, or white sauce), and all the fresh toppings (chopped garlic in olive oil, basil, sundried tomatoes, parmesan cheese). My wife loved the Mediterranean station, where she enjoyed sea food, and grilled vegetables, and all 3 of us enjoyed the dessert station, especially our 3 year old daughter. You hungry yet??? ?
Even though this was our 10th cruise…. This was the first time I ordered room service (told you we don’t spend much time in our cabin). We had a late night snack (around 1:30 a.m.) and ordered a Caesar salad, 2 turkey wraps, and an onion soup. They also sent 2 packs of chips and 2 oatmeal raisin cookies. All were yummy!!! We also snacked at Sorrento’s Pizza, and the Compass Deli and service and food were good at these two dinning options.
Entertainment / Activities: The entertainment and activities on the ship were very good. There were Broadway style production shows, Comedy Shows, Juggling shows, and countless other activities on this ship, including rock climbing (which we have done on past sailings, but not on this one) ping pong tables, basketball, swimming, Jacuzzis, 2 arcade rooms.
Children Activities: The Majesty of the seas has dedicated a generous amount of space for children’s activities. The have several areas divided up into several age groups, and packed with age appropriate games, computers, video games, movies, cartoons, face painting, coloring, crafts, etc. Our daughter really enjoyed playing in this area with her new friend from our dinner table. She asked to go back and play several times during our cruise. This area is well run by certified child care providers. They assign you a pager, and ring it if there is an issue, or you are needed. They are also open very late…. 2:00 a.m. There is a small fee of $5 an hour per child after 10:00 p.m., which we where happy to pay because it gave the opportunity for my wife and I to watch a show or just grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the warm evening Caribbean breeze and beautiful night sky which was full of stars and a Full Moon.
Service: As always for us…. The service aboard Royal Caribbean is excellent. Our stateroom attendant, our wait staff, children’s area staff, and all other staff are outstanding. They make our cruising experience so much more enjoyable and are the reason we continue to come back.
First Port of Call: Coco Cay was the first port of call on this short cruise. This is a private island owned by Royal Caribbean. It is very nice, with snorkeling (where you can see various marine life, as well as several wrecks), sailing, wave runners, lots of areas to lay around and get some sun, as well as lots of hammocks to take a nice nap in ?. There is also an area for kids under the age of 5 or 6 to ride around a track in kids’ motorized vehicles. Royal Caribbean serves a nice Bar-B-Que lunch for everyone on this island. But watch out for the Sea Gulls, they are very aggressive… so don’t leave your food unattended. One swooped in and tried to steal our daughter’s cheeseburger, it scared her at first, but then was talking about it all afternoon.
Tip: When you get off the tender (all ships tender on this private island) walk to the far end of the beach, about a 10 minute walk. There are more hammocks there, it does not get as crowded, and the sand on the beach is much nicer (soft, more powdery instead of shells).
Second Port of Call: Nassau was our second port of call. A few options for things to do here, you can walk from the port to the straw market, you can take a tour of the island; rent a scooter (which we have done here in the past. However be careful, they drive on the other side of the road than we do), or go to the Atlantis Resort. We took a water taxi for $3 a person from the port to the Atlantis Resort. You can walk around and check out the resort and aquarium. There is a Casino, as well as a few other activities that you can do at the resort, such as swim with sting rays and manta rays. They also have a water park which is lots of fun if you plan on spending the full day here (we did this the last time we were in Nassau), however it is expensive, about $100 a person, so you only want to do this if your ship is going to be in port for the full day.
Ship Public Areas: The main theater was very spacious, clean and well designed. The lounges are clean and comfortable. The casino has several table games with various minimums, and lots of slots. The fitness center is clean, and has state of the art equipment. The swimming pools were clean, and even though there were a lot of people, you were always able to get in one of the two pools to cool off. Each of the two pools had a small section gated off that did not get any deeper that 2 ½ feet, so our daughter was able to jump around and have a good old time. Just a couple of items that needed attention: 1.) the Jacuzzis were not working properly. The water in them was hot, but the jets were not functioning. 2.) Parts of the pool deck area (primarily when you first stepped out onto the pool deck) smelled a little like mildew.
