I had never considered taking a Christmas cruise due to the higher price and the number of families since I am single. However, rates had plummeted so drastically in October it would cost more to stay home for the holidays. At a $65. per diem for a single outside cabin I jumped at the chance. Fortunately my travel agent knows this ship very well and had me placed in a perfectly situated cabin (5088) which is midship with only cabins above and below, so there were no noise or motion problems.
My only previous cruise with RCI was on the Vision of the Seas, probably the most beautiful ship I have cruised on. The ship had wonderful amenities, excellent service, an activities program like no other ship I had been on and one of the worst buffets I have eaten at. I wondered how the Majesty would rate after such a wonderful cruise (wonderful after I avoided the Windjammer Cafe). It helped for me to know that even though RCI's marketing is now aimed to flaunt their Voyager class ships, I wouldn't be finding these features aboard the Majesty. No skatingrinks, rock-climbing walls, Johnny Rocket's, multi-tiered dining room, spacious cabins, etc. To some this might be perceived as "false advertising" but I firmly believe that you have to do your homework when you book your vacations and know what exactly you will be getting for your buck. Turns out I still got a big bang out for mine.
I flew to Miami the previous evening and stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites by the airport for $45. The place was just okay but it had free transportation from the airport and they offered shuttle service to the ship for $8. So for one overnight it was fine. We were picked up at 11am and arrived at the ship in 15 minutes. Boarding hadn't begun yet but the new terminal has a hall with plenty of seats. This also allowed for those passengers who hadn't completed their documents to do so. In under 15 minutes, the boarding procedure began which was very quick. After security we walked down a long corridor to the check-in hall and I went immediately up to a counter. I boarded the ship and although we were told that the cabins wouldn't be ready until after 1:30pm I decided to check my cabin out anyway. The ship had been beautifully decorated for the holidays, including a gingerbread village and Santa riding his sleigh, complete with reindeer. I would later discover lots of Christmas trees throughout the ship as well. My cabin was ready for occupancy. Yes, it was small but it was clean, attractive and very comfortable (I found myself spending more time in there than usual. I attribute this to the post-holiday need to recharge my batteries and was more interested in rest than activities). It was than adequate for one person. The mattresses must have been fairly new. The only objections to the cabin were the lack of a safe and the need to use a separate card to open the cabin door (instead of one card to serve as your onboard charge, boarding and room key card). On the positive side, there was a hairdryer and it was not attached to the wall. It was a small portable one and came with a notice advising that if you wished to take it they would add the price to your onboard charge (i.e. you take it, you pay for it.subtle, eh?). Since the ship is almost 10 years old and Royal Caribbean has made major strides on improving the design of their ships since the Majesty's debut, it really isn't fair to complain now about what's already been corrected. However, certain amenities could be added, such as the ones I already mention about the cabin. A staff member told me that the ship will undergo improvements such as refurbished cabins, so I am hoping the line is trying its best to improve the ship. My cabin steward fulfilled all of my special requests (nothing too demanding, just extra towels, hold off on turn down service until after I have my pre-dinner shower). I was greeted with some pretty amazing towel/washcloth animals, including an armadillo made from the pool towel I took back with me to take to the private island which we never got to due to choppy seas (but ship remained stable).
After dropping off my carry-on bag I proceeded to the Windjammer Cafe which is a much different set-up than on the Vision. This buffet was divided into 2 sections. One section was enclosed but could be considered "outdoors" since it was not climate controlled (i.e. no a/c) and had ceiling fans and opened windows instead. There were no tables by the pool and this was the closest you could come to eating by the pool. The actual buffet was indoors, except for desserts and meat carving which had to be set up in the middle of the dining area, due to lack of room. The buffet also had an awful odor on one side that fortunately wasn't coming from the food but was nevertheless very unpleasant (this ship had pockets of bad odors in elevators and corridors as well but I've heard about other ships having this problem as well). There were also beverage stations which would offer coffee and tea on a 24-hour basis, other beverages only available during dining hours (e.g. juice during breakfast, lemonade and fruit punch during lunch). There was also a machine that dispensed a frozen sludge that was supposed to be soft-serve ice cream. Avoid this like the plague and stick to the real ice cream served in the dining room at lunch and dinner. The indoor portion of the Windjammer Cafe was very nice and very comfortable and air-conditioned. However, many times this section was not open due to "cleaning" (what were they using, a toothbrush?). The good news about this Windjammer Cafe is that, compared with the Vision when I sailed her in 1999 had very good food and a very nice selection of salads, cold food and hot food. You could even make your own Caesar salad, complete with shaved, not powdered, Parmesan cheese. At breakfast, smoked salmon was available every day, and for some strange reason, the bacon was crispier at the Windjammer than at the dining room. Lunches were also very good and one of the best offered jumbo fried shrimp (billed as shrimp tempura, but trust me, it was fried shrimp.they even offered tartar sauce, not exactly a Japanese condiment). They also offered excellent baby lamb chops at couple of times during the cruise. There was a nice selection of desserts that were dished out by a server instead of sitting out on plates. The carved meats were nice and wasn't restricted to the infamous corned beef I've read about on other reviews of RCI in the past. Buffet hours varied every day. The day we were in Key West lunch was offered until 5 pm. Other days, after lunch there would be snacks in the late afternoon. Since the ship didn't have a barbecue or a pizzeria, some days there would be pizza or hot dogs and hamburgers. Other days it was tacos. But there was always something more than sweets offered every afternoon. Although the buffet was far from gourmet food (I wouldn't use the word cuisine here) I always managed to find more than what I should have taken, so I would have to say the Windjammer served its purpose as a casual cruise ship dining facility.
Continuing on the subject of food, the dining rooms were good. The decor doesn't compare with what RCI has now and looked more casual than a formal dining venue. Service was excellent and my head waitress, waiter and assistant waiter were all wonderful and made sure that the table was accommodated. Our waiter always made recommendations for each course. The weakest course was salad but actually their dressings were interesting choices and delicious. The other courses were all very good. Most important, meats were cooked to the desired doneness and the cuts of meat were of good quality. No lobster was offered which was a disappointment, but I had already read on web bulletin boards about this. Someone thought that for a short cruise RCI didn't have to offer it because after all the rates were lower. However, on a per diem basis you pay about the same on a 4-day or a 7-day cruise, so I don't find this acceptable. When I cruised the Carnival Victory on a 4 day cruise to Nova Scotia, there was lobster. But there was enough good stuff on the menu and my tablemates and I shared extra orders, a sign that the food was good enough to want more. Desserts were very interesting and we had some spectacular features, including a memorable box made of chocolate, filled with mousse. The breakfasts and lunches in the dining room were open seating. Breakfasts were a bit disappointing. Although the service on the last morning (the infamous "after they've already got their tips and couldn't care less" breakfast) was typical, I actually got the best breakfast I had during the cruise. Lunches were very good and different than the Windjammer offerings, so sometimes I would have a little in the dining room, a little in the Windjammer (hey, I paid for it, as someone pointed out to me). And as pointed out before, you can get good ice cream in the dining room.
Activities on the ship were plentiful. Due to not so hot weather, a lot of indoor activities, such as trivia contests, tai chi classes, cooking demonstrations, indoor games instead of pool games (including chair races in a lounge) were offered. In addition the ship has a terrific cinema, 2 stories tall with stadium seating, plush seats and excellent sound system. If only they didn't use a video projection system. This was in addition to the in-cabin films. All of the films offered were not first-run features. Instead they were the same films currently offered as pay-per-view films on cable tv. Still, I managed to see 4 films in all and on a 4 day cruise, that is a lot (I told you this cruise was about recharging my batteries). I did use the gym one morning and found the equipment to be very good. The gym was very busy (didn't the passengers know you're supposed to relax on a cruise?). They offered both steam room and sauna. My only complaint is that there were only 2 whirlpools (out by the pool) which is inadequate for a ship that holds over 2,000 passengers. Many times the water wasn't even warm and the pool attendants had to make calls to request warmer water. The whirlpools had an entire set of rules that were ignored by the passengers and also weren't enforced by the staff, which is about the same as all of the other cruise lines. I don't do Bingo, so I couldn't tell you about that, except it was there all right, as the announcements told you (they weren't too obnoxious with announcements, though). However, the art auctions were held in the atrium, which was intrusive and annoying. There are too many big lounges on this ship for the auctions to have to be held in the central meeting place of the ship. There were some additional activities for the holidays, including caroling in the Centrum and Santa Claus parading with kids and then handing out presents and taking photos.
