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Nancy Norris

Age: Baby

Occupation:Cruise Agent

Number of Cruises: 25

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Majesty of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 2nd, 2002

Itinerary: Bahamas

Nancy Norris
TrvlJrnlst@aol.com

Boomer
Seas
2002

I was attending a cruise agent conference in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 7. Three other travel agents I had met on a cruise seminar at sea earlier this year decided to combine work with a little bit of pleasure. On our first cruise together the four of us had become fast friends, separated by geography. Two of the agents live in the San Francisco area, one in Texas, and I live in Ohio. So, a little 4 day pre-conference cruise seemed like the perfect vehicle for a reunion. We are all seasoned cruisers, having logged about 100 cruises amongst the four of us. Having set the stage; let me share our adventure aboard the Majesty of the Seas cruise to the Bahamas.

Based on all the negative reviews I have read recently on the Majesty of the Seas, I was apprehensive as I boarded the ship. But, I would like to preface this review by saying, I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise, and the service we received from the staff and crew was outstanding from beginning to end.

Embarkation:

I had flown in to Fort Myers a few days early to visit family in Naples, while everyone else flew into Fort Lauderdale. Having rented a car, on the morning of Dec. 2, I drove to Fort Lauderdale to pick up my traveling companions and we proceeded to Miami, arriving at the pier about 12:15 pm. There was a tremendous amount of congestion at the port, but fortunately the traffic gridlock was isolated to those vehicles turning right and our pier was on the left. As we approached the pier, there was already much activity and the drop-off area was crowded. It was at this point, however, that our VIP treatment aboard the Majesty began.

Now, sometimes playing the “ditzy blonde” has its rewards. Please don’t send me any negative e-mail about the blonde reference. I am a blonde, and consider myself a very intelligent and capable person, however, there are times when appearing seemingly confused and in need of assistance pays off. As the drop-off area was so crowded, I actually drove just beyond that area and stopped just before the restricted area. I jumped out of the car, and immediately spoke to the security guard. At first he told me I would have to continue on my way and circle all the way back around to the drop-off area. Feigning confusion, and asking if I couldn’t please, please just drop off my passengers and their luggage, then proceed to the parking garage where I was planning to leave my car … blah, blah, blah, (you get the picture), he smiled and granted my wish. Then as we unloaded the trunk, and he saw that one of our possessions was a walker, he immediately signaled for assistance. By the time I had parked the car very conveniently in the RC parking garage, and returned to my companions, a Royal Caribbean representative had commandeered a porter, a wheelchair for Pat (more about her later), whisked us through security, bypassed all the lines, and checked us in himself in a private lounge. From there he personally escorted us to our respective cabins. Now that’s what I call service!!

Cabin:

We chose to take advantage of a great promo rate and booked guaranteed outside cabins. We were assigned Cabins 2514 and 2526, located on Deck 2 forward on the portside. Both cabins had a porthole. Cabin 2526 was a bit larger, due to cabin 2514’s proximity to the bow, but overall configuration was the same. Two small futon-like beds were perpendicular to each other with a small shelf located at the apex. One bed was moveable so the beds could be converted to a queen configuration. As these cabins are somewhat compact, I was pleased to find the beds were high enough for a fairly large suitcase to be stored underneath. There was limited shelving and drawer space, but sufficient for two of us for a 4 day cruise. One note about shelving and drawers: My cabin (2514) had a beam running along the interior wall behind the shelving unit. Consequently, the depth of three of the six drawers in the desk/dresser, along that wall were cut in half and the second of two mirrored cabinets was eliminated and actually just a false front. This was unique to our cabin, so 2526 had full drawer space and a second functional cabinet. There were 2 closets, one of which had some open shelving on the side for additional storage. There was no safe in the room. On this ship only the suites and larger ocean staterooms have safes, but safety deposit boxes are available at the purser’s desk. The room did come equipped with an adequate hair dryer, however.

