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Cruise Ship Review

Majesty of the Seas - Ship Review provided by Cruise Critic

Most teenagers "need" something. It might be orthodontia, an iPod or a date for the prom, but it's a safe bet every teen thinks he or she requires something in addition to those "necessities." That's the case as well with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's 15-year-old Majesty of Seas. The ship was looking its age, and minor updates simply would not do. Royal Caribbean thought it was time for an extreme makeover.

As such, Majesty of the Seas underwent a significant bow-to-stern revitalization in early 2007 at a cost of approximately $36 million. And on my preview cruise to check out the new Majesty, it appeared that the money was well spent. There's a definite "wow" factor -- with particular highlights including its wonderful new spa and fitness center, three new casual dining venues, completely redesigned teen facilities that are exclusive to the 12 - 17 year old set, and a re-arranged and refurbished pool deck. Other major changes took place in cabins -- with new carpets and bedding and the addition of flat-screen televisions. The Viking Crown Lounge got a whole new look and so did the shops in the Centrum.

One thing didn't change: Standard cabins (inside and out) are contenders for the industry's smallest. At a claustrophobic 122 square ft., fulfilling Royal Caribbean's marketing theme ("get out there") won't be a challenge. And Majesty of the Seas received no additional balconies, so those cabins that do come with verandahs will be priced at a premium.

Still, Majesty of the Seas -- with the help of the refurbishment, to be sure -- wears its years well. I'd sailed on the ship when it originally launched in 1992, and at that time it was considered beautiful and innovative with large lounges, bars, show rooms and sun deck. Its casino was huge and sprawling, its kid facilities adequate (remember this was in the pre-rock climbing walls-skating rink-surf boarding era). Some of the newer bells and whistles may have passed Majesty of the Seas by, even now (there's nary a skating rink, bungee trampoline or surf park aboard) but, with its ever more contemporary decor -- and it's perfectly suited three- and four-night itineraries -- the ship shines.

Dining

Moonlight (Deck 3) and Starlight (Deck 4) are the new main dining rooms, and the atmosphere is just lovely. Both were outfitted with new carpeting, drapes and seating upholstery. The artwork on the walls didn't seem to match the new decor too well, but that didn't make it any less cozy. The food is standard shipboard dining room fare, including shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, roast duck, salmon and steak. A Royal Lifestyle menu offers lighter and healthier menu items and vegetarian cuisine is also available. Low-salt, low-sugar and other special diets are also accommodated. Royal Caribbean's entire fleet is trans-fat free.

The Windjammer Marketplace has been completely redone on Deck 10 -- a mini version of the extraordinary Windjammer on Freedom of the Seas. Perfect, made-to-order omelets, crisp bacon, light and airy biscuits (and even homemade gravy if you're inclined) are just some of the components of a great breakfast. Fruits galore, baked goods, waffles, French toast and pancakes, as well as oatmeal and assorted cereals are there for the taking as well.

Lunches are equally varied; one day I had a hard time choosing between salads, varied cheeses and meats, Asian entrees, chicken wings and tacos. Sweets are tempting. Drinks are readily available and crew often helps out with a "cuppa."

Up a short flight of stairs, on Deck 11, is Compass Deli, which is new to Royal Caribbean and features paninis and wraps; Sorrento's Italian Pizza (no cover charge); and a Johnny Rockets, a 50's-style restaurant where hamburgers and milkshakes reign supreme. The deli is gratis. There is a $4.95 cover charge in Johnny Rockets that covers all you can eat through dessert, but drinks and shakes are extra (but worth it!).

A poolside barbecue is scheduled one night on each cruise and a barbecue on the beach in Cococay is also part of the drill.

Coffee and an array of sweets are available on Deck 5 at Latte-tudes featuring Seattle's Best Coffee, another Royal brand. Coffee drinks are in the $3.50 range. Next to Latte-tudes is Freeze Ice-Cream, with another average $3.50 price tag for its ice cream confections.

Room service is available 24 hours a day, offering a limited menu and Continental breakfast only. Food is free between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 surcharge.

Public Rooms

One of the prettiest rooms at sea, the Spectrum on Deck 8, is a sprawling lounge and bar sporting a contemporary decor of rust, black and wine hues, and boasting comfortable seating -- in varied groupings -- around the room. The sound system is superb.

Boleros is a new lounge on Royal Caribbean ships. It has a distinct Latin accent and live dance music to match with popular mojitos and caipirhinas as two of the commonly requested drinks.

A Chorus Line theater, done in subtle coral, rust and beige tones, gives into that classical theater ambience with very wide seating arrangements and a wooden stage. The side seats offer those awful poles and poor sight lines, but middle seats, on both levels, offer great views of the production shows produced by Royal Caribbean.

A small library is situated off the Atrium on Deck 4; nearby, an Internet area offers 10 stations at costs beginning at $25 for an hour's usage. Wi-Fi access in available throughout the vessel.

A new conference center was created to enable groups to conduct business.

