This is my second cruise. It was me, my fiancE and two other couples; Berna & Max, and Liz & Jeff. This was Berna & Max's 4th cruise and Liz & Jeff's 1st cruise. John and I went down to Florida early. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday the 2nd, rented a convertible Mustang and visited with some friends. On Thursday, we drove down to Miami to meet up with Berna & Max. We stayed at the Holiday Inn in South Beach. We just wanted something on the beach that was cheap. It actually wasn't all that bad...it had the basic amenities. That night we went to Mangoes and the Clevelander in South Beach. Loads of fun...loads of drinks! Nothing like starting the vacation off early. Berna and Max went to the Everglades on Friday and unfortunately lost their new digital camera somewhere. They went out and bought a new one. Ouch, that hurts! At least it wasn't at the end of the cruise where they would have lost all of their memories.
Saturday, March 5, 2005 Departure partly cloudy 90, sunrise 6:40am, sunset 6:25pm
Drink of the day - Pina Colada, Martini of the day - Butterscotchtini
We took a taxi from the hotel around 10:45 and arrived at the Port of Miami within 20-30 minutes. The baggage handlers took our luggage on trolleys to the ship, but not before we gave them a tip of course...we wanted to make sure our luggage got to our rooms! We were told to go to Gate G to board the Navigator of the Seas. At Gate G, we were told to go to Gate F because that gate was only for the boarding of the Junior League of Women...whoever they were. So, off we went. We waited in line, showed our papers, etc. and were sent upstairs to wait in a longer line. The wait was about 2 hrs., due to supposedly, an immigration/customs backup. It was frustrating, but we didn't mind...we were on vacation!!
They supplied water and lemonade. We read our books, walked around, talked to people, and people watched. As boarding time got nearer, we saw the Junior League of Women board the ship. Apparently, they were just on for the afternoon to take part in a meeting and luncheon. As we waited, platters of sandwiches and cookies were put out for us (probably the Junior League of Women's leftovers). They were swiped up within seconds!! Anyone who was not in the very near vicinity of that table arrived to find only crumbs left.
Since this was my second cruise on the voyager class of ships, I knew what to expect. We decided to skip the "Welcome Aboard" picture. We just wanted to get to the nearest bar! We stopped at Boleros on Deck 4. Here we met Adrienne and Maurice, the bartenders for the week. We also met Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-ya), the waitress. They were all very cool and fun. They immediately got us into vacation mode, serving up rum runners, beer, and mojitos! Adrienne made a little heart out of the straw paper and put it on my straw. John got a seahorse. They gave us a bunch of bar games to work on...little puzzles using straws and stirrers. We met up with our 3rd couple here, Liz and Jeff, the first-timers. They were amazed at how large the ship was. We also met some fellow cruisers while imbibing, Gerry, a travel agent, and Mario, who was on his 99th cruise!!
Berna and Max left to go to Schooners because they found out that a bartender they met on their last cruise, Roger from Jamaica, was working there. They were so psyched. They said he was awesome!
Liz and I decided to check out the spa. We ended up taking a tour and signing ourselves up for the couples massage. I told John about it and he didn't want to do it because a man would be doing the massage.
John and I went back up to change the appointment and ended up being chosen as volunteers to receive a free treatment. They needed people as volunteers to demonstrate treatments being done as cruisers came through for the spa tour.
I received the cellulite treatment and John got a facial. The cellulite treatment was relaxing. They put cream all over your legs and stomach and then hooked electrodes up to you. I don't believe that it really works, but hey, it was free! John and I ended up signing up for individual full body massages with facials for the next day. He was ok with that because a woman was going to be doing the massaging.
The required muster took place around 5ish. It was a little late due to our delayed embarkation. It didn't take long and was pretty well organized. We were in a Promenade Stateroom on Deck 8, Room 8305, near The Library. Our stateroom had a large bowed window that overlooked The Promenade. We had three pieces of luggage but only two had been delivered. We found our stateroom attendant, Patrick, who was from Jamaica, and he said he would take care of it. He came back minutes later with our last piece of luggage. Ya mon!
We had chosen the main seating for dinner, at 6:00pm. Unfortunately, we missed it the first night because we were volunteering at the spa. We ate at the Windjammer, which had everything you would ever want to eat. Tonight's specialty was Thai food.
8:00pm - Welcome Aboard show - The Metropolis Theatre. Decks 3, 4. Comedy show with Eric Lyden, guest starring Duo Donnert.
