We stayed at the Radisson Resort at the Port & got to meet up with several of our fellow Cruise Critics (hi to all of you PRCC's!!) before the cruise even started. We dropped off our rental car Sunday morning & the rental shuttle took us to the pier. The embarkation was fairly painless, although once we got our documents at the counter we had to wait in a large group for awhile before they began boarding.
Once onboard we immediately got a few things out of the way. Bought a soda card for my son, put our luggage away in our cabin & then went walking around the ship to get a feel for the layout. My son and I both enjoyed looking at the different artwork in the stairwells and along the halls. The only thing I didn't like about the layout was down on the 3rd deck. There's not a through way from the front of the ship to the back of the ship on this deck. I would frequently have to find an elevator or stairs, go up one or two floors, walk up or down the ship & then go back down. The ice skating rink is in the middle of this floor and is only accessible from one direction, so that is why the throughway is blocked.
Our cabin was in the VERY front of the ship & was one of the odd-shaped (pie wedge shaped) cabins on deck 7. Note: Make sure that you always check the deck diagrams when you step out of the elevators. A couple of times I had walked all the way to the aft of the ship before I realized I had gone the wrong direction. I then had to turn around and walk the entire length of the ship to get back to my cabin. Not fun in high heels on formal night. Our cabin was roomy enough for my son and I, although with the slant to the front wall (the one with the two windows on it), my son occasionally bumped his head when trying to look out the window (LOL)!
My son jumped right into the teen program and I hardly saw him during the cruise! He made several friends through the program & I frequently saw them walking together along the Promenade during an activity or in between activities. I never saw any "problem kids" in the teen program, and in fact only saw a few kids (seemed to be the same ones) who seemed to be running a little wild, who were actually younger kids than my son's group. The teen program seemed to keep my son's group occupied and interested throughout the whole cruise.
Another thing to point out is that I had brought a set of two-way radios for my son and I to keep in touch. I should have just left them at home. The main problem isn't the reception--they worked fine--it's just that most places on the ship are full of people and therefore hard to hear anything. I didn't want to turn my volume up to ear blasting, so we tried them on the vibrate mode. Unfortunately they didn't really vibrate hard enough to notice it most of the time. Plus, my son was usually moving around & active with the teens so he couldn't feel his vibrate either. Also a couple of times we got reception from other people's radios. So my son and I ended up just making plans to meet at certain places & times, and then leaving messages on our cabin phone if there was a change.
Meals were good in the dining room (we had early seating so my son could enjoy the evening teen activities) and I always enjoyed trying new things, knowing that I could send them back and try something else if I didn't like it. I do have to say that the best meal I had though was when our PRCC group made a reservation for Chops. This was SO delicious and there was NO way I could eat all of the food they put in front of me. My table mates in the dining room were a great bunch of people & really made my son and I feel like part of their group. There was one other teen at the table (a girl, so I made my son sit next to her--tee hee) who was in the same group as my son in the teen program, so that was a nice match. After the first night, my table mates saved a seat for me with them at the show in the theater each night. What thoughtful people they were!
We did the Pirates & Dungeons tour in Nassau, through RCI. It was an interesting tour, although the museum was a little cheesy. But it was still interesting learning things about the pirates that I never knew before. My son seemed to really enjoy it too.
In St. Thomas, we took a tour with Godfrey and really enjoyed it. Lots of interesting things to see along the tour & we had a great time relaxing at Sapphire Beach with some of our fellow PRCC's. From what I understand, this beach is a little more of a "relaxing" beach than some of the others. No jet skis, boats, etc. Just beach chairs and clear blue water to snorkel in or just float around.
In St. Maarten, we did another tour through RCI, which was the Shipwreck Snorkel. Although it was a bit crowded at times, I REALLY enjoyed this excursion. One thing I wanted to clear up is that on this excursion, you get into the water by just walking off a platform (or scooting off on your butt) on the back of the ship that lets down right into the water. I had been misinformed that you had to jump into the water off the ship from an upper deck. I know, know that they were talking about the end of the excursion. (See later in paragraph.) I was originally concerned about my son, because he's not a super swimmer. But he was diving down and swimming around, mastering the float device better than I was! He especially enjoyed it at the very end because they let people jump off the second deck of the boat & all of the kids were doing cannonballs.
Overall, I really enjoyed this cruise & would love to convince my husband to go on this ship with us in the future. (He's not as big into cruising as my son and I are.) I think there is so much to do on board that he would enjoy it too. Just be sure to check your Compass each night to see what is going on the next day. I'm sure I missed activities that I meant to try because there was so much to do. If you have teens or kids, be sure that they get involved in the kids program from the very first night, because the kids form friendships fast. And the main thing, is just go with the flow and enjoy yourself! I'd definitely recommend this ship to other cruisers. You can check out my pictures at: http://community.webshots.com/user/mcfaddensfarm