We sailed from FLL on 23/10/10 on our Eastern Caribbean cruise.
We booked with Thomas cook who were great and ended up paying what I thought was a fair price, we didn't want the hassle of booking separate flights, hotels and transfers etc... (Even though we all know we can save when it comes to booking these items separately). We had two nice flights with BA from Newcastle to Heathrow and then Heathrow into Miami.
We had a bit of trouble with Miami immigration as we were told to stand in a line which was for US citizens only and when we got to the front of the Q this imigration officer who tyhought he knew it all told us to turn around and stand in the correct line, so my first tip is just follow the signs and do what you think is rite and don't let anybody tell you what to do when the left hand is clearly doing different things to the right.
So when they finally decided we were just there to inject a few thousand of our English pounds into their tourism trade and then come home they let us through their boarder. When we got into the arrivals lounge we were greeted by a nice guy holding up a large table tennis bat with an RCI badge on it (we also saw a couple of other people who had the same sort of treatment with passport control).
We were taken to our hotel by bus which was the Hilton FLL marina. Really nice hotel, if you go there ask for a balcony on the harbor side. If you are like me and can't sleep when over exited you will love waking at around 4-5am to watch the Oasis sail in along with some of the other cruise ships. This is the first time when you get to see the size of thing. IT'S MASSIVE.
So the next mourning we gave our bags to the hotel and were then taken to the coach for what was a small ride to the terminal. Time and time again I am reading how good the process was of getting on the ship and once again it must not have been more than 20 mins from arrival to boarding the ship. We went straight to Windjammers for some food but it was as full as ever so didn't stay to long. We then went to explore this amazing ship and we must have lost a few hours in doing so as we got on the ship at around 12pm and we were sailing in no time. We had an Ocean view stateroom with window only so we went on top deck to watch us sail out but my family had a balcony so they stayed in their stateroom for that.
The ship was just great. You had to keep reminding yourself you were actually on a boat. The different areas were all great. One of our favorites was central park. It was so nice to just sit out there with a coffee from the park cafe. I am not interested in sun bathing but do love fresh air and it was allot quieter there than up on top deck. Boardwalk was great and there were some really good dive shows in the aqua theater not to mention the belly flop contest which Scotty won hands down. The Royal prom was massive with the mezzanine level. We didn't do much in entertainment place and a word of warning has to be the casino which was the most smoke filled place I have ever been. I think my brother was as impressed as he was on the indipendance with the kids area, we saw him for the first couple of days but when he found some mates he seemed to vanish for the rest of the holiday. The sports and games areas were good with loads of stuff to do like table tennis, mini golf and basket ball. The Flo rider and zip line were up there aswell. For me the best area on the ship like many others has to be the solarium, with a place that is restricted to adults only you will never have trouble finding a chair and with it being encased in glass you can even go up there at night for a Jacuzzi and not be cold.
Everything to do with food.
We were in my time dining so went to deck five that night to Q for our table and amazingly got sat down within 5 mins, I know some people have been complaining of a full dining room but I think I would rather that than waiting to sit for an hour or two as there isn't enough tables. We were served by Rose and Christopher Fernandez who were on the balcony over to the right as you walk in on level five, these two were the nicest two members of staff I found on the whole ship, they were amazing and got lots of extra tip money from us. It was no problem in getting these two waiters even though we were on my time.
As far as the different places to eat there was so much choice we didn't get round them all, We only went to Windjammer twice, don't go there its nothing special and its always crowded, Best place for breakfast is the opus or for a lighter option the solarium, best for lunch after that big breakfast is the park cafe for an amazing make your own salad and roast beef Sandwhich. tea time snacks are great on the promenade with sorentos doing a great pizza and wipeout on deck 15 (maybe 14) doing some really nice naughty snacks like natchos and hot dogs. Night time had to be the Opus, great selection great service and great atmosphere.
Only place we paid extra for was Jonny Rockets, we wanted to see what was so good about it - best burger I have ever had, enough said. I think we would want to pay the extra for Chops and Giovanis the next time we go as it seemed to have very good reviews, We just felt all the places you didnt have to pay for were that good we didnt need to pay the extra,
Ours was good. Nice simple ocean view with window and no balcony. Big enough for us but I can see why some people have complained of a small room. I think worst thing about the room was the stupid location of the only socket which was under the dresser, my tip for that would be to take a converter with a 4-way extension so the sockets can be on top of the dresser and not under it. My parents did have the balconey and i think it was a nice touch as the only crowded place on the ship was top deck and it was hard to get quiet time outside. I didnt like the look of the internal balconey cabins as it just didnt seem very private not to mention your view would never change, balconeys on central park were the nicest and also if you didnt mind the noise it would have been good to have a balconey over looking the aqua-theater.
Ports of call.
All in all I thought they were poor. If you don't want to buy expensive diamonds and watches then you won't be interested. paying to get into the more rural parts of the islands to discover their way of life if money well spent if you ask me. We did the underwater adventure in St Maarten which was great but be careful of sea sickness.
All were great apart from guest services, I found them a bit rude and just wanted rid of you but that may have just been a one off, not a bad word to say about any of the other members of staff
Bad things and things i would have changed.
Before I critsise anything I want to say we have booked again for the Oasis and we have already upgraded to a balconey cabin.
I think the boat was quite full, allot of people say it was and some say it wasnt but the indipendance felt allot quieter.
DONT GO TO WINDJAMMERS!!! its the easy way out but for god sake the food is poor and the place is just so full.
Next time we will be paying the extra to go to the nicer restrurants.
If you dont want to shop in the ports then make sure you pay for an excursion in each place, dont just get off the ship and walk around without anything planned.
No dought I have missed loads out but I dont want to ramble on.