Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Sovereign of the Seas
Sailing Date: January 21st, 2008
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
My wife and I went on the Sovereign for our 10th wedding anniversary and we had a blast! This is a great cruise and I highly recommend it. This was our second cruise (the first was another 4-night cruise on Carnival to the Mexican Baja). Our cruise on the Sovereign, overall, was a much better experience than on Carnival's Ecstasy three years ago--and that cruise was a good experience.
For a 20 year old ship, the Sovereign is in incredible condition. Crew members are CONSTANTLY polishing and shining and they do a great job keeping the old gal in immaculate condition. The 2004 make over was superb because it doesn't feel like you're on an older ship. It has a very modern, updated feel and is well appointed.
Only at meals times (especially breakfast) did the ship ever feel crowded. Even with 2,200+ passengers, we could always find a nice, quiet place away from the crowd. The ship is massive and spreads out the crowds very well.
The pool decks were busy also, but there were plenty of lounge chairs not only on the pool decks but pretty much everywhere on the ship. Deck 7's promenade had the best with really comfy cushions.
The ship has all the amenities and activities listed in the brochures. You're never at a want for something to do.
We were given the impression that the "younger" crowd dominated the passenger list (20-40). Not necessarily for our cruise. At 39 years old for me and my wife, we were probably slightly less than the average age. Young couples were aboard of course but I'd say the average age was mid 40s. Our dinner table had a couple younger than us (20s) and a couple older than us (upper 40s). Maybe the 3-night cruises attract the younger crowd.
There were families with kids, but not a lot (probably the time of year). The ship and crew are well prepared to entertain the kids and my wife and I wouldn't hesitate to bring our 9 and 7 year olds next time. Oodles of activities that would have kept them busy all day. The only holdback would be not enough room for four people in our stateroom. You'd probably want to go for the junior suite with the hide-a-way couch.
Port Canaveral and Royal Caribbean have the arrival and departure process down pat. We arrived a little later (about 2 p.m.) and we didn't run into any lines. We pulled the car up, the porters grabbed our bags, and we parked the car. We had completed the online check in earlier and it was a breeze checking in. There was nobody in line and the entire process took about 10 minutes walking into the building and walking onto the boat (including a bathroom stop).
Getting off the ship at the end of the cruise was just as easy. The process was smooth, passengers followed the precision and on-time call order, and we were through customs, had our bags and were driving away in 15 minutes (stepped off the boat at 7:40 and were driving away at 7:55 a.m.). I was shocked. Carnival's departure process was a 2-hour cramped debacle.
We kept one carry-on bag with us on arrival for a change of clothes, bathing suites, etc. so we could have something until our luggage arrived at the room. That was a good idea we got from this review site and we also recommend it.
The ship even left port about 10 minutes early (4:50 p.m., so don't be late!!).
We were on Deck 9 with a superior ocean view room. Although still rather small, it was nice and comfortable. Our stateroom attendant, Randy, was simply incredible! He took superb care of us and our room. I'd definitely recommend upgrading from an ocean view to a superior ocean view room--they're a bit larger and worth the few bucks more. There is not a "sitting area" as shown on the picture. You get a queen bed (two singles pushed together), a desk, closet, a 12-inch TV and a bathroom.
As with any cruise, the amount of food that is put in front of you is staggering. There is always, always food. The Windjammer Buffet is decent for cafeteria food but nothing to write home about. Breakfast was top notch...lunch (the two times we ate there for lunch) was good but rather uninspiring. We usually ate around 9 a.m. for breakfast and it was always very packed. Word of advice, there are two buffet areas in the Windjammer--we found the one further back (around the corner) less crowded and had more available seating with better views.
Note: the low fat yogurt machine is on the upper pool deck next to the bar. It took us two days to find it, for which we had to supplement our sugar fix with Ben & Jerry's (extra cost) until then.
We didn't eat at Johnny Rockets (didn't want to pay the $4 "entry fee"). The pizza at Sorento's was very good.
Food in the dining rooms was superb. Great presentation and taste and impressive variety each night. We had the second seating and liked that because we didn't feel rushed. We would end our day and have enough time to go to the fitness center and take a shower before dinner. The wonderful wait staff was incredibly attentive.
