Embarked in Miami - was on board quickly and cabins opened by 1.15pm. We tried the assisted boarding as my dad has bad arthritis and struggles to walk far now. We waited in an area with an awful lot of others in the same position and after ... Read More
Embarked in Miami - was on board quickly and cabins opened by 1.15pm. We tried the assisted boarding as my dad has bad arthritis and struggles to walk far now. We waited in an area with an awful lot of others in the same position and after 15 minutes were taken up an escalator and basically it cut quite a bit of walking out.
Deck 3 Oceanview 3096 and 3094 - nice big window with blackout blinds and net curtain. Cabins right by the lifts and stairs at the back of the ship.
The bed in 3096 was so hard - my steward got me a soft top for the mattress but I still had a bad back most mornings.
No coolers (fridges) in these rooms. We were advised we had to request them prior to the rise (nobody told us) or we needed them for medicines. Anyway by day 2 they did manage to find us some. Bathroom looks like it has been refurbished with new sink, cabinet and push button toilets.
I did find the spy hole on the door annoying at night as it let a lot of light in so I used the do not disturb magnet to block this off at night. The door was also a poor fit and let a lot of light in at night to the left but this was not too noticeable as the bed was right by the window.
The shower head would not stay still, it kept twisting to the left which was annoying. The sink smelt like it needed a good plunge and a clean of the overflow which was dirty.
Unfortunately 3096 is right below a room on the floor above before you head into the dining room. Whilst this is not a cabin, it is used by the crew etc. For rehearsals late at night. It sounded like a heard of elephants above and one night I went upstairs and asked them what they were doing. I was told they were rehearsing and would be another 20 minutes - basically didn't care less attitude.
This was my first cruise since obtaining diamond plus status and I was given an option to go on a bridge, galley, theatre tour or lunch with an officer. I ticked the bridge tour and took this to the loyalty ambassador who asked me to put it in the box. One day we had lunch in the main restaurant next to an Australian couple who were pinnacle status said they were going on the bridge tour in the afternoon. I just assumed there would be a few tours as numbers on the bridge would be limited. Anyway, on day 9, having tried to find the loyalty ambassador the day before (turns out she was sick) I went to the Diamond lounge to see Norma who advised someone else had also not had an invite and that she would investigate to see if there would be anymore tours. A few days later I did get an invite.
Future cruise desk was not that busy as offers were poor - 30% off when normally 50-60% off. Prices was far cheaper in June when I sailed on Adventure. I got a few prices, most people were helpful (apart from one person). A few days before the end of the cruise there was a new offer on the website with 60% off the 2nd guest and OBC. when I enquired, I was given a much higher price. In fact, they always gave me a higher price than the website until I queried it. Not happy! Eventually we booked it as knew we could price match when it comes down. In fact, it is £84 cheaper a week later I notice already.
Windjammer - a lot smaller than some ships but more of less the same selection of food. Different theme every night such as Caribbean and Spanish but you didn't really notice! They had a lot of trifles and mousses for desert so wasn't always great selections. I was in there on my own one evening so put 2 drinks down on the table whilst getting some food. When I came back a very rude couple had stolen my table. No apology! In fact this cruise was quite bad for poor manners. Whilst watching the Panama Canal crossing 3 people were sitting on deckchairs on deck 5 and each had another chair for their feet. They refused to give up one chair for my Dad who could barely walk. I was furious and reported them to Guest Relations who promptly made them move. Manners cost nothing!
Day 3 - Cartagena, Colombia - we wanted to see the fort but all the ship tours included other sights and were round $55-70. We therefore booked a trolley tour of $20 outside the terminal. The trolley was air conditioned but only really near the front! It was so hot and humid. This was a 4 hour tour and stopped at the fort to take photographs and other areas and included a walking part near the end. We also visited an emerald shop and places to shop. There is a bus to take you from the ship to the terminal (5 minute walk if not) this takes you to a cafe and through a giant aviary. They have flamingos, peacocks, loads of birds and Macaws all very tame. You could spend an hour or 2 here.
There were lots of people selling tours as you exit the terminal. Also, everywhere we went people were trying to sell you things, such as hats and jewellery. This was annoying.
Also on day 3 the ships's wifi stopped working early in the morning and was off for 3 full days. They never announced this, instead left everyone to either go down to the wifi desk or guest relations and ask. They provided no updates which was very poor. I understand wifi can be dodgy especially at sea, but at least keep guests updated. Their wifi is very expensive so I did ask for a refund. They were crediting everyone individually so it took days to resolve. Why not just the full 3 days full price back, it would surely have been cheaper than the wifi lady having to go through everyone's account individually! I chased a few times and then was told as we were from the UK she wasn't sure how to refund it so had to ask! Eventually I saw a credit on the account.
No Jonny Rockets on this ship so no BOGOF milkshake offers. However, we did discover they did milkshakes at Ben & Jerry's ($5.31 each). It would have been rude not to try one. Very nice! At this counter they also do special chargeable coffees but free cakes for all, no obligation to purchase. They had pastries for breakfast and sandwiches and cakes throughout the day.
Park Cafe- deck 9 was handy as it was straight up from us at the back of the ship and as we don't eat a cooked breakfast, we didn't have to walk across to the windjammer. We could get juice, cereals, pastries, egg and bacon muffins etc. From here instead. At lunch, they have sandwiches, soup and the beef roll everyday. They do need to sort their dishwasher for their cereal bowls here though! Dirty!
