Well, we made it to the port and I breathed a huge sigh of relief! Luggage taken by attendants, carry-on in hand, time to get through security.
If you have never taken a cruise before, security is very much like the airport security. You have to present a government issued photo identification, passports preferred, and your cruise information. You have to put your carry-on luggage through an X-ray machine and walk through the metal detectors. You have to check in with cruise terminal personnel who will again verify all of your information, take your photo, and give you your cruise identification cards. These cards act as your identification to get on and off the ship, cabin entry card, your ship money, and casino points card. A.K.A. a cruise credit card.
People rate airports so I have to give my two cents on the cruise terminal. The second cruise I was on was out of Miami back in 2006. At the time, I wasn’t impressed with their cruise terminal at all. I felt rushed, no direction, people wall to wall, and I felt it was tiny. When we took a cruise out of Barcelona, I was impressed. Spacious, open, very well light, people directing you, everything was clean, and bathrooms were around every corner, which is good if you have to wait to board. I have to say I was equally impressed by Port Canaveral’s newer cruise port terminal. Very much like Barcelona’s cruise terminal and there were personnel everywhere to answer questions and direct you. Total time from when we entered the doors of the terminal to the time we stepped foot on the ship was 15 minutes. Very quick!
So after we received our cruise cards we were able to board the ship. If the ship is not ready for you to board, then you wait in the waiting area and they will call you by group numbers. I understand that everyone is excited for their cruise so checking in early can cause back-ups but the down side is you may have to wait to board. If you haven’t checked in online a few days before departure, then you will have to fill out paperwork. To fill out paperwork you must get there earlier than 90 to 120 minutes before departure or you may not be able to board. Lucky for us they were ready for us to board immediately.
Before you even get on the ship there are still a few more things you can do. Get professional pictures taken, buy beverage packages, make reservations at the specialty restaurants, get security bands for your kids, and get more information on the Royal Caribbean brand. We opted for the pictures as you don’t have to pay for them unless you like them.
Our first steps onto the ship lead us to the grand atrium area. You see people sitting in chairs with their luggage that they didn’t give to the attendants, and the bar is already full. We decided to start walking around the ship to become more familiar with where things were located. Being a travel consultant I wanted to get some good pictures of the ship without too many people in them. For an almost 20 year old ship, I was surprised how nicely kept it was. I didn’t see too much wear and tear considering they do three night Bahama cruises back to back. The ship had plenty of lounges, bars, elevators, huge main dining room with upper level seating, two cafes for additional dining options, a specialty restaurant, a very spacious casino, large theater, spa, fitness center, rock wall climb, trampoline jumps, and several pools and Jacuzzis including an adult only pool and children’s splash area. There was way more than enough to keep us occupied on a three night cruise.
In the customer service area they had their cruise planner (daily printed schedule of activities) which highlights what will be going on during the day. Since we really aren’t pool people and we couldn’t get into our cabin until 1:30pm, we opted to do another activity, planning our shopping in Nassau. They had a shopping concierge on the ship who gave tips as to what to buy in Nassau and where to buy it. It was a very interesting lecture and we were able to set up our shopping game plan within that timeframe. I highly recommend reading the cruise planner daily. They have some interesting activities from basketball games, to charity events, Bingo, lectures, art auctions, wine and liquor tastings, dancing, and show times.
I must say I was so happy with the amount of activities that they offered that we almost forget that we could finally get into our cabin. For a three night cruise I, personally, didn’t think that we needed a balcony. I also didn’t want to be at the bottom of the boat. There are a few select rooms on the upper decks called the Panoramic Ocean view. They cost slightly more than just an ocean view but you get a floor to ceiling window. I had seen these rooms on a ship inspection that I had done a few years ago and have wanted to stay in one since. I do have to say that I was disappointed with how dirty the cabin was. There were crumbs all over the carpet, the bathroom shower was grimy, the sink clogged, the toilet was not clean but we won’t get descriptive about that, and the window had an oil film on the outside of it. The only thing that was clean was the bed. A phone call to housekeeping and most of the stuff was cleaned up very quickly.
After our Bingo Loss we are onto to Nassau!
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