My In-laws decided to treat everyone to a cruise to celebrate my Father-in-law's 80th birthday. We chose this ship because we had sailed on it a year ago to Bermuda and had a great time, albeit short! The drive to the pier was very easy. We live a little over an hour away so it was no problem. Check-in went smoothly and before you knew it we were on-board. After a quick bite in the Windjammer we went to our rooms. They were a little smaller than we were used to(Deluxe as opposed to Superior) but nothing you couldn't deal with. The bedding was very comfortable. We went to Dizzy's for sail-away because it was raining outside. I never realized a martini could taste so good when you sip it as you go under the Verrazano Bridge on your way to the Caribbean!
Dinner was in the Columbus Dining room. Our waiter was Wally and our assistant waiter was Reuben. They were both very attentive to all our needs. After diner every night Wally would either show us a magic trick or serenade us with his guitar. During our cruise Wally's wife gave birth to his first son! That made him very happy and he passed that happiness on to us. The food was good. Not spectacular, just good. The drinks were served in a timely fashion and the wine list was adequate.
Our meet and Mingle was held the 3rd day instead of the 2nd day like they said. My wife and I had a couples massage scheduled so we were late getting to the Meet. When we arrived everyone yelled out "Elvis!". There were at least 100 people in our group! After the M&M we went on a cabin crawl and got to see a variety of cabins including a Grand Suite courtesy of Andy and Debi. Mike, from our group also organized a slot pull. Out of our $15 dollars we got $5 back. It would have been nice to win the jackpot, but that is why they call it gambling!
The shows were all right. They didn't change them from last year so I slept through most of them. The celebrity guests were the "Drifters." The final show featured a comedian named Saleem. He was great! I met him in the cigar lounge the night he got on the ship and struck up a friendship. We were bumping into each other all over the ship. We even went to a Veteran's meeting that was held on-board and though neither one of us were veterans our fathers were and we both spoke about them. It was a very emotional experience.
The ports were okay. We had been to San Juan a few times so we just walked around a bit. In St. Thomas we took a snorkel/booze cruise to Turtle Cove aboard the schooner "Doubloon." That was a lot of fun and I heartily recommend it. We were given a temporary pirate tattoo that I'm looking at right now. After a week it hasn't started to peel off yet! Samana didn't impress me at all. We just walked around a bit and then went back to the ship. Although the people that took excursions into the countryside said it was very beautiful. Labadee was amazing. We hadn't been there in over two years and the place has been so built up! No more tenders, they built a dock! There were two ships there that day and we never felt crowded. Hard to believe that while you are sitting in a tropical paradise you are only a few miles from the poorest country in the world.
Two things stand out in my mind. The first is the Mystery Dinner Theater. That started in Dizzy's where we had champagne and were introduced to the cast. The background story was laid out and the victim was "murdered". We then moved down to Portofino's where dinner was served while the story unfolded around us. We each had a chance to question the suspects and then we put our choice for the murderer on slips of paper and turned them in. I don't like to brag, but being a police officer for 35 years, it was pretty obvious to me who was guilty. Of all the correct choices one was picked. It was my Father-in-law! He won a bottle of champagne and a Royal Caribbean gift basket. The second was the "Progressive Trivia Challenge." Over the 9 day cruise we competed with about ten other teams. On the last day "The In-Laws" prevailed and we were declared the winners! We were each given gold medals that we proudly wore for the remainder of the voyage.
As with anything, it eventually had to come to an end. Before you knew it we were back in Cape Liberty. We left the ship and our new found friends behind us. I think we'll return though.