First off don't let your expectations get too high. It is a vacation...relax and enjoy it.
Embarkation was easier than I expected. Make sure to get a passport of some kind...the lines ARE shorter. Just follow the lines there are people there to direct you and answer any questions you have. Keep your passport and your boarding pass in your hands until you get your sail & sign card. If you can use a credit card, it's faster and you don't have to go to the guests services desk when you first board the ship. That line was very long. You can change it at any time, they don't charge anything until the end of the cruise. You can go to guests services at any time to check your balance. Everything gets charged to your sail and sign card. Keep it with you at all times. If you like going to the casino, you use the card there also. Put your card in the slot machine, put in a pin number and then insert cash. Credits will be added to your card. You can cash in your credits at any time. Simple and very easy to use. If you like playing the tables you will use cash and recieve chips.
We did buy the bottomless bubbles tag for our cards, this way you can have all the soda you want. It cost about 25$ per person. Realize that just because you have already paid a 10% gratuity for your cruise it doesn't mean that you shouldn't tip the people bringing your drinks. I tipped mine frequently and eventually didn't have to hunt down a waiter to bring me one they will look for you and bring your favorite drink to you automatically. A dollar goes a long way.
There was alot of noise and confusion in the beginning. It is very unorganized and a bit overwhelming. Find a quiet place outside the ship somewhere where you can wait for people to get adjusted and then go to the Lido deck and grab a bite to eat. Yes there are lines, yes there are alot of people and yes you will adjust to it. If you are a smoker, there is limited places around the ship. Make sure you familiarize yourself with these places. They will be listed in the newsletter they place in your cabin at night. When all else fails, go to the casino. Also, the bathrooms were kinda hard to find. Make sure you know where there is one on all the main decks, Promenade and Lido for sure.
Catch the shows, they are very enjoyable. Don't do Bingo...to much money for very few games...big dissapointment for me. We did some trivia and spent alot of time in the casino. Not very good payouts though so don't expect to get rich there.
There are alot of things to do. Pick and choose the night before and leave some time to just relax and look at the water. Make sure to go as far forward on the ship just for the experience. It is very windy but you feel as though you are actually flying. Awesome. Alot of people hang out around the pool and there is only one which is very small and usually has alot of kids in it. If you want to lay out in the sun find a quieter place to do it than poolside. There are plenty of places around the ship.
Enjoy the nightlife. There are clubs and a disco and of course Karaoke. Even if you don't want to sing it's fun to watch other people.
You must get all dressed up for the formal night and take advantage of all the picture taking. The pictures are exspensive but very good quality. They were about 25$ per picture. Take alot and choose your favorites. I love ours. The atmosphere in the dining room was alot of fun....was the food great...NO but it was still worth going. Remember, the food is already paid for. You can order anything on the menu you want. I would suggest ordering two of every course. Two appetizers, Two main and Two desserts. No use wasting time. If you don't like any of it there's always the buffet.
You can feel the ship rock some. When we left Cozumel the Captain was trying to outrun a storm and the rocking became really bad. Several people were sick but not too bad. I have a very sensative stomache and there were no problems for me. If it gets really rocky try to stay towards the middle of the ship. Not as much movement there. Don't go lay down...try to stay active it will take your mind off the movement.
Cozumel was a dissapointment for me. We don't really care about getting in the water so there weren't any excursions we wanted to go on. We decided to just do some shopping. There aren't any beaches by where the ship docks. I'm not sure if there is any at all. You may have to ask someone on the ship for help there if you just want to relax on the beach. I did buy some jewelry and you can bargain with these people. Go back and forth between the shops even if they are affiliated with each other. There is a shopping specialist aboard the ship named Hila, she will help you with your purchase in making sure it's real and of the best quality for the money and she will do the haggling for you. Remember these few things...If you say something is pretty they are going to do their best to sell you that item wether you can afford it or not. Sometimes it's best to keep that thought to yourself. Stay with reputable shops. Don't go into those little side shop jewelers. They will try to sell you stuff that isn't real. If the price sounds too good to be true then it isn't true. If you don't care about that kind of stuff then by all means shop the little stores they are alot cheaper. Lastly, if they give you a rock bottom price and you still say no and they let you walk out the door, then thay have given you the absolute best price. No matter where you go all they will do is match that price. I guarantee that it is the best price you will get. But if it's still to high for you then let it go. Eat there if you want to. We didn't see anything exciting about eating there so we went back to the ship to eat. Nothing fantastic about Cozumel to me. The water is beautiful, just wish I could've put my feet in it. Once again if there are white sandy beaches out there I didn't see any and there was no information on where to go to see it. You will have to go out of your way to get information on this. By the way, get back to the boat early. We did and avoided a very long line and if you buy any alcohol or anything with a reference to a weapon (bought a leather whip for my step-son) expect to have it taken away. It's easy to get it back though.
Debarkation was simple. We chose self-assist. Which means you take your bags off with you. If you can do this I think it is the easiest way. Just wait in your cabin till they call your deck number to unload. The people who clean your room will try to get you to leave it so they can get in there and get done. Again, tip your steward good. 20$ to ours and we weren't hassled at all. Other people were waiting in our room.
So there it is and I hope it was helpful. I did enjoy it and we will go again. Next time we will go for longer so we will have time to rest and not feel like we are running to fill every minute. If you have any questions you can e-mail me and I will be happy to help.
Relax and enjoy your vacation!!!!