of the Seas
Cruise Review -
by Susan Roberts
We are currently 39 and 40. This
is a review of our second cruise—both have been with Royal
Caribbean. We booked
through an Internet agency both times.
Getting there: We drove approximately 3½ hours to Galveston and
crossed the Bolivar Ferry after only a 5 minute wait.
We drove directly to EZ Cruise parking (about 2 p.m.), handed
the attendant our confirmation Email, parked, they loaded our luggage
onto the shuttle, and we were at the cruise ship terminal in just a
few minutes. After the
porter checked our luggage, we walked into the terminal and waited one
minute (not even a line, really—just walked up to the front and
stood) until we were helped with our boarding process.
Onboard: In less than five minutes we were onboard the ship and we
immediately went to eat a very good lunch in the Windjammer.
The muster drill
was around 4:15.
Sailing away: We went to the poolside deck to listen to Pandigenous
(good Caribbean music) while we sailed away.
Later, we went to deck 4 and listened to Rosario Strings (in the
centrum area) and they were excellent!
This same duo (guitar and violin) performed on several evenings
in the dining room, and they were supreme at many different types of
music. Went back to the room, unpacked two of our four luggage—two
were missing, so we went to the purser’s desk to fill out a form
(and of course one luggage contained scuba gear and the other was
mainly camera and video equipment), but thankfully they were both in
our room by the time we returned from dinner.
First night’s dinner was delicious.
Entertainment: First night was comedy of Carl Banks—he was funny,
did very good impressions and could sing like Nat King Cole and
Sinatra (among others). Night
two was also comedy and another impressionist—very funny, also.
Night three was the production show of the RC Singers and
Dancers, but we did not attend this, as we left the ship at 3:00 and
returned around 11:00). Night
four was Haines Magic and we really enjoyed this show—excellent
illusions. Night five was
another production show of the RC Singers and Dancers, which was
entitled “Rock on Broadway.” This was okay, and the singing was very good…
but some of the
dancers were not very good. Night
six was Kenny James (13 time Star Search winner—male vocalist) and
he put on a very good show. I
don’t know how he keeps going—he was constant motion.
Night seven was juggling and comedy by the Hill Brothers and
they were excellent. All
of these shows were in the Broadway Melodies Theater—we sat in
different areas each evening, and all of our seats were good.
This large theater is very nicely designed and decorated.
service is before the shows.
Activities: We participated in a few… I used the ship shape center
three times during the cruise—the Early Morning Stretch was a really
good stretch—and after that I used various equipment.
It was pretty busy most of the time, but I had the whole place
to myself at 2:30 on our day in Cozumel.
captain’s welcome aboard reception was well attended and we laughed
a lot at the captain—he was really quite humorous.
We enjoyed the Majority Rules game at 10:15 on day two, caught
a few minutes of Derek Lewis in the Schooner Bar (we did this on all
but two nights), and on day two we went to bed just after midnight.
We played win a cruise bingo on day three—we didn’t win,
but we later met the couple who did, the art auction was well
attended, but we didn’t go to it, and we watched the ice carving
demonstration on the pool deck (“don’t ask them what it
is—it’s bad luck”). Day
four was a little hazy to see much of Cuba as we passed, but we did
use our binoculars and looked anyway. We watched the Belly Flop Competition (all contestants got a
prize of some kind), sat in the hot tub for a while, and played The
Quest late that night. Day
five we were off the ship mostly, but we did watch the hilarious Love
and Marriage game show and stayed up late enough to take pictures of
the absolutely beautiful food/art at the Gala Buffet.
Day six we gathered with quite a few of the other passengers
(get there early if you want to video or take photos) and watched the
Friendship Celebration Parade. Day
seven we played Texas 42 in the card room, hung out with friends in
the Schooner bar, looked at art, picked up the newspaper in the
library when I returned a book I had borrowed, and watched the adult
guest talent show on the television, because we had missed seeing it
in the theater.
“Friendliest Ship”: Yes, the crew members were all quite friendly.
They all seemed to enjoy their work.
Cruise director is from Britain, he is humorous.
The staff is hardworking and fun.
Maintenance and repairs were done onboard throughout the trip,
but never were a problem for getting around.
The ship was clean, in very good shape, and very attractively
decorated. Spills were
wiped up quickly, and empty glasses were removed expediently.
Food: We were second seating (by choice), and we ate every evening in
the Edelweiss Dining Room (except for Key West—we were off the ship
until around 11 pm). We
were at table 160—this was in the center of the lower floor of the
dining room—excellent table. Everything
we ate was very, very good! We
also ate almost all our breakfasts in the dining room and ate most
lunches in the Windjammer.
