My husband and I have never been on one of the huge ships so when the opportunity came to try it for relatively cheap, we jumped on it. This particular cruise stopped in Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. There were ... Read More
My husband and I have never been on one of the huge ships so when the opportunity came to try it for relatively cheap, we jumped on it. This particular cruise stopped in Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. There were three sea days in this itinerary. Overall, we had an amazing time and are very happy with this cruise.
Port Canaveral: As far as ports go, it is easy to access and not too far from Orlando, however, it did not seem very organized. In fact, the day of departure was crazy. We rented a car from Avis at the airport and returned it to their location at Port Canaveral. The rental car companies all over shuttles to the ships. We got there extra early and took the shuttle. We had to wait an hour and a half in the parking lot at the cruise terminal because there was so much traffic and confusion. This is not on the part of the rental car company and due to the lack of organization at the port. I overheard other guests saying this ship was recently moved to Port Canaveral and that they did not have the "kinks" worked out yet. So please give yourself plenty of time to avoid any stress on the day of departure. Likewise on the day you return to port. We waited in very long lines for US Customs but it do go relatively quickly.
Room: We chose a B1 category stateroom 8723 that overlooked the Boardwalk. I wanted to say thank you to other reviewers who posted the room lay-outs. We choose a room with the bed by the balcony and not by the closet. There is plenty of storage but I did run out of hangers. You may want to bring some extras if you are the type who likes to hang all your clothing. No complaints about the room, bed, or bathroom. We were very happy with this stateroom. There was a special for booking that category stateroom: free soda package for two, free lunch/dinner at Johnny Rockets for up to four, and a free rock climbing session. The great part of the room is we had a wonderful view of the Aqua Theater and actually watched the show right from our balcony. If you do not stay up late, this may not be the location for you as the sound from the Aqua Theater can be quite loud. General noise from the Board Walk was negligible. Our room steward, Dmytro, was amazing. He will take care of you. Period. I intend to write a letter to Royal Caribbean praising him after I write this review.
Entertainment: Overall, the best entertainment I have seen on a cruise. We have only been on 6 but this topped it all. I do recommend that you use the cruise planner to make reservations to the shows before you leave. We were able to secure reservations to the comedy show, Come Fly with Me, Frozen in Time, and Cats before we left. However, I was only able to get one ticket for the comedy show. It "sold out" that fast. With that said, the Cruise Compass on the first day does say to go to Guest Services to make show reservations as soon as you get on board but what they didn't tell you (and we figured out by chance) was that you can make the reservations right on the TV in your state room. I was easily able to make the second reservation for the comedy show minutes after arriving in our room. Familiarize yourself with the TV options. We found this useful extremely helpful. I forgot to print out our calendar to keep track of our reservations but quickly found out each person's calendar and reservations are available on the TV. Great feature!
As others have stated, the Aqua Theater show Oasis of Dreams is frequently canceled due to weather. (It is a great show and worth it). The first night it was canceled because it was raining and windy when we left Port Canaveral. It was rescheduled and a message was sent (via your state room "email" on the TV) stating the days/times it was rescheduled. The Come Fly with Me was canceled as well because of technical difficulties. While we were disappointed, the replacement show (an act with Ronn Lucas, renowned ventriloquist) was so damn funny! Frozen in Time was AMAZING and so was Cats. The actors are extremely talented. The actress who played Grizabella has a voice that will literally bring you to tears. She is that good. The Comedy Show was hilarious too. We highly recommend those shows! Of note, if you are unable to make a reservation, the staff open up the venue to standby guests 5 minutes before the show. So, to those with reservations, you need to be there at least 15 minutes early and to those without reservations, standby seating is opened up to those who are there first come, first serve.
