Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Sovereign of the Seas
Sailing Date: March 7th, 2005
This review will start at the logical place, your arrival at Port Canaveral. Signs are clearly marked as you enter the Port area from 528. There is some construction on 528 and near the Port, so be careful. Drop off your luggage curbside which is plainly marked in front of Terminal doors. You will leave your travel companions with the luggage, pay the attendant $5.00 and get back in your vehicle, proceed to parking lot fee collection booth, employees will flag you in the correct direction. You will pay $40.00 for 4 days, or $30.00 for 3 day cruise. Follow the arrows and employees directions to parking garage, take thew elevator down to ground level and walk back to terminal. Several tour buses unloaded while I was parking. They were full of foreign employees of some company. This caused us an extra 45 minutes at check-in. Moral: Get there before 3:00 pm. At check-in you and each of your party will receive a Seapass Card. Keep it handy always, as you must use it during the cruise to leave and re-enter the ship, and/or purchase anything on the ship, as there is no cash exchanged. Go on board, go to your cabin, drop off your carry-ons, then head down to Guest services on Deck 5 and activate your Seapass card with a minimum of $200.00 cash or give them a credit card number. All tabs at Bars, Johnny Rockets, Ben & Jerry's, etc. are automatically charged a 15% gratuity, use cash only if you feel like tipping extra.
Dinner: (free) Choose the main seating if possible, as I heard some grumbling from the 2nd seating about slow service. 1st night, the fillet of cod was as good as any thing I've ever ordered in any fashionable restaurant. All the other meals I ate in the dining room were quite good. Although if you are used to eating in 5 star restaurants, you may be disappointed. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it an overall 7. Service is quick and as your staff become familiar with your preferences for drinks, they will bring them to you without asking. During some of the evening meals, the wait staff get together and sing for the whole dining room. On formal night, there is a strolling string threesome. Remember these people rely on tipping, so if they play for you, slip them a five or ten.
Windjammer Cafe (free) This is a two-sided dining, with separate but adjoining sections fore and aft. Breakfast can be had early, usually 6:30 am most mornings, and normally food will be available until about 4 pm, when they shut down to prepare for dinner, which starts at 6 pm. Then the only place to get a snack is the pizza parlor, located on the balcony above Windjammers. After 10:00 pm, the Pizza parlor is the only place to get a snack and this ends at 2 am. If you have those midnight munchies regularly, bring some snacks from home to keep yourself happy until breakfast. I noticed that even though there are the dining rooms available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, very few people actually use them for breakfast and lunch, preferring Windjammers, this means you can get excellent service at these dining rooms and avoid the crowd at Windjammers. Try to avoid the 10 am to 11 am period at Windjammers, as they shut down one side to prepare lunch, which causes everyone to shift to one side of the buffet, resulting in what I can only describe as a Human Shark feeding frenzy, as food depletes and they cannot replenish it fast enough. At 11 am, however, they open the other side for lunch, relieving the press.
Johnny Rockets : This a hamburger place which charges extra for everything plus the 15% gratuity, Remember? My son ate there, and said it was "nothing special".
Ben & Jerrys: If you don't mind paying 4 or 5 bucks for a coffee, then this is your place. Good coffee, Latte, Mocha, etc.
Viking Crown Lounge: Nice observation area, generally a good place to chill if things are too hectic elsewhere - mood music and general relaxed atmosphere.
Schooner Bar: I never found this crowded, generally an older crowd, some families used it as a get together area. Sometimes they have a piano player.
Voltage Nightclub: On board band is adequate, Billed as a disco, this is a loud and noisy place but band does not inspire people to dance. Rock-a-Rokie is the worst thing I've ever experienced. They call people up to sing who have had one too many and the resulting cacophony is very unpleasant.
Boleros: Good combination of events for nightlife. Early evening is a String combo for the Fox trot/ Tango crowd, I was impressed by the 70 and 80 year old couples who were working it on the dance floor. Mid evening is dueling pianos, which is pretty lively. After 11 pm, the Salsa Band starts cranking, and everyone hits the dance floor. If you are an early to bed person, don't book a room on deck 8 above Boleros or on deck 6 below Boleros, as the vibrations of the Bass will keep you awake.
Pool Bars: absolutely the worst bartenders on the ship.
Fuel: Teenage disco/TV Center/computer gaming, my son went there and said he could never find any action there, day or night.
Other Entertainment: Follies Theater has all good productions except the "Flashback" show. I don't know who put this together, but for heaven's sake - The majority of the people on the ship are white middle class folks in their 30s, 40s, 50,s and 60s, and 95% of the Flashback show is about black entertainers. Royal Caribbean, if you are going to do a retro show, at least have the courtesy of playing to the people in the audience. Salsa band in Boleros was great. Piano and strings group was good. Dueling Piano girls were good. Voltage rock group was adequate. Pool reggae band was adequate and not too loud. Follies theatre band was good, but they looked like they weren't having a good time. You know the look - like when the entertainer cracks a joke, they all have thia "I've heard this 1000 times before" look on their faces, maybe they should try out for the Buckingham Palace Guard.
Overall: Ship is clean, looks great, both inside and outside, signs of age are unnoticeable since the November refurbishment. A great bargain for the buck. Good food, entertainment, travel and scenery. If you have not cruised before, this is a great way to start. Read other reviews, you'll get a pretty good idea what to do. Also a little health tip, Cool wind on a sunny day will roast you in about 30 minutes, wear a good sunblock, especially if you will be exposed to the sun for a prolonged period.