Viking Crown Lounge, a staple on Royal Caribbean ships, has been modernized with new decor, chairs and carpeting. Despite the refurbishment to this area, it still looks a bit outdated.

Shops offers the usual liquor "specials," watches and jewelry, fragrance and enormous amounts of logoed items for men, women and children. The $10 store (all items are priced $10) is a popular site for take-home gifts as is the straw market on Cococay.

We don't typically review ship's public restrooms, but they were so gorgeous that we had to point them out. Out of all the ship's bathroom makeovers, these were the most fabulous: They now have a zen quality with mahogany stained cabinets and bamboo-colored walls; big, white, square sinks with tall stainless-steel faucets; and earth-tone tile backsplash. Even the lighting -- with a low wattage overhead and mirrors that light up -- was calming.

Cabins

Staterooms are small, with standard oceanviews at 122 square ft. and a superior oceanview at a still-tiny 157 square ft. Interior staterooms are 119 square ft. Bolsters were removed from the original bedding making the beds slightly longer. Standard rooms do not have a refrigerator; amenities consist of two bars of soap and a wall-mounted shampoo dispenser. All cabins have flat-screen TV's, safes and hair dryers. Most cabins convert twins to a queen-size bed. All feature new carpeting, drapes and bed coverings, and the wonderful new beds introduced last year on Freedom of the Seas. Closet and drawer space is ample, and 90 percent of the ship's bathrooms were redone with touches including new tile, sinks and toilets. Standard accommodations feature a small shower (there's no tub).

Only 62 cabins have verandahs, but suites are comfortable and quite posh, very well done during the refurbishment program. They were fully rebuilt, and the decorating is light and airy with a lot of creams, tans, whites and pastels throughout. A junior suite is 263 square ft. and the verandah is 74 square ft. The Grand Suite is 382 square ft. with a 90-square-ft. verandah, and the Royal Suite 371 and 155.

The ship has four staterooms for people with disabilities -- a pretty small representation, frankly.

Entertainment

Trivia and Suduko puzzles are available daily in the library. Daytime activities are limited because of time spent in Nassau and/or Cococay, but include fitness activities such as Pilates or spinning classes, for which there is a $10 fee. Beach activities at Cococay include a volleyball competition and line dancing. Yoga on the beach also carries a fee.

Evening entertainment offers a production show one night and individual performers, generally a comic or singer/musician on other evenings. Music and dancing is offered all around the ship, from piano sing-alongs in the Schooner Bar to calypso music poolside, and from classics in the Centrum to Latin flavors in Boleros. Name-that-tune is played nightly in the Schooner Bar.

Casino Royale offers eight table games, two roulette wheels and one craps game in addition to a wide variety of slots.

Fitness and Recreation

Big bucks went into upgrading the spa and beauty salon and relocating them down one deck to Deck 9, where they're now adjacent to the ShipShape fitness area. The spa is operated by Steiner with Elemis products (a brand of the ubiquitous Steiner Leisure, which operates most cruise lines' spas). An interactive program allows guests to analyze their skin types and choose recommended beauty products.

The ShipShape facility offers a complete line of Life Extension machines grouped together nicely.

Majesty of the Seas has two pools and two Jacuzzis, moved from their original site to between the two pools as part of the refit.

The famed Rock climbing wall was added on Deck 12.

Family

Adventure Ocean on Deck 10 for children ages 3 to 11 has been totally redone in brilliant primary colors in partnership with Crayola, Fisher Price and Lowe's. It's been divided into quite a few areas for different activities, such as a coloring station where you can color in books -- or on the walls! There's also a game room, small Internet cafe, dance floor, library and a cinema, plus several seating areas.

Teens have the hot new Fuel Nightclub and a hangout lounge called the Living Room away from the younger children's area on Deck 11. The Living Room is small, but features a very modern orange, purple and red couch with a huge plasma-screen TV. Fuel is very funky with a DJ booth, dance floor, plasma-screen TV and many seating arrangements around the dance floor. You can enter these two rooms separately or wander between them, as they are connected.

Fellow Passengers

The three- and four-day market is a magnet for younger cruisers, first-timers, those on a budget or people who just want to get away for a few days.

Dress Code

"Casual" is the operative word, with a caution that shorts aren't permitted in the dining room and cover-ups atop bathing suits are appropriate away from the pool. Slacks and a neat shirt are ideal for men and women for casual dining. Plan on a jacket and tie for men on formal nights, while women can pull out all the stops.

Gratuity

Guidelines consider adequate a total of $9.75 per person, per day. That covers room steward, waiter, assistant waiter and headwaiter, and can be charged to your onboard account. Extra service warrants extra tipping when deemed appropriate. Fifteen percent gratuity is charged to a guest's bar or wine bill when they are served.

