Embarkation: We stayed at Residence Inn Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach in a one bedroom, two bed suite. The room had plenty of space and included a kitchen, dining table and desk. The hotel was close to the port and conveniently located to ... Read More
Embarkation: We stayed at Residence Inn Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach in a one bedroom, two bed suite. The room had plenty of space and included a kitchen, dining table and desk. The hotel was close to the port and conveniently located to restaurants and shopping. We parked at Park Port Canaveral, which had a deal if you paid online at time of booking. Once you get to Park Port Canaveral they handle your luggage from there and have a shuttle to and from port. Awesome! Embarkation probably would have been pretty fast if it weren’t for some personal issues with check-in. We had priority boarding and everything on the cruise line side was running smoothly.
Accommodations: We stayed in a handicap accessible junior suite. It had almost as much room as a grand suite without all the furniture. We were able to park the scooter in front of the adjoining room door since we were not using that door. The bathroom was spacious, but had less storage space than a regular junior suite in order to accommodate entry of a wheel chair, if needed. A fold down seat was located in the shower, but it was hard to pull down in place for use. There were a good number of hooks on the back of the door and L’Occitane travel sized soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner. There was an outlet for shavers only in the back wall of one of the open shelves.
The room itself had a long desk/vanity area with lots of storage shelves, a tv and refrigerator. The refrigerator was empty already when we got onboard, so there was no need to request that it be emptied. Most of the electrical outlets were along the wall between the vanity mirror and desk making it hard to fit some plugs into those outlets. Another outlet was available beside the bed that most plugs could fit in. There was a full-length mirror in the corner between the desk/shelves and balcony windows. The room contained two twin beds, a couch that converted to about the size of two twin beds, two chairs and a small coffee table. There was also a nice sized walk-in closet. There was no curtain to separate the sofa area from the bed.
The balcony was handicap accessible with a piece that dropped into place to allow for wheel chair access. There was one table and two chairs (one reclining) on the balcony. We requested a third chair, since there were three of us and another chair was provided. Overall, the room was the perfect size for three people and I’m glad it was bigger than a standard junior suite. Though it didn’t stop me from having very restful nights, there was noise from the deck above throughout the night. It sounded like deck chairs scrapping against the deck, but I’m not sure exactly where the sounds were coming from. The room looked like it was below the children’s water play area on the deck plans, but I’m sure children weren’t out there all night and it doesn’t take all night to clean the area.
Dining: We mainly ate breakfast in the American Icon Grill. All the breakfast food I tried there was really good. They even had a buffet set-up there, except for on departure day. We ate in the Windjammer twice for breakfast. It was crowded and there were lines to get into the buffet, but the food was very good there as well.
When we ate lunch (breakfast was usually pretty filling, so we skipped lunch some days) we ate at different venues around the ship. Pizza at Sorrento’s on the Promenade deck was okay. The pizza was greasy and I didn’t care for the cheese. The famous kummelweck sandwich in Park Café in Central Park was just okay as well. I was expecting the sandwich to have a lot more flavor. The hot dog with peppers and onions at the Dog House on the Boardwalk was excellent and the cole slaw was different and good. I can’t believe they charged me $3.50 for a can of soda though, ridiculous! Soft serve ice cream and cones were available in Wipe-out Café and on the pool deck; however, I just saw vanilla, chocolate and vanilla/chocolate swirl, no strawberry. Ice cream by the scoop was available in the Windjammer and main dining rooms. (Yes, one day an ice cream cone was my lunch. Don’t judge!)
For the most part, we ate dinner in the main dining room. One night we ate in Chops Grille in Central Park and another night we ate in the Coastal Kitchen. The food in the dining room was very good and the waiters went out of their way to make the dining experience memorable. Food in the Coastal Kitchen was okay. The punch available there is good. The waiters did their jobs, but the warmth, friendliness and attention to detail that was displayed in the main dining room was sorely lacking in the Coastal Kitchen. Maybe it was because we didn’t eat there every night? The food in Chops Grille ranged from okay to excellent. The fillet mignon was okay. The crab cake and sides were excellent. The wedge salad had too much of a wedge, but was good.
