Arrival and Embarkation This trip was booked 9 days before departure. I flew to Fort Lauderdale non-stop on Continental from Houston. I upgraded to first class for $60 and avoided paying for my luggage. It was worth it for the nice seat. Continental now has DirecTV on a lot of their flights, so that is nice.
Due to the lateness of the booking, I really only had documents a little over a day before departure. All you really need is a passport and SetSail pass, and you are good to go.
Fort Lauderdale was easy as usual, and my cab ride with tip was $18. There were cookies and coffee at the pier, but I had a full breakfast on board the flight.
Lines were alphabetical, and I was second in line for my flight. My flight got in at 11:05, and I was on the ship at 11:30, photo taken and all.
They lock the hallway doors to the cabins until 1 p.m., so I had to take my carry-on to lunch.
The first lunch at Windjammer buffet was crowded, and I was a bit overwhelmed. I found it just easier to always eat at one of the tables on the pool deck right outside the restaurant.
Windjammer Lunches Food is grouped in a number of island areas so that there is not one big line. There are salad areas, soup areas, an ethnic food area, a hot entree and carving area, a dessert area, and an area with burgers and hot dogs and such.They always had some sort of carved meat, pasta and sauces, a couple of vegetarian hot dishes, some Mediterranean dishes, and things of this nature. One day they had a great Indian dish, and they had other dishes on a rotating basis. I expected more variety, but I found things. One day, there were baby shrimp for the salad, and I enjoyed that. There were fresh fruits and whole fruits to grab for the kids. Outside, they had soft serve ice cream. Twice, I had the carved roast beef. The rest of the time, I dined vegetarian. I get less full this way and don't gain weight, and I love to see what the chefs prepare. I always do a lot of fruits and veggies anyway because someone else is putting their flair on it.There are several drink stations with lemonade, fruit punch, hot and cold tea, coffee, and water.
Solarium Food I never ate there, but they had hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and fries here at lunch and all afternoon and I think late at night. Though the solarium pools are age 16 and above, kids could come in to get this food. There was also a machine for tea, lemonade, and fruit punch here, but it was not always kept full. There was a full service bar in this area, and you could get water there if the machines were not working.
Lunches at My Fair Lady My 5 day cruise had 2 sea days, and on those days, it was possible to get an a la carte sit down dinner at the main dining room. I took advantage of this, and these were two of my favorite meals on the cruise.
The first time I dined there, I had a wonderful mulligatawny soup. The head waiter could see how much I loved it and was going to have it made one night for me, but he could not make it happen. I had so many other yummy curry dishes that I did not mind. It had been his idea.
A real treat was a customized salad area where you went to a central location in the dining room where there were a couple of chefs. You picked lettuces, vegetables, cheeses, and meats (if desired), and dressings. They mixed it all together, and they would add fresh pepper and serve with fresh bread if you wanted. I had one of these both days.
Also, on both days, I had the grilled catfish entrEe. It was quite good and more well prepared than the dinner fish.
The second day, I had a chicken soup that was good but could not touch that mulligatawny.
I enjoyed being seated with others and had some nice conversations. I was in no hurry to leave the dining table, as the food was delicious, and the company was very nice.
Breakfast I always had breakfast at the buffet. There was always a line for eggs to order (maybe 5 or 6 people on each side), so I chose boiled eggs instead and usually crispy bacon and fruit. Daily, at Windjammer, they rotated pastries and had biscuits and gravy, waffles, French toast, and pancakes. There was always carved ham and turkey and pork sausages. One day they were mislabeled, which was a concern to me since turkey was marked as pork and vice versa. I hope that is not a common mistake. They had whole fruits and cut fruit, yogurt, hot and cold cereal, cold cuts and cheese, also. Other than the pastries, I did not see much variety from day to day at the buffet, but I certainly had a good breakfast.
They had a la carte breakfast in My Fair Lady at least on sea days. Maybe every day. I am not sure, but guests loved it. I did not make it down there for that. I enjoyed my cabin just laying around in the morning catching the movies.
Room Service They also offer full room service at no charge (as long as it is not in the wee hours), including hot items in the cabins. I did not take advantage of this.
Offerings change at appropriate times of the day, and you can get enough choices to make a meal here any time of day, though not gourmet in the lower room categories. Some of the suites allow ordering the dinner menu for room service.
Dinners in Main Dining Room Four of the five nights, I dined alone, and the last night, I joined a group and had a nice time with them.