Sunday, March 6, 2005 AT SEA - mixed sunshine & cloud, 80, sunrise 6:32am, sunset 6:09pm
Drink of the day - Bay Breeze, Martini of the day - Cosmopolitan
We had breakfast in the Windjammer, Deck 11. Everyday, for lunch and dinner, the Windjammer has a huge buffet. You should be able to find something you like to eat here.
We spent the day at the pool with the Calypso Band, the Rhythm Explosion.
12:30pm - "Mr. Sexy Legs contest". John missed it this year because we were having our massages.
There are many activities going on throughout the day: juggling classes, movies in the screening room, wine tasting, auctions, ice skating, trivia, and bingo.
6:00pm Captain's Gala Dinner. We had a group picture taken of the 6 of us. We were sat at a table for eight. We had a table on the Swan Lake floor, way in the back on the right, near the window, #556. We got to meet our tablemates, since we missed dinner the night before. Kathy and Chuck were from Ohio and were very nice. We warned them that when we were all together we might get a little crazy. I had the Sea Bass and it was very good. The shot of the night was a French Kiss. Berna and I split a bottle of Pinot Grigio.
Waiter: Omar from Honduras Head Waiter: Gianni from Italy Asst. Waiter: Wilson from Philippines Bartender: Eartha from Jamaica
9:00pm - Headliner Showtime starring "A Man of 1000 Voices" Paul Boland and featuring Marlise at the Metropolis Theatre. We didn't make this show, but I heard it was great!
11:00pm Karaoke Idol- Ixtapa Lounge - This was setup like American Idol. 4 judges (John was chosen to be one) They were only taking 12 contestants. So, I signed up for the fun of it. I didn't know that the winners would be competing for the championships on Friday. I sang "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin. I was shaking my hips, dancing and having a good time. I only do it for fun; I don't think I can really sing. Anyway, I guess Kyle, the MC, took off his coat and was boogying down behind me!! The crowd was really into it. 12:15am Late Night Adult Comedy with Eric Lyden Monday, March 7, 2005 LABADEE, HISPANIOLA - partly cloudy 83, sunrise 6:00am, sunset 5:52pm
Drink of the day - Fuzzy Naval, Martini of the day - Melontini
We arrived at 8:00am and the tendering process began at 8:30am. We got out as soon as we could. Once we got to the island, we walked straight ahead to the other side of the island. There were hired people to set up chairs for you. Make sure you have money on you to tip them! We only had a $10 bill. We set up on this beach and then realized that it was way too wavy to float on our mats and very rocky. We then started to drag our chairs to the 2nd beach on the side where the ship was docked. They don't want you to make lines in the sand, so the helpers grabbed our chairs and carried them over for us. This beach was much calmer and sandy. It was a small beach, nice and quaint. It did get a little crowded, but that didn't bother us.
John and I did the wave runner tour at noon. It was great. Four stops are made along the tour and an explanation of the island and culture is given. On one of the stops, 4 men in canoes rowed up to us to and tried to sell us stuff. Max had done the tour at 10:00am and bought a conch shell for $10. The Haitians only make about $200 a year! It is a very poor country. Labadee Village has about 2000 residents, mainly because Royal Caribbean created many jobs for them there.
After the tour, we lazed out on the beach. We had rented beach mats, but really didn't use them. We also snorkeled with our own equipment...though you will need to rent a flotation vest for $6. The water was pretty cold and it was kind of cloudy out.
Make sure to have a Labadoozee or Coco Loco drink!
When we returned from Labadee, we went to the Bingo game which was at 4:00pm. I didn't win and I also lost $5 in the slots. I'm not a big gambler as you can see.
Since we had been on a cruise before and were members of the Crown & Anchor club, we received a book of discount coupons which was pretty cool. There were coupons for the casino, 2 for 1 drinks, Ben & Jerry's, 10% off on spa treatments, pictures, 10 free internet minutes and lots more!
It was Italian night in the dining room. Berna and I used the buy 1 bottle of wine; get the 2nd at 10% off coupon from our books. I had the caprese salad, scallop risotto, chicken marsala, and tiramisu for dessert. It was all very good. Chuck got the lamb shank, but didn't like it, so he opted for the chicken marsala. That is the beauty of dinner, you can try everything and have as many dinners as you'd like!