Onboard Activities: It’s true. It’s hard to do every activity onboard this ship and you probably won’t enjoy your vacation if you try. I was able to zip line and climb the rock climbing wall. The lines for these two activities weren’t bad and the staff were extremely helpful. I even failed to stop by the activities desk to get my Sea Pass card punched and a member of the zip line staff checked to make sure I signed my waivers online right then and there and had the card punched. They made good use of their mobile iPad devices. The rock climbing staff were very attentive, motivated and each one wanted to know if I had a good time. I tried to do ice skating on next to the last day, but I showed up to sign-up for the next time available and they wouldn’t let me sign-up. I was told to come back at 4:15 pm to sign-up for the 4:30 pm time slot. I wasn’t about to do that. At 4:15 there would be a huge line and I was there at about 2 pm to sign-up for the 2:30, which was full, so I should have been able to sign-up then. After that fiasco, I decided it was best not to do anything I had to stand in line for in order to keep my peace. That was the best decision I made that day. My vacation remained peaceful and relaxing even though I missed the ice skating and stand-up surf boarding.
I’m going to lump the photos in with onboard activities because it definitely sucked up a lot of our time. We purchased the all-inclusive prints package online. There was confusion about what all the package entailed. I thought it included both print and digital, but was told onboard at first that it was just digital, then later we were told it was just prints. Okay! I told them the all-inclusive wording was misleading and they should change it to say “just prints” or “prints only.” Either way nothing was set-up to automatically ensure we received what we paid for. We had to check the rows of prints for our photos, if they weren’t there we had to order them through the kiosks. The kiosks’ touch-screens didn’t work well and the staff had to back track and credit us the charges automatically made by ordering through the kiosks. This was totally inefficient and below Royal Caribbean’s standards. They need to rethink the third-party vendor the photos were farmed out to. Given my past two experiences with photos on cruise ships, I’m thinking it’s best to bring your own camera and get people to help you take group photos. This is a shame because we use to spend most of our money on photos and my Mom used to love going and finding our photos and cutting a deal for all the prints. Well, change is constant.
Excursions: The ports of call were Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. We left out of Port Canaveral. While in Port Canaveral we stopped at Ron Jon’s and another souvenir shop. Ron Jon’s was expensive even with our 15% off coupon, but has such nice stuff. I’ve been there twice and still haven’t seen everything.
I got a beach cabana in Labadee at Columbus Cove and bought a waterslide pass. The cabana was nice and provided shade. It came with two mat floats, a cooler of Evian bottled water and three beach towels. The waterslide wasn’t very fast, but it was fun. Overall, the beach cabana and Labadee were relaxing.
I received a Swedish massage at the ship’s spa while in Falmouth. (Most cruise lines offer spa deals when the ship’s in-port.) I only left the ship to do a little window shopping. The spa relaxation area was nice and relaxing. The massage was excellent for a cruise ship massage. Again, this was another relaxing day.
In Cozumel, we went to Playa Mia and had a great time. This excursion really tired me out, but it could be as relaxing or as active as you wanted it to be. We chilled in the pool, raced down the twin waterslides, enjoyed a mat floaty, swam out and did the water float obstacle course and finally I went on a solo kayak ride. Now, you see why I was so tired. Playa Mia was clean, not crowded and had lots of activities included in the admission. Note, I did not get the Deluxe Beach Break, which included open bar, food and apparently beach umbrellas.
Debarkation: Getting off the ship was pretty orderly. There was coffee and pastries in the debarkation lounge. (I got food to go at the American Icon Grill and ate it in the lounge.) I think our debarkation number was called before it was scheduled, so the process went fast. A porter helped us grab our luggage and got us out to the Park Port Canaveral shuttle in no time. Park Port Canaveral loaded up our luggage and us and got us over to our vehicles. We were souvenir shopping our way to the train station by 11 am.
Overall, Royal Caribbean provides a great cruise experience. They do need to address the long lines at certain venues, any policies that exacerbate those lines and/or creates them and the photo memories experience. Also, the junior suites need to come with more amenities given their price. The suite booking did come with a bottle of wine, pre-paid gratuities for two, access to Coastal Kitchen for dinner and free dinner for two at a specialty restaurant. But, how much of that was the booking and not just the suite I don’t know. The only things listed as amenities for the junior suite are dinners at Coastal Kitchen and L’Occitane amenities. (I hate to break it to um, but I can get my own L’Occitane amenities at TJ Maxx.) They also took away the bottles of water as an amenity??? Comparing the price to an inside cabin on a luxury cruise ship, the inside cabin comes with much more amenities (free unlimited internet and free shore excursions, free internet, free house beverages or onboard credit). But, given everything that went well, Royal Caribbean provided a great experience. Read Less