Year Started: 1969
Ships in Fleet: 22
Summary: The largest and most technically impressive cruise ships in the world. Great for kids, families and adventurous adults. A large fleet, but Oasis and Brilliance are often cited as favorites
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Seniors.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Caribbean, Canada, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Group.
Good for: Teens. Group. Families.
Regions:Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket & Port Kelang,
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Families. Overall Service.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Hawaii, Tasmania
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Hawaii, Alaska, South Pacific
Good for: Group. Families. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Suez Canal, Bahamas, Dubai
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Brazil, Western Mediterranean, Greek Isles
Good for: Seniors. Families. Singles.
Regions:Norwegian Fjords, British Isles, Scan Russia, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Toyko To Taipei, Australia, Asia
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
I sailed on the Mariner of the Seas on Sunday, September 7th through the 14th. This was my husband and I's second cruise. Our first cruise was last year on the Carnival Triumph - and that was EXCELLENT! I felt there was just something missing on RCI that Carnival had (more detail later). Anyway, we were traveling with my family. We flew from Boston to Orlando the Saturday morning before our cruise. We then took a shuttle to Port Canaveral, which is about 50 minutes away - a very nice, relaxing drive. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites. This is probably one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in! The staff was very helpful and friendly, the place was spotless, and it had everything! It has a great pool, hot tub, arcade, gym, and free breakfast. I highly recommend this place! It was a Saturday night so they also had a free shuttle to nearby places, so we took it to Fish Lips, a restaurant right on the water. That place was so much fun! Great family environment and great food!
The next morning, we took the hotel'sshuttle to the port at about 10:30am. About 10 minutes later, there we were at the port - staring at the Mariner. What a beautiful ship! She is HUGE! (Just wanted to add, for a big ship with so many people - we never felt crowded - no lines, it was good!) Very sharp looking. It also towered over the Disney Wonder and the Carnival Sensation that were in port that day. We went through security and then we were off to show our Sail Pass. The line went quick and we had our Sail Pass card and were all checked in - all in about 10 minutes! We couldn't board yet so we waited in a row of chairs for about 10 minutes more. Then it was time to board! The whole process was very easy and quick - I think Port Canaveral is a lot nicer, more organized, and quicker than Miami (which we did last year).I will definitely do Port Canaveral from now on!
My first step into the Mariner, I was in shock! How beautiful and big! haha Much nicer interior than the Carnival Triumph that we sailed last year - and a LOT bigger too! We took some photos of her and then made our way up to the Windjammer (Deck 11) for lunch.
While on the topic of the Windjammer, this is probably a good time to mention my first disappointment - the food on the Mariner. The food was just okay - tolerable. I just wasn't that impressed - which, in a way was good, it meant I didn't pig out as much! haha Usually for lunch I just had a cheeseburger or hot dog and fries. I'm a picky or 'selective' eater so I don't eat weird 'fancy' stuff, haha. Most of the food on the Mariner was fancy things. Even the desserts weren't of my liking. The only thing I did like were the cookies - but sadly, those were usually hard as a rock. The cakes, pies, etc. were more European desserts, which I'm not a fan off. I'd prefer simple Ring Dings and Oreos, haha. Gosh did I MISS the chocolate cake from Carnival. Oh, and Carnival's chocolate melting cake. Gosh, I'll just say it - I missed ALL of Carnival's food! I simply couldn't get enough of the food on the Triumph. But the Mariner left me hungry and craving more 'normal' food. I wasn't even impressed in the dining room. I had chicken breast and a baked potato every single night! haha I don't like my food with extra weird sauces on it and things like that. But if you're into fancy foods, like my hubby is, you'll love the Mariner! ** But, let me say, that the Jonny Rockets is EXCELLENT! Now that is real food! haha We went there twice! Well worth the $3.95 a person. And don't forget to have the Oreo Sundae!!!! **
After eating lunch, we walked around the whole ship. I was really impressed by her. Then at 1pm exactly, we went to our stateroom - 6643, and interior cabin on deck 6. It was definitely smaller than our cabin on the Triumph (which had a porthole). I will never do an interior again. It was way to dark - which made me never want to get out of bed, haha. I NEED a window. But, we made the best of it. The bathroom is REALLY tiny and don't get me started on the shower! haha But at least it had a real shower door. What I wasn't happy with was 1) there were no nice Royal Caribbean beach towels - they were simple yellow ones (Carnival had nice blue Carnival logo towels) that looked like bath towels; 2) there were no RCI bath robes (Carnival gave us two Carnival bath robes); and 3) there was no basket of free samples in the bathroom (Carnival gave a nice assortment of samples!). I'm sorry, but if RCI is 'better' and costs more, why doesn't it have these same simple things like Carnival??? Doesn't make much sense to me!
Next, I'll talk about the shows and entertainment. Once again, RCI did not live up to the Carnival standards. The two parades were okay - not too exciting and kind of childish - not to mention short! The shows were mostly singers and dancers - I prefer more Comedians and other upbeat, fun shows. But, they were good - not bad - but just not lively! The comedian juggler was HILARIOUS though!!!! He's not to be missed! I also found myself missing a lot of the activities by the pool as well.. I just didn't expect them to be good, so I didn't bother! Which is pretty sad! haha I went to EVERYTHING on the Carnival ship! We spent a lot of time napping, eating, and walking the promenade on sea days.
Staff - wow is all I can say! haha While most of the crew on the mariner were very nice, helpful, and went out of their way to make your day - there were many I saw who weren't friendly! I walked by many who didn't even say hi to me. I saw some Windjammer staff huffing and puffing and looking bored. I never saw this on the Carnival Triumph - everyone on that ship smiled and said hi. I guess it just depends on the ship, but that really did turn me off to RCI. The cruise director Abe was okay, he was funny, but he wasn't that exciting. The BEST crew member had to be Simeon at the Schooner bar!!!! I swear I spent 80% of my cruise at that bar, haha. He is a piano player and he is hilarious! I'd go on the Mariner again JUST to see him! He really made my week! Go see Simeon!Ports of Call:
- Labadee, Haiti was our first stop. It was pretty rough seas on our way there, since we were getting the back part of Ike. Luckily I never get seasick. Labadee is a very nice beach area. We went directly to Hideaway beach at the end tip. It's quiet here and the sand is nice. Water was warm and beautiful - perfect. You also get a great view of the ship. There was a bathroom right there and the food buffet is right near the beach too - great location. The food buffet wasn't that great, I was pretty disappointed. Again, I was expecting RCI to be better than Carnival, but my expectations were not met. After a day on the beach, eating lunch, and walking around, we headed to the market. Oh my gosh! How pushy they were! Somehow we bought two bracelets for $15, haha. But oh well, I hope we made their day and helped that guy and his family out. I was pulled, tugged, yelled at, and everything else by people trying to get me to buy their things. I had to run out of there. I think they would sell more if they weren't so pushy!
