Make the most of your cruise vacation with information from

Discover the world of cruising

Get ready to cruise with Cruise Wear, Accessories, Luggage & More from
The Cruise Shop

 Cruising by the Book ~ Top Picks in 
Cruise Guidebooks

The favorite of serious cruise travelers:

 Cruise Travel
Cruise Travel

Have a question or a review to submit?

Copyright © 1995-2001 
Linda Coffman


Majesty of the Seas – April 15, 2000  

by David Simonsen

Itinerary:  San Juan; At Sea; Aruba; Curacao; At Sea; St. Maarten; St. Thomas; San Juan

These are some personal impressions from our seven-day cruise on the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas from Saturday, April 15 to Saturday, April 22, 2000.  When reading any of my critical comments, remember that I love cruising and thoroughly enjoyed my week on Majesty, which is a beautiful ship.  It seems that on every cruise I do fewer things; yet, the week goes by quicker each cruise.  I just do not understand why the clock insists on accelerating so much for my cruise time.

This year my wife, Vickey, and I cruised with our younger daughter, Kristen, who is 15 years old. Our family has taken one-week Caribbean cruises since 1992, when we cruised on the Costa Riviera.  This is the first cruise taken with only one of our two daughters.  Our older daughter is a freshman in college this year and could not join us.  We have cruised on Costa twice, Carnival twice, Celebrity once, and Royal Caribbean four times.  Royal Caribbean is the consensus family favorite, with the girls having more interest in Carnival and Vickey and I liking Celebrity and Costa at least as much as Royal Caribbean.

We cruised on Majesty before, in 1996, when it was on a Western Caribbean itinerary.  We also cruised its sister ship, Monarch, in 1997, on an Eastern itinerary.  I think that Majesty/Monarch is a good size.  I am somewhat skeptical of the bigger ships and whether they would add any value to our cruise experience, although bigger ships might improve the entertainment.

I was interested in how Majesty would look, after another four years of service, and I was very impressed with what I saw.  In most respects, the ship appeared in better shape and better organized than four years ago.  Little things, such as the games in the library and the condition of the ping-pong tables and equipment, seemed in excellent shape.  The equipment in the Fitness Center was in excellent condition and repair.  For a ship getting ready to go into dry dock in about four weeks, it simply looked great.

I very much liked the itinerary of this cruise; two days at sea and four excellent ports of call: Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas.  For a seven-day cruise, I found this a great itinerary.  Of course, it helped that we had great weather.  In particular, the weather when we were in St. Maarten and St. Thomas was almost perfect.

There were 2,552 passengers and 832 crew on board for this cruise.  Fewer than the 2,600+ passengers that had been on board in 1996, but still a pretty full house with a maximum capacity of 2,700 passengers.  Although they said that the passengers came from about 30 countries, the vast majority were US.  Being a Spring Break week, there were lots of kids, particularly teens, but I have no numbers.  There were 903 repeat cruisers among the 2,552.

Kyle Dodson was the cruise director, as he was four years ago.  We all thought he looked better without his mustache.  We also thought he looked older, better rested, more at ease, and quite the cruise director.  Kyle appears the perfect, if somewhat robotic, cruise director.  He is almost too scripted in some respects.  His hand movements, always holding the microphone in his left hand and making the same hand gestures with his right hand, distract me for some reason.  Overall, Kyle appears to run a good ship, but I cannot help wondering how he would be to work for.  His cruise staff was good, although many of them were relatively new to RCCL.  Jamie, Sebastian, and Raymond were our favorites, but they all were good people.

I thought that the entertainment was not as good as four years ago, nor as good as on other recent cruises.  The headliners were not as good in my opinion and the Wave Revue singers and dancers, although enjoyable, seemed less of a cohesive, professional group than other companies we have seen on Royal Caribbean.  Among other things, the four lead singers lacked a really good pair that looked and worked well together.  More positively, Daniel Rosen, the psycho-comedian, was as funny as when we saw him on the Monarch three years ago and seemed the crowd favorite of the various acts.  He could at least rename his Swiss army cat, though.  The Coasters were the biggest “name” act and were good.

