Day -2: Our drive to Cocoa Beach was relatively easy. There were a few, powerful thunderstorms in Georgia, but nothing to significantly slow us. Checked into the Best Western around 10:30 PM. Small room & rather hard mattress, but clean and cheap even though it requires some updating. I still recommend it if you want to stay a few nights on the beach for a cheap price.
Day -1: Woke up early and got the continental breakfast. No frills & it's the quality of food one would expect from a continental breakfast at Best Western. After eating we drove to the Air Force Missile Museum and then the Kennedy Space Center. The Air Force museum is small, but contains a wealth of photos and artifacts for hard core rocket and space fans. The KSC is a must-see. The entry fee is $43 per person, and you can purchase upgrades for more in-depth tours. My wife and I did the basic tour. Get to the buses early!! They leave every 15 minutes, but the line gets loooong very quickly. Without going into specifics, there is alot to see, and if you miss this you may regret it!
Met up with friends from Melbourne and had dinner at River Rocks. Great outdoor seating & the Florida fish tacos and tuna steaks were awesome! Finished up the night at the Pier at Cocoa Beach with a few cold beers and some good, live music.
Day 1: (Cape Canaveral, Florida) Got a 6 AM start for a 7 o'clock tee time at Cocoa Beach Country Club. Note to the golfers, if you're asked if you own property within the county, say "yes" and you'll be rewarded with a nice discount. The round was hot and humid, and the course has a lot of gators, but I finished with a respectable 84 & my wife shot well (but we won't mention her score card). After 18 we hit Ron Jon's for some gifts and souvenirs and drove the A1A north to the cruise port.
The baggage drop off and parking at the port was really easy. Once inside the terminal I began to thank Poseidon & all the other gods that I'm an Emerald Member. The line was really, really, really long. Did i mention that the line was long? My wife & I caught more than a few "stink eyes" as we were escorted directly to the front of the line. Check in was a breeze and we were on the ship some 10 minutes later.
As soon as we get off the gangway, I joke with some of the staff, and then we head to the Windjammer. We both bob & juke our way through the crowd of awe-struck "nubies" and make a bee line to the back. It frequently seems as though most people crowd the front of the buffet and don't realize how much more there is in the rear of the room. Oh, and the first thing I grab, you ask? Well, the honey stung chicken; because this would not be a proper Cruise Critic review without mentioning the honey stung chicken. My wife & I then sampled a smattering of dishes which ranged in taste and texture. I find one's opinion of food very subjective, but to be brief; I rarely find a food or dish that I dislike. Afterall, I'm on vacation & it's all you can eat on the cruise....
After our meal we hit the solarium for a relaxing swim and a little hot tub relaxation time. The best part about this was we were the only souls in the area. The pool temp was perfect for a humid Florida afternoon, and Rowan the bartender was more than friendly! After a nice cocktail we headed to our room to drop off our bags and check to see if our luggage arrived. Our 6th floor balcony on the hump was perfect, as always.
During the muster drill there are several things one always sees; the lost people, the drunks, and the cruisers that believed they were the ones exempt from participating. I figure when the crew announced in multiple languages that the drill is "mandatory for all guests....."
.....there was some miscommunication.
There were some nice thunderstorms blowing in before and during the muster drill. Luckily we remained dry, but the promenade was PACKED once the drill ended. We decided to go back to our cabin to clean up and change.
The only SNAFU we encountered was by our own doing. Royal Caribbean booked us for the early seating for dinner. We prefer the later seating so we don't have to rush around during the afternoon on port days. Normally adjusting out time is simple. However, there seemed to be an unusual amount of people doing the same. The line was over 13 people long when we arrived, and after watching the same 2 gentlemen change and re-change their table for over 15 minutes, we gave up. We decided to eat at our assigned table and work on a change later, but as we approached our table I saw that everyone was finishing their enters. So as to not be rude I suggested we find our head waiter, and ask he or she to help. As always the staff was SUPER helpful & solved our problem within minutes. We then went to the champagne bar for cocktails and snacks.
Here is another true story about the high quality of RCCL staff. On every cruise there is a particular cocktail I request; a Gray Goose Gibson. It's a martini with onion instead of olives. Unfortunately, the champagne bar was out of cocktail onions. Instead of giving me the "oh well" look, Bosco and "Dede" the bartenders went to Boleros, the casino bar, and finally the Schooner Bar just to bring cocktail onions for my drink!!! DEDICATION TO SERVE!!!
