We were another of those couples who read online reviews of the cruise to Freeport and must admit we were skeptical if we would have a good time... Fear not. It was a great time!! The staff were very friendly and respectful to all travelers.
We arrived from Clearwater to West Palm in about 4hrs through the Florida countryside. Very rural. Anyway, after arriving at the port our first contact was the valet parking. It was advertised that you can use your debit/cc card. Dont count on it. They said that their machine was broken, cash only. Always make sure to bring cash for the $15 day parking all up front. Our cruise was just the 2 night one. Once you turn around, then they have baggage check in. Tips please.. I told him we have carry ons so we are okay. He said that the cabins arent available until 2pm so you have to lug your bags around for 2hrs. hhmm we decided to just keep our carry ons anyway. After going through airport like security (but not as stringent). We were welcomed aboard. Again, now on the ship would you like to check your bags? i asked how much and they said nothing, we will take them to your cabin.. and away went the bags, perfect. There is a gratuity charged to your card of 12pp/pd and it was well worth it. They not only make your rooms everyday, but turn down your bed every night. My wife is a diabetic and needed to keep her insulin cold. We had a cat 4 cabin and they do not have refrigerators, but it did have a HUGE picture window, not a portal. The cabin steward kept ice in the room for the insulin. They were very attentive.
I recommend the cat 4 cabin with a queen bed, very firm, very nice. The food in the Rio was amongst the best we have had in any restaurant and its included. They state that you could eat 12 times per day and they were not kidding and its all included! Make friends with the Matre D and you will always get a good window seat in the restaurant.LOL There is a nice casino on board, but i would wait until you get to the Lucaya Marketplace. Right across the street is large casino with lots of slots and they seem to pay out much nicer than on ship. We selected the excursion to Lucaya Beach which is very nice, soft white sand beach. You will receive an offer to have your hair braided more than once though...) We chose not to opt for the lunch there as it was an additional $30 and there are so many places to eat within a 5 minute walk that we saved a lot on that one.
I would be remiss if i did not mention the rough seas. The 2nd night was smooth sailing. But the 1st, as soon as we left port we could visibly see and feel the rocking motion. Later we were told that it was unusually rough that day. But it was quite funny to see crew and passengers alike walking as though you have had a little too much to drink. If anyone has questions, i would be glad to answer. Overall this was a great cruise and we are already planning our next one!