We flew to Fort Lauderdale the afternoon before our cruise. Flights in and out of Detroit with Delta were on time. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott as they had an included airport and cruiseport shuttle in their stay and sail package. Our only hiccup occured when we couldn't get on the first shuttle of the day at 10am. We arrived at the hotel at 3pm the day before. That's usually lots of time to pick a transfer time. However, one group of 86 people had prebooked all of the transfer times from 10am to 12pm. Some of these people had not yet arrived at the hotel. The hotel staff wouldn't add us to the 10am to 12pm time slots. We compromised. They were willing to transfer us at 9:30am instead. We were very early to the pier and had to stand there.
Once embarkation began, we were quickly processed and aboard the ship. We are regular Royal Caribbean users so we acclimatized in no time at all. Our bags were delivered before dinner time, we enjoyed the Windjammer and the pools, the kids used the Flowrider, and we met our wonderful stateroom attendant, Melvin.
My son was injured on the FlowRider the first afternoon. For those who have used it, you know that water pressure pushes you to the top again after you have wiped out. When my son got to the top, his foot went under the padding at the back and cut up his foot quite substantially. There was quite a bit a blood. We went to the medical facility when first aid was quickly provided. It seemed obvious that my son's injury was "another FlowRider injury". It wasn't a serious one and it healed very quickly. But cuts shouldn't happen on a ride like this. You take your chances with awkward falls, sprains, etc. But cuts? I don't think so.
Our first sea day was warm and windy. We had a great day and enjoyed dinner and the "Up in the Air" show that night. It's a great show. The two acrobatic teams are very good.
We had a great day in Labadee. Again, we had perfect weather. In the past, I've gone to the beach to the left and watched the zipliners. This time, I took my two sons aged 11 and 15 to Columbus Cove Beach. It's beautiful there. The boys enjoyed their time in the water park. Long and slow lineups at lunchtime though.
Day Three was a stop in Falmouth. We booked a private excursion with Marva Shaw and KnowJamaica. It was great. We had Grace as a driver and guide. We went to Dunn's River Falls and then back to the ship. Grace was a great tour guide. She was very informative and the kids really enjoyed her music and local expertise. To be honest though, I'm not sold on Falmouth as a port. I don't like having to drive for two hours of my day. That's part of the perks of being on a vacation! No driving. It's a good hour to either Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. Each way. Two years, we were on Navigator and we docked at Ocho Rios. We were at the falls in minutes and were able to really enjoy the town. Falmouth is an artifical creation. A thought that occured to me as we were on the road was "What if there is a huge accident on this road that closes the highway?" Honestly, there is no other quick route back to the ships.
Our final day at sea was beautiful again. We had the best weather throughout the voyage.
As far as some of the other details, here it goes:
1. Cruise director James and his trusty sidekick Ken from BC are entertaining and enthusiastic. We saw the usual Love and Marriage, Quest, Bellyflop, Sexiest Man, Music trivia, etc. All very good. You can't ever be bored on a cruise. You can do as much or as little as you wish.
2. Food - The food in the Windjammer is never hot (or even warm enough). Blah. Dining room food needs an update. The menu hasn't changed in forever. As always, the staff is outstanding. They can't do enough to please you. Our servers, Oliver and Michael, were fantastic.
3. Disembarkation - We did the self carry on the last day. It was well organized (much better than Jewel in January). We made it to the aiport in plenty of time.
All in all, we had a great vacation.