My wife & I then sat for a while chit chatting with the staff and raving about the excellent service to everyone that came in for a drink. A little while later we sat down for dinner with two charming older couples. My wife & I are in our early 30's, and the other couples were in their 70's & 80's, but we all found common ground for dinner conversation talking about our love for cruising.
The food at dinner was very good. The prime rib was as tasty as ever. Again, I don't spend much time critiquing food... I'm on vacation! After we ate, we excused our selves to walk about and watch the sail away parade. The parade is entertaining, but I could do without the "pushy" people who believe it's their right to stand in front, even if it means hip-checking my wife. Being 6 feet tall & 220 pounds and a former wrestling coach, I give a little nasty look to a few pushy trolls, and the situation ends quickly. We're very polite, and let the kids move in front of us for a better view, and everyone enjoys the show. After this, I'm exhausted and we retire to our cabin. Great first day!!!
Day 2: (At Sea) We woke up early with our coffee wake up call. If you don't know, instead of an ordinary wake up call, have room service bring coffee. After coffee, my wife jumps in the shower and I head up to the lido deck to check the crowd. To my surprise the place is DESERTED! Not a towel, book, or claimed chair in sight. I then walk downstairs, finish the coffee and fruit with the wife, and we head off to breakfast. As always she gets the 2 eggs over easy to order and I get the scrambled eggs, bacon, and a donut. You should never start a diet during a cruise!
After breakfast we hit the solarium. It was 9:30 and there was (maybe) 10 people there. I'm used to having nearly every chair covered by a bag, towel, or book by this time of day. Nothing! This is great!!! The rest of the morning to mid-afternoon we bake in the sun and enjoy the great weather. Emily, who?
Day 1 is formal night, so I wear my tux and my wife wears her black dress and we set out for some wine at Vintages. We both sample a flight of reds, and then settle on a bottle of pinot noir to pair with out fillets at dinner. After dinner we went up to the Viking Crown to see our bartender friend, Rowan. There was a decent band playing, and a few inebriated ladies dancing the stereotypical drunk dances; the "Bat-toosie" and the "Scuba Diver." They made for good entertainment. I then had a craving for a Guinness, so we headed to the Bear & Bull pub on the Promenade. There was the typical guitar sing-along entertainment; a performer we saw aboard the Allure in February. He was okay, but the majority of non-English speakers in the pub that night didn't know most of the lyrics to the songs being played. It was getting late by this point so we decided to call it a night.
Day 3 (Labadee, Haiti): The first time we were in Labadee was during our honeymoon in '03. This is our 4th time back, and every time we've returned there are new venues. Being that we did the zip line the last time we were here, we decided to try the roller coaster. Also, they raised the price of the zip line from $79 to $89. The roller coaster was a mere $19, and we found that if you arrive early & there is no line, the staff will allow you to ride as many times as you wish. This came in handy because our first run was significantly slowed by a young girl who had her brakes on during her entire run.
In August, Haiti is HOT!!! I spent most of my day in the water, with the exception of the buffet lunch. We got the usual cheese burger, corn in the cob, and some fruit. After lunch, we were back in the water. It really was hot!
Back on board in the afternoon we attend the "Welcome Back" party. Captain Olsen hinted at some design details of Project Sunshine during his speech. The new build may include a retractable roof (similar to the Radiance class) and may also carry the Celebrity brand.
For dinner we went to Chops. We ordered the oysters for our starters, fillets, and sides of mushrooms and potatoes. As expected the food was excellent as well as the service. My wife couldn't finish her steak so she had it wrapped to save it for some steak and eggs in the morning. After dinner we checked out the karaoke bar. We wrapped up the night talking with Francisco the bartender and a friendly couple from Ireland.
A little note to add in here. As of day three there had been 3 "Alpha" calls. While we were eating in chops, the Captain came on the PA asking for blood donors. Apparently, the individual was in serious condition, and we found out through one of the loyalty ambassadors that the individual did not make it.
