Wow! I just returned from my first cruise last night. It was 5 nights on the Navigator of the Seas. I loved it! (I'm having a hard time getting my land legs back at this point. Everything still feels like it's moving.) Anyway, to start, I and my 2 travel partners flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before the cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Airport/Cruise Port. I highly recommend staying there if you are planning to cruise out of Port Everglades. The rooms are nice sized and clean. They serve a deluxe continental breakfast which is a great way to start off your day before boarding. (It started my week long love affair with food, that's for sure!) The hotel has a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel. They also have a free shuttle from the hotel to the cruise port. Ask them for the number of their taxi/transportation company they use and call them for transportation when you return to Fort Lauderdale. They will take you from the cruise port to the airport for $7 per person. I can't remember the name of the company, but the owner's name is Kendt (pronounced Kent). Ask for Angel to drive you if he's available. Nice kid. Embarkation was a very smooth process. We got there about 11 and that worked great! There weren't very many people there at that time so we were some of the 1st people on the ship. We got our luggage several hours before dinner. Debarkation was very smooth too, though it did take a bit longer as we had to stand in lines getting off. We stayed in room 9200, a family oceanview stateroom. It can sleep 6, so it was perfect for 3 people. The room was HUGE too as far as cruise ship staterooms go with 2 sitting areas (one with a couch that makes out into a bed) and 2 separate sleeping areas. The room is on the very front of the ship and has 2 large portholes. We felt a little movement but we all liked it. It was relaxing and made for good sleeping. It was perfect really. Our stateroom attendant was wonderful too! It seems like every time we came back to the room, things had been tidied up. He made our cruise just that much better. (It's too bad I don't have that kind of service at home!) The service that we received on the ship in general was excellent and all the crew members were very attentive. They always greeted us with a smile and a "how are you?" when we walked by them. The dining room staff was excellent as well. As for the food, I really enjoyed all of it. And I ate WAY more than I thought I would. I just didn't want to pass up anything. We ate in the dining room all 5 nights and had some wonderful dishes, including lobster tail and lots of shrimp. The desserts were scrumptious too! We had room service twice which was probably the least enjoyable of the dining experiences. The Windjammer restaurant (buffet) was delicious. The choices of food didn't change really for the breakfast times, but changed a little for the lunch times. I didn't care either way though. I went back many days for the same things. There seemed to be a fair number of things to do on the ship if you were interested in them. We didn't do too much though. Went to a show one night and basically just ate and spent time by the pool and time in the gym the rest of the time on board. We stopped in Grand Cayman and Jamaica. I definitely wouldn't go back to either place, but they were nice to see. We went on short tours in both places and then just walked around a lot. We were going to go ATVing in Jamaica but it rained a lot while we were there, so we decided to skip it as it would have been quite muddy. The next time I cruise, I think I'll just plan to get off at the different stops and spend the morning there and then get back on the ship and enjoy the pool or something... All in all, my first cruise was a wonderful experience. I can't wait for the next one!
Great view, plenty of room, tons of storage space, quiet location, LONG walk to the dining hall and other restaurants.
Cayman isn't as pretty as you might think. It's very flat and uninteresting. Also, if you aren't going to the beach, then there aren't a ton of things to do. All of the shops pretty much have the same stuff, so shopping gets old quick. I do recommend the West Bay Sightseeing tour. We tried to book it before leaving, but I was told that the tour started before we would have even made it to port. So we waited until we got there to hook up with a tour company. It saved us $17.50 per person too! I highly recommend doing it that way. I know you can swim with stingrays there or do other water activities. Maybe Cayman would be more exciting if you did something like that.
Jamaica is a much prettier country as far as landscape and geography. They have mountainous areas and beach so it makes it more interesting to look at. Otherwise, I don't think Jamaica has much going for it. The shopping there is similar to Cayman in that it's all the same stuff over and over. If you get stuck at the craft markets prepare to be hounded by the locals. Also, when you are out walking on the streets, the locals will hound you there too. Mostly they are trying to strike up conversations I guess and trying to be your "guide". The cab drivers are always hovering as well. We took a cab ride up into the mountains early in the morning and got to see where the locals live. It's very poverty stricken, but very worth seeing. The cabbie took us to a lookout where we could see all of Ocho Rios basically as well as Dunn's River Falls. It was a great place for pictures. There ARE many more activities that you can choose from in Jamaica. We were going to go on an ATV tour but decided against it due to all the raining it did the day we were there. You can horseback ride or climb the Falls or go on a plantation tour or swim with the dolphins, etc. We didn't want to do anything in which we would have to get wet, but if you did maybe you would enjoy Jamaica more...