We booked this cruise when the open booking began in September of 08. Watching the progress of the building of the ship, and the subsequent sailing updates from Captain Bill, only psyched us up all the more. The ship and its staff did NOT disappoint!!
I did extensive research on Trip Advisor, as we planned on staying 3 days prior to our cruise, in the Ft. Lauderdale area. We chose the Napoli BelMar hotel(Summerland Suites/Birch Patio)on Orton Ave. Walking distance to beach, shopping, restaurants and the water taxi. ($130.00 per night for efficiency with stove/fridge/microwave, king size bed) Angela DeSanto was very good to us, gave us great recommendations for dinner. I look forward to staying there again. We rented a car at the airport and were able to go to Everglades National Park for an Air boat ride ( Contact Capt. Greg at... firstname.lastname@example.org )we ate Alligator, little bit chewy, but was tasty!
The time we were told in our cruise documents said to be at the ship no sooner than 2pm. We did what other cruise critic members said, and we were at the port at 1230pm, and on the ship, eating lunch at the Solarium Bistro, shortly thereafter. THE SHIP!!!! What can I say? The first walk onto the Promenade was awe-inspiring. Absolutely beautiful. Be prepared to be just simply happy to be there. Even though there were so many people getting on board at the same time, it did not feel frenzied or disorganized. Royal was doing the best they could to move the crowds in the proper direction with as little discomfort as possible.
Note to the unwise.... Bring alcohol on the ship in your bag, and you will find that those suitcases will not appear in your stateroom... You will have to claim them and explain why you brought it on the ship. Our friends bought wine in Ft. Lauderdale, just wanting to get it home after the cruise... He had to go identify his case, along with about 100 other people!!!! He said that one lady was arguing (loudly) about having her liquor, said it was her right, had this many sailings... blah blah. Well, he said they told her they could escort her off the ship if she desired... Bad idea....
The stateroom was adequately sized. Very quiet overall, you can hear your neighbor's toilet flushing and muffled conversation, however, it was clean and had the most comfortable beds! We slept like babies! Not that the Coconut smoothies, or Mango Margaritas had anything to do with it.... (try a Lemon Drop Martini!!! in Dazzles) Our steward was Angela. I hope you are lucky enough to see her smiling face each day, as we were. The whole ship is CONSTANTLY being wiped down clean, hand sanitizer everywhere. Nice Rusk products for the bathroom, really neat shower design. Endless hot water. We had some pretty awesome towel animals. Our favorite was a bat, hanging from the light over the bed.
Dining room. Well The Opus dining room is just lovely, 3 floors, nice comfy seating. Our table was 265, tucked in a nice area that was out of a great deal of main traffic. Yousef(from Turkey) and Raj(from India) were our waiter/assistant waiters respectively. They were so awesome, by the second day, they called us by name and had our favorite drinks ready to go. The English language was a bit lost on them, so we had a pretty good time busting on them. They were good sports and were very gracious. Yousef dropped some plates one night with a BIG crash!! We did "The Wave", and cheered for him!Great food choices, nice flavors. Excellent headwaiter as well. Solarium Bistro- AWESOME for breakfast or lunch... healthy, yummy choices. Windjammer is your buffet-everywhere-for-everyone kind of place. Lots to choose from. Chops Grill! Best Filet Mignon I ever ate!($25/pp well worth it). Park Cafe in Central Park... outstanding Roast Beef sandwich and great soups. Most awesome nacho chips with fresh guacamole and salsa in The WipeOut up on deck 15. Mondo Coffee bar! Great Expresso. Tooooo many choices to discuss here! Put on your appetite and have a stroll around! If you are hungry, something is wrong with you! DO NOT MISS THE DRINK OF THE DAY!!!! You are on vacation!!!!!
Get yourself to the area up by the Flowriders to sign up for the Zip Line ASAP! Sign up for the Flowriders, take a lesson! It is a lot of fun. If I can do the "fall of shame", so can you! It is like falling on a watery trampoline and then getting flushed uphill! Too Funny!!!
The shows... Hairspray. Great acting and singing, not to be missed! Frozen in Time... This is an ice show, we laughed so hard at one part that I was crying! Come Fly With Me is very entertaining, and the Aqua theater is great and the show was excellent. Headliners was a group called ABBAcadabra. They did a very good job of playing ABBA music. Didn't see the comedian show...
Don't have anything to report on children's clubs or teen activities... Left those people home!!! However, those that did participate looked like they were having a great time.
Ken Rush, cruise director, very good guy. Saw that man everywhere, very involved, easy to talk to. Sorry to say, that Capt. Bill is leaving the ship after the cruise we just left on Jan 16th. He is going to be with Marine Operations, and will take out The Allure, when the time comes. What a kind, gracious man. He also was everywhere, ready for a photo or just a friendly chat. All the customer service on the ship was excellent. Never had a problem of any kind. Shopping Shelby has a "talk" on the islands and where to shop. Supposed to be an hour.... Was over an hour and a half, was redundant... I wanted duct tape. Or at least a margarita of some sort...
We did express for check out/disembarkation. I tell you what, we were out of our stateroom and in the taxi in under 15 minutes! No joke!
We loved every inch of this ship. can't wait to sail on it again... 2 things to not miss, no matter what... #1 Get yourself a spot in a Cabana in The Solarium for a sea day. The early bird gets the worm, we were there at 6am to claim ours for the day. We slept, ate and read ALL DAY! The sound of the water, the soothing music. Ahh, a piece of heavenly Oasis. #2. When the boat sails away, instead of hanging out waving to no one... Grab your bathing suit and a nice tropical drink and watch the sail away from one of the beautiful Jacuzzis on Deck 15... Bon Voyage!