The other smaller acts were amazing too. Particularly, the Sweet Sounds Duo. If you like classical music (and even if you don't, you probably will enjoy listening to them), they will definitely impress you. They play a lot in Central Park and by accident, we happened to schedule a reservation at Giovanni's when they were performing. If you plan on dining in the specialty restaurants, look to see if they are performing and try to schedule your reservations around that time. Wonderful experience! I can't speak to any other venues like the clubs, bars, etc. We didn't go in those places but did see others having a blast when we went by.
Dining: We have never done the Specialty Dining on a cruise but were curious about it so we stopped in to look at the menu the first day of the cruise. They had a special going and I highly recommend that you stop in the first day to check for any specials. The one we purchased was three visits to any of the Specialty Restaurants for $85 a person. GREAT deal when you look at what it costs for one person. We ended up going to Giovanni's once and Chops Grille twice. We were so happy with the food and service. Allow two hours for dinner at these restaurants. They do not rush you and want to make sure you enjoy your time there.
On the other nights, we ate in main dining in the Grande Dining room on deck 4. Also another thank you to reviewers here, I emailed RC dining before the cruise and requested a table for 2 again. Each time I have done this, we have received our requested table. If you are more extroverted, you probably would enjoy eating dinner with others but we tend to keep to ourselves. One other advantage is you don't have to wait for 6-8 other people to decide what they want to eat. The food in main dining was very good and the service was great as well. For breakfast we ate at the Wind Jammer and the food was decent. It is your typical buffet style breakfast. Good variety of foods are offered. There are quite a few places you can eat. We frequented these places and also Sorrento's. Love the pizza on demand feature. :)
Sports: The ship is equipped with a sports court (best one we have seen), a mini golf course (eh), five ping pong tables (in good shape with brand new paddles), sports pools, two rock walls, two Flow Riders, a zip line (goes over the Board Walk), and other things. The reason I gave the mini gold course an "eh" is because the golf balls were not real (hard foam) and the clubs were for someone who was 4' tall. They did not offer different sized clubs. This is not a big deal but when you are super competitive like we are, it does factor into the equation when one of us beats the other. LOL We did not go in the pools or hot tubs but will say there are plenty of them around.
Neighborhoods: There are seven different neighborhoods on this ship. Central Park was by far my favorite. I spent as much time in there as I could. I cannot believe that is on a cruise ship! My advice is to explore and check each one out. Definitely neat and different from any other ship I have been on.
I did not reserve spa services so cannot speak to that this time. Shopping was good on the ship. There are some high end stores on the ship (especially for women's handbags) but also decent priced goods too. I bought souvenir t-shirts for $10. Make sure to check your merchandise for any defects. I bought a shirt and didn't notice there was a hole in it until I took off the tags. I had no problems exchanging for another shirt.
Shore Excursions: We booked two in Labadee and really enjoyed this stop. We booked the Snorkel Safari (tour code QLB2) and the Jet Skis (tour code ZL03). On the Snorkel Safari, they take you out on a boat to a reef and you have about an hour to explore. The reef was beautiful and was teeming with all different types of coral. There were fish and other marine life but not in abundance like in Coco Cay, Bahamas. (The area is over fished.) Still very beautiful and a great place to snorkel. The guides were great and would point out various marine life and if they were safe to handle (for both us or the marine life), they would gently pick up and show it to us. The snorkel equipment was good quality too. No issues there. We both drive our own Jet Skis after and if you have never done this and you're not afraid of speed, you HAVE to do this. I was beaming like a little kid. I started in the back but was quickly moved up to the front at the first stop. (People who go faster are in the front and slower people are put in the rear to not hold anyone up). So much fun!!!! The only part I didn't like is at one one the stops, locals kayaked over to us and tried to sell us stuff (while we are on Jet Skis). That wasn't part of the tour but something they did to try to help the locals.
Speaking of locals, outside of the tourist area this is a very poor area. The merchants in the main shop are not pushy but as soon as you walk outside the main shop to the lines of shops, the locals can be very pushy about getting you to come in their shops and look at their goods. On the plus side, you can barter a great deal on items if you can deal with the pushiness. We did buy from both the main shop and the locals to help support the area.
