Cruising on Majesty: A blast from the past

My mother took me on my first cruise in 1990, when I was 13 years old. She loved cruising, and I got to spend a lot of time with her on cruise ships – which is no doubt a big part of why I still cruise every chance that I get.

In the “arms race” of cruise lines, bigger and bigger ships have been making their debuts every year. My husband and I cruised for almost two weeks across the Atlantic on Allure of the Seas, and we took a fun one-week cruise to the Caribbean on Norwegian’s Escape. These ships are undeniably remarkable: Chock-full of activities, they’re filled with things to do and places to do them.

But to be honest, while I enjoyed my time on these larger, newer ships, I’ve also felt that there’s been something…well, different about them. They really do represent a new era of cruising that’s designed to attract a wider audience and – if you ask me – to pander to our modern sensibilities and our shorter attention spans.

Lately, I’ve been seeking out older and smaller ships, and my trip on Majesty fit nicely into that trend. I have to say that I was beyond pleased with the way that the ship evoked a nice sense of cruise nostalgia – nothing seemed old, per se, but even the layout of the ship was a throwback to the days when I began cruising with my mom. While the Majesty does have a rock-climbing wall, one of Royal Caribbean’s newer innovations and upgrades, most of its entertainment falls right into the sweet spot of cruising: Theater shows, a little gambling in the casino, and a nice drink with a great view of the ocean. What else does a person really need?

Should you go to the Crown & Anchor event? (Heck yes!)

At the time of our Majesty cruise, my husband and I were at the Platinum level of the Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society, which gives frequent Royal cruisers bonuses for their loyalty. One of those perks is an invitation to some sort of onboard party, which we attended in the late morning of our first full day on the cruise.

I love going to these events because, well, I’m a cruise nerd. I like hearing about the industry and I often hear updates on advancements and improvements being planned by the company – this time it was discussion of the massive CocoCay renovation, which will include a pier for ships to dock at and other additional facilities on the island. (At our event, they suggested a salt-water wave pool would be among the additions – a neat touch as the water at CocoCay doesn’t have many waves to speak of.)

I also love going to the C&A events because, well, they give you free drinks! Most of them will have waiters moving among the crowd with a tray featuring a number of different drink options (mimosa, rum punch, etc) but if you ask nicely, they can often bring you something else. I usually drink champagne, myself – it’s not the best vintage around, but hey, it’s free!

I really love the camaraderie at these events – at the event on Majesty in particular, cruise guests and staffers were greeting each other like old friends. Clearly, our group included a number of very frequent cruisers – many were at the Pinnacle Club level, earned by cruising over 700 nights, and one cruiser had over 2800 nights! (Our cruise left from Port Canaveral in Florida, which likely contributed to the number of frequent cruisers, many of whom lived within driving distance.)

After an event around 30 minutes, my husband took our glasses of champagne up to the Viking Crown Lounge to watch the sail in to Nassau. Even though it was gloomy weather at the time, this was a very pleasant way to spend the morning!

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Hanging out: Public Areas on Majesty OTS

When you’re staying in an inside cabin, as I was on Majesty of the Seas, you tend to spend a lot of time in public areas such as bars and lounges. Since my inside room on Majesty was a wee bit small, I was pleased to find so many lovely public areas to hang out in while we were on the ship.

One of my favorite parts of Royal Caribbean’s ships is the Viking Crown Lounge. This much-loved feature can be found in most of Royal’s older ships, although it was replaced by a suites-only restaurant on Oasis-class ships. The Viking Crown Lounge on Majesty is used at night to host a reception for elite loyalty guests (Crown and Anchor Diamond level and above), but you can still access part of it at this time, and the whole area is available during the daytime. Its height above the deck makes it an excellent perch to people-watch on the pool deck or watch the ship sail away from a port. (In our case, we had a noon arrival into Nassau, and found this a fantastic viewpoint to watch our entry and docking.)