- Montego Bay, Jamaica - We were supposed to go to Ocho Rios, but some other ship was there, so we went to Montego Bay instead. Hubby and I did the Negril Express and Shopping tour - it was a lot of fun and I really suggest it! It takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Margarittaville in Negril. We really got to see the real Jamaica this way. Wow, those people are really poor. It makes you appreciate what you have back home. After a few hours on the beach, we did 30 minutes of shopping, then drove back to the ship. It was a fun relaxing day and I also felt like I learned alot about the country. Our tour guid was great! There were only like 10 people on our tour too, which was good.
- Grand Cayman - Sadly, due to high waves, we couldn't get off the ship. I was really upset because I was going to do the Moby Dick sting ray tour. Hopefully I'll go back!
- Cozumel, Mexico - Wow it was hot! haha Very nice mall at the port, so if you like shopping, you could stay busy there all day! We had wanted to do the Sandals all inclusive resort, but it was full, so we did the all inclusive beach break at Play Mia. I don't think it was worth the money. The beach was nice and we met two nice people there and chatted the day away under the warm sun - but the food was lacking. I was hoping for cheeseburgers, fries, etc. but it was Mexican food - nothing I would eat. And the open bar wasn't that good. So, I don't think it was worth the $70 a person. Definitely do the Sandals one!
The last day of our cruise, we went to find our photos - we had them taken as we boarded, on the ship, at dinner, and at every port… but we had ONE photo in our folder! We couldn’t find any of them. We tried the photo finder machine, but had no luck. We got frustrated and just gave up! RCI lost some of our money because of that! The photo center was very disorganized.
Getting off the ship was very easy - took maybe 30 minutes. My mom and dad sadly didn't find one of their suitcases when leaving. I don't know if they have it yet or not. We then drove by shuttle to the airport and headed home on a 11am flight.
Overall, we had a great time! The ship is unbelievable... but the food, crew, and activities had me missing the Carnival Triumph! I think next time, I'll try a newer Carnival ship. RCI really didn't impress me that much, sorry to say it. Everyone had told me I'd love it so much more, etc., but I didn't see it.
On a funny note, last year on my first cruise, I had tripped on the wet floor by the pool and fell on my butt in front of everyone. Well, I couldn't disappoint anyone this year and fell on a wet floor on deck 5 on the royal promenade and landed face down in front of everyone! hahah Do I have bad luck or what???? :) Happy cruising everyone!
Enchantment Of The Seas -- Sail Date August 28th, 2008
Cruise Theme -- Avoid Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna
Introduction My wife, Joanne and I booked this cruise about two weeks before sailing. We had a Junior Suite on deck eight, cabin number 8644. We are Diamond Crown & Anchor members that earns you all kinds of extra benefits. More on that later. The scheduled stops were supposed to be Key West and Cozumel. Prior to departing for Ft. Lauderdale from Atlanta, all you had to do was watch a weather report, which tracked Hurricane Gustav and you knew this cruise was going elsewhere. If we headed to Cozumel as scheduled, it would have involved sailing through the category three hurricane, TWICE! Not recommended.
Thursday -- Departure Ft. Lauderdale Our 10 a.m. flight from Atlanta was in Ft. Lauderdale by noon. A short cab ride to the pier, a very quick check-in and we rolled our two pieces of luggage into our cabin at 1 p.m. At the check-in desk on the pier, we learned (happily) that the cruise would visit Key West and Nassau. This was our first cruise on a "Vision"class ship. The Enchantment of the Seas was launched in 1997 and had a passenger capacity of 2,446. Signs at the Guest Relations desk, said no cabin upgrades were available indicating the ship was full. A couple of years ago, the Enchantment was sawed in half and they inserted an extra 73 feet of cabins and stuff. Hence the pool area is huge and there are fewer laps now for you runners to do a mile. This is a beautiful ship. It's very similar to the Radiance class and we've sailed the Radiance of the Seas three times now.
When we booked our cruise on-line, we also made reservations for Chops steakhouse for our departure dinner. We had a wonderful dining experience, with excellent food, service and ambiance. The captain entertained two junior officers at the table next to us. It is worth the extra $25 per person for a wonderful dining experience. Over the next couple of days we talked to a number of fellow cruisers who wanted to dine in Chops but were unable to get a reservation and were put on waiting lists. You may want to book on-line early to make sure you get a table when you sail for the day and time you want.
Friday -- Key West Great weather and no hurricane…yet. We've been to Key West before and really like the port. For the first time we took the Conch Train tour of the city. We bought tickets ashore ($29 each) and had a great two-hour tour of the city. It really gives you a wonderful flavor of the history of Key West. I recommend it. We later had a nice lunch on Duval Street at a place called "Death By Cheeseburger" or something close to that. My wife and I can't remember the real name, but you will know it when you see it.
We sailed at 4 p.m. and headed North versus South into the hurricane. Dinner in the My Fair Lady dining room was wonderful. We were on the deck 4 level of this two level facility. The food, tablemates and service were excellent.
Saturday -- Nassau We pulled into Nassau at 10:30 a.m. There was one open berth at the pier complex to accommodate the Enchantment. The captain had been on the ship's P.A. system to tell us that you just don't say "You know…I don't want to sail through a hurricane, 120 mph winds and 75 foot seas to Cozumel today, instead, let's go to Nassau!" It takes a room full of logistic experts back at the RCI home office in Miami to analyze the weather and the optimal dispersal of the whole company's fleet of cruise ships whose destinations may be affected by the storm. I suspect it takes more than a few phone calls and some "baksheesh" to get your ship into a safe port while you are competing with half a dozen other cruise lines with the same agenda. We have been to both Cozumel and Nassau several times each and were delighted to spend the day in Nassau. The skies were sunny.
As we exited the ship around 11:00 a.m. you slip your sea pass card into the scanner to log you off the ship and walk down the ramp to the pier. We hit the bottom of the ramp and looked left (East) towards the foot of the pier and about a mile away was a wall of brown water descending from the black clouds above. This wall was racing towards us like a freight train at full throttle. There was no "on" ramp set up yet to re-board the ship. Running at full speed, we knew the storm would hit us before we could make it to the building ashore. There are several 20'x60' shelters on the pier. The shelters had roofs but no sides of any kind. One shelter held dozens of phone booths and was full of people. Another had no phones and no people so we ran to that and went to the far end opposite the direction the approaching storm. Fellow passengers followed our lead and in no time we had lots of company.
