By Leslie Parks - Monday, March 26, 2012

Over the course of a month my Mom and I spent a lot of time on the phone and Internet researching where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do on our cruise.  At first we didn't think we wanted to go on a cruise and then we decided that it would be fun to go to different ports so that meant a cruise.  I'd get on the forums and read about first time cruisers, what to bring, what to expect, how to tip, etc.  We'd then get on the phone and chat about information I had and the information she had.  At first we wanted to leave from New Orleans but the cruises didn't go where we wanted to go so that left Miami.  After a day in Miami, we took a shuttle to the port where we checked in our luggage, went through the port and our luggage through the x-ray (for alcohol).

Note: There are to be no photos in this area, oops!
Next we checked in to receive our sign and sale card.  Our sign and sale card is like an ID and credit card.  You can't purchase anything on the ship with cash or credit card.  You have to use your sign and sale card.  It makes it easy to purchase anything.  After boarding and eating we found a deck chair to relax.  Our boat was to leave around 4pm but there was a mechanical problem and we didn't leave until well after dark.  We found our rooms, our suitcases were at the door so we brought them in and unpacked.  We met our room Steward.  He was so nice.  He provided our towels daily, made up our beds (but my Mom and I did that), and resupplied the toiletries.  He also left chocolates with our towel animals everyday and dropped off the daily news letter. 
We came to find out that the crew worked very hard.  They tended to put in 14 hour days with 5 hours a week off for 6 to 9 months.  I know that we expect a couple of days off not a couple of hours off.  What I thought was exemplary was their attitudes.  No matter who you talked to, they had a smile on their face.  They had attitudes that put us to shame.  They worked hard and were courteous and caring. 
The food was good.  You could eat whenever you wanted to, literally.  The pizza bar was open 24 hours a day. There was a buffet with different food every day, a hamburger bar, a taco/nacho bar, and a Chinese buffet.  There was self serve ice cream and yogurt. 

On top of that there was the restaurant that served classy dinners.  We were assigned to a certain dinning room that allowed us to have a flexible dining time.We were assigned a certain area to sit in and were able to get to know our waiter, our server, and our barman. After two nights they knew our names and what we liked to order. Out of all the people on the ship we just thought that was amazing.  Every night they had two dinning options, the everyday option which was the same thing every day and the specials of the day.  They each included appetizers/salads, main course, side dishes, and desserts.  On the daily specials I tended to chose the "Dija ever" appetizers.  Dija ever try ... and we tried to guess what the offering for the next day.  They had alligator, escargot (snails), frog legs, salmon (I thought that was strange) and sushi.  I tried all but the salmon and sushi.  That stuff is readily available here in the Northwest so it was so different.  The food was excellent. The dining staff would also put on a little show every night and they would dance, sometimes on the tables, sometimes around the room with guests.  We had fun and our Maitre D was cute.
The water in the pool was sloshig out due to the storm we were having.
We had a formal night in the dining room.  Larent was our server and in
Nassau he went clubbing to shake it Mambo style.  We just laughed.

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