We had received an invitation to go to the Crown & Anchor party this night, but we decided to pass. They have an open bar and you meet the Captain. Maybe on our next cruise we will go.
10:15pm - Battle of the Sexes - Which is stronger, men or women? - Ixtapa Lounge men had to sit on one side and the women on the other. This was fun, but couldn't really get involved because of the large number of people.
The Headliner show was titled the Beatlemaniacs. They were very good. They sang a montage of Beatles songs and changed their outfits and hair throughout to go with the era of tunes. We ended the night at the Dungeon which was having a Traffic Light Party. All single people received a green ribbon and married or hitched people received a red ribbon. We just watched...it was pretty funny. Hopefully, there were some matches made! My Sea Pass wouldn't open my door when I got back to the room. I went down to the front desk to get a new one. Make sure you don't have your Sea Pass near any magnets, or this will happen!
Tuesday, March 8, 2005 OCHOS RIOS, JAMAICA - partly cloudy 85, sunrise 6:28am, sunset 6:08pm
Drink of the day - Caribbean Cocktail, Martini of the day - Appletini
I woke up and did a 2.5 mile walk on the ship's track and then hit the Windjammer for breakfast.
Berna and I were doing the Swim with the Dolphins and Dunn's River excursion. It was very organized. Once you got off the ship, there were signs directing you where to go. We got on the shuttle, which ran all day between the venues. We went to Dunn's River Falls first. Berna had done this already, so she was just going to watch and wait. The guides seemed very unorganized; no one knew who to go with. We were guided down a hill to a shack where you can rent water shoes. One couple didn't have cash and credit cards weren't accepted, so the guide sent them to the ATM back at the entrance (which I found out later, didn't work!). We were just about to start the climb and there were a couple of guys with backpacks. The guide told them they should put them in a locker. We had to wait for them while they locked up their belongings, which was frustrating.
It was very neat to see this waterfall, but I have to say I was very disappointed with the climb. There was too much stopping and waiting and it was very crowded. Just about every excursion included a trip here, so I figured it might be. The people in my group were all over the place. I didn't know that you could climb up the falls without a guide. I would have done that. I just wanted to climb it! I ended up getting off half way up. It was taking way too long. I'm glad I did what I did though. When you exit, go back the way you came out if you want to skip the pushy vendor area.
We caught the shuttle to Dolphin Cove. We had about 40 minutes to kill before it started, so I got my hair braided. It cost $25 to have half my head done; 10 braids. Berna got 5 little braids done in Labadee and it cost her $20, so I think I got a deal. Swimming with the dolphins was very cool. I wish we had a longer time in the water with them. We had our pictures taken with the dolphin kissing us. That was pretty cool.
After the dolphin tour we took the shuttle to Margaritaville where we were meeting everyone else. Liz and Jeff had been there for a long time. It was crazy packed! They were having a "Miss Margaritaville" contest on stage when we go there. Jeff called the "shot" guy over so I could have one. They have you tip your head back and pour it right in your mouth! We ordered lunch because we were starving! We had cheeseburgers and they were really good, though the service was terribly slow. Margaritaville has a big tube slide that empties into a pool! The pool has a bar with stools in the pool too.
On the way back to the ship we stopped in the liquor store and bought some Overproof Rum, 63% alcohol! Ouch! They were having a special; 3 bottles for $20. Alcohol is SO cheap here! We did dinner at Johnny Rockets because we had a coupon for it. I got a BLT because I wasn't all that hungry. If you go, get a burger. The onion rings were awesome!! We then did drinks at the Schooner bar (piano man, Richie Swan rocks!) and then back to Boleros (Latin Dance music with Rumba Express).
10:30pm - The Love & Marriage game. This show was hysterical! It is based on the Newlywed show. They had a couple who just got married, 10 hrs. under their belt, and another couple that were together for 25 years. Then they had auditions for the middle couple. They got a doozy of a couple, that is for sure! They really made the show humorous though.
We went to the Ice Dancing show. We had missed it the other night.
11:45pm - Dancing under the stars, poolside. Big buffet, glowing drinks, lots of dancing and partying.