I had the early seating where you have to show up between 6 and 6:15. There is a later seating. Guests can also choose anytime dining. You are supposed to sign up for that the first day. Those guests showed up at the main dining anytime and waited for a seat upstairs in a designated area.
There were always several appetizers, a couple of salads, one or two soups, several entrees, a pasta, several things you could order daily, a vegetarian dish, and an additional Indian vegetarian dish.
Everything I had was at least good and sometimes amazing. The garlic soup was good. I had the curry dish every single night and was truly in heaven. It was different every day. The only disappointment was the sea bass on formal night. It was the only sea bass I have ever had that was dry. I ordered the chicken marsala without mushrooms one night. It was good but not award winning. I saw a lot of people enjoying the beef dishes. There was a children's menu, but a lot of kids were eating huge plates from the adult menu.
My least favorite meal was formal night, and I wish I had gone to Windjammer where they had Asian seafood. I did go over there for hot and sour soup after dinner and saw enormous scallops, seafood skewers, etc.
On the last night, They had lobster and shrimp. I ordered lobster only and extra and also had the curry dish. I was in sheer heaven. This was a fabulous meal. I only had two desserts, both low fat. Both were good. There was plenty of ice cream, chocolate, and special diet dessert to meet any needs.
The last night, there was a baked Alaska parade. I didn't have this. The night before, they had guests up doing the Macarena after the waiters went around in a parade singing with hats. I did not like this, but it didn't bother me as much as it could have.
Windjammer Dinners Most of the entrees (minus the curry) from the main dining room were available here, and it was very quiet here. Guests could still order wine or get the wine from their package served here with table service even though it was a buffet. I had heard it was surprisingly nice, and all that you may have heard is true.
Sea Days & Other Onboard Activities There were a variety of activities to attend, though it was certainly not as enrichment oriented as I am used to on the luxury ships, and was not all what I would have preferred. That is OK, as I enjoyed what I did attend and enjoyed the water areas more than I would have.
One day, I attended the wine appreciation hour. This was a pay event. You could sign up ahead of time with your waiter or show up at the event (not recommended) to pay.
There was a buffet area set up with grapes and cheeses and crackers, and we sampled two reds, two whites, and a (sweet) sparkling with a toast. We were seated in groups, and there was a talk from someone on staff before each tasting.
I attended one port lecture, but it was too focused on shopping and nothing else.
I attended two champagne art auctions. One day, I put up a Thomas Kincaid that went for $260. I did not buy anything, and the one I picked the second day never even came up.
The pool deck was very crowded on the sea days, and they had a lot of line dancing and other games. I stuck to the solarium. It was 16 and up with no music and just quiet.
There was a 70s YMCA dance party in the atrium that I enjoyed a lot. They had a lot of bingos for cash and prizes, including a free cruise, but I did not attend those.
They had family things, such as wii games for 15 and up and one for all ages. They had the bungee trampoline that looked great (must wear socks). They had rock climbing activities.
I attended a spa makeover event that kept us all waiting when nobody showed up to host it.
Entertainment Every night, there was something in the main show lounge. A comedian did two shows. There was a more family oriented show and an adult show later at night that was still tasteful.
The staff had a show that was really nice and multi-national. This was a pre-dinner show.
My favorite was a Motown act that did a lot of songs. I went to what was left of the early show when I finished dinner and came back for the whole show after dinner. In each show, they had different costumes. There was a magician one night. That was interesting.
They had a Broadway tunes show and another production show. The shows were packed with guests, sometimes standing room only. I did not like that not every guest could get a seat at times. They do reserve a section for suite guests.
Every night, there was some sort of karaoke. Some were good, others weren't , but guests were always supportive.
One night, there was a love and marriage game that was well attended. The most attended was a slightly adult oriented scavenger hunt that was widely attended.
One night, they had Shipendales that was women only, however the men did not get kicked out and were hogging the primo spots. The dancers did not seem to want to be there, but it was a photo op and a chance to see the Viking Crown dance club. For those over 40, most were with their grown children. I would rather have seen more diversity.
In the atrium every night, there was either a trio, a violinist, guitarist, etc. There was also a Latin lounge. Trivia was held here in early evenings, and then there was a live band.
They had a piano lounge, also, and people enjoyed this immensely. You can just wander the ship and see what is going on.
