EMBARKATION WOW! We flew in from Austin, Texas and arrived in the airport at around noon. The port is about a ten minute bus ride from the airport. Check in was AMAZING! It was the shortest wait time we have ever had for a cruise, which is a little ironic to me because we were boarding the ship with the largest passenger capacity in the world (and apparently our voyage broke another passenger record?). Our wait time in the terminal was less than five minutes with NO line. We were onboard by 12:30.
THE ‘FELLOW’ GUESTS I DID NOT LIKE THE OTHER PASSENGERS! By far they were the worst group I have travelled with on a cruise. As an English speaking person, I can tolerate hearing anything but English for a few days, but seven days is WAY too much Chinese, Spanish, Portugese, and I have no idea what else. And it’s not so much that they weren’t speaking English, I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST THAT, I’m not a mean person like that, but what got annoying is that they were RUDE! Things like cutting in lines, jumping in elevators when you have waited forever to get in one, being loud, saving seats and then not speaking English when people try and tell them you can’t save seats, stuff like that. AND THEN COME THE KIDS… SPOILED OBNOXIOUS BRATS! I don’t think I’ll say anything else on the kids except that I wanted to give some a few light slams now and then (well heavy slams all the time).
THE ROOM We had Boardwalk View balcony 9329 (the very last balcony before the Aqua Theater). It was basically a standard room size with a balcony to the boardwalk. The balcony is not very private, but as we were not in the room most of the time, it was GREAT for watching the shows and people watching. The bathroom was a new design I’m guessing because I’ve never seen one like that. It was ok, just not a lot of counter space and a VERY shallow sink.
THE NEIGHBORHOODS We visited all the neighborhoods except the kids area and the spa and fitness center. **Boardwalk** Don’t miss the carousel, I never thought I would ride it, but I rode it so many times I lost count. The Aqua Theater and it’s shows are also a do not miss (more details in ‘entertainment’). There were lots of stuff for kids to do, especially on sea days (clowns, balloon animals, face painting, hula hoops, etc.). The restaurants are also pretty good, although most of them are pay restaurants (more details in ‘dining’). **Central Park** By far my favorite neighborhood, I’m still awed by the real trees and flora that are growing there. The park is very serene and never crowded, it’s a good place to walk from one end of the ship to the other or eat (more details in ‘dining’). Just food for thought, some of the vines and trees and things are still pretty young so they haven’t reached their potential, but it’s still a BEAUTIFUL place! **Royal Promenade** If you have been on a Freedom or Voyager class ship, the crowds there are basically the same. This promenade is WIDE though; it’s amazing and has skylights letting in natural light. The restaurants weren’t really crowded, the shops got more crowded as the trip went on (so go at the beginning like we did, the selection is better and you aren’t fighting people). RISING TIDE- Basically an elevator you can pay for. We did it just to say we did it. The bartender must have been new or something though because (1) she tried to say that our gold member coupon book thing was fake and (2) she tried to say my legit drivers license was fake (granted I am 21 and look like I am 16 but still it was real and she almost got rude about it) (3) Not only did she not take our coupons but she charged us double! So just be aware. **Entertainment Place** We did Studio B and Opal Theater for shows (details in ‘entertainment’) and lost $15 in the casino. It was strange this trip, we barely spent any time in the casino; I guess there was so much to do that we figured that we would spend our money where we would actually get something and not just throw it away haha. **Pool and Sports Zone** Another GREAT neighborhood. I’ll start with sports zone. We did the zip line and the rock wall. ****GOOD INFO TO KNOW**** GO TO THESE VENUES ABOUT 15 MINUTES BEFORE THEY CLOSE. THERE IS NO LINE! We did this for both and never had to wait. We weren’t able to do Flowrider because of the lines, and we didn’t do mini golf or basketball/soccer because we figured we can do that on land anytime so why fight the people. Now for the pools. Even though apparently our sailing broke another passenger record, there were always plenty of deck chairs available (they may not have been right next to the pool, but they were there). We hung out at the beach pool (saltwater) a few times as well as the Solarium. The Solarium was ok, I really liked the atmosphere, but there were always a lot of people and it could be difficult to find two chairs together. The hot tubs and pool were usually crowded too. Also, beware of KIDS. They somehow managed to get in the Solarium at times and weren’t kicked out like they should have been. Also, beware of the cantilevered hot tubs. They are not in the adults only area like they should be and there were always annoying kids splashing and messing around on our sailing.