--by Marcia Levin, a regular contributor to The Washington Times, Porthole Magazine, southerntravelnews.com, TravelAgeWest, and several guidebooks, and past president of the Society of American Travel Writers

Dining

Moonlight (Deck 3) and Starlight (Deck 4) are the new main dining rooms, and the atmosphere is just lovely. Both were outfitted with new carpeting, drapes and seating upholstery. The artwork on the walls didn't seem to match the new decor too well, but that didn't make it any less cozy. The food is standard shipboard dining room fare, including shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, roast duck, salmon and steak. A Royal Lifestyle menu offers lighter and healthier menu items and vegetarian cuisine is also available. Low-salt, low-sugar and other special diets are also accommodated. Royal Caribbean's entire fleet is trans-fat free.

For dinner, passengers can choose between assigned early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dining, or opt for RCI's My Time Dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), but can change your reservations on a daily basis or simply walk in when you're hungry. (Note: Those opting for My Time Dining will need to pre-pay gratuities.) The restaurant is open seating for everyone at breakfast and lunch every day.

The Windjammer Marketplace has been completely redone on Deck 10 -- a mini version of the extraordinary Windjammer on Freedom of the Seas. Perfect, made-to-order omelets, crisp bacon, light and airy biscuits (and even homemade gravy if you're inclined) are just some of the components of a great breakfast. Fruits galore, baked goods, waffles, French toast and pancakes, as well as oatmeal and assorted cereals are there for the taking as well.

Lunches are equally varied; one day I had a hard time choosing between salads, varied cheeses and meats, Asian entrees, chicken wings and tacos. Sweets are tempting. Drinks are readily available and crew often helps out with a "cuppa."

Up a short flight of stairs, on Deck 11, is Compass Deli, which is new to Royal Caribbean and features paninis and wraps; Sorrento's Italian Pizza (no cover charge); and a Johnny Rockets, a 50's-style restaurant where hamburgers and milkshakes reign supreme. The deli is gratis. There is a $4.95 cover charge in Johnny Rockets that covers all you can eat through dessert, but drinks and shakes are extra (but worth it!).

A poolside barbecue is scheduled one night on each cruise and a barbecue on the beach in Cococay is also part of the drill.

Coffee and an array of sweets are available on Deck 5 at Latte-tudes featuring Seattle's Best Coffee, another Royal brand. Coffee drinks are in the $3.50 range. Next to Latte-tudes is Freeze Ice-Cream, with another average $3.50 price tag for its ice cream confections.

Room service is available 24 hours a day, offering a limited menu and Continental breakfast only. Food is free between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 surcharge.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean suggests a total of $9.75 per person, per day for gratuities. That covers room steward, waiter, assistant waiter and headwaiter, and can be pre-paid (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), charged to your onboard account or handed out as cash. Fifteen percent gratuity is added to all drink purchases.

--by Marcia Levin, a regular contributor to The Washington Times, Porthole Magazine, southerntravelnews.com, TravelAgeWest, and several guidebooks, and past president of the Society of American Travel Writers

Dining

Moonlight (Deck 3) and Starlight (Deck 4) are the new main dining rooms, and the atmosphere is just lovely. Both were outfitted with new carpeting, drapes and seating upholstery. The artwork on the walls didn't seem to match the new decor too well, but that didn't make it any less cozy. The food is standard shipboard dining room fare, including shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, roast duck, salmon and steak. A Royal Lifestyle menu offers lighter and healthier menu items and vegetarian cuisine is also available. Low-salt, low-sugar and other special diets are also accommodated. Royal Caribbean's entire fleet is trans-fat free.

The Windjammer Marketplace has been completely redone on Deck 10 -- a mini version of the extraordinary Windjammer on Freedom of the Seas. Perfect, made-to-order omelets, crisp bacon, light and airy biscuits (and even homemade gravy if you're inclined) are just some of the components of a great breakfast. Fruits galore, baked goods, waffles, French toast and pancakes, as well as oatmeal and assorted cereals are there for the taking as well.

Lunches are equally varied; one day I had a hard time choosing between salads, varied cheeses and meats, Asian entrees, chicken wings and tacos. Sweets are tempting. Drinks are readily available and crew often helps out with a "cuppa."

Up a short flight of stairs, on Deck 11, is Compass Deli, which is new to Royal Caribbean and features paninis and wraps; Sorrento's Italian Pizza (no cover charge); and a Johnny Rockets, a 50's-style restaurant where hamburgers and milkshakes reign supreme. The deli is gratis. There is a $4.95 cover charge in Johnny Rockets that covers all you can eat through dessert, but drinks and shakes are extra (but worth it!).

A poolside barbecue is scheduled one night on each cruise and a barbecue on the beach in Cococay is also part of the drill.

Coffee and an array of sweets are available on Deck 5 at Latte-tudes featuring Seattle's Best Coffee, another Royal brand. Coffee drinks are in the $3.50 range. Next to Latte-tudes is Freeze Ice-Cream, with another average $3.50 price tag for its ice cream confections.

Room service is available 24 hours a day, offering a limited menu and Continental breakfast only. Food is free between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 surcharge.

Gratuity

Guidelines consider adequate a total of $9.75 per person, per day. That covers room steward, waiter, assistant waiter and headwaiter, and can be charged to your onboard account. Extra service warrants extra tipping when deemed appropriate. Fifteen percent gratuity is charged to a guest's bar or wine bill when they are served.