When the storm hit, there were suddenly 50 mph winds and rain blasting sideways at fire hose velocity. Our position at the far end of the shelter and the fellow passengers windward of us kept us perfectly dry. Five minutes later, the storm was past us, the skies were blue and sunny and we continued into town avoiding the evaporating rain puddles. Every hour on the hour for the next three or four hours we received two inches of rain in five minutes with the accompanying high winds. These were the very outer bands of Hurricane Gustav that was passing the Western end of Cuba hundreds of miles away as it headed for the Gulf of Mexico. To have such violent weather so far from the central eye says Royal Caribbean made a good call on our modified itinerary. Hurricane Gustav was Southwest of us and Hurricane Hanna was a couple of days out, Southeast of us.
Sunday -- Sea Day The weather was perfect and the Enchantment spent the day doing seven-knot lazy doughnuts in the ocean South of Grand Bahama Island. Carlos, another Piña Colada por favor. Ft. Lauderdale was just a few hours steaming west.
The Ship The Enchantment of the Seas was built in 1997 and is similar to the newer Radiance Class of ships. There is an atrium with a group playing each evening, filling all of the vertical spaces with wonderful music. Our favorite groups were the George's String Trio and The Evergreen Trio. The My Fair Lady dining room is a two-story affair. We ate there twice, but made sure we gave our waiter and staff full gratuities. One night we ate at the excellent Chops and another night had hors d'oeuvres in the Concierge Lounge followed by more munchies and cocktails at a Crown and Anchor member reception. After all that we didn't need dinner.
We booked this cruise two weeks prior to sailing without much concern for the itinerary. We didn't attend the big acts in the Orpheum Theater and can't comment. However, the group, Surfside, up on the pool deck, set a fine Caribbean party mood and the other musical groups we like have been noted.
To me, it seems the larger the ship; the more space there is despite the expanded passenger load. This ship was totally booked, but at no time did it feel crowded. Despite walking all around the ship, four days is not enough time to get to know her.
Our Cabin Our Junior Suite cabin was probably three feet wider than a standard balcony cabin. It doesn't sound like much, but it gives you a huge living space. We had a three-person sofa plus two club chairs and two foot stools plus a glass topped coffee table. The balcony had two comfy chairs with a table in between. The bathroom had a full bathtub versus a stand-up shower and was larger than what you get with the usual cabin with balcony. We have grown spoiled to cabins with balconies I'm afraid. There was a huge amount of storage with a big closet, plenty of shelves and drawers.
Diamond Crown & Anchor Status Dude. Put on your his and her fluffy bathrobes, and eat your chocolate covered strawberries. Diamond status is pretty corrupt.
When you check in, you receive a second Sea Pass type card that gets you into the Concierge Lounge on deck eight. In the morning, this lounge spreads out a fruit, pastry, juice and coffee buffet. In the evening, hot and cold hors d'oeurves plus an open bar with a wonderful ocean view and the attention of Julian brings you back. Your attendant, Julian, by the way, could be the double for Denzel Washington. Ladies take note.
There was a Diamond member luncheon get together that we forgot to attend on day four of the cruise. As Diamond members on this cruise, there were three days of food and drinks to schedule. One night was a Crown & Anchor member reception. Joanne and I had settled into a table at the back of the lounge and just enjoyed the cocktails, food and music. One of the ships officers asked to join us and we of course asked him to sit down. He really wanted to know why we kept returning to Royal Caribbean. This was not a rhetorical question but a RCI officer doing some marketing research. We talked for about ten minutes and he seemed genuinely attentive to our responses. The bottom line is Royal Caribbean works very hard to make sure repeat customers keep repeating. I've got to say they do a very good job. To paraphrase Arnold, we'll be back.
We also had chocolate covered strawberries left in our cabin one day and his and hers baseball caps left by the cabin elves on another. When we first got to our cabin there were two Diamond Member coupon books. The coupons got you things like a 20% Spa credit, a complimentary cocktail, water or soda, a free photo, casino credits, internet credits, 10% off in the gift shop, and much, much more.
There was a special line for Diamond members when boarding in Ft. Lauderdale, however at the time we arrived at the pier, 12:30, there was no wait for anybody. At the end of the cruise, we were issued white luggage tags. This was the first group of color-coded passengers to be called to disembark.
How To Get A Free Cruise AND Make Money No I didn't hit it big at BINGO or in the casino. Here's how you do it. I have a small business and charge 20 to 30 thousand dollars each month on American Express. If you are signed up with their Membership Rewards program, you earn a point for every dollar charged, so my points build up quickly. I purchased the cruise with my AmEx card and was told when the statement comes, call them and they would convert my Membership Rewards points to dollars and pay the cruise charge. O.K. so we get a free cruise.
Next we own 100 shares of Royal Caribbean. Let them know that and provide RCI your stock and cruise info and on a 4 day cruises, they credit your account with $50. (On a longer cruise, the credit is $100.
Next, we had points built up on our Royal Caribbean Visa card and converted them for another $250 credit to our Sea Pass account. Lastly we had signed up for an excursion in Cozumel when we booked the cruise and so there was another $196 credit to our account due to the cancellation. After four days of bar tabs at the pool, wine at dinner and browsing the shops aboard we had to go to the customer service desk on our last day and collect $265 of unspent cash in our account. They would not credit it back to the credit card we provided at check-in to cover our Sea Pass charges.
Summary What a great four days. We are really low maintenance cruisers. We are not gourmands, entertainment snobs nor passengers that expect to have their butts constantly kissed. Give me a chair on the pool deck in the shade where I can listen to the band du jour playing "The Electric Slide" while I read my book and I'm good! Carlos, another Piña Colada.
If you are on the fence about booking a cruise on the Enchantment, drop me a note. I'll convince you to go and I may possibly join you. If you've followed me this far, drop me a note and critique my review. I really do these reviews to connect with fellow cruisers such as yourself and make a journal of my travels. I look forward to hearing from you.
This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean, and I can't say enough about what a wonderful experience it was. The ship is beautiful, the food was excellent and the entertainment first rate! Be sure to go to the Ice Show....it was outstanding. We loved the Cafe Promenade for an afternoon snack and a cup of coffee. The Solarium is a comfortable spot to spend the afternoon reading, or just relaxing in the sun. With the number of people on the ship, we were concerned that the it would be crowded with long lines at the buffets, but it was never the case. Overall, it was an excellent experience and we can't wait to sail on RC again.
It's been a long time since I fell in love with a cruise ship, and no one is more surprised than I am that my new favorite happens to be the biggest ship in the world.