The bathroom is tiny, in particular, the shower. I have a tendency to rate showers by how easily it is to shave my legs within its confines, and I am forced to give this shower a “thumbs down”. It also has one of those lightweight shower curtains that clings to the body (bring clothespins to weigh the bottom down and that helps). Storage and shelving space is very limited in this small bathroom. As a suggestion, purchase an inexpensive hanging shoe caddies. It can easily hang over the bathroom door, and the small compartments are great for storing all your toiletries, suntan lotion, etc.

Although small, I will say the room was clean, and well maintained. As this is an older ship there are marked signs of wear and tear, but care has been taken to minimize the aging process.

Royal Caribbean’s older ships are known for their small cabins, preferring to concentrate on emphasizing the public rooms. I am pleased to say, however, over the last few years they have revised that philosophy. Beginning with the Vision Class ships, cabin size has continued to increase. My cabin on the Majesty was only 122 sq. ft., while a standard outside cabin on the Voyager is 180 sq. ft.

The Ship:

As we were on the lowest deck, I’ll start the tour there and move upward. In addition to cabins, the only other facility on this deck is the Cinema. Movies such as Kate and Leopold, and A Beautiful Mind were shown here daily at 2, 5, 8, and 11 pm. Each time I peaked in, it was virtually empty, but had we experienced inclement weather, it would have been a nice alternative as an indoor activity. The Cabin TV also offered three movie channels (2 in English and 1 in Spanish) showing a variety of movies each day for in-room viewing.


The Centrum

The central focal point of the ship was the attractive; five story atrium, the Centrum, which begins on Deck 3. A baby grand piano, glass enclosed elevators, an open-spiral staircase, and lots of brass, complement this area. One note of caution, the glass elevators in the Centrum can only be used to traverse from deck 3 to deck 7. If you wish to venture higher, you will need to use the forward or aft elevators. Directly forward of the Centrum was a very nice size photo gallery, and more cabins. Aft of the Centrum, was one of the two main dining rooms, the Maytime. The Mikado, the second dining room, was directly above it, on Deck 4. Both are well-lit, pleasant rooms, but nothing ornate or elaborate. Having sailed on so many newer ships lately, with their multi-levels, massive staircases, and impressive lighting fixtures, these rooms appeared a bit sedate. But, the panoramic windows on both sides of the dining room provide a natural beauty and quiet ambiance.

Moving forward from the Mikado dining room on Deck 4 we once again find ourselves in the Centrum. On this deck the atrium was encircled by the purser’s information desk, and the shore excursion desk. The internet café (royal Caribbean online) was also located here. For $.50 a minute you can use one of the several computers to communicate with the outside world. Forward of Purser’s Square there are more cabins. This ship is designed, for the most part, with cabins in the forward portion of the ship, with public rooms located aft.


Atrium Boutiques

Taking the winding open staircase in the Centrum to Deck 5 we find ourselves surrounded by the boutiques. Perfume, liquor, jewelry, and collectibles can all be purchased at these stores at duty free prices. Cruise memorabilia, souvenirs, logo-wear, and fashion accessories round out the shopping options. Interestingly, as well as the boutiques, here is where you will find the beauty/hair salon. I am so used to this service being part of the whole spa environment, that I was surprised to see the separate facility. Once again, forward of this public area are more cabins.

So, if we turn ourselves around and walk back through the atrium (which is where our tour of Deck 5 began) we find ourselves in a V-shaped entranceway. If we were to take the entrance on the left, we would find ourselves in the Casino Royale. The casino was nice size, with all the requisite gaming tables and sufficient slots to keep one occupied. It had 7 blackjack tables, 2 roulette wheels, 3 Caribbean stud poker tables, a craps table and well over 200 slot machines. Although I usually do not spend much time here, two of my traveling companions made a very lucrative visit here one afternoon. Interestingly, it seemed that on this particular cruise, whether in port or at sea, the casino was open.