--by Marcia Levin, a regular contributor to The Washington Times, Porthole Magazine, southerntravelnews.com, TravelAgeWest, and several guidebooks, and past president of the Society of American Travel Writers Most teenagers "need" something. It might be orthodontia, an iPod or a date for the prom, but it's a safe bet every teen thinks he or she requires something in addition to those "necessities." That's the case as well with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's 15-year-old Majesty of Seas. The ship was looking its age, and minor updates simply would not do. Royal Caribbean thought it was time for an extreme makeover.

As such, Majesty of the Seas underwent a significant bow-to-stern revitalization in early 2007 at a cost of approximately $36 million. And on my preview cruise to check out the new Majesty, it appeared that the money was well spent. There's a definite "wow" factor -- with particular highlights including its wonderful new spa and fitness center, three new casual dining venues, completely redesigned teen facilities that are exclusive to the 12 - 17 year old set, and a re-arranged and refurbished pool deck. Other major changes took place in cabins -- with new carpets and bedding and the addition of flat-screen televisions. The Viking Crown Lounge got a whole new look and so did the shops in the Centrum.

One thing didn't change: Standard cabins (inside and out) are contenders for the industry's smallest. At a claustrophobic 122 square ft., fulfilling Royal Caribbean's marketing theme ("get out there") won't be a challenge. And Majesty of the Seas received no additional balconies, so those cabins that do come with verandahs will be priced at a premium.

Still, Majesty of the Seas -- with the help of the refurbishment, to be sure -- wears its years well. I'd sailed on the ship when it originally launched in 1992, and at that time it was considered beautiful and innovative with large lounges, bars, show rooms and sun deck. Its casino was huge and sprawling, its kid facilities adequate (remember this was in the pre-rock climbing walls-skating rink-surf boarding era). Some of the newer bells and whistles may have passed Majesty of the Seas by, even now (there's nary a skating rink, bungee trampoline or surf park aboard) but, with its ever more contemporary decor -- and it's perfectly suited three- and four-night itineraries -- the ship shines.

Dining

Moonlight (Deck 3) and Starlight (Deck 4) are the new main dining rooms, and the atmosphere is just lovely. Both were outfitted with new carpeting, drapes and seating upholstery. The artwork on the walls didn't seem to match the new decor too well, but that didn't make it any less cozy. The food is standard shipboard dining room fare, including shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, roast duck, salmon and steak. A Royal Lifestyle menu offers lighter and healthier menu items and vegetarian cuisine is also available. Low-salt, low-sugar and other special diets are also accommodated. Royal Caribbean's entire fleet is trans-fat free.

For dinner, passengers can choose between assigned early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dining, or opt for RCI's My Time Dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), but can change your reservations on a daily basis or simply walk in when you're hungry. (Note: Those opting for My Time Dining will need to pre-pay gratuities.) The restaurant is open seating for everyone at breakfast and lunch every day.

The Windjammer Marketplace has been completely redone on Deck 10 -- a mini version of the extraordinary Windjammer on Freedom of the Seas. Perfect, made-to-order omelets, crisp bacon, light and airy biscuits (and even homemade gravy if you're inclined) are just some of the components of a great breakfast. Fruits galore, baked goods, waffles, French toast and pancakes, as well as oatmeal and assorted cereals are there for the taking as well.

Lunches are equally varied; one day I had a hard time choosing between salads, varied cheeses and meats, Asian entrees, chicken wings and tacos. Sweets are tempting. Drinks are readily available and crew often helps out with a "cuppa."

Up a short flight of stairs, on Deck 11, is Compass Deli, which is new to Royal Caribbean and features paninis and wraps; Sorrento's Italian Pizza (no cover charge); and a Johnny Rockets, a 50's-style restaurant where hamburgers and milkshakes reign supreme. The deli is gratis. There is a $4.95 cover charge in Johnny Rockets that covers all you can eat through dessert, but drinks and shakes are extra (but worth it!).

A poolside barbecue is scheduled one night on each cruise and a barbecue on the beach in Cococay is also part of the drill.

Coffee and an array of sweets are available on Deck 5 at Latte-tudes featuring Seattle's Best Coffee, another Royal brand. Coffee drinks are in the $3.50 range. Next to Latte-tudes is Freeze Ice-Cream, with another average $3.50 price tag for its ice cream confections.

Room service is available 24 hours a day, offering a limited menu and Continental breakfast only. Food is free between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 surcharge.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.75 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $5 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $7.25 if you're in a suite); $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter; and $2.15 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. This totals $11.65 for those in standard cabins and $13.90 for those in suites. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.Most teenagers "need" something. It might be orthodontia, an iPod or a date for the prom, but it's a safe bet every teen thinks he or she requires something in addition to those "necessities." That's the case as well with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Majesty of Seas, which launched back in 1992. The ship was looking its age, and minor updates simply would not do. Royal Caribbean thought it was time for an extreme makeover.