Now let me say that I love cruise ships, but have always much preferred the smaller, more elegant ships to the techno-behemoths that set sail in recent years. The larger ships lost the warmth and ambience of cruising somewhere in their massive tonnage or, in an attempt to be a large ship with a small ship feeling, compacted the lounges, cabins and public spaces to an uncomfortable, even claustrophobic size that left us yearning for a little personal space.
But Royal Caribbean has perfected the equation with the Voyager of the Seas. At 142,000 tons and 1,020 feet long, the statistics are astonishing. The comparisons are mind-boggling. Itís as long as17 freight cars, longer than seven 747ís end to end and even large enough to accommodate five Goodyear blimps. But Iíve discovered something even more staggering in its significance. The Voyager of the Seas is not just the biggest ship ever built; it is perhaps the mostbrilliantly designed ship I have ever experienced.
Among many innovative design elements of this ship, the one that makes them all work so well is the Royal Promenade. A colorful boulevard of shops and lounges, itís also the bridge between two soaring atriums leading to the remaining public rooms. So finding your way around is as simple as knowing which end of the ship you need to be on and getting from end to end is as pleasant as a stroll down the promenade.
And oh, that promenade! You may be tempted to stop by and play a little video poker at Spinners, where you sit and actually rotate around a gigantic roulette wheel. Or take a ëstreet tableí at the Pig N Whistle English Style Pub. Stop for coffee, pastry or some pizza at CafÈ Promenade, catch a game on TV at the Scoreboard Sports Bar or do some shopping at any of the gift shops. And if youíre really lucky, you may get to mingle with the Krooz Klowns.
Now let me say this: I am not a big fan of clowns, heck I'm not a fan at all, but the troupe I came upon on the Royal Promenade made me forget that. I was charmed and enchanted as Eddie taught me (or tried to teach me) how to juggle a DiaBolo, and other guests around me practiced balancing a Peacock Feather on their chin, took a crack at juggling and even got their own clown faces painted. There were those passers-by that looked askance at our inner children at play, but those of us mingling with the clown contingent were having a much better time.
On either end of the Royal Promenade are two soaring, light-filled Centrums. The Forward Centrum provides entry to the Vault night club, Cleopatraís Needle dancing lounge, the Schooner Bar, the casino, the La Scala Show Lounge, the Solarium with retractable dome, and the impressive two-story spa and fitness center.
Off the Aft Centrum youíll find the worldís first floating ice-skating rink in Studio B. While the ice show will be taking center stage, this showroom is designed with a floor to cover the ice for RCTV productions (thatís Royal Caribbean Television) to be broadcast throughout the ship and right into your stateroom. The Aquarium Bar actually has huge aquariums of tropical fish built right into the walls, the two-story library provides internet access for emailing photo postcards back home and the spacious three-story, ocean-view dining room features a sweeping staircase and a crystal chandelier the size of a Volkswagen beetle.
Ride the glass elevators a few decks higher to Adventure Ocean, a wonderland for children with separate rooms and amenities for each age group. Just out the doors is the wading pool and water slide, surrounded by kid-size chairs and tables and even chaise lounges. And just around the corner is the 50ís style Johnny Rockets diner for a quick burger and fries.
One more deck up and you can play on the miniature golf course, the virtual driving range, full size basketball court or tackle another first at sea, the rock climbing wall. You bring the sneakers and theyíll provide the rope and harness. And while there is an additional fee for some of these activities, it didnít seem to stop anyone from enjoying the fun.
There are more places to see and things to do. And I could go on and on about all that makes the Voyager of the Seas so unique. But Iíd rather you go on to see for yourself. This is a ship that is taking the joys of cruising to new heights. And I canít wait to scale those heights again.
31 of us boarded the Freedom of the Seas for a 7-night W. Caribbean cruise starting August 17, 2008. The oldest family member was 80 years old and the youngest was 2, spanning 3 generations.
Pre-Cruise Stayed at Hyatt Summerfield Suites (close to Miami airport) and were all upgraded to two-bedroom suites upon arrival. Summerfield Suites provided free hot breakfast buffet, free internet, and taking the shuttle from the hotel to the port was only $10 per person, and $3 for each bag. The journey took less than 20 minutes on a Sunday morning.
Embarkation and Cabins We arrived at the port at about 11:30 a.m. and were able to get on the ship before 12:30 p.m. Our 10 cabins (6 D1 on Deck 10, 1 interior on Deck 10, 2 E1 on Deck 8 & 1 Promenade-interior family stateroom that can house up to 6 pp. on Deck 8 with almost 400 sq-ft) were all great. Each of the 3 aft cabins (1400, 1402 & 1404) had a huge balcony with 2 lounge (bed) chairs, 2 regular chairs and 1 round table. Taking afternoon naps on the lounge chairs on ourown private balconies was added luxury that only suite guests would experience. Rooms were all ready at 1 p.m. but luggage was delivered close to dinner time at around 5:15 p.m.
Dining and Food We had 4 tables in Leonardo Dining Room on Deck 3 by the window. Food was quite good, considering they had to prepare over 1000 meals at the same time. Dinners at Portofino ($20 extra) and Chops Grille ($25 extra) were exceptional and well worth the extra bucks. The setting, the food presentation, the food quality and taste & the service (everybody had their own personal waiter that brought the food out at the same time!) all contributed to an extremely satisfying fine dining experience. Chops Grille was able to accommodate all 31 of us at the same time. Food at Windjammer was regular buffet food but they had Jade that offered some kinds of pretty authentic Chinese food. The sandwiches and pizzas (especially the Seafood Pizza) offered on Deck 5's Promenade were mouth-watering. Kids (they are 14-20 years old) said Johnny Rocket was so good that they had to give them extra tips.
The Midnight Buffet (now they call it family get-together night club) was downsized & didn't even offer viewing time. There were only a few ice sculptures and the food presentation was only average. Selection was very limited too.
Entertainment It was surprisingly good (way better than last year's Mediterranean cruise onboard Voyager of the Seas). The solo entertainer, the RCI singers, and the magic show were all worth watching. However, the Ice Show was not as good as the ones on Navigator or Voyager. It was probably because we have seen similar shows so many times before & it was not thrilling any more, even with the wheels, wings, etc.
The 70's & 80's dance parties and the parades were great!
We loved to sing Karaoke & met some friends too. The Quest & Love-&-Marriage show were fun to watch. Ken Rush, our Cruise Director, was quite good.
Outdoor Activities We played in the H2O zone, the Flowrider, rock climbing, mini golf & different types of ball games & had a lot of fun. The Adventure Ocean (kids program) was so good that all 4 to 17 year olds enjoyed that very much.
