PARKING: We travelled about 3 1/2 hours from east central Florida (Space Coast) to Miami Saturday morning and arrived at the Premier parking garage too early. We drove around and 25 minutes later we parked our car in a 4 story enclosed secure parking that we had reserved the day before. The shuttle (free) took us to the port within 10 minutes. It cost $64.00 which we paid after our return. Will definitely use them again!
EMBARKATION: We breezed through at about 11:45 a.m. and within 15 minutes or less we were welcomed with a nice cold glass of champagne and went for lunch up at the Ocean view Cafe, more about that later.
CABIN: We booked a veranda cabin two weeks before sailing (had to wait for last minute doctor's approval) on the 9th deck and it was lovely. Plenty of room for storage although we only brought one case and one carry on, not full. The cabin was spacious and the bed was huge and comfortable. The bathroom was big enough for two people (1 in the shower). Unfortunately, we had a noisy child next door and were awoken several mornings, early, even though we had ear plugs in, by thumping and banging and the phone seemed to ring a lot next door. The balcony was nice except for the same child trying to get attention, but only on one occasion. Did smell smoke one time at the first port but not again. Best cabin we have ever had. Julio was the room steward and he was good and we did give extra although we never asked for anything and I always pick up before we leave the cabin.
MDR: We had select dining and usually shared a table. Have to say the wait was exceptionally long and several times we did not wait for desert after two hours when we wanted to see the first show. In general the food was good, however, one night I had the sirloin steak with loaded baked potato and tender green beans. The "tender" green beans were raw and hard, the baked potato was lightly warm (butter would not melt on it) and tasted like it was days old. The steak was tasteless and I remarked to DH that it was like eating cardboard. Not a big deal, there is plenty on the ship to eat other places. We did not do any of the specialty dining either my appetite is not too good. Met quite a few interesting people during our shared nights.
OCEANVIEW CAFE: There were little or no lines and it was set up very well. Loved the British bacon and bangers, baked beans, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes and black pudding (blood sausage). Had this with eggs and toast every morning, yum! DH and I are originally from Britain so it was a treat for us. One complaint, the food was either just warm or cold and I hope they will try and do something about this in future. We also ate up there the last night and have to say the lack of food was surprising, plenty for breakfast and lunch but sparse for dinner.
POOL: We did not use the pools or hot tubs for medical reasons and I cannot sun bathe either, so I cannot really comment on these, but we knew this when we booked so it was expected. It looked very nice the few times I walked passed.
BARS: We are not heavy drinkers, like a drink yes, but we did not even use all of our on board credit this time. I did bring wine on board and had a glass every night and DH likes his British beer. The one or two times we did use them, they were almost empty and we found the drinks very expensive. The ship is so large that even with 2850 passengers, there were places to go with not a lot of people around.
ENTERTAINMENT: We made all of the shows except one. Unfortunately, DH picked up a heavy cold the first day and I got it Wednesday. For the most part they were quite good but I missed not having a comedian. We did not do any of the on board deck entertainment either, I need my sleep, early. One comment, why do people let kids save rows of seats in the theatre and then arrive after the show has started? Personally, I think it is rude, selfish and inconsiderate.
DISEMBARKATION: We chose not to do the express walk off as it was for 6:30 a.m. Our shuttle did not start until 7:30 at the earliest so we went with the traditional disembarkation. Of course, there was a delay and we had 8:20 a.m. time but did not exit the ship until around 9:00. Again, no big deal, we live in Florida. Customs and immigration were very fast and we waited about 20 minutes for the shuttle, got to the parking garage (1 mile away) got in the car and paid on the way out, dead easy and home by 1:00 p.m.
Ports of call are below, we never used the cruise lines shore excusions, been there done that. Also never went into the shops on board and even on shore, don't go shopping either, but I like to cruise.
I THINK CELEBRITY IS NOW OUR CHOICE OF CRUISE LINES!
We took the $3.00 p.p o.w. to the town and were the first to arrive at the bar/restaurant. Steve was great, had two chairs and umbrella waiting for us by the water. We later got the bucket of beer for $10.00 (6 different types of local bottles) and it was great.
We went into the bar next door to watch the second half of the MANU/Chelsea game with the locals and also bought a $2 beer there. Steve said I could call the USA for free and gave me his cell phone, I called DD for a few minutes. This was the highlight port of call for me.
Beautiful location, cheap beer, nice chairs and umbrella, warm clear water and a very relaxing day. The food and drinks were priced next to nothing. We met up with another couple whilst there from the roll call and took a taxi back with them $2.00 p.p.o.w.
It was fun, we went with the roll call bunch, two buses about 24, 25 of us I think. We had a great driver and guide for 5 hours. Water was too rough that side to do any swimming but we did when we got back to the port and snorkeled near the ship.
The reef is very nice, lots of fish that meet and greet you as you enter the water. Clear, calm, warm water easy to swim in. We had two rain showers, who cares, it is warm. No facilities at this beach but plenty of shade.
Hopped on another bus back (waited about two minutes under cover (raining) and headed for Hammerheads to meet some cruise roll call members. Lost our way, duh, and stopped at the Green Parrot for a local draft beer. $8.00 each, way expensive, the most we have ever paid for a beer. Buyer beware.
We met the same couple and all took a taxi to West Bay together. We paid $15.00 p.p. r.t. and the taxi driver stayed at the beach all day for us. There was a $2.00 p.p. port tax or something but someone we talked to went outside the port and paid only $5.00 o.w. That's scary, how do you get back?
DH found a great reef at the end of the beach and he took me there and guided me over to the reef through the shipping channel only about 100 yards from shore. It was super. Saw two lobsters, loads of big fish and coral and sea fans. Found beers (2 for $5.00) perfect day again.