Departure day: We prearranged Laura's Shuttle Service to pick us up at our hotel that morning. They had a mix up and forgot us. Luckily we scheduled the pickup early enough so that we had time to called them and still get picked up in plenty of enough time to make it to the ship. At this point we really didn't mind the extra wait because it was 80 degrees (only 25% back home) and we were soaking up the sun. We arrived at Cape Canaveral with time to spare and the porters unloaded our luggage. They took it straight to the room for us. Even though there are signs everywhere that states tipping in not required, the porter handling our baggage pressured us for a tip before we could even get our wallet out. We tipped him $5 hopping to see our luggage again.
The line to check in and get on the ship was very long but the staff was very efficient and it only took us about 10 minutes. They issue you a room card that serves as a ship charge card so there is no need to carry cash. From there we were walking toward our first security check point. They are very careful to make sure your are on the right ship, your not carrying anything dangerous or illegal, and that you know where you are going. The hand out maps and point out navigational tips to make traversing the ship easy.
Once on board we purchases a souvenir mug and sticker for our room card that allows passengers unlimited pop (or soda) for the entire cruise ($40). Our ticket prices included only water, tea, coffee, and juice.
We headed straight for the upper deck grabbed an umbrella drink (purchased with our card) and joined the send off party that was in full swing. There were many people on shore waving to use and several dolphins were playing around the boat.
The cruise to our first destination seemed like a blur. No, not due of the awesome tropical drinks, but do to the excitement and energy of the day. There were Broadway quality shows, many different style bars and clubs, pools, hot tub, spas, and more. Not to mention other activities the cruise director had arranged. We slept hard that night. By the way the cabin was wonderful, there was very little noise, and the Stuarts freshened it up 3 times daily with cute towel animals like you see on TV. The also have a safe for you to place you valuables in.
Our first stop was Coco Beach (see below).
For our evening dinning experience we chose the scheduled dinning time of 6PM. This (in my opinion) is the thing that I will remember most about the cruise. The formal dinning experience is the best ever! From the first night our waiter Mede ('mid - day') learned and memorized not only our names but our preferences. He and a team of support waiters treated us like royalty. At first I thought the portions were small but they kept coming. If you left feeling anything other than satisfied it is because you did not ask for more. They even customised my dinners at my request to add or remove an entree or spice I was not fond of. We also had a table by the window and were treated to a beautiful sunset each night. By the way, even though you sign up for this you may chose to just grab a pizza from the pizza shop, get room service, or dine at the buffet for no attentional charge.
Traveling to the next port was no different than the first. You are spend more time trying to decide what not to do and when to rest. The ship has many professional performers that rival any performance I have seen on land. And the crew can be generally found performing multiple duties. You waiter may be singing, carving ice sculptures, or greeting you down main street. Yep they have a street down the middle of the ship with shops and stuff!
Our second stop was Saint John's (see below).
The last port was St. Martin (see below).
The last couple days we spent on ship. We finally started getting board near the end. We were missing our children and partied out. We would have preferred some more intellectual stimulation but found contentment in soaking up the sun with a good book. I did try the surfing, bingo, and joined the dodge ball competition though.
Getting off the ship was the same as getting on. The porters help with your bags (asked for a tip) and we road the shuttle back to our hotel. We arrive back in Michigan thankful for the warm 40 degree weather.
Also we chose to link our room key to our visa/debit card and our purchases were charged daily. On your room TV they have a channel that will show you all of the charges posted to your card. If you think you may have lost your card have to turned off and reissued immediately.
Be careful about what you do. The ship video tapes public events and sells CDs as part of the cruise experience. You may find that someone may have posted some of these events on their face book page.
Lastly, My wife and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We had been so wrapped up in our lives before this that we had grown distant from one another prior to the cruise. During the cruise we were uninterrupted by kids and life's challenges and were able to enjoy each others company once again. We grew close again and now find ourselves missing each others company once again. She is away on another business trip and I miss her terribly.
In this port we decided to follow the advice of a cruise critic member we met during the cruise critic meet and mingle. She was from Texas and had cruised several times before. Her advice led us to Sapphire Bay for a relaxing day on an uncrowded beach. There we went snorkeling, and enjoyed being catered to while laying on the perfect beach over looking clear waters. It was wonderful. (about $35 each which included ride, equipment, and a drink).