Wednesday, March 9, 2005 GRAND CAYMAN, BVI - partly cloudy 82, sunrise 6;38am, sunset 6:33pm
Drink of the day - Mai Tai, Martini of the day - Hazelnut
We arrived at 8:00am and tendering started at 8:30am. We were one of the first groups off because we were doing the Stingray adventure. We took a van to the stingray boat. The driver told us all about the devastation that hurricane Ivan caused which hit in October of 2004. The devastation was awful. All of the vegetation was destroyed by the sea water and roofs were ripped off of houses and hotels. A lot of rebuilding had been done, but it isn't as pretty as an island as it once was. When we got to the dock, the driver pointed out a cement dock that had been thrown hundreds of yards from the water, along with some boats. The power of a hurricane is unbelievable.
It was a 30 minute boat ride out to the stingray area. There could see tons of them swimming around. We had our own snorkel gear, so we were the first ones in the water. You could actually stand up in the water…it was only waist high. It was so neat to see these creatures. My first reaction was to scream. You had to get used to them. They have no teeth and won't hurt you…just don't grab their tail. We were given squid to feed the stingrays. They would just "suck" it out of your hand like a big vacuum cleaner! They kept taking the food out of my hand and then knocking me over! Our guide grabbed one that didn't have a stinger and let us pet it and hold it for pictures. This was one of my favorite excursions, though again, I wish we could have spent more time with them.
After the stingrays, we decided to go shopping. We went to Tortugas to buy some rum cakes to bring home. John wanted to use his traveler's checks…but he had forgotten his ID. So, we borrowed money from Liz and Jeff. John headed back to the ship to get his ID and said he would meet us in an hour at the Harley shop. There were a lot of shops to poke in and out of, but after a while they all looked the same. I did buy a framed picture of a stingray and a t-shirt.
John never made it back to the island. Apparently, the seas got really rough and they weren't letting anyone come back over! He had my sea pass so I was freaking out wondering how I was going to get on the ship. I had no form of ID whatsoever on me! I went to talk to the Royal Caribbean person and he said it wouldn't be a problem, just explain everything to security. They asked me a few questions, and I was all set, thankfully! The waters were really rough now though. The tender boat was all over the place! It took almost 45 minutes to get to the ship. They had us waiting out in the middle of the harbor while they tried to position the ship to block the wind. What an adventure it was getting off the tender. The gangway was all over the place. We all made it on safely, but I think there might have been some sick people.
When Berna & Max did this cruise last year, the ship did not stop at Grand Cayman because of rough seas. Luckily, we did this time, but their stingray tour got cancelled. They are destined to not see Grand Cayman!
That night, the ship was rocking a lot! I have never experienced this before.
6:00pm Chef's Dinner - This was the 2nd formal dinner. Lobster night! Yum!
We went to the Wild & Haines juggling show that night. It was pretty good. I was exhausted so I went to bed. John ended up staying out and didn't get home until 3:30am!!
11:30pm-12:15am - Gala Buffett open for viewing and picture taking. Don't miss at least seeing this!
12:30am-1:30am - Gala Buffett open for eating!
Thursday, March 10, 2005 COZUMEL, MEXICO - partly cloudy 80, sunrise 6:58am, sunset 6:54pm
This port is one hour behind, but don't turn your watch back or you will miss the ship out of port!
Drink of the day - Sex on the Beach, Martini of the day - Dirty Martini We arrived at 10:00am. All of us were going on the Fury Catamaran, snorkel-beach-party-boat at 2:00pm. We decided to take a taxi into town and shop for a while. There was a long line for the taxis, but it went quickly. I bought some silver; a ring and a bracelet. Liz bought some diamond earrings. On the way back to the boat we grabbed a bite and some drinks at Senor Frogs. Pretty neat place…not as crazy as Carlos & Charlie's though, at least in the day. One of the waiters offered me 4 shots for my Livestrong Lance Armstrong cancer bracelet. I guess they can't get them there. So, I gave it to him. I had more at home.
We went back to the ship to prepare for our excursion. The catamaran was right at the dock. We took it out only a little ways out, you could still see the ship. I didn't see too much here. Some fish, a little stingray. There were some scuba divers under us checking things out, so that was kind of cool. We were here maybe 30-45 minutes. Then we get on the catamaran and the party began. Superior beer and margaritas for everyone! They bring you to their private beach for an hour, where you can use floaty mats, play volleyball, take part in the open bar or you can buy lunch. It was pretty cool! We got a big volleyball game going where we nicknamed everyone. There was Corona, Blue, Gator, Kill Phil, and Philly. We drank A LOT here!! We didn't want leave. They brought us back to the dock and we ran over to Senor Frogs for one more drink…like we needed it!! John ended up leaving our snorkel equipment there by accident…someone got lucky! Oh well!
