We started with a day in Cocoa Beach as a warm up for our cruiser buddies who live in rainy and cold places like Seattle, Portland,Or. and Cleveland, Ohio. We stayed at the Best Western because they offered free parking for the week and easy access to the Cocoa Beach Shuttle. We drove over from Tampa the day before departure and everyone else flew in early as well. We even managed to see a rocket launched from the Cape on Saturday afternoon. We had a great dinner at a place called Grills. It was right on the port departure channel and was a mob scene.
On Sunday morning we arrived at the cruise terminal at about 11 AM. WE were on board by 11:30 and everything proceeded very smoothly. They take your Seapass picture when you check in with the agent and it eliminates one step as you actually board. All the check in steps went very smoothly. WE handed over our Set Sail Pass and credit card and received our Seapass and off we went to the WJ for lunch. Most of our group had their bags at their rooms when they arrived and the last of us received our bags by 2:30. After the obligatory Muster at 4 PM we sailed as scheduled at 4:30. We are Cruise Critic members and had an informal get together at the Sky Bar with a few others and the cruise was in full swing.
The food for the cruise was, overall, very good. The dining room dinners were very good and we had a great waiter. He brought fruit plates, cheese plates, and sharing/"try it" entrees to the table at every dinner. When 3 of our group discovered that their favorite pasta dish was no longer on the menu he came to the rescue! He brought out one of the chefs and we explained what we were missing and lo and behold he knew how to make the dish. The next 3 nights he made the pasta and sauce for the table and our leftovers on the pasta went back to someones cabin fridge to become lunch the next day. We ate at Chops Sunday and Wednesday and had fantastic meals both nights. Breakfast and lunch choices were good and there were many old favorites and some new things for variety.
We had great weather for the entire week and the only blip was an overcast day in St Maarten.
The new amenities that were added during the dry dock were very well received. The big screen at the pool was very helpful to watch the pool games and they showed a few movies that had young and old riveted to the screen. The cartoon characters really added a fun touch for the kids and adults. The cupckes were very nice and the wine bar was too. My wife visited Sorrento's several times and so did others from our group. My wife likes the pizza and others complimented the antipasti as well as the Tiramisu. I reaquainted myself with the oatmeal raisin cookies at "Promenade Cafe"
I attended the Ice Show and a show that the Nelson Twins did showcasing their fathers music. Both shows were very good. I passed on the rest of the entertainment in favor of cocktail and snacks before our MTD reservation.
The staff on the entire ship was fantastic! Everything happened pretty much the way it was meant to happen.
Getting off the ship was like clockwork. THey called our group at exactly the time forecasted and we breezed of the ship and through customs and were onour way very quickly. The shuttle was exactly where we were told to find it and we were out of the port quickly and on our way back to Tampa.
The only thing that could have been better was if they lauched the shuttle while we were there on Sunday instead of the next day.