Main Dining room - slow! Couple next to us walked out on day 1. Our head waitress had a new assistant who had never been on a ship before. She was in trouble with her all night! Food wasn't great and we ended up in the Windjammer most nights.
Shore excursions - very overpriced as usual. Tours far cheaper on the piers. I did think about the Aerial ride tour at a whopping $140 but there was no one on the desk when it should have been open that morning anyway.
Colon, Panama - we wanted to do the rainforest aerial tram tour but it was very expensive at $140 each and as it started to rain we decided to explore the local shops instead. In hindsight we should have done the tour with a local company as the sun came out although it did rain at lunchtime. As you exit the ship you are met with ENDLESS people trying to sell you tours and taxi rides. It became very tiresome saying no thank you to everyone. Having said that we could probably have negotiated a tour to the same place we wanted to go for half the ship's price. Just ashore are free wifi areas but although I got connected I couldn't get any emails or iMessages to send, just the Facebook app worked.
Nice cafe's just along here also. But again, endless people selling things, mainly taxis and tours. There really should be some better organisation of these sellers. They would sell more if they were not so in your face.
Panama Canal - we went through the locks in the morning for about 2 hours from 7-9am and then again in the afternoon 2.30-4.30 in total. My tip unless you have a balcony, would be to get a deckchair on deck 5 at lunchtime as there were none spare at 2pm. We followed a large cargo ship through on the other side of us. Very interesting to see the locks and as we moved down. For some reason I thought there would be more locks to go through.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica - very long walk from ship to shore. If you are on an excursion they reverse the buses up nearer the ship. Loads of men selling tours as you exit the checkpoint at the end if the pier, there is a tourist information building just there which had air conditioned room you can sit in. Most tours are 4-5 hours and $25. However, we got offered a tour for just $20 as they were ready to go an needed two more people. Initially we were a bit dubious as they were quite persistent but the information man said they were there every day so should be genuine. We drove a short distance and picked up a banana, then around the corner we stopped by the road and under the trees were monkeys that happily jumped on us for the bananas. We also went to a very large souvenir shop which had free drinks and fruit. I think they had gardens but it poured with rain as we got there. We stopped at a bridge and walked over to see the crocodiles and also went to the top of the hills in the rainforest abs stopped at a restaurant for drinks. They also serve lunch which looked good. Coke and Pepsi were $4 and beer was just $3. We just missed the native large birds as another tourist had just got a picture he sowed us. The guide tried to find them and the macaws in a wooded area but they were not out to play today. Restrooms at a couple of places which were clean also. Good tour in a small minibus 10 people and far cheaper than Royal c. Worth mentioning it's in the rainy season now and October has a lot more rain. It was also very humid. The guide said the rain stops in December. Note, they were also selling aerial tram rides through the rainforest at this port on the shore.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - couple of minute walk across a bridge from the ship to shore. You walk straight into a building selling tours. Didn't see the prices as looks like stopped selling them earlier in the day. But I imagine far cheaper than onboard. Also selling tours and taxis just outside. Loads and loads of market stall type shops selling same type of thing - bags, jewellery, rugs, belts etc. Didn't look like much in the port area, there was a harbour and garden to the left of the bridge. To the right is cargo.
We got here at 6am and people left at 6.30am. There was a lot of noise from 4.30am onwards and a very loud noise at 5.30am so no lay in here.
Huatulco, Mexixo - arrived at 11am - pulled straight in forward as the island is only really on one side. There is a walkway to the end of the pier - a good few minutes walk. I didn't actually leave the ship here, and from the ship there didn't look that much here. Those who went ashore may say otherwise of course. Nice beach but unfortunately I can't take much sun.
Puerto Vallartos, Mexico - no long walkways, straight off the ship and they are selling tours and also there are a dozen or so stalls selling souvenirs. One stall is a pharmacy/drug store and even a massage stall. Just over the main road is a large shopping centre and just behind this large building is a Wall Mart store which the crew were using to stock up with things from here. It was a very hot day 85f but the forecast said felt like 94f which it did, the humidity was terrible. Taxis from here to town is a about 3 miles away $5-10 max - agree price first.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - tendered port here. need to get tickets for the tenders if you want to get ashore early. They used their own life boats and some boats from ashore.
About a ten minute walk to the main town area.
Los Angeles - cruise ended here but we booked the tour of LA and drop off at the airport as out flight was just after 5pm. However, due to the wildfires near LA, Malibu was under evacuation so they decided to take us to yet another beach. We didn't want to spend the day at beaches so we cancelled. However, the transfer only to the airport was all full up so we had to take a taxi which was $60.
If you booked just the transfer to the airport from the ship it was $24.95.
Entertainment - Horizon group were very good, very energetic got everyone up on their feet. Wasn't so impressed with any of the others to be honest.
Departure - nightmare. They stopped people getting off on about ticket number 12. There was an announcement to say there were experiencing delays. An hour and a half later they let more off. We were due to get off at 10.40 and it was about 11.05 so they didn't lose that much time in the end. However, when we got off the Ship's walkway we literally queued for over half an hour to get into immigration. Someone eventually asked my Dad if he needed a wheelchair and we then bypassed the rest of the queue, otherwise it would have been a good hour wait. Guest relations advised this port always delays them. My advice would be to get off early. This is the worst port I have ever been to for getting people through Customs. Not much of a queue for taxi's at midday though! 5-10 minute wait. Read Less