Moving through the entrance on the right leads you to the Schooner Bar, which I personally found to be the most attractive lounge on the ship. The mahogany leather seating and wood and brass tables arranged in small conversational areas, coupled with the panoramic windows provide an appealing, comfortable ambiance. There was comfortable seating around the piano, as well as the bar itself. Most of our nightcaps were enjoyed here, where we were pleasantly entertained by Germaine, a charming bartender from Jamaica. Each night he had a different gimmick or trick to show (with straws, napkins, etc.), and always had a great suggestion for an unusual nightcap. We came up with some very unusual requests during the cruise, and he was always able to accommodate our needs. The only downside to this particular bar was that the most comfortable and pleasant seating was also the smoking section. Even just walking through the lounge to get to the showroom, there was no way to avoid the smoke. One of my traveling companions was highly allergic to cigarette smoke, and by the end of the cruise had totally lost her voice. She was a real trouper, however, and never let her allergies interfere with our good time.


Chorus Line Show Lounge

As I just mentioned, walking through the Schooner Bar, or the Casino, will take us to the Chorus Line Show Lounge. This two level show lounge had both theatre style seating and lounge seating with small tables. Sitting in the raised, rear center section of the main level seemed to provide the best seat in the house. These lounge seats (chairs and small tables) were much more comfortable than the theatre seats and still provided excellent, unobstructed views of the stage. Avoid the seating in the back on either side of the main level, sight lines are somewhat obstructed. Acoustics in this show lounge are excellent.


Blue Skies Lounge

We will skip Deck 6, also known as the Tween Deck, as it was only relegated to more cabins. Strangely enough, the way the ship was configured, the upper level of the Chorus Line Show Lounge was located on Deck 7. Walking forward from the show lounge we enter the Blue Skies Lounge. This lounge had a fairly large dance floor, with seating on both sides. A live band performed Latin dance music here nightly, and was also the location of a number of the early evening game shows. I was not impressed with this public space, and with the exception of walking through it, we never actually spent anytime here. Continuing forward, we find ourselves in the Centrum.

On this level of the Centrum, Promenade Deck 7, we find one of the two conference centers aboard the Majesty of the Seas. Opposite the conference center was a very nice, comfortable library, which also happened to be the location for smoking cigars. During my cruise I found no one using this facility for the purpose of smoking cigars, but I was a bit taken aback that this would be the location for cigar aficionados. Perhaps it was the least obtrusive place for that activity to take place, but it seems to me it would detract from the comfortable ambiance that the library exudes for the pure enjoyment of reading or reflecting. Next to the library, was the very intimate and attractive Touch of Class Champagne Bar. Other than the Schooner Bar, this was my favorite locale for pure décor and ambiance. I would have liked to spend more time here as it seemed the perfect place to end an evening in quiet conversation, but alas, it was often empty or closed. Besides, my traveling companions were looking for a little more activity and excitement in our evening adventures, thus we opted for other venues. Forward of the Centrum on Deck 7, we once again find more cabins.


Paint Your Wagon Lounge

Making our way to Mariner Deck 8, we are at the Paint Your Wagon Lounge. Each evening contemporary dance music or big band music was offered for our listening and dancing pleasure. We did check out this location, and although it provided comfortable seating and a very nice dance floor, we spent very little time here, as it was definitely for couples only (obviously not quite how four ladies would choose to spend their evening). Although dancing here was not for us, some late night game shows, such as the hilarious Majesty Quest, and extremely entertaining karaoke sessions were enjoyed at this venue. And, at the sake of being redundant, the rest of deck 8 housed more cabins.

On to Deck 9 aft, which was where we spent most of our evenings. In addition to more cabins, this deck was the location of the On Your Toes Nightclub (the disco). It was certainly nothing spectacular in the special effects area. By today’s standards it was not flashy, or impressive, but it provided good music and lots of fun. The dance floor was adequate and there were plenty of comfortable chairs and lounges to relax in while “dancing the night away”.

Moving upwards to Deck 10 aft, the Bridge Deck, was the location of the ShipShape Fitness Center. Here sauna and massage rooms, spa treatments, and a well-equipped fitness facility await. Manicures, facials, pedicures, full body massages and aqua therapy were all available. The fitness center provided a marvelous panoramic view of the ocean along with stationary bikes, treadmills and stair steppers. Yoga, Pilates and cardio- kickboxing were provided for a small fee. Walkathons, early morning stretch and relax classes, and aerobic exercise round out the organized fitness options.


