Boarding in Miami was highly efficient. The kiosks really speed up the process. Our stateroom was ready for us. It was a good start for our Holiday cruise. Overall the stateroom service was always prompt and well done.
We get the idea that this would be a crowded cruise from the first lunch buffet in the Sun and Sea restaurant. It is much easier to get a nice table with good view on the Deck 10 area upstairs from the buffet line. The disadvantage is that you would have to carry everything except lemonade and ice tea upstairs. The Asian food station is the best feature of the buffet, but you would have to be patient with the line. This is something that happens a lot in this cruise. We try to take it in stride and not let it dictate how we enjoy our holiday.
All the staff we met on board were courteous and helpful. We appreciate their hard work. The dining room waiters try to entertain us most nights, in addition to getting our multiple courses correctly and quickly. We have most of our meals in the dining room to avoid the crowds at the buffet. It is a very well run dining room even if sometimes the food is just ok. The best choices we tried include crab cake, lobster tail, fish. The beef is hit or miss with regard to being medium rare as ordered. We were disappointed that sushi from 5:30-8:00 was available only on the first and last night of the cruise, not every night as it was during our Alaska cruise on Carnival.
The Lido deck gets really crowded with deck chairs hard to come by. We are so glad to have our own private space in our balcony. It is very peaceful and relaxing to sit there. The room itself is quite spacious with a sofa. There are lines again at the Gym because the number of equipment is inadequate for the crowd size. However, there was no wait when we went between 5-6:30 pm before dinner time.
We just got our senior discount kicked in, and we did not travel with any young ones. There were kids everywhere on this trip due to the time period. We had late seating dining. Overall, the large number of kids did not bother us. I wish there were more mature activities besides the usual contests, bingo, dance party, karaoke. I miss the ship talks (not the advertising kind), galley tour (with no charge), nature or history presentations that were available on our previous cruises. I don't know if this is due to the crowd.
We enjoyed the beach at Grand Turk. It was a beautiful day. We were not so lucky at Half Moon Cay. The tendering to go from the ship to the beach on smaller boats took a really long time because of the crowd size and the weather. We rented a half shell and did our reading in the rain. The BBQ lunch there was quite adequate, with multiple stations to cut down on the waiting time. The beach had very soft sand, with a lot less current than the Grand Turk Beach. It is a perfect beach for the kids.
At Nassau, we woke up with the sunrise view over the luxury homes on Paradise Island. We took the water taxi to Paradise Island right off the terminal. The crew kept us on board breathing fumes even though the boat was already almost entirely filled. It got a little ugly. We took a nice walk to the Cloisters and the Garden at One and Only Ocean Club. The beautiful scenery was so peaceful and quiet, with no vendors to try to sell you anything. We then went to check out the awesome waves at Cabbage Beach and went into Atlantis to walk around. We checked out the luxury yachts from all over the world at the Marina. The Marina Village is a nice place to sit outside also. We then take a shared taxi back to Nassau. The early afternoon traffic was bad, but the driver was very pleasant to us. We browsed at the Straw Market and the Bay Street shops. We did more shopping on board than on shore. It was still a rather good day at the port. Now we know more about everything here if we come back in future for a Bahamas vacation.
The two Vegas Style shows were great, very well designed, with lots of costume changes. The two singers were better than the other vocal performers on the ship. On one night comedy was the only available evening performance. It was in a lounge so it can be hard to get in due to the crowd size. They should have the show in the big hall. On another night, the performers were recruited from the passengers to provide the entertainment. The ones chosen were quite talented. The guitar and piano players that perform in the bars and lounges were ok, not a big draw for us.
Getting off the passengers off the ship in Miami was also ran efficiently. Breakfast was also available in the dining room to help ease the crowd at the buffet. Overall, I think the staff on board did the best they can for us to have an enjoyable vacation. I have a suspicion that we are starting to get a little less for our money, but these cruises are still a great deal.