Day 1 - after 4 hour drive from Daytona area to Miami (http://www.unitedairportparking.com/), found our way to parking garage - saved a lot of $$ by not parking at port - $20 a day at port - $7 a day at garage and free shuttle to port. However, we did not see wehre to drop off baggage, when we got to Port of Miami, so lugged it in the line thru security - embarkation took quite a while - huge line of people - we arrived around 1 - probably better idea to get there later - anyway, it was seamless to get our Sail and Sign cards which serve as cabin door key and payment for extras like drinks. Got into our room and pleasantly surprised by size - not bad - we had 6224 - bunk beds - note about bunks - the top one leans a little to the side opposite the wall so not too comfy and fighting it all night. So a little trick...put the mattress on the floor next to the twin bed - much more comfy - but the stewards don't like that so every morning put it back up on the bunk - slept very well as long as the mattress was on the floor - pitch black inside cabin - no idea what time it was. A note...we were four hours late leaving the port. There was police activity and the gossip was that a child was molested - how can this happen before we even depart. Then we saw an ambulance pull up to the ship and heard there was another cruiser who had a medical issue and had to be taken off the ship. So we sailed at 8 pm instead of 4 pm.
Since we had late dinner time - 8:15 - we needed a snack and wound up at the Lido deck Emile's and had more than a snack - had a full lunch - delish - walked around some more to try to figure out the ship - after dinner went to the 10 pm Cruise Director Todd show - welcome show explaining stuff, singing and dancing and a couple of comedians gave us a sneak peak at their comedy - Tim O'Rourke and Roman something. Dinner was phenomenal - great steak - the creme brulee was the best ever - great server - Christian and his helpers, Joedy and Mark - all very sweet and accomodating. We were surprised to get a table for 2 - were a little nervous cause there is a couple on the ship who are kind of obnoxious - kind of like they're retarded a little and definitely didn't want to be stuck at a table with them - very loud and just kind of "off". So the table for two was kind of nice.
Day 2 - at sea - ate breakfast on buffet - yummy - lots of egg choices and tons of other stuff - then went to spa where the work out area was - walked the treadmill for half hour while hubby worked out and actually ran the little track 36 laps - 9 laps = 1 mile. Stepping off the treadmill..very dizzy and had to get my "sea legs" so to speak. From there went to the Venetian Palace to listen to Todd do his info talk about going to shore and excursions, etc. Long, long talk but some good info - back to the cabin for a shower and off to lunch - ate in one of the dining rooms and had a yummy lunch. Afterward just chilled out and walked the ship - sat out on the deck for awhile - avoided the party pool - lots of spring breakers - not bad but just wanted a quieter experience - cool feeling being out at sea with nothing around but water. One does have a feeling of swaying a little which seems weird since the ship is so huge. So far hubby's not feeling motion sickness which is good. The seas aren't rough but they're not smooth either, choppy. Toward the end of the day we were really tired and didn't feel like doing the dress up thing so opted out of the fancy dinner to just have a piece of pizza and a beer. Went to the early comedian show which is OK for kids - rated PG - O'Rourke quite funny. Stayed for the later show which was supposed to be R rated - not too bad tho - he was funny. Hit the sack after that, exhausted.
Day 3 - docked in Cozumel - went to the dining room for breakfast and shared a table with a nice woman from Arlington, TX - a teacher who was there with a large family - at the table with her nieces and friends - wealth of information as she was a frequent cruiser - after talking to her decided to turn off the cell phones - didn't realize it was going to cost so much to text, etc. Also, didn't opt to pay for wifi as it's 75 cents a minute - yikes - or it's $100 for 250 minutes. So decided to unplug - very difficult to disconnect from the rest of the world and family but that's what vacations are for - they won't miss us! Also, told us about taxi situation in Cozumal, etc. $7 to get from our pier to the downtown shops. Took our time getting ready to disembark - that went smoothly - walked down the "plank" and entered a nice shopping area designed for cruisers - lots of tourist shops - duty free booze and tons of jewelry shops. Nice beach area we sat on for awhile - actually had a diet coke bought from a convenience store there - sodas are extra on the boat - can only have iced tea, juice and coffee free. The cola fix felt good! Hung out there til we felt like lunch and went back on the ship for that - buffet time. The food is really phenomenal. Left the ship once again and went out to take a $7 taxi ride to the "downtown" area of shops - constant hawking at us trying to get us to go into their individual shops - everyone has the same thing - picked up some mexican maracas for the grandsons and a couple of tshirts for them, too - you have to watch out and make sure you get American change back or they automatically want to give you pesos. We made sure we had the right amount of $$ for the taxi ride back - another $7. On the way back picked up some booze from duty free - 3 bottles for $33 - great deal for what we got )(although found out later that the ship shops would match any deal we found onshore - of course, had to bring a written quote which would not have been too easy) - also Mexican vanilla is being sold everywhere - got some of that, too. Back in our cabin we crashed - nap time! Then kind of wasted time waiting for 8:15 seating. Once again, food great - no creme brulee tonite - had to settle for melting chocolate cake.
