This was our first cruise ever and we thought it would be idea to choose a really big ship because my GF doesn't like closed spaces too much. This also made us choose a Central Park Balcony so we could have something more open than a ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever and we thought it would be idea to choose a really big ship because my GF doesn't like closed spaces too much. This also made us choose a Central Park Balcony so we could have something more open than a window (and we couldn't afford an Ocean View Balcony). We are a party of 2 (me and my GF), both in our early 30s and are looking to relax and enjoy the ports.
We had MTD and a "Refreshment" beverage package (no alcohol).
We arrived two days early and stayed at my aunt's house in the Ft. Lauderdale area, so nothing else to report here.
Day 1 (Embarkation)
We arrived at about 11am. Checkin was smooth as there were barely any lines. We waited about 25 minutes seated in the upper level. After being called, we were onboard short of noon.
We went to the Windjamer for lunch. Thankfully we could find a seat. It was really busy and we didn't enjoy it. Guess food was ok, but there were too many people to be enjoyable. And there's also the PA message that basically said "please hurry up and move on so we can seat other people".
After lunch, we were just going through the ship. It is certainly beautiful and well maintained. Very clean too. We visited the Solarium, Boardwalk, Royal Promenade, MDR, Amber Theater, Spa, Gym, Studio B, Casino, and finally went to the Central Park. At this point (about 3:30pm), it was announced that the rooms were ready, so we quickly went to our room to leave are stuff.
While on the room, the muster drill was announced and we had to go out. Out station was at "On Air", deck 5. The drill was conducted quickly, though, if you ask me, the venue was a bit small for the number of people.
Outside it was both windy and rainy, so after we were dismissed from the drill, we decided to miss the sail away party and instead went to Park Cafe to eat the famous roast beef sandwich, which was great btw. Great collection of made-to-order salads too.
And this is where we had a small problem. We had booked the Chef's Table at 7:30pm in the Cruise Planner, but in the TV it showed at 8pm. We also didn't know where to go for it. I called Guest Services and they told me to go to the Concierge Lounge. We went to the Concierge Lounge just to find that we couldn't open the door (obviously, since we are not Diamond nor have a Suite). I called Guest Services again and they told me that I won't be able to access it (!!!!). After saying that I already had a reservation, they transferred me to the Concierge, who told me to wait at the library (right next to the CL) and they would pick us up minutes before 8pm. After this, everything went fine.
Minutes before 8pm, Baba, the Sommelier, entered the room (along with some good champagne) to pick us up. Dinner was great and the wine pairings were also great. Baba is a great showman and made our night. We drank so much wine that wen returning to our cabin, we couldn't walk in a straight line and we couldn't tell if it was due to us being drunk or because of the ship's movement (it was quite windy).
Day 2 (At sea)
We went early in the morning to the gym, which was awesome with the sea views everywhere. Great equipment too. After that, we ate breakfast at Wipeout Cafe. They could handle my GF's request for a made-to-order omelette. There's also a Coca-Cola freestyle machine in there.
After that, we spent our time at the Solarium. We had lunch at the Solarium Bistro. You really have to pick a table first, since it gets really packed at about 1pm. The food was good though. During the afternoon we "discovered" the whirlpools next to the Solarium (yeah... first time for us) and we enjoyed quite a bit of time inside them.
We had dinner at American Icon Grill at 6:30pm. Because they were out of space, we were relocated to The Grande. Food was great, as well as the service, and we had a nice chat with a couple on the table next to us.
After dinner, we went to the Amber Theater for Mamma Mia. The music and singing were great. Acting, however, was not. The girl cast as Sophie was not very good at acting, though she had a beautiful voice. Dancing was good. Overall, Mamma Mia is not our favorite play, but we enjoyed it. On a side note, they really keep the theater quite cold. Make sure you dress accordingly.
Day 3 (Labadee, Haiti)
My GF went to the gym and afterwards took a juice at the Vitality Cafe. She says it was great. Again we had breakfast at wipeout cafe (we would repeat this for all days, except for last one).
