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Sovereign of the Seas cruise review
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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman


Sovereign of the Seas
June 15, 2003

by Michelle McCarty

My husband, our fifteen-year-old daughter, and I sailed on the Sovereign of the Seas to the Bahamas on June 15, 2003. This was the first cruise for all of us and we had such a wonderful time that we are ready to go on another one whenever we can! Our family was also traveling with my friend, her husband and their teenage daughter. My friend had been on a couple of cruises in the past so she could tell us some of the things to expect, and reading the cruise reviews on this and some other sites helped us all to familiarize ourselves with the specific ship. 

When we arrived at the port around 12:30, we were directed to a parking space after paying the $40 fee. We then checked the bags that were large and took a couple of carry on bags just in case our checked bags were not delivered before dinner since we had the main seating at 6:00. We had all of our paperwork in order and ready to turn in before boarding. Even though the lines were very long, they moved very quickly and were very organized. We were issued our sea passes, which you need to keep with you at all times, and we were quickly ready to board.

The first thing we did was find our staterooms and leave our bags there. Everything was all in order for us. Our attendant was Julio from Haiti. He was very sweet and always had everything clean, straightened, and just as we requested. I was expecting our inner staterooms to be microscopic based on reviews I had read, so I was surprised when I found that there was indeed room to move around. The rooms were small, but very well laid out and functional. The bathrooms were the same way, small but very functional. My husband and I shared a room, my friend and her husband shared a room, and our two daughters shared a room across the hall from us. Had we had three to a room, it might have been a bit too crowded, but for two people, the inner rooms were good enough. Besides, we were really only in them to sleep and take showers since we always had so much to do. At night, I had thought it might be hard to sleep because there was always someone up and about on the ship. But we didn't hear anything on deck three except the anchor being lowered when we arrived at Coco Cay. I am glad I had read a review about that sound, or I probably would have thought something was wrong with the ship. One cool thing we all looked forward to every evening after dinner was finding the cute towel animals Julio would leave for us when he came to turn down our beds and leave a delicious chocolate on our pillows. The first night we didn't have an animal, but on the other nights we had a rabbit, a monkey, and an elephant. If we left sunglasses out in sight, Julio would put them on our towel animal, which made it even cuter. At one point during the cruise a couple of the stateroom attendants did a poolside demonstration of making the animals, which was interesting. 

After we put our things in our rooms upon arrival, we headed to the Windjammer on Deck 11 for the welcome aboard lunch. I was not expecting such an array of food as we had. There was so much to choose from. I really don't see how anyone could not find several things that they liked. They always had a wide variety of foods to choose from, and I never ate a thing I didn't like. It was all tasty and the food service workers were always busy keeping everything replenished. We ate at the Windjammer for breakfast every morning except the last one. We also had lunch there every afternoon, and usually popped in for an afternoon 'snack,' which always turned out to be a whole meal by the time we tried a little of everything that looked good. There was also soft serve ice cream and pizza available until very late. The pizza was in the Mast Bar above the pool.

We then did a tour of the ship. We just mainly looked around and tried to see everything we could. The ship was gorgeous and is kept in excellent shape. I was concerned that it might look a little worn and shabby since it is thirteen years old, but that wasn't the case at all. The crew works very hard to make sure that it stays looking so good.

Before long it was time for the Muster Drill. We had to return to our staterooms, put on our life jackets, and walk up to Deck 7 to our assigned station to practice for an emergency evacuation. I was pleased that the crew took this drill and security any time we left or returned to the ship very seriously. It made me feel very safe to be on board. I didn't hear any passengers complaining about this like I might have heard in the past.

As soon as the drill ended, it was time for us to go dress for dinner. The dress was casual the first two nights, but we usually dressed up pretty nicely. The dining room was very fancy and formal, so we just felt like dressing accordingly. We were glad to have a table by the window, number 49. The six of us in our party sat together. There was room for eight. No one ever sat at the other two chairs. We don't know if those people chose to eat in the Windjammer instead or if they wound up not coming on the cruise or what. Our waiter was Edderic from Philippines and our assistant waiter was Santan from India. They were both wonderful. They were very charming, polite, attentive, and efficient. After the first two evenings, they knew what we always ordered to drink and brought it to us without having to ask. Our headwaiter in the Kismet dining room was Gilberto from Portugal. He always came to our table to check in with us to make sure things were going well. He is the one you tell if there is a special occasion to celebrate during your cruise. My husband's birthday took place during this time, and Gilberto and our waiters brought out a birthday cake for him one night and sang to him. It was very nice. 