Entertainment was good. The main show lounge has too many poles and obstructed view seats on the side. It definitely shows its age. The production shows were nothing to recommend. However, Parker, the cruise director is an accomplished singer, who opens a show like a real pro instead of just offering the same cruise ship jokes told since the year of the flood. I saw a few specialty acts, the best being "El Gaucho" from Uruguay who does combines his bolas routines with some racy humor. Other offerings were disco (with the same "Disco Inferno" night complete with "Village People" as offered on other RCI ships). A game called "Majesty Quest" that involved teams racing up to the stage after being asked to do things like have men wear bras. It worth it to see how many people are willing to make idiots of themselves.
The lounges and bars were nice. The best, of course, being the Viking Crown Lounge. You must experience (and I don't like to use that word as a verb too often) a sunset up there. On the subject of lounges I bought the Royal Cocktail card which is good for 12 drinks for a price of $39. plus 15% gratuity. They punch the card each time they use it. It isn't good for things such as premium brands, imported beer and other things, but I think it depends on the bartender as to what you'll get. Frozen drinks like pina coladas were okay. House wine by the glass at dinner was okay. Martinis made with a call brand, like Tanqueray or Beefeater were okay. A White Russian was okay first time but then when one waiter refused, the bartender also wouldn't give me another. It was well worth the price. They set up a table by the pool on the first afternoon. I had purchased 2 of the cards, but only used one, and I was able to get a credit to my onboard account for the unused one.
As I previously mentioned, we never made it to Coco Cay, the private island, due to choppy water and nasty weather. We were at sea, instead, which turned out to bore the heck out of the teens onboard who were seen hanging out on the stairwells. Nighttime was better for them since they had their own discos, etc. The only port, therefore, was Key West. I had pre-booked an excursion (Catamaran Race) but cancelled immediately when I got aboard due to the weather forecast. I got off the ship in the morning and bought tee-shirts (check out the place opposite Cap't Tony's; shirts are 4 for $10.). Then I took the shirts back to the ship and used the whirlpools, which were finally empty and then sunbathed for a while before lunch. Took another walk in Key West for about an hour and that was the entire land portion of my cruise. Key West has gotten too commercial. Duval Street has become a horror. Conch Train now gets $20. per person which is pretty expensive for a 1 ½ tour. The only thing worse would have been what happened to the Horizon that week. I overheard a woman say that the Horizon stopped at Key West twice during the cruise because they couldn't get to Progreso, Mexico. Another point about Key West, is that Immigrations comes aboard the ship and you must take your proof of citizenship with you and show it to an officer when you get off the ship. I was lucky because the line was short when I came off the ship. But by 10:30 a.m. the line was up the stairs. It seems that 10:30-11:30 is the worst time to try to get off the ship. The same is supposed to hold true for Coco Cay. You have to either get off early or wait til after lunch or so.
Disembarkation was a breeze on this ship. by the time I finished breakfast in the dining room and said my good-byes, they had already called my "color", so I went back to my cabin, picked up my carry-on (they gave everyone on the ship a very nice gym bag as a Christmas gift) and walked off the ship. The terminal has luggage carousels and you proceed to the one for your luggage tag color. I got my bag in less than 5 minutes and I was on my way.
So after this critique what counts the most is if I had a good time. I had an excellent time. Most importantly, I had made friends and the people really do make a cruise, something you really can't include as a feature of the ship, just good luck. The Majesty wouldn't be a first choice for a cruise if I was looking for an upscale cruise with the latest features. But if I was looking again for a bargain cruise where I knew I'd enjoy myself, I would certainly consider her again.
My wife & I celebrated our 25th anniversary along with our 2 teenagers on the Majesty of the Seas. Let me say this was a fantastic trip for all of us. The kids have never cruised before, but my wife & I have cruised Carnival (twice) and The Big Red Boat. While I would not consider ourselves "expert" cruisers, but I would rate RCL at the top of my short list of cruising experiences.
The embarkation was a little disorganized due to the fact that there were 100 or so previous passengers on Majesty that had not cleared customs & immigrations until about 1pm. But the paperless embarkation forms were accepted (and everyone there knew about them) there were even two ticket agents set up just for the online form holders. You do need to fill out the Bahamas form (the pink card) but other than that all I needed was the online form, Drivers Lic. & birth certificate.
Once onboard we asked if the cabins were ready, we were told no, & to go up to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch & wait. Well we snuck down to our cabin onDeck A and of course it was all ready for us. We reserved two outside cabins - adjoining, so all we needed to do was get the cabin attendant to unlock the adjoining door. The cabins are small like everyone says. A bit smaller than on Ecstasy, but as everyone mentioned, you spend so little time in there it doesn't really matter. Beds were very comfortable, plenty of closet space. There are no in room safes on this deck. The shower, well like someone said if you soap up the shower walls & just keep turning around you will get clean in no time. LOL!
Our cabin attendant Jimmy was very professional. He remembered our names from day one, and was very adept at making the towel animals - the penguin was the neatest! Once we asked Jimmy if he could get us a pair of scissors, sure enough he produced them later that day. Anything we needed he always responded with a cheerful smile.
I purchased the soda "cards" for the kids. They used them extensively throughout the ship. I had read that in some cases the bartenders were less than thrilled to serve soda card kids. Not here! My kids said that at every bar they went to they were greeted with smiles and no problems. At dinner, they used the cards there too. And, when my wife & I ordered a soda at dinner I noticed that the assistant waitress did not charge us for them she just added it to the kids cards. Meals at dinner were fantastic. I especially liked the fact that the menu offered "stand by" alternative entrées in case you were not thrilled with the evenings offerings, as I was one night. Those choices were Salmon, Steak and 2 others I've forgotten. One night I was delighted with the shrimp appetizer, so my waiter brought me 2 more! We ate all our evening meals at the Mayfair dining room, lunch & breakfast we ate in the Windjammer. The Windjammer is quite nice for "fast" food. A lot better than what we were used to on Carnival. But still noisy and crowded.
The shows were very very good in the Chorus Line Lounge. And yes, Parker was the cruise director. He's a riot and quite talented too. You know, teenagers are hard to please when it comes to having them come with you to a "show". But once they saw the first evenings show, they insisted on going to all the rest, even though my wife & I were exhausted by the 10:45pm start time.
The teen lounge left a lot to be desired according to my kids. Maybe that was for the best, as they found plenty of other things to do on board, and found themselves hard pressed to "get everything done" in 24 hrs.
In Nassau, this was the 3rd time around for us, but for the kids it was their first visit. So we did the usual shopping and saw the straw market, which has been moved about 500 yds to the right of its original location since the fire. I did take the kids over to Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island. For those who don't know, this is a public beach next to the Sheraton Hotel, which is next to the Atlantis Hotel. A cab ride over is $4 a head. The beach has jet skis, and banana boat rides available.
At Coco Cay we purchased the snorkeling package from RCL. I did this on line and the tickets were delivered to my cabin the night before we arrived at Coco Cay. Very windy on the island but a very beautiful island none the less. The lunch of Burgers, Hot Dogs, Ribs etc etc. was delicious. By around 3pm the weather started getting rough (hmmm that sounds familiar) so the Captain ordered those remaining on Coco Cay back to the ship.
In Key West we rented one of those battery powered "golf carts". This one was a four seater. This is a great way to get around Key West at your own pace. We've done the Conch Train ride - that too is a good way to get a tour of Key West - but your are pretty much stuck in your seat.
As for the Majesty, a very impressive ship. During their dry dock back in April 2002, they replaced all the carpeting, and window draperies. Plus all the furniture in both dining rooms were replaced, so the ship looked practically brand new. (It is scheduled for another dry dock in Oct 2002) The staff was constantly "tiding" up. The few times I used a public restroom, there was always an attendant either inside cleaning, or on the way inside. One evening it was raining quite hard, so the pool area was empty of people. The crew came out in their rain gear, drained the pools and pressure washed they area in a couple of hours. So by morning when the sun came back out, it was all fresh & clean. The pools are filled with salt water, but that just wasn't an issue with us. It wasn't as salty as ocean water - but so what! One thing surprised me though, the pools are deep! They are about 6 ft deep, and not a gradual drop to 6ft --- just 6 ft all around. There is a "kiddie" area much shallower and separated by a divider.