As such, Majesty of the Seas underwent a significant bow-to-stern revitalization in early 2007 at a cost of approximately $36 million. And on my preview cruise to check out the new Majesty, it appeared that the money was well spent. There's a definite "wow" factor -- with particular highlights including its wonderful new spa and fitness center, three new casual dining venues, completely redesigned teen facilities that are exclusive to the 12 - 17 year old set, and a re-arranged and refurbished pool deck. Other major changes took place in cabins -- with new carpets and bedding and the addition of flat-screen televisions. The Viking Crown Lounge got a whole new look and so did the shops in the Centrum.

One thing didn't change: Standard cabins (inside and out) are contenders for the industry's smallest. At a claustrophobic 122 square ft., fulfilling Royal Caribbean's marketing theme ("get out there") won't be a challenge. And Majesty of the Seas received no additional balconies, so those cabins that do come with verandahs will be priced at a premium.

Still, Majesty of the Seas -- with the help of the refurbishment, to be sure -- wears its years well. I'd sailed on the ship when it originally launched in 1992, and at that time it was considered beautiful and innovative with large lounges, bars, show rooms and sun deck. Its casino was huge and sprawling, its kid facilities adequate (remember this was in the pre-rock climbing walls-skating rink-surf boarding era). Some of the newer bells and whistles may have passed Majesty of the Seas by, even now (there's nary a skating rink, bungee trampoline or surf park aboard) but, with its ever more contemporary decor -- and it's perfectly suited three- and four-night itineraries -- the ship shines.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.75 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $5 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $7.25 if you're in a suite); $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter; and $2.15 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. This totals $11.65 for those in standard cabins and $13.90 for those in suites. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

Effective March 1, Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.According to Kevin Thorogood, the ship's hotel director, "Majesty is like a fine wine: She only gets better with age." Many who have sailed with Royal Caribbean would agree that Majesty of the Seas seems to have outlived the odds as both an older, smaller ship and as the only one left in its class. Plans to sell the ship to sister company Pullmantur, a fate seen by fleetmate Monarch of the Seas, are on hold until at least 2016, according to the cruise line. Why the delay? Thorogood believes a loyal base of cruisers and the ship's highly rated crew and service standards are to thank for Majesty's charm and mainstay. "We don't have the bells and whistles of the Oasis-class ships .... We deal with the hardware we've got."

In a competitive short-cruise and weekend getaway market, Majesty of the Seas satisfies with its three- and four-night Bahamas sailings. Because Miami is Majesty's homeport, many passengers onboard are South Floridians who grab cheap cruises within driving distance of their homes.

Majesty has developed a Latin flavor organically, with influences ranging from its homeport and cruiser base to warm-weather flair, given the itinerary, which sometimes includes Key West. This is evident throughout the ship. Cuisine options include mojo-marinated grilled pork chops -- influenced by regional mojo variations in Cuba and Puerto Rico -- in the main dining room and Cuban sandwiches available in the Compass Deli. The venues re lively, including popular Boleros nightclub, which was a hit night after night; from the salsa dancing, you could tell the crowd knew what it was doing. Even the teal and orange plates and bowls around the ship suggested a Latin influence -- and Miami Dolphins colors, although we could be reading too much into it.

Cabins are small, but with only one night at sea, time is expected to be spent in port or enjoying ship activities that include cake decorating contests, trivia, workshops, seminars and, of course, bingo.

The ship is easy to navigate -- we had it figured out after a full day of exploring -- and it's manageable for first-timers and those looking for a small-ship experience.

Dining

Moonlight (Deck 3) and Starlight (Deck 4) are the main dining rooms, and the atmosphere is rich but not pretentious. The only distinct difference between the two is the color of the seat cushions: teal in Starlight and maroon in Moonlight. The food is standard shipboard dining room fare, including shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, roast duck, salmon and steak. Our waiter always made personal recommendations (typically an appetizer or dessert) and brought them out to try, regardless of what was ordered or whether we wanted more food. The additional dishes weren't served to be pushy, but we felt guilty if we didn't finish our dish or make a convincing enough argument that it was excellent. Our favorite entree, the horseradish-crusted Atlantic salmon in beurre blanc, was truly tasty.

A Royal Lifestyle menu offers lighter and healthier items, and vegetarian cuisine is available. Low-salt, low-sugar and other special diets are also accommodated, and Royal Caribbean's fleet is free of trans-fat.

For dinner, passengers can choose between assigned early (6:30 p.m.) or late (9 p.m.) dining or opt for My Time Dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime during the assigned settings). Reservations are recommended but can be changed daily. Or, simply walk in when you're hungry. Those opting for My Time Dining must prepay gratuities.

One of the main dining restaurants (usually Starlight on Deck 4) offers open seating at breakfast, providing both a buffet with a granola station and an a la carte menu with eggs done your way, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. daily (excluding embarkation day). The fresh-squeezed orange juice, like most drinks onboard Majesty, costs an additional fee. For lunch (only offered from noon to 1:30 p.m. on the sea day), the restaurant becomes Brasserie 30, an at-sea bistro with a menu featuring slightly upscale salads, burgers and pasta, with one or two meat and fish entrees. Service seemed much slower during this meal than any other. Fries can be ordered, but it might be easier to accommodate any children with picky palates at the Windjammer buffet, located on Deck 10.

