Elected to stay at Hyatt Pier 66 night before and it was wonderful. Beautiful resort just 5 minutes from port.
Used Park and Go lot just 5 minutes from terminal for 1/2 the price. They take you to terminal, assist with luggage loading/unloading, are there when you get back and even give you water upon departing lot. Great service. Easy and affordable.
Just as easy and fast as others have shared.
Cabins not available until 1 pm which is expected. Staterooms are average size however LOVE some of the modifications made on this ship - extra outlets; the re-design in bathrooms makes it feel larger; plenty of hangers. When you board if you need something special just let your cabin attendan know and they will make it happen. (i.e. ashtray for balcony, disposal for diabetic needles, etc) Not happy that they reduced size of safe. Still wish they could find space to store luggage out of the way. Was disappointed that the Style Network and Entertainment tv stations were the same programming that I saw just one year ago when I cruised. For the few times you're in the cabin it would just be nice to have updated programming.
We had late seating main dining and the food was great, service was great and first time in a long time that we actually saw our Head Waiter beyond the first night. We aren't into paying for the other upscale dining options. We are however in LOVE with the number of options for casual dining which we used frequently for lunches. Johnny Rockets, Hot Dog Place and Rita's Mexican Cantina and Central Park Cafe were all favorites. "Cover charge" is nominal in a couple of the places and not charged for food beyond that so quite valuable. Ice Cream Parlor on Boardwalk was also great. Ate at Windjammer once and it was pretty much the same as other ships and average food. It's a zoo unless you go while others are in port. The one thing that really spoiled are main dining dinner experience was the kids-more like wild beasts with no parenting. Screaming, rough-housing, dragging each other through the aisles - I could go on. It is very disrepsectful to others and let's remember that it is a restaurant with servers needing to maneuver. We heard alot of people complain of the same thing on this cruise which is not something we have encountered on other RCL sailings before.
By far our favorite was the Comedy Club performances. Blue Planet was good with one segment where the performance made to look like it was under water was outstanding. Chicago was good but a bit too long. If folks haven't seen the show or movie elsewhere you are likely to be lost. Headliner was good too. Ice Show was okay, the professional couple was outstanding. OceanAria was good - a cross between O & Cirque if you've been to a Vegas Cirque show before.
I was frustrated prior to my cruise to find someone who offered a review of the casino. It is a good size casino with a great variety of slot machines and table games. We're slot players. Now maybe they just didn't announce the jackpot winners on previous ships but I found the number of BIG winners highly suspicious. There was a big group onboard from MGM and it seemed like most of those big winners seem to come from that group. Odd. Be sure to use your SeaPass so you earn points and redeem the points for credits to a couple of the food outlets or cash back. Bar service needs help - one I encountered was very slow and when I said something her response was "well the casino is so big". Really?! Half the casino is smoking and half non-smoking. I am a smoker and find it offensive to have people bitch about smoking when they were on the smoking side. Get a grip - 90% of the ship is non-smoking. If you don't like it go some place else. Bingo was okay. They actually offer the electronic machines now and you don't need to do a thing so if you're afraid of the paper thing no need to worry now. The machine will tell you when you're one number away and will tell you when to yell Bingo! Pricing has certainly gone up - $55.00 per machine, but you do get 30 cards per game. Besides the snowball jackpots which are usually the draw they also gave away a cruise on one day.
We are shoppers and did our fair share on this ship. Pretty good variety and with the normal specials to keep things changing each day it was nice but would still recommend that all stores bring out something new each day to keep it interesting. With 3 days at sea you will sell the merchandise if you can keep it fresh.
Spent only a limited time in this area. First day went up while waiting for cabin to become available. Sat in smoking section - clearly marked - and again encounter idiots bitching about smoking who apparently couldn't read. Went up another day for a little tanning time but was blazing hot. Could barely walk on the deck bare-footed. Beautiful area and always good service.
Ports of Call
Nassau - Have been to the Bahamas numerous times. Ran over to Atlantis just to see it as I had not been there since it was Paradise Island Resort. They should have left it like it was. Not impressed with the casino and shopping areas that I saw. Left after about an hour and went back to the ship. Not in this port very long anyway. Will say that you need to plan your time carefully. It only took about 10 minutes to get there but almost an hour to get back. Cabs are "jitneys" and these guys don't move until the whole mini van is full unless you want to pay for the seats. Just find this port to try in every way to take advantage of tourists and not likely to get off the ship here if I do this one again.
