5 NIGHT KEY WEST & COZUMEL CRUISE ON BOARD ROYAL CARIBBEAN’S “THE EMPRESS OF THE SEAS”
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Mrs. Goat and I like to make the most of the first day cruising, wile we don’t break our neck to be the first on the boat we do like to make sure we are there in time to eat lunch in the main dining room (if available). Most cruses encourage you to eat at the buffet after boarding but we prefer to try the main dining room, the food quality is usually better. Well none of that mattered this time, no lunch was offered in the main dinning room.
Check-in went quickly and we were on the boat in about 20 minutes from the time the shuttle dropped us at the terminal. We drove past 2 Carnival cruise ships and they had one of the longest lines I seen. We’ve never sailed Carnival and that may be a good thing.
DINNING (service 5 of 5 rumphs, food 2.5 of 5 rumphs)
This cruise offered “traditional Dinner service” with 2 seating, 6 pm and 8:45 pm. We chose the 6 pm seating but if I had it to do again would probably choose the 8:45. This was we could go to the show first, then eat dinner, then go to bed. A goat finds more pleasure in rest and routine than in late nights of aimlessness.
The traditional dinner service means you are assigned a table with other guest. Ours was a table of 8 (four couples). At first it is a little uncomfortable but stick with it and it gets better. If you are adverse to this arrangement ( and I completely understand if you are) there is always the buffet option, however they don’t serve steak and lobster on the buffet.
We had the same server every night and he was exceptional. Mrs. Goat and I have dined at some pretty nice places in the US, Europe, Central and South America. We even have some formal training and fine dinning and the culinary arts and I would say this server was as good as any. That said, the food was just OK. The quality of the ingredients was less than I expected. For example in the crab cakes they used Krab, a first for me. The NY strip steak was below average, the cut of meat was only slightly above a diner and below something you would get at Applebees. Now keep in mind the price for this cruise is pretty low so they have to cut corners somewhere so I understand. On lobster night was pleasantly surprised, the lobster was goatastic. A warm water lobster but very good flavor. I’ve had Maine Lobster straight from the boat and this lobster was comparable.
SHOWS (3.5 of 5 rumphs)
Madam Goat is a big fan of the shows. Its a step back to more traditional entertainment, instead of movies or concerts. The theater was bigger and nicer than I expected, with a 2nd level balcony. The cruise director was entertaining, the performers were above average. The opening night was a song and dance show followed by a Boy Band cover band from Las Vegas, next a comedian, then a juggler (I don’t like jugglers), finally a finally of song and dance.
STAFF (5 of 5 rumphs)
The staff was excellent, very patient and genuinely seemed to care. We had an issue upon arrive, and spoke with guest services. We booked through American express which was to include $100 on board credit and a complementary bottle of champagne. Guest services confirmed the on board credit but did not see anything on the reservation about the complementary champagne. We were still in port and had cell phone service, we called American express to confirm the champagne which they did but they were not able to correct the reservation. Guest services said not to worry and took care of it, no questions asked. We received a deliver to our stateroom later in the day. A great start to the cruise and it shows that customer satisfaction is important to them.
ROOM (4 of 5 rumphs)
The room was of course small but we are generally not concerned with the room. We don’t spend much time there and as long as its clean I’m an happy goat. If you are concerned with appearance the rooms are a little dated with wood grained trim and the shower was pretty tight (and I’m what you might call a skinny goat). Also the bathroom sink didn’t drain as well as i would like but there were no funny smells and everything was clean.
Our stateroom attendant introduced himself to us the first day and asked multiple time if there was anything he could do for us. Mrs. Goat loves extra pillow so he brought us a couple. Towels were kept clean the bed was made up everyday and the turn-down service in the evening was perfect.
ROOM SERVICE (4 of 5 rumphs)
We did order room service the first evening while I watched a football game on the TV (they have ESPN on the boat). The delivery was fast and the fruit plate was good, the pizza was average. They had a limited room service menu but that is to be expected. Also I had to call multiple time to get room service, the first couple calls just rang and rang, I guess they were very busy.
Deck 6 was my favorite spot with quite views off the side of the boat, shade and a nice breeze. There isnt much seating (which means it isn’t crowded) so you need to keep an eye out for a spot to open up. Deck 6 is also the walking track which I try to do a mile each day just to keep things working. There is also a gym on Deck 12, again I like to keep a routine even on the ship and a light 20 minute workout or just stretching makes a goat feel good.
We visited Key West and Cozumel. I put this last because generally we don’t care where the boat is going. I stay on the boat as much as possible, on the boat you have everything you need within walking distance, whats better than that.