We flew into Miami to stay at the fabulous Fountainblue Hotel, if this was a taste of things to come we couldn't wait! We had 2 days in Miami which couldn't have been better, we walked the boardwalk to muscle beach took in all the sights and found an irish bar - as you do! On cruise day we arrived at the (massive) queue for 2 pm as instructed, even that couldn't dampen our enthusiasm we waited to get booked in - which we had already done online so what was the point? It seemed to take forever for no other reason than to get your ship card - I am not one to be ageist but the staff were not in the first flush - a theme that was unfortunately to continue.... Anyway still full of fun we had our first of many pictures and boarded.
On to our cabin we met the lovely Maylene and her assistant who couldn't have looked after us better, Cabin was clean, lovely view from the balcony ,we missed dinner the first night - too busy watching Miami fade into the distance but with a nice bottle of wine who cares? We went for a wee wander then to deck 10 "the buffet" - all looked good with plenty of choice unfortunately none of it fresh! Even the pizza had to be heated up twice! We later learned that if you want HOT and FRESH go for a stir fry or eat at the fabulous poolside grill in the afternoon. Still on a high we went to "the bar at the end of the earth" this was to be our favourite place - a hideaway from the geriatrics.
The second night was formal night much looked forward to by me, not so much by my hubby (looking handsome in his kilt). We met our lovely table 401 and our fantastic waiters who couldn't do enough for you. Our table couldn't have been better chosen we all got on like a house on fire and stayed like that for the 2 weeks. We can honestly say if it wasn't for the company we would have hated every minute on board. As we are partial to a few G & T's this was not missed by the bar staff who were falling over themselves to get to us - well at 15% on every bar tab wouldn't you? Suffice to say the drinks landed at the table before us, a pattern was set.
The food was good, great choice and not too much on the plate I tried a few things I hadn't before, my only complaint would be it was always lukewarm. I guess it is hard to serve all these people hot food but it was a minus point. We picked the early option 6pm no denying it was a bit of a rush after the island tours and cocktail time (see below) However the second option at 8.30 seemed a bit late for us - generally we were leaving as these people were queuing up.
Cocktail time was arranged by the table as a pre-appetiser! Well at $5 a pop we decided it was a good idea to try a new one each day our star waiter Radley was always on hand to maximise the choice - well it was rude not too. On occasion we missed dinner but mudslide had ice cream so dessert was done. Meeting at the poolside, we thankfully did not requiring a lounger. Anyone on a cruise knows that you get there early and STAY all day the 30 min rule is not enforced. Certain people leave for 3 hours and expect to get there empty lounger back on their return! NO not the Germanys, more Stateside - but that's another story entirely!
The highlight of the holiday had to be the islands, we did not do pre-arranged tours finding them overprice with no freedom of choice. Opting instead for a local taxi tour, we fixed the price with the driver for an island tour and then to the beach. This worked out great for us; we had some fantastic drivers, so so friendly from stopping to take pictures of you to treated you to some local food and the holistic water from a coconut. I would definitely re-visit St Maartan and Antigua - not by cruise tho! The shopping is same everywhere. I would be very careful and do your research if buying, we saw Tiffany stuff that would be cheaper at home. We played golf in St Lucia again booking at home and saving $130 on the cruise price.
Unfortunately you do have to get back on the ship at night, trust me there were a few times we thought about packing and staying put. Our main complaint was the ENTERTAINMENT - SAME THING EVERY DAY. Josh the entertainment director seems like a switched on young guy, the entertainment team are young why is this definitely pitched at 70+? Waltzing cannot be everyone's scene. We have friends in there 60's who thought this music was old and very dated. We are mid 40's there were younger than us onboard, most people we met thought the music was dire they need to move with the times. In particular to have the same band perform before and after both set dinners in the Rendezvous lounge was just bad. At the very least get someone else half the time, with a bit variety and personality. As for Perry Grant in Michaels' Club we read reviews he was great and looked forward to seeing him, each to there own but we really did not get it! There were people who saw him every night, singing & clapping along. Personally we saw him twice and could do his script- "gated community, built in microwave" - same every time boring! The exception to the disgraceful entertainment was Sipra - they must be the hardest workers on that ship - outstanding from daytime poolside (titanic was wearing thin) to night-time they could turn their hand to anything, and did -well apart from Bon Jovi but I guess you can't win them all!
To close: Would we cruise again - HELL NO, but it was a great experience
Queue to board was awful, we arrived at 2 as requested - hundreds were before us. Did not really see the point as we had booked online and all info was there. Staff were not the quickest very repetitive