I thank Royal Caribbean & the crew of Majesty of the Seas for a wonderful cruise for our family. I was truly touched with the anniversary cake you delivered to our table on formal night.
First impression from a first time cruiser - Majesty REVIEW
We just returned from our 3 night majesty cruise and here is my post. This was my very first cruise experience and I wanted to give everyone my impressions, pluses and minuses of the ship and cruising in general. Since I have never been on another cruise before, I can't really compare the service/food/ship, however, I can give you my general opinion in comparison to some of the land traveling I have done. This review will be a little long - sorry. But I just want to help with others, as many of your posts and reviews REALLY helped us and I wanted to thank everyone who participates on these boards.
I'm going to give you a brief background of my travels and my likes, so you can compare my opinions to yours. We have traveled to the Bahamas (4 times), Grenada, Aruba, Bermuda, Cancun and Barbados (him only). I am very picky about where I want to stay, so we usually try to stay in the nicer hotels on the island. And when we dine, we definitely go all out,get dressed up, and go first class.
Having said that, here goes my review. We flew out of Washington DC bright and early on Friday and arrived in Miami at 11:00am. We met up with the rest of our party and collected our bags. One thing that I have never seen mentioned on these boards are the fact that there are lots and lots of RCI reps holding up signs for transfers to the boat. I thought this was great. For $22.00 a person, you can get a round trip transfer, to and from the boat. They help with the luggage, it's easy and the charge goes directly on your room account. We got to the boat, checked in (There were NOOOOO upgrades available), and were up in the Windjammer by noon. Here is a little warning - As soon as we got out of the elevator on the 12th floor, there was a whole set up of RCI staff handing out wonderful Pina Coladas. I thought to myself, "how nice of RCI to welcome us with a drink". But before I knew it, I was being charged $5.95 for the drink. Very tricky move RCI!! But, my vacation had started, so I didn't care. The lunch at the Windjammer was nice. When we got there, there was hardly any lines. After lunch, we went down to find our cabins.
CABINS - we were in an inside K stateroom. Now, before we left, I really prepared myself for the size of the room. In knew that it wasn't much over 100 sq. feet and had seen pictures of the set up. No matter how much you prepare yourself, the initial shock of this closet sized room is there. The room is literally TINY!!! The bathroom is designed for one person at a time, the shower is standing room only. Don't move too much, or else you'll hit the walls around you. Although the room is small, I would not have paid more for a larger room. But I think on a longer cruise, the size of the room would have bothered me.
OK, here is my first opinion on cruising regarding the cabins. Although there is SOOO much to do on a cruise and you hardly have time to spend in your cabin, I did not like the fact that you don't really have the option of relaxing in your room. When we travel to the islands, I like having the time to relax in my room, have a class of wine or a drink, and maybe sit out on the balcony. I know that you can get a larger balcony room on these cruises, but the price difference is so much more. I found myself not even wanting to go back to the room for a much needed nap.
After we got down to the room, I quickly changed into something more comfortable and had to get our table assignments straightened out because they put one person in our party of five at another table. This took up a lot of my time when I wanted to be enjoying the boat and a drink already. When I finally got things straightened out, I headed upstairs for the pool and bar. Not soon after that, they had the muster drill. Which went smoothly, just took more time away from my relaxation. by the time the drill was over and I was ready to relax, the boat was ready to leave port. I really wanted to see this, so I rushed up to the pool deck.
Another advice tip - If you are trying to meet someone on board a ship that you have never been on, DO NOT set it up for the first day!! I tried to meet up with someone I met on this board, and since the first day was so rushed, I couldn't get myself straight about were the location we set up was. So I was really bummed about that and there was no way I could set up another meeting for the next day.
On the second level of the Windjammer Cafe, they had a bar set up and that is where we went to watch the ship pull out of port. We had a couple of drinks and then headed downstairs to change for dinner. I loved the location of our cabin. It was on the 6th deck midship. Close to everything, especially the dinning rooms, shops and casino. The elevators on these ships are horrible, so we usually walked up and down the stairs to get to the different levels. The walk up to the top deck was a hard one, but something needed to be done to make room for all of the food we would be eating.
FOOD/DINNING - Our dinning experience on RCI was wonderful. Although the food was not nearly gourmet, it was still pretty good. What made our experience so great was the wait staff. Our head waiter (SANDRO) and his assistant (ALIN) were just outstanding. It was equal to the type of service one would expect from a five star establishment. There is no lobster on a 3 night cruise, but on the second night, I had shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque and filet minion (all very good). On the last night I had salmon pate (not good), cesar salad and prime rib (good). The first night I had potato soup (good) and shrimp with risotto rice (shrimp very good, rice good). Some other entries at the table were duck, mahi mahi, strawberry soup (everyone who ordered this unanimously agreed that it was too sweet for a starter - should have been dessert). For breakfasts, we always ate in the dinning room. The service was just as good as dinner, poached eggs were great and smoked salmon platter was pretty good as well.
CAPTAIN'S RECEPTION - I wouldn't miss this. This was on the formal night and everyone looked so wonderful. I was surprised to see as many tuxes as I did on a 3 night cruise. There are appetizers and free flowing Champaign. Lots and lots of RCI staff walking around with trays full of drinks and food. It gives the feel of being at a very ritzy Hollywood party.
DRINKS - drinks were not as expensive as I would have thought. They were very reasonable and equal to what one would pay around our area. I didn't find the drink specials of the day, as was mentioned on these boards, so I just stuck to my usuals. We missed the Champaign bar ½ price hour but went there anyway to enjoy a drink. This is a very nice bar. They bring out chocolate covered strawberries and is very elegant. We paid $9.00 for a glass of Champaign ($18.00 for two glasses plus tip) When we went to port the next day in Nassau, we found a bottle of the exact same Champaign for $15.00, so we brought a bottle and had it in our room before dinner the next night.
They have a great Library that one can sit in and enjoy a nice cigar (you can get Cubans in Nassau and enjoy it on the ship). The waiter from the Champaign bar will bring you drinks and Coniacs. This room has cards, games, lots of books. (If it were at all possible for one to get bored on this ship)
MIDNIGHT BUFFET and SHOWS - unfortunately, I was looking forward to both of these, but we just could never find time to attend any shows and missed the buffet. Maybe next time.
CASINO - This casino is very small and hardly enough tables for the number of passengers. But when you finally do squeeze in, it's great. The dealers are all very friendly and we had a great lively craps crowd on our ship.
PORTS - Since I've been to some very beautiful islands, I wasn't that excited about the Bahamas. When we got to Nassau, we walked around the shops for a while and then caught a cab to Atlantis. I have stayed at some wonderful hotels and this resort definitely ranked up there. I was actually surprised with how nice paradise island was and how blue the water was. I didn't remember the Bahamas as having beautiful water and beaches. We walked through the shops and the aquarium and relaxed on the beach for a little while, and then headed back to the ship.
Cococay was very nice. We were very lucky because we were the second cruise in two months to be able to go there. The weather was perfect our entire cruise. The island of Cococay and the water was OK. But it was nice to be able to relax by the beach for one day. We went sailing (a LOT of fun) and snorkeling (not that great). The barbeque was nice.
SHIP - The ship was very nice. Although you could tell this was an older ship, they really kept it clean and shiny. The cabins were very clean and the public areas, restrooms, etc, were all very nicely taken care of.
VIKING CROWN - we didn't find this until the last night. This was the best. We sat at a table by the window, had some drinks, and watched the sun disappear into the Caribbean sea. Absolutely breathtaking.
STAFF/SERVICE - The only word I can think of is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could not get over how wonderful each and every staff member on this cruise was. You would literally see them working VERY hard day and night and yet they were just absolutely wonderful, attentive, and happy all the time. Our cabin steward was Patrick and he kept our room wonderful and restocked our ice buckets all day (even though we didn't ask him too). He even noted that we had a bottle of Champaign and went and got a Champaign bucket, filled it with ice, and put our bottle in it. So we had wonderfully chilled Champaign waiting for us when we came back to change for dinner. The waiters and staff at breakfast were great, the bar staff, the pursuer's desk, just EVERYONE!!! They are what made this a truly enjoyable vacation. Kind of like the staff in any 5 star resort such as the Four Seasons or the RITZ.
