Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Review--Majesty of the Seas--9.15.2008

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Majesty of the Seas Review 9.15.2008

Just The Facts:
Majesty of the Seas
September 15-September 19, 2008
September 19-September 22, 2008
Captain: Ole-Johan Gronhaug
Cruise Director: Jimmy Rhodes / Darren McColl
Ports: Miami-Nassau-CocoCay-Key West-Miami-CocoCay-Nassau-Miami
Weather: Good all week, hot during the day.

This is a 4-day and a 3-day B2B cruise that I will review as one cruise. I am doing these cruises as a solo and these are my 9th and 10th Royal Caribbean cruises. To be honest the primary reason for these cruises is to qualify as a Crown & Anchor Society Diamond member before our Voyager of the Seas cruise in January 2009. Of course I do plan on having some fun.

Day One--Monday--Embarkation
I could not get good air connections from Waco, so we left the ranch at 2:50 a.m. and drove to DFW airport arriving at 5:00 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. flight. This will make for a very long day. I arrived in Miami about 9:45 a.m. and I was able to attach myself to a group of ladies who had arranged a shuttle to the port of Miami. Bottom line: I got a shuttle for $10, a very good deal. We arrived at the port early but they had just started taking the early arriving guests. They didn’t really have a VIP area, but give you a priority card that really does you no good whatsoever. Security and check-in went smooth. We were allowed to board about 11:35 a.m. ON BOARD: I went to the Windjammer and had roast beef and a nice salad from the buffet. The cabin was ready at 1:00 so I dropped off my backpack and explored the ship. My first Bahama Mama cocktail from the Schooner bar helped get into the sail away mood. I was at the pool bar at 3:00 to meet some of members of our online roll call group. I’ve never seen so many people in the pool on a debarkation day. No waste of vacation/cruise time on this ship. I tried to take a nap, but muster drill was held about 4:15 p.m. Sail away out of the port of Miami was great sailing between Miami and Miami Beach. I was debating purchasing a coke card since I did not bring any with me and finally decided to do so after we left Miami at least saving the sales tax on it. Diet Coke and less alcohol makes since since I have felt like I have may have picked up a ‘bug’. It started at the beginning of the day as upon take off from DFW airport I had a tooth ache due to the cabin pressure change. By afternoon I felt like I may be getting a sore throat. Oh no!, not again. The Welcome Aboard Show was at 7:45 pm for both dinner seatings. The CD is Jimmy Rhodes and the entertainment for the Welcome Show was comedian Rick Corso who was very funny and entertaining. I have late seating in the dining room as requested and a table with some Cruise Critic members. They have new menus in the dining room, I believe these came out September 1st and are fleet wide. The Vidalia onion tart and Tomatillo (spicy) soup were very good. I had the Prime Rib and Pork Tenderloin as entrees and Savrin for desert. By evening I know now that I do have a ‘bug’ or cold. This is always a fear for me as I know I have a low resistance to germs. Much too long of a day and very tired I retired right after dinner.

Day Two--Tuesday—Nassau, Bahamas
I slept very well and late this morning then went to the dining room for breakfast about 9:15 a.m. I had Eggs Benedict and they were very good. I am so used to a sea day on the first day that being in port so soon is a new experience. I only got off the ship and walked around in downtown Nassau to find a pharmacy in order to get some vitamins and sinus medicine. I hope that will take care of the toothache/headache. I was back on board the ship by noon and enjoyed a very nice swim in the pool. The two pools are large and separated into shallow and deep sections. There are quite a few people staying on board for a port day, but everyday is a port day. I had lunch in the dining room that is setup as the Brasserie 30 and all orders are cooked fresh to order. I ordered the steak sandwich and it was very good. They also had a salad bar and a pasta bar set up as a part of the Brasserie 30. The desserts at the Windjammer were excellent, so I had desert up there. I had some cabin time after lunch and I watched the movie Ironman. I had my first Room Service order in the afternoon of my favorite cheese & fruit plates. This was the formal attire night and The Captains Welcome party was this evening in the Theater. Also the Captains dinner which was one of the better meals. I ordered Escargot, Shrimp Cocktail, Beef, and the Grand Mariner soufflé for dessert. Best dinner of the cruise. The production show featuring the Singers and Dancer was Boogie Wonderland and it was a good show. I’m glad I rested during the day as the show was after dinner. Looks like I’m no longer a nightlife kind of guy, but the ‘bug’ doesn’t help.

