We flew in to Orlando the day before. We do this because one year they lost a bag on American Airlines. I received it Sunday morning..thank goodness.
We stayed at the Grand Bohemian. Lovely hotel and was in walking distance of sport bars and places to eat. We rented a car and drove to the port Sunday morning. Took us about an hour to drive having to stop at every toll booth. Thrifty had a shuttle to the boat. Thrifty was about $80.00 for 24 hours. Same on the trip home.
Embarkation: we got there about 11:00a.m. and were on the ship before 12:00p.m.
securtiy was very quick and easy. Please remember to book any spa or specialty dining the minute you get on the ship. The times were getting full by 1:00p.m. that day. Our items and luggage made it to the room by 3:00p.m.
The first night in the dining room is very casual as some people have not gotten their luggage. They do not monitor what you wear unless you go up and ask them what they allow. Makes some people mad but it is what it is, can't change some people. Know this going into it.
Stateroom: we were on the 10th floor towards the back, port side, in a Junior Suite. #1674. The room was great with a large balcony. 2 chairs and a lounger. The room only had 2 electrical outlets at the lighted mirror. No plugs in the bathroom. We brought a small alarm clock because we need to know what time things started on the ship, dinner ect... It is best to put the "do not disturb" sign on the door when you are in your cabin so the steward doesn't knock or walk in on you. A tip our steward told us years ago.
Also, bring a few trash bags for dirty clothes, lysol and febreeze (travel size). The clothes and bathing suits start to smell after a couple of days.
There is no do it yourself laundry on Royal. only Carnival.
Dining: I do not know why everyone is complaining about this. We thought the food was excellent. We ate at Chops(do not miss), main dining room, windjammer,johnny rockets, sandwich and pizza. Much better than on the Voyager last year. Please make reservations early if you like to eat around 7:00/7:30p.m, fills up quick. Chops is also going up to $30pp. Still a great price if you are used to eating at Ruth Chris type places.
Smoking on board: alot of people are saying you can't smoke on your balcony. Wrong, you CAN smoke on your balcony. It was printed in your Cruise Compass. You can't smoke in the room. The Promenade is non-smoking. The smoking areas are: balcony, Olive or Twist has a small smoking section, upper pool deck starboard side and upper deck pool bar. My husband is a smoker, i am not.
Weather: perfect weather. Sunny,and 90 during the day and upper 70's at night. Of course, the ship is always very windy on deck. Some places on the ship were cool. If you are always cold just take a light sweater. Room got very cold. I had to get an extra blanket brought up.
Bahamas: we booked a massage on the beach thru the spa the first day. $100.00 each. Expensive but worth every single penny. Air-conditioned room right on the beach. We sat in chairs too far from the bar or the band. This was not that great, simply an "on-land" version of the ship. I liked Labadee better.
Barbeque was good.
Formal night was also Monday night. We skipped it and went to Chops.
1st sea day: I got up at 7:45a.m. to go reserve chairs at the pool. Judge if you want but I had to look for good chairs at this hour. The sexy legs contest started at 1:00p.m. on the starboard side. Great show! The big screen was a huge hit with us. They even showed the NBA finals at night. Plenty of things to do were listed on the cruise compass. The flow rider even had a show. Please watch the compass for ice skating tickets. They are free but you have to wait in line for tickets. Please get to the show early, at least 35 or 40 minutes early or you will not get a good seat. Piano bar is awesome. Olive or twist has a band every night.
St. Thomas: We got off the ship. took a taxi for $4.00 pp to town. Shopped a little. Ate at the Green House. OMG the shrimp creole was the best thing I have ever had in my life. Expensive port. Took the Skyride to the top of the mountain. $20.00 each. Best time ever. Got some great pictures. They also had a bar with a band up there. We came down and walked right to the ship.
St. Marteen: we rented a jeep from an off brand place for $89.00. The only 2 that were open when when we tried to return it around 4:30 was Hertz and Costal. Recommend these 2 only. We drove over to the french side, docked on the dutch side. Had a blast. did some shopping and ate at Firehouse on the beach. Great chicken creole. Great time, but these ports have gone way up in price since we were there back in 2006.
We also learned years ago, to stop booking excursions thru the ship. Very expensive and your are part of a huge heard. If you want an excursion, do it on your own. The ship tries to tell you not too because they are not making money unless you book thru them. This is source of income for the locals so they want you to have a good time and make it back to the ship on time.
2nd Sea Day: Also 2nd formal night/lobster night. The lobster and shrimp are small but remember you can order 2 plates. With the appetizer,bread, meal and dessert you will get full. We also got to the pool early to get a chair. Belly Flop contest started at 1:00p.m. pool on the starboard side. Watch cruise compass for more activities.
3rd Sea Day: The pool filled up again. Also, pool contests started at 1:00p.m.
We ate at Johnny Rockets. Got there at 11:15a.m. before they opened. A long line by 11:30a.m. Very good.
Please note the Casino does not have free drinks if you gamble.You still have to pay.
Luggage has to be in the hall by 11:00p.m (not midnight like previous cruises)
Disembarkation: we got the luggage tags and numbers in our stateroom on Friday. Our flight was not until 3:00p.m. Sunday so we did not want to be off the ship by 7:30. We went to the purser's desk and changed our dismebarkation time to 8:45a.m. so we could sleep in. You can also change to an earlier time.
We got right off the ship and thru customs very quickly. I think we were the last ones off the 10th floor..lol.
if you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I love to cruise and will try to answer any question.