NEGATIVES - the only real negative about this trip was that it was way too short and the ship is just so big and there are just SOOOOOO many activities that it leaves on whishing there were more hours in the day. I really wanted to get a chance to do some things that I missed out on.
I would DEFINITELY cruise with RCI again. It was a wonderful vacation. Sorry this was so long.
Summer Surprise 2001 I had planned this trip as an end of summer surprise for my 2 sons. My husband was limited in the vacation time that he had left for the year and my daughter could not get the time away from her job so it would be just the 3 of us traveling. I made a flyer about the ship and ports on the computer. Took that to a local printing store and they made it into a jigsaw puzzle. I put 2 pieces of the puzzle in 40 envelopes and each day the boys would open an envelope to discover 2 more pieces to decipher where we would be going on our trip. Took almost a month before they could see the ship and the last week revealed the ports of call. I also made a paper link chain for each day we were waiting until we left, it first stretched all the way past the floor in the kitchen. They would remove one link each day until we would be at the ceiling and ready to leave on our cruise.
Monday Aug. 20th Depart BWIairport on Southwest airlines at 7:20AM, have a stop over in Tampa, then on to Ft. Lauderdale. Uneventful flight arrive on time at 10:50AM. Royal Caribbean Reps are waiting outside the security gate, they check off our names on the transfer list and tell us to go tag our luggage and put it back on the carousel for delivery to the ship. I had been a bit concerned about not bringing it to the bus with us but all the other passengers had only carry on¹s so I decided to do it the Royal Caribbean way.
Waited about 15 min for the bus to arrive , were on our way to the port and arrived there shortly after noon. Didn¹t have the Bahamas immigration form so stopped by the desk to fill that out and proceed to the check in lines upstairs. Was about 15 min wait and 10 more minutes to complete the check in. Got the blue supercharge cards and room keys... told we could proceed to the gangway. Just beyond the gangway there is a small table area, in there are soda machines, .60 for cans and $1.00 for the 20 oz bottles, we stocked up and threw some in our carry on¹s for use aboard later. Also there is a pay telephone area there for any last minute calls on land. I phoned to my friend in Homestead to tell her we arrived in Miami ok and would see her in Key West on Thurs.
Welcome Aboard!!! We had the first of many photographs taken as we were walking towards the ship, got on about 12:45. Enter the ship on Deck 4...nice view of Centrum and a man is playing music on the white grand piano when you enter. There was a staff member in the centrum directing passengers to the windjammer on deck 11 for a lunch buffet. Since our cabin was on deck 4 we decided to see if we could at least stop by and drop off our carry on bags-- Cabin was all clean and ready for arrival. Spotless and in good condition. I was happy we had a nice sized oval picture window (cabin #4030) The outside cabins on Decks 2 & 3 only have a porthole for view. Next we find the elevators for the ride to the top. I had been on the Sovereign of the Seas, sister ship to the Majesty in March so this layout was familiar to me. All cabins are forward on the ship which makes these main elevators have a lot of use, had some waits during our trip, but would sometimes go to the aft elevators at peak times to get around the crowds waiting near the cabin elevators. Head up to deck 11 for the Windjammer.
Windjammer Cafe-- located forward on Deck 11. Has 4 buffet lines, this one is set up same as the Sovereign tho the 2 buffet lines nearest the pools are not air conditioned. First day in Miami was pretty humid and hot so we opted to go to the forward buffet where there were air conditioned tables to sit at. We had a sample of the buffets, some strange pasta salads, chicken entree¹s etc. My son¹s weren¹t too happy with the not so kid friendly food, they had some shrimp salad, bread and desserts. (good desserts) Should have hot dogs/hamburgers etc. avail for the younger more picky eaters aboard. After lunch we explore a bit on deck 11, ship doesn¹t offer tours as we had taken on the Sovereign -- so we found our way on our own. Check in cabin for luggage but at 2PM it still was not there. Tyler (age 10) decides to take a dip in the pool ..head back up on deck 11, music is playing and it is getting busy up top. Only 1 of the pools has water in it but he has a nice time swimming around and cooling off from the sun. Pool deck is HOT!!! Head back to cabin to get the life jackets for muster drill. Sound distress signal and everyone heads up to promenade deck 7 for their muster station, We were crowded into station #1 very HOT. We all put on the life jackets, gave our cabin #¹s to the staff member and tried not to faint from the heat. Very uncomfortable!!!!! All children 12 and under wear a color coded wrist bracelet to alert staff to what muster station your child should be going to. Good safety idea. After enduring the Muster drill, we descended back down to the cabin, 1 suitcase had arrived so I got most of that one put away before we went back up to watch the sailaway from Miami. In the outside cabin we had there were 4 small drawers in the dressing table, in the closet there were 5 wire shelves that could hold most of the clothing we brought, there was a single rod for long hanging items, and a double rod for the shorter hangup¹s ... didn¹t have a problem with storage on this ship...much better than the inside on the Sovereign we had in March.
Sailaway--Didn¹t leave Miami til about 5:30PM. One of the Carnival ships left port first, another Carnival ship backed into the port behind us and then we left the port.. There was a band playing music near the pool deck and I could hear the cruise staff getting people in the party mood. We were up on the deck 12 forward watching us leave the city behind, nice calm seas and sunshine were giving us a great start to our cruise.
Dinner- We had main seating in the Mikado Dining room- table 177. Our waiter was Onyoman from Indonesia, assistant waiter Micalina from Phillipines. We had a table for 6, myself Chris and my sons PJ 13 & Tyler 10 , along with Bryon, a Dad from San Diego, his daughter Rachel 10 and daughter¹s friend Shelby 9. Kids all seemed to get along well from the start.. My son¹s clowning behavior and goofiness which was embarrassment to me was enchantment to them. Enjoyed our first dinner aboard, Had Bahama mama fritters, pork loin roast, and rain forest cake. Same exact menu as aboard the Sovereign. One son ate from the kid¹s menu, another tried the pasta dish on the main menu. One of the girls at the table opted for a hot dog, which made her health conscious dad cringe.... Service was good and food fine, not quite as wonderful as on the Sovereign in March but fine.
After dinner we explore again . Back to cabin, the 2nd suitcase had arrived sometime about 6PM. Then we head up to deck 11. My son Tyler likes the 1 hole mini golf on the aft deck 11 sports deck. We play some cards in the nice library Deck 7 and then head to the show on Deck 5 in the Showtime lounge. Welcome Aboard show with Howie and Bert comedy jugglers. Perfect for the boys and we enjoy the talent and craziness. Cruise Director Parker is energetic and good vocalist. Think he is the best of the cruise directors we have had, nice personality without being a fake plastic person. After show head to cabin, unpack the other suitcase. Boys order room service, Nacho¹s and Cheeseburger. Comes quick in @ 5 min. They watch a little Tv and we are all asleep around midnight after our long day. (woke up 5am to make plane from BWI)
Cabin Our location on deck 4 was convenient for most activities. Purser¹s Desk was there as well as the shore excursion desk. The Mikado dining room was also on our deck. We requested a safe deposit box from the Purser¹s desk and it was open 7am - Midnight daily for retrieval of items. Usually not too busy. Our cabin was a connecting cabin and had a miniature sized door on the right side, there were 2 lower beds in a L shaped configuration as well as an upper bunk on the side near the bath room. The upper bunk was kept folded into the wall of the cabin except after dinner when the attendant would ready the room for the night, there was also a small metal ladder that helped my son access the upper bunk. There was also a small glass table that held the 14 or so inch TV, TV had several movies that changed daily, 3 ships channels, and several other channels from a satellite. The bathroom had a compact shower with handheld shower head, cloth curtain, small vanity area , toilet. It was cozy but well equipped with shelves, cubbies for toiletries and had several hooks on the door. The light switch was outside the bathroom so you had to remember to turn it on before you went in and closed the door to complete darkness. Kept the bathroom light on at night to have a bit of light peek under the door to give a soft glow to our cabin at night--enough to navigate if necessary. We had packed a small night light/flashlight but it somehow has disappeared during this trip, still haven¹t discovered it after being home and emptying luggage...
