Well first I have to say that we had a wonderful cruise experience. We were all first time cruisers so I can't compare it to anything else.
Day Before. Miami We choose to fly in to MIA a day early. None of us had been to Miami before, so we figured this would give us some time to at least see the downtown area before setting sail on Saturday. Not to mention it caused less stress in worrying if we were going to make it there in time. This trip was full of firsts for all of us. First cruise, first time on a jet for me, first time to miami, etc,etc. The flight from RDU went smoothly, though I really did not enjoy myself on it. Can't say I'm a fan of flying, but it really made the trip itself nicer. We had rooms booked at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay. I booked them through priceline at $35 bucks a room. The hotel was very nice. Loved having rooms facing the Pier and getting to see the ships come in on Saturday morning. We went to Bayside Market for Dinner that night and ate at the Hard Rock. A law firm had the restaurant booked for a party so we had our dinner out on the deck. It was a lovely night and we enjoyed walking around the Market afterwards.
Day 1. We were up very very early. 4:30 am in fact. Dear Husband and I couldn't sleep from all the excitement so we lounged in our room, watched some TV and the ships as they came in. It was around 5:30 that morning when we saw the Navigator come in. Had the Breakfast buffet at the hotel, it was pretty good, but I don't think any of us really tasted anything. We were all so anxious to get to the pier. After breakfast we wasted some time around the grounds of the hotel, then got our stuff together and hopped a taxi to the pier.
Embarkation went fairly fast. We had what I would guess would be normal to short lines. I don't think the whole process took us an hour. Really didn't keep track of time, so I know we weren't standing around for a long time. We were on board before noon and they told us that our rooms would not be ready yet, so we headed to the pool area and our first drink. After kicking back and relaxing on deck, we headed to the Windjammer for lunch. By the time we were finished our rooms were ready. We had room 1688 and it was awesome! Loved the room. The deck was nice as well, but I don't think we utilized it as much as we could have. It was fun setting out there before we left Miami and calling everyone back home from our cell. Mom and Dad and 7388. Mom said she would have stayed in a broom closet to have had that deck. After seeing our room we really thought that theirs was small, but it had plenty of room for two people. They spent most of their time on the deck.
Can't say enough good things about the waitstaff we had in the dinning room. My family had went with all intentions of not eating in the dinning room everynight. I'm so glad we all packed enough clothes, because we were in there everynight. We had great tablemates, who we have kept in touch with since returning home. The whole atmosphere, our tablemates, John (HW) and Wendel (SW) just really made the trip. Didn't see the problem with any of the food we were served. I had already warned my husband not to expect anything spectacular after reading other peoples posts. After a few nights we started asking ourselves where these other people had been eating. Everything was good. Of coarse being our first cruise we couldn't compare it to others, but we were pleased with everything we tried.
Day 2 Sea Day Set out to do as much as we could. I think we accomplished that as well. Our days pretty much started out the same, 7:45 Stretch Class, Breakfast in the Windjammer with mom and dad then the 8:30 Walk-a-mile. I can say we never once stepped foot in any of the pools or played putt putt. That's the only things we didn't do. Did inline skating several times during the week, as well as ice skating and the rock wall. We did go to the Solarium Mineral Spa once. Took a few of the seminars they were offering as well.
Day 3 Labadee Really enjoyed exploring this place. I would say it was the hottest day we saw too. Had fun haggling with the merchants in the marketplace and managed to get a few things we wanted. Really wished now that we had tried to bargain for one of the masks, but there is always another time for that. After walking the entire "private island" and taking several beautiful photos we spent the rest of the time stretched out on a chair at the side of the beach where you are not supposed to swim (sea urchins). It had shade and few people so we kicked back there.
Day 4 Jamaica We had already been warned by people on board that we would regret getting off the ship at this port. That was hooey. We all loved the port. Mom and Dad booked the Horse Back riding and both had a wonderful time. Dear Husband and I did the Enchanted Gardens/Dunns River Falls. Really found the Garden tour interesting, plus the grounds made for beautiful shots, for those of you who like to take photos. We got rained on, or should I say had liquid sun shine, while on this tour. However I think everything let loose while we were at Dunns Rivers. My Dear Husband was the only person in our group who wanted to climb the falls, unfortunately I couldn't because of a neck injury and fear of falling and making it worse.
