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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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