Tuesday Aug. 21st Nassau, Bahamas I woke up around 6:40 AM after a peaceful nights sleep. Had told our cabin attendant Patrick that we liked pillows and he had 2 nice fluffy pillows on each of our beds (with our mint of course!!) The ship was entering the port of Nassau. Can see the pilot boat that is guiding us there in the dawn light. Very calm seas major change from my prior trip in March on the Sovereign when the ship was rocking like a roller coaster at sea. Eat breakfast in the dining room open seating about 9 am. Fairly efficient service. Get off ship at 10 Am after going UP to Deck 11 to get towels for the day. Should have them available near the gangway. Shop at straw market which is just setting up for the day, not too hassled and only once asked to have my hair braided which I declined. Wind our way around town looking for the Pirate¹s Museum. ($12 adult, $6 teen and free for under 12) Pretty interesting place, enter and see this huge wooden pirate ship. The boys were both scared that a pirate would jump out at them and were clinging to me as we toured along-- had diorama scenes of Pirates on the ship, looting , torture, surgery at sea etc. that were fairly well done. Little plagues with questions to provide information also. Spent about an hour touring the museum and went back in to see the ship part a second time after my boys determined it was not a scary place to visit. Did some more shopping on our way back to the ship. Found a food market on the corner near the straw market, had sodas and batteries at prices a bit inflated over US but not too bad. Back on ship we packed up our bags to head to the beach, went up to the Windjammer on 11 for lunch. Decent lunch choices, still no kid junk food varieties, but they had the frozen yogurt machine going which ended up being Tyler¹s major food addiction of the cruise every afternoon. After lunch we head back out -- use gangway on deck 1-- catch a taxi to Paradise Island. Cost $4 per person for taxi. Taxi driver takes us to the beach access next to the Sheraton resort. You hike up a small hill from there and then head left to the beach. We walked far enough to make it to the Atlantis beach with their wonderful canopied beach lounges. Found a few to park our stuff for the afternoon and headed into the water. GREAT beach!!!!!!! Clear warm water, just perfect temp. , soft sand beach, lots of opportunities for parasailing or wave runner,,,or just jumping in the surf which is what the boys did for the afternoon there. After a nice time on the beach, we climbed the stairs up to the Atlantis resort. Small shower at top to clean off sand from feet. The water park of the Atlantis resort is just amazing. Dozens of pools with aquariums between them, swinging bridges, tunnels, water slides, jungle themeing etc. Very impressive landscaping and design, It was fun just to walk around and discover the new pools as we walked along. We did not try to access them since we knew that the guest only rule would be enforced if we did. We made it up to the main entrance to the dig from the pool side and there was a guard there who asked if we had a room key... since we didn¹t she told us we could go to the lobby and view the aquarium from there. I would have liked a peek but not enough to pay the $25 entrance fee. After an eye popping view of the lobby we then went outside and caught a taxi back to the Majesty. Needed to be back by 4:30 or so to be ready for our Captain¹s party & dinner.
Formal Night A bit of moaning and groaning while having to put on their dress clothes, but otherwise the boys were ready and exited the cabin so that Mom could dress in peace. We went into the showtime lounge where they had trays of drinks & punch for kids, waiters with appetizers going around, pretzels on tables etc. The Captain made a welcome speech and introduced his crew of officers. Seemed to be a pleasant man who enjoyed having passengers at sea. After this party time we headed to the Mikado for our Captain¹s dinner. Had Filet Minion for dinner this night,, very tasty. We then took Tyler (10) up to the kid¹s connection deck 11 and signed him up for the evening with the Voyager group. He was verbally reluctant to stay but did have a good time once he got there. He knew the 2 girls from our table and also made a few new friends for the cruise while there. Meanwhile I took PJ (13) and we stopped at the Blue Skies Lounge for the show Name that tune, got 3rd place with our team-- fun activity. Picked up Tyler from the Kid¹s group at 10 and headed to the lounge for the not so newlywed game... nice couples were willing to tell it all to give us a few laughs, after the game there was 1 show tonight 11 PM , Shannon Blair, black vocalist comedian, we stayed for a bit and then the boys wanted to head up to the top deck for the sailaway from Nassau Dance party. Ship left Nassau at Midnight, deviation from usual 3AM ...had music, dancing, buffet in Windjammer, nice temps outside and enjoyed watching the lights of Nassau fade into the distance,,,, rain started falling about 12:30 or so ending the party a bit early..we hung around awhile before heading off to bed around 1AM.
Wednesday 8/22 Coco Cay!!!! Had missed going to Coco Cay on the Sovereign in March so I was especially glad to see us sail near the island after waking up at 6:30 AM. There was a slight chop to the water and cloudy that early morning but things cleared up quickly. We anchored about 8am-- and tenders to the island were running soon afterward. Headed up to the windjammer deck 11 (look for Omelet man in forward buffet area, Yum!!) for breakfast. Need chocolate MILK in windjammer, boys didn¹t like ice tea, coffee or OJ, maybe some apple juice would have been nice. Eggs, cereal etc. lots of sweet Danish choices, easy fast breakfast for the day.
Coco Cay Head to deck 1 again for the gangway to the tender for Coco Cay. Have large 2 level tender boats that will take you across to the island in about 10 min. We waited about 10 min for our boat to fill before heading over. Get to the island and head towards the snorkel area. Easy to fill out form and get equipment on island. We have our own masks and snorkels, so rent the required buoyancy vests for $6per person. Everyone has to attend the mandatory 10 min snorkeling orientation. We find some lounge chairs and picnic table in the shade and set up camp for the morning. The water is a bit murky with seaweed near the shore. Bottom is very squishy sand with some rocks, we have on our aqua shoes which helps but doesn¹t do much to get us moving in the choppy water. We head out to the rocks on the right and see a few fish swimming near them. After awhile we go out to the orange buoy which is marking the area where there is a sunken metal object below about 10 feet down. It¹s a tough swim for my good swimmer boys in this surf would be nice to have some type of resting platform in the middle of the snorkeling area to catch your breath. See a nice assortment of fish near the buoy and a very large fish too. The boys decide that they have had enough fighting the waves to continue to the platform WAY out where the submerged airplane is located. I had not expected that the snorkeling would be so far from the shore, it was exhausting for the 3 of us and we all love to swim. We head back to shore and decide to stick there til lunchtime. I go to the bathroom - beware of salt water in the taps for the sink, I had expected to wash off the salt from my face with the water in the sink,,but surprise...only salt water is there!!! Fresh drinking water is available at the bars in a large brown insulated container, small plastic cups are there for your use. The bar waiters are doing a brisk business selling the signature drink coco loco in large plastic cups with straws. ($5.95+tip) There are at least 3 different bar areas on the island, only 1 restaurant area is open at present. Appears that they are renovating one of the restaurants on the island currently. Next to the snorkel beach is another lagoon area, that goes to a point where the boat for the banana boat rides as well as the wave runner and parasail tours depart. We did a quick walk to the other part of the island Coconut Willie¹s Beach where we decided to spend the afternoon on a hammock or in the calm water bay that is there. Lunch was served 12-2 and consisted of BBQ ribs, pork and beef, cheeseburgers and hot dogs, there were several types of salad available. 2 cakes for dessert along with ice tea and punch for drinks. The BBQ pork ribs were pretty tasty;, they used paper plates, and plastic silverware and cups to serve the food. Lots of picnic tables near by and the lines moved fairly quickly considering there was only this one restaurant open on the day we were there. We packed up our stuff and headed to Coconut Willie¹s beach after our lunch, we brought along Rachel and Shelby from our dinner table. The 4 kids had fun playing in the hammock and then snorkeling in the calm waters off the beach there. Very squishy sand bottom was a little creepy, they did find a conch shell and saw a small stingray I took my inflatable raft out and had it partially submerged in the water-- had a very relaxing afternoon just floating in the mini waves watching the kids swim in the shallow water. Near the docking area are some tshirt shops, a hair braiding center and other souvenirs to purchase (cash only) We left this paradise around 3:30 PM making the next to last tender at 4PM to the ship. Just after we boarded the tender rain poured on our trip back to the ship-- luckily we had squeezed on the bottom level where we were covered from the elements. Rain followed us for awhile after we left Coco Cay and headed to Key West.
