We just returned from FOS 1/20-1/27/08. It was my husband and me and 2 17 year old boys(my son and a friend). The trip was great and it was the best vacation ever!!!I just want to answer some questions I had before the cruise about the ship and excursions:
1. We had an aft balcony 9706...we loved it, there was a panoramic view and the balcony was probably triple the size we had on Voyager. I was concerned about seasickness, but the movement was no worse than on previous cruises on a lower deck and midship. I get deathly motion sickness, so I wouldn't worry about the movement if you are thinking of booking an aft balcony. Yes, people above you can see you on a small portion of your deck, but most of the balcony is covered.
2. The food was awesome everywhere we ate.. Windjammer's food was hot and plentiful and it was always easy to find a table. We did main dining for a table of 8 and the other 2 couples were great. Our waiter Ramon and the assistant waiter were the best!!! He introduced us to his son who worked on the ship and had just recently got engaged. In fact, all the workers on the ship were friendly and helpful. They are very interested in where you come from......my husband wore his NE Patriots hat all week and many of the workers came up to him to talk about football.
3. We watched the AFC game in ON-AIR, the ship provided a light buffet for the fans. Unfortunately the game started at 3pm, we had to go to muster at 4:30pm, but were back to see the Patriots win.
4. Labadee was great, many activities to do. Don't go the beach with the Zipline, very rocky. I suggest get off the ship and go to the 3rd beach on the left...Barefoot Cove. Quiet, beautiful view on the ship and close to lunch buffet, volleyball courts, Adventure Ocean....
5. Jamaica, I made my own reservations with a company called Island Marketing. They were great (I had been nervous reading some of the posts about booking outside the ship). A lovely young man named Paul met us at the pier. He drove us to DRF, walked us in to the beginning, made sure we were alright and then met us at the end. He told us to avoid market and people offering "free" necklaces and carvings. He then drove us to a river where we did some tubing, which was alot of fun. He then drove us around sightseeing and gave us alot of background on Jamaica. I would recommend this company if you are thinking about booking outside the ship.
5. Grand Cayman we booked thru Nativeway water sports. Elon met us at the pier and brought a boat of about 20 people out to Stingray City. He was very informative about the Stingrays and gave us all a chance to hold one. We also went snorkeling at the reef and he brought us to a place where there were literally hundreds of huge starfish of different colors. He fed a huge eel and the held it so we could take pics and he also dived for a conch and made up a delicious conch spread that you could have on crackers. I would highly recommend this tour. The ones from the ship are packed with people and you don't get as much 1 on 1 time.
6. On Cozumel, we just wanted to go the beach. The excursion from the ship was at Playa Mia(I think) which included open bar, but I'm not one for drinking at 10am. We took a cab ($12 for 4 of us) to Paradise Beach Club. It was great, people in other posts complained about rocks on the left side of beach, just ask to sit center or to the right. Our waiter was very attentive, even when it got busy mid-day (5 cruise ships in port). The boys jet-skied, parasailed and did the banana boat. For $10 you can use all the kayaks, snorkelling gear and all the water toys set up for the day.
7. The cruise director was the funniest man, Richard Spacey, he really makes the cruise fun!! Unfortunately this was his last cruise, he'll be missed!! His staff is young and energetic, all the activities on board were great, we loved all the shows and definitely don't miss the ice show!!
8. The bar staff was very attentive, definitely get drinks at the pool bar, the bartender was the best, he puts on a show while mixing drinks!! It was about $3.50 for a beer and about $5 to $7 for a frozen cocktail. Just tell them you don't want the souvenior glass and it will keep the price down. The kids had soda cards and never had a problem getting a drink.
7. I forgot to mention boarding the ship. We got there about 12noon and were on the ship by 12:30, very organized. I did bring a notarized letter for my son's friend that we had permission to bring him out of the country etc.......but noone asked to look at it. BUT, on disembarking , Customs wanted to know how he was related to me and I did have to show him the letter, so I would definitely bring one. Disembarking probably took about 1.5 hours as one of our luggage tags fell off and we had to search all the terminals for it.
8. My son and his friend enjoyed the Adventure Ocean activites, they had a dance almost every night. They made alot of new friends. The boys also loved the Wave Rider and rockclimbing wall.
9.I'll probably get hate mail about this, but the one bad thing about the cruise was the amount of South Americans on board (I guess it is holiday time for Panama, Chile, Brazil etc...). We went to a Crown and Anchor cocktail party and I think the Captain said there was about 2500 Americans on board and about 500 Canadiens, a handful of Germans, Japanese and British. The rest were South Americans. They can be really rude,I kept telling myself that they didn't mean to be rude, they just have a different culture than I am used to, so I tried not to let them bother me. They let their kids go in the Adults only hot tubs and splash around and swim under water, fortunately the staff would notice and ask them to leave, but then they would argue with them!! They would hold elevators, cut in lines and would think nothing of screaming out to each other across the theater. The teenagers were the worst......I had to say something to two of them when they started a fight with an elderly couple about seats in Arcadia Theater.
That fortunately, was the only downside to the trip and in no way RCL fault. Now I'm home with about 6 inches of snow on the ground.......no mints on my pillows and no towel animals on my bed last night!! Any questions, I'll be happy to answer them!!! Can't wait to go back!!!
Thanks for the replies.........I would recommend this cruise to anyone, it was great!!! I forgot to mention the housekeeping staff, all very friendly and helpful. Anything you asked for was immediately granted. Room service was fabulous, on early excursions we would have breakfast delivered to room to eat on balcony, it would arrive hot and always on time!! The staff on this ship is the friendliest bunch of people anywhere....we usually go to Walt Disney World every year and FOS employees puts Disney "cast members" to shame!!
Wow, small world Christine. It's me, Ron. (your dinner table companions). If anyone here gets Ramon as your dinner waiter you'll be extremely happy. I'm a Giant's fan so we had a good time at the table (I wore my Giant's coaches shirt to dinner the last night). Christine, her husband and the 2 young men were very nice.
Hi Christine, we were out there with you. This was our first cruise..what a blast! Already looking at which cruise we want to book next year. Of course. now it's time to shed the 5lbs I added on the FOTS! I concur with the comments on the service, topnotch from all areas. One thing I would add, is that if you request a strong drink from your bartender, BE READY, esp. if you tip good! It is a good way to keep the buzz to bar bill ratio high! TYhanks for the excursion tips, we used RC for excursions, and loved them, but would love the smaller groups you mentioned. Just be careful, one coouple got left in Cozumel because they weren't back in time from a non-sanctioned excursion (ouch!)
EriknVT - where in Vermont are you from? I am in Bennington! What excursion did you do in Cozumel? We will be stopping there on our cruise in April. Also Grand Caymen - did you go there? If so what did you do there?
Hi Ron, we did have a great table. Ramon was the best, I wish I could have brought him home with me!!! Enjoy your Giants victory, we'll be back next year!!
I agree with Erik about the bartenders, you can get really strong drinks!!! Tip well and you won't be disappointed!!!