Day Three--Wednesday--CocoCay
The Weather is again very nice. Very calm seas and fair winds. I slept very late, almost to 11:00 a.m. They still had one line in the Windjammer with breakfast so I had a light breakfast. I took a tender over to CocoCay about noon just to see the island. This is Royal Caribbean’s private island and the beaches and water are beautiful. They have all kinds of water sports available and it is a great place for a beach activities day. I tried the BBQ lunch served on the island of ribs and chicken. Not impressed at all with the food. I tendered back to the ship as I need a rest day and that is what I did all afternoon, nap and cabin time. I did visit the Schooner bar and the Viking Crown Lounge, but limiting myself to the coke card because of the ‘bug’. I attended the Crown & Anchor reception and did have a wine. It was the first time I had been in the Spectrum lounge, the location of the late evening disco. Dinner was good, but I might have been more pleased with something from the alternative menu. I had the Scallops, Chicken Marsala, and Tiramisù for dessert. I retired after dinner as I want to be fresh for Key West. Table mates participated in Quest which was held tonight.

Day Four--Thursday—Key West
It’s a cloudy and humid day. I do feel a bit better today as well. We were scheduled to arrive at 10:00 but I suspect they use that time to allow for immigration which everyone on the ship must go through upon arrival. We were docked well before 10:00 but it was well after before everyone was processed. I had breakfast (very good) in the dining room and took my time to allow lines to immigration to slack. It was a warm and humid day in Key West and did rain twice. I spent an hour during the morning rain in an internet bar catching up on news and fantasy sports. It was a great day in Key West, I had a nice snack of conch fritters at the Conch Republic and visited Pat Croce’s Pirate Soul museum. Also visited Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Sloppy Joes, Captain Tony’s, and had an excellent slice of Key Lime Pie at the Blonde Giraffe. Key West is by far my favorite port on this cruise. I returned to the ship about 4:00 p.m. I went up to deck seven (muster/lifeboat) to watch the late arrivals and the Majesty leaving Key West. The final production show was at 7:00 for second seating guests. It was Signed Sealed Delivered featuring the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. Dinner this evening was very good. I had the Caesar Salad, Onion Soup, Shrimp Cocktail, and NY Strip Steak with Key Lime Pie for desert. The service was excellent. I retired to the cabin and watched two movies. I don’t have to pack tonight as most are doing.

Day Five/One--Friday—Miami
This is my first B2B (on the same ship) and I’ve actually been looking forward to experiencing the port transition day. Fortunately I do have the same cabin and that makes it very easy. Also since I cleared immigration at Key West I don’t have to do that again in Miami. If anyone does these cruises as a B2B, be sure to do the four-day first. The debarkation announcements wake you early. I went to the Windjammer for breakfast and it was packed with everyone getting that last included meal before they leave the ship. Oddly the omelet station was not busy. I had my first Windjammer omelet and it was very good. I ate out on the Pool deck with a very nice view of Miami. I waited for it to clear somewhat before going to get my new SeaPass card and then headed for the Lido deck pools. I was the only one in the pool although I did have to change from one pool to another as they cleaned them. I took the rest of the morning relaxing on Lido and I basically had the entire ship to myself for several hours, I saw only one other B2B guest. They make an announcement to the crew about the upcoming cruise, i.e. the cruise ID number, the total number of guests, the number of children, the number of Crown & Anchor members, and the time they will begin boarding the new passengers. I went to the Windjammer at 11:30 and they had already begun boarding new guests. I again had a nice salad. The roast beef was not as good as I have had in other Windjammers. After lunch another dip in the pool and watched the new guests arrive. A fruit basket/plate was delivered to the cabin which I assume is for B2B passengers. I attended the muster drill and luckily I was told to go indoors and not outside on the deck. Much cooler inside. The weekend guests seem to be younger, consist of more locals, and in a party mood. The staff didn’t really need to encourage these passengers too much at sail away. They were in a party mood. I limited myself to only one sail away drink, a mojito, from Boleros. I went to the Welcome Aboard Show again featuring Rick Corso who was again very funny and entertaining. His show was a little different than the previous cruise. I again have late dinner and I have a better table location, a larger oval 6-top table again in the Starlight Dining Room. I had the garlic soup, the Angus beef from the alternative menu, and Tiramisu for dessert. The steak was excellent, the soup was fair, dessert very good.