Dinner- it was Italian night on the Majesty. Had shrimp Scampi , my son tried the chilled strawberry soup..tiramasu for desert. Waiters all sing O Solo meo (sp??) in the dining room before dessert. After dinner Tyler went to take a nap for the evening to make the midnight buffet. We went to the forward part of deck 7 and got a nice view of the sunset heading to Key West. Nice calm seas and colorful skies. PJ & I went to the Showtime lounge for the show,,the beat goes on.. only show put on by the Majesty dancer & singers. Several of the male vocalists had incredible voices but overall the show was a disappointment. I had been impressed by the talent and production on the Sovereign so this was a surprise. The costumes were especially ugly and the sets for the show just nothing special. After the beat goes on we went up on deck 8 to the paint your wagon lounge for the quest. They had a very huge turnout for this game tonight. Think there were at least 50 teams of passengers all working for the quest prize. Quite a crazy show and a sight to see, one that my 13 yr old son enjoyed maybe a bit too much.
Gala Midnight Buffet- they opened the gala buffet about 11:30 PM. It was located on both deck 3 and 4 in the main dining rooms. Very nice decorations, wax sculptures, ice carvings, one with shrimp to peel in a bowl, assorted meats and cheeses, fancy breads and lots of desserts. Liked the chocolate dipped strawberries. It was smaller than most of the buffets I remembered from other ships but delicious all the same. Wasn¹t that advertised on the ship and there was no huge crowd waiting to enter as I had experienced on the prior ships we had sailed on.
Thurs. 8/23 Key West I woke up at 7:30 Am and peeked outside as we were pulling into the port of Key West. Boys were up an hour later and we headed up to the Windjammer for breakfast. Watch the city of Key West wake up from their party night before. Nice view from Deck 11, see a lot of changes from my last visit 18 years ago. Have a nice brick pier that is located right next to the Mallory square so you are right in the middle of all of the shopping and eating as you walk off of the ship. My friend from when we lived in Homestead Fla was waiting to meet us off the gangway at 10:30 when we were cleared for departure . It had been several years since our last visit together and it was great to have her to spend the day with on this cruise. We headed over to the conch train depot, waited a bit to purchase our tickets (same price as on ship but the in key West tickets are for a longer train ride-90 min. instead of 60 min) Got on the train about 11 am - got a long tour of all of Key West from the docks to the southernmost point, tour guide pointed out all of the architectural features, special residences and places we might want to revisit sometime. Had a break for ice cream and concluded the tour about 1:00 or so. Went to a cafe near the port for lunch and then took the boys up Duvall St. to the Ripley Believe it or not museum... very tacky place but has some very unique exhibits that appeal especially to my young boys.... By the time we finished our tour there it was almost 4PM. I couldn¹t remember what time they had told us to be back on the ship... I kept asking anyone with a blue cat sticker that they had been giving out when we left the ship that morning what time we had to be aboard and got 5 different answers. Decided to head back to the ship, tried to get a key lime pie on a stick covered in Chocolate dessert that i had read about but they were still getting frozen so we had to pass that up. Did a little shopping near by the port before we got back on ship at 4:30 or so. Nice day with my friend just went TOO fast.
Last Dinner on Majesty Son¹s headed up to deck 11 after we got back on ship to get their daily ice cream fix from the yogurt machine. I went to clear out the safe deposit box and get the envelopes ready for the tips for the steward, waiter , assistant waiter and head waiter. Go up on Deck 7 before dinner and get a few photos of the ship leaving Key West. Tonight is International Night--have prime rib, boys chose the Maryland Fried Chicken (since we are from Maryland) yummy chocolate dessert with this mini chocolate cruise ship wafer on the top. Get photos and give tips to our servers, said our good bye¹s to the table mates that shared our dinners and put up with Tyler¹s sometimes bratty behavior during the cruise.... Back in the cabin we have an elephant towel animal awaiting our arrival. Post cruise depression is starting to set in. Bring Tyler up to Kids connection for another night of activities... PJ and I head to the farewell show in the lounge. This is a mixture of the weeks shows, Howie and Bert, Shannon Blair, and the Village People along with a skit from the Cruise entertainment staff... a farewell speech from the captain and the mini cruise in review video rounded out the evening. Go up on deck 11 to get Tyler from the kid¹s connection and it is a very different place up top than all week, pools empty all is closed down, cleaned up for the next lucky group of cruisers. Head to cabin and boys order room service again. Quick and tasty , then off to sleep for our last night on the ship.
Friday 8/24 Miami Wake up at 6:30 and see us sailing into Miami port along the causeway. Still dark outside but can see glimmer of dawn starting to wake up the city. Discover that the ship charge bill had not arrived so I phone to the purser¹s desk. They say to come down and get a copy so I throw on some clothes and head there. After waiting in line they say the computers are down and to come back in 15 min. Shower and call there again and am told that they are still delivering the bills to cabins. Wait til 7:45 and still no bill, our cabin attendant says we need to go to the purser¹s desk to get it. They begin disembarkation at 7:45, we decide to head to the dining room for our last breakfast and pass the 200 passenger line waiting to be helped at the pursers¹ desk. Guess that no one else got their expected final statement either. We bypass them and head for food-good service and food in dining room. When we finish breakfast we go to deck 7 to walk around a bit to see the city of Miami again. They call our color tag off of the ship about 9:30AM, head down and have no problems with finding our luggage off of the carousel. Not many porters there so we drag the luggage ourselves to the bus area, don¹t see any RCI personnel there to direct us so I ask several tour people and one tells me to head to the right. See lots of busses with signs for the Miami Airport , none for the Ft. Lauderdale airport, make several inquiries again before finding an almost full bus -- they open a new bus and we get our luggage loaded and climb aboard. Bus arrives in Ft. Lauderdale about 10:15 or so we are checked in for our 2:15 flight by 10:30...long wait is helped a bit by lunch at Chili¹s (like we needed more food!!!!!!!) Went to the gate and retrieved our boarding passes. Plane left Ft. Lauderdale a bit late but arrived in Jacksonville on time, we stayed aboard til we landed in Baltimore... back home just a bit weary from the long traveling day with not much fun..was less draining on the way south!!!!!!!!!! Home again..bummer...hate to have the cruise in the past and only these memories to cling to.
Overall Impressions-- Majesty is in great shape, they were replacing the carpets on our cabin deck the morning we were disembarking, all in the cabins seemed recently refurbished, the shower was mildew free and there were at least a dozen nice wooden hangers in the closet. Did not encounter any plumbing problems or smell any sewage smells this time on ship. The Windjammer was kept exceptionally clean --all on ship seemed clean and ready for passengers the entire time during our cruise. This ship has a great itinerary for the 4 night cruise..the 3 days in port are all long enough that you have a chance to experience a lot of each place and always have the option to stay aboard and relax if that is your preference. The cruise director was excellent, Parker seemed to really enjoy his job and was hosting every major event on the ship. We would see him at the gangway in the morning wishing us a good day ashore when we would leave the Majesty. His sincerity and up personality were major assets to the entertainment on the ship. Our cabin attendant was just right, we didn¹t see a lot of him but everything that needed to be done was done just right. His cute towel animals were fun for us to come and see after dinner each night. Onyoman our waiter in the dining room was competent and very knowlegble of the menus. He gave good service and was patient with the children and their confusing orders at times. His assistant from the Philippines had only been in the dining room for 2 weeks but she handled her responsibilities well. It was nice to have another family at our table and I appreciated their patience with my son and his sometimes aggravating behavior. The only negatives I would say would be that I feel that they should have had more variety in the shows in the main lounge. As much as I liked Howie and Bert, it didn¹t seem right to have them return for the final night instead of a new entertainer. The Majesty dancers could use some new costumes and a more flashy show...the vocals are great but there is too much time with them just singing in front of the curtain to keep the show alive. The last morning and the final bill that never appeared was a MAJOR aggravation, I would have appreciated an honest answer about the delivery of these bills and I was not happy that i spent my final hours on ship trying to track it down when it should have arrived before 6am. All of the passengers that I spoke to did not receive a bill either and I did not see any bills underneath any door on deck 4 that morning when we disembarked so I am sure it was not an isolated problem . I was able to check my charge card online after I arrived home and the total was only $4 over what I had on my tally so I am comfortable it is accurate. Just a last day frustration that should have been handled better and left a very bad impression before I disembarked. Positives-- Clean cabin, good dining room service, food was enjoyable, nice choice of ports, relaxing day at Coco Cay, delicious Coco Loco¹s , game shows good, cruise director great, all went smoothly with bus, luggage, bus etc. which for me traveling as a single parent of 2 boys was a relief, good match for dinning room table mates, weather cooperated and we managed to dodge thru 2 tropical storms -Chantal & Dean, excellent room service, convenient internet access, loved floating in the lagoon on my raft at Coco Cay, enjoyed looking out my cabin window each morning as we would be coming into port, just overall good cruise experience that makes it so difficult to return to the real world of cooking, cleaning, work and back to school for my boys!!!!!
