From the "check in" to de-embarkation, every thing went smooth as the seas that week. But let me start with the pre cruise. We flew down Fri. and stayed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina. I had a need to be fulfilled - to see this behemoth come in and take pictures of her. Later, to find out she comes in at 4:30 am. Oh I am up, but what kind of lighting do you use to shoot a picture a half a mile away? Uuuuugh. I don't know, so you will some very dark pictures of her arriving. But it didn't matter she took my breath away when she came into the pier. Well the dinner we had the night before at the hotel really took my breath away when I saw the bill. It was very good they called it Asian fusion. I think it's a code word for very expensive little portions of very tasty food. But this review is not about the hotel. We got a good price on the room. You must bribe the front desk for a room with a view of the harbor and pier but well worth the $20 up grade. Oh wait a minute she also recommended the hotel restaurant. Just kidding. The restaurant was great and I'm sure the $200 bill for dinner was a good choice in case we weren't going to eat for a week on a cruise. Wow is that an oxymoron? Not eat on a cruise? Oh well back to the short and sweet review.
We arrive at the terminal at 11:00 am there are over 1,000,000 people checking you in so we were on the ship by 11:10. No kidding a very efficient check in if you have all your pre docks done and a valid cc, you are in. Ok I'm kidding about the 1 million people but there were too many to count. One word to say about check in is "Awesome". I'm staying away from the work excellent. That would be a Princess review. If you have sailed Princess you will know what I'm talking about. So were on the ship in less then 10 minuets and I know you're all going to not believe me but they had a photographer take our picture getting on the ship. Wow what a concept take a picture of people and sell it later for like $20. I'm sure it was a great picture but we did not buy one. Sorry RCCL but stop ripping us off and taking my picture every day and night at dinner. Make a reasonable price and it might be worth it. I was going to buy the one he took when Judy and I were in the shower in our room but I looked fat in it.
Well you are on the ship and the room won't be ready till 1:00 what should we do? Well I read that they have at least one bar so lets see if we could find it. Also the rumor of a place to eat was going thru my head so we searched high and low to find one of these. And voila' we found the Solarium. Grabbed a bite to eat and now looked for a map to find a bar and what do you know no maps!! But wait, they have computers the size of small nations all over the place and you punch in what you want to do and where to go and it maps it out for you. This was great and we used it every day at least twice. Oh by the way, I'm not sure but there has to be over 100 bars on the ship and if not over 2500 bar servers - so a drink is not hard to find and all were friendly severs. So day one was great. Now its time to sit back relax and enjoy sail away. Now this was the only time you felt like the ship has too many passengers on board. The upper decks were full and hard to get a spot closes to the rail. And I guess with over 5600 people on board this was bound to happen at least once. One other thing that was disturbing, RCCL had a few hundred "visitor" guests on board before sail away. They had on visitor passes and most of them were there for the free food and down right rude in the Windjammer. See what you get when you pay nothing to eat. It was nice to see them leave because if I had to spend a week with rude people someone's going swimming over the rail when were out at sea. We enjoyed sail away from our balcony I some pictures on my post for you to see. You can see the looks on peoples faces as she leaves she is a "wow" factor everywhere she sails and docks. At some point after sail away and before dinner there was a parade in the Promenade. It was loads of fun. The cruise director was dressed as Richard Simmons and mc'ed from the rising tide bar while the whole entertainment staff paraded down the street. Don't miss this - it was a lot of fun.
We have late seating so at 8:30 we headed down to the restaurant for well, more to eat and meet our tablemates. It was a nice table for 6 next to the stage. Every night while you dined some entertainer would serenade the room with soothing sounds. Very nice touch and some very good performers. Just a side note I am an entertainer and musician and rarely, ever say I "heard" good entertainment. So when I tell you it's was good it was most likely, great. Enough said. Our tablemates were great. A couple from England and another couple from Mass. The couple from England were on their first cruise and the other couple were on there 20th or so. So if this is your first cruise it will blow you away but when you can compare it to others... well it blows you away.
I enjoyed the dinners every night; the food was very tasty. The waiter was a little slow, but was very good. The only reason I say slow, dinner usually took about 2 hours and that's ok. But all the shows start at 10:30 so since the theater is about 2 miles away from the dinning room you had to catch a cab. Well run like your trying to catch a cab or wishing you could catch a cab, or the L train. This is one of the best dining experiences we have ever had. Kudos to the chefs and crew for feeding over 5600 people 3-9 times a day.
We did eat at Chops one night. This was pre booked and pre paid so we could not change it. It was very good but not necessary. The main dining every night was good enough and you could order for an extra charge the steak from Chops and have it in the dining room. Here's a thought: when you book this cruise (and if you reading this review you must book this cruise), we did a lot of pre booking the spa and chops and if you don't know when you pre book, you also "pre pay". Well if you want to change anything like we had to do it was a small hassle. Now that relates only to the spa for us. But as I pointed out to the spa nazi we booked 3 appointments each and bought over $200 of their products. So make the changes without the attitude. We are spending over $1,000 here this week, so sorry we had to move one appt around. Just a little problem when you pre book and pre pay. Oh by the way, I was not happy about the prepay thing. I know they are trying to recoup the 1.5 billion on the cost of the ship, but I don't like paying in advance. Well unless you want to give me a discount. Now that's a word you don't here often on a cruise. As platinum members you do receive 15% off 2 spa treatments. The rates are higher so it makes it somewhat reasonable. The spa services rendered were great and the therapists were very qualified.
