This was the first cruise for myself and fellow single girl friend. We decided to getaway for the weekend and flew from LA to Orlando on Wednesday 6/15 and stayed at the Comfort Suites near the airport. The next morning we took the Cruise Xpress Shuttle to the port for $20 each.
Embarkation was a breeze! We got to the port at about 11:30am. We went from the shuttle van onto the boat within 20 minutes! Once onboard we thought our rooms wouldn't be ready until 3:30 so went to the Lido deck to eat at the buffet. We started noticing more and more people without luggage and in full swimsuits and found out that our rooms were available at 1:30pm! By the time we got down to our room it was about 2:30pm.
There was a mix of multi-generational families, couples, some singles, and parents with small children. The pool was smaller than I would have liked and as such I never got in as it was almost always crowded, as was the hot tubs on Lido deck. On the last day of the cruise we did enjoy the Serenity deck and I sat in the hot tub out there for a while and fell asleep on one of the comfortable deck chairs.
The ship has tons of lounges to hang out in, and if I was part of a bigger group, or there with a significant other, then I probably would have sat around in one of them and ordered a drink, but as I am not the type of person to go to a bar and start convos with strangers, I didn't utilize the lounges.
The first night we enjoyed dinner in the dining room and the adult rated comedy show. The 11pm comic was funny and the 12am comic wasn't. Dinner was delicious, but we weren't fans of the fact that dinner took a WHOLE TWO HOURS! 8:15-10:15pm. It seemed like the servers were waiting for everyone to appear before starting so we didn't get appetizers until about 8:45pm. Thank goodness the bread was good. The servers also didn't ask if you wanted something (free) to drink that wasn't on the wine/cocktail menu on the table and automatically poured ice water. Thank goodness on the second night I noticed other people getting lemonade and asked for that. We also had cappuccino after dinner both nights but didn't find it to be too tasty. I also didn't like the coffee served on the ship as well. The dance the servers did the first night was entertaining. Throughout dinner you could feel the boat rocking and it was an uncomfortable feeling for us first timers, and one of the ladies said we could feel it so much because this boat was built in 1993 and didn't have stabilizers. (?)
The first night we went to the singles dance party, but unfortunately lots of couples showed up as well which made it completely useless as a way to get to meet singles of the opposite sex. We hung out for a while after scanning the room before leaving. The music they played was good though.
The second day we went to Atlantis and thoroughly enjoyed the park! It was a great experience for $120. We did NOT pay the overpriced cost of $136 from the cruise ship. A taxi to and from the port to the resort was only $4 each way. We shared a locker rental at the park for $7. We took sandwiches and fruit from the buffet on the ship to avoid buying food in the park. It was 1pm by the time we had put our stuff into lockers at the park, and it was 6pm when we got our things out of the lockers after doing the slides and river tubing. We didn't get into any of the actual pools to lounge or visit the beach as we wanted to get pictures around the resort and at The Dig before we left to go back to the ship to shower for dinner at 8:15pm. The park is open from 7am-7pm, but our ship got into port at noon and left at 6am the next morning, so as long as you can enjoy 6 hours at the park, I'd say pay the $120 and experience Atlantis at least once, you can always go back.
The second night at dinner we were exhausted from our day at Atlantis. We got served the appetizer and entree fairly quickly compared to the night before, but then they took forever to clear our plates, then to give us the dessert menu. We think they did this so that they could sing their song before dessert. As we were tired and wanted to leave, we could care less about the Italian song they sang that night "It's Amore!" And when they finished singing and brought our desserts, I was very upset that my sherbet had half melted. Because of this, we did the buffet the next night for dinner.
The pizza and the lemonade in the buffet were standouts. Most of the food was absolutely delicious! One of the cakes with cream were dangerously diet busting! I almost ate 2 whole slices! Chicken strips were delicious with the honey mustard, just wish they offered bbq or sweet & sour sauce as well.
The third night we saw the Show Time in the Fantasy Lounge which was a Vegas Style revue show of dancing and singing to 80's music. It was entertaining, but definitely not as good as some performances I've seen on 'So You Think You Can Dance'. Some dancers were better that others and the girl sang WAY BETTER than the male that sang throughout most of the show. She literally blew him out of the water. But the show was entertaining.
Most surprising part of the cruise? Our stateroom! We had an interior double bed room and due to the 2009 refit, the new beds and linens are SO COMFORTABLE. For my job I stay in a lot of Westins, Hyatts, Sheratons, and Hiltons, and am used to comfortable beds, and I went to sleep as SOON as my head hit the pillow. 5*****! The bathroom was very nice and more spacious than I expected. We had a flat screen tv with tons of ship and shore channels and there were 4 just out of theatre movies constantly playing. (Toy Story 3, Tangled, I Am Number 4, and Tron on the 6/16/11 cruise) There was plenty of closet, drawer, and under the bed storage space.
The water slides were just ok. The fast blue slide was better than the yellow long and twirling one as you could feel the bumps in the part of the slide where they connected together and sometimes the water pressure would dissipate and there would be barely any water pouring down the slide and some kids would stop sliding before they got to the very bottom where the pool of water was. I also didn't like the fact that the water didn't seem to be chlorinated and looked dirty. After doing slides at Atlantis the previous day, they just paled in comparison.
All in all this was a great first cruise and I can't wait to do many more on a bigger and newer ship! This is my new favorite way to vacation.