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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Back to Majesty of the Seas 海洋帝王號

J and I originally weren't sure if we can go on vacation this summer due to his new job but his boss was nice enough to give J a week off. We were looking at 7 night cruises or a short weekend trip to Vegas but then I found really good rates on airfare (Southwest) and a short cruise (4 nights, Nassau/Coco Cay/Key West) last minute.

The cruise is on Majesty of the Seas on our favorite cruise line (actually the only line we have been on but I am open to others), Royal Caribbean. It is the same ship and itinerary we did on our engagement cruise almost 3 years ago. I was a little hesitant to book since I was afraid that it will suck after being on the Allure (biggest ship in the world at the moment) but then I quickly reminded myself that it will still be a fun vacation as long as I'm with the one I love. Since J and I have been to these ports multiple times, we didn't really take a lot of pictures.

Pre-Cruise Sunday: Miami
We flew into FLL via Southwest from BDL. This is the first time J had flown with Southwest and lets just say it's his last. Since we were one of the last people to board the plane, we ended up sitting in different middle seats (I met two fun ladies that are going on the Oasis). We normally fly with JetBlue (satellite tv, choices of cookies and chips) so it's a big adjustment for him. For me it's really not that big of the deal. The last  time I flew with Southwest was back in 2005 so the rules have changed a bit but for a short flight I can do without all the JetBlue perks especially when I saved almost $150 by going with Southwest with better departure time.

Our flight got to FLL on time (10:55AM) and we waited about 15 minutes to get our bags.We waited  for another half hour for the van shuttle from Quality Limo Service to pick us up and drop us off at Doubletree Grand Hilton at Biscayne Bay. The shuttle fits 8 people and there were a family of 4 and also a young couple all going to Port of Miami(POM) for Carnival Valor. It took about half hour to get from FLL to POM and another 5 minutes from POM to Doubletree. We were checked in by 1 PM. We had a bay facing balcony  room.

The room was spacious and clean but does show signs of wear and tear (if you closely inspect the room) and the balcony is kind of tiny, but it's better than I expected since some reviews on Tripadvisor made it out to be a dump. I originally wanted to book Intercontinental but for a bay view room it would of been close to $200 for one night and Doubletree costs half (it was technically free since I used my AMEX points) of that  so J refuse to spend that much for one night. We didn't use the pool/hot tub area but did took a tour of it. It's on the 10th floor and you have to take a separate elevator to it. The area is pretty big and has a bar in the middle.

After settling in, we made our way back down to the lobby area where they have a bunch of shops and restaurants. We ended getting both lunch and dinner at the Le Faubourg Market and Cafe. Le Faubourg reminds me of a bodega in NYC with a large liquor store. J really likes it because it offer's Boar's Head deli meats plus  they have a huge selection of snacks.

We both took a long nap after lunch and walked to Bayside area (1 mile away from the hotel) to get money from the  Bank of America ATM and buy  a small case of Smart Water to bring onboard. We didn't end up going shopping at the Bayside Marketplace since  by the time we got there it was already 8:30 PM and the shops were closing soon. We ended up taking the MetroMover which is the free monorail that goes around downtown Miami back to the hotel. It's very convenient but I don't recommend riding it at night (during the day is ok) by yourself since there were some shady looking people. Like with any public transportations in a big city, you should always be aware of your surroundings.
J waiting for the PeopleMover.

Cruise Day 1 Monday: Embarkment
We checked out of Doubletree around Noon and took a cab to the cruise port. Since the port is just across the bridge, it took about 5 minutes to get there. The check in process was very quickly since we got to use the priority check in being platinum members. The regular line however was packed. We were in the Windjammer eating lunch by 12:30 PM. By the time we finished eating it was just pass 1 PM and our room was ready. After taking a walking around the ship we noticed there were tons of teenage girls, it turns out they were part of a Quinceaneras group from a certain South American country. We found out later during the cruise that there were 300+ of them unsupervised! I really don't get parents that feel it's safe to send their 15 y/o on a cruise to another country by themselves.  
Deck 9 (9064), Superior Ocean View. 