Breakfast at the Windjammer (7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) features an omelet station (which usually has a line), fresh fruit, cold cuts, bacon and sausage, hash browns, fruit, pancakes and more hot foods in addition to a cereal counter with single-serve boxes and cartons of milk. Lunch (noon to 2:30 p.m.) and dinner (6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) offer almost too many options, with the center buffet area touting tacos and standard dishes, while outer counters are typically themed by cuisine, such as Mediterranean, Asian and local. We had to laugh at New York City night, featuring a garlic-onion pie claiming to be from a secret "burrow." The local counter is always fun, and while the names of the dishes are off, the food is spot on. Bahamian night offers Royal's take on conch. An eclectic dessert station offers a sweet end to your meal, and, at night, a crewmember is ready, scoop in hand, to dish out ice cream in front of the bar counter.

There are two sides to the Windjammer Marketplace, but the forward area consistently has more seating available and nicer ocean views, even during sea days. For a quieter space to dine, try upstairs in the seating area near Sorrento's or Compass Deli.

Close to the pool deck, Windjammer was a great place to procure a hot cup of tea or coffee to stroll around with at night.

Up a short flight of stairs from Windjammer, on Deck 11, is Compass Deli, which features hand-pressed paninis and wraps made to order, along with a small side-salad bar and an array of hot soups and cookies. The deli is complimentary, but we noticed very few people strolled in while we were there, and many seemed surprised the sandwiches were gratis. The veggie portobello sandwich was delicious, and we wanted to order it again and again. This might be the perfect bite on embarkation day, away from the mad rush at the buffet. Normal hours for the Compass Deli are 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sorrento's Italian Pizza (no charge) is a counter next door to the deli and is almost always open (sometimes until 3 a.m.) for a quick serve-yourself slice on a red, pizza-shaped plate. Reminiscent of Domino's-style pizza, there's always plain and pepperoni, but sometimes you could catch a Hawaiian or margarita pie, as well. An Early Bird Continental breakfast is served daily near Sorrento's Pizza on Deck 12, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Johnny Rockets, the 50s-style restaurant chain where hamburgers and milkshakes reign supreme, (also on Deck 12) requires a $4.95 cover, and that doesn't include the drinks or shakes. While the old-school appeal of the back-in-time diner might entice on land, we never saw anyone in there during our sailing. Hours for the restaurant are usually noon to midnight. Note: For an out-of-place but strangely Zen lounge area, seek out the sage-colored space to the side of Johnny Rockets (overlooking Windjammer).

Coffee and an array of sweets are available on Deck 5 at Latte-tudes, featuring Seattle's Best Coffee, Tazo teas and Starbucks Frappucinos, all with a la carte pricing. Specialty drinks are in the $3.50 range. Attached to Latte-tudes is 'Onda Gelateria, featuring six to eight tempting flavors of gelato, from pistachio to grapefruit.

Room service is available 24 hours a day, offering a limited Continental breakfast and slightly better main menu. The well-liked honey-stung chicken lived up to the hype and even came with sweet potato fries and ranch dipping sauce. Food is free between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 surcharge.

A poolside buffet is scheduled one night on each cruise, and stops at CocoCay include a beach barbecue.

Public Rooms

A small library is situated off the atrium on Deck 4; nearby, an Internet area offers 10 stations at costs beginning at $25 for 38 minutes of usage. Wi-Fi access is available only through hot spots in various bars and lounges -- not in cabins. Fun fact: The library and Internet area are the only two places we found pictures of Queen Sonja of Norway, the ship's godmother.

A conference center was created to enable groups to conduct business onboard. Located on Deck 11, the three conference rooms, Adventure, Voyager and Explorer, discreetly line the walls behind wood paneling and can accommodate up to 239 people.

Shops offer the usual liquor specials, watches, jewelry, fragrances and logo items for men, women and children. The stores line the walls on Deck 5 (across from Latte-tudes), but a bazaar-like arrangement of tables takes up the center, featuring daily sales and specials on designer handbags, perfumes, pashminas and other gift items (typically listed in the daily schedule).

We don't usually review ships' public restrooms, but they were so gorgeous that we had to point them out. They now have a Zen quality with mahogany stained cabinets and bamboo-colored walls; big, white, square sinks with tall stainless-steel faucets; and earth-toned tile backsplashes. Even the lighting -- with a low-wattage overhead and mirrors that light up -- was calming.

Cabins

Cabins are small, with standard oceanviews at 122 square feet and superior oceanviews at a still-tiny 157 square feet. At 119 square feet, interior cabins are generally difficult to maneuver.

