This review is long over due. Once I got home, life got in the way. This review is not very detailed. As I warned before I left, I am a relax and read sort of girl on vacation. Warning, you may find this boring-I did not do much and I did not take any pictures.
We met at the Orlando airport, rented a car and headed to Canaveral. We drove straight to the port area to watch the Saturday ships sail off. The upper deck at Fishlips was perfect. We were about level with the upper decks of the two ships: Carnival Breeze and Disney Fantasy. It was obvious from our vantage point that the Breeze was in need of some maintenance. Afterwards, we purchased sunscreen and checked into the Radisson at the Port. It was fine, but I would not recommend it. The rooms open onto a breezeway and the only elevator we found was very inconvenient. Our suitcases did not roll well over the uneven pavement of the breezeways. In addition, when we checked out the next morning, the lobby was jammed with people waiting for the shuttle. It did not appear to be very organized.
We drove the beach looking for a place for dinner. We went to Banos-a truly amazing Italian restaurant. If you are in Cocoa Beach and want Italian, I highly recommend it. We had different dishes: chicken picatta and chicken parmesan-both were excellent.
The next morning, we checked out the hotel breakfast and realized that it was really expensive. We went to the McDonald’s across the street to grab something light and some coffee. We knew that we’d be getting plenty to eat during the coming week.
We returned our rental car to Alamo around 9:30. There was some confusion about the shuttle. The front desk told us we could go on the next shuttle. The driver told us that he had to leave right away and could not wait for us to turn in the keys and load our luggage. He said that company policy was to only pick up from the port until 10:30 and not to take any passengers to board the ship until that time. While he was explaining this, I was loading our luggage into the van and my friend was enlisting the aid of the front desk. We got on the shuttle and got to the port at a little before 10. Check in was quick and easy. There was no line at all for the suites check in. We were in the suites waiting area within 10 minutes of getting out of the shuttle at the port and were on board the ship by around 10:30.
We had decided that we would get a drink at the first bar we saw-we planned to take full advantage of the drink package. We walked in right at the Rising Tide bar and grabbed a glass of champagne to celebrate. They were still setting up the bar area but were very kind to us.
We wandered around the ship for a while, enjoying exploring, then headed up to the suites lounge and grabbed another drink there. I did use the drink package in the suites lounge because my favorite sparkling wine is only in the MDR, but I requested that they stock in the suites lounge. We had fun people watching, then had lunch in the CK. I know the general opinion is that the lunch menu is not great, but we both had a wonderful meal. I had herb encrusted chicken and my friend got salmon. We shared the margarita flat bread for an appetizer and I had something chocolate for desert. For you foodies out there, I am sorry, this is the only meal I remember what I ate.
After lunch, our room was ready. We checked it out and then further explored the ship (and the bars). We got a drink at the robot bar, and both of them were so awful, we didn’t finish them. When we got back our luggage was there, so we unpacked and got ready for dinner.
We ate each night in the CK. Our reservations were between 6 and 6:15 both nights. We usually headed to the lounge around 5 and had cocktails with a delightful family that we met up there the first night. I had requested a table by the window and that request was honored almost every night. The main thing we had not wanted was one of us with our back to the window, and that was never an issue. We quickly discovered our favorite servers and were in their section each night. We had either breakfast or lunch in the CK every day and dinner each night. Three meals a day there would have been too much, so we varied it. For breakfast, I loved both the French toast and the waffles. For those that are wondering, I know that Junior suite guests were able to eat in the CK at least part of the time because we met one couple in there who were in a junior suite. We saw them at least three different evenings.
I will also post details in the dining section, but we were able to have desert in Wonderland one evening, even though we did not have the dining package.
