Our First Ever Cruise Ship Experience:
A Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas Review
My first ever experience on a boat came in Greece when I was 8 years old. It all started out very well, the waters were calm, the food was great, and I was having a great time. Then I got tired in the afternoon and fell asleep. When I woke up, I knew something was wrong. My stomach was rumbling and not because it was hungry. I went outside to the deck and stared into the water as the boat rocked up and down. Big mistake. Minutes later, I was speeding past wide-eyed staff into my room to hurl. The weather turned even worse and an hour later it seemed like everyone on the ship was throwing up. I mean, it was kind of incredible in a historically awful way. People doubled over on the floors, clutching railings, it was like the Battle of Stalingrad.
So, yeah, that first and only experience with boats did not go so well. When Ruby asked me two years ago to do a Bahamas cruise, I flinched and said no way. I would not be going through that crap again. Well, she kept asking so one day I agreed to do the shortest possible cruise, 3 nights to the Bahamas and back.
Back to Back Caribbean Trips to Cuba and The Bahamas
After a weekend in Havana, Cuba, where I got sick and had to recover for a few days afterwards, we went back on the travel train, this time to our first ever cruise. The destination was the Bahamas and the cruise was 3 nights long, with stops in Nassau and Coco Cay. I had barely recovered from my stomach bug, but our travel train doesn’t stop! We got back from Havana on Tuesday, I was sick until Thursday and that Thursday night we drove to Port Canaveral. The next day, we worked from our hotel room in the morning and then went off to the port around 1pm.
Since this was our first cruise, we didn’t know what to expect in terms of the check-in process, but Royal Caribbean made it very smooth. From arrival at the check-in line to getting on the ship, it took about 45 minutes, which I thought was pretty impressive given the fact that there were a lot of people in line. The line moved briskly, security was quick (much less annoying than airport security), and after the passport check we were on our way to the ship!
Majesty of the Seas (she’s been around the block)
The ship we were on is the 2nd oldest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. It was built just a few years after I was born (1990), to give you an idea of its age. Despite that, though, I thought it was well maintained, clean, and the staff was fantastic, especially our cruise director, who is a Royal Caribbean veteran. He was also British, so Ruby also liked that a lot.
We set sail from Port Canaveral around 4pm and saw two other ships leaving at the same time: Disney Dream (which was huge and had some pretty great slides on the top deck) and a Canaveral Cruise (I forget the name of it). About one hour after departure, my worst fear came to the forefront: the ship started to rock from side to side and up and down, very visibly. Me and Ruby walked down the stairs and had to hold the railing to keep ourselves steady.
We rushed to our room, drank a Dramamine motion sickness pill and went to bed, hoping for the best. Amazingly, we woke up 90 minutes later and everything was fine. The ship was still rocking, but less so than before, and we had a nice dinner meal (complete with not one, but TWO waiters!) and went to bed ready to explore Nassau the next day.
Nassau – Rainbow Reef Snorkeling
After a good breakfast, we arrived in Nassau at noon. We decided to have lunch on the ship before disembarking to our pre-paid shore excursion: Rainbow Reef snorkeling.
We met with our excursion guide right near our ship, and about 30 of us went on a small boat and rode out to the Rainbow Reef (took about 30 minutes to get there). It was a bit crowded once everyone was in the water, so we’d often bump into people, mumble sorry, and then resume snorkeling. Since it was February, the weather was great, but the water was fairly cold. And given that one doesn’t really burn many calories snorkeling (imagine if aliens broke through our atmosphere and the first sign of human life they saw was a bunch of snorkelers in the water; they’d probably be bewildered), I got cold pretty easily and did about 40 minutes before I had to go back to the ship.
Regardless, we still managed to see a variety of fish, large and small, and some nice corals. With that finished, we motored back to the port and set off on foot into downtown Nassau, dodging some friendly touts in the process. We visited a few shops, and Ruby got me a nice pair of Batman vs. Superman Havaianas for a good price.
We departed Nassau at midnight on Saturday, and arrived in Coco Cay at 8 in the morning. Coco Cay is a small island leased from the Government of Bahamas by Royal Caribbean. It’s clean, has a nice, long strip of beach and is well organized, with beach chairs, bathrooms, and cabanas.
There is an option to take a 30-minute walking trail, but, as far as we could tell, we were the only ones who took it. Pretty much everyone else went straight to the beach. The trail led to a nice, secluded part of the beach, and we also found a small coloring book placed there by the Royal Caribbean staff as a treasure to those who try the trail.
In terms of activities, Coco Cay has it all, form kayaking to jet skis, to snorkeling, scuba diving, as well as a small waterpark for kids. We had a great bar-b-q lunch and hung out on the beach, to the background of live Caribbean-style music. We toured a couple of souvenir shops, but found them to be overpriced.
Food – Bonefish Grill-ish
Despite the fact that the ship is old and the restaurants maybe not as spectacular as the ones on the newer ships, I though the food was pretty good. For our formal dinners, we had roast duck, strip steak, a delicious pork shoulder, and a wide array of fine desserts.
The breakfast was either buffet-style (a large buffet with a nice variety) or a la carte in the main dining hall, with waiters. We tried both and while the a la carte menu is nice and the food is freshly cooked, you can’t go wrong either way. Plenty of healthy food choices at both locations.
Of course, the real highlight was the dinner in the main dining hall. We had a table just for the two of us, so that was nice because I heard that they usually put most people into larger tables. We had two waiters serving us, one for drinks and bread and the main waiter for the menu selections and dessert. The waiters were great and very attentive. The food was excellent and you’d have to be a real food snob to not enjoy it.
We Will Definitely Cruise Again
This was a good experience, so we are definitely interested in trying it again, for a different destination. We still prefer to travel on land, but cruising is a great way to travel if you want to be a little more pampered in terms of food as well as pre-planned itineraries. Some of the newest ships have amazing amenities that are far beyond what we saw on our old ship, so if you can score a deal on one of those, we’d certainly recommend trying it even if you have some of the same concerns that I had!