Standard rooms do not have refrigerators; the "minifridge and snack bar" consists of small snack packets including candy and nuts, warm soda cans and bottled water left out on the desk with a notecard indicating price. Amenities consist of bar soap, four travel-size bottles of nondescript shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion; there's also a wall-mounted shampoo dispenser in the shower (which has the dreaded clingy curtain). All cabins have flat-screen TVs, safes and hair dryers. Due to passenger diversity onboard, in-cabin TV programming is being remodeled to include more multilingual channels.

Most cabins allow for the conversion of two twin beds to a queen-sized bed. Coloring sticks to shades of green (think jade) with pink accents. (One painting of a tropical flower will probably adorn your wall.) Closet and drawer space is ample, though, during a rough day at sea, we noticed the drawers didn't lock and were sliding open and shut. Standard accommodations each feature a small shower -- no tub.

Only 63 cabins have balconies. Balcony furniture (two chairs and a small table) is aluminum. Suites are comfortable and quite posh, featuring light and airy decor with creams, tans, whites and pastels throughout. The ship's 42 Junior Suites run 263 square feet apiece with balconies that are 74 square feet. Junior Suite passengers enjoy complimentary in-cabin tea and coffee service, bathrobes for use onboard and bathroom amenities. Six Grand Suites onboard each measure 382 square feet with 90-square-foot balconies. Three Owners Suites are 446 square feet apiece, each with a 108-square-foot balcony. One Royal Suite is onboard Majesty, measuring 700 square feet with a 147-square-foot balcony. It features a whirlpool bath, separate living room and wet bar. The ship also has one Royal Family Suite, which offers two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living room area with a sofa bed. One bedroom features two twin beds that convert into a Royal King, measuring 72.5 inches wide by 82 inches long, and a Pullman bed; the other bedroom has a queen-size bed. The Royal Family Suite measures 364 square feet, with a 78-square-foot balcony. Royal Suite, Owners Suite, Royal Family Suite and Grand Suite passengers receive priority check-in and departure, reserved seating for main theater and entertainment shows, priority tender tickets on select cruises, VIP pool deck seating, full breakfast, lunch and dinner dining room menus available for in-room dining, board games available to order for in-room entertainment, spa bathrobes for use onboard, complimentary bathroom amenities, luggage valet service and pressing service on formal night.

The ship has just four cabins for people with disabilities -- two inside and two superior oceanview. Door width (for both the main cabin door and the bathroom door) is 32 inches. Toilet height is 17.5 inches for an oceanview cabin and 16.75 inches for an inside.

Entertainment

In addition to the events announced in the Cruise Compass daily planner, onboard entertainment features a lot of live music and recent movies on the big(ger) screens in Spectrum lounge (Deck 8) and Chorus Line Theater on decks 5 and 7 (venue depends on the day). Trivia and Sudoku puzzles are available daily in the library. Daytime offerings are limited because of time spent in port.

Evening entertainment offers a blend of production shows and individual performers -- generally a magician, comic or singer/musician -- in the Chorus Line Theater. Usually two shows are available nightly to accommodate both dining times. Music and dancing are offered all around the ship, from piano sing-alongs in the Schooner Bar to calypso music poolside, and from classics in the Centrum to Latin flavors in Boleros. Name-that-tune is played nightly in the Schooner Bar. Late each night, the cruise director's own take on a game show (Battle of the Sexes, The Newlywed Game, even an adult scavenger hunt) takes place, typically in the Spectrum lounge. These regularly draw large crowds.

The Schooner Bar, on Deck 5, is probably our favorite hangout space on the ship. Sunny and not smoky (although right off the casino), it's a great place to sit during the day, log on to check email from a personal device or grab a pre-dinner cocktail at night. A relaxed and nautical ambience caters to watching the piano player, catching Monday Night Football or simply staring out the window.

Spectrum, on Deck 8, is as close to a club as Majesty gets, with pink neon lights and a major sound system. Themed nights (such as 80s music or disco) seem to bleed into other activities in the area, including singles meet-ups and nightly game shows.

Boleros, on Deck 7, is one of the only places left to smoke indoors. It has a distinct Latin feel that comes alive on Majesty, and once the Dominican Quartet starts playing, with mojitos and caipirinhas flowing, you will see how. Boleros hosts the Park West art auction on each sailing, typically on the final night of the cruise. On our voyage, a preview of the artwork was held at 5 p.m., followed by the auction at 5:30 (with free Champagne). Other art sales might be held throughout your voyage and could include a raffle or giveaway for attending.

A Chorus Line Theater, done in subtle coral, rust and beige tones, has a classical theater ambience with wide seating arrangements and a wooden stage. Art Deco statues of cabaret girls greet you from either side of the Deck 5 entrance. The side seats offer those awful poles and poor sight lines, but middle seats on both levels (decks 5 and 7) offer great views.

Viking Crown Lounge, all the way up on Deck 14, is a staple on Royal Caribbean ships. It looks a bit outdated but can guarantee a great bird's-eye view of the pool deck and surrounding sea. The lounge is closed occasionally because of private events, but, even when it's open, it's one of the quietest places on the ship.

