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John and Phyllis Kidwell

Age: 41 to 50

Occupation:Cruise Consultant

Number of Cruises: 6 to 10 Cruises

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Majesty of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 3rd, 2000

Itinerary: 3 Day Bahamas

WHY A THREE-DAY CRUISE?

By John & Phyllis Kidwell

A weekend cruise in November can do wonders for "cruise fever". We spent a wonderful three days on the Majesty of the Seas the weekend before Election Day. What a great way to get away from the political ads and media mania! A mid-afternoon arrival at Miami International Airport was great, in that there were no crowds and the RCCL Representative met us and only a few other passengers. We were led directly to the bus as Royal Caribbean took care of claiming our luggage.

For those of you who loathe the "multi-switchback-snakes-back-and-forth-forever" embarkation line, we strongly recommend arriving at the pier after 3:00 PM. No line! We boarded and soon found, to our surprise, that we had been upgraded from a category F guarantee to a Category C Superior Ocean View with a balcony!

After the lifeboat drill, while we unpacked, we found all kinds of neat little extras in cabin 1584. A handy refrigerator tucked under the television, a safe in the closet that you program with your own code and a bottle opener in the bathroom by the tub for the ale we just brought back from the Schooner Bar. There was plenty of closet and drawer space and a nice vanity for the lady.

The ship is fairly easy to get around, even though only the amidships bank of elevators traverse all decks. The Centrum is a multi-deck free flowing hub containing entrances to both dining rooms, a bevy of boutiques, the purser and shore excursion desks, casino and photo gallery.

A note about the boutiques and shops: There is a tuxedo and ladies formal wear rental shop, logo sportswear shop and the usual fragrance, jewelry and expensive figurine shops. On several occasions during the cruise a flea market style bazaar was set up in the Centrum offering everything from watches to duty free liquor. We bought two liters of Swedish Vodka on the first night out and they boxed it and allowed us to take it back to our cabins. On the ships we have sailed before you could buy the liquor but they would hold it until the last day before debarkation. We don't know if this is a new trend or something that Royal Caribbean does all the time.

While we're on the cocktail subject, we'll critique the three main cocktail lounges. Of course, we rate the Viking Crown Lounge "highest" for more reasons than just elevation. The service here was friendly and fast and the twelve to fifteen variations on the martini were inventive. We especially liked the choice between the regular size and the jumbo ten-and-a-half ounce! We can't understand why, but this lounge was never crowded during the early evening cocktail hour.

While the Viking Crown is best for a martini at sunset, the Schooner Bar with Al Escobar at the piano is much more suited to an after dinner aperitif and sing along till you drop. You must sit at the piano bar to fully appreciate Al and his "20 piece (portable) orchestra". Believe us, Jimmy Durante never sounded so good!

The last is a very quiet and cozy space at the top of the Centrum. The Touch of Class Champagne Bar offers the acceptable champagne we had last New Years, to the Dom Pérignon, which we may never have. A good selection of wines is available here as well. Choose this spot when you want a quiet place to get close and whisper sweet nothings into your lover's ear.

It is hard to give a fair appraisal of the cuisine aboard the Majesty of the Seas on a three-day cruise. We booked this cruise only two weeks prior to departure so were not surprised when assigned to the Main Seating. Since we boarded late, we decided not to rush to dinner on Friday evening. Instead, we enjoyed a libation in the Viking Crown and dined in the Windjammer Restaurant. The Windjammer is the open and airy Lido dining choice during the day but in the evenings they bring out the white table cloths and serve the same cuisine that is served in the main dining rooms until 9:00pm. Friday night was "Italian night" and we were almost lonely at our next-to-the-window table for two. The salad bar offered several pasta salads and very nice Minestrone soup. Servings of fettuccini or vermicelli were tossed in a skillet at a hot pasta station where you could choose a variety of condiments and sauces.

We felt the breakfast served in the Mikado Dining Room was far superior to the cafeteria fare of the Windjammer. We really didn't think those cafeteria scrambled eggs were related to a chicken, but the Windjammer did attract the larger crowds so it must have been pleasing to many.

The outstanding mid-day meal was the barbeque buffet served on Royal Caribbean's private island, CocoCay. The food was wonderful. The only down side here were the long and very slow lines. Either get in line early or loll around until everyone else is full. Or do as we did and send one to stand in the line while the other guards his or her seat at the bar. (Phyllis was in line - John was at the bar).

On a three-day cruise, the ports-of-call are really not the most important attractions. We tend not to go with the ship sponsored shore excursions, opting instead to strike out on our own to see if we can find something unique. Such was the case at Nassau. We had a late breakfast and avoided the rush to go ashore until around 11:00am. Walking through the crowded streets near the pier we slowly worked our way out of the crowds into the business district. We found several photo opportunities, as Nassau is very picturesque. Our wanderings led us to Frederick St. where we found the Maritime House, an office complex that lends space to The Brussels Brasserie. This is one of those small French bistros that only offer a few small tables. Owner, Chef Renaud Hendrickx, is the sole conductor and musician in his kitchen. We opted for the curried chicken salad on fresh baked bread and Scottish smoked salmon. After lunch, Chef Hendrickx insisted that we visit his breadbasket to put our noses in his fresh baked six-grain bread, fresh from the oven. Chef Hendrickx, we will return. We got back to the ship for the mandatory Saturday afternoon nap.

We really can't judge the showroom entertainment aboard because we weren't able to tear ourselves away from Al Escobar's piano. However, we did speak with other passengers that enjoyed the venues. We enjoyed dancing at the Captain's Gala on Saturday night. Held after the main seating, but before the late seating, the whole ship is in attendance. It really wasn't that crowded and the free drinks were readily available.

Of the nine cruises that we have experienced, two of them were three-day itineraries. These two cruises, one on Carnival's Fantasy and this one on Majesty of the Seas, are as memorable, if not more so, than the other weeklong itineraries. This may be because we booked them in a cavalier, "why not two weeks from now?" manner or maybe the shorter cruise urges us to magnify the moments. We are going to do it again……...spontaneously!

"We do not remember days, we remember moments." - Cesare Pavese.

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