Majesty of the Seas Pool Area

On to Deck 11, the Sun Deck, undoubtedly the deck that was frequented the most by yours truly. If you have read any of my reviews you will know that I am a sun worshipper, therefore, most of my sunlight hours are spent enjoying the pool area. On the Majesty there were two very nice size pools and two whirlpools, surrounded by lounge chairs that beckoned to me. I particularly liked the extra large submerged deck around the pool. It provided a perfect way to be cooled by the pool water, yet continue to bask in the sun. The two elevated whirlpools were located at the aft end of the pool area and the pool bar was located on the opposite end. All in all, this area provided every amenity that I needed for a perfect cruise day.

Forward of the pool bar was the Windjammer Café. I found the configuration of the Windjammer to be very interesting. There were 4 totally separate buffet lines, all offering the same items. Two were located in a very pleasant rotunda like room in the center of the ship, flanked by open stairways leading to deck 12. One could choose to eat inside along the panoramic windows on deck 11, or venture upwards to dine al fresco in the open air seating. Either choice provided wonderful unobstructed views of the ocean. Continuing forward, the other two buffet lines were located in the larger main portion of the bi-level Windjammer Café. Although windows also circumnavigated this area, I found the main section to be less appealing than the smaller circular area for dining. Beverage stations were located separately, on each end of the buffet lines. The configuration of the beverage stations was such, however, that they tended to be very congested. There was no discernible traffic pattern, so people converged on the stations from both directions making for a bottleneck in the middle.

Once again it was in this area of the ship that we were greeted by the VIP service I spoke of earlier. Our dining room waiter and assistant waiter worked in the Windjammer each day and provided us excellent tableside service, both for breakfast and lunch, even though we were eating in a buffet area. Our trays were carried for us, iced tea was brought to our table, and items such as lemons, which were not available in the buffet lines or at the drink stations, were provided graciously. I was totally impressed with the extent that these wonderful gentlemen went out of their way to accommodate us. Now, I know this treatment is standard on many of the premier lines, but on a typical Royal Caribbean cruise, this service went far above the expected norm.

Aft of the pool area on deck 11 was the Teen Disco, children’s playroom and a sport’s deck. The Sports Deck was open from 8:00 am – 8:30 each day for basketball, golf putting, and ping pong.


Mast Bar

Finally, we reach deck 12, the Compass Deck. On this uppermost deck, one can dine al fresco on the upper deck of the Windjammer Café, or visit the Mast Bar. The Mast Bar was actually the Sports Bar and Pizzeria on this ship. It was relatively small, but a large screen TV was visible from a variety of locations on the open deck surrounding the bar. This area also serves as additional seating for a portion of the Windjammer Café that I already spoke about. The sun walk, which surrounds the pool area on the deck below, also served as the jogging track. Additional lounge chairs take up the rest of the space on this deck. Moving to the very aft of the ship, a staircase led to the Viking Crown Lounge. This is the Royal Caribbean signature lounge that is perched high above the ocean. During the day, it was perfect for just sitting back, relaxing and reveling in the panoramic vistas, while at night one could enjoy “Music with a View”.

Dining:

I have already mentioned the various eating venues on board the Majesty, but I would now like to elaborate on each, as well as share additional dining options, that were offered on our 4 day cruise. Early bird coffee was available at 6:30 am at the outdoor Windjammer Café. From 7am – 9am the Maytime Dining Room served a full service breakfast daily, with the exception of the last morning, when service ended at 8 am. A buffet breakfast could be enjoyed at the Windjammer from 7-11 am, or a continental breakfast was available in your stateroom during those same hours. The buffet provided standard breakfast fare, along with the option of eggs cooked to order. Although there were a variety of breakfast meats, cereals, and sides, fresh fruit options were somewhat limited. The breakfast buffet received mixed reviews. I found their breakfast pastries to be thoroughly tasty, but one morning the scrambled eggs were excellent, another barely edible. The same held true for omelets that were ordered. A very well prepared omelet was served one day, and on another day it was burnt and unappetizing. There was no consistency to the quality of the food.