Casino Royale, on Deck 5, offers eight table games, two roulette wheels and one craps game in addition to a wide variety of slots. When dealers have downtime, they are more than willing to teach you any of the card games, for those who aren't pros or just want to pick up a few tips.

Fitness and Recreation

The spa and beauty salon operated by Steiner with Elemis products (a brand of the ubiquitous Steiner Leisure, which operates many cruise lines' spas) is glossy and inviting. An interactive program allows passengers to analyze their skin types and choose recommended beauty products. Additionally, you can expect a wide offering of head-to-toe services, from teeth whitening to pedicures. Teens and kids have their own spa menu, too, including something called an ice cream mani/pedi. Sauna and steam rooms are complimentary to all passengers.

Adjacent to the spa is the ShipShape fitness facility, which offers a complete line of Life Extension machines, treadmills and free weights, along with a space for mats in front of a row of mirrors. It appeared that patrons of the gym during our sailing were a mix of both routine exercisers and those seizing a rare chance to take advantage of a free and equipped facility. The gym was surprisingly crowded on the night of embarkation.

Majesty offers fitness activities like Pilates and spinning classes for a $12 fee. Early morning, from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., fitness offerings under the Vitality moniker are complimentary. These include stretch and abs programs. Beach activities at CocoCay include a volleyball competition and line dancing. Yoga on the beach carries a $15 fee.

Majesty of the Seas has two pools and two Jacuzzis, located on the main pool deck, along with a pool bar and stands offering tropical drinks of the day. The pool deck draws a crowd, but, with most of your cruise days spent in port, it won't be impossible to snag a chair if you decide to sun yourself onboard.

The famed rock climbing wall is on Deck 12; at 35 feet, it's not quite as large as those on other Royal Caribbean ships. (The rock wall on Allure of the Seas, for example, is 43 feet.)

The promenade deck, on Deck 7, has a jogging track, but with sharp turns and more than a few signs urging runners to be cautious overhead. We only ever saw couples power-walking or aimlessly strolling along there.

Family

Royal Babies and Tots offers free interactive and developmental activities, sponsored by Fisher-Price, for parents to participate in with their babies (6 to 18 months) or tots (18 months to 3 years). All activities take place on Deck 10 outside Adventure Ocean. Typically, these activities are in the mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. for babies and 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. for tots, then again at 5 p.m. for both groups.

Private baby-sitting is only available to children aged 1 year or older, at a rate of $19 per hour for up to three children.

Adventure Ocean on Deck 10 -- for children of ages 3 to 11 -- is awash in primary colors in partnership with Crayola, Fisher-Price and Lowe's. It's been divided into quite a few areas for different activities, such as a coloring station where you can color in books -- or on the walls. There's also a game room, small Internet cafe, dance floor, library and a cinema, plus several seating areas. Pets at Sea is an onboard experience akin to Build-a-Bear that allows children to create their own stuffed animals, complete with outfits, from $32.95.

Adventure Ocean is available at no cost throughout the day and evening, until 10 p.m. Adventure Lunch is held at Sorrento's Pizza from noon to 1 p.m. during port days. Adventure Dining, from about 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., offers children the chance to dine with Adventure Ocean staff at Johnny Rockets, free of charge. Pre-registration for dinner the day of is recommended, as space is limited. Adventure Ocean Late Night is held from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and it incurs a fee of $7 per hour, per child.

Teens (ages 12 to 17) have Fuel Nightclub and a hangout lounge called the Living Room away from the younger children's area on Deck 11, right below the basketball court. The Living Room is small but features a cartoonish orange, purple and red couch with a huge plasma-screen TV. Fuel is funky, with a DJ booth, dance floor, pizza and soda bar, plasma TV and many seating arrangements around the dance floor, open from noon to 5 p.m. port days, with teen activities from about 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. You can enter these two rooms separately or wander between them, as they are connected. Teens are free to come and go as they please during any activity. On our voyage, we never saw older children in this area -- they all seemed to hang in the 24-hour Challengers arcade at night, on Decks 10 and 11 aft. Happy hours are offered at the arcade with half-price games during different portions of your cruise, so check your daily schedule.

Fellow Passengers

The three- and four-day market is a magnet for younger cruisers, first-timers, those on a budget or people who just want to get away for a few days. There is a large Spanish-speaking population onboard, along with a number of international passengers; a whopping 56 nationalities were represented among the passengers on our sailing.

Dress Code

"Casual" is the operative word when it comes to attire, though shorts aren't permitted in the dining room. Cover-ups atop bathing suits are appropriate away from the pool. Slacks and a neat shirts are ideal for men and women for casual dining. Plan on a jacket and tie for men on formal nights, while women can pull out all the stops. Don't be fooled by these short sailings: Formal attire is in full effect and runs the gamut from polite sundresses and khakis to ball gowns and tuxedos. Each Majesty sailing has one formal night.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean passengers are automatically charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for those in suites). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during each sailing. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs. Gratuity is optional but recommended for room service orders. An envelope with the option to leave additional cash tips to specific crewmembers is offered on the final night of each cruise.

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