We decided in mid 2011 to celebrate our 30th anniversary with a cruise. Booking through Vacations to Go was a breeze and there was never a question that was not answered promptly and accurately.
Ours was a 9 night cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to the eastern Caribbean with stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, San Juan, and Royal Caribbean's private facility at Labadee, Haiti.
Embarkation was fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier about an hour before the listed boarding time and fully expected to wait a while, but were boarded right away. We purposely chose an interior cabin on deck 7. I guess a balcony would be nice but we prefer dark and quiet when it's time to sleep. With an interior cabin that's what you get! The cabin was squeaky clean and ready for us when we boarded. There was even an anniversary bottle of wine and an onboard credit voucher from our travel agent (Vacations to Go) waiting for us!
As we set sail (about an hour late due to port traffic) I began to notice the demographics of this cruise were heavily weighted toward senior citizens. Not just senior, but REALLY senior. Many appeared to be in the octogenarian ranks with all manner of physical afflictions. It was sort of like "Welcome aboard the Nursing Home of the Seas." With that said, it should be quite obvious that using the lifts was a struggle and just moving about the ship in general had to be carefully planned.
After a day and a half at sea, we diverted into St. Thomas on a medical emergency. Unfortunately a passenger failed to heed the contract clause that states "Passengers must be able to withstand the rigors of sailing . . . etc." and reported to sick bay early on. For reasons unknown the pax. could not be helicoptered off, thus the diversion. (Did not affect port schedule at all.)
Medical problems aside, many of the oldsters on this cruise had some of the WORST attitudes and displayed some of the WORST manners and discourteous behavior I have ever seen in my life! They would bitch and complain about the most ridiculous things, jump the line to enter shows, dining room, etc., break wind in crowded spaces, argue loudly with one another, treat crew members disrespectfully, and treat fellow passengers worse. Most seemed to hail from "up nawth" including a cadre of rude Canadians. Just one thing to say - If you can't behave any better than what you displayed on this trip, stay in "snow land" or buy your own ship to sail on! You are an embarrassment to we seniors who are aging with grace and dignity.
As I mentioned, embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was a breeze largely because passengers arrived over a period of about 3 1/2 hours. Disembarking was another story. You would think that a busy port would plan ahead for several ships turning around on the same day. Nope! Port Everglades was woefully understaffed to manage the crowds trying to get from CBP to their ground transportation provider. Actually leaving the ship was uneventful. We made it through CBP in about 5 minutes and that's where the "fun" began. At pier 29 everyone must use ground transportation of some kind as their is no parking deck close enough to walk to. Problem is this, there is no signage and no personnel to direct and control the people waiting for shuttle buses, cabs, limos, etc. There are 2 local deputy sheriffs whom make it clear their only responsibility is to keep traffic moving. Many of the rude and disgusting "nawtheners" jumped the lines and boarded the shuttles ahead of those who had been waiting. We finally had to physically block people from jumping line to get on the Park n' Go shuttle to the apparent amusement of the 2 deputies.
Bottom line is this: We will do everything possible to AVOID Ft. Lauderdale/Port Everglades when we cruise in the future.