Ports & Excursions This was the part that made this cruise so much more fun, enjoyable and memorable. In beautiful Labadee we went on the waverunners, then did kayaking & parasailing -- expensive but a lot of fun. Local magnets with a list price of $5 could be bargained to $1 in the Labadee market.
As we were a big group, we boarded a 28-seater van that took us to Ocho Rios' Dunns River Falls and went on an island tour (5 hours in total & $20 each person including tip). We got the van from the white info booth located right outside the pier. Admission to Dunns River was $15 each. It was a blast & half of us climbed the whole 650-ft. falls. It was tiring but we had great fun & didn't feel the heat as we were in water the whole time. We bought the video (quality was below average but still worth it as a big group) for $40. Bring your own Aqua shoes so you don't have to pay $5 to rent them or $15 to buy a pair ($9 at Wal-Mart).
Grand Cayman was the best as we had a private group tour to Stingray City & Coral Gardens for snorkeling. We had our own private boat so we didn't have to worry about our belongings when we were in water playing with the Stingrays. There were 4 guides for the 31 of us and they brought the stingrays for us to touch, to take photos & to feed them with squids. One guide took a lot of photos for us and sent them to our e-mail addresses for a reasonable cost (about $5 to $15 per picture, the more we bought the cheaper per pic). We also had our own water cameras & that's a must. No shoes were allowed at Stingray City so you wouldn't step on the stingrays and hurt them. Watch their tails as they're hard & could sting you if you are not being careful. Our 2-year old had a real fun time with the stingrays & he was not scared at all. We booked the tour through Best Value Water Sports & it's about $30 cheaper per person than booking the same tour with RCI.
We didn't book any excursions in Cozumel so we just went downtown ($6 per cab ride) for shopping. Carnival parked very close to the shops but RCI docked way further. The head-bobbing colourful turtles & other sea creatures for $1 each were great souvenirs. Last time we were in Cozumel we rented a jeep to a private beach with big waves and yummy barbecues, so it's great to see Cozumel with the locals this time. Street sellers had hand-crafted 3-D baskets (pushed down to one flat piece of wood or push up to form a basket), we had the biggest size for $10 each. They were gorgeous!
Spa The ladies of our group enjoyed the "Happy Hour" with facial, massage and champagne. We felt so relaxed that most of us slept through the soothing and relaxing treatment.
Parking at Port and Disembarkation Parking is now $20 per day, so parking cost us $140, yet it's extremely handy to have our own vehicle after disembarkation & we were able to leave the port in less than 10 minutes after collecting our luggage from the carousel. We were given colour tags Beige 1, that was called at 6:40 to get off the ship, though we chose not to leave the ship till 7:20 a.m. The line got quite long & we actually had to stand & wait to go through immigration for about 20 minutes. We left the port at 8 a.m. and were able to arrive at the awesome Miami Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort (between North & South Beach in Aventura) at 8:30 a.m.
The hotel was wonderful & we were upgraded to a big room (almost 600 sq. ft) with a sitting area and golf course view right away. We were able to sleep for a few hours before lunch.
This was the 6th cruise we took with RCI & it was the best. We loved the big ship and we enjoyed the time to chill with our friends and relatives. It was a pity that Oasis was not open for public booking yet when we were on the ship, we just can't wait to get on board the even bigger Oasis of the Seas. We're hoping that next year's 12-night Scandinavian Cruise on Jewel of the Seas will be another wonderful and positive cruise experience.
If you are a well-traveled individual or family and thinking about trying a cruise (on Royal Caribbean or another line) please read on. We have been on several luxury vacations and particularly enjoy Four Seasons Resorts in Hawaii and Mexico. When we booked a week on a Royal Caribbean (RC) Alaskan cruise that costs $16,000 for a week excluding air transportation (more than any of our Four Season Resort trips) we expected great things. What a disappointment. It is difficult to express how far the RC cruise fell short of a luxury vacation. The food, service, facilities and other amenities aboard our ship, the Serenade of the Seas (a 5 years old ship), were all far short of many other of our vacations. The insulting thing is that $16,000 for a week for a family of five should delivery amazing food, service and facilities.
Below is a letter we sent to RC (below). Eventually we were offered a 20% refund ($2760.00) but RC required us to sign non-disclosure agreement (also below) which we were unwilling to do because we felt that people should know what a (RC) cruise is like relative toother luxury vacation options. If you've never cruised and are considering it, we would encourage you to think again and if you must then embark on a cruise with your expectations well below similarly priced vacation options.Letter to Royal Caribbean
My wife, three sons and I recently completed an Alaskan cruise aboard the Serenade of the Seas departing from Vancouver on August 16, 2008 for one week. I will acknowledge that we knew early on that this trip would be expensive as we booked two suites, most of the excursions and the specialty dining before we left. Specifically, we booked two Junior Suites (rooms 1080 and 1082) for the journey for which we were charged $13,895 by our travel agent Ana Dixon at America's Vacation Center. In addition, we spent $555 for alcohol and bartender tips, $90 for specialty dining, as well as $1,528 for excursions. All of this brought our one week trip to a total of more than $16,000 excluding our flights and other transportation expenses. Needless to say we were ready to have a great time on our first cruise.
What we experienced was something that fell way short of expectations. Before I get to the shortcomings, I should note that we are experienced travelers and have vacationed at many luxury resorts including, among others, the Four Seasons in Maui and Hualalai, Hawaii and Punta Mita, Mexico. During these one week trips we have never spent anything close to $14,000 for lodging and food for what were amazing trips.
The most glaring of the shortcomings on the cruise was the food. Overall we thought the quality of the food was poor. The "Windjammer" breakfast buffet was equivalent to Denny's with the addition of an unlimited quantity of food. This tradeoff of unlimited supply in exchange for low quality seemed to be a tradeoff that some guests gladly accepted. Dinners at each of the main dining room, Chops and Portofino were the biggest disappointment; not because they were worse than Denny's but because there was so much hype and pretense about the items on the menu. The meats were dry and tended to be overcooked, the seafood was not anything close to fresh despite our proximity to the sea. No dinner meal or course for that matter was memorable in a good way. We did, however, find one bright spot in the Seaview Café which was a good option for lunches on the ship.
Other frustrations on the trip included: There was an extra charge for fountain drinks so we signed up for the "soda option" for $6.95 per person per day which seems like a lot considering refills at McDonalds are free and we just paid almost $14,000 for lodging and food. The bigger insult was that most of our frequented dining locations (Reflections main dining room, Windjammers and Seaview Café) served sodas that were "flat" and the staff was unable to remedy.
We requested a small table during the 6pm dinner seating because we have three young boys (ages 3, 5 and 7) and received confirmation for this prior to departure however upon arrival we were placed at a table for eight with another family. I spent two hours talking with a head waiter and customer service rep (both of whom were very nice) to get what was promised us before we left.
