I am writing this on the day we returned from the cruise, so everything is still pretty fresh on my mind. Our second cruise with Royal Caribbean was again outstanding. Our first was just my wife an I on a honey moon. We loved it and wished to go back with the family. This time, about 7 years later, was with my 2 small children, my parents, my brother, his wife and 3 children. Amazing experience overall. Loved it. Wish I had brought walkie-talkies to communicate.
We came from Fort Lauderdale on I-95, so we followed Google until we took exit 2D to I-395. This was key as Google told us to go through another way. We simply followed the signs for Port Miami through the Tunnel and got there easily.
Once we arrived at the terminal, our bags were immediately taken by the terminal staff. Next we made our way through customs and checked into the ship. Even though my dad forgot his SeaPass print out, we were in the ship within 25 minutes of arriving. Which was very speedy in my opinion.
The cabin was small, but they made great use of the space. I got the most inexpensive interior cabin, so I expected it to be small, however, we slept on the king size bed and my kids were each on their own bunk above the main bed. They loved it and so did we.
Great food, both at the Windjammer and at the Main Dining Room. There was absolutely no need for the specialty restaurants, in my opinion. Vegetarian options for my wife, very actually very delicious as well.
ENTERTAINMENT - SPORTS ACTIVITIES
Very, very fun. Participated in 2 soccer tournaments and a ping pong tournament with my dad. Lots of fun and medals were awarded. It was competitive, but not rough or professional. Also played basketball with him and a fellow cruise goer on the first night. Rock climbing was fun for my wife and I, and FlowRider was very fun as well.
ENTERTAINMENT - CHILDRENS' ACTIVITIES
Not great on this ship for us. The arcade was high priced and over in the blink of an eye. Also, we don't really like leaving our kids with anyone, especially someone we do not know. I do wish there were more family oriented activities for families with small children. I know the Liberty of the Seas has H2O Zones, but this one does not, which was a bummer.
ENTERTAINMENT - SHOWS
Didn't really go to too many shows. Ice skating show on the first night, and a "Minute to Win it" like show. Both were good. Went to to other 'talks' or giveaways, which turn out to be sales pitches. Waste of time.
Outstanding in every way. Friendly, courteous, and genuinely want to make you happier while on the cruise. Some fellow cruise-goers were rude, especially with the staff, the kind of people that have never had a service job. Unfortunately, these people also have to be served. Yet the staff still does their best to give you a memorable experience.
The SPA hot stone massage was phenomenal. My dad had knots on his back and had pain and difficulty moving his neck. During the massage was quite painful, but after, he felt like a new man. He enjoyed the cruise with a new way. It was a bit pricey, at $208 + service fee for 75 minutes, but it was worth every penny seeing my dad enjoy the rest of the cruise.
Cozumel was a let down from last time, partially because of the weather. It was cloudy and very windy. So much so that many excursions were cancelled because of the wind. This time we didn't go on the Cruise excursion, but decided to have a tour guide take us to different places. For 11 people, it was definitely less expensive, but also was not that great. The taxis were cutthroat. It went from $200 for a taxi for 4 hours, to $120 and they tell you to keep it quiet so you think you're getting a good deal. It's best to go directly to the taxi instead of the guys standing trying to sell you the service as they simply refer you to the taxi and get a commission. The places there weren't great. We saw the ruins, which was an OK experience. The tequila place was also just OK. Everybody is trying to sell you something and you can always cut the price by at least half. Less of an experience, and more of a everyone trying to make a buck. I guess it is what it is.
Costa Maya was much different. The prices were great, the experience was great. We simply went to the public beach by the ferry ride ($3/person) and then just reserved a bed literally on the shore. We ordered (virgin) drinks and just relaxed in the sun, went in the beach, and my mom got a massage. The massage was very sub-par, but what do you expect for a $20/hour massage? It was very nice, and we were back on the ship for lunch.
Had a small issue with having towels left from the day before which we were charged $25/towel for. There looked to be a problem in the system, but at the end the towels were returned and the charges taken off.
The bags were taken the night before at 11 PM and we left the room shortly before 8 AM. We had breakfast, had a small family worship in the chapel, and off we went to our area to leave the ship. From the time we were called to the terminal were about 20 minutes or less. So baggage claim, customs, and walking were less than 20 minutes. Super impressive. Very organized.
Overall, we loved the experience, and were already planning our next cruise. It will most likely be on the Freedom or Oasis as they offer more children-oriented things.
Small but really all we needed. Pretty great use of the small space.