The food and service were good.  The meals that we ate in the dining room were:  one open seating lunch and all the dinners except the first night.  Our table (#174) was for six, but we never saw the other three, who apparently came only on the first night, when we had not.  Our headwaiter said that he never found out what had happened to them, but they must have moved to another table somewhere.  (Heard we were their tablemates, probably.)  The service and presentation was very good and, I think, better than on Carnival’s Fascination last year.  We think the best dinner food service was on Celebrity Mercury in 1998, but we have continued to hear stories from people who think Celebrity is declining in its food quality and service.  Our Waiter was Ramon, from the Philippines, and our Assistant Waiter was Maria, an ethnic Russian from Latvia.  They worked hard for us and we were very pleased with the service.  Maria in particular was interesting to talk with.  She told us that she was born in Siberia and then had spent most of her life in Latvia.  Hearing that, I asked if her family was military and she said that her father was (or maybe still is) an Army Doctor.  She made a reference to what a mess everything was and had been for years.  Her English was very good and she seemed to have more on the ball than most of the Assistant Waiters we have had; also, she was the first female assigned to us on any cruise.  I pleased her by trying out a few Russian phrases remembered from a college course.  

Day 1: We left Richmond, Virginia at 11 a.m. on Delta, traveling through Atlanta on the way to San Juan.  This was the latest time of day that we have left for San Juan and it was a mixed blessing: much easier to get ready, but less time in San Juan on the first Saturday.  We touched down in San Juan at 5:25 p.m., sitting down on the bus for the drive to the pier at 6:05; and in our cabin at 6:40.  The unique record of bus driver/tour guide Andy Jimenez remains undisturbed.   If you have read all my previous reviews you know that Andy actually gave a tour while driving the bus to the ship and I actually tipped him in response.  We had only one cabin for all of us this year - an outside category F cabin on the Mariner (8) deck - 8096.  It was somewhat small, but worked out fine.  Our cabin steward was great and did a fine job.  The room was quiet and we never heard anything at night.  I wondered if the placement of the room at the end of the hall - with a Men’s Room and the Paint Your Wagon lounge next to us on the ship map - would mean a lot of noise and problems, but it was no problem at all.  Actually, I used the Men’s Room as my own bathroom when my two female companions were hogging the bathroom in the cabin.  It really worked out very well.  We had a buffet dinner on arrival, skipping dinner in the dining room, and skipping the welcome aboard show.  We just walked around, getting reacquainted with the ship.  The lifeboat drill was a little looser than usual, but seemed to last just as long.

Day 2: At Sea: I started accumulating ship shape dollars with the Sunrise Stretch class, which I went to every day but one.  After the stretch class, there was the walk-a-thon for another ship shape dollar.  Over the week, I got a total of 18 ship shape dollars (a couple given to me by my daughter), for which I got a t-shirt and an exercise towel at the end of the week; both joining my collection of rarely used ship-shape stuff.  This morning, as well as some other mornings of the cruise, I used a Stairmaster in the fitness center, of which there were five, all in good working order.  On other days I used a treadmill - there were five treadmills, one needed repair at the first of the week, but was working by Wednesday.  The fitness center was in good shape generally and never crowded when I was there on this cruise.  This first day at sea was relaxing and I did nothing that required thought all day - simply a great day.  It was one of the two formal nights and I put on my suit.  Very few men wore tuxes, but almost all had at least a dark suit.  The women were dressed up and looked great, as usual.  The show was the Coasters, the big headliner of the cruise.  They did their old songs, many of which are very memorable.  I have no idea if these were the original Coasters in whole or in part, but they put on a good show.

Day 3: Aruba: We had not been to Aruba since 1992 and it has not changed all that much, although there obviously is more development. In the morning, we took a taxi to Arrise-Malmot (I probably am not spelling Arrise right) beach to snorkel and enjoy the sand and sun.  The taxi driver first took us to Palm Beach, the best known and most developed beach.  I told him Malmot, but I do not know if he just misunderstood or what, he did not speak English too well.  We finally got him to understand and he took us to the place we wanted.  The snorkeling is not much at Palm Beach and is much better at Malmot-Arrise.  It is $14 per cab to Arrise-Malmot.  I paid him an extra $2 to try to get him to come back on time.  We had a good time there, but had some trouble getting back.  We had arranged for Harold, the taxi driver, to pick us up at 12:30, about two hours after dropping us.  At 1:00 p.m., we gave up on Harold or any other taxis (none were coming by) and started walking along the road.  Vickey flagged down a bus, which picked us up between normal stops (we had about another couple hundred yards to the next bus stop).  The bus was great, it cost $1.25 per person and took us downtown near the pier.  The bus driver drove like a maniac and it was pretty quick back to town.  First time we ever have not been picked back up at the time agreed and not had another taxi driver right there to fill in.  Next time, from there, we may just plan on taking the bus back in the first place - it was only a few hundred yards to a bus stop from the beach we wanted to be on.  Tonight was Caribbean night at dinner.