Anyway he got put with a group of people who were there from Carnival Ship. They were really, really slow. Don't know if there was a problem, or it was just the fact that every person in the tour had to stop to take a photo in the same place. I talked Dear Husband into just climbing the falls by himself. I was going up along the side and taking photos. Had fun getting through the marketplace. We bought some necklaces off this one guy and when we told him we would give him 5 bucks for 3 of them he didn't want to do it, said he got 12 a piece for them. Well he ended up taking the deal and when some of the other sellers heard this, they started trying to get the same 5 dollars from us. I've never saw anything like that. One guy put these little head things in my hands even though I didn't want them. I finally had to set them on the walk way because he wouldn't take them back. We had a great time though, its all part of the experience. After finishing up the tour we walked back to the Island Village and went to Margaritaville and some of the other shops.
Day 5 Grand Cayman Booked the Sting Ray Tour onboard a Catamaran through Capt Bryans. Weather wasn't that great, but it stayed calm enough that we were able to do the tour and snorkeling. As everyone else says, this is a excursions you just have to do! I would recommend it to anyone. Capt Bryans was great. The guide that went out in the water with us really took his time in letting everyone hold and kiss the stingrays. Plus when we went snorkeling he got a huge moray eel to come out. We would have gotten to see a nurse shark as well, but he said it wasn't home. After the excursion we done some shopping and loaded up on rum and rum cakes. The tender ride back was rough. The seas had been choppy all day, but we made the mistake of getting on the bottom back side of the tender.
The smell of diesel makes me ill. Anyway and that with waiting on the rough waters to get off was not making for a enjoyable ride. Had to take a nap after getting back to room in hopes of making myself feel better. Didn't know that we were in for a rough night as well. Our last formal night was that night and after getting up from a nap I did my best to get dressed on the roller coaster we were on. It really wasn't horrible, but being in the aft you really felt it. Finished getting dressed and headed down to the photo area on Deck 3 thinking that being low and center I would feel better. Nope, didn't work. Everything down there was moving as well. Had our pictures taken and headed to the dinning room. We had 2nd seating by the way. I sat down at the table and when given the menu and reading it, I just knew I wasn't going to be able to eat. So after apologizing to our tablemates I headed back to the room in tears. I tried to get my Dear Husband to stay and enjoy dinner, but he didn't. John our waiter sent with him a tray of crackers for me. That was so nice. John even told him that if he was to come back he would have the dinner fixed so that he could bring it back to room. Dear Husband settled for a sandwich and cookies from the Cafe Promenade.
I was in tears because I was really looking forward to the last formal night and seeing the midnight buffet. Instead, we laid in bed and watched movies. The next morning the captain came on and said that it was rougher than they had expected and several were talking about not making it to dinner. So I at least I know I wasn't the only one.
Day 6 Cozumel The front we had traveled through had hit Cozumel the day earlier and left in its wake some rough seas so all water activities were canceled. Good thing we had only planned to shop. Took a cab to downtown and walked the shopping area. Got lots of nice gifts for everyone at home. Found a working payphone to call our daughter back home at her grandparents. Did some more exploring then headed back to the ship.
Day 7 Sea Day Did pretty much the same stuff as on the first sea day. Took pictures of the ship. Really just enjoyed ourselves. We checked out all the shows through the week that we could keep our eyes open to go to. Getting up early everyday and having late dinner seating makes for some late nights. We told ourselves that we would sleep when we got home!
Disembarkation: Had the 2nd colored tags to be called, I believe it was white. We went to boleros lounge and waited for the color to be called. Went very smoothly. By the time our color was called and we had walked down the gang plank through immigration our bags were on the conveyer and coming around. Pulled them off. Customs, we just about walked right through. They took our form glanced over it and we were on our way. Grabbed a Taxi and were at the Dollar Rental car and MIA by 8:30am. We rented a Minivan from them and drove to Key West for a couple days to site see and fish. It was so cold in Key West. Had to buy sweat shirts while we were there. Did get to go on our fishing trip, I was the only person to catch anything and I landed a hammerhead shark! My first catch ever, not to bad.
We had a wonderful time, so much so we are planning another trip for the Explorer this October and a 14 day Panama Canal on Radiance for 2005.