St. Thomas - I have loved this port for years and it has been the primary port of call I want when I travel - UNTIL NOW. It is just getting run down, crime ridden (witnessed drug buys last 2 times I have been there in the downtown area) and the shopping which at one time was fantastic, fun and diversified has become a mecca of jewelry only with people hounding you at every turn. Just not a pleasant experience any more. The only place that I would go now when in this port is over to Havensight. Was disappointed that we didn't dock there but not a big deal as it's only a $5 per person charge to get there from Crown's Bay where the ship docks. Another place that where a cab/bus will not move until they fill most of the seats which is a big pain when you're ready to go back to the ship. At one time there were individual taxis but didn't see any this time so you're forced into one of the cattle movers.
St. Maarten - A new favorite port. This is the first time I had been to the Dutch side. (Last time I visited this island the ship docked on French side which I hated since people were just like in France and are rude to Americans). I found this port refreshing with shopping, beach and casinos in one place. No need to buy a tour if any of those things interest you. Buy a $6 water taxi pass that let's you come and go as often as you want. The shopping was pretty diversified beyond jewelry and even stopped at a couple of casinos just to say I did.
We were not slated to get off the ship until 9:15 but we were off a whole hour earlier. Only down side was that our luggage did not clear customs until almost 9 so we had to just sit in the cruise terminal. Would rather sit on the ship but I know they want folks off so they can get ready for the next group. While the lines to get through customs can look daunting, it's worth getting a porter to move your luggage and wisk you through. Porter took us to the pick up place for our shuttle and the shuttle takes us right to our parked car and helps us load the luggage and we were on our way.
Overall we loved this ship and found it very easy to get around - without the use of the technology boards. The itinerary was great - would not do the Western as we don't care for any of the ports.
-Check the weather before you travel so you are prepared. When you board you won't be able to go directly to your cabin and between hauling the carry on luggage you couldn't part with the warm temperatures, you will be sweating like a pig in jeans during the hot months.
-While most of the time the weather is beautiful I will tell you that the air conditioned portions of the ship can be quite cool so be prepared for that too. And remember that this is the tropics and in order for things to be green and beautiful the tropics needs its rain so be prepared for that too.
-Back to loading and unloading, wear comfortable shoes. Ladies this isn't the time to make a fashion statement with your heels. I love mine too but seriously you will be walking a ton that first day and hauling your carry on stuff and with hot weather your feet will swell.
-For smokers, only the outside balcony cabins permit smoking. There are a limited number of places on the ship for smoker so highly recommend getting that outside cabin. Cabin attendant can bring you an ashtray.
-For those considering the inside balcony cabins I would say to consider how much your privacy means to you. Those cabins are not far across from others. Also there may not be much air movement depending on where you are so may not be that comfortable and depending on how low you are people from the Boardwalk or Central Park are constantly looking up.
-For parents, if you haven't taken the time to teach your children manners and some etiquette before please do so before taking them on a cruise. Just because you love them doesn't mean the rest of the world has to. The ship is not their personal playground to scream and run at will. Elevator etiquette is an absolute MUST. Wait until others have the opportunity to get off before storming the door. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO PUSH EVERY BUTTON! The dining rooms are like restaurants and are not a playground or speedway for your kids to run, swing off of others chairs, play with food, scream, etc. Have some respect for your fellow passengers. And this is just a personal perspective but your kids should not be in the casino, running through it, etc.
-Melting Pot...one of the things I enjoy most about cruising is meeting people from around the world. But again be respectful of your fellow passengers. Just because you might act like a wild animal at home, show some respect for your environment. Some cultures scream at each other when they speak and this is very offensive to cultures that don't. If you find smoking offensive then don't go to those few areas and complain about it. If you have kids don't inflict them on everyone else. You get the point.
-Time Management - The cruise line does a fantastic job of communicating your time limits in every port. It's written, it's verbal, it's everywhere as you get off the ship. And yet people find it perfectly acceptable to disrespect the ship and other passengers to not take this seriously. I am amazed at how many people come strolling back late as though they don't have a care in the world. Your tardiness means that the ship doesn't clear in time and doesn't sail in time which may result in not making other ports on time and it holds up the ability of the ship to open services. Again a total disrepect for others. There was a time when the ships just left people behind and I would like to see them go back to that or heavily fine those who are late.