Day 4: Curacao: This was the one port of call that we had not previously visited.  We enjoyed it very much.  We first took a taxi to the Princess Beach Hotel - $12 per taxi.  We walked in through the front door and went straight through to the beach.  We used lounge chairs under a palm tree and made full use of the facilities.  I assumed someone would come by and charge us something, but no one paid us any attention at all.  The snorkeling was good around a breakwater in front of the beach.  The Princess is right next to the Seaquarium.  I thought we might go there, but we decided not to - it was too easy just lying around.  Some folks who did go to the Seaquarium and with whom we talked later enjoyed the exhibits there.  After changing at the Princess, we took a taxi downtown ($8) and ate lunch at an outdoor cafe.  We walked around and saw the floating bridge open up - interesting, but it meant we no longer had a relatively easy walk back.  Kristen and I were both hot and tired, and wanted to head back to the ship.  Vickey wanted to shop some more.  So, Kristen and I grabbed a taxi back to the ship ($8) and left Vickey to her shopping.  She walked back over the floating bridge after it had closed.  This night was the first Wave Revue production show and it was OK, but just OK.

Day 5: At Sea: Another relaxing day at sea.  Nothing accomplished - another great day.  I participated in the ping-pong tournament, having not played in at least ten years.  The high wind and condition of the tables made the games competitive despite great differences in ability.  All three of us attended a toning class in the fitness center.  That was interesting.  I just about killed myself trying to keep up - the instructor was ordering everyone to work harder, but told me (and only me) at one point to slow down what I was doing.  Just because I was red in the face, sweating like a pig, and threatening to pass out - oh well, I guess he did not realize I actually am much younger and fitter than I look.  This night was the second and final formal night.

Day 6: St. Maarten: We love St. Maarten and always have a great time.  The only problem, and it was a bit of a problem again this time, is the fact that St. Maarten requires tendering.  It appears that progress is being made on the pier and I hope it is ready the next time I cruise there.  Our last time on Majesty the tendering was poorly done and this time was a repeat.  They seemed very disorganized.  They apparently wanted people to line up to go to the tenders on the stairs, but the elevators kept bringing people to the departure area on Deck 1 and those people would just head right for the tenders.  People trying to listen to the one Cruise Staff person trying to give orders about lining up on the stairs and waiting, got a bad deal.  They should either put up ropes and force people into organized lines or just give up.  In this case, they should have given up.  In any event, after about fifteen minutes or so standing and shuffling along in line, we eventually got on a tender, whether we waited again as it filled, and finally, made it to shore.  As usual, we first went to Dawn Beach.  We were dropped at Busby’s at Oyster Pond Beach and then walked over to Scavenger’s at Dawn Beach, which we prefer because it is less crowded and, we think, nicer.  I bought two t-shirts from Scavenger’s and we had some drinks there during the morning of snorkeling and hanging out.  We did not have any trouble getting a taxi to Oyster Pond/Dawn this year, probably in great part because a new road has opened which makes the travel to the area much easier.  ($5 per person by taxi)  Dawn has the best off beach snorkeling in St. Maarten, with no need of any ferry/boat ride, and that is a good part of the attraction to us.  Unfortunately, over the years we are seeing more and more people who also decide to go to Oyster Pond/Dawn instead of Orient or one of the other beaches.  There were far more people than we have seen before there, at least since the Dawn Hotel was destroyed in a hurricane a few years back, but it was a beautiful day and a lot of cruisers were in port, so a good number of people was to be expected anywhere.  Also, it still was much less crowded than Orient would be.  After changing in the Scavenger’s facilities, we caught a taxi back to downtown, never any problem finding a taxi at Busby’s.  Once back in town we ate lunch at Rick’s Place, where we had a table right near the water.  We have eaten there before and find it very nice - nothing fancy, just a quick lunch.  After lunch we shopped around and Vickey bought, among other things, a tablecloth.  We left about 4 p.m.  The last tender left at 5:30 and the ship sailed at 6:00 p.m.  Tonight was the second Wave Revue show.

