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A little background first. This was my 11th cruise and my first on Royal Caribbean. My friends and I booked this cruise as a "Chicks" getaway for a long weekend. Though I had a great time, I really don't think I will do a 4 day or shorter cruise again - they are just way too short!
Thursday 11/4/04 - was supposed to fly from Milwaukee to Miami on ATA with a change of plane in Chicago (Midway.) Supposed to arrive in Miami about 5:00pm and join my friend Jennifer at the Holiday Inn Downtown/Bayside and go eat some Cuban food and drink some mojitos at the Latin American Club at Bayside. The rest of our group was meeting up in Fort Lauderdale that evening and driving to Miami the next morning.
Well, the best laid plans of cruisers sometimes go awry. Due to equipment failure, my flight was delayed departing Milwaukee by over an hour.....in fact we were sitting on the runway for take off when I should have been boarding my connecting flight at Midway. Needless to say I missed my connection at Midway - as we were pulling up to deplane, my connecting flight was pulling away from the gate. Got into the terminal and found that there was no way for me to get to Miami that day at all from Midway. Best they could do was to get me to Fort Lauderdale - arriving well after 11:00pm that night. So much for cuban food and mojitos. The airline provided my a voucher for food during my long wait at Midway (gee a whole $7 - bought me a carton of milk and small order of chicken mcnuggets at the Mickey D's stand........) and were willing to provide transport to me from FLL to Miami that night. I guess I really wasn't too thrilled about having to get from FLL to the airport in Miami in the middle of the night. I ended up calling one of my friends who was staying in FLL that night and I was able to snag a room at the some hotel they were at and I would ride down to Miami with them the next morning. I have always been a proponent of flying in the day before a cruise. There are times for me when it has been impossible to do so, but after this experience, I will do my utmost to arrive a day ahead of time.
Anyway on to the flight - this plane was one of the few that ATA has that has business class on it - they were selling upgrades for $40 - needless to say I grabbed one of those seats ASAP. They were wonderful - wide leather seats, adjustable headrests, footrests...........it would have been a wonderful flight if not for the drunk, sky-high woman in the seat ahead of me. I have never encountered such a problem person flying before! During takeoff, her CD's went flying into our row and she unbuckled herself and tried to crawl over the seats to retrieve them. When allowed to, she put her headphones on and started to yell along with they lyrics - have no clue who she was listening to but every other word out of her mouth was "f$#k" and "s*#t". She kept this up through the whole flight....except for the time she went into the bathroom and was in there for more than 20 minutes - came out smelling like she had smoked a couple of joints. And then there was the time she wanted some light, so instead of reaching up and turning on her reading light, she decided to use her lighter! I have never seen 10 people move in unison like the rest of us in business class did, putting on our call buttons at the same time. Needless to say when we landed in FLL, security came on board and this woman was taken off and eventually arrested.
Got to the hotel and met up with my friends - and the big surprise came. This was supposed to be a Chicks Cruise - well our friend John and his significant other decided to surprise the girls and join us on the cruise.
11/5/04 - started out sunny and warm - a beautiful day. Drove down to Miami and arrived at the port about 10:30am. Got our luggage out and parked the cars. Waited outside for the last of our group Jennifer to arrive from her Miami hotel. At this point, she is the only one who doesn't know that our friend John decided to surprise us. She gets out of the taxi and he comes up behind her and asks if she needs any help - she turns around, gapes for a minute and starts laughing and cursing him at the same time. We go inside the terminal and get into our lines for check in.....Two of the group are Diamond members so they go to their special lounge for check in and boarding. Then proceed to the line to wait to get onboard. Once that line starts moving it was not bad.............until one of the machines they use to take your picture to imbed the image on your sign and sail card started acting up. It took 10 minutes to take one picture on that machine.....the other one was churning them out. We were in two lines - on for each machine - and of course we were in line for the machine that didn't work. We tried to suggest to the crew that maybe they could alternate lines for the one machine until they got the one machine fixed......they did not seem to grasp the concept. Finally got onboard about 12:30 - much of the time spent standing in line because of the one non-working machine. They evidently could not get the machine fixed as they gave up trying to get it to work - later RCCL decided to just have everyone take their sign and sail card AND a photo id to get on and off the ship.
