will begin my report for this cruise which was 7 nights out of Ft. Lauderdale to Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel. First of all we like normal flew in a day early and stayed at the Hyatt Place in Ft. Lauderdale. We had to fly ... Read More
will begin my report for this cruise which was 7 nights out of Ft. Lauderdale to Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel. First of all we like normal flew in a day early and stayed at the Hyatt Place in Ft. Lauderdale. We had to fly into Miami as we could not get a return from FLL to ORD until like 1700 and did not want to sit around all day and MIA had a return to ORD at 1235. We taxied into the Hyatt which was around $80.00 so its a bit costly but the shuttle bus was only about $10.00 less with other stops so we chose the taxi. I must say the service at the Hyatt was excellent and we took their shuttle to the pier for about $7.00 pp so not bad. Once in port we had to wait a while to actually get onto the ship and I was not impressed at all by the personnel there. Lets just say CS seems to be lacking in their training but of course they are not RCI employees. Once we checked in the courtesy kicked in. It took about 45 mins. to get onto the ship and our cabin was not yet ready but actually it was finished ahead of the announced time.
We walked around this marvel of a ship and had lunch at the Park Cafe in the Central Park section, just some salads as we were not so hungry. We had a balcony cabin on the 9th. deck and the first thing I noticed was that the balcony was bigger than what we had last May on the NCL Getaway. It turned out to take a while to get used to all the areas on this huge ship and we seemed to have discovered something new every day.
We were assigned my time dining as first seating was not available when we booked. On the first night I requested it from the Maitre'd and that was honored a day later. However that first night we shared a table with a couple from FLA. and they too wanted first seating so actually we were able to get a fixed time at the my time dining restaurant, American Icon with them so it was very good of RCI to meet our requests that way. I was so awe struck by this ship that I forgot we had reservations that night for the Oasis of Dreams show but we were able to book it for a later day. We happened upon a preview of the comedy show and saw three performers and I really got some good laughs from them. The rest of the first day was spent just checking out the ship especially Boardwalk and the Promenade. Wow! Like I tell all the people I know who have not cruised you don't know what you are missing. Many seem to think that you just sit around all day and there is nothing to do. We got a good nights rest and I must say that for the week we were on this ship detection of any motion was just a few times and it was next to nothing. I suppose 225k tons of a ship makes the ride very smooth.
Ok so now its day two. Its formal night and as we had reservations for Cats we decided on an early dinner at Giovannis. I had the filet migon which was pretty good and Sue had a pasta dish which she was not too pleased with unfortunately. I tried it and liked it but it wasn't up to her taste. However the desserts were and we had the tiramisu and the canolis and those hit the spot.
So we now went to see Cats and frankly it was very hard to follow. I suppose if you knew the story line ahead of time then yes it would have been good to see. However the people in our row actually left ahead of intermission including us. I heard several comments like this from others who saw it so it seems it was a hit or a miss. later on we had a chance to meet some of the ships performers and I must say what they did they did well but it was not for us. They did say RCI typically will run the show for 6 yrs. and they they spent something like 10 mil. on the stage alone.
So lets talk about the entertainment on the ship. We saw a group called Abbacadabra which dod all Abba songs and that we like. It was mentioned that Abba was once offered 1 billion, yes 1 billion for a reunion tour but turned it down. Wow. They put on a fun, entertaining show and even added Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen just to show off their versatility.
We saw Come Fly With Me which was a wonderful show featuring acrobats and gymnasts, song and dance and they were all amazing. Before the shows the performers with their resumes are featured on the theatre screen so you can see their backgrounds. Most have a long list of credits and some have been national champions in their respective fields. It makes me think that their is a ton of great talent out there. The performers are from mainly the UK, the USA and eastern Europe.
After this show we were able to see the ice show at the last second and so that was a treat and again this was a great show and was more geared to kids. However you are on vacation so hey be a kid!!
The water show was called the Oasis of Dreams and is performed at the back of the boat where they have a poll with hydraulic lifts to adjust its level. Here you see more gymnasts, acrobats and high divers. The max hight is about 58 feet and we were awestruck by how ell this show was performed.
We missed the actually comedy club show but we did see that preview on day one so its not like we missed out too much. I was not able to get a reservation once on the ship and we tried to get in line for a non-reserved seat but it wasn't in our luck. Oh well.
There are a number of venues for smaller acts including Latin music at Boleros, a two level lounge featuring a live band at Dazzles which was on our deck actually and that we sort of discovered by accident, a country venue called Globe and Castle (I think), the Scooner bar and a few others. Karaoke is there too for your amusement. Really if you can't see one of the main shows there is still plenty to do and to see.
A word about formal night. It seems that in the cruise industry there are fewer people following the suggested attire and some people dressed up but others did not even come close. Now part of this could be that we embarked from a casual port, FLL. Last yr. on the Diamond Princess out of Yokohama I did see that many more people followed the suggested attire code for formal night.
Ok so lets talk about the food which is always a subjective issue depending on your expectations and standards. I really don't expect fine dining and think its unrealistic to do so and the ship has to feed thousands of people. I do expect "good" food and at least good service. As mentioned above we ate one night in the fee restaurant Giovannis which was like $25.00 pp paid when the reservation was made preboarding. I like my filet though my wife was not too crazy about her pasta dish. I made this reservation only to accommodate our Cats reservation and all in all for the extra cost it was just ok. We really liked Tuscan Grill and especially the Asian fusion restaurant Silk on Celebrity and would be happy to pay more for them, especially Silk. Would we go to Giovannis again just for itself? Nope. It just did not make that much of an impression.