Debarkation: Was a breeze for us. Since we had a late flight back to Virginia and only carryon luggage to worry about, we stayed on the ship for as long as they let us. We left our room around 9:30, and then hung out in one of the lounges until about 10:30. At that point the ship was practically empty. The staff were all busy trying to clean things up, and get the ship ready for the next crowd of cruisers which would all start to pile on board within the next hour or so. At 10:30 we walked off the ship and straight through customs and were in a taxi all within 15 minutes.
Travel Home: On the way back we decided to try the Tri-Rail, I mentioned above (in the travel to port section) since we had until 6:30 p.m. for our flight back from FLL to IAD. We caught a shuttle for $10 a person to the Tri-Rail station, which is next to the Miami airport. We then took the Tri-Rail to the Fort Lauderdale airport for $5 a person. The stop is actually about 5 minutes from the airport, but there are shuttles that run between the airport and the train station. However instead of catching a shuttle to the airport, we walked a block over to the Hilton (which we stayed at prior to our cruise). Remember I said not to be afraid to negotiate with the travel industry… Well the Hilton let us spend the day at their beautiful pool. They stored our carryon luggage in a secure area and gave us a lift back to the airport when we were ready to leave. It was a win-win for the hotel and us, we ended up buying lunch at the hotel restaurant so they got revenue we would have otherwise spent at the airport, and we got to cap off our weekend getaway by spending the day at the pool with each other. By the way, lunch at the Hilton was outstanding. My wife ordered a smoked chicken wrap which was really good, and I ordered the steak sandwich which was made with filet mignon (at a reasonable price of $12.95 for this cut of meat). We showered, changed, and headed over to the airport. Our flight with a lay over in Atlanta on the way back was smooth.
Miscellaneous: 1.) Cruise ships should consider dimming the lights on the outside decks at night, so you can really see the stars. The bright outside deck lights at night obscure the stars. 2.) Royal Caribbean has gotten rid of the soft serve ice cream / frozen yogurt they use to serve poolside. Not sure if the machines were broken, or if the rumor I had read about a few months ago about cost cutting (by removing the soft serve) was true. Can’t imagine this would save Royal Caribbean much money, nonetheless, there were no soft serve machines in the usual spot on the pool deck. 3.) It appears another rumor I read about is also true, you will now be charged a service fee of $14.95 if you order the filet mignon while dinning in the main dinning room. Not sure if this is just on Majesty of the Seas, since there are no specialty restaurants on this ship, or if this is fleet wide. I can understand if they offer and charge for this cut of meat every night, however there should be no charge for it on formal, since that is traditionally surf and turf night on cruise ships.
Tip: Thanks to the reminder by our best friends Patrick and Abby (who unfortunately did not sail with us on this sailing, but are going on an 11 day sailing with Royal Caribbean in November) we were able to get a cabin credit because we are share holders of RCCL. If you own at least 100 shares of Royal Caribbean stock then you qualify for a cabin credit of anywhere from $50 - $250 depending on the length of your cruise. And at current stock prices your shares may pay for themselves after just a few cruises!!!
All in all we had a great cruise. Enjoyed spending time with my wife and daughter, and I already looking forward to our next cruise!!!
Imperial Majesty 6/1999 RCCL Grandeur of the Seas 5/2004 RCCL Mariner of the Seas 2/2005 RCCL Voyager of the Seas 9/2005 NCL Spirit 11/2006 RCCL Sovereign of the Seas 6/2007 NCL Pride of Aloha 11/2007 RCCL Majesty of the Seas 7/2008 Princess Emerald 11/2008 RCCL Majesty of the Seas 8/2009 Carnival Dream 1/2010