The room service menu was somewhat limited, but we found the kitchen (galley) to be very accommodating and not without a sense of humor. We completed a breakfast menu request card and asked for “bacon please” and were surprised when room service not only delivered the coffee, but a heaping plate of bacon!

We had breakfast in the Maytime Dining Room on our last morning of the cruise. My Eggs Benedict were excellent, as were the hash browns, but the service poor. I know this happens often on the last morning of a cruise, as they are anxious to get us off the ship, so they can prepare for the next load of passengers, however, I still found it disconcerting.

Continuous full service dining was available for lunch in the Maytime Dining Room from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm., and a sun worshipper’s lunch buffet was offered in the Windjammer Café form noon – 3 pm. Well, needless to say, being the sun worshipper that I am, the buffet was my choice for lunch. The luncheon buffet had a variety of cold and hot menu items that changed daily, as well as the daily offering of burgers, hot dogs and fries. I was much more impressed with the luncheon buffet than breakfast. Soups were very good, and salad offerings were extensive. If neither of these choices appealed to you, there was always the option of grabbing a pizza at the Sports Bar between 11 am and 7 pm, or a light snack (including ice cream) in the outdoor Windjammer Café from 3 to 5 pm. I did not sample the pizza on this trip, but was told by others that it was good, not great.


Mikado Dining Room

Dinner on the Majesty is served at two seatings. Early diners (main seating) are served at 6:15 pm in both dining rooms, and second seating or late dining is at 8:30 pm. Casual dinner was served nightly from 7:00 – 9:30 pm. As this was a short cruise, and we all enjoyed a full dining experience, I did not have an opportunity to test the casual dinner buffet. Our group opted for second seating, and was assigned to the Mikado Dining Room. We sat at a table for 6 and were joined by a very nice couple from Baltimore. There was a difference of opinion within our group as to the quality and variety of the food served in the main dining rooms for dinner. Personally I was pleased with the menu options, and felt there was a nice variety. Food was prepared to my liking, and was well presented. Now, with that said, I am not a connoisseur of exotic foods and my palate tends to prefer traditional meals (a good steak, prime rib, baked potato, grilled shrimp, etc), so I was quite satisfied with the offerings. Sampling the desserts, which is a decadent pleasure I enjoy on cruises, was well worth the extra calories I consumed on this trip. One of the members of our group would not share this opinion. She found the foods generally to be too salty, too cooked, too tough, or just too boring. It is here that I would like to expand once again on the VIP treatment previously mentioned. Earlier in the review I shared how attentive our waiter and assistant waiter were while dining at the Windjammer. Kudos to our waiter, Illya (forgive my spelling) from Turkey, and our assistant waiter, Rubin, from Chile. Illya did everything humanly possible to placate the one member of our group who was unhappy with her meals. He was the consummate professional and took great effort finding something that would appeal to her tastes at each meal. As for Rubin, in addition to his attentiveness, his enigmatic smile, and great personality added great pleasure to our dining experience. We were very fortunate to have such a dynamic team serving us. I always know my service will be excellent when my table assignment is such that my servers also take care of the captains table, as was the case on this cruise.

For our added culinary enjoyment, two midnight buffets were offered during our cruise. On our second night a Sailaway buffet was served poolside, and on the third night the Gala Buffet was served in both dining rooms. On nights when a midnight buffet was not offered they brought the food to us. From midnight to 1:00 am, light snacks and pastries were served in the Casino, Schooner Bar an On Your Toes Lounge.

Entertainment:

It is in this area that the Majesty of the Seas truly excelled! The cruise director, Parker, was entertaining and obviously enjoyed his job. The comedian, Greg Otto, was genuinely funny, and the revues performed by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers, on this cruise, were by far superior to any entertainment I have seen aboard a cruise ship in a very long time. The Wild, Wild West Revue, and The Beat Goes On production shows were outstanding!! A very talented troupe performed tight, well choreographed, original productions. Unfortunately, the gifted group of singers and dancers were concluding their run on the Majesty with our sailing. I hope that their replacements measure up to the high standards set by this production company. To give you some idea of how entertaining the shows were: Pat, one of traveling companions, has a penchant for falling asleep during every evening performance I have ever attended with her, but not on this cruise! It was truly a monumental feat as the lively, energetic, high quality productions kept her captivated, entertained and AWAKE.

