I will run down some lessons learned and or things that may be helpful and then go into more detail about the port days.
· We stayed the night before the cruise at the Clevelander in south beach. this is a 21 and over hotel with admission to their rooftop deck for all guests. Tiny rooms (think Manhattan) but it is beachfront and has great south beach nightlife. wonderful time but NOT for people with kids (under 21 policy) or those who are light sleepers (you can hear the club and poolside bar which is open LATE). Great for people who want to do the South Beach thing you see in movies and music videos. Great for those who want to be right on the beach and be walking distance to all the shopping and Art Deco. Great for deep sleeper.
· Embarkation was super easy and quick. I wanted to get there early but my friends didn't believe me when I said we could board before 2pm. One of my friends had two partial bottles of water in her carry on and they were not taken or even inspected. This method to smuggle liquor would have worked. The Suite line wasn't any faster than the regular lines the boys used. Our rooms were ready.
· The boat was fully booked because of those from the canceled NCL Dawn 11/29 sailing. These people got sickening deals like 219pp balcony.
· Luggage arrived by 5pmish. We used rum runners with no problem in both checked luggage and pockets of cargo pants I met a Canadian couple who took on four bottles of wine in their checked luggage with no problem.
· We slapped luggage tags on two 12 packs of soda and they arrived at our rooms around 11pm after we called guest services asking about it. Clearly this is okay to do since they looked for and delivered it. · Windjammer on embarkation day was very crowded and it was hard for my friend to get a coke with her coke card. She continued to have a hard time with quick service using the coke package. She was the only one in the group with the package and occasionally got cokes for us (one here or there) with no issue from the staff. I saw couple who openly shared one coke packge.
· VERY few kids onboard. Lots of Floridians and tons and tons of couples which made some of us miss our SOs at home.
· Dramamine Low Drowy formula (only one to use medicine the entire time) made me super drowsy so I would take it right before bed instead of in the middle of the day. I don't know if this made a difference or not. One of the boys used the patch and stopped because of the extreme dry mouth and drowsiness. One of the girls got sick on day three on a particularly choppy day.
· You can use the aerobics area in the gym for your own thing (stretching, yoga, core work) even when classes are going on.
· As reported by one of the boys, the steam room in the men's area in the fitness center had some gentlemen who took advantage of the translucent steam for public "amorous" activities. (I am just saying what he saw in there, no judgment)
· I took a bottle of mango wine from Belize onto the ship with no issue at all by splitting it between two emptied bottles of water. I did this because of the learnings on embarkation day about bottled water and also because the mango wine was clearly homemade and the bottle was leaking.
· The ATM charges a 6.5% fee. · The boys spent most of the time in the casino and they, along with several other we met, won money during the cruise at lost it all the last night. Table minimums go as low as 4 bucks during the day. Only one non smoking day in the casino on formal night, I think.
· Tender tickets were used as a crowd control measure and weren't actually collected when we went onshore in Belize which is a good thing because we never got them.
· The mini golf was fun but the range is not well kept and a drainage problem left pools of water and some mildew smells.
· My Time dining is a compromise. You get pretty quick service if you don't join other people (dinner in 1 hours without any rushing) but because you get a different wait staff each night the service is not as good as regular dining. We did not do reservations and never had to wait for a table because we were open to sitting with others. We met three great ladies who became subsequent dinner companions this way. Though some of my friends thought the service was spotty, (at times horrible in their opinion) they still rather that then a fixed dinner time.
· Main Dining room for breakfast and lunch was slower but nice and a great way to eat a normal portion of food as opposed to the Wind jammy jammy (as we so affectionately called it) · Portofino's on day 3 was okay. Even though the place was almost empty, the pacing of the dinner was SO slow (perhaps for couple in love) that we couldn't wait to just leave. The eggplant rollatini-like appetizer and fillet with risotto was AMAZING!
· When drinking outside of the room we stuck with drinks of the day for cost savings. Mojitos in Bolereos were also under 6 bucks.
· The night club was surprisingly fun. In our early 30's we were probably smack in the middle of the age range. The drink of the day there changes in the night two or three times depending on the bartender which is great because you can get different things for the same low price.
· Evidently they punch a hole in the seapass cards of kids between 18 and 21. I punched a hole in my card to use with a lanyard. It took the night club bouncers 5 min to verify my age before letting me in. i laughed that they though I looked anywhere near 21!
· Guest Services is open 24hrs a day so we avoided the seemingly ever present lines by visiting them very late at night.
· The lounge chairs on deck 12 at the back of the boat are quiet and not crowded like the pool side of deck 12 is. Great for reading while sunning. · I had three glasses of free champagne at the captain's night thing in the promenade on formal night and could have had more but three is enough for me.
· The aft balcony is AMAZING and so worth the walk. We asked for and received a third lounger for the balcony from the stateroom attendant. This size room was good for three ladies.
· Disembarkation was delayed. We were scheduled to disembark at 8:30 and didn't get out to the taxi stands till 10am. I guess it was a customs thing. There were only 4 border agents to process all those people. Getting a taxi was super easy.
Overall it was a wonderfully fun cruise. All my friends had a great time and we met some very fun and friendly people. The ship, though clean and very pretty, kinda has a vegas look to it. I think it is probably fairly tasteful as compared to other cruise shios but when i saw the pics from my friend's time on the Oasis, the modernity of that ship really makes this and the others in the Voyager class look dated. This had no effect on my fun but i think my next cruise will be on either the Oasis or the Allure to experience what a sparkly new ship feels like.Read Less