First cruise!! Will NOT be our last!! This forum, the lists of things to bring, and reviews of excursions was SOOOOOOO helpful!! I'll start from the beginning.
GALVESTON PORT: NO ONE had mentioned how to get into the parking lot at the pier, and the front gate had "no entry" on it. We incorrectly thought maybe it was closed on Sunday or something :/ So we went to our covered parking spot, and had to LUG our luggage two blocks in the misting rain to the pier. We had 6 in our party, two of whom were men, so there were a few trips back and forth to get all the luggage to the pier! NOT a nice way to start the trip! WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE MENTIONED THE PARKING LOT ENTRANCE IS ON DOWN THE STREET FROM THE "FRONT" GATE AND ALLOWS YOU TO **DROP OFF** YOUR PASSENGERS AND LUGGAGE AT THE CURB. Once we got inside, though, with a porter to load and take our luggage, it was a quick process. Did NOT make any difference that we only had birth certificates and no passports. Everyone was in one line and everyone had to wait!
ON THE SHIP: was easy to find our room and we had our luggage in plenty time to change for the first night's dinner if we wanted to. The ship personnel had already told us dinner that night was casual, so some folks changed and some didn't.
NIGHTLY SCHEDULE: we LIVED by the next day's schedule we would get in our room every evening. Really helped us to know what activities were happening each day and helped us plan better since we were with a group.
SEA SICKNESS: We had unusually rough waters leaving port on Sunday and ALL day Monday. One crew member said even crew members who had sailed for 5 years or more were getting sick. GOOD REMINDER TO BRING DRAMAMINE OR CALL YOUR DR FOR A SEASICK PILL PRESCRITPTION BEFORE YOU LEAVE. Three of the six of my group were sick! It can totally ruin a trip if you're not prepared with medication.
PORTS OF CALL:
Jamaica: We hadn't planned an excursion in Jamaica. I got information on the ship at the guest services desk about near-by locations(beaches, restaurants, shopping). We ended up taking a bus ($15 per person for on and off the whole day), went to Doctor's Beach, then ate lunch at Margaritaville (fairly pricey), and had a GREAT time. WARNING: my husband was offered marijuana probably 4 times in the span of two blocks. It's VERY rampant there. Just say no thank you, and they'll move on.
Grand Cayman: You have to be ferried to the shore, which was very organized and no problem at all. We had purchased online the stingray/turtle farm excursion. It was amazing!!! I highly recommend it. They got us back in plenty of time to shop around the pier before heading back to the ship.
Cozumel: It was rainy ALL day we were there, so we didn't leave the pier shopping area. We had planned to go to Chankanaab Park, which is a national park and beach (and gets great reviews), but with it being rainy and cloudy all day, we just weren't up for it. I almost wish we would have purchased an excursion because that would have been a reason to get out on the island. It was still beautiful.
THINGS I WILL DEFINITELY DO AGAIN NEXT TIME:
1) I read on this forum to bring an over-the-door shoe holder to put toiletries and other items in because the bathroom counter is small. The counter was bigger than I expected, but the shoe holder was the BEST thing I took for the whole trip!!!!
2) Bring extra hangers. There definitely were not enough provided.
3) Bring two bathing suits because one won't dry in time to wear it again without that icky still-damp feeling.
4) Karaoke. Very fun!!
5) Pick a room close to the buffet restaurant and the adult-only pool. We got lucky this time (didn't get to pick our room) and were assigned a room just below the buffet restaurant (for breakfast every morning) and the adult-only pool, which was WAY better than the other pool, which was labeled the "family" pool, but had smoking and drinking all over the place around it.
6) Will take LOTS of photos again!! Nothing beats having all the memories in pics.
7) Unpack and put suitcases under the bed to allow more walking space in the room.
THINGS I WILL DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME:
1) We will book through the cruise line next time instead of an online travel site. They charged 16% commission. Cruise Line charges 0, of course.
2) I will not pack as many casual daytime clothes: especially the days we were in port, I had my bathing suit on all day, then got back to the ship and got ready for dinner, so shorts and tshirts for every day weren't really needed. If you're not a water/beach person, that won't be true for you apply to you.