Our family just returned from a 4-night Bahamas itinerary aboard the Majesty of the Seas, and a great time was had by all....
My wife and I, third-time cruisers, brought along our three teenagers for their first cruise experience, and nobody went home disappointed. We drove down from Atlanta, GA in order to visit our family after the 12/19-12/23 cruise was over, staying at a Marriott property the night before departure to get an early start. Embarkation was a breeze, with us getting onboard and to lunch by 11:30; there wasn't a single Diamond, Platinum, or Emerald RCCL member in sight, perhaps reflecting the "first-timer" reputation of this sailing.
The ship was suitably decorated for the holiday sailing, although the daily 80 degree temperatures ensured that no White X-Mas would be in the cards this trip. While nicked up somewhat (and scheduled for a new retrofit next year), the Majesty continues to hold up well for her age, reflecting the classic lines that revolutionized the cruise world almost 20 years ago; large yet seemingly intimate spaces abound, ocean views are everywhere, and it remains easy to navigate the ship's layout no matter what your destination.
Our adjacent cabins, inside on Deck 2, were small (of course), but adequate for our needs, with sufficient storage and even a sofa in one of our staterooms. Cabin Steward Melenne from Jamaica was top-drawer, and took care of our needs extremely cabably throughout the mid-week cruise.
Much of Day 1 was spent getting the kids (15, 14, and 12 years old) acclimated to the ship's offerings, with particular time spent around the Sports Deck and other teen hangouts, exploring every food option, and of course participating in the muster drill; thankfully, wearing life jackets is no longer a requirement. I did have to clean up some logistical issues with Guest Relations, as we and the kids were given separate table seating assignments (I'm glad my daughter noticed!), and we had to clear up their SeaPass charging capabilities, but all was handled in short order. We had a very nice dinner in the main dining room and took in the opening night show, and then finished up with some more wandering about the ship. I might note that lighting on the Sports Court is inadequate after sunset, but the ShipShape facilities are excellent in all respects.
Day 2 was spent in Key West. Debarkation was a breeze (noted only because sailings that go to port in Nassau before reaching Key West have to clear Customs and Immigration before anybody can be let off the ship), and we rented a 6-passenger electric car from a private party to facilitate our sightseeing efforts. The resulting "self-guided tour" proved well worth the investment, as we were able to cruise Duval Street, visit the "Southernmost Point", take in a Fort, walk the beach, pick up some new Kinos, and still have time to visit the recommended (and very worthwhile) Five Brothers Grocery and Sandwich Shop for some delicious Cuban Sandwiches and a couple cigars. We finished with a visit to the Key West Toy Factory off Mallory Square (a must for kids of all ages) and some Key Lime Pie on a stick dipped in chocolate (sounds better than it is....) before getting back on board.
The Belly Flop and Sexiest Man contest start times had to be switched because of a pool issue, but both were of course fun and entertaining, with Cruise Director Leigh and assistant Erky (from Turkey) doing yeoman's work in keeping the laughs coming. Being formal night, dinner and posing for some pictures was in order, and we and the kids wandered off to different spots on the ship for the duration of the evening.
Day 3 was in Nassau, and my wife's brilliance shown through once again in making the day a memorable one. Perhaps because I've visited many nice resorts, I can't justify spending hundreds of dollars to walk around Atlantis for a few hours and ride a slide or two. Instead, with my wife's encouragement we rented three scooters and headed out for parts unknown for the few hours of daylight we had left. (Be reminded that the scooter rental counter has two rate sheets, so wait for the second one to come out before making your decision; both sheeets are laminated, though! LOL!) I think our kids learned more about the differences between America and most of the world in those few hours than we could have ever explained in any other setting; the daily challenges faced by others brings our own blessings into much clearer focus, that's for sure. And a freshly machete'd coconut shared with loved ones on the side of the road is refreshing, no matter what your circumstances.... Still we enjoyed immensely our final hour's ride west along the coast and beaches, "fists in the wind", and finished up with doing some serious "lane-splitting" as we fought the traffic to get back to the port on time.
I should mention that our servers in the MDR, Luis from Honduras and Ivica from Bosnia, were excellent in all respects, and most helpful in shaping our menu selections each night. Even when we had to have more than one entree/appetizer/dessert, as often occurred, their foresight was always right on the mark as to what were truly the best offerings for the evening. Food was consistently very good in the MDR and also at breakfast in the Windjammer; lunches were generally good, although the Coco Cay lunch did disappoint (it was cold). Room Service was sampled with regularity as well.... Did I mention we had teenagers with us? After formal night on Day 2, there was some slackening of decorum in the MDR, I should note; but I won't let your choice to wear jeans while ordering another hot dog and french fries keep me from enjoying my meal.
Day 4 was the tendered trek to Coco Cay, RCI's private Island in the Bahamas. Not much to say about the day, as we are experienced beach people, but I will note that a pleasant day was had by all (excluding lunchtime) and there is much to do (or very little to do, as you are so inclined)....
Debarkation on Friday morning seemed to come too soon, but went off without a hitch via the "Self-Assisted Departure" we availed ourselves of; we were off the causeway by 8:30, and headed over to the (Best) West coast for lunch with family in no time at all.... Of course the kids slept the whole way, having jammed in every ounce of fun for four days straight....
Without a doubt we had a Christmas to remember!