Ship The ship wasn't that difficult to figure out. Cabins are all throughout the ship, even on the very bottom deck, and public areas include a lovely showroom that is just not quite big enough for all guests that attend (maybe needs 30 more seats), several nice lounges, a pool deck that is serviceable, but the pools could be bigger, a main dining room that could use more tables but is interesting, a nice spa but without steam rooms, a good gym I wish I had used (some classes carry a charge) with tons of activity choices, a walking/jogging area, bungee trampoline, rock climbing wall, kids misting pool, adult (16 and up) pool and hot tub area, enough ping pong areas, etc. I wish it had mini golf like the newer ships.
There is one specialty restaurant, Chops. This is a steak house with a nominal fee. I wish they had more choice for those that really just want lobster or a high end fish, but it was on the meaty end. The atmosphere looked lovely, and those that went loved it. I wish they had the Italian specialty on board, but they don't.
The main dining area is very nice.
There are a wide variety of cabins for various needs.
My Cabin I was in a category G oceanview. I had a lot of storage space in my closet and various drawers. I had a loveseat, a desk, a bathroom with shower, sink and toilet and a clothes line I could string across. I had my bed configured as a queen. I had nice bedding and proper lighting. My TV was the old CRT style but would swivel between the bed and couch, and I could see about 6 rotating PPV type movies for free. There were more TV channels than the luxury ships (though not as many free movies). I was comfortable but would have wanted a larger cabin with a companion, as I am not used to sharing small spaces. For those that are, they would be comfortable.
The window was nice for light and seeing what was coming up, but it wasn't that clean and got condensation. This was my first time sailing without a balcony, and I prefer a balcony, for sure.
Internet Internet did not work in the cabins, which I knew ahead but still found to be a disappointment. In addition to the computer center, they also had hot spots. I brought my laptop but never took it out of the bag. Their computers do not have a USB port or a photo card slot available since they are locked up and you only have access to the monitor, keyboard and mouse. Even the first day, there was no attendant. If you had an issue, you had to go to deck 5, wait in line and they called someone that you never did see who basically just doled out minimum credit to make up for the issue. I have never been on a ship where they did not actively try to sell internet time or help guests in getting this going, at least on the first day.
Guest Services This was the "do all" desk. You could prepay gratuities here and have many other needs met here. They always had a line, but it was just a few people, and these people were helpful and knowledgeable.
Tour Desk They seemed to be readily available. I booked my tours online, but there was plenty of material there to make decisions had I not. They had a rather long line at times.
Tours This is far different from the luxury tours I am used to. I took it for what it was worth.
In Grand Cayman, they have a tender service, and it was quite adequate to get guests off in minutes. There really was no wait at all. The boat could handle 250 guests at once.
I signed up for the beach tour with lunch that went to Seven Mile Beach and to Beach Club Colony. I went on this to see that hotel. I did not see any rooms, but I was not too impressed with the operation. The beach was incredible, so perhaps an EP hotel on this beach would be a nice trip. We had a welcome drink coupon for regular or rum punch, and you had to bring a towel and water. Shade umbrellas were an additional $5. I did not do that. Snorkeling equipment was extra, also.
The lunch served was mediocre - overcooked burgers, hot dogs, dark chicken, and a couple of salads. They advertised a la carte lunch also available. I did not see that happening, so I ate the "buffet". After that, they started the a la carte, so a few people got it. Mostly, it was what we had on the buffet, plus Caesar salad and maybe a few other items. People here were incredible, including a couple of Jamaicans.
We were transported on a huge school bus without a/c, and it took over an hour to get that going. The tour was to be 3.5 hours, but it ended up taking about 5.5.
I signed up for the power snorkel in Cozumel. Nobody else did, so it was canceled. I ended up just walking around the shops, including the drug store, and I got back on the ship fairly quickly. This was the one time I actually stayed a while on the main pool deck, as there were not 15 people on there.
Other Guests There were many Latino guests in large groups, and there was a lot of Spanish speaking on the ship. Particularly, there were teens 13 to 15 for some birthdays, and kids were camping in the halls singing and chatting until security was called. They weren't hoodlums or anything, just chatting too late at night.
There were many multi generational groups and 13 honeymoon couples. Not that many solos. Besides the Latinos from Columbia, Argentina, and Mexico, most of the rest were from the U.S. and Canada.
Debarkation I put my bags out the night before, and I was in the last group to get off at 10 a.m. I had a full breakfast, and then I went to my lounge, Bolero where they had tea, juice, coffee, pastries, TV, etc. I had a flight at 2:30, but I was able to pay a fee and get on a flight right away, and I got home almost 4 hours early. Read Less