We are five families each having a boy who graduated from high school this June. We are friends because these boys played basketball together for twelve years. My husband coached them for many of these years. This was a "Senior Trip" for the boys and all the rest of us. There were 10 adults, 5 between 20-23 year olds, 5 who were 18-19, and a 15, 14 and 13. Girls and boys. Everyone had an "awesome" time. At no point did we have to worry about the kids, although they did use good judgment. They did the Crypt, clubbing, until it closed at about 2:45 AM. They did not have to get in cars or use cell phones! It was a treat to spend time with the kids. They all chose to come to the main dining room for dinner. To put it in their words, "Why would we want to miss all that good food?" The kids took advantage of everything--even the library--although that was our common meeting place as we were on deck 7 and it was convenient. Everyone met there before and after island days just so all could be accounted for.
I booked directly with Royal Caribbean and kept calling back until I got what I wanted. We had $100 per state room as onboard credit and one free passage which we used to treat 10 of us to Portofino and the remaining was divided between the 5 adult rooms.
Our family flew in two days early and stayed at the Hilton Oceanfront at Cocoa Beach. It was very nice. Ask for Anita when making reservations. Everyone else came on Saturday. The flights for those were all messed up and they were notified at midnight prior to flying. All were to come on the same flight. Some came at 1:00pm and others at 4:30 pm. Had it been a sailing day, they would have missed the boat. Moral to this story is to come in a day early.
We were on ship at 10:45 AM. Unbelievable! Check in was a breeze. Very well organized.
We had only two sea days so most of that time was spent poolside. There were always seats for all, without reserving. We liked the ice cream, umbrella drinks, and smoothies found on this deck. There was always room in either of the two main pools and it was very hot. The adult pool was always full. The H2O Zone was nice and looked like lots of fun--especially for the little kids.
We did use the Casino, but I swear that place eats money and doesn't give much back. Smoking in here, too. We saw all the main theater shows. Loved the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. Earl (a singer I didn't know) was wonderful! Lots of sing along--Platters, etc. The magic show was lame, although the illusionist parts of it were very good. My son found an area in the main theatre for Crown and Anchor members special seating, so you may want to look for that. We missed the ice show--it didn't fit into our schedule. We did not use the movie theatre. You could get movies in your room if you wanted. I finally saw the flowrider the last night. It was great! One of our group used it. Sports deck is nice and the fitness center is great! We are walkers and did that on the deck above the pool--very nice scenery.
In the dining room we were on the first level. Our table for ten was right by the galley. Not a nice place to be. Constant action. I did ask for a change, but they could not change 23 people. There was a beautiful window table for ten right near us where no one sat the whole week. Sort of a disappointment. Our waiter, Xavier, made up for the location by service. He was terrific! All I had to do is look at something on the menu and he had it there to try! The head waiter told me, next time to ask for the center. I will try. We had early seating which worked for us. It is amazing how the kitchen gets out 2100 dinners at one time, warm and beautiful. If you think about it in this volume, you can be more forgiving if your food isn't just right--but ours was! One night we ate at Portofino. That was wonderful as well. Try the veal saltimbuca on risotto. I had lobster but tried the veal. It was superior! Also, the tiramisu here is served in a beautiful chocolate cup.
Go to lunch at least once in the main dining room. The salad bar is wonderful! They serve you--you just point at what you would like and it is placed in a silver bowl and tossed to your liking and placed in a large white salad/pasta bowl. I really enjoyed this! We didn't make breakfast there as we were always in a hurry to do something and didn't want to take the time. Also, we all met in the morning at the Windjammer to secure the plans of the day. The very best cookies the Promenade had to offer was a big chocolate chip served around 11:30 AM. You cannot get these at night. They were the best!
On sea days, the Spa offered specials of $99.00. They included a back massage, scalp massage, ankle and foot massage and a mini facial. We got hot rocks massage thrown in as well.It lasts close to an hour and a half. Very well worth the price! If you have a coupon, which comes in the Gold Crown and Anchor book, there is a 10% off coupon. Several of us did this and it did not seem like a mini anything! How very nice!
We had 3 E2 balcony rooms and had the dividers drawn back. One evening we had coctails here and ordered several cheese plate that are found on the room service menu under desserts. These were not your ordinary cheese, nice brie, blue etc. Had those with our wine. We also had 6 promenade rooms, one D2 and one inside. Everyone was pleased. We did not spend much time in our rooms, but in our balcony it was nice to see how the ship docks and watch the water especially with coffee and pastry in the morning.
All in all a good time was had by all! It is my favorite kind of vacation because I do not have to do a thing--like make beds, referee arguements, dishes, etc. One drawback, however, now that my kids have been on a group cruise, they only want to do group vacations! Can't say as I blame them!
Our first port was Labadee. It was nice to have a beach day. We took a tram and walked to Columbia Beach. Everything is close to the port. We had our own snorkel gear so many snorkeled. Others rented rafts and just floated. It is very pretty. A barbecue lunch was served in three areas. Food was ok. Sad part was the Haitians on the rocks beyond security and the fence looking for food.