After breakfast we went off the gangway to enjoy a good beach day. Or so we expected. Labadee doesn't have any great beaches. Most of them are rocky. And the best one is reserved for suite guests (and platinum, diamond, etc). Don't forget your shoes. I don't know if they would allow to bring an umbrella, but it would be highly recommended. We ended up renting something like a little tent (about 40 bucks or so). At about noon, we wanted to have some food, only to find that they closed at noon. It's incredible! Why close at noon when the ship leaves at 4:30? We enjoyed the beach for a few more hours and left for the ship very hungry. We had a (late) lunch at Wipeout Cafe, since it was the only venue still open (or so I remember). Not what we would normally choose, but we were hungry.
We had dinner at Samba Grill. The meat was ok, quite soft. We ordered a nice wine form the list too (don't remember the name though). Near the end of our dinner, the chef came out and went through every single table to say hello, compliment his crew for the hard work and ask if everything was ok. I don't remember his name, but we really liked that.
We ended the day with Ocean Aria at the Aqua Theater. We really enjoyed this show. It's amazing that they can do this at sea! Specially the diving from the highest platform was incredible! It looked as a suicide!
Day 4 (Falmouth, Jamaica)
As always, GF at gym, then breakfast at Wipeout Cafe. We didn't really know where to go in Jamaica, so we asked our stateroom attendant and he recommended River Falls. We went off the ship and took a while to find someone who could take us to the River Falls. They suggested we buy water shoes and hermetic bags for our phones. At first we thought it was part of a tourist trap, since we didn't really know what to expect at River Falls. Thankfully we did what we were told. You really need water shoes and a hermetic bag for your phone/camera/whatever else. It's not optional. After that, they took us to eat some pork jerk, which was both delicious and cheap (about $25, including drinks, for both of us). Then back at the ship.
We had dinner at American Icon Grill. Food and service were great.
Day 5 (At sea)
GF at the gym, then breakfast at Wipeout Cafe. We spent the rest of the morning at the Solarium. For lunch we had reservation at Giovanni's Table, as part of "Eat, Drink, Play" from our Central Park Balcony room. We didn't have the full menu, but rather a limited one for this offer. Food was good though. Service was great.
We had dinner at American Icon Grill. Again, food and service were great.
Finally we had Ice Games at Studio B. What a great show! Specially a guy from either Vietnam or Philippines (I don't remember which one). He is a great performer and, taking into account that he is from a country not traditionally associated with ice skating, he must be truly talented to end up there.
Day 6 (Cozumel, Mexico)
GF at the gym, then breakfast at Wipeout Cafe. We went off the ship early. Since we are both native Spanish speakers, we didn't have much problems here. We ended up going to Madre Mía, which was ok. We did snorkel (for a fee, was great), and had lunch (complimentary buffet, was just ok, though the guacamole was quite good). Make sure you go back to the ship on time, since the way back to the port takes much more than than the other way around because everyone is returning at about the same time!!
We had dinner at American Icon Grill. This was lobster night, if I remember correctly. My GF said it was great. I preferred an aged steak, which was great too. Service was great too.
Also had Blue Planet. Though I find the story a bit boring, the show is great. The cast comes from all the other shows (i.e. dancers and singers from Mamma Mia, acrobats from OceanAria and I think even some guys from Ice Games).
Day 7 (At sea)
GF at the gym, then breakfast at Wipeout Cafe. The rest of the day at the Solarium, going to the whirlpools from time to time. We had lunch at the Solarium Bistro, great as usual.
We had dinner at Chops Grille. Out waiter, Luis, also peruvian like us, gave us the most wonderful experience possible on a restaurant. It was also the best of the specialty restaurants we had (food-wise). It really made our night!
Day 8 (Disembarkation)
We opted for early departure, carrying our luggage ourselves. We had breakfast at the Windjammer (the only possible choice for us). It was awful. Food was ok, but it was too packed and chaotic.
After going back to the stateroom to pick out luggage, we went off the ship at about 7am. Customs was empty and we barely had a line, so we were outside the terminal in less than 5 minutes. I doubt this can be faster.
This was our first cruise and we took this one to try something different. We now face a new addition :) Of course we would return. We would also do some things different. Specially, we would change our breakfast venue (probably to Park Cafe). And we would try the various night entertainment options available (disco, bars, etc). But the ship is so big and with so much to do that you simply can't do everything in a single week. Read Less