Day 4 (Falmouth, Jamaica): We were delayed coming into port this morning due to having to stop at sea for last night's emergency. I am somewhat surprised RCCL uses this port while construction (with the exception of Allure & Oasis). I've been to Ocho Rios three times and it is far superior. Additionally, with the lack of attractions and local venues one has to choose from a long drive or pay to enter one of the near-by resorts. We walked around the shops for a bit, and bought some jerk catsup and hot sauces before returning to the ship. In the afternoon we scheduled a couple's massage. Our therapist, Benita was excellent, and I nearly fell asleep in the water suspension bed.
I had to take a nap after the spa, so we returned to our cabin for a little bit. That evening we went to Portofino's for dinner. We split 2 appetizers, the bruschetta sampler and the seafood risotto. For our entree's, I got the saltimbocca and my wife got the seafood skewer. Good meal overall, but I can't believe it took us 9 cruises to finally try it!
After dinner we saw the ice show, which was spectacular as always! Then we went to the "Love and Marriage" game show. We finished up the night walking the Promenade.
Day 5 (Georgetown, Grand Cayman) Beach day! We got out tickets for Tiki Beach at Seven Mile Beach. Great spot to sit in the surf and cool off. The humidity combined with the sun have been a brutal one-two punch. The relatively cool water has been a relief. Our beach tickets included lunch; hamburgers or hotdogs and a free drink. The only downside to the day was that we had to leave the beach at 1:30. Just a few minutes after we returned to the ship, it began to rain. This turned into a downpour by 3PM. However, in typical Caribbean style the rain ended thirty minutes later. While I walked around the ship, my wife went for a spa facial. We met up later & got dressed for formal night.
Before dinner we went to a Platinum and Emerald member's event in the Crypt. The Captain and Hotel Manager and other officers were there to do some intimate Q & A.
At dinner, the lobster tails seem to be getting smaller, but they are as tasty as ever! We wrapped up the evening by leaving some donations at the casino.
Day 6 (Cozumel, Mexico) It was a very humid morning in Cozumel. We got a $10 cab ride to the downtown shopping area. If you want to save a little bit of cash, find another couple and split the fare. Cozumel is a great port for shopping and entertainment. Although we only seem to shop each time we're here. We spent a good amount of time walking around, so we stopped of at Fat Tuesday for a frozen drink. We then picked up some souvenirs and some vanilla. If you want to find vanilla or other food really cheap (without the tourist mark-up) go to the supermarkets. You'll find alot of the same food, spices, coffee, and vanilla the vendors sell but at significantly lower prices. We then got a cab back to the ship and dropped off our bags. No trip to Cozumel would be complete without stopping at Carlos & Charlie's or Senior Frog's. Fortunately for all, there is a Senior Frog's located at the pier! We stayed a while and had some good laughs (at the expense of the inebriated).
We returned to the ship for some relaxation by the pool, and to cool off. Unfortunately, the weather has made the pool water temperature feel like bathwater. A quick rainstorm passed over, and was gone in less than 30 minutes. It was another, typical Caribbean rain shower.
We didn't feel like sitting for a long dinner in the MDR, so we hit the Windjammer. I had some steak, eggplant, and fish skewers. My wife had the roasted chicken and some mac & cheese. Very nice meal, and it didn't leave us feeling tired, much like the long sit in the MDR often does. After we ate, we went to The Quest. If you haven't gone, you are missing a funny show. There was a strange and uncomfortable moment when a VERY inebriated fellow ran out on the floor and had words (slurs) with the cruise director. I'm not sure if he wasn't having fun or upset that he may not win one of those RCCL souvenir key chains that are in such high demand (sarcasm, of course). He was quickly escorted out by the staff. After the quest we stopped off for a pint at the pub and then called it a night.
Day 7 (At Sea) We started the day off with our last buffet breakfast in the Windjammer and then hit the pool. Surprisingly there were few "chair hogs." Several chairs were open around the main pool area and in the solarium. Later, the belly flop competition thrilled the crowd. It was really hot out, so we spent alot of time in the pool or trying to catch the breeze near the Sky Bar.
We had a light lunch on the Promenade, and spent some time walking about the ship in the afternoon. During the evening we skipped dinner.... seriously! We had our fill of food during the week; we really were not hungry.
During the evening, we went to the Farewell Show, said "goodbye" to some of the crew we made friends with, and then turned in for the evening.