We were a little hesitant about cruising in January (it was upper 30s at night in Port Canaveral). However, Nassau and Coco Cay were wonderfully warm and pleasant (mid to upper 70s and possibly into the low 80s during day and upper 60s at night). It never felt hot or cold once into the Bahamas.
The day/night we left was really, really windy. Ten to twelve foot seas. Ugh!! Even a ship that big gets tossed and everybody felt it. It was bad enough for the crew to place the barf bags on all the stairwell landings (too late for some folks who kept the carpet crews busy that night). Definitely bring the motion sickness pills/wrist bands. We brought ours but didn't feel sick enough to take them, but we did feel woozy. Eating a roll first thing at dinner immediately helped settle the stomach for me and I was okay.
After that night and some of the next day, the weather was perfect--clear, warm with only slight breezes.
We were supposed to go to Coco Cay on Tuesday but the winds prevented the launching of the shuttle boats. Therefore, the captain took us straight to Nassau and we were there by 4 p.m. (hence Tuesday was our day at sea). This allowed extra time in Nassau which many took advantage of. We still didn't head ashore until Wednesday and had an enjoyable day on the boat.
Our original thought was to go do the Breezes all inclusive resort (not through the ship but taking a bus/taxi out there and saving $40 off the ship's price). However, another couple convinced us to rent scooters instead.
The scooter rental is in the main port terminal and there are three or four venders in one row renting them right as you walk in. We went to the lady who was yelling at us the loudest. We rented two scooters for $60/day each ($45 for rental, $10 insurance, $5 gas). You pay them $80 total but you get your $20 deposit back if you bring the scooter back in one piece. By the way, they only take cash.
Word of warning about renting scooters: the Bahamas government apparently distributes its drivers licenses to its residents via cereal box and not through any formal drivers ed courses! If you do the scooter thing be very, very alert and careful because those drivers are all over the place! What's more, emissions testing has yet to be considered as a prerequisite for vehicle registration.
Besides all that, renting the scooters was a blast and a great way to see the island. We first went over to Paradise Island and drove around looking at all the unbelievable homes (lots of celebs like Oprah and Michael Jordan have getaways there). We also stopped and walked around The Atlantis. That's a must see but don't pay for the tour--you get a good feel just walking around.
After that we went over to the Cable Beach area. (Note: a great place for lunch is halfway between the port and Cable Beach on the north side of the road--a great strip of local restaurants with local fare).
Right before you get to the Cable Beach resort area, there is a public park/beach (Goodfellows Bay I believe) just east of the resorts where you can park your scooter and walk the open and beautiful Cable Beach area. The first resort you get to heading west is the Breezes. We stopped there and settled in on two of the hundreds of open lounge chairs (nobody asked us to leave) and spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach. Because we didn't pay for the Breezes day pass we didn't do any of the activities. However, we did walk around. Nice pool area, the food looked decent, lots of activities and all the drinks you can stomach. I'd say it definitely looked worth the $60 day pass (not through the ship's tours--just go there and pay them directly).
We had our scooters back by 4 p.m. (latest is 5 p.m.) and did some shopping in town (shops close around 5 p.m. as well). The Straw Market on the far west end of the main drag on the north side is fun. Many rows of trinkets and cheap knockoffs. You only need to walk down one aisle because the other 10 aisle have exactly the same stuff being sold by different people.
All in all, Nassau was great. We'd recommend the scooters or the Breezes. Our other dinner mates went to the Atlantis and paid the day pass there--$55 just to use their beach and another $50 for wave runners (all the other activities were also at a cost). Although nice they said it wasn't worth the $105/person.
By far the best day was Coco Cay. This island is awesome. It's everything you'd hope a tropical island would be. Great food, great beaches, crystal clear water and tons of activities. You could stay there two days and not get bored. Plenty of kids activities as well, but no matter what activities you want to do be prepared to fork out the cash. It was $58 for the two of us to snorkel.
Note: most people stay within a stones throw of the bars and buffets. However, keep heading down the beach and you get away from the crowds. For a great afternoon walk, keep heading away from the ship and you'll end up on the other side of the island about 3/4 to a mile down. When we got to the far side, there was not another person around and they have lounge chairs over there as well. Take a book and feel like you have the entire island to yourself! Simply incredible!!
All in all, we had a superb cruise. We liked Royal Caribbean better than Carnival. Just as many activities but not in your face as much.
Great ship, great staff and great itinerary.