We drove to Miami from Orlando on July 23rd, giving ourselves plenty of time to get to the ship on the 24th. I actually arranged for my husband to go skydiving at Miami Skydive Center at 7 AM on embarkation day. The skydive was terrific and we ended up at the port very early. We parked in the parking garage and checked our luggage at the curb. There was no check in line for latitudes members so we walked right up to the desk. We had 2 inside staterooms and one room easily checked in and waited for us. It took longer as our agent was having trouble using 2 credit cards as my parents were on one account and the rest of us on the second. Overall it was a minor problem and we made our way to the holding pin. It was around 10 AM. We waited in this area until almost Noon when we were finally able to board. I must say the ship is magnificent to look at, so big. It reminded us of a large building, not a ship. In any event we quickly boarded, made our way to deck 5. We went to Guest Services and rearranged the room set up as we had booked one senior citizen in each room for the discount. They quickly issued new keys so that the correct people were in each room. We crossed the atrium and bought our soda cards at the bar there. So glad to have done that first thing as it was out of the way and the lines got long soon after. We then headed to Taste and had a lovely lunch. After lunch we checked out the pool deck and let the boys hit the rappelling wall. Rooms were ready before they had time to finish.
We had rooms 14029 and 14025. At first glance the rooms looked tiny, but we found that there was plenty of storage space. We were able to put all of our belongings neatly away, luggage under the beds and the room was plenty big enough for 4 of us. The toilet and shower areas were absolutely fine. Well you may be able to see color behind the glass, you cannot make out shapes or body parts so even sharing the room with a teenager of the opposite sex was NOT an issue. We were very happy that we booked an inside stateroom and even when offered an upgrade to a balcony cabin toward the end of the cruise, we declined as we were quite comfortable where we were and the hassle of packing and unpacking would not have made our trip any better.
The food was terrific. We tried all of the venues that were included in the cruise fare as well as Cirque Dreams and The Murder Mystery lunch. Those 2 meals were well worth the up charge for the entertainment value, though the food was not better than we found on the buffet or in the main dining areas. We were very happy with each and every meal. The omelette stations and pasta stations were a fantastic find. We did not do room service as we were close to the garden buffet and outdoor buffet so we really had no problem finding food at odd hours. We are not disappointed that we did not do more of the up charge restaurants as there was no need.
The pool deck is the only area that we felt needed improvement. On sea days people were literally shoulder to shoulder just standing in the pools, no swimming to be had. The Epic Plunge slide had less than 15 tubes which meant that the minimum wait that we ever witnessed (and we were on deck a lot) was 45 minutes. The other 2 slides had much less of a wait. Overall the slides are mediocre at best. I actually got stuck on the Epic Plunge and had to use my hands to move myself to the plunge part. Husband had a similar experience. The lounge chairs were always covered with towels, but rarely were bodies present on the chairs. I think this is always and issue.
The sports deck seemed adequate. Husband and son3 played basketball one evening while the crew was laying the "ice" for the skating rink. We did not experience the skating. The Birds nest climbing structure was fun for the boys though son2 did get some rope burns from falling inside it. The entrances to the sports deck seems oddly placed as you have to walk into Spice H2O to get to the stairs. That means the kids were in that area at times. The Euro Bungy was not open at all during our cruise as it had broke during the previous cruise and was to be fixed once back in Miami.
The kids programs were prefect. All 3 of my boys utilized them on a daily basis. In fact we rarely saw the 14 year old while on board. He loved it and made some friendships that have stayed with him post cruise.
The casino was fun. I think the machines were more generous at the beginning of the cruise, but that's just opinion. We did not spend a ton of time there, but we were able to find some smoke free areas and enjoyed the nickel slots.
We checked out the nightclubs and enjoyed the entertainment that they had to offer. No complaints there. We did not try the ice bar as I have an allergy to the cold and didn't want to deal with hives or worse on a Caribbean cruise.
The shows were top notch. I'm very glad that we made our reservations prior to sailing as some shows were sold out. We were able to do every show and are very glad that we did.
Ports: Roatan, Honduras is so beautiful. We booked Victor Bodden tours and had Big Al as our driver. He grew up on the Island and spent time showing us the entire Island, beautiful views and lots of information. Much of the Island is impoverished and that was very enlightening to my children. Education is not required and many kids simply don't go. Eventually we arrived at Victor's house. He has a zip line course there as well as monkeys and other wildlife. The zip line was so much fun for all of us, ages 7 to 67. It is a must do. We then spent time exploring the animals. The monkeys were very friendly and we got to hold triplet baby monkeys. We also did a glass bottom boat/snorkel tour as part of the package. It was amazing snorkeling in the reef. We even saw a sea turtle. There was also a shopping stop built in and we were given a discount. We would not hesitate to book with Victor Bodden tours again and would certainly ask for Big Al.
Costa Maya is still a mystery as the 8 foot waves kept us from enjoying that port. We ended up with an extra sea day. That would be our only disappointment.
Cozumel is also beautiful though we did not see too much of the Island. We took a taxi, $30 each way, to Paradise Beach. My parents chose to just pay the $2 each for a chair and hung out on the beach. The rest of us bought the fun passes and used all of the water toys. They were a lot of fun, but we were surprised at how difficult some of them were to climb onto. We are all in very good shape for our age and it was tough to get up out of the water to get onto the iceberg. We all did manage and enjoyed our time there. I even tried one of the paddle boards and was able to stand and row around the area. It was a workout in itself. The snorkeling in that area was not very good since there are just so many people in the area. The kids climbed the coconut tree (it's not a real tree) and did the Euro Bungy too. The drinks were very good and reasonable priced. We spent about 4 hours there then headed back to the ship for lunch. After lunch my mother and I ventured back out for some shopping. The port area has hundreds of shops within walking distance. We found the prices to be very reasonable and did our share to support their economy;)
What's left to cover? The staff were very knowledgeable and with the exception of one store clerk we had a very positive experience. If we had a question they would find an answer and even small problems that we had were handled professionally with positive outcomes.
Last impressions: We chose to carry our own luggage off the ship. We had a leisurely breakfast at the Garden Buffet, grabbed our bags and were off the ship within minutes with no problems whatsoever.
We would absolutely do this cruise again.