On arrival at the port and being a first time cruiser I seen the ship and was in disbelief, it was huge and I mean huge! I know that Allure was once the biggest ship and has now been taken over by Harmony but wow it was bigger than I ever imagined.   On arrival at the cruise terminal we were met by some guys that were getting ready to lift our luggage onto the large crates to be loaded onto the ship.  Now they literally lifted my bag and stuck in on the large crate he didn’t even have to take two steps yet bluntly got up in my face to ask for a tip, when i looked at him in disbelief he then tapped his pocket with dollars in.  I won’t tell you what I felt like saying to the guy!  However, I did give him a some dollars reluctantly to which I didn’t even get a thank you. Now i am all for tipping people that do something for me but do not get up in my face and point at the dollars in your pocket if he didn’t do this he would have probably got more.

Anyway check in was quick and easy at Port Everglades, the lines at security were really short and we only had to wait around 10 minutes get get our sea passes.  We avoided the photo opportunity after you get you sea pass on the way to the lounge, I find these moments so cringe and avoid them wherever I can.  We had around a half an hour wait in the lounge area before our boarding number was called up.  I was so nervous at this point, I just didn’t know what to expect and there was a lot of people waiting to board the ship.

When walking up the tunnel towards the ship I still couldn’t believe the size of it, we were scanned onto the ship with our sea pass and walked through into the Royal Promenade.  It seemed a bit chaotic on first impressions, there just seemed to be people everywhere dragging along their mini suitcases.  I found the whole thing a bit overwhelming people were rushing to guest relations or to get food from the Windjammer.  After my huge breakfast I wasn’t that bothered by food instead we took a little wonder round the ship to try and get our bearings.

First stop was upgrading our drinks package, when we booked our cruise we got the wine and beer package thrown in, however, Royal Caribbean had now stopped these packages and we also wanted cocktails and spirits included in our package so we upgraded to the Ultimate Package for $70 each for the week which meant we could literally have whatever we wanted from the bar.

Next stop was Central Park, we booked our speciality restaurant which was complimentary with our holiday booking at Chops Grill for later on in the week.  If you wanted to experience one of the speciality restaurants I would recommend booking them the day you board there was lots of people reserving sittings and some times were not available.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to get into our cabins until 3pm due to the ship being sanitised due to a lot of passengers getting norovirus the previous week. I was fed up dragging my cabin suitcase around so we went up to top deck and grabbed my first strawberry daiquiri from the bar and sat and chilled until we could finally get into our cabin. The strawberry daiquiris were unreal we got chatting to a few other passengers from Canada that were pro cruisers and they gave us a few little hints and tips for the cruise.  I was grateful for any tips I was so far out my comfort zone on this holiday.  A lot of the activities on board like zip wiring, mini golf and pools were all open however we stayed at the bar where the daiquiris were flowing.

Royal Caribbean stuck to their word and 3pm an ship announcement was made that we could now access our cabins.  Daiquiri in hand we went off in search of our cabin on the 11th deck. We had a deluxe ocean view balcony room, mid ship.  The room was a great size, lovely and clean but the balcony was the best part for me, I couldn’t wait for the views while at sea. I will give a more detailed review of the room in a different post.  Our luggage hadn’t arrived at our room yet so we couldn’t really do much so we called home to let them know we was on the ship and in our room and of course gave a little room tour.

Not long after getting into our room we were called to do the  muster drill. As a first time cruiser i felt there wasn’t much information about this I was so clueless at what had to be done and where we had to go that I started frantically reading the poster on the back of the door before we left the room.  Off we went in search of our muster drill station C2 which was on the 4th floor in the nightclub.  This is when you realise how big the ship is, it seemed to take forever to find but we got there eventually.  There are plenty of staff around with florescent jackets on directing you in the right direction.  Once checked in with our sea pass we had to had to watch a safety video and crew demonstrated how to put the life jackets on.  Nobody could leave the room until the captain gave his approval we had to wait around 10-15 minutes and the Captain came over the tannoy thanking everyone for their cooperation.

Released from the muster drill we made our way to the top deck to watch sail away.  We grabbed another drink from the bar, don’t judge me by how many drinks I had already had, I was nervous and I was on holiday after all. The steel band were playing music and the sail away party had started.  We grabbed a spot port side and watched as the coast guards guided the ship out into the ocean.  I guess this was when I finally started to relax and enjoy myself.  The views were fantastic, the sun was setting over Fort Lauderdale and we were sailing away with the buildings getting smaller and smaller in the distance.

We decided to head back downstairs to our cabin and continue to watch the sun set from our balcony.  By the time we found our cabin our luggage had arrived and was waiting outside our cabin door.  We also got to meet our cabin attendant and I can’t remember his name, but he was so lovely and welcoming and couldn’t do enough for us.  Before unpacking our luggage we headed straight for the balcony were the sun was a deep orange and setting in the distance.  The sound of the waves and the undisturbed view of the sunset was when I realised I was going to love being at sea.  After watching the sun completely go it was time to unpack and settle in to what was going to be home for the next 7 nights.

While on the cruise we had my-time dining which basically meant we could go to dinner at any time we wanted.  We made our way to the American Icon Restaurant on deck 3 at the back of the ship.  There are two queues into the restaurant, one being my time and the other being selected time dining.  As we had my time dining we headed for that queue which seemed to be moving relatively quickly. We had planned to sit on a table for two however, we were told we would get seated quicker if we sat on bigger tables.  We got chatting to an Irish couple that were behind us and decided that we would pair up and get seated quicker. Once we said we were a table of 4 we got seated pretty quick and right on a window table not that you could see anything as it was pith black outside.  Anyway dinner was nice, it was quite strange to sit with people you didn’t know but after some introductions conversation flowed.  Dinner was lovely, I had caesar salad, steak and lemon meringue.  I did take quite a few pictures of the food on the cruise so I will post these on another post but I am a fussy eater and I managed to find something to eat every night. If you couldn’t find something the staff would go out their way to do something for you.

After dinner we went for some drinks in the English pub along the Royal Promenade were there was a live singer, we had plenty of drinks here and made it until around midnight when we decided to head back to the room and call it a day.  Day 1 on the ship was over and what a great start to the cruise it was, tomorrow was a sea day so the plan was to explore the ship and enjoy some winter sunshine.

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