So how was the food in the MDR? Not bad at all and it met my expectations which again are lower than a fine dining experience which we hope to have Saturday in Chicago. :). My entrees were fine and Sue had Indian food which she also liked. One night however they serve curried lobster and she is not a fan of seafood but hey its lobster and I was more than happy to help her with it. We did have lobster one night but one of our tablemates is originally from Cape Cod and said it was puny compared to what she grew up eating. Oh well. I did order steak one night and it was prepared how I wanted it and though it did have some rather tough areas it over all was pretty good. I do not know where RCI gets their beef but for me it seem quality wise close to USDA choice, perhaps a notch below but it wasn't bad. Really I had no complaints about our meals and the desserts well all pretty good. No issues there.
We always ate breakfast in the MDR and that was pretty good too. We once went to Johnny Rockets for breakfast and lets just say thats done and we are not likely at all to go again. The breakfast here is free but otherwise its $7.00 pp and I just can't see paying for a diner experience on such a nice ship.
The park cafe is free and we had a salad on day one and it was OK and the buffet restaurant had a good selection of food but hey on a vacation we want to be served so we had lunch a few times there and breakfast on debarkation day and that was it.
Pizza at Sorrentos in the promenade was rather limp. The crust was doughy and for us it should be crisp so once was enough.
One nice feature on the Getaway was O'Sheehans pub which had some good casual food. I don't think RCI can match that unless they beef up the menu at say the Globe and Atlas venue in the Promenade which would be doable I think.
We had lunch one day in the solarium. This offers lighter fare and has fresh fruit, a salad bar and one or two entrees. Sue had the tacos one day and said were pretty good but the solarium itself is really nice. This would be our place to be if we ever sailed this ship or one of her sisters again. We were there one day when it was raining and its mostly enclosed so we stayed dry and funny think is it was not crowded at all even with it raining down on the pools. Here is one area where NCL's Getaway falls was short. They basically had one pool for 4 k passengers unless you were in the Haven for way more $$. However the Oasis had I think 5 adult pools and at least that many hot tubs so it never felt crowded. There were also several bars on the pool deck and the service was very good. They do have fresh popped popcorn but at $2.50 for a small box, c'mon man thats too much. I am not saying it should be free but I think $1.25 is enough.
This ship is by far the best we have ever been on in so far as design and features go. Its no wonder that several people we met onboard have done multiple cruises on this ship and we hope to be like them one day. In fact I told our son that I would pop for him and by then his wife to go with us one day and that we would pop for it. Thats how much we loved this ship. We want them to see it. However their bar bill will be all theirs. :D.
Now as for debarkation that was terrible. First of all we purchased transfers on board from RCI to shuttle us to MIA. We assembled on time and were supposed to leave at 0845 but by 0900 we were still in limbo. I asked a crew member whats up and he said customs was slow and that we could leave but that our bags may not be ready. Well that turned out to be a bunch of malarkey. All bags were there but where? We matriculated thru customs and went to the section our bags were to be in. No bags. In fact no bags with section 20 labels were in section 20. Instead there were bags label with # 23. I asked two people where our bags were and thy had no idea. Finally the 3rd. person I asked pointed to an unmarked section up against a wall and lo and behold there were our bags. But this was nothing compared to the shuttle.
There were buses for MIA and FLL so we of course got on the MIA bus and waited. 40 mins went by and nothing so I asked the baggage loader when we will be going. He said "soon" I asked him like how long in minutes and he glared at me and said "soon" Thats it. I asked another guy who said "don't worry about it" . So 15 mins. later we still weren't moving and the bus was nearly full. Then they decided to load a WC person, no issues there and his 5-6 family members with all their luggage including a huge case for some sort of musical instrument so that took more time. Finally after more that an hour we left and guess what these guys went to FLL airport first! Man like I said there are buses for FLL so why they went there first I will never know. By this time people are fuming and I and another passenger from inside the bus and I called RCI and told them what was happening and that RCI had to pay any fees if due to their incompetence we missed our flight.
We finally got to MIA and then dumb and dumber locked us in the bus until they could unload the luggage which they did not do for their 1st stop for AA at MIA. We are at UAL now. We finally got off the bus at about 1135 after getting on initially at around 0935. The other guy who had called RCI from the bus had a 1200 flight so I imagine he missed it. We had a long walk to the UAL counter and thank God there was no line. We checked in and then had another long walk to the gate which we arrived at about 5-10 mins. before boarding began. Fortunately our bags arrived with us but this was no way to treat customers, especially for how uncaring they were. The guy who kept say "soon" to me tried to lay on some Caribbean charm while in route but no one said word to him. Passengers were fed up. The smartest thing they did was not asking for tips.
I did report all this to RCI and specifics like the bus company name and the bus number which they actually asked me for and told them I would never use their shuttle service again.
Unfortunate ending to a very nice time on a wonderful ship So next time no shuttles. We will figure out another way. We actually purchased a future cruise while on board too. Its for the Ovation of the Seas, an Anthem class ship which is still being built. This cruise is for Nov. 2016 for 12 days out of Tianjin with stops in China, Okinawa, HK and Singapore. Read Less