We are a group of 6 from Canada (DH, DD, 2 nieces and a brother-in-law). We have cruised with RCL, Princess, Disney, a few times with Carnival. We do about 2 cruises/year. We arrived the day before in FLL and took Quality Limo Services transfer (very patient and courteous customer service)from FFL airport to Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay. Nice hotel, well located.
Now, here comes the 1st bad thing: I booked with Priceline in December and paid already. By the time I came home, and checked my credit card statement on line, there is a second charge for the same stay on my Visa.I called their service center and they can't see what charge I am talking about. I sent a fax of the statement, they should get back to me in a few days. I'll keep you posted. So, beware... always check your credit card charges when you get home. You never know what kind of mistake will appear...
The next morning, we took a taxi to POM at 10:30 AM. The embarkation process itself is fast and painless, I did my check-in online and filled all the forms. Then, here comes the 2nd bad thing: instead of getting on the ship as soon as the check-in is finished, you go to a waiting room. There are maybe 50 chairs for 200-300 peoples. As we waited, and waited, and waited.... there are more and more peoples coming in this room.Now there are more than 500. People are starting to sit on the floor and get bored since there is absolutely nothing to do here. Nobody came to tell us what is going on.The few uniformed attendant were very rude when anyone came up to ask questions. We waited for almost 2 hours, by the time they let us board the ship , it was close to 13:30. never got an explanation for the delay. Very bad first impression for new cruisers.
The ship Very nice decor. Very clean. Nothing much different from all the other cruiseships we have been on beside the Flow Rider and the Climbing wall.
Day 2 At sea. Very cold and windy. I wish the swimming pools were heated (read other CC review, I am apparently not the only one to wish for this). Formal night: Food in dining room was OK. Our waiters were Ivan from India and Courtney from Jamaica. Very nice and efficient. The kids love them.
Day 3 Labadee. Since everyone is getting off, we took advantage of it and went to try the Flow Rider. It was almost empty besides 1-2 other persons. The instructors were very nice and do not laugh at our clumsiness. DD and one niece tried the Boogie board, so did DH and I. Tip: try to do the FL on a day in port, there won't be a long waiting line and nobody there to laugh at you....
Day 4 Ocho Rios,Jamaica. We came off the ship and then, it started to pour... Not a gentle rain, but a deluge... We were soaking wet in 2 minutes. We ran to the small building and waited for our tour guide to pick us up. We booked with Jamaica for a day to go to Sunset Jamaica Grande Beach resort. Nobody showed up. The place was total mayhem, packed with wet and cold and confused people who were all waiting for some guides to pick them up. After 45 minutes, we manage to talk to someone in uniform... (Does the uniform means something???)He took me to Rachel at the small information booth, outside of the building. She was extremely helpful. After many calls, she managed to track down the supervisor of the bus company which was supposed to pick us up and another 30 minutes, a van came to pick us up. Since we already paid for this, even if it rains, we had to go. The resort is very nice, with interconnecting swimming pools and slides. Too bad that it rained the whole time and nobody could swim or enjoy the lounging chair. It was my DH and DD birthday and I told them when I booked. So when we got to the buffet, they had balloons set up at our table and even got a huge cake for us. I was worried before since I have been reading all the reviews on drugs and body searches in Jamaica. But, the people at the port and the resort were very helpful and patient. They don't do things like the way we do in North America (ie. fast...) but they will take care of you and even if it looks like they don't care, they actually do and will solve your problem if you let them do it at their pace.
Day 5 Grand Cayman Since there was a storm yesterday, our Sea Trek excursion were canceled since there is a big swell of the ocean. We were very disappointed since this is THE excursion we wanted to do on this cruise. The ship has to go to Spot's Bay instead of downtown. Tendering process was long and tenuous. It took almost 1h30 to get to shore. We went shopping but did not buy anything since this is our 4th time in GC. The waves were so high , they were over washing the downtown pier.
Day 6 Cozumel. we book a waverunner tour with Cozumel Cool Sports (Mauricio). we were 1 hour late since the ship left late the day before in GC. We were worried that the tour will start without us but took the chance to go to Playa Mia anyway. When we got there, Mauricio came right away to meet us and took care of the taxi fee. After instructions, we went on our waverunner and went all the way back to the cruiseships. DD was getting scared and begged to be dropped off so Mauricio took us back to the beach where they set up a nice lunch and drinks on a private section of the beach. It was so nice to be relaxing finally in the sun on a beautiful beach. Mauricio took very good care of us and even provide us with a DVD with pictures of our tour. After a few hours, he even took us back in his car to the ship. It was very nice of him. We'll book with him for sure if we ever go back to Cozumel.
Day 7 At sea
Very helpful staff. Our room attendant (Dunbar from Jamaica) found us a roll away bed since DD did not want to sleep high up in the bunk bed Another attendant, Bretline, even offers me her nail polish since my toes nails were all scratched from the Flow Rider. The staff in general were always smiling and attentive.
The Ice show and the On Air show were exceptional.Decors and lightning are very nice.
RCI tried to make money on every single things they can: eg. $3.95 for orange juice at breakfast, Cappuccino after dinner (it's free on Carnival ships).
Photos come only in 8x11 size. If you wish to by smaller size, easier to put them in an album, too bad... not possible. No package possible either, not like Disney, where if you buy a package, it comes back cheaper.
And the worse... the coffee. It said Seattle's best, I am not sure Seattle's residents will agree to that
Towels are only available at deck 11, at a deposit of $20/card (unlike Carnival, where towels are in your stateroom and if you need more, your room steward will provide them without any problem)
Debarkation; Very fast going through custom, about 15 minutes. But then, it took almost 1h15 to have your luggage.
In summary, it was a nice cruise. It is not RCI's fault if the weather was cold. But beside the Flow Rider and the climbing wall, this cruise is comparable to all the Carnival cruises that we did previously. And it costs more...for the same balcony cabin, we paid almost $1000 more than other cruiselines.