For background information, we are a 50-something couple sailing with our children and two grandchildren. This was my 12th cruise (5 on RCI) and my wife's 14th (7 on RCI).
The Majesty of the Seas is nine years old, but looks like a new ship. I was amazed at how spotlessly clean it was. New carpet had been installed within 2 weeks of our cruise, and the lady was beautiful! From our first view of the ship at the dock until we first entered the atrium, everything went very smoothly. Check-in was very smooth, and we were onboard within 15 minutes of our arrival at the dock. We boarded the ship around 12:30 and our luggage was delivered to our staterooms by 2:00 p.m.
Our overall impression of the 3-day cruise, on a scale of 1-10, was somewhere in the 8-9 range. Royal Caribbean still offers a quality experience, but we noticed that they're beginning to follow the lead of some other cruise lines by reducing services to cut costs. For example, we were very disappointed to learn that RCI no longer employs sommeliers in the dining room. Now, the waiterstake care of the wine for their tables. Not entirely bad service, but they don't (and can't) know as much about their products as a real sommelier does. It showed. Thankfully, we found the wines we wanted on the wine list and didn't have to ask for a recommendation.
Another area where they're cutting back is in the food availability area. Breakfast is served in the Windjammer Cafi until 11:00 a.m., but lunch doesn't start there until 11:30. In the dining room, lunch doesn't start until 12:00 noon. There are no hamburgers, hot dogs or pizza available between 11:00 and 11:30 (or at any other time). Since we had shore excursions that started at 11:45 and 1:00, we were unable to eat lunch before leaving the ship. I had eaten breakfast on Saturday at 7:00, and had no choice but to eat another light breakfast before meeting my ride to the dive shop at 12:00. My wife's and children's shore excursion met at 1:00. Due to the Windjammer not opening for lunch until 12:00, there was an extremely long line. My wife tried to get a little something but found herself still in the line waiting to get food 20 minutes before she was supposed to meet the shore excursion.
Another area where they fell short of minimum expectations concerned life jackets for the children. Both the purser's staff and the muster station leader told us that we could get children's jackets from the stateroom attendant. He never produced them. The muster station leader said not to worry, for there were plenty of them available at the lifeboat stations. Of course, no one bothered to instruct them as to how to put one on a 2 year old. Not good enough, in my mind, in the event of an emergency. Wonder what the USCG would say about this...
Other than those three areas, everything seemed to go very well, and we had no problems. Our four-year-old grandson loved the kid's program, both onboard and at Coco Cay. We enjoyed all meals, both in the dining room and in the Windjammer. The buffet on Friday after we boarded was superb. Our filet mignon dining room entrie was outstanding, but my prime rib was a little tough. Not too bad, but not up to par. The barbecued ribs and chicken at Coco Cay were terrific. That wonderful Royal Caribbean fruit bread and iced tea hadn't changed a bit. The Internet Cafi was very nicely done and cost $5.00 for 30 minutes.
Our stateroom was a regular outside stateroom. It was plenty large enough for us, even with all my dive gear, and for once, the air conditioning system was cold enough for us. There was lots of storage space, more than enough closet space, etc.
Dining room service was superb. Our waiter, assistant waiter and headwaiter all worked very hard for us, especially considering that we had two fairly "high-maintenance" children (ages 2 and 4) at our table who didn't want to spend two hours eating dinner. The wait staff was extremely good.
We didn't attend any of the onboard entertainment. The remote for our cabin's TV had dead batteries, but one word to our cabin attendant fixed that. Since we were on a Mothers' Day weekend cruise, they had lots of roses and cut flowers for sale on Sunday. Reasonably priced, but didn't last like the ones we bought on Celebrity in March. They'd been out of water too long when we bought them.
The photographers weren't in our faces at all, but the photos they did take turned out extremely well. We bought several. These were definitely the best "pro" photos we've seen on any ship we've sailed. Good job by this contractor.
On Saturday, my wife, daughter, and the grandkids went on the RCI Blackbeard's Island excursion in Nassau. Great tour for the little ones! Great beach, not crowded and facilities available. They enjoyed it. My son-in-law and I did the shark feeding dive at Stuart Cove's Dive South Ocean. Awesome. This was the second time I'd done that dive, and it was much better than the first time. We had somewhere between 40 and 50 sharks all around us for over an hour, all between 4 and 8 feet long. What a hoot! Mutual respect, too: I don't eat shark meat, they didn't eat me. I did have 3 of them swim into and rub against me, but that wasn't a problem for them or for me. My son-in-law had one almost knock him over with a pressure wave by turning right in front of him. It was probably the best 65' dive I've ever done.
Saturday night, we made arrangements through the Pursers staff for "in-room" babysitting, so that the adults were able to spend some time together away from the little ones. Very professional. The charge was $8.00 per hour for up to 2 children and they require a 3-hour minimum
Our Sunday was spent at Coco Cay. It was the first cruise in over 2 weeks that they'd been able to get to the island. We had light winds, compared to the 14-17 mph they'd been having for the past several weeks. As a result, the island staff was fresh and eager to please. The Coco Locos were pretty good, but couldn't compare with the onboard Piqa Coladas (I think I gained 4 pounds in 3 days on them alone).
One of the cocktail waiters in the Viking Crown Lounge was absolutely outstanding. Courteous, polite and professional, he remembered our names and drink for the remainder of the cruise after serving us once. The bartender made great Piqa Coladas up there, too. By the way: this ship has a Viking Crown Lounge that wraps all the way around. The promenade deck wraps all the way around the ship, too. Very windy out there, but very nice, too.
The shops had some pretty nice soft goods at reasonable prices. Liquor, jewelry and perfumes were as one would expect. There were no restrictions concerning taking liquor purchases back to your rooms, and no one cared about bringing liquor onboard.
During this cruise, I never even entered the workout area. I didn't feel guilty about it, either. :o) My wife did peek inside. There were 6 treadmills and a fair amount of good equipment. The aerobics classes that were offered had a charge. First time we have seen this.
All breakfasts and lunches in the dining room are open seating, including the last day. On Monday morning, our last, we were required to be out of our stateroom by 8:00. This wasn't a problem, though, for they called all but the last two colors of luggage tags before 8:00! Disembarkation was truly outstanding. The new RCI customs facility, built for the Voyager of the Seas, is wonderful. We got our bags from a carousel (one carousel for each baggage tag color) and were in cabs on the way to the airport by 8:30.
Overall, it was a very nice cruise, and we recommend it to anyone wanting a short getaway.
This was a 3 day weekend getaway to Nassau and Coco Cay. It was my 3rd cruise this year, the first two being on Carnival ships. We hadn't been on Royal Caribbean in 7 years. After cruising as recently as last month, I find myself being more and more critical, which can be both a curse and a blessing at the same time. Only because we went onboard with the attitude that ANY cruise is better than being at home, did we have a good time...
Pre Cruise We stayed at the Wyndham Biscayne Bay which I got through Priceline. With hotel tax, it cost $50. The room was clean, but sparse, and the pool was closed for renovation. For one night, it was fine...
Embarkation We got to the pier about 11am and were allowed through security at 11:30. The RCCL terminal is bright, clean, and cool and there are pop machines available, which is a nice convenience (cans, 60 cents and bottles, $1). It took about 10 minutes to check in and then we waited till noon, when they allowed us to get on the ship. We noticed alarge group of people with nametags and found out that it was a group of 400, attending a Latin American Amway convention. The group *serenaded* the crowd, with songs and a lot of enthusiasm, as we waited to board the ship. I was beginning to worry about immigration and disembarkation...
