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Mary Anne

Age: 47

Occupation:Counseling

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Sovereign of the Seas

Sailing Date: January 12, 2003

Itinerary: Bahamas

The first thing I need to say is that reading the reviews on this site is the best thing you can do if you have never cruised before. I found it VERY helpful. Our reservations were made through a travel agent. There were 28 of us on board of the 37 who originally signed up, ranging in age from almost 2 - 72. Some of the group was forced to cancel after the deadline and there is no refund available at that point. The goal of the trip was one ~ to get the family all together on one vacation and two ~ relaxation and fun. Both goals were accomplished. However, I should mention the Royal Caribbean agent did not do such a good job in that all of us were double charged for the cruise, once in November and again in December. This was easy enough to fix though I am sure the travel agent would disagree, as the RC agent just could not get it. We all traveled to Florida the day before and stayed at the Days Inn Cocoa Beach. I would suggest this as some of our flights were a bit delayed, winter weather. There was no stress in doing it this way and the hotel was comfortable and group friendly costing us $60.00, including all the Florida taxes, for 4 in our room. Lots of things well within walking distance. We used the services of Sunrise Florida Transportation www.transportationflorida.com to get from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the ship, and the ship to our next hotel, and back to the airport. John, the owner, is wonderful stopping any place we asked, including to watch the space launch upon our return. His only request is please do not start parting till you reach your destination as he could lose his licenses. They gladly added a u-haul and extra car for all the people and luggage, just let him know in advance of your needs.

We arrived at the port about 11:30 and had no problem boarding early. Be sure to sign the back of your cruise ticket before getting to the escalator. You do not have to have the credit card information filled out yet but do enter names on front and sign the back or you will be delayed. Lines may look long but as others will say they move quickly. I was amazed right away. I read lots about how small the staterooms are. They are, but I must admit to me the room was great! I was envisioning all kinds of things. I decided it would be much like spending my time in our 20-foot camper’s bedroom and bathroom – to this comparison the stateroom was bigger (4080). Our attendant was from Romania and was fantastic. Friendly and wonderful. When we left the stateroom she was there. She will see you shortly after your arrival and find out how you want the beds set, as one or separated in two, and when you come back it’s done. She came in both in the am and again after 6 PM, leaving towel animals for our amusement. They were wonderful. She gave private lessons to my daughter who works part time chamber maiding. There are printed instructions available the last evening. Your luggage will be in front of your stateroom within a couple of hours – don’t worry about it there is plenty of food and drink right from the moment you walk on board. We purchased a drink card for $44.85 including tax and gratuity good for 12 drinks. Do not use these cards for the purchase of beer – not a good deal, charge your beer, it’s cheaper. Also know in advance, the daily special drinks the waiters walk around with are not available on the card but some can be purchased at the bar using the card. Different bars, different tenders allow different things. Tell the waiter you want to use your card and they will get it for you from the bar. Do try the specialty drinks they are not a bad buy at $5.95 when you think about prices back home. You keep the glass as well. We had the late seating for dinner in the GiGi Room. Our wait staff was outstanding. Though some have a very limited understanding of the English language. Don’t worry if more than one thing on the menu sounds good. We ordered several appetizers and dinners each, each night. Service was non-stop. Know that on the right side of the menu there are alternative meals if you don’t care for the day’s menu. We were on a 4-night cruise with 1 formal night. Casual does not include shorts. The windjammer is available if you don’t want to dress. We ate in the dinning room every night and ate at the windjammer the rest of the time. Check your compass and daily newsletter for schedules and activities. It is really helpful to think about what you would like to do. Some of the shows you miss are on your in room TV so you really don’t miss anything. Love and Marriage is worth seeing. The comedian on our ship was great, as was the magician comedian. We spent a fair amount of time in the casino and it paid off for us each night improving our winnings. Minimum bets were very reasonable - $1.00 roulette and $5.00 craps. Bingo was costly, I thought, $35.00 for 5 games (6 games per card), but I am not complaining as I won there as well. Weather for us was not the greatest. A bit cool at CoCoCay but still a great day. Nassau was cool with light rain. While in port there are various specials available on board, check them out. Our day at sea was perfect, windy but very sunny. Spent the day at the pool participating in the various activities. We had a great time and my brother won the belly flop contest. Guys don’t be afraid to compete in the sexy legs contest there all kinds of winners. Our last night at sea you could really feel the boat rock. Took a couple of days to get our legs steady once back on land.

On the last night your cabin attendant will leave envelopes in your stateroom for tipping. It is suggested you tip $3.50 per person, per day for your stateroom attendant, the same for your dining room waiter and $2.00 per person, per day for the assistant waiter. The final envelope is for the headwaiter and is at your discretion. If you are celebrating anything be sure to tell him and he will make sure it is taken care of. We had 2 birthdays and an anniversary all in 1 night. Pay attention to when gratuity is included and when not. For example the beauty salon you are expected to tip.

Disembarkment was quick once our color was called. I was nervous about finding our luggage but really this was simple. You are given colored tags the night before to place on your luggage, ours was orange. You pack your bags the night before putting them outside your stateroom before midnight. In the morning you are requested to leave your room by 8 AM. We went to the dining room and ate breakfast and then waited outside the casino. You enter and leave the ship from the 4th floor so you are not allowed there during this time. Once your color is called you head to the 4th floor and disembark. Attendants and signs direct you to your color. There is a reasonable amount of luggage in each area and it is easy to find your own, as long as your color did not come off. There is a special area for those bags. We did not have that problem, actually very few bags were in this area. Don’t worry about handling your luggage, there are plenty of people there to help you carry your bags. Customs was simple. Have a great trip!

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