Falmouth Jamaica: We did the Dunns River Falls and Jamaican Bobsled tour tour code FY25). LOVED it! Note to those going on this tour: wear a bathing suit or other swim wear and only carry what you need to the Falls. Leave everything else on the bus or in a locker. I can't tell you how many sunglasses, phones, etc fell into the current while we were there. If you take a camera or phone, make sure it is waterproof and has a strap. You are climbing the falls and will get soaked. Also, buy water shoes with some decent tread for this. These are a must. A videographer goes with each tour group and you can purchase the video and the photos they take (all on a CD) for $40 (cash only). If you want this, please bring the money with you. We didn't know this and didn't bring enough money to the falls to get the CD. Also of note, the videographer noticed we did not fill out the slip for the video and approached us separately. He was trying to negotiate on the price and was willing to give it to us for much less so keep that in mind when you are purchasing it. We didn't purchase it because we wanted to make sure the driver and tour guide received a good tip. The tour guide at Dunns River Falls will expect a tip as well. We had Tammy and she was worth it. Other tour groups kept looking over to ours because we were having so much fun. After we did this, we went over to Mystic Mountain for the Bobsled portion. The lifts were broken so the bus drove us to the top via a private access road. You have the option of being joined to another sled or going down individually, whatever suits your comfort level. There are signs that state going too fast endangers you and the person in from too you. Not to worry, they allow ample space in between you and the sleds that go before and after you. I asked the attendant if I could go "wide open" and he said "of course....drive it like you stole it." And so my husband I did just that. We went individually and we both had the sleds wide open the whole time. Fast, a bit jerky and rough but fun as hell! We were smiling ear to ear after that ride!
Cozumel, Mexico: We did the Jeep to Punta Sur Eco-Park (tour code CZ4P). This is quite frankly the only thing we were not pleased with the entire trip. The description of this reads exactly as follows "Snorkel at an ecological preserve, visit a Mayan ruin, climb a lighthouse and relax on a beach. Explore a vibrant underwater world teeming with a wide variety of marine life (all gear included). Relax or play on Explora beach; a remote, white-sand beach, one of the best beaches in the country." Now the facts. Most of the Jeeps are manual transmission. This was not an issue for us but for others, it may be. You don't get your own Jeep (unless you are a group of 4). We booked it thinking my husband and I would have our own Jeep. WRONG. They put you four to a Jeep and when we complained because it is clearly not stated in the description, the tour guide replied with "that's how we do it." We we offered our own Jeep if we paid more. We refused. We were put with another couple who thankfully was a pleasure to be with. If you get stuck with some idiots or those who do not want to share driving, you are frankly SOL. Also, the tops were on the Jeeps. What's the point of driving a Jeep if the top remains on? That was also disappointing and unfortunately, the disappointment did not stop there. The snorkel equipment was not the same quality gear that was used on the Snorkel Safari in Labadee, This equipment was terrible and many complained that their masks leaked, snorkels weren't working properly, etc. My favorite thing to do is snorkel and I read reviews on this and many said this was a great spot to snorkel. This had my very confused when we snorkeled right off the beach and all we had to look at was sea grass and the occasional bits of coral and fish. There was hardly any coral or fish and certainly no reef. This leads me to think we were not brought to the reef people discussed in other reviews. (Reviewers stated that location takes some time to swim to and our guide literally kept us right off shore). I will say the beach and lighthouse were wonderful but you are barely given any time to enjoy them. The Mayan Ruin is about the size of the shed and a disappointment if you have been to other ruin sites. The tour operator was Explora Caribe and we frankly were not impressed. I will be writing a letter to RC to complain about this shore excursion. Consider yourself warned if you are considering this tour.
Aside from this experience, we had a great time and would recommend this cruise. Hopefully this review is helpful to those considering this cruise. Read Less