DINING As usual for Royal Caribbean, it was not that great, but I’m not surprised. I’ll give you the low down on where and what we did for dining. ($) = for fee restaurants *Opus Dining Room- Our table sucked! We were way in the back of the dining room (it felt like we were at the front of the ship); we were not near any of the action, we could hardly hear what was going on when they were doing a dance or something. The food was ok, it’s the exact same menu for any other Royal Caribbean ship. *Giovanni’s Table ($)- A waste of money in my opinion. I thought it was DISGUSTING. The menu is in Italian (obviously), but as we are from Texas where we don’t have fancy Italian restaurants other than Olive Garden (which this is supposed to be basically an Olive Garden at sea I’ve heard others say) so when we looked at the menu and what was in the dishes we had no idea what some of it was. When we asked our waitress what something was, she just laughed off and said “I don’t know either; all I know is what the menu says!” It also took two hours (which was predicted and expected), however we were eating maybe 30 minutes of that two hours. I will say that the pasta dishes are halfway decent, as well as the dessert, although by the time we got to dessert we were so ready to get out of there that we didn’t really take the time to enjoy it. Overall, a disappointment and I would rather take my cover charge and add a little and eat at Chops. *Park Café- The touch screens always say it is ‘red level’ crowded, but it never was. Yes its true there were a lot of people, but you never had to wait long. The ‘Build Your Own Bagel’ station at breakfast is a DO NOT MISS! Also, for lunch and snack, the panini’s are delicious. I will say that for all the Roast Beef sandwich hype, I didn’t find it very good. It was ok, but I would take Subway or somewhere like that any day over that. *Windjammer Marketplace- We ate here for lunch on two sea days, it was not very crowded (we got window tables both times). Do not eat here on embarkation day! We walked through just to see how crowded it was and before we got to the door we turned around and headed to Park Café. The food is basically like all other Windjammers I’ve seen, not great, but edible. *Johnny Rockets ($)- My favorite restaurant. I believe it’s the only one that is worth the cover charge. *Seafood Shack ($)- We had dinner here one night. I’m not a big seafood lover but my travel buddy wanted to so we did. My food was pretty good, not great, but better than the dining room or Windjammer. I’ve heard the seafood is great though! *Boardwalk Donuts- Basically the normal Royal Caribbean donut with creative icings. They were ok. *Boardwalk Ice Cream ($)- Probably worth a cover charge, but not what they are charging. It was delicious though! If it were cheaper we would have gotten a lot more! *Café Promenade- Could be crowded but never a long line. Basically the same food as the usual Café Promenade’s. *Sorrento’s- Basically the same Sorrento’s with a twist. They have a ‘Create Your Own Pizza’ station that is the best! I finally tried it out on day 6 and unfortunately never had the chance to go back. *Cupcake Cupboard ($)- Again, probably worth a cover charge, but not what they are charging. We had the Orange Cream and Root Beer, both were GREAT! BEWARE that they do change some of the flavors daily so if you see something you want, don’t wait because it may not be there next time! Wow! Now that’s a lot of dining options, and we didn’t even have them all! … One more thing about dining. All of our waiters/waitresses in every dining venue (with the exception of one girl in the cupcake place and the Opus Dining Room) were not very friendly. It’s not that they were rude or anything like that, but they just were kind of there and that’s it, they didn’t say much.
ENTERTAINMENT WOW! Let me give you a little insight about me before I detail the entertainment. I am about to graduate college with a music degree, so I tend to be critical of these shows, especially the music. I’m not big on the whole dancing thing, I can take it or leave it, as well as the ice stuff. *Oasis of Dreams (Aqua Theater Show)- So good we watched it twice (from our fantastic balcony! It was probably better than being on the bottom!) What the divers do is just amazing, especially from the REALLY TALL jump! WOW! And oddly enough, the music was my favorite part, which doesn’t happen in these kind of shows. *Hairspray- I’ve seen it on land and this was easily comparable. It’s not my personal favorite Broadway musical but if you like it then go see it. I would recommend it because I enjoyed it a lot! *Frozen in Time- If you have been on Freedom of the Seas and seen Freedom-ice.com, you may be a little disappointed. This ice show is AMAZING don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t help but compare it to Freedom’s, and Freedom’s was better in my opinion. One thing I didn’t get was the sand artist. I mean she was GREAT but I don’t see how her trade fits in with an ice show… just food for thought. We still saw this show twice so that should say we thought it was good. *Come Fly With Me- AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING! Again, I compared it to my favorite show thus far, Once Upon A Time on the Freedom and I was teetering on which I liked better and I think I finally decided I like this one better. I just liked everything about it, and the singers were SPOT ON (and that’s saying a lot for me because that’s what I find the most fault in in these kind of shows). We saw it twice and I would watch it plenty more times over and over if I could! *Headliner Show- They were the ‘Unexpected Boys’ or something like that. They were ok. They are good at what they do, but it was not something I found interesting. I wouldn’t go back. *Splish Splash (The new Aqua Theater show) (we watched full two run throughs of their rehearsals)- Since we had the last Boardwalk balcony room before the Aqua Theater, we caught several rehearsals and some full runs of this new show. I think I may like it better than Oasis of Dreams. I would highly recommend it! It’s hilarious and jaw dropping at the same time!
DEBARKATION Since our flight didn’t leave until 4:30 we decided to do the Sawgrass Mills mall tour thing. It was ok, probably not worth the money, but better than sitting in an airport all day. The mall itself is probably comparable to a normal mall, there are some high end stores there too. Overall I’m glad we did it, I wouldn’t change a flight to a later time just to do it though (unless you REALLY like shopping haha).