This cruise was to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. My husband had never been on a cruise and had no idea what to expect. I had cruised about 40 years ago with NCL and enjoyed it very much. Life happened and road trips were easier. I wanted to do something BIG for our anniversary and I talked hubby into this cruise. We're from San Diego, I wish RCI would put a ship in San Diego or Los Angeles so we didn't have to fly and stay in a hotel before our cruise, that gets pricey. At any rate, I did a lot of research, my family nickname is Research Queen, I chose RCI for many good reasons. We sailed out of Ft Lauderdale, Port Everglades, such a beautiful port city! We chose a Western Caribbean cruise as our "first" time because I had gotten seasick all those years ago so I thought staying somewhat close to ports would make it less rough, no idea if that's true but we had no problem. I found some "natural" ear patches, I can't do Meclizine which is what is in the Dramamine and Bonine, I didn't feel sick once.
This was at the onset of the Covid-19 so we just made the cut to cruise before they started shutting it down. I'm still a "member" of this sailing's page and not one person ever reported getting sick. This ship was spotless!! The crew was constantly cleaning and there were sanitation stations everywhere!
Embarkation was flawless, as was disembarkation, as we got up and out early. We arrived at about 10:30 and it was starting to get busy but we were the second group let on the ship and had no problems. I had a few things I wanted to take care of right away so I had my poor husband running ragged while trying to arrange dining options, scheduling shows that I had been unable to do online, etc. We finally made it to Central Park for our first drink, it was one of our favorite drink spots, so pretty!
Our room was available when we got there, at about 1:45 but our luggage wasn't there yet, no biggie, we were fine with our carry-on stuff. We booked a mid-ship, Deck 8 Balcony Room and we couldn't have been happier! We both thought that it was perfectly fine for the two of us, the couch helped tremendously as well as the balcony seating for getting some fresh air and beautiful sunsets and sunrises, it didn't feel small at all. We packed a LOT, two full size suitcases, two carry-ons and a backpack, it all fit in the closet and desk drawers just fine, I would have brought a few more hangers though. Having the large, lit mirror and outlets at the desk helped me get hair/makeup ready while hubby was showering. The bed and pillows were very comfy and there were small tables on each side of the bed with lights. My husband has a C-PAP and there was an outlet right under the bed for that. We didn't have an issue at all with not having enough outlets. The bathroom is small but that was expected and it really wasn't that bad. The rooms were so quiet, we never once heard anything coming from either side of the room.
One thing I kept reading during my research was that the elevators were always crowded, not in our case. The only time we found that to be true was immediately after a show, again, to be expected, otherwise, we were always able to get on the elevator with ease. We chose My Time Dining, I wanted to choose the time we ate without being restricted. I chose the same time every night, 7:00 and we had plenty of time to make it to the shows. The food was very good and the service was outstanding! Our server was Haiyan and her assistant was Erwin, they were both so friendly and made each night a personal experience. We didn't have one meal that was disappointing and having the drink package was nice so we could have several glasses of wine without worry. We have some friends that treated us to a meal at Chops Grille, they had previously sailed on the Allure and wanted us to experience it so she prepaid on our Sail Pass. It was good, nice atmosphere but honestly, we both agreed that the food in the MDR was just as good so we're glad we didn't buy any of the Dining Packages, even though I was tempted, I wasn't disappointed with the MDR. We ate lunch a number of times in the Windjammer, I wasn't that keen on it buy hubby really enjoyed it and the views were great! We had room service once or twice, eh, it was just a convenience so we didn't have to get up and out too early. We did eat breakfast in the Solarium once, it was ok.
The only thing I was a bit disappointed about, and it's not a biggie but was that all of the bars were at full capacity each night so unfortunately we steered clear most nights. The entertainment sounded great but it was just too packed so if that's important to you, eat early to get a seat early. We saw the Oceanaria, wow, it was amazing! We saw the Headliner Show, I think that was Joel Mason, great entertainer and singer. There was a great Marley Tribute Band in one of the bars and we watched one of the comedy shows that was also great! No disappointment in the entertainment!
The Solarium was our other favorite place to get a drink, we just liked the bar situation there and the seating area. We never went into any of the pools, it was a little concerning after having read many reviews, let's just say a lot of drinking going on and not many who left and returned, if you know what I mean.
We wanted to enjoy the ship so we chose to not do any excursions. I just got off at each port for a little walking around and shopping. We did do the ship tour which we both thoroughly enjoyed, there is a lot of standing and stair climbing so if you're limited in any way I would advise against it. Also, unless you're talking about a teen that would be interested in seeing the backside of things, I wouldn't advise this for kids but we loved it! Nassau was our least favorite, a lot of haggling.
The crew was amazing, they were all so friendly and helpful, we didn't run into one grumpy person. Freddy was our cabin steward, always remembered our names and always had a smile on his face. He kept our cabin in tip top shape!
All in all, we had the BEST time and we can't wait to get back to planning another cruise. We retire in one year and have our fingers crossed that RCI will place a ship on the west coast that doesn't require flying which would cut into our fixed income budget. We would love to be able to cruise several times a year like many others do.
We had no problem with the size of this cabin but there were only two of us, any more than that, I would have wanted a bigger cabin. The king bed was placed next to the slider and balcony. The decor was nice and it was extremely clean!
Lots to do but we just had a drink, shopped and relaxed by the main pool.
We just got off to do a bit of shopping and have a drink at Senor Frogs. Too much soliciting for us.
Just shopped a bit and got back on the ship
No excursions but some great shopping without as much haggling, beautiful water!
We stayed at the Hilton Marina the night before and although it was pricey, the view from our room of the port and incoming ships was spectacular and worth the extra money!