As first time cruisers - I had perused 'Cruise Critic' a LOT to find out everything I possibly could to prepare for our cruise...but the weather is one thing you cannot prepare for!! :) Because of Hurricane Irene our itinerary changed which is the chance we knew we were taking booking during hurricane season. Here's a bit of our week:
Embarkment onto the ship in Miami was very smooth, very easy, and not that much waiting at all. I think you can logically expect to wait a bit as they are trying to get 3000+ people on a ship in a timely manner, so I was pleasantly surprised how easy and relatively quick it was. First impression of the ship walking in is just so great! It's very nicely decorated, warm, and the staff were all friendly and nice!
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
This has got to be the most gorgeous place on earth!! The water is so brilliant blue and the sand is so warm (not hot at all on your feet!) and white and it's a deliciously beautiful day!! The lunch they put on was great, good food, and lots of room to sit at a picnic table and eat in the shade...there was not a lot of line ups, pretty much in and out of the buffet, and if you look and be patient, you can always find a quiet place to eat and chill. We did a stingray excursion which my husband loved...I stayed safely on the deck, but he was tickled with it. We took our own snorkel gear as well and snorkeled around the water and saw lots of pretty fish.
(( This is when Hurrican Irene started to butt into our itinerary - we were supposed to have a sea day then down to San Juan, Puerto Rico - St. Thomas, USVI - and Grand Turk - we ended up going to GRAND TURK today on Day 3 and wait out what was to happen for the rest of the week ))
This is a small island, but the beaches and water are very pretty - not as nice as Half Moon Cay, but still nice. It was a windy that day so our snorkel excursion was cancelled - but on the good side, there's lots of shopping and hubby bought me a really pretty ring!!
(( At this point when we were leaving Grand Turks were were told we were not going further south to Puerto Rico and St Thomas but East to Cozumel, Mexico - really was looking forward to the above, but hey, never been to Cozumel either, gotta give it a chance!! ))
DAY FOUR & DAY FIVE:
You can easily keep busy on the ship - I was a little apprehensive re: 2 sea days in a row, but we easily kept busy - the pool on Deck 9 on the back of the ship is an 'adult only' pool and hot tubs - great great great!!! We love our kids to bits, but this is why we're on this cruise, to chill, so it was nice to have an 'adults only' area!! We also did the waterslide a few times, good fun!
Great stop! Great shopping, bought some more jewelery and souviners for family - the merchants are charming, try hard to get you to buy, but not uncomfortable pushy. Took a taxi to local Mayan Ruins in San Gervasio - you can barter for the price of a taxi. The ruins were really cool - amazing the structures last so long! Saw lots of beautiful foliage and iguanas and salamanders. We took the 'Two Reef Snorkel' excursion in the afternoon - was really awesome!! So many beatiful fish, hubby dives down, he saw barracuda and sea horse - definately worth it!!! We had a (few!) drinks after at Fat Tuesdays - was all in all a fantastic day - was happy with Cozumel!!
Sea Day - see above sea days!! :)
Food - FANTASTIC - in the dining room the menu was different every day, it changed up all the time - was fabulous. We had 'any time dining', loved it, most nites we walked in and got a seat by the window, we had to wait 2x with a pager, and we took a glass of wine to the piano bar and listened there for a while, very nice, on holidays it doesn't matter if you gotta wait for a bit, it's not like you're standing there packed in line like sardines, walk out to the bar and relax!! Emiles is great, it's worth the wait at the Mongolian Grill for lunch - you're on holidays, who cares if you gotta wait a bit for it, it's not something you want to eat everyday anyway, so wait for it at least once!!! Breakfast was awesome, good good good, the Burrito Bar, Deli Bar was also delish!
Cabin & Guest Services:
10+ - we had a balcony, would never go without, was so nice to see sunrise and sunset and sit on the balcony and watch the world go by - saw dolphins jumping around the boat coming out of Grand Turk!!! The room (and the rest of the ship for that matter) was spotless!! TONS of storage and closets and a fair size bathroom - above expectations!! They did a fab job keeping our room clean and the room stewart was so great!!! Wonderful Staff!! Was a quiet room - Deck 8, Veranda in between the 2 elevator exits.
Was very easy and smooth as well!!! No complaints, no lines, no confusion, all was well!
Ok, I've bored you enough, I think that's it.... :)