Room service: We had it once—on the Georgetown, Cayman Islands
day—I put the card out on the door the night before and circled
7:00. At 6:50, they
called to say they were bringing our breakfast.
We requested extra coffee and they brought two carafes.
Both of us ordered omelettes and there was also an assortment
of danishes. All of this
was very good, and all of it was very warm, except for the coffee,
which was very hot.
Edelweiss dining room: Breakfasts
were all very good—fun to eat with and converse with such a variety
of people from all over the country. We ate eggs several times, I had the French toast once, hubby
had the blueberry pancakes once, we each had omelettes also.
All of the aforementioned items were all very good, served
promptly, and always with our choice of breakfast pastries or toast.
The waiters also always inquired if we would like to add bacon
or sausage, and offered juices if we failed to order them.
They were always friendly and efficient and refilled our coffee
cups as we emptied them. Excellent
service and delicious food.
I am sorry to say the only lunch we ate in the dining room was on day
seven. We ate with some
of our new friends and we had the baby back ribs.
They were awesome. Dessert
was superb—banana caramel split. We opted for the Windjammer for lunch each of the other days
because of activities that we were involved in, but I really prefer
the dining room—the service is terrific and I enjoy meeting people,
and you are more or less on your own in the Windjammer.
Dinners were all wonderful. We
had a table for six, and as I said, second seating.
We had very friendly and enjoyable table mates… one couple
from Oklahoma City and the other from Texas.
Our waiter was Baris and assistant was Allan.
Both were very efficient and friendly. The first night was
delicious rib eye steaks and dessert was white chocolate (ivory) fondue
with fresh berries and it was a wonderful desert.
I only had to ask for iced tea on the first two nights, then
Allan brought it each evening thereafter.
Night two, hubby had duck a la orange—he said it was
good—and I had a Cajun pasta dish that was outstanding. (We are from
LA, so my expectations were high.) Both of us had cheesecake for dessert and it was delicious.
Night three we ate in Key West.
Night four hubby had the sea bass—it was very good but rather
small, so he opted for a second entrée-pork chop-which was very good.
I had the ravioli and it was terrific.
Night five hubby had three lobster tails with shrimp (that
tells you how much he loved it, huh?) and I had the Prime Rib.
was the night of the flourless royal chocolate cake and it was very
rich and everyone at the table loved it.
Night six was
Italian night; we had some really great bread, tasty minestrone soup,
and hubby told Baris to “surprise him” at dinner and he did very
well—he brought the shrimp scampi—excellent, I had rigatoni—also
excellent. Dessert was
chocolate cake and Baris recommended eating it with ice cream, and we
all really enjoyed it. Night
seven was a steak and ice cream for dessert.
All the food was terrific. Waiter and assistant worked hard but seemed to enjoy it.
I would say that they worked to be as unobtrusive as possible.
They sang, of course, on two evenings, plus we saw them again
for the Friendship Celebration. Dining
room attire varied… all of the passengers who ate on formal nights
were dressed very nicely.
Windjammer: We ate most of our lunches here and found it to be quick
and tasty. As you walk in
the doors, note the card on the buffet—it will tell what is being
served in the center area of the buffet area.
Desserts are also located in this center area—and you can (of
course) have as many as you want. I tried many of them, and they were all terrific.
(I only gained 5 pounds on this trip!)
We both thought the Mexican buffet was really good—fajitas
were well seasoned. Barbecue
chicken on day six was also very good… we never had a bad
meal—everything was tasty and the wait staff here was very helpful.
We always tried to sit near the front windows—even
saw a huge number of dolphins one day—and a very friendly
waitress named Nuran from Turkey always spoke to us and kept our iced
tea filled. The only time
I ever encountered a line on this ship was in the dessert line at the
Windjammer one day, but I sacrificed the wait so I could try a few of
Room: We had room 3142 which is a large ocean view room and it was
just what we expected, as we had the same category on Splendour last
year (although we had been on deck two).
Upon arrival, there was a listing of the movies played for
every day of the cruise along with the channels they could be found
on. I think there were 5
international channels (same movie in different languages).
On this same listing—on the back—was a list of the
“highlights” of each day. Upon
arrival, our excursion tickets were on
the bed along with a listing of other available excursions and the
large towels to use on excursions or at the pool.
The room was checked and cleaned and organized at least twice a
day. Our steward,
Bertram, even stowed our luggage away under the bed for us.
We had the towel animals beginning on night two, and Bertram
made a few new ones that I had not seen before.
In Key West, we did the Western Union Sunset Sail, and it was awesome.
The sunset was not great, but the trip was terrific anyway.
Captain Lenn was very knowledgeable and informative and hubby
helped hoist the sails on the way out.
They served unlimited champagne, beer, and sodas.
