We flew into the Orlando airport on a Saturday and stayed at the Hyatt in the airport. The bellhops came to the luggage carousel and retrieved our luggage and took us right up to check-in. Very convenient and easy! We boarded a bus at about 10:30 AM on Sunday morning after a leisurely breakfast and headed to Port Canaveral. The cruise check-in process was organized and simple...it took less than an hour. I was worried that my small travel iron, which was in my carry-on, would be discovered by the x-ray security check (much like an airport). No worries....I just put it with the computer and camera equipment and nothing unusual showed up on the x-ray machines and I had nicely pressed clothes all cruise long! Word of advice..keep your carry-on suitcase with you as it takes time for the luggage to be delivered to your stateroom...you will want a change of clothes and to freshen up before walking around the ship.
Dinner that first night was casual...we had the late seating each night at Table 330 with Rismaya from Fiji and it was a terrific experience. Go see the shows in the 2 story Arcadia theater at 7 pm before dinner. No need to rush to get there early...plenty of seating and never filled all the way. The shows are high quality and very entertaining. If you like this type of thing...be sure to attend the shows in the evenings too after dinner at about 11 pm. Really funny adult comedy acts perform at this time and it is well worth it to attend. The cruise director Kirk was AWESOME! Need I say more, he made the cruise very entertaining. Be sure to attend the Salute to Brittania night on the Promenade...he 'sings' and his crew perform and it is great fun. The stateroom attendants are great and kept the room clean and full of funny towel animals at night.
Each day was full of something to do. I decided to attend the Flash Mob practice the first day after reading the Cruise Compass and we had four rehearsals before performing on Thursday night in-between the 80s dance party and the adult game show 'The Quest' held in Studio B, the ice skating rink converted to a dance floor for the evening. There were about 30 of us and it was truly a blast. The lead Captain for the RCCL dances, Adam, taught us the moves and he really made it a lot of fun. Word of advice, take the Cruise Compass around in your bag while you are out on the ship during the day..it lists everything that is going on and a lot is going on! Bingo was fun too but a bit expensive..but if you play, be sure to get the electronic Bingo cards too as these were the ones that were winning all the time.
There were three Ports of Call. One was Coco Cay, Bahamas...we got off the ship about 10 and were tendered into the Island. There are PLENTY of chairs for everyone to lay out on all day. I just read my Kindle and drank a Coco Loco (Pina Colada). The ship's crew has a big BBQ on the beach and there was plenty of food..hamburgers, chicken, hot dogs, salads, etc. We went back to the ship about 3:30 PM and it was a great day. Next stop was St. Thomas..since we had been here before...we went on a charter boat (The Breakaway) with a group of people over to the British Virgin Islands (BVI)and snorkeled in the waters of St. John's and then the charter boat took us to Soggy Dollar Beach (aptly named as you have to put your wallet and towel in a plastic bag and wade in from anchor) and we had a nice late lunch at Gertrude's Cafe before heading back through the BVI customs. Be sure to bring your passport if you want to do this..no birth certificates accepted as you go through Customs in and out of the U.S. into the BVI. We got back to the ship about 20 minutes before the gangway closed so be sure to watch your time. The ship WILL sail without you! Next stop was St. Maarten which was a lovely place. We got there during a rainstorm but like all Island rain, it blew over and the afternoon was nice. Our morning excursion which was to sail on the America's Cup got cancelled and the ship refunded the money to our onboard account without a problem. We went to Ballerina Jewelers and I got a beautiful Tacori smoky topaz pendant and matching earrings. They are friendly and sat my husband at the counter, got him a Heineken and proceeded to bring pieces to me to look at after I settled upon what gemstones I liked. My husband bargained them down quite a bit so don't be afraid to try it..they expect it! If you pay cash, you get more of a bargain. We hopped back on board ship and sailed at 5 PM. The next two days were at sea and we laid out by the pool most of these days. If you want a poolside deck chair, be sure to get there by at least 9:30. We would go to the pool, select our chairs and put our bags down on them with our towels then go eat breakfast for a half-hour in the Windjammer and come back to our seats. If you wait longer than this, you will have a hard time getting a pool side seat..these seats are are fun because they are in a less windy area than the top deck and you can see the ice carvings, food demonstrations, and jump into the line dancing lessons with Kirk at noon on the pool deck. Sounds corny but it is all in fun!
Our ship ran into a tropical depression on the last day and the cruise became a bit rough and they were handing out free sea sick pills at the front desk. I didn't become sea sick as the ship is so stabilized that it didn't bother me. It did bother the more sensitive to motion sickness people but even they were saying that they were amazed at how well they were handling it all. Believe me, this ship is HUGE and very stable, therefore ideal for those people who are prone to motion sickness. We had a balcony stateroom and my husband loved this feature and would sit out and watch the waves..we even had a whale following the ship and that was fun to watch as it breached the water and put on a show. We docked back to Port Canaveral at about 7 AM on Sunday morning. We disembarked in the 8 AM group as we had signed up for the Kennedy Space Tour excursion as our flight was not leaving Orlando until 5 PM that evening. Well worth it! Awesome experience and a highlight of the trip.
2. If you don't want to mess with a computer in your stateroom, don't worry. The computer lab on Deck 8 always had a space open to use. Internet is expensive, be prepared. It cost me 100.00 for the week to use the computer lab at .58 cents per minute.
3. Get to know the people who work on the ship and listen to their stories, they are fascinating and give you great insight and make the cruise more personal. They really do love their work on RCCL. Got to Johnny Rocket's at least once..this staff is very open, friendly and talkative :)
4. Your phone will work sometimes...despite what they say about being connected with the RCCL satellite. Text messages worked best but even this was not working well unless in a port. I had Verizon and got the International Calling and data roaming package before I left so I wouldn't have extra charges. My advice...get the International Calling for $3.99 a month added for your cruise but skip the data roaming package...you really can't use it to access your emails or send data messages.
5. Do check your excursions before you sail and sign up for them ahead of time. Much easier and when you board, the tickets are in your stateroom waiting for you.
6. Bring more casual clothes and less dress up clothes. You really will wear the shorts and capris more than you think.
7. Do participate in the gym offerings and bring work out clothes...I did the Pilates reformer classes and that was fun.
8. Live a little and try something outside of your comfort zone. The Flash Mob was something I always wanted to do...and it wasn't like I would ever see those 4000 people again, right? But it was great fun and I checked it off of my bucket list.
9. Go to the BVI if you can. The excursion desk will help you.
10. I thought I would go crazy not being able to be connected to the kids and to check my work emails...next time I would leave my computer at home and not worry about it so much. The week goes by quickly and you want to enjoy every minute...read more! I am kind of glad that the internet was so expensive and that the phone didn't work well. Enjoy the moment.