First impression of the Majesty was one of casual elegance. No neon....lots of brass and wood and glass. Jennifer and I went to find our room - 9552 - a superior ocean view. Very nicely laid out with a sitting area, two beds, a vanity and a mini fridge. Bathroom was small and functional.....shower had a hand held shower head that was wonderful - good water pressure and the hot water stayed hot and the cool water stayed cool. Headed up to the Windjammer - had no clue that half was open air and half was enclosed. I felt the buffet set up was confusing......I guess I am just used to the set up on Princess. The food was good - some really nice meat and pasta dishes.....breads and rolls and desserts were excellent. Pizza (didn't find this til the last full day) was very very good! I wish the location was easier to find and that the pizza was offered more than just 2 hours a day. Our group got together for sailaway....we had a wine and cheese party on a secluded small balcony just outside the On Your Toes lounge. By this time the skies had clouded up and it was raining off and on. This was to be a theme throughout the next 36 hours. Met up in the Viking Crown Lounge for pre-dinner drinks.......a really nice lounge with great service....but who's brilliant idea to put the Rock Climbing wall behind the Viking Crown Lounge? It totally disrupted the 360 view....who wants to see a gray slab over the ocean and skies? After this headed down to the Maytime Dining Room on Deck 3......we were at table 180. Our waitress was Derya from Turkey, her assistant was Alma from the Phillipines. I have been on 11 cruises and they were the best wait team I have ever had (and I've had many excellent ones!) They worked together seamlessly, water glasses were always filled, bread was constantly offered.....they kept the pace even and clued into our mood (we were there to have fun and enjoy the food) and got caught up in the spirit of our table. Derya's recommendations were spot on!
Now, I have heard a lot of grumbling on the boards about how the quality of food on RCCL in general has declined. Being this was my first RCCL cruise, I was only able to compare the food to my Princess, Carnival and Celebrity cruises. I put the quality of the food on this particular RCCL ship as being on par with Princess. Meats were tender and prepared to order. Rolls and desserts were wonderful. Soups were delicious - I really love Princess' French Onion Soup and RCCL's was just a tad better seasoned, but could have used just a little more cheese on the top. I wonder if it was just the chef on this particular ship, but the food was really very good.
Headed off to bed that night with dreams of hitting Coco Cay the next day.
11/6/04 - woke to clouds and rain.....and it stayed that way all day. The Captain did decide to stop at Coco Cay....why, I don't know since most of the day was a washout. Had a hot stone massage and a facial today........oh my goodness, that massage was heaven!!!!! Have to get one regularly here at home! Did our usual predinner drinks in the Viking Crown Lounge and then on to dinner. This was the formal night and dinner was absolutely delicious.....beef tenderloin, french onion soup, salad, rolls, etc. Can't remember the dessert but they were all delicious.
11/7/04 - sunny and gorgeous in Nassau. Being Sunday the shops were only open from 9 - 2. Three of us decided to do the Blackbeards Cay beach and snorkel break. After going to Stingray City in Grand Cayman, the sting ray part of this excursion was disappointing. The sting rays are in a fenced in area - there are only about 13 of them and they have been debarbed. The rest of the time we just relaxed on the island in the water and shade and then headed back to the docks on our tender. Arrived back at the dock, one went shopping and Pat and I headed back to the ship. They have these golf carts that will take you from the shopping area to the ship for free (just tip the driver.) Well, getting onto the back of the court, I whacked my head on the edge of the covering. Needless to say I was a little stunned....got a nice goose egg and a light bruise, but didn't break the skin and didn't suffer a concussion. Went back to the room to rest a little and start the packing process.........then went down and got a pedicure. Back to the room to get ready for the last dinner. Precruise drinks again at our favorite place and then down to dinner. We all wanted to take Derya and Alma back with us. Dinner was very good again....tears all around when we said goodby to them. Went back to the cabin, finished the packing, set the suitcase out and then headed up to the disco for a little while.
11/8/04. Debarkation day........this is where RCCL needs some improvement. We went to breakfast in the dining room at 7:00am. Sat down to a leisurely breakfast thinking there was no way the ship would be cleared before 8:00 as they were still pulling up and tying to the dock when we headed to the dining room. We made plans after breakfast to meet up on deck 4 near my friends' cabin to say goodbye....well we got out of the dining room to chaos.....a long line starting on deck four going all the way up to deck 5.....seems they started calling colors to debark while we were eating breakfast. Just a word of warning......RCCL does not make debarkation announcements in the dining room............we had early debarkation tags and totally missed it. The crew in charge of debarkation were rude....would not answer questions and were dismissive. Our group got seperated and there was no way to find each other in this mess, so we all went our own ways..........did hook up via cell phone later that morning. Once, I did get off the ship, it was going through Immigration check, down to claim your luggage and then through customs........then out to the ground transportation area. Grabbed a taxi to go to the Miami airport. $21 plus tip for the trip from the pier to airport. Checked in at Delta........and got pulled out a security for the full inspection and works. Just my day, I guess! Made it through without getting thown in jail for anything. Flights on the way home were uneventful and arrived at my house about 8:00 that night - totally exhauseted but glad I made the trip to catch up with my friends.
I really enjoyed the Majesty and RCCL - I realize it was a three day cruise but our service with the exception of one bartender, was excellent. I will be on the Enchantment of the Seas next fall after she has been stretched and refurbished....can't wait to compare the two ships. Before that it is back to Princess and the new Diamond Princess in April.