There was a very scrumptious conch chowder served, and I
don’t even like seafood! The music onboard was a mixture of harp and
something that I think was a bagpipe, and it was excellent.
I highly recommend this excursion—it was something different
and the history of the schooner was interesting.
Very relaxing and special. Pictures were taken of all the passengers as we boarded, and
these were shown to us as we got off at the end of the excursion.
In Grand Cayman we did the stingray city trip—this was not through
the cruise lines. We booked our cruise through an Internet
agency and they offered a
free shore excursion, and this is the one I selected.
I am really glad we did it this way, because the majority of
people were there with very large numbers of people in their groups,
and our group of 30 was very enjoyable.
Interestingly, five of us were from the RCCL ship and the rest
were from a Carnival ship out of New Orleans.
The company that took us out gave us a short “educational”
talk about stingrays on the way, and they were very patient and
persistent in helping us all to touch and hold the beautiful
creatures. As we were
about to leave, a rather large, overcrowded boat pulled in and the
people were screaming and yelling as one of the workers intentionally
chased them with stingrays in arms. It seemed rather chaotic, and I was glad that our experience
had been so peaceful.
In Cozumel, hubby and three friends went scuba
diving—they left around 12:30, so we had plenty of time early that
morning to shop. We were
at the International Pier, so this is not the busiest area of Cozumel,
but we enjoyed the shopping and found several bargains—souvenirs.
Back to the scuba, we all had booked through RCCL, and the
company taking them out made a video that was ordered, and it will
take about four weeks to receive. Hubby and friends all raved about this two tank dive, said the
water was crystal clear and they saw all sorts of beauty under the
sea. Pictures from the
dives are very beautiful!
Key West: We docked at 3, and were off the ship shortly thereafter.
We were the only cruise ship there—another one had left about
30 minutes ahead of our arrival. We walked Duval Street to see the clubs and whatnot.
Key West was extremely clean, and there were some street
performers around that were interesting to watch.
We walked to Margaritaville to get our teenager a t-shirt and
to make a note of where it is so we could go back later, which we did,
to have a Cheeseburger in Paradise. Excellent band played that night—they were from Miami.
Around 4:45 we went back to the ship to meet the man from the
Western Union Schooner, and we were taken by shuttle to their dock.
I would never go all the way down to Key West any other
way—just too far—so I am glad we went on the cruise.
There were lots of mopeds for rent and lots of things one could
do on their own without taking an excursion.
Two of our tablemates did the pub crawl and they had a good
time… they also went to the state park beach, but they said it was
not very nice. I am sure
there is a nicer beach somewhere. Would we go to Key West again? Definitely—there is much to
see and do—and if possible, we would like to have it on another
Georgetown, Grand Cayman: We docked at 7 am—had been told we would
have to have tender tickets, as our excursion was not booked through
the ship, but when they called for early tendering, we finished our
breakfast and hurried down. Tendering
was very quick—we didn’t have any of the rough seas that I had
read about—and we were on shore and looking around in less than 30
minutes. One other
cruise ship was already there when we arrived and two others arrived
later, although the Internet port authority had listed one other RC
ship for arrival that day (it never came).
We also heard that the US dollar would be accepted but no
US change would be given, but we found that the dollar was accepted
and we asked for US change and it was given to us.
Georgetown was also very clean, the people were quite friendly,
and although the hurricane damage was still evident, it was a
beautiful place. We will
go there again if given a chance!
Cozumel: I think most people who cruise and travel have been to
Cozumel, and it is very nice. The
vendors can be a bit pushy, but that is the way they make their money.
We will definitely go there again, and we are considering
flying down to stay at an all-inclusive resort.
The diving is terrific, the weather is outstanding, and there
is a lot to see and do here. Fun to watch the late arrivals from the top deck—people were
still coming down the pier to get back on the ship as late as 5:50,
although “all aboard” time was 5:30.
Most of them were staggering down the pier… also interesting
to watch the crew take up the ropes before we set sail.
Departure: We had Green tags, so we were close to the end, but we
knew this, and ate breakfast in the dining room at 8:00—8:30 and
they didn’t seem to mind us staying around a few minutes later,
drinking coffee. Then we
made our way to the Broadway Melodies Theater, where we sat for a few
minutes… when they called the color ahead of us, we waited for those
people to exit, then we leisurely walked toward the middle of the
ship. We sat in the
Centrum a few minutes, they called our color, we walked out—customs
lines looked long but the whole thing took under 20 minutes.
We walked outside to find the sign for our parking area, the
line looked long here, also, but we only waited 5 minutes, and we were
on a shuttle and on our way. We
were third in line for the ferry, and we drove home.
was a terrific vacation, and we highly recommend this ship and
Caribbean - Cruise Reviews