Wines at either of the supplemental charge restaurants, Chops and Portofino, did not include the vintage year. This just underscored the point that this is not fine dining. Our local Italian restaurant includes the vintage for wines on the menu.
The wait staff on the Serenade seemed to be genuinely nice, warm-hearted people. However, the practice of hiring staff from 3rd world countries that have likely neither dined in upscale restaurants nor received proper training presented a service problem that was too often apparent. The RC strategy seems to be more people will deliver better service when less qualified servers would produce better service.
The rooms were fine and the balconies were nice. They did however feel a bit like being in an RV, particularly the bathrooms and the linens (sheets and pillows) were sub-standard.
Housekeeping was inconsistent including missed towels, soap and shampoo.
The entertainment options onboard were in short supply and overbooked. Specifically, the golf simulator was overbooked as only two slots remained when I checked on the second day of the trip. Also the experience was weak as the system appeared to be poorly calibrated. Also, all of the spin classes in the gym were booked on the arrival day of the cruise.
As we traveled in August of 2008 we were very disappointed to find out that the Olympics were not available for viewing aboard the ship on either in-room or "public" TVs. CNN was available so obviously the satellite was working but why NBC and Olympics were missing was strange and disappointing. The TV programming that was available was repetitive like it was the same 24 hours of programming shifted around in different order daily.
Another entertainment shortcoming was that the same six movies were exhibited in the theatre for the whole cruise. Our family enjoyed watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but having seen the film before we had no interest in watching it everyday.
Finally, we felt a lot of pressure from RC to tip the staff including several waiters and housekeeping. We enjoy rewarding good service, however, the tipping guidelines and envelopes from RC made the tipping seem compulsory rather than a reward for excellence. We felt as if RC was shifting some of the burden of compensating its employees to its customers.
In total, we were disappointed with the food and services on the ship. Perhaps cruising is not for us which would be fine except that we feel cheated given the price we paid and the promise of luxury cruise unfulfilled.
Upon return home I decided to call Royal Caribbean to air my grievances. Today I spoke with Tamara in the Post Cruise Guest Relations department (800-256-6649). Tamara listened to my complaints and said there was little she could do. I asked to speak to someone that might be able to remedy the situation and Tamara transferred my call to Adelia who informed me she was an Executive Guest Relations Officer. I again recapped my problems with the cruise for Adelia who was not only unsympathetic but dismissive of my grievances. Specifically, Adelia said that food is merely an opinion and she had little respect for mine because no other passengers had complained. When I asked to speak to someone else Adelia informed me that my next option was to speak with Tatiana who would call me back in a month. Not only did she say "a month" but Adelia seemed to take pride in passing along this inconveniencing news. I encourage someone to check the tapes on this if they are kept; it was awful customer service.
We eventually did speak to Tatiana who was very helpful. After some discussion we were offered a 20% refund on the trip.20% Refund Offer Letter
General Release and Confidentiality Agreement
To All To Whom These Presents Shall Come Or May Concern, Know That I, _____, Being Over 21 Years Of Age, Hereinafter Releasor in consideration of ($2,760.00) Twenty Seven Hundred Sixty Dollars received from Royal Caribbean International, as Releasee, receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, releases and discharges Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD., "Serenade of the Seas"., Its Affiliates, Successors, Assigns, the GTV "Serenade of the Seas"., Her Master, Officers, Crew, Agents, Operators, Charterers and Underwriters (Hereinafter the Releasees), Releasee's heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns from all actions, causes of action, suits, debts, dues, sums of money, accounts, reckonings, bonds, bills, specialties, covenants, contracts, controversies, agreements, promises, variance, trespasses, damaged, judgements, extent, executions, claims and demand whatsoever, in law, admiralty or equity, executors, administrators, successors and assigns ever had, now have or hereafter can, shall or may, have for, upon, or by reason of any matter, cause or thing whatsoever from the beginning of the world to the day of the date of this Release and More Particularly Because of an Alleged Incident Involving _____ on the GTV “Serenade of the Seas” on or About the Week of August 16, 2008. It is Expressly Understood and Agreed That This Settlement Represents A Full and Final Disposition of Our Claim and Is Inclusive of Any Hospital, Medical and/or Other Expenses Which We Have or May In the Future Incur.
Passenger hereby promises and agrees that he shall keep and maintain the settlement by and between Royal Caribbean International and Passenger confidential and shall not disclose to any third party except under legal compulsion the existence of this settlement, the terms of this settlement or any other items connected to or relating to the underlying facts in the matter as alleged by Passenger or the settlement thereof.
My granddaughter, age 13, and I had a most enjoyable vacation sailing to the Caribbean.
Pros: Very smooth embarkation and debarkation. Each took less than half an hour. Extremely large variety of activities at most times of day. Ice show was very professional with great costumes and music. Dining room wait staff well trained and helpful. Food was better than expected, but not gourmet. Very comfortable chairs in the library and computer room for reading and people watching. Food available around the clock somewhere. Photographers are not intrusive.
Cons: Minimum drawer space in cabin overlooking the promenade and very tight fit getting around the beds from sitting area to bathroom with beds in twin configuration. Even less shelf space in the bathroom. Constant announcements for revenue generating activities. Almost no feeling of being on a ship. Many may find that a positive feature, but I missed seeing the water from public lounges and feeling a little motion at night. We could not understand the words of the singers in the production shows. Sound was quite fuzzy from where we sat in the balcony. Cabin attendant did absolute minimum or less. We had to callto get ice in the afternoon, and room was not done until evening turn down if we slept in. The casino does not allow double odds at the craps table.
DETAILS Ship and Cabin: The most obvious feature of the ship is that it is BIG. It is tastefully decorated and has excellent signage to find your way around. You will do a lot of walking just to get from one place to another, but you probably will not get lost. The elevators are fast and usually plentiful enough. After a show lets out or when shore excursions return you will have to wait for an elevator, but once on you will get quickly to your destination unless kids have been on and pushed all of the buttons. There are only two locations for the elevators, but many in each location. If your cabin is centrally located, as mine was, you will always walk quite a ways to the elevator then again to your final destination. The hallways have jogs in them so that you do not have a view of endless corridors. There is no wrap around promenade or quiet outside deck chairs, but there is a jogging track on the sports deck way up high. You can go out and stand at the rail on one deck, but this ship is more about inside activities except up on sports deck.