Another great place to gather on Majesty is the Schooner Bar, another iconic feature in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. I especially liked the size of the Schooner Bar on Majesty, as well as its lovely large windows. Majesty’s Schooner Bar is also full of fun touches that make for great pictures, like this Viking sculpture. (The hubby and I had a little fun with this one. 🙂

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Right outside the bar, I found a great spot for a photo – full speed ahead, Captain! They may seem cheesy, but to this long-time cruiser, these small things are reminiscent of a bygone era in cruising that brings back lots of fond memories.

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Inside cabins on Majesty: Can they really be that small?

Spoiler alert: Yes.

I became intrigued by Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas when I read Cruise Critic’s list of best inside cruise ship cabins – where Majesty’s interior cabins were actually listed as one of the “3 to avoid.” I suppose it’s like that time in college where your friend mixes a drink, grimaces after the first sip, and says, “This is gross – here, try it!” I just couldn’t help myself!

I booked us on a 3-night Majesty cruise to Nassau and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island. I figured that if the room really was as bad as advertised, I’d only have to put up with it for three nights – how bad could it be? Plus, I have a soft spot for inside cabins, where I spent many of my early days cruising (before I could afford a balcony) and where I got some of my best nights of sleep ever (so dark!).

When we boarded, my husband and I worked our way to the very front of the ship and to our interior stateroom, #5507. We were in a wide interior hallway that went across the ship from port to starboard with cabins on both sides.

As we paused outside the door, I reminded him of the legendary small size of these cabins. I asked him to think about his first impression: Was it bigger or smaller than we expected?

We opened the door and both agreed that the room was bigger than we expected. But its drawback became abundantly clear as my eyes fixated on the bed – pushed together, the two twin beds formed a queen that had nowhere to go but in an awkward corner of the room. This inconvenient setup really put a damper on the room for me, and I have to admit that for my next cruise on Majesty, I might bring a friend instead of my husband – the rooms set up with two twins, with the beds pushed to the sides of the room, seemed much more tolerable.

At the end of the day, the bed setup was just that – an inconvenience. Rarely do you choose an inside room intending to spend a lot of time in it, and especially for a short time, most of your time is spent outside in the common areas – of which Majesty had many, and some truly lovely ones.

Port Canaveral: Getting There (And Back)

To be honest, I’d avoided booking cruises from Port Canaveral in the past due to the distance between the airport and the cruise port (about 45 miles, according to Google Maps). I’ve been spoiled by cruising out of Fort Lauderdale (less than 5 miles from the cruise port!) and Miami, and sometimes San Juan.

But I’d been hearing a lot about Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas – some good things, and some bad – which offers 3- and 4-night cruises out of Port Canaveral. Finally, my curiosity was piqued. So I booked my husband and I on a 3-night Bahamas cruise, and off we went.

We flew into Orlando the night before the cruise – something I always recommend, if you can swing it – and stayed at the Hilton Doubletree by the Orlando Airport. A free shuttle (you just need to call the front desk when you arrive) from the airport made this a perfect spot for us, especially since we arrived into Orlando late.

In the morning, we used Uber to get to the cruise port. We left around 11:30 am on a Friday, and with little traffic we made the 45-mile trip in just about 45 minutes. Our fare, adjusted for tolls, was $46.98. This was definitely a quick and convenient option, as taking a standard cruise port shuttle would have required that we go back to the airport in order to pick up the shuttle.

One word of advice about Uber (and its counterpart, Lyft): These companies use a system called dynamic pricing, which means that prices for rides aren’t fixed and may change at any minute. For instance, when I checked the app to determine return fares once we landed in Port Canaveral, I was quoted fares nearly twice as much – probably because the return of two cruise ships increased the local demand for these services dramatically.

Fortunately, we had already booked our return transport on GO Port Canaveral’s shuttle service, which I found through doing some online research before the cruise. Price-wise, this option saved us a little money – we paid a total of $29.90 for two people. The shuttle buses (large tour-style ones) were comfortable and – importantly – well air-conditioned, and the staff made the process nearly painless (well, except for the pain of leaving behind vacation and going back to reality).