Cruising has become the only way to vacation for an increasing number of Americans and Canadians looking to take advantage of beautiful untouched and extensive coast lines around the world. Cruise ship deals are becoming plentiful and there is an ever-growing fleet of ships on our planet’s major waters. Cruise ship companies continually try to out-do themselves and their competitors, resulting in larger ships with increasingly more embellishment to impress guests.
This article covers life on board a grand cruise ship and offers helpful advice and tips on how to go about the cruise experience and what to expect. This is a review of the fabulous cruise ship, Royal Caribbean: Sovereign of the Seas. It left Port Canaveral in Florida in May of 2004, cruised its way to CocoCay, and ended up in Nassau, Bahamas.
The Royal Caribbean: Sovereign of the Seas is considered to be a full-sized ship with 14 floors of cabins and entertainment. I thought it would take the entire duration of my cruise to explore the ship but soon found my way around the floating city.
The cabin was decent given that you are on board a ship. Prices can vary depending on where you purchase your ticket. In our case, it came down to spending an extra $10 for a window, which was money well-spent.
Some vacationers complained that if there were three or more people in a cabin it was a tight fit. The stateroom attendant did a great job of making your bed, turning it down, leaving a piece of wrapped chocolate every night on your pillow and leaving nice towel folding art such as a monkey or rabbit (and if you leave your sunglasses in the cabin they will end up on the towel art). Inside the cabin, about the only thing you heard were the engines of the ship in the distance and when the ship’s air conditioner broke down, you could hear the clanging of tools. The only annoying sounds came from the toilet flushing! It left a lot to be desired and I heard someone on the ship ask if the toilet water was saltwater or freshwater. I sure was not going to find out!
My daughter slept nearest to the window and could hear singing coming from somewhere but we could never figure out where. They do have a television in the cabin but it was pretty much stuck on playing reruns which is something you could understand since you are on a cruise ship and should be out aving fun during your vacation, not hiding in your cabin!
This Royal Caribbean cruise also had a cinema but be warned that the screen was small, the sound quality left a lot to be desired, and there were distracting lines at the bottom of the screen (although that may have been due to the film itself). The funny thing was that whatever they showed in the cinema, they showed on TV in your cabin!
Food, Food, and More Food!
If you love to eat, hop aboard this cruise ship! The food for the most part was delicious. You feel like a king or queen with the formal dining areas and the glorious service of the waiters. A few choice items on the menu included Prime Rib, New York-style cheesecake, steak, escargot in garlic and melted butter, duck, chicken, hamburgers, and if you go up top to the Windjammer Café then you can have all the pizza and hotdogs you can eat.
|“…The ship never sleeps and you can always find something going on at any hour especially around the pool deck. So singles could be out and about all they want, with a multitude of places for them to go….”|
Alcoholic drinks go for about the same price as you’d find in a land-based bar which is impressive. I had a frozen strawberry daiquiri for under $5. Unlimited soda costs around $27.00 and they give you a cool looking insolated can to tote around the ship. Water is complimentary (other than in your cabin where they charge $3.50 for a large bottle). Juice, ice or hot tea, and coffee are also complimentary.
Cruise ships have a lot to offer to keep their vacationers busy. These days they don’t have a choice but to keep our short attention spans from making us bored! Some of the more popular activities included the Sexy Man Leg Contest, Belly Flop Contest, two pools, hot tubs, casino, art auctions, Broadway shows, comedy clubs, rock climbing, basketball, ping-pong, bingo, and the two cinemas, among many others. If you are cruising with children, you can still sneak away for some of the time. Royal Caribbean offers fun activities for the little folk as well, which frees up time for you! The ship never sleeps and you can always find something going on at any hour especially around the pool deck. So singles could be out and about all they want, with a multitude of places for them to go.
Cruise ships can be great pick-up spots. Think about it… if you do not have a chance to hit on someone on a given night, you may find them sunbathing on the deck the following day or getting wasted and partying the following night. They aren’t going anywhere and neither are you! Cruise ships can be a great place for a vacation fling. If it works out on the ship, you can hang out when you get to your destination (in this case Nassau), and if it doesn’t, then you can move on once the ship is docked and you disembark. Note that many cruises do not travel in circles but rather bring you to a final destination at which point you fly home. Be yourself, let your hair down, and have fun because when you leave, there is a “slim chance to none” you will see these people again, unless you really want to!
The first stop on our specific tour was the island of CocoCay. This was a private, secluded island and the excursion packages from the ship will let you plan ahead for activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, swimming, sunbathing, and mingling with the vendors. Everyone had to wait in long lines to get on what they called a “tender” which is a boat that holds 250 people which carries you over to the island of CocoCay. I sort of felt like a cow in line at the slaughterhouse, with some 2,500 other cows!
The small island destinations of the cruise ships have become mini-economies. With tourists eagerly waiting to spend their US dollars, islanders are prepared to sell all means of products and services. During our first encounter with the local women on the island, they insisted on braid our hair – for a fee of course. Whether you had long, short, or no hair, they wanted to braid it! As part of these new business opportunities, the vendors frequently nag you to purchase their goods. This is an impulse buyer’s worst nightmare!
The various island destinations of cruise ships are expanding in number. Many islands have different delights that can be had. On our tour, if you were not into the beach scene, the island itself was a great place to take a romantic stroll. Other islands might offer a busy market, town, or geographic location to visit. Also, you must consider the amount of time you have on any given island.
Final Destination: Nassau, Bahamas
The day the ship docked at Nassau just happened to be an off-day. Usually there are about 5 ships in port at the same day causing about 15,000 or more tourist to come splashing down on this small city. The cruise ship will warn you not to take any tours through the local people because they have their own excursions that they want you to pay for and take.
I am not an “average” tourist and expect more than just a shopping trip so I took a tour of Nassau for about $28. I ended up experiencing what most tourists do not. Behind the colorful buildings of downtown Nassau and the Atlantis Nassau Hotel, I had the view of the city that you may not want to see.
The island is only 7 miles wide by 21 miles long and the tour I took hauled me down to the poor neighborhoods where there is a church on every corner and a liquor store beside every church. I asked about the crime rate and was told it was about 2% which I thought was not bad. The drinking age I was told and I will quote this from the tour guide was from “age 2 to toothless.” The drinking age is really 18 but it is infrequently enforced.
The Atlantis Nassau Hotel is a sight to see. It has a very nice water fountain out front and inside there is an enormous aquarium. The 50,000 square foot casino has the typical 25 cent slot machines up to the $100.00 slots, blackjack tables, and the usual Las Vegas-style games. Bring lots of money and expect to lose it since the truth is, you cannot beat the casino. Still, it can be fun for a while.
You can stay in the Presidential Suite for a mere $25,000.00 per night – 1 week minimum! Famous people who have stayed in the suite include Michael Jackson and Oprah. If you cannot afford the Presidential Suite, they do have rooms that are actually affordable.
All Good Things…
Though the ship was to take a slow cruise back to Port Canaveral, it ended with a medical emergency onboard which left us racing to the port. If you love to party, sunbathe, and meet a lot of cool people, take a cruise for your next vacation.
A word of caution: Though your cruise has ended, your body still thinks it is on the ship and you may suffer from side effects which pass after a few days. These might include the feeling of your body swaying as it did on the ship, and nausea. Not to worry though, a few days on solid ground and you will be back to your old self.
The following ratings are based this particular Royal Caribbean cruise:
Fitness & Recreation
Value for Price
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