Each night the dining room had a different theme. The first evening was Venetian Feast. The waiters all dressed in vests with the colors of Italy and Italian food was on the menu. Before dessert all of the waiters sang a song for us in Italian. The second evening was a Caribbean theme. The waiters wore festive tropical vests that night. The third evening, formal night, was the Captain's Gala Dinner, and the last evening was Feast of Nations theme. Every night it was a hard decision about what to order.  Everything sounded delicious. You could have as many things as you wanted, but after stuffing ourselves all day, we could really only hold one thing from each course. Except on the last night, when several of us in our party had two desserts. We just couldn't choose between the Brownie Madness and the Baked Alaska. We were always asked very politely each evening if we wished a cocktail before and after dinner, but our person who asked was not in the least pushy. We are not drinkers and we just said no thank you and he wished us a good evening and that was it. Our dining room staff impressed us all for sure.

The whole time we were on the cruise I was amazed by the amount of food that was prepared and wondered what it must be like in the galley. I was so glad then that my husband and I happed to catch the end of a cooking demonstration that was going on in one of the rooms, and the chef told those of us in attendance that if we met him at the Kismet Dining room at a certain time, he would give us a galley tour. It was fascinating to see and everyone worked so efficiently. It was an amazing operation. There is nearly always a crew working in the kitchen just as hard as they can, and even when one cruise is over for the passengers, the crew is hard at work preparing food for the next group to board that same day for a new cruise. When the four day cruise ends on Thursday morning, the three day cruise starts Thursday afternoon. They leave the ship on Sunday morning, and then the four day people get aboard that afternoon. So it is a never-ending cycle for those who work aboard the ship.

Speaking of the crew members, they were all so friendly and polite and helpful. I did not meet anyone who was less than professional. They really made you feel at home and that they were truly happy to have you there and did their best to make your stay as fun, interesting, and comfortable as possible. It was also interesting for me to read each person's nametag, which included the country the person was from. I can't remember the exact number of countries represented on the ship, but I think it was 70+. Julio and one of the guys who did a line dance class told me the crew works six months straight with no days off, then they are off for two whole months. It is a very demanding schedule, but all appeared to enjoy their work very much.

After dinner each evening our party chose to attend the featured shows. The first night it was Johnny Thunder, a former member of the Drifters. I regret that we missed the comedian that first night, but we were all simply exhausted and went to bed around 11:00 or so. We heard that he was very funny though. The second night was a show by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers, "Rock on Broadway." It was excellent. My friend and I were disappointed that our girls chose not to attend this, instead going to a movie in one of the two cinemas. They thought they wouldn't enjoy the show, but when they caught the singers/dancers on the last night in a different performance, they wished they had gone with us to "Rock on Broadway," too. We also caught "Rockin' Through the Decades" in the Follies Lounge, which was an audience participation show. On Night Three, we went to the Captain's Champagne Reception after dinner, which was a very nice and elegant affair. We had complimentary champagne while we listened to an orchestra and danced. I enjoyed this a lot since we were dressed in our formal attire. After that we went to the Family Karaoke. Our girls planned to give it a try, but they ran out of time before their turn came. Then we attended a show by Joey Van who did impressions. We adults thought it was great, but the girls didn't know who some of the people were that he was impersonating. But he mixed in some folks like Ozzy Osbourne, which they liked. On the final night, we attended "Flashback" by the singers and dancers again, another great show, as well as another comedian, Rodney Johnson. He was a riot.