The cabin was small, but adequate. Since drawers were scarce, I left a lot of my clothes in the packing cubes and placed them on the closet shelves. Hanging space was ample for a 7 day cruise. The "duvet" was just a mattress pad in a cover. Very heavy and warm. I asked the cabin attendant to remove it and just put a blanket on the bed. He left the duvet in a heap on the sofa for two days until I asked him to move it. My granddaughter found the duvet to be quite comfortable. We had brought small, lightweight throws for use on the plane. We found them very convenient for afternoon naps too.
The bathroom has three small shelves in the corner medicine cabinet and a shelf under the basin counter. The only amenities provided are towels, bar soap, and a dispenser of shampoo in the shower. There is a hair dryer in the drawer in the vanity table in the bedroom. It cannot be removed from that area. The shower is "clamshell" style so there is no curtain problem. Overall it was small and fairly spartan, but adequate.
Pool Area: The Lido deck is very popular on nice days. There is a pool area for adults only and a family pool area. There are plenty of deck chairs if you get there early enough. I like to be in the shade and was always able to find a chair, if not a lounge. Pool towels must be checked out with your room card and there is a $20 charge if they are not returned. If you take a wet towel to the cabin you must return it to the Lido deck towel area to be credited for its return. This might be why chairs were available; leaving a towel on a chair could cost you money. I really missed the quiet deck chairs for reading on the promenade deck of my favorite ship. The Lido was always noisy as it is meant more for swimming and socializing. There were always bar service staff hawking the expensive drink of the day. I, therefore, did most of my reading in the library or the cabin.
There is a colorful area for water play. Younger children appeared to be enjoying themselves in the sprays, shallow pools, and sliding areas.
Entertainment: There are all of the usual shipboard games and activities plus the ice rink, climbing wall, miniature golf, and the flow rider. Hannah especially enjoyed the flow rider. Surf boards and belly boards are provided. My favorite entertainment was the ice show. It was as professionally done as any on land. You must pick up a ticket to see it, but they are free. Since we could not understand the words of the songs in the production shows in the main theater after dinner we quit going after the first two. One night there was a street dance in the promenade. I had a lot of fun watching the activity from my cabin bay window. The casino has a craps table, but does not allow double odds.
Hannah enjoyed meeting friends in the teen area, but did not participate in any formal children's program activities. I, therefore, know nothing about the program.
Dining: We had a table for 10 with people from several countries, but all spoke English. It made for very interesting conversation at dinner. The food was good enough in the main dining room that we did not try the extra cost specialty restaurants for dinner. Hannah had pizza from Sorentos on the promenade frequently each day. It was quite good. We also used room service in the early morning hours. The food came promptly and was hot when it arrived. There were not a lot of choices, but enough for a late night snack. Breakfast room service was also on time and at least warm when it arrived. There was good variety in the Windjammer buffet for lunch, but the food was quite ordinary, so I ate in the dining room most days. Hannah had lunch on the promenade.
We went to Johnny Rockets for lunch one day. It was good fast food, but not worth the extra charge.
Overall I feel that this is an excellent ship for a group of different ages. There is something for everyone. If your favorite activity is not available when you want it, you can surely find something to enjoy from the multitude of things to do.
We had a fantastic cruise on Majesty of the Seas!
Flew into Miami the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. It was just ok. I wouldn't stay there more than 2 nights, but for one night and the great location -- it was doable.
Got to the ship Monday morning at 10 a.m., and we were on the ship by noon. Had our Welcome Aboard photo taken and then went straight to the Windjammer! Everything was ready, and with being among the first onboard everything was plentiful, with plenty of seats available. Everyone seemed so happy! The waitstaff was very polite right from the beginning! At 1 p.m. our cabins were ready. Inside cabin is small, but very sufficient. I was with my two nieces (18 & 14) and you'd think with 3 females in one cabin, we'd be cramped, but we had plenty of room and there is plenty of room under the beds for suitcases.
Our first stop was Nassau. First of all, I've been to Nassau at least 7 times. If I never see the Straw Market again, I wouldn't be upset. It wasmore crowded than ever. It was so hot in that tent also. Everyone looked miserable! If you stopped to touch something, the workers tried to get you to buy it. After going down just two aisles, we left. We went down Bay Street, which didn't look as nice as I remembered it either. It seemed really quiet, even with 3 ships in port. I guess people just don't like this area of Nassau and made other plans. We went on a water taxi to Paradise Island. Believe me, just when you think they can't fit another person on the ferry, they shove in 10 more. It was a hot miserable ride for everyone. There is a man who gives you a history of the Bahamas on board, and he expects a tip at the end. We took a regular taxi back to the ship!
On Paradise Island, we stopped at the Atlantis resort. Pricy shops and people asking for wrist bands to see if you were a guest. We left there and went to Cabbage Beach. Beautiful, if not crowded, beach. We had a nice afternoon here. There are plenty of water sports available. No facilities, though.
Back on the ship everyone was getting ready for Formal Night. I must admit, everyone looked really nice. I didn't see anyone in the dining room who wasn't dressed really nice.Our second stop was CoCoCay. We were lucky to be able to tender here. Sometimes, the ship can't let the guests off to tender because of the waves (which happened on my last cruise). The island is really pretty. A very nice little straw market, where you can buy the same stuff that is at the straw market in Nassau, but with a lot less hassle! We walked past the Kids Aventure area, and the beach is less crowded there. We rented floating mats right at the stand, and spent the day floating in the water. This was really, really nice, and the CoCo Loco drinks are the best!
We didn't try the barbeque lunch. By the time we got to it, it had been out over an hour and was really picked over and messy. So we headed back to the ship for lunch.
Our third and last stop was Key West. You have to go through Customs in the morning at this stop. It only took a few minutes. Once we were off, we walked around and visited all the shops. We stopped at the Ripley Believe It or Not Museum. It was alright. It took us out of the heat at least! It was so hot outside. After we visited some shops, we went back to the ship and had lunch in the Windjammer, then headed off the ship again with our swimsuits. We jumped in the first taxi we saw and went to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park/Beach. What a great way to spend our last afternoon. The beach is really rocky and we wished we had our water shoes with us. The water was so warm and nice though.
Once back on board, everyone was busy packing and getting ready for the departure. We had our last dinner in the dining room, and walked around the ship a little. Everyone was bummed out. The next morning, luckily, we got to use the Private Departure Lounge, and we were off the ship by 7:20 a.m. It was a long wait at the airport, but I didn't mind.
All in all, this was a fantastic cruise. The Majesty is a very nice ship. We had great weather each day. There were plenty of chairs by the pool. Frozen yogurt by the pool was a nice treat! Food was ok -- not fantastic, but good.
Time to plan the next cruise!
This was our first cruise. We went with lifelong friends and their two teenaged daughters.
