I booked this cruise for two main reasons: to obtain a ship's model to add to my collection; to experience this ship before she's re-positioned prior to being sold. I'd been aboard one of her sisters, Sovereign of the Seas, ... Read More
I booked this cruise for two main reasons: to obtain a ship's model to add to my collection; to experience this ship before she's re-positioned prior to being sold. I'd been aboard one of her sisters, Sovereign of the Seas, like 25 years ago or more. My ex-wife was aboard her 10 years ago and thought highly of her. My reasons had nothing to do with the itinerary--it was all about the ship. Although I'd spent time in both ports before, I did have a fine time shopping for cigars. On this one I was solo, traveling with a couple of friends including a married guy going solo. Embarkation was almost as smooth and easy as on MSC, light years beyond Carnival and NCL.
Love her size and decor. The Centrum, while a dated concept now, is simply stunning. The dining rooms are understated elegant, the bars are themed and full of details. Although she's showing her age, like an elderly queen, she wears it well. Bumps, wear and tear, nicks, gashes, dents appear everywhere--carpet tears are fixed instantly. She's easy to navigate, even with the elevators that don't go where you need it and those "Tween Decks."
Service is fine, unobtrusive and friendly without pushing. I was used to seeing and hearing the cruise director around ships, but on this one, she only appeared on TV and to introduce the theatrical acts. I didn't miss her. Although I noticed the length of the line at Guest Relations I had nothing to complain about and my bill was exactly as I expected. My favorites: Chen in the MDR, Sylvester at the Sky Cigar Bar and Raquel my cabin attendant.
I chose my cabin based on the deck plan's indicating an exit directly to the Deck 7 smoking area outside my door. Nope. It was a hatch marked "Crew Only." It's a corner oceanview stateroom, turned sideways--perpendicular to the rest of them. With the two beds joined there's no room, so they turn the beds so the shelf below the window becomes the headboard. Lying down you're facing the wall with a lovely tropical painting instead of your television. If you want to read in bed, tough luck. Your reading light is on the right-hand wall across the bed. Alternative is your desk light, a stretch. I had to figure out that people could see into my cabin from the Promenade Deck. It took me two nights to figure out how to close the blinds. I slept like a newborn.
Please take my comments about dining with a pinch of sea salt. I'm no gourmet. I'm no "foodie." I know about cooking. I have always lived to eat, rather than to eat to live. I have an educated palate. I have enjoyed many dishes from many cuisines. I would rather spend my money enjoying a "Chef's Table" or a special brunch with a galley tour than spend it going on some shore excursion. Which I did on this cruise. I shot a ton of video and photos of food. Good, bad and indifferent, it's just plain FUN to experiment and experience all kinds of food and drink. This is one of the values of cruising. You can ALWAYS find at least one thing you can tolerate in the MDR or the buffet. They are willing to cook steak medium rare, but forget it with hamburgers except at Johnny Rocket's ripoff joint. The best food to be found in the buffet and occasionally on the menu is the Indian cuisine. Authentic! Spicy! The desserts were mostly good. Flan was okay. Lava cake was excellent. Creme brulee was superb. Chocolate desserts were better than on the Liberty of the Seas. Pizza was okay, lacked a whole-wheat option. Compass Deli was pretty good, excellent fish soup! It's a quiet place, underused. Chef's Table was ably presented and uniformly good to great. Highlights: the filet mignon, lobster salad and the The World--a magnificent dessert made with Valrhona Chocolate. Lowlight: scallop carpaccio lacked flavor and needed that vinaigrette.. Service was wonderful in each venue especially after changing my dining time and table.
Entertainment was mostly good. Although I skipped most of the performances in the Chorus Line, I was talked into attending the "adult" comedy show. After five minutes of listening to a middle-aged white guy making weird noises with his nose and lips, I walked out. Not funny to me. How could he call himself an "adult" comic without even saying "f____?" On the other hand, the live music was GREAT! There was a really good Caribbean band playing reggae and island stuff up in the Sky Bar area, and a terrific Latin band with a hot chick singer playing rock covers and great salsa. Activities? Like...what? Not into bingo or Trivia. Belly Flop? I'm only near the pool to smoke a cigar in the covered smoking section. Casino? Never. Organized Activities run counter to my way of being.
Nassau and Key West are always interesting to me--for about an hour. This time I get off of the ship and headed straight to Greycliff, a true landmark in New Providence. Instead of spending my hard-earned pension in the restaurant, I spent it in the cigar shop. What a great place to watch people making tobacco art! They are really good at making wonderful cigars in a variety of shapes and sizes. I bought three Cubans (Partagas, Cohiba, Punch) three "Double Espresso" toros--their fullest bodied variety. Those three cigars could have bought me one luxurious lunch. Also had my traditional conch salad at a forgettable place on the waterfront. In Key West, I stopped in one of the best cigar shops there, bought myself an Oliva V Melanio and a Modus II cigar tool--a lovely thing! Also stopped in to buy a new Panama hat and fudge at Mallory Square, inside that old warehouse.
Disembarking was a breeze, quick, easy and problem-free. A good time was had by all.
Would I go again? And again? And again? You betcha! A bad day at sea is better than the best day on land. Read Less