Day Six/Two--Saturday--CocoCay
I slept well, but the ‘bug’ is still with me. Although better I have been eating and drinking in moderation and I am staying on board ship today. I had fruit from the Windjammer for breakfast and I then had a meeting with Sam, the RCI Loyalty Ambassador and booked one open NextCruise booking. I used both open ones that I had booking this B2B and it’s always good to have one or more on hand in case of a late booking. I went up to the Windjammer to fill my drink mug and they had just opened for lunch. I took advantage and had some Virginia baked ham from the carving station. DW would love the salads today as they had three different salad stations set up. This is much better than the buffet being offered on the island today-IMHO. It seemed like a slack time in the tendering process so I went down to security and had my photo taken for my SeaPass card. I don’t want to cause a delay when I visit Nassau tomorrow. I returned to the cabin and someone had sent me a special cheese plate from room service. The room service cheese and fruit plates are two of my favorite things about cruising Royal Caribbean and the Brie is my favorite of the cheeses. This plate delivered was a large slice of Brie and assorted fruits. It was special as someone went to the effort to discover my favorites OR they put things on the plate that didn’t need to be refrigerated & I would have it upon returning from the island. Either way, Thank You, I had it at the appropriate time. I purchased some internet minutes today. I have a very strong signal in my cabin for WiFi so that is convenient. I attended the Captains Reception in the Theater since I missed the previous one. Dinner was very good. I had Escargot, Lobster Bisque, Sea Bass, Sliced Beef, and the Grand Mariner soufflé for dessert. Starting to feel the ‘bug’ I retired after dinner.

Day Seven/Three—Sunday—Nassau
BUG: Woke up early this morning and half of my face is swollen. I’ll go see the medical department when they open at 9:00 a.m. This is my first visit to the ‘Doc’ on a cruise ship. Those that know me know I rarely see a doctor at any time so I am tired of the ‘bug’ and also the pain. The attendant takes your information and explains the routine and the charges ($108.00 on your SetSail Pass). The doctor is from eastern Europe and seems very nice. I had seen him introduced the previous night at the Captains Reception. He reviewed my information and examined me. He says the immediate problem is tooth related and not sinus although it seems I have a chronic sinus condition as well. Actually makes since. I’ve been assuming it’s my lack of resistance that usually gets to me on a cruise and it is probably a chronic condition that reoccurs due to cruising activities. Looks like fewer sail away drinks in my future. The ‘Doc’ prescribed some antibiotics and a pain killer, so hopefully that will take care of the ‘bug’ until I get home and in to see the dentist. NASSAU:I had some fruit in the Windjammer for breakfast and it is a late crowd and it is very busy. As mentioned the weekend cruisers seems to party late and sleep late. I went into Nassau and walked to the Straw Market although many stalls were closed as it was Sunday. They may have opened later in the day. I went over to the British Colonial Hotel now a nice Hilton hotel. I wonder if they regret building the modern facility as the old majestic wooden structure would be so unique now. I’ll save a trip to Atlantis until I return with DW on the Conquest next year. I returned to the ship in time for a late Windjammer lunch. I have been very impressed all week with the desserts in the Windjammer. Room Service delivered some chocolate covered strawberries so I’m guessing the cheese plate yesterday was also a part of the B2B benefits. They also delivered a note that my Everglades Excursion for debarkation day was canceled. I have a late flight and this would have been ideal as the final drop off is the Miami airport following the excursion. I will have to make new plans. Dinner was good. We had New York Strip steaks, probably the same ones being sold at the premium price. I also had the onion soup, shrimp cocktail and a banana crème desert. My wonderful table mates report that the late activities on board are great, including the Lido deck pool party & buffet, the disco, and the casino.

No room service on debarkation morning. I had some milk and snacks I had saved. Debarkation was OK, no better or worse than other ships. I rolled my own bag and didn’t check it the night before. I was able to again get a private shuttle from the port to the airport for $10. My flight is schedule very late but I went on to MIA and was able to catch a 10:15 a.m. flight and arrived at DFW about 12:45 p.m. local time. A shuttle to MIL’s and then telephone calls to the DW who is driving up from Bosque County and then the dentist. I have an appointment tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.. Believe it or not I started feeling better before we left for home so the drive was pleasant. We arrived back at the ranch before 6:00 p.m.

