I know this is a Las Vegas forum, but know other people on here will be taking the free M life cruise – so I thought I would post it here. This is probably fairly boring – especially for people who have cruised before. I really liked cruising, and although this experience was far from perfect, I consider it a learning experience and will know much better how to do things on my next cruise. First off, my cruise didn’t end up being free – through no fault of M Life’s. I made the mistake of mentioning that I was taking the cruise to my sister and brother, and before I knew it, my sister had invited herself along. I really need to learn to keep my mouth shut . Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister. But we have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN COMMON. We don’t like to do the same things, are completely different people, and run out of things to talk about after 5 minutes. She has no vices - doesn’t drink, gamble or smoke. Plus she is going through menopause and to be blunt, can be rather bitchy. The thought of having to share a 150 Sq. Ft. cabin with her for 4 days was making it so this trip wasn’t something I was looking forward to anymore – but just something to get through. So I ended up purchasing her a stateroom of her own – so I didn’t spend the rest of my life in jail for murder. So my free cruise wasn’t free anymore, but it was the best $800 I’ve ever spent. The cruise was on Enchantment of the Seas and was a short 3 night cruise from Friday to Monday. I did that not only to save on vacation days, but I really just wanted to give cruising a try – but didn’t want to be stuck on a 4/5 night cruise in case I hated it. We flew in on Thursday, as everyone told me not to fly in the same day of the cruise. I guess I would do that again if I were taking a cruise in the winter, but if I do a summer cruise again, I probably wouldn’t bother and would just fly in that morning. Our flight was through Sun Country, which I haven’t flown on for years. I liked the airline, but didn’t like the fact that to be able to check in early and pre-print your boarding pass, you have to pay for a seat. But I really wanted an aisle seat, so I spent the $15. As it happened, the row in front of us was completely empty so we moved to that and had a very nice flight – with an empty seat between us. I booked a room in Cocoa Beach at Comfort Suites, and got a cruise and stay package. They provided transportation from the Orlando Airport to the hotel, to Port Canaveral in the morning for the cruise, and transportation back to the airport after the cruise. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Orlando to Port Canaveral, and there were plenty of shuttles available last minute – if you didn’t do the stay and cruise package. Unfortunately, it rained quite a bit on this trip, so with the exception of a walk on the beach, we ended up sitting in our room for most of the time we were in Cocoa Beach. Thank God for free wi-fi. We walked down to Walgreens to pick up some sun block and it started pouring out on the way back, so we spent the rest of the day rather damp . I had listened to the advice of “bring less clothes, bring more money”, and had brought 4 shorts outfits with me – that’s it. I didn’t have one to spare. By booking the stay and cruise package, you are kind of at the mercy of whatever shuttle they put you on to get to the port. We had an 11:30 time on Friday morning – but ended up being closer to noon because the shuttle that showed up didn’t have enough room for all of us. Boarding the ship was no problem and we were soon checked in. Our rooms were scheduled to be ready by 1:30 – which they were. It’s amazing how they can get the shipp