We went straight to our cabin (which we found with no problem from looking at the brochure) and unpacked our carry on bag. The cabin was VERY small. The beds had been put together with ONE sheet, which was quite nice, but there was no safe in the room. We then went off to explore the ship, ignoring the carpet stains and strange odor in the hallway. The pool setup is nice, although throughout the cruise, on one of the two pools were open, even though both were filled. We enjoyed the *Schooner bar*, and the bartender, Dwight. We ended up having a pre-dinner cocktail there each night, and other times as well. The Windjammer cafe was next, for lunch, where a buffet of carved beef, fried chicken, 3 salads, potatoes, vegetables and fruit were served. There were also 2 kinds of cake cut in to very tiny pieces. After lunch, we returned to our cabin to find that our luggage had been delivered.
We unpacked, and Chuck wanted to take a nap, so I went off to further explore the ship. I sent a quick email from the Internet area and walked around to familiarize myself with my new surroundings. I returned to the cabin to change for dinner and after the muster drill, we walked around a bit more. We found a table set up to pre order wine for dinner, on the pool deck of all places (?) and ordered 2 bottles. A quick drink at the Schooner bar and it was off to the Maytime dining room. We were seated at table 136, next to a window, and our tablemates were quite diverse. There were 3 couples, about our ages, one from Jamaica, one from Mexico, and the third were from Italy and the Philippines. I have to wonder if there was any thought put in to this??? For such a short cruise, I wasn't going to worry about it.
Food Rather than give a description of all we ate, it will suffice to say that the food was... AWFUL! It was either too cold, undercooked or overcooked, and everything was bland as could be. I still shudder when I remember feeling the grit in my mouth from the powdered eggs in the dining room. UGH! There was one midnight buffet, and although we didn't go, we heard that it wasn't worth it. The other two nights, trays of appetizers and cookies were passed in the casino, the disco, and the Schooner bar, although we didn't see more than one tray go by in each.
Entertainment The only *production* show we went to was on the first night. After a 10 minute advertisement for the upcoming art auctions and a song from the cruise director, Parker Cristan, we saw a magician/comedian, Lavent. He was pretty lame, but *ok* in the end. The karaoke later that night provided better entertainment (especially the trio that did *Proud Mary*), but the location of the lounge was strange (same for the disco)...
Service Our waiter, Marco, from Portugal, was the BEST! He has worked for RCCL for 6 years, and his experience shows. Same for Miriana, our wine steward(ess?). She was friendly and knowledgeable Derrick, our cabin steward, though out of sight most of the time, kept our cabin clean, our ice bucket filled, and provided us with towel animals on 2 of the 3 nights...
Ports Nassau is Nassau... We did a little shopping and then spent the afternoon at the pool onboard. After formal night dinner, we took a taxi to the Atlantis Casino, which ended up being very profitable : )
Coco Cay is beautiful. It was extremely relaxing and the weather couldn't have cooperated more. We were told that this was the first time the ship stopped there in the last 5 cruises because of bad weather. The crew was ecstatic, especially those that had the day off. Chuck went snorkeling there and really enjoyed it. I just laid in the sun all day...
Overall Impression of the Ship In my personal opinion, I think that the layout of the ship leaves much to be desired. The disco and a couple other lounges are in strange locations, the elevators are too far apart (you have to run to catch one, IF they stop at all), there are only two sets , 1 forward and 1 aft, and neither set stops at all floors. The cabins are WAY too small and if you weigh more than 100 lbs, you can barely turn around in the shower.
In the dining room, the main wait station is clearly visible if you are sitting in the front half of the room, which I had heard was a big complaint about Carnival. Bar waiters on the pool deck were not only hawking drinks on deck, but accosting people by the doors as they were leaving!
Disembarkation Although I was concerned about having customs clearance at a reasonable hour, apparently it was pre-arranged for the Amway group to clear immigration at a very early hour. I was more than surprised when the captain announced "all clear to disembark" at only 7:30am, while we were eating breakfast! We were off the ship by 8:30, but it took nearly 30 minutes for our luggage to show up on the carousel.
To Conclude We had a good time, BUT!!! If we were going to do another short cruise, we would go with Carnival... We had a BETTER time with them!
I felt that you might appreciate some "informed feedback" from a travel and airline industry veteran e.g. myself. This also comes from the background of having cruised extensively in the past 15 years, most recently on "Maasdam", "Royal Princess", "Voyager o-t-S" and the 1999-remodeled "QE 2".
BOOKING was via RCCL's website. Ease-of-use was great, especially the diagrams showing location of available cabins. Only drawbacks were the inability to make more than one cabin reservation at a time, and that it would not accept any of my credit cards for payment (a call to RCI's helpful res department fixed the latter). Tickets etc arrived promptly. Overall, 7 out of 10.
CHECK-IN was not passenger-friendly: we waited in line from 2:00 pm for some 40 minutes. When we did reach the desk, staff were efficient although distracted by discussions amongst themselves regarding going "on break". A plethora of pink "desk closed" signs were evident. The eventual boarding was OK, although there seemed to be a lack of ship-board staff to direct passengers to cabins. Expectations had been set by an extremely fast and friendly check-in and boarding on "Voyager" at the same terminal in Jan 2000: thistime was not up to that standard. A score of 6.
CABINS were compact (in the "old" RCCL tradition!) but well laid out, well maintained, brightly furnished and clean. Noise from next-door TV was excessive at night. Cabin steward and makeup was great: those "bedtime animals" are an excellent touch. A minor plumbing "feedback" problem was fixed promptly. Score 7.
DINING room SERVICE was exceptional: the improvements in the past few years really show. The consistancy, efficiency, friendliness and straight-forward quality was a highlight of the trip: the best I have had on ANY cruise ship. FOOD was better than expected: not yet at "QE 2 Caronia restaurant" standards, but at least equal to Princess and HAL (and better at times).
The casual Windjammer was also very good: service here was also excellent and the quality better than the comparative Cunard/Princess/HAL casual dining option.
Frankly, overall dining experience was superior to "Voyager" main dining room and casual-dining in January 2000. The "Majesty's" Windjammer design (e.g. forward of the ship, and incorporating blended internal and external aspects, is also superior to "Voyager". Score is a 9.
PUBLIC LOUNGES and spaces were good. All well designed, very clean and well maintained. The "human scale" of the atrium and the excellent through-flows on each deck were in some ways preferable to the shopping-mall approach of "Voyager". The ENTERTAINMENT was OK (we only saw one show, which was "average" compared to "Voyager" and "similiar" to shows on QE 2 and Princess/HAL). The cruise staff clearly worked hard, and the vast majority of passengers seemed to appreciate the results. The Children's programme was excellent. Score 8.
CREW were great: at all levels, interaction with passengers was excellent and a credit to Royal Caribbean. Score 10.
DISEMBARKATION was very fast and smooth. A "misprint in the daily Compass" meant that many non-US passengers got up an hour early to attend a non-existant 6 am passport collection (with no staff present to handle bleary-eyed guests), however otherwise the process was remarkably quick and efficient. Score 8.
OVERALL, this was a great cruise. Apart from the frustrations of check-in, the overwhelmingly popular view was that this is a great ship, well run and well presented.
OPINION: The "Majesty" appears wasted on 3- and 4-day jaunts: she would make a far better "ambassador" for Royal Caribbean in the new European joint-venture than the converted-ferry-constrained "Nordic Empress". "Majesty" (or "Sovereign/Monarch") in the Mediterranean during the summer, opereatde to the current high standard with 7 fly-day cruises marketed in the UK and mainland Europe, would dominate the competition, and establish RCI as a very major player.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Majesty of the Seas by Rick Brennecke Southern Caribbean August, 2000
This was our first cruise and I used Cruisemates for so much information I felt I had to submit my review for other first timers. We sailed on the Majesty Of The Seas out of San Juan and did the Southern swing (Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin, St. Thomas). I had heard so much hype on cruises I couldn't believe it could be as good as everyone said.
It was. What a great time we had. We only did one shore excursion thru the ship (Aruba tour) and basically rented taxi's and did our own thing the rest of the trip. We shopped and went to the beach on every island. My favorite beach was Orient Beach in St. Martin. I thought Megan's Bay in St. Thomas was overrated. The ship was spectacular, for as many people as it holds we never felt crowded. The food, service, and entertainment was great. We are talking about going back in two years.