We didn't get our luggage until right before our 6:30 PM dinner seating. For dinner we were seated with two young honeymooners from Las Vegas. Before we left for the cruise I had read on Cruise Critic about the new menu option (able to get filet mignon and lobster tails for a small fee, shrimp cocktail and Cesaer salad every night) and was really happy to see it on the Majesty. I know they are also rolling out new menu items in the fall so can't wait for the changes since we are getting bored of the same menu for years. Also Majesty has the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. It's a touch screen fountain soda machine with over 125 types of soda options. We are familiar with it since several restaurants in our area has it. J is a big soda drinker so I think he made his money back from the soda package the first full day of the cruise. You can only use the machine if you bought the soda package. Also I think there is some sort of chip in the cup because you can only refill every 2-3 minutes or so, we saw several kids tried to use the regular clear cups to use the machine and it does not work, of course some of them figured out to just dump the content of a newly filled soda package cup into a clear cup and just wait 2 minutes to refill so they can give free soda to others in their group. I found it a little sad that these kids (no more than 12 y/o) already know how to cheat the system, makes you wonder what kind of parents they have. 
South Beach, taken during the sail away. 

Great view of South Beach.

Cruise Day 2 Tuesday: Nassau, Bahamas
Since we have been to Nassau multiple times and did all the touristy things, we were debating if we should even get off the ship. We got up pretty late (around 10 AM) and went to the Windjammer for breakfast. After breakfast we decided to just go on shore and walk around for a little while. Like most Caribbean Islands, there are always tons of duty free shopping areas around the port so you don't really have to walk far. We walked around for about two hours then got back on the ship around 3 for lunch. 

Since the ship was docked in Nassau until 12 AM, we decided to hang out back on the ship and go out again after dinner. Pretty much all the shops around the port closes at 5:30 PM so when we ventured out at night the only places that are open are the bars. We decided to walk over to Senor Frog. We are not big drinkers (in fact J rarely drinks) but it was fun to watch all the drunk people making a fool out of themselves. 

Cruise Day 3 Wednesday: Coco Cay, Bahamas
We got up pretty early today (8:30 AM) and went to MDR(Main Dining Room) for breakfast. It was nice to take a break from the buffet food of the Windjammer. J had French Toast and scrambled eggs while I had Eggs Benedict with mimosa. After breakfast we went back to the room and got ready to go to Coco Cay. We only stayed on Coco Cay for about 3 hours since it was just too crowded and we didn't even have anything at the beachside buffet since those teenage girls were grabbing foods with their bare hands and it grossed us out. Overall, Coco Cay was not our favorite part of the cruise. 

Cruise Day 4 Thursday: Key West, FL
At Key West, we went on the CityView Trolley tour. It's $21 per adult, unless if you are a senior or military. Unlike some of the other tours, it's got 8 stops that you can hop on and off while the trolley driver give you a brief history lesson of the island. If you decides to stay on the trolley the entire time, it takes around an hours to go through all the stops. We got off at stop 8 which is where the Conch Republic Seafood Company and the famous Kermit's Key Lime Shop are located. It's a short walk back to the cruise port from there. 

Chocolate covered Key Lime Pie.
Sitting area of the Key Lime Shop with free Wifi!
Cruise Day 5 Friday: Debarkment
Since we only had a large checked luggage, one small carry on and our backpacks, we decided to just do the self debarkment which means you carry your own luggage off the ship. We made our way to the deck 4 gangway a little pass 8 AM and was off the ship and out of the cruise port terminal by 8:20 AM.    We waited another 20 minutes for the QLS shuttle to picked us up. We were in FLL airport before 10 AM. Our flight back on Southwest wasn't the smoothest since a thunderstorm rolled in right before take off and we sat on the tarmac for almost 2 hours (departure was suppose to be 12:25 PM).

Overall, we had a good time on Majesty but after being on the Allure last year, it was hard not to compare Majesty to Allure. I know it's unfair since Majesty is the smallest and oldest of all the Royal Caribbean ships but I couldn't help it. I really missed the specialty restaurants and solarium on the bigger ships. I am not oppose to going on Majesty again in the future if the price is right but my preference will be on the bigger ships.

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