My only complaint in this arena was the scheduling of the shows. For those of us at second seating, two of the four nights the main shows were scheduled as pre-dinner shows at 7:15. I know this is based on significant research by the cruise companies, and trying to provide a compromise that will accommodate the majority, but I, for one, oppose this decision and much prefer my shows after dinner. Actually speaking with many of the entertainers, they too, would prefer all performances be scheduled as after dinner shows. A Rock’n Roll Dance party, 70’s Disco Ball, audience participation games, bingo, karaoke, live musicians playing everything from calypso to Latin rhythms, and a DJ spinning tunes late into the night were just a few of the additional alternatives to keep us entertained.

The Cruise:

Day One:
Once we had settled into our quarters, the four of us went about the business of checking out the ship. First stop was the luncheon buffet in the Windjammer Café. Having driven from Naples that morning, as well as skipping breakfast, I was hungry. The lunch was just what I needed to refuel my body and provide the energy I would need to keep up with my traveling companions. By the time we had acclimated ourselves to our surroundings and had our first “welcome aboard” cocktail, it was time to engage in my least favorite activity, the compulsory muster drill.

Upon completion of the muster drill we headed for the pool deck to enjoy the Bon Voyage Party. As we sailed out of the Miami port on our way to Nassau, we danced to the Caribbean sounds of Rhythm Explosion, and watched the Miami Beach scenery fade into the distance. We headed to the Viking Crown Lounge for a few final glimpses of the skyline, before the darkness of night, and made a few last minute phone calls home. I always derive some clandestine pleasure from discovering that a snowstorm is brewing at home, while I am sitting in my shorts enjoying a beautiful sunset. (I know that is probably a little mean spirited, but anyone who has spent a few harsh winters in the snowbelt on the shores of Lake Erie would understand).

We had originally asked to be seated at a large table, but were placed at a table for 6. It was not a big deal, however, and as the dinner hour wore on it was obvious that the location, dining companions, and wait staff were all to our liking. An array of options for evening entertainment were available on this first night. We could have played bingo, enjoyed karaoke, checked out the first of the champagne art auctions, gone to the casino, attended the “Welcome Aboard Showtime” with comedian Greg Otto and the comedy magic of Levent, or headed to the disco for the 70’s disco ball.

At the very beginning of my review, when describing embarkation, I mentioned my dear friend, Pat, with a teaser that there would be more about her later. Now is a perfect time to share “Life with Pat” on board the Majesty of the Seas. Although Pat is the oldest of the four of us, she has more stamina than the rest of us combined. All of us love to dance, and what better way to work off the calories we consumed at dinner than to head to the disco, with Pat leading the pack. Remember that this is the same lady who was provided a wheelchair at embarkation and ushered on board. The highlight of the disco ball was a rendition of the “YMCA”, led by cruise director, Parker Cristan, along with his staff all dressed as the “Village People” and Pat! She danced the night away and when the rest of us were tired and ready to call it a night, she was still going strong. Pat would need the assistance of her trusty walker (nicknamed “Cosmo”) if there was any lengthy amount of walking required, but get her on a dance floor and it was a completely different scenario. I am sure it was a perplexing site to see this feisty lady moving to the beat, then at night’s end walking slowly back to her cabin with “Cosmo” firmly in hand. We hoped to get an early start to our day in Nassau, so finally, sometime after 1:00 am, we were able to convince Pat it was time to retire.

Day Two (Nassau):

My roommate, Barb, and I enjoyed a power walk on deck early in the morning, before joining our other friends for a hearty breakfast in the Windjammer. I have been to Nassau on numerous occasions and was looking forward to a new experience, a day trip to the Sandals Resort. As travel agents they extended us the courtesy of inspecting their property, with the opportunity to sample everything this all-inclusive resort had to offer. The pools were beautiful, but surprisingly the water was very cold. The beach was quite nice, and the public areas impressive. We ate the buffet lunch at their Italian restaurant, which provided a huge variety, but were disappointed in the quality.