Day 4 - Tuesday - day at sea - kind of boring - at this point we were wondering if we chose the right vacation - played some bingo - thought it was free but cost $20 to get a 3 game card - it was fun but didn't win anything - prizes ranged from $100 to $300 - poop. Went to the morning shopping talk in anticipation of our Grand Cayman stop which is full of jewelry stores. The personal shopper, Maxine, talked for over an hour - they push their fave shops and she claims that she'll get the best deal for us - not in the market for diamonds or fancy watches - just joined the talk trying to win something - once again, no luck. Went to a show that night after another great dinner - Christian, Joedy and Mark are super and know us by name. I guess we're jaded by NYC and Disney shows cause, even tho the shows are entertaining, they are far from perfect. Looking forward to the comedians returning.
Day 5 - got up early to make sure we got to our Capt Bryan excursion on time in Grand Cayman - tendered to shore and checked in - walked around the shops a little as we were early. Ready to go we were bused to the trimaran "Hannibal" - weird riding on the "wrong" side of the road and going thru roundabouts in the opposite direction than we're used to. We climbed onto the boat - there were around 20-25 of us - the kids ran to the front but several wound up in the mdidle with their heads buried with motion sickness - Charlie did good - sailed for around 30 minutes out to the sand bar where we saw the stingrays - hopped off the boat to waist deep clear water - not cold - very comfortable. The rays were all around us - huge females and smaller males and babies. Carlos, from Grand Cayman, was the stingray expert and he would lift a larger one to the top of the water - we would put our arms underneath her - obviously she weighed a lot - Carlos said they weighed around 200 pounds - he lifted her up and I kissed her (supposedly gives you 7 years good luck) - then he brings her around your back and she slinks over you giving you a back massage - very weird but fun and amazing - he showed us her spike - but they're so tame from being fed squid daily, there is no worry of getting stung. Capn Bryan told us about an attempt by the Grand Cayman govt to dredge up this area and a Chinese developer wants to take it over - thereby taking away jobs and a beautiful area for tourists to visit. Got back on the boat and short ride to a reef where we snorkeled - so much fun just floating there watching the gorgeous fish below and various coral - that was truly a great excursion - wld recommend them anytime - Carlos was a hoot and the whole crew were super. There was a girl taking pictures while we played with the rays and she showed us on the way home - we'll check them out online - will cost $35 if we want them emailed to us. Checked out the bamboo shop then went back to the ship and went onboard for lunch. Not in the market for diamonds or watches. Stayed onboard as we departed around 4. Saw a cool show that night - a guy who did some magic and juggling and some weird stuff - he was good tho and funny.
Day 6 - Thursday - up early again and went onshore in Ocho Rios for our next excursion - to Duns River Falls - Jamaica is beautiful - not the flat island we saw in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Didn't clmb the actual falls - looked really treacherous - we walked down the steps and paths to the beach where the falls empty - then walked back up - gorgeous falls and foliage - everything we have in Florida but so much larger - Jamaicans hawking thru the fence - probly selling drugs...just gotta ignore them. Found our group and made our way to the top of the falls - then walked back thru some vendors - really pushy - we fell for one and bought a chachtske with our names carved in them - gave the guy $15 - he claimed they were mahogany by banging them together. Always felt on edge there even tho it was beautiful. So then we were bused over to Mystic Mountain - were going to be dropped off at the sky ride to go up but were told it wasn't working so bused up the mountain - what a ride - we'd go around a curve and see a dump truck coming at us - crazy ride to the top. The sky ride was working when we got up there so hopped on and it was a fantastic experience floating above the trees - so quiet and gorgeous views - but then as we approached the bottom (intended to go back up on it) - we stopped and sat there for about 30 minutes - luckily we were partially shaded but the family above us, going in the opposite direction, were in the full sun. Finally, they said they were going to override the system and we finally started to move downward to the bottom - needless to say, we were nervous about getting back on and and opted to catch the bus back to the ship. Had lunch and then went back out to check out the shops - bought some coffee and a carved fish from a local woman. By the time we got back to the ship we were sweaty and tired. Opted out of the dress-up dinner again and ate at the buffet. Not crowded at all. Checked out a couple of more comedians - they were really good - first one was a ventriloquist and he was hysterical - checked out another one later and he was good, too - went back at 11 to see the ventriloquist again - very funny stuff. had trouble sleeping as it was really rough and kept hearing booms like a loud boom box - guess it was the ship hitting the waves - very rocky.
Day 7 - Woke up to a rocky ship. Taking our time - breakfast at the buffet and back in the room - figuring out how much money we spent - kept it down to a minimum - never ate in the towns - had a couple of drinks - bought some souvenirs but that was it. Good deal at sea. We just felt kind of bored when we had a full day at sea - we're not gamblers so the casino wasn't too interesting. And, we're just not the type to lay out on the deck all day - again, guess we're jaded as we live half a block from the beach and can sit out there whenever we want.
Final Day - disembarkation was a breeze - ate a leisurely breakfast and back to the room (left our luggage outside our room the night before). Waited til our zone was called and headed down to the luggage carousal - foudn it right away and going thru customs was another breeze. The wait outside for our shuttle back to the parking garage took around 30 minutes but they finally showed up and took us back to the car. Since it was prepaid we didn't have to pay a thing.
Overall, we had a great vacation but will not become "cruisers" - would like to try something in Alaska or Europe but we have that "been there, done that" attitude about sailing. Hope this info was helpful.