Day 7: St. Thomas: Creatures of habit that we are, we again returned to Coral World at Coki Beach.  The taxi was $5 per person and we had no trouble getting one right away when leaving the ship.  It turned out that the guy who took us in one of those open lorries had convinced some folks to take a “tour” with him.  He had agreed to take us to Coral World as the first leg of the tour.  We first realized what was going on when he pulled off the road going up the first main hill, got out of the cab, came around to the back, and started giving a talk about what we could see.  He told us about how expensive the land was and how a house in front of us would cost at least half a million dollars.  He destroyed his credibility with me when he told us with great authority that the United States had bought the Islands from the “English” for $25 million dollars.  (The United States purchased the Islands from Denmark, of course.)  In short, his tour was pretty pathetic and we felt sorry for the people, who had never been to St. Thomas before, that he had gathered together for his two hour “tour.”  In any event, he got us to Coral World.  Coral World is $18 per person (last year I got a family membership which was cheaper than four admissions), but near the entrance to Coral World we ran across a fellow who was handing out discount coupons that apparently gave him a commission of some kind.  They saved us $4 each.  Pretty good deal and lucky for us.  The exhibits at Coral World were looking very good and we enjoyed the exhibits and the talks given.  They have closed the restaurant and cut back on some exhibits, however, and I asked one of the people there about how they were doing.  He said that they were not really making any money, but managing to keep the animals in the exhibits healthy and maintaining their various animal rescue/rehabilitation activities.  (For example, they are a rescue and rehabilitation center for sea turtles that are found injured or unable to care for themselves.)  I told him how great I thought the tanks and exhibits looked and he seemed very pleased to get the compliments.  He said that he really did not know what the future held for them, if they could not get more visitors or other revenues.  He said that they were discussing bringing more vendors into the place to try to raise more revenue or doing other things.  One reason we go to Coral World is that they have showers you can use after snorkeling off Coki Beach, which has great snorkeling.  It is a small beach and not nearly as attractive a beach as Magens or the beaches on St. Johns, but it is fine with us.  Vickey and Kristen ate lunch at the Coral World snack bar - I just had some soda.  After showering and changing into dry clothes, we looked around Coral World a little more, hit the gift shop there, and then headed back to Havensight.  We thought about going downtown, but decided to just do some shopping at Havensight, before heading back to the ship.  Tonight after dinner was the Farewell Show which was fine.  The “If I were not upon the sea” skit was funny, as usual, and Daniel Rosen was very entertaining, showing off his excellent musical skills with the guitar and banjo.  I lost the last of the quarters I had allowed myself to lose in the Casino machines, calling it quits at a loss of about $10, after being up over $10 at one point.  Never played any table games all week, although I thought I would give it a try.  Just never got around to it.  I gave out the tips this night.  I rounded the suggested tip amounts up a bit for our Waiter, Assistant Waiter, and Cabin Steward.

Day 8: San Juan: Starting to head back to reality - yech!  I was up about 6:30 and got us straight with the Delta representative on board, so that we could breeze through the check in later.  After that, I jogged around Deck 12 enjoying the morning and looking at San Juan.  After breakfast, I went back to the cabin and got my companions up and moving to go get their breakfasts.  Breakfast was served until 8:30, which seems an unnecessarily early cut off.  On Fascination last year, they served the last morning buffet breakfast until 9:30.  We got off the ship about 10, waiting until then in the Crown Viking Lounge, which a bunch of other people also seemed to know was a good place to wait - maybe they read my previous cruise reports saying that it was a good spot.  As usual, the porter in San Juan made it very easy to get the bags collected, through customs, and right to the back of the Delta truck.  As always, I have to say that there is no choice but to use a porter in San Juan - even if you are usually the “carry your own” kind of person.  Since I had already checked in with the Delta rep on ship, the Delta rep could just slap the tags on the baggage at the back of the truck and we were done.  We did not have a flight until 4:45 p.m., so we headed off to enjoy Old San Juan.  We first fed the pigeons at pigeon park and then, much to the disgust of my daughter, made the trek to El Morro.  She was somewhat mollified because we stopped to buy some things, including ice cream at a Ben & Jerry’s, along the way.  After El Morro, we wandered back through the streets, running across a Wendy’s where we had lunch, showing no imagination whatever for the opportunities of San Juan.  (How embarrassing.)  We then wandered some more, winding up at the Crown and Anchor place, where we cooled off and relaxed, before getting a taxi to the airport ($15) - it is only a ten to fifteen minute drive.  Our flight was scheduled to leave at 4:45 p.m. and was not too late in departing.  The connection through Atlanta went as scheduled.  All too soon we were back in Richmond, having to face the real world once more.

I was very pleased with this cruise.  Majesty is a great ship and we had a great time.

David Simonsen

More Royal Caribbean Reviews