I am very impressed with the layout of this ship. It feels very spacious in the Centrum areas of decks 3-4-5. My HQ for the cruise was the Schooner Bar as it is so convenient to the cabin and a good place for my coke refills. Peter, Leo, & the others are good and entertaining bartenders. The Schooner bar is also non smoking as are most of the public areas now. Cabins are smaller overall on this ship compared to other ship and lines. The passageways are very narrow in the interior cabin areas. Overall a great ship and I was very impressed with the condition and public rooms on The Majesty of the Seas. For specific information on the ship visit the ships info website: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/findacruise/ships/class/ship/home.do?br=R&shipClassCode=SS&shipCode=MJ

The staff and crew are very good. The Entertainment staff seemed very motivated. They did change CD’s between cruises. In addition to the production shows, there was entertainment in the Centrum, Schooner Bar, Boleros, and the Disco. My waiters Vazley from India and Arturo from the Philippines were very good. I saw Christopher, our head waiter from a previous Rhapsody cruise working as the Windjammer manager. I only called maintenance once as the safe did not work and they came and repaired it (batteries) straight away. Also the first time I had visited ‘Doc’ and that went fine. Overall the crew was very friendly and many called me by name throughout the week.

I had cabin 5567 which is a small interior cabin. It is the smallest cabin I can recall ever having, perhaps something on the Norway 20 years ago was smaller. It is fine for me as a solo, but two people would be very crowded and storage a problem. The location however is excellent. It is just off the Deck Five Centrum, & the Schooner Bar and same deck as the theater. Also it’s just one deck above the Starlight dining room. My cabin Stewards name is Stewart. How convenient? This is the first cruise that I never received a mint or chocolate at turn-down. I guess this is another new policy as of September 1st. I did get towel animals most nights.

They have new menus in the main dining room, I believe these came out September 1st and are fleet wide. The new menu also features a $14.95 Chops quality steak each night. There is not a Chops premium restaurant on board so this may be a good option, but it’s possible that it ‘cheapens’ the rest of the entrees as being less than premium. Compass Deli is an area with soups, sandwiches, and salads, it is very nice and located on deck 12. There is also a Johnny Rockets onboard with hamburgers & malts on deck 12. My favorite room service items are the fruit plate and the cheese plate. They again did not disappoint. The cheese plate consists of five different cheeses and garnished with a few strawberries, walnuts, and dried apricots. It is served with water biscuits or saltines. The fruit plate has grapes, pineapple, kiwi, melon, strawberry, and orange slice. It is garnished with mint. Both are great. Lunch is only served in the dining room on Nassau days. All the bread selections are very good on board. The Windjammer buffet is also very good and better than many other lines. There are a few ice cream and yogurt machines.

New and Improved
This was the 1st RCI cruise that I have been on that offered fruit punch in the Windjammer. It had been limited to iced tea and lemonade on all others, I liked the new option. Also my favorite beer, Pilsner Urquell, was available in the Schooner Bar. Super, I hope this is fleet wide or at least on the Voyager of the Seas as that is my RCI 'home ship'. I've mentioned the dining room menus, they look good to me.

Needs Improvement
Really a very nice ship and very little improve. Disappointed that there was no college football coverage at all on Saturday. They showed soccer and repeats at that on ESPN international.

A SeaPass Story
Those of you who have cruised always know to have your SeaPass card ‘out’ and in your hand anytime upon entering or leaving the ship. Especially on initial embarkation you will show it three times or more including adding your security photo before you actually make it on the ship. This happened at embarkation on the first morning: There were a group of early arrivals who had been patiently waiting in line. In spite of numerous announcements about boarding and as the very first legitimate group of people approached the escalator when they called to board there were a few line jumpers who had just happened to walk up as the people who were waiting approached. Of course there was a security guard there to check and he asked to see your Sea Pass card. One particular line jumping clueless lady showed her cruise booklet, documents, everything but a SeaPass card. She and her husband were pulling large wheeled carry on bags and blocked entry for all of those who had arrived early and been patiently waiting while she searched. Security finally asked her to step aside to look for her card, which she did; however, she left her bags directly in front of the escalator entry, still blocking everyone. Finally, inside her purse, inside her wallet, inside her credit card holder, she found her card. Watching this process, I noticed that she returned her card to the same place. Finally the line was allowed to proceed and she lead the procession up the escalator. Of course at that point I had to make a comment, It was funny and it did make everyone smile. I find humor is usually the best way to handle that type situation, but I made a point to pass her before she again got to the next security point. Didn’t want to see the repeat.

I really enjoyed the cruise and met some very nice people including many Cruise Critic and CruiseMates members and I had excellent dinner table groups for both cruises. The weather was fantastic all week although hot during the day. I was somewhat limited by the ‘bug’, but will prepare myself better in future. I apologize for not being able to cover more activities in this review, I would have preferred to do more. Still, another great cruise! Hello Diamond!


henepup said...

Great review!! Sorry to hear about your "bug". Hope all goes well with the dentist.

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