We ended our afternoon doing the requisite souvenir shopping along downtown Bay Street, and found ourselves back on board by 6:00 pm. The Majesty was in port until midnight, but this was the evening of the Captain’s formal Gala Dinner and having already “been there, done that” in Nassau, chose to spend the evening on board.

For those who have never been to Nassau I would suggest a visit to Atlantis on Paradise Island. Spend some time just wandering through this massive resort and visiting the aquarium and “The Dig”. It is certainly worth the trip, but be advised that there is a fee to go through “The Dig”, and the pools and water slides are off limits to anyone other than hotel guests of Atlantis or the Comfort Suites. If you purchase the “Beach Break” excursion offered by the cruise line, you will still not be able to use the pool facilities. The excursion allows you beach access and a voucher for lunch at the Dive In snack bar. Taking the ferry to Blue Lagoon Island is another wonderful option. The beach is nice, there are beach chairs and hammocks for lounging, a children’s play area, and changing facilities. Food and beverages can be purchased and snorkel and non-motorized water sports are available. Blue Lagoon Island is also the location of Stingray City, an underwater 3 ½ acre protected marine park. If none of these options appeal to you, there is always Dolphin Encounter, or take a catamaran snorkeling trip to Rose Island. I particularly like the Flying Cloud Catamaran trip. Glass bottom boat tours are popular, and there are many scuba diving companies. These are just a few of the options that await a visit to Nassau. There are some excellent restaurants in town that I would be happy to recommend. If you would like more information about this island feel free to e-mail me.

We cleaned up, put on our finery for formal night and were ready to attend the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Champagne Reception at 7:30 pm in the Chorus Line Lounge. Royal Caribbean has gone to one reception to accommodate both dinner seatings. I am sure they have their reasons, but once again this “new” schedule is not necessarily an improvement. Not only does it mean that the reception tends to be overcrowded, but in this case, many of the main seating guests did not attend. Somehow, having appetizers and a pre-dinner cocktail AFTER you have eaten a formal dinner is a bit ludicrous.

We had a wonderful dinner, with our usual excellent service, and finished coffee and dessert just in time for the “Wild, Wild West Revue” in the Chorus Line Lounge. I have already expounded on what a wonderful revue this was, but suffice it to say, we thoroughly enjoyed the evening entertainment. After the show, everyone made their way to the pool deck for the Sailaway party. Rhythm Explosion once again entertained us in true Caribbean style, as we departed Nassau and set sail for CocoCay. As if we needed it, a rather bountiful midnight buffet was offered poolside. Not quite ready to retire, we stopped at the Schooner Bar for our nightcap and conversation with the friendly bar staff. All in all, an excellent day, capped off by a wonderful evening. Life is good!

Day 3 (CocoCay):

CocoCay is one of Royal Caribbean’s private islands. Tenders ran approximately every 20 minutes transporting guests to this tropical paradise. Floating beach mats, hammocks in the shade, wave runners, snorkeling, banana boat rides, kayaks, sailboats, and parasailing are all available. A very nice barbeque luncheon is also provided on the island. This is another of Royal Caribbean’s offerings I have enjoyed on a number of occasions, so I opted to remain on board and bask in the sun poolside. For those who prefer a little entertainment with their sun bathing, an ice carving demonstration and a belly flop contest were both held poolside in the afternoon.

The production show this evening was, for us, a pre-dinner show at 7:15 pm. Once again, the revue, “The Beat Goes On” was a winner! If possible, this show was better than the one we saw the night before. After the show we ventured to the dining room for dinner and looked forward to the 50’s & 60’s Rock’n Roll Dance Party. We were, however, disappointed. The dance party was held in the Chorus Line Show Lounge and that venue deterred from what could have been great fun. It would have been much more appropriate to have this kind of activity held in the disco, or the Paint Your Wagon Lounge. So, we were left to design our own fun. Knowing our groups penchant for frivolity, leaving us to our own devices is not always a good thing. We managed to keep entertained at the Schooner Bar, as well as the disco, and overall had a grand time. It should be mentioned that Pat, our fearless leader, made sure we had fun! If laughter is good for the soul, than the four of us are in fine shape! We managed to make this a very late night and we retired exhausted from another wonderful day (and night).