Embarking was no problem. We made it on the ship in about 30 minutes. Our stateroom was on deck 6 starboard. It was an Outside with a balcony. The girls had the Ben and Jerry's room (free ice cream since the promenade window is partially blocked by a cow's butt). The stateroom was comfortable with a great bed. While not the largest, there is plenty of storage. The outside patio was awesome and had privacy screens between staterooms.
The food in the formal dining room was very good considering they serve 4000 passengers per day. The Windjammer buffet has something for everyone. Service in the dining room was awesome. Everyone from the head waiter to drink steward was the best. The waiter was able to accommodate a number of special requests.
The shows were great. The Flow rider is fun for all ages. I'm 44 and showed the young wipper snappers a thing or two about boogie boarding.
All shore excursions were as advertised and on time. The casino was wery nice for this ship. It was agood place to hone your gambling skills without losing your pants.
Drinks, while not cheap, were all made with top shelf products.
Disembarking is a breeze if you use the valet service. This service is for specific airlines and passengers leaving the day of disembarkment from Miami or Fort Lauderdale. For $20 per person they provide your boarding passes and destination tags for your luggage. You leave the luggage outside your stateroom just like everyone else. However you can disembark at your leasure. Go through customs and head to the airport without having to schlep your bags. You pick up your bags at your destination. This is a bargain because (1) We didn't have a weight limit of 50 pounds; and, (2) We did not have to pay for a second bag.
I would definately do this again. Maybe we will wait for the Oasis of the Seas.
We are first time cruisers. There were three couples, in our 50's and 60's, all from Michigan.
We decided to fly into Vancouver a day prior to our cruise. We took United Airlines flights, arrived on time and proceeded through customs. We had superior rooms reserved at the BLUE HORIZON hotel, wonderful rooms and the view was breathtaking!!!!! The six of us and luggage took two taxi's, and the fare was $35.00 each cab. Once we arrived at the Blue Horizon, one of the couples discovered that they had left one of their bags at the airport. They had miscounted and simply neglected to take it off the baggage claim conveyor. The were in a panic, as it would now cost them another $70.00 to taxi back to the airport, pick up the bag and then taxi back to the hotel. Upon calling the airport and talking to United's service desk, they found the bag and delivered it to the hotel FREE OF CHARGE!!!!! We were amazed and very thankful.
We left our hotel at check-out time and took two taxi's to the pier. The cost was about $12.00 per cab.
TheRADIANCE OF THE SEAS was beautiful!!!!!! We checked in, got our SeaPass and headed to the Centrum bar for a drink. We loved our waiter, SHORTY, and visited him many times during the trip.
We then decided to have lunch at the Windjammer Buffet while waiting for our rooms to be ready. I walked up to the "sandwich station" and picked the tong utensil up from the tray to get a sandwich, once I was finished I was looking for an empty space on the tray to re-lay the tong utensil down and the station employee grabbed the tongs out of my hand and spoke forcefully to me, telling me to "put them down!" The lady next to me looked at me and we both had a look of "Oh My God, I thought he was going to spank me" I was really upset and thought, what have I done, spent all this money for a cruise to be treated like this? Well, let me assure you that was the ONLY employee that ever acted like that. Everyone else, and I mean EVERYONE else, was kind, courteous and wonderful.
Formal Nights and Dining Our men opted for dress shirts and ties for formal nights, ladies for dressy pants outfits, and we all fit right in. Tuxedos were rare, suits were common, and dress shirt and ties were VERY common. The food in the dining room was wonderful!!! Our waiters Cecilia and Reynaldo were excellent.
The rooms were wonderful, the shows were wonderful, and we had a wonderful vacation. The only negative thing we had was the weather. For the week of July 18th-July 25th, it was one of the coldest on record in Alaska, with temps in the 54-59 range. We were prepared and did a lot of layering, lot of fleece and thank goodness for those thermal underwear we brought.
Excursions We did the Taku Glacier Floatplane and Feast in Juneau, and I highly recommend this excursion. The flight was awesome, the food was great, and you talk about seeing bears? I mean up close bears. One fellow is grilling salmon, while the other two have sticks to chase the bears back!
The Railway Trail and Camp Adventure in Skagway was another excursion we did. We took the bus up to Liarsville, saw the show, panned for gold and took the railway back. I think this is a ONE time excursion that you need if you want to see the beautiful scenery from the train, but I would not do it again if I went back. It is important to sit on the left side of the train if you are going up, and to sit on the right side if coming down.
We did the Zip Line excursion in Icy Straight Point. WOW! This was awesome and all six of us did it! I would do this over and over if I could. What they don't tell you until after you buy your ticket is that if you get to the top of the mountain and chicken out, they will drive you back down, but no REFUND. So make sure you can do this before you pay, but it is sooooooo worth it.
Disembarkation and Seward We had to fill out a questionnaire and it asked about your travel arrangements after the cruise. This is how they decide what color of luggage tags you are given and when you are called to leave the ship.
We opted to stay for the day and night in Seward, making reservations ahead of time at the MURPHY MOTEL. I would only stay here if you are looking for something on the cheaper side, as you get what you pay for.
My HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION, whether you are traveling to ANCHORAGE upon departure or not until the next day, is using MAGIC BUS transportation. I picked up the recommendation for them from another Cruise Critic, and what a great choice this was!
We were picked up on Saturday morning (they can also pick you up at the pier, or in Anchorage to travel to Seward). Our driver "Patrick" came for us in a shuttle van, and we could have fit 11 passengers in that van, with luggage tucked in the back. But we only had the three couples and tons of room inside! Patrick gave us many options, and would discuss each one, explain what they were, how much time and then let us make the decisions. We stopped at Summit Lodge for a rest stop and to browse the gift shop, then on to the Wildlife Reserve which was really great and only cost $5.00 per person. There we saw buffalo, moose, musk ox, bear, elk, eagle, and caribo. What a great stop. We stopped at the Alpine Inn and saw the beautiful hotel. They also have a tram car that you can take to the top of the mountain and have lunch. We saw wildlife along the drive, a moose on the side of the road and Patrick turned that shuttle around and got us some great photo ops. We saw a bear walking right down the middle of the rail tracks, and we had a bear walk across the street in front of the shuttle and watched it go up onto the porch of a house! Patrick told us about a flea market shopping experience in Anchorage, and we opted to do that. He dropped us off, gave us his cell phone number and let us shop until we were ready for pick up. We had dinner reservations at the Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage (based on Tim's recommendation -- owner of the Magic Bus) and the dinner was excellent. Patrick picked us up and showed us around Anchorage until it was time for us to be dropped off at the airport. Patrick told us many stories and brought pictures of bears that he or friends had encountered while in Alaska, and we could not have been more pleased with the service. It was a perfect ending to a great trip.
We will never forget our trip!