One of them - well I keep calling her Billy Mays because she would try to sell you everything and she was good. She didn't know who he was and that made it funny to me. The spa is breathtaking and huge. One thing after you change and slip into some really cheesy slippers you have to walk down a stair case that has glass steps - very weird. Enough about the spa. If you like to spa and have an extra grand or two its worth a visit. We are spa whores. I hope I can say that.
Sorry about the short and sweet thing. I said that in order to rope you in but I'll try to wrap it up in just a few hundred more pages.
The CC meet and greet was a whole lot of fun. We had a great group of people from all over the world. We got our free white board magnet and the ship handed us some other nice gifts. The cruise staff raffled off some cool hats and books and great stuff. I did not win any so I think it was fixed. (not really but...) Well if the m&m was not good enough, DJTEXAS sets up a slot pull and cabin crawl for more fun. We saw all different cabins from an inside to owner's suite. So I didn't have to snap my neck peeking into rooms that are getting cleaned. This was absolutely the best M&M we ever went too. And DJTEXAS made it over the top. Thank you.
Enough about day 2. After the cc stuff I found one of those bars and had my drink of the day. Nothing like single malt scotch in a smoke stack / crown lounge plastic cup. The rest of the day is a blur. Go figure. One 25oz scotch and I'm done.
Day 3. We did the zip line first thing in the am. Lots of fun if you go on this ship, you must do this. It's free, very safe and exciting too. We then watched on of our cc friends do the flow rider. I have hundreds of great pictures of her surfing flopping, surfing again and then wiping out. She was a trooper and then we toasted Scotland for their great exports they produce. And then looked for something to eat. That day was Johnny Rockets. It was crowded, but moved quick. The rest of the day was enjoying the ship and the adult only area. What a concept no kids and a great buffet too. This is a buffet that has all healthy choices and one of our favorites for breakfast and lunch.
The ship has so much to offer. You can stroll the Promenade or just walk around and look at over 7500 pieces of art. We took an art tour and had the pleasure of meeting one of the artists talk about her work and then a private viewing all her works in the art gallery. The art tours are well worth it and I think every week they invite other artists to join in and give private showings. This is a must do for everyone who enjoys art. There is so much great art on board, its nice to hear about it. The tours are fun and informative, take about and hour and they don't try to sell you anything.
Day 4 - St. Thomas. We went to Megan's bay for an hour to enjoy the beach and back to the ship to enjoy the Solarium. The ship is very quiet when most of people went to town. But again I never felt the crowds. She's big enough for all to enjoy and not feel like you on Coney Island in the summer. Sorry to offend any Brooklyn people but you know what I mean. However the port had 5-6 ships in town. And that was a disaster. Very crowded downtown we could not wait to get out of dodge.
Day 5 St Marten. One of our favorite places to go is Orient beach. We got off the ship at & 7:30 and were at the beach by 8. Now first thing I want to say is we go to St Marten when there are no cruise ships in town and have a great time. It's clean, safe and quiet. So when we got to the beach it was just a few people from the resort and peaceful. Well when the other 75 ships in port that day let off the masses and take people on day trips around the island, one of the stops is Orient beach. So now millions of people (dress like there going to I don't know, Alaska) encroach the beach like they're visiting the zoo and look around and gawk. So after a few hours we left and went back to enjoy the ship. Hey people it's a beach - don't dress in long pants and long sleeve shirts with sneakers. Enough said in case you didn't get the hint too many ships in these ports are of the only bad "things" about the cruise. My advice: go into port buy some crap and get back on the ship. She's well worth it.
Another day at sea. I don't remember much. It's that drink of the day thing. Actually, it was another great day on the ship. We spent most of the day in the solarium. Great food, great hot tubs and most of all - no kids!!
I'm wrapping it up soon here I promise.
Day 7 Nassau. You get to port about 1pm. My advice don't get off here it's a crap hole. If anything, take a trip snorlking or anything to get you out of this town. The water here is beautiful so a water adventure would be spectacular. Here's the deal with Nassau. Our ship is berthed at the last dock on the pier. That day there were only 50 other ships in port. So you walk off the ship with the other 5000+ people, on a tiny sidewalk and all the other people from the other ships are coming towards your ship to see it and take pictures. So 5000+ going one way and 7 million people coming at you the other way. Does this sound like fun?
We went to Atlantis for an hour had a great time. Yes I won. Here's an idea for RCCL. When I went to Atlantis to gamble they gave me a free drink. I believe it was a single malt scotch. I gambled on the ship for a few hours every day, no free drink. Hell I bought 100's drinks for the week. Oh wait and none were free. I had one free " Fu fu" crap drink at the platinum meeting of the crew. I have been on other ships where the bar was open for the meeting of the crew. Well now I'm a diamond so next time I might get one free drink. Unless they change the policy. Sorry to bash the cruise line on drinking but buy me one. And yes in case you didn't know they are like the 3rd Reich at every port making sure you don't try to bring on any booze. They make a guy empty his water bottle because it was open. Lighten up on the booze carry on. I buy enough at the bars. I like to have one on my balcony. You could see that the liquor store on board was not doing much business. Who the hell wants to carry booze on a plane when you have to pack in your luggage? Sorry to rant but I have been on ships even RCCL when you could buy a bottle and bring it to you room for a small fee. Ps yes I brought on booze and RCCL you cannot complain that I did not have a large bar bill.
We did most of the shows. All were great. The diving show at the Aqua Theater is amazing to see. Especially when you are on a ship that is moving. The headliner show Come Fly With Me is a must see. I have a video of two of the main performers of that show in one of the parades. I will try to post it today.
Well to wrap up. The cruise was great and we will book this ship again or the Allure soon. We love cruising and really love RCCL. Thank you for an amazing ship and phenomenal week. Ben & Judy