Day 4 (Key West):

I have always had a wonderful time in Key West and I am pleased to say this trip was no exception. We were very fortunate to dock right at the Truman Annex, rather than the more remote Naval Air Station Annex. That meant we could walk directly off the ship and be in Old Town, near Mallory Square, as opposed to the need for taking a shuttle into town. As this was the first visit to Key West for my traveling companions, once we disembarked, our original plan was to take the Trolley Tour. Once on land, our plans changed, however, and we decided to just slowly inch our way up to Duval Street. First stop was the Hog’s Breath Saloon. A pleasant guitarist who enjoyed conversing with the tourists held us captive for a short while. We were on a mission to find suitable souvenir charms, and some gifts for family and friends at home. Successful in our mission, we moved onward towards Sloppy Joe’s. For me, no visit to Key West is complete without a stop at this popular and lively spot.

Although my friends chose to forego the trolley tour, the Conch Train and Old Town Trolley are both excellent methods of seeing this quaint town on a first visit. I particularly like the trolley as it allows you the freedom to hop off at any of the numerous designated stops, explore that area at your leisure, and re-board the next trolley that comes along. If you would like more suggestions for activities to enjoy while in Key West, check out my review of the Fascination as it provides a more in-depth profile of Key West.

Watching the sunset from the southernmost city in the United States has become a daily celebration in Key West. We were fortunate enough to not set sail until 6:00 pm, so were privy to the carnival-like festivities that take place pre-sunset at Mallory Square.

As the Majesty pulled out of Key West and headed back to Miami, we prepared for out last night aboard. We met for pre-dinner cocktails at the Schooner Bar, and then headed for the Mikado Dining room where the theme of dinner was a Venetian Feast. Once again, I was very pleased with my meal, as was most of our party. On this last night, our waiters sang to us, which is a tradition on Royal Caribbean ships. This is one of those traditions that has become less theatrical and somewhat abbreviated, but, nonetheless, a part of the cruise experience I thoroughly enjoy. Dramatic presentations of desserts, like Baked Alaska, and dancing and singing waiters has been eliminated on many mainstream ships, and although I know it is a bit “hokey”, an aspect of the cruise that I miss.

After dinner, the requisite packing of suitcases, in preparation for tomorrow’s early disembarkation occupied a fair share of the evening. We made an abbreviated trip to the disco, and then bid our farewells to the friendly staff of the Schooner Bar. The four of us chose to go separate ways this evening. Karaoke was on the agenda for two of us, while the other two called it an early night. Now, I won’t mention any names, but I was one of the early retirees. Late nights with the “feisty one” were beginning to take their toll. You should need only one guess as to who was one of the late night revelers.

Disembarkation:

We vacated our rooms and met for breakfast in the Maytime Dining Room about 8:00 am, awaiting our color to be called for departure. Everything moved very quickly that morning and our color had actually been called before we were served our breakfast. We finished our breakfast at a leisurely pace, then with our carry on luggage in toe began the trek to the terminal pier. It was only fitting that the VIP service we were becoming accustomed to was provided for our departure. Having decided to make a last minute trip to the restroom before leaving the ship, one of the ship’s staff noticed Pat, with her walker. Without a moment’s hesitation, he instructed us to wait right where we were and he would assist us. Within moments he had procured a wheelchair, personally escorted us off the ship, gathered all our luggage, garnered a porter, and thanked us for sailing the Majesty of the Seas. The porter delivered the luggage to the garage while I located the car. We packed the trunk and within minutes were on our way to Fort Lauderdale for the cruise convention.

I should qualify that in every instance that a Royal Caribbean staff member provided assistance, they did so of their own fruition. We never asked for any kind of extra special treatment or service, it was just provided. Needless to say, I would strongly disagree with anyone who feels that the service on Royal Caribbean has declined. The staff and crew of the Majesty of the Seas were some of the friendliest, conscientious, courteous, and hard-working team that I have had the privilege of meeting. If you wish to sample cruising, or just need a quick getaway, the Majesty of the Seas is a perfect choice.

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