During the afternoons, there was always something to do, whether it be relax by the pool, swim, sit in the hot tubs, exercise, play basketball, attend seminars and demonstrations, dance classes, etc. I don't see how anyone could possibly be bored. There were plenty of things offered for children, and also for teens. Our teenagers didn't attend the planned activities, but they still had a lot to do on their own. Just be sure to check out the Daily Compass, which your stateroom attendant will leave for you each evening, and you can browse through it and decide what things might interest you for the next day.

There are two pools on the ship and tons of chairs, so you don't have to worry about getting a place to sit. They are three rows deep, so you have your choice of full sun, sun and shade, or all shade. The only complaint was that they do need to update their music selections when they play them on the speakers. There was a lot of 70s-80s soft rock, and that is all well and good, but the girls and I would have enjoyed it if they had mixed in more up to date music than they did. On Night Two, there was a deck party with live Calypso music and a Mexican and Caribbean Feast. On the last day, which was at sea, it was real crowded around the pool, but you could still find a place to sit. If you prefer a quiet place to read or just look at the ocean or relax, try the promenade deck, Deck 7. My husband and I enjoyed walking around it and sitting there quite a few times. It was shady and peaceful.

Don't be a dummy like I was. Use lip balm in addition to your sunscreen. Even if you have a tan, the Caribbean sun is very strong. I wound up sunburning my lips and by the end of Formal Night I was looking like Angelina Jolie. I was afraid I might have sun poisoning, so I made a visit to the ship doctor the next morning. He was very kind, but it cost me money I otherwise would not have had to spend. Hopefully either my health insurance or the Cruise Care travel insurance I took out will reimburse me for the charges.

As for the ports of call, the first day was Coco Cay, RCI's private island. I loved it there. It was gorgeous with the white sand and blue water. There were plenty of chairs to be had all over the island. Just be sure to take and return the pool towels from your room. There were hammocks to relax in under the palm trees. We rented beach mats and floated around in the water, which was my favorite thing to do. We didn't plan any excursions. I am sure they were fun, but they were not cheap and we didn't want to feel like we had to rush to do anything. We were busy enough as it was without them, and I don't regret not doing any. The people who did them seemed to enjoy them though. There was a barbeque lunch served on the island. The crew put out a huge spread for that and it was quite good. We stayed several hours on Coco Cay until we got too hot and then we returned to the ship. 

The next morning was Nassau. I enjoyed looking at it and Paradise Island from the ship. It was very pretty. My plans were to just buy a few souvenirs, making sure to find the Hard Rock Cafe because everyone needs a Hard Rock shirt from Nassau. It was only a few blocks away. I didn't want to go to the Straw Market because I am not into haggling or anything, so we just visited a few shops and got back on the ship. I am sure we missed some nice sights, but my objective was just to go on a cruise and I was not real concerned with any ports of call. When we got back on the ship, we had the pool pretty much to ourselves for a long while since most everyone was out and about in Nassau.

We bought a few of the many pictures that were taken by the ship photographers. We also purchased the video of our cruise. It was quite short for $24.99, but I am still glad I bought it because... hey, it was our cruise! It was lots of fun to watch and relive some of the moments and to show the folks back home what we got to do.

On the morning of departure our party decided to try the dining room for breakfast. The food was delicious as usual. It was open seating so we did not get our usual waiters. We watched the dolphins swimming around in Port Canaveral to keep us entertained. After our meal, we went back to the room, said our goodbyes to Julio, and made our way to the Follies Lounge with our carry on luggage to wait until our tag color, beige, was called so that we could disembark. The girls and I made one final trip through the ship and decks to get one last look and to snap a few more pictures. Then, as it got closer to time for the ship to be cleared by customs, we went back to the lounge to wait. Our color was not called for about 40 minutes, so to pass the time my husband and I watched out the windows. It was quite interesting to see luggage being carried out of the ship and loads of food being delivered and brought in to the ship for the cruise that would be leaving that night. Again, it was mind boggling to see the amount of food used. Every worker on the dock worked nonstop to keep things running smoothly and this kept us from being bored while we waited to have our turn to leave.

All in all, we had a marvelous time. I would definitely cruise with Royal Caribbean again. They are a first class operation. I hope I will get to cruise again in the not so distant future.

Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean Intl.

Royal Caribbean - Cruise Reviews

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