I started this post in August and it took until today to publish the post. This trip was taken in October of 2010. When Michael set this cruise up, the intent was to have family join us to celebrate his 55th birthday onboard. As it turned out, only my brother, David and his wife, Lynn (whose birthday was the last day of the cruise) could join us. Friday I dropped my dogs off for my sister to babysit while we were gone. About 15 or 20 minutes into the drive to Long Beach, Michael asked if I am going to call her to check on the dogs and I realized that I forget my cell phone. Since we had time, we turned around to get it. Flying from California, we took a red eye flight non stop on Jet Blue to Ft Lauderdale. Since we landed too early to head to the ship, we ate breakfast at an airport restaurant.
Once we got to the pier, it was just before 10am. We stood in a line of about 50 people for 3 to 5 minutes when they opened the check in windows. We were all checked in very quickly and seated upstairs based on our Crown & Anchor level. We were on the ship by 11am. Since you can not get into the staterooms until 1pm, we made our way up to the Windjammer and called Dave & Lynn. They were just going through the check in process and we told them where to find us.
Being a new ship with new innovations, we had to try something new and went with the Boardwalk view balcony stateroom near the end of the ship. From our balcony to the left we saw the Merry Go Round and to our right we saw the Aqua Theatre pool. Did the usual life boat drill and sail away party. Had an early dinner and then went to bed (remember did a red eye flight!). The negative with our cabin was I could hear the 10:30pm announcer of the Aqua Theatre show.
Next day was Michael's birthday and we had lunch reservations at Giovanni's Table in Central Park. Keep in mind that this ship holds over 5,000 passengers so making reservations in advance is a must. Great food!
This cruise was the end of October - beginning of November when Hurricane Tomas was out in the Atlantic. Therefore the captain decided to change the order of the ports and full days at sea. That meant having to stand in a few lines to juggle some of our advance show reservations. Due to the size of this ship and all the options we had, this vacation was very planned ahead. We only had 3 ports but a lot to do while onboard. We ate at 3 of the alternate (paid) restaurants (Giovanni's, Izumi Asian & Chops Grille), four of the free alternate restaurants (Park Cafe, Johnny Rockets for breakfast, Sorrento's Pizzeria & Cafe Promenade) in addition to Windjammer and our traditional dining table in Opus Main Dining room. We saw the Comedy show, Ice Skating show, the High Dive show, the Come Fly with Me (a Cirque du Soleil type show) and Splish Splash comedy dive show. I watched the Dancing Waters show from our balcony. My brother Dave is the only one of us that did the Zip Line and the Flow Rider. Michael & I did the Central Park walking tour. We had drinks in the Rising Tide bar from bottom to top and back down again. We went to the Halloween party in the Promenade. We participated in activities such as a Flip video scavenger hunt.
It was the largest ship afloat at that time (the Allure was not sailing yet) but we never felt like it was too big or too many people. I belive because the ship has several small initimate places. We also enjoyed constantly finding some new.