Flew into Fort Lauderdale the night before without any problems (If you like JetBlue, you have to use FLL). Rented a car and stayed overnight at the Hyatt Place in Dania Beach (which we got on Priceline). Very nice hotel. The following day, we drove to Miami (took about 20 minutes) and dropped off the car at the downtown Hertz location (Cost approximately $55 for the overnight rental). Returning the car was quick and easy, and we hopped into a waiting shuttle that drove us to the pier.
Embarkation was reasonably painless. We dropped our bags outside, and made our way to the check-in desk. Once we had our sea passes, we went upstairs to board the boat. This was the longest wait (while they took everyone's pictures for the sea pass). I lost track of the time, but the entire embarkation process from the pier to the ship was maybe 45 minutes.
Once on board, we headed to our cabin (9532 - oceanview). This turned out to be a great choice of cabin. Most of the oceanviews on deck 9 overlook the lifeboats, but our cabin was in between boats. The cabin was not as small as I was expecting from reading reviews, but it was also not the smallest cabin on board, so I'm not sure how tiny the other cabins felt. The bathroom was small, like every other cruise ship I've been on, but was adequate. Storage was fine for a 3 day cruise. Bed was comfortable. Our cabin steward did a good job, but nothing extraordinary.
Our first meal was at the Windjammer buffet. It was nuts! People pushing and shoving like they had never seen food before. We finally got our plates filled and found a reasonably quiet table. The food was good. While I do not like the atmosphere in the buffet, Royal Caribbean has the best buffet food I've seen on the cruise lines we have sailed.
We enjoyed our meals in the dining room. Our group of four people was initially split between two tables, but we spoke to the maitre'd the first afternoon, and had no problem being moved to a table together. We had a wonderful waiter (Miguel) who took care of all our needs and was entertaining to boot. The food was always good, and they were always happy to bring something else if you requested it. The only complaint was on formal night, when several members of our party were hoping for lobster tail, only to find that the lobster was limited to bisque and ravioli (seemed like they were taking the cheap way out).
This was our favorite day of the cruise. It started off badly - the line for the tender was a mob scene. The line snaked around up the stairwells for several decks. The crew attempted to control the process by having everyone using one side of the staircases (there are two sets going down halfway, then there is a landing and they merge in the middle.) Unfortunately, many passengers were going down the unused set of stairs and just nonchalantly merging in on the landing. None of the crew were paying attention, and other passengers were getting irritated. Not well managed. One instruction that we missed was that you are supposed to pick up towels before you get in line - we had to get out of line to check them out, and almost missed our chance to board the tender.
But once on the island, we had a great time. A helpful crewperson we spoke to the night before had told us that they typically do not bother renting out the cabanas on short itineraries, so they are available on a first-come basis. We found a lovely cabana facing the ship that gave us a very pleasant afternoon. It was quiet, away from the crowds and had a beautiful view. The cabanas also have nice lounges with cushions. No one seemed to realize they were up for grabs, so many were empty throughout the day.
While on Coco Cay, we snorkeled. We did not see anything other than some pretty fish, but the water was nice. We enjoyed the barbecue - nothing spectacular, but there was a good selection of food, including veggie burgers. All in all, a very relaxing day!
We did not leave the ship in Nassau. We took advantage of the ship being deserted and enjoyed some time at the pool and whirlpool. Plenty of lounges and space to swim. We noticed some kids that were acting up, splashing people and making a lot of noise. We were impressed that the pool attendants came right over and talked to them, then kept an eye on them to ensure they were not disturbing anyone. Had lunch in the dining room, where there was a huge salad bar. So many good things to eat! Finished the afternoon with a massage and facial - the spa was very nice. Cost a bit more than I would pay at home, but it was a relaxing break in the afternoon.
Debarkation was pretty painful, and was one of our major gripes with this cruise. We were in the buffet eating breakfast when they announced that U.S. Immigration had chosen our ship for additional screening, and that debarkation would be delayed. When we got to the theater where we were to wait for our group to be called, it was quite disorganized. We waited close to an hour, during which time there were few announcements, then finally hunted down a crew member and found out that our group had already been called before the delays started, and we could leave anytime. We never heard any announcements, and they never gave any reminders to let anyone in the theater know where they were in calling groups.
As we were now running late for our flight, we flew off the ship only to find a mess in the cruise terminal. In other ports, there are color coded areas in a big warehouse; you just look for your color and your bags are there. In Miami, there are three baggage carousels, with no clear signage to let you know which one your bags might be on. We finally figured out that the random numbers on one sign corresponded with our departure group.
We finally got in the Immigration line, which was insanely long. Since they were heavily screening the non-U.S. citizens, they were left with only a few agents to handle the U.S. line, which moved at a snails' pace. We ended up making our flight, but only by a hair. This is not completely Royal Caribbean's fault, but the lack of communication (both on departure groups and where to pick up luggage) could have been avoided.
All in all, it was a relaxing weekend, even with the hiccups. The ship is very well maintained, and does not show her age as you might expect. While it is a small ship, we found that we had plenty to do!