Had not cruised for 10 years and our last cruise was ok so we were a little apprehensive. We flew into MIA and stayed at the Hotel Breakwater in SOBE. Its at 10th and Ocean so it is right in the middle of everything, including a lot of people in a party mood. The hotel was great; newly renovated and nice rooms. I've read many reviews of the noise so we booked a high floor room in the southwest corner and it was great. Ate dinner at Casa Tua at 17th and James St. Highly recommend this restaurant. Eat at the kitchen table; it seats 25 so its a shared table but you get to experience the kitchen.
Getting on the boat was a breeze. It couldn't have taken more than 10 minutes. We went to the pool side bar and had a drink and burger. We stayed in Sky Suite 6131 which we picked because of the extra large balcony. The room was awesome - plenty of room for everything and the balcony was wonderful. We spent a lot of time there with friends either reading, or having pre-dinner beverages. The location of the room was great as it was one flight down to the select dining, martini bar and Cova Cafe coffee.
This cruise was one of the best vacations I've taken in a long time. We were pampered, taken care of in a non intrusive and friendly manner.
FOOD - the MDR was excellent. We were always seated at the same table no matter what "select" time we choose. Food on some nights was really good and on others outstanding. Wine service was also very good and never had to wait for refills. Ravvi and the rest of the wait staff were excellent.
Cova Cafe had great lattes small sandwiches and breakfast breads. Martini Bar made the afternoon. we didn't use the buffet much - just liked the more intimate feel of the smaller food venues. We ate in the Olympic Restaurant one night. While it was a nice experience, I actually enjoyed the MDR better. It felt more at home.
CASINO - spent some nights in the casino and had a good time. There usually was a fun crowd. Slot machines seemed somewhat stingy. the casino bar was a good place to watch NCAA basketball.
POOL - surprisingly, didn't sit by or go in the pool once. This is unusual, but just enjoyed the other spots, including our big balcony.
CABIN - great. Nelson and Nemia took great care of us.
GYM - Smaller than expected but plenty of equipment and only crowded the first day.
PORTS - sailed with Capt. Dusty Austin on his 36ft Pearson in Roatan. This was the highlight of our off boat activities. Sailed for a while and snorkeled as well. He had plenty of drinks/beer and made us sandwiches for lunch. His son acted as first mate. Cozumel was a little tired. The shopping at the dock was actually fun. We got taken buying some bargain jewelry, but it was an experience. When the salesperson pulled the "high quality" tequila out of a boot for some shots we knew we were in trouble. Went to Playa Palencar but the wind was blowing in a direction that made the water murky and sea-weedy. We stayed for 15 minutes and went back to the boat. We'll probably opt for the eastern Caribbean next time.
SHIP - I know its due for a refurbishment but I thought she was in great shape. A little rust here and there are some places needing repair, but I would sail on her in this condition any time.
DISEMBARKATION - much easier than I expected. Did the express and was at the MIA airport before 9 in plenty of time for an 11 flight.
I miss the boat already!!!