John and I had been put on the waiting list at Portifinos the day before for tonight's dinner. We stopped in to see if we could get in. They said if we wanted to eat right at that moment we could. So, we ate. I was pretty drunk and it probably wasn't the best idea to eat here. The appetizers, bread with artichoke, mushroom and sauce dips, and salad were all great. I though my meal of lobster, shrimp and salmon was too salty. John got a chicken dish that he said was excellent. I've only heard good things about this place. I went to bed after dinner, I was wiped out! I ended up waking up at midnight and went out to find everyone. They were in the Dungeon. I somehow managed to stay up for another hour and hang out. John didn't get home until 5am!! He is a nut!
Friday, March 11, 2005 AT SEA - partly cloudy 83, sunrise 6:51am, sunset 6:33pm Drink of the day - Bahama Mama, Martini of the day - Lemontini
Got up at 8am and got a chair at the pool. They don't let you save chairs, so don't try. They took all these towels off of chairs that were there for a while with no people in them. Played Winner-take-all-Bingo at 10:30 because this was the last day for the big money! If it wasn't won in the morning, they would have the last one in the afternoon.
In the afternoon, they had a big pool volleyball game set up for cruisers to compete in against "Team Navigator". Jeff entered and his team beat Team Navigator! Team Navigator hadn't lost in over a month.
We had an appointment at 1pm to book our next cruise. We booked our cruise on the Freedom for 9/10/06.
We bought $84 worth of our pictures from the week.
6:00pm Feast of Nations Dinner. Don't miss the last dinner. You are able to see your tablemates and waiters for the last time. Also, tips are given out on this night. We gave Eartha, our bartender, a tip even though you aren't required.
We also made the rounds and gave Roger, the Schooner bartender, a Red Sox hat and gave Maurice a big tip for the week.
Your entire set of luggage had to be put out by midnight, so we went back to the room to finish packing and fill out my customs form. Make sure to fill out the Guest Satisfaction Survey.
Saturday, March 12, 2005 HOME
We were all very sad that we had to leave the ship. We were up at 7:00 to get ready. Since all of our bags had to be out the night before, we were left with our carry-ons. Make sure you prepare wisely the night before so you aren't left with a ridiculous amount of stuff to put in your carry-on.
We had to go to the Metropolis theatre to wait to get off the ship. Disembarking was a breeze. We got right off the ship around 8am, got our luggage and were on the bus that would transfer us to Ft. Lauderdale airport. Make sure to have a porter take your luggage. They will get you to the appropriate place you need to be to get where you are going…and don't forget to tip them!
We got to the airport around 10:00am. Our flight wasn't until 3:30pm. We couldn't check our luggage until 4 hours before the flight. So, we just sat down and waited. We met some people that were on the Princess Cruise line and Carnival. Once we could check our luggage, we went and grabbed lunch at Chili's.
*We met lots of people on this trip: Pittsburgh, Ken from NH, Dane-the Blue Cross/Blue Shield person who was on a free trip w/ her company, Doris & Shirley from Alaska, Ashley w/ the 69 braids, the Walpole boys, Gerry and Mario.
*I was very impressed with all the people who worked on the ship. All of them were very friendly and helpful.
* Make sure you have a little card in a slot on the back of your door that says "do not disturb" and "make up room". You put this in the key slot to let the stateroom attendant know what to do with your room. Again, we had problems with people stealing ours!!
* I liked Grand Cayman and Cozumel the best out of all the islands.
* One of the TV stations highlights the day’s events, information about the islands, and replays of the ship shows. You can also see your Sea Pass balance. Another station shows you the position of the ship and its course.
* There are many things going on during the week from seminars to movies to basketballs. Get out there!
* No need to bring your own beach towels. They are supplied and you can exchange them every day for new ones.
* Love the towel animals! * We learned that the workers are on the ship for six months at a time and then get two months vacation.
* Many of them are from Jamaica on this ship because it allows them to visit family while in port.
* Pre-paid gratuities now allow you to charge the tips to your Sea Pass which is convenient.
* You are advised to not drink the water in Mexico. Watch for holes in the ice. It means that they were made with filtered water.
* Royal Caribbean discourages you from renting scooters or mopeds in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. There was one woman who got in an accident in Cozumel.
* I liked the fact that this cruise went Saturday to Saturday, allowing Sunday for some recovery. Read Less