I feel I am a somewhat experienced cruiser with 6 cruises under my belt. We are a family of four husband, me,(mid 40's) and 2 teenage daughters (19yrs and 15 yrs old). We had never been on a ship this large before and now I am unsure if we will ever be able to go back to a smaller ship. We are from North Mississippi and decided to fly into FLL the day before the ship left port. For my last 5 cruises we have always flown in the day the ship departs, but with airline delays these days -- we felt safer flying the day before. I am sooo glad we did as embarkation day was a breeze and we were very relaxed and not worn out from traveling. It was like having an extra day on the ship since we boarded around 11 am. Check in was a breeze just like all the boards say!!! We had no lines at all and went straight to the check in desk. We stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street the night before. Very convenient and room was suitable. Hotel was a little dated, but had no complaints. Complimentary happy hour and full breakfast the next morning. We had planned on taking a taxi to get to the port as we took a taxi from the airport to the hotel; however, we would have needed an SUV taxi for the four of us and our luggage to fit and when you call for a taxi they will not guarantee the size of the taxi. It would have been about $15 to port for one taxi, but if we had to take 2 taxis that would have been double. As we walked out the front door of the hotel a member of the hotel staff had a private shuttle from the hotel ready to go to the port. For a charge of $7 each we were able to load into the nice air conditioned suburban with one other couple and off we went. (From time we went down the elevator to being at the port was less than 15 minutes.) Ship porters took our bags and we were in the cruise terminal in less than 5 minutes around 10:50am. No problems going through security, but we did not try and bring any alcohol on board. My daughter had a large shampoo bottle for us all to share and they checked that and let us go on through. (Really did not need the shampoo as RCL supplies shampoo, conditioner, and lotion,)
We sat in the terminal for about 10 minutes after checking in and having boarding picture made. Once on board we headed the excursion desk to book our Jamaica excursion (Canopy Zipline Tour at Rosehall). I had waited too long to book online prior to leaving home and I would have been in trouble had it been sold out! No line at excursion desk when we boarded so it worked out great!!
Headed to Park Cafe for wonderful Roast Beef sandwiches and custom made salads!! I have to say that was my husband and I's favorite spot for lunches. Absolutely wonderful!! We need a restaurant like that in our small town and we would eat there several times a week!! lol
Rooms were ready at 1pm and ours was on deck 14. The four of us stayed in one cabin. This was a tight squeeze when getting ready for dinner, but otherwise OK. We were the last balcony cabin on port side (aft). It had the bed close to closet and full/queen sleeper sofa for the girls. Also, there was an awesome large public balcony next door that was rarely ever used by anyone but us. Most people did not even know about it. So usually while we were getting ready for dinner one or two of us would go relax on the lounge chairs on that balcony while the other family members showered and dressed for dinner. I might look into how expensive it would be to have 2 cabins on the next cruise with the girls staying across the hall, but if too expensive would stay in this type of cabin again.
We LOVED all the many activities on this ship. There was always something to do!! We booked all of our show reservations before we left home and this was a big help. We did not even make it to all of our reservations as they girls wanted to see some of the standard RCL shows like Love & Marriage and Quest. We had the late seating dinner and therefore our reserved show times sometimes clashed with the scheduling of the shows mentioned above. We did see Hairspray and Oasis of Dreams and Frozen in Time. They were all very good especially Hairspray. I might would opt for the early dinner next time though so there would not be late night conflicts.
Ports of Call: Labadee .... very disappointing. We like the other RCL private island better of Coco Cay in the Bahamas. Labadee you must have on shoes to get in the water, the sand was dirty to me as we are used to Destin, FL. It was very hot the day we were there (no breeze). The lunch was good though. Next time would probably just stay on the ship and enjoy the empty pools. JAMAICA: port is still being worked on, but markets were very clean and nice and we enjoyed shopping in the local markets within the port; you did not have to leave the new Falmouth area to shop and we felt very very safe. We did book an excursion to do a zipline Canopy tour with Chukka Ziplines at Rosehall. I cannot tell you how much we enjoyed this excursion. The BEST excursion we have ever done. It was probably just over 3 hours in the tree tops. Very professional and FUN guides!! We all felt very safe. Transportation was provided in the price of the tickets .... it was approx $100 per person and very worth it!! Cozumel: had been there before and stayed on the ship that day; practically had the ship to ourselves until 3pm that afternoon. It was wonderful!!
Food was good in the dining room, however my husband and I noticed dinner portions were smaller than in the past. Our waiter and assistant waiter were EXCELLENT!!! If they ever thought we did not get enough or might still be hungry they would bring us another appetizer or entree. Lobster and steak night was no exception. We never ate at the specialty restaurants as we were pleased with dining room service. My husband and I had purchased to gold wine package before boarding and therefore had a bottle of wine with dinner every night, this was a nice touch.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! Our cruise director was Richard Spacey and he was WONDERFUL!!! So glad we were able to cruise with him as he was getting off the Oasis when we did for vacation.
Disembarking: the only time we really ever stood in line, but not too bad. We had one of the later times assigned to us to get off the ship 8:30 - 8:45. We were still at the airport by 10:00 for an airline departure of 12:50pm.