The ship is large. We certainly did not experience all that it has to offer. I did go to the fitness center most mornings; it was very nice and I never had an issue finding a selection of equipment to use, even on sea days. We had the drink package and managed to try out most of the bars, at least once. My only "complaint" was the heavy pours. I had to specifically tell the bar tenders to put less alcohol in my drinks. They routinely put a double shot in all mixed drinks-a single shot is plenty for me! Others may find that a positive. I had breakfast in the Vitality Cafe twice, before working out. It was a very good, light breakfast. We also had lunch in the Park Cafe one day-very good, at Mini-Bites one afternoon-less good but not terrible and Sorenttos. The pizza was much better than expected. I really liked it, although I like most anything that I don't have to cook. We also went to the MDR for lunch one day. It was good, but it was very crowded and the atmosphere was hectic. We saw Grease-very good, The Fine Line-a little odd, but we enjoyed it and both ice shows. My favorite show was I-Skate, but I enjoyed them all. We liked the suite seating for all of the shows. At the Fine Line, they tried to turn us away after scanning our sea passes because we did not have a reservation. I politely explained that we were told that we did not need them since we were sky class. He immediately pointed us in the right direction. I mention this merely to let you know that there can be a disconnect between the pass and scanning it.
We did not do any excursions. We sat on the beach at Coco Cay for a while, but it was VERY hot. We then went to the pool area, which seemed more comfortable, although it was still really hot.
At St. Maartens, we took the water taxi to the beach and grabbed two chairs, an umbrella and a bucket of 6 Heinekens for $20. It was more pleasant there than at Coco Cay.
In San Juan, we explored both forts on our own. It was very hot, and we rested a while in the lobby of a very neat hotel across the street from a church. The hotel used to be a convent, and has a serene bar area right in the middle of the courtyard. We were tired that day-we walked over 9 miles. Other than that, we generally just sat on the suite sun deck or in the suite lounge and watched people and read. A big advantage of the suite lounge and deck is that we really got to know some of our fellow passengers, which I really enjoyed. With one or two exceptions, everyone was warm and friendly. The concierges, Jeremias and Mohammed were fabulous, as was the CK manager, Ace and our waiter, Laurence. The pools were exceptionally crowded. We never really went near them, but could see the crowds. We did enjoy the hot tub on the suite deck.
We did not have any issue with crowds, perhaps because we only took the elevator once the entire week. We were on deck 7 and found that walking up to deck 17 was a good way to get hungry for the great meals we enjoyed! We might have found the crowds more intrusive had we not had access to the suite areas or if we had not been fit enough to take the stairs. The suite areas were very quiet and relaxing.
For most of the trip, Central Park was too hot to really enjoy-not unexpected in August. The Boardwalk area had more of a breeze. Our balcony was pleasant when the ship was moving and it was shady. When the sun was shining our way or the ship was still, it was very hot. I know I have mentioned being hot a lot-it was August, and I expected it. I am not complaining, just sharing information for others. I am from NC, so I am very used to heat and humidity. If that bothers you, August might not be the best time for you to cruise. I have heard other people comment about the cruise director, Dennis. I did not really interact with him-I thought he was a little overboard at some of the shows, but it didn’t bother me. I did find him very offensive at the suite sail away party. I might not have mentioned here had several other passengers not also commented on it. He began speaking about how suite guests and pinnacle members are the top 1% of all cruisers and are the crème of the crop for the cruise industry. Then he asked us if we didn’t feel sorry for all of the poor people down below. I found this comment to be in exceptionally bad taste, and I was not the only one. The woman beside me asked if she had heard it correctly. The couple behind me was appalled as well. In the suite lounge later, two other people mentioned how much it bothered them. First of all, I don’t feel sorry for anyone on a cruise ship (except maybe the crew sometimes). Secondly, all of us on the ship were spending what we could afford. I would not have been in a suite had I not gotten an incredibly good deal, very close to the sail date. I did tell him that his comment bothered me because I don't think it is fair to complain about something that someone does unless you are willing to say it to them directly. He apologized.
Couple of notes on sky class: beach towels are provided on the suite sun deck, but they make you scan your card at other places-a major pain. The suite lounge is awesome, and I loved having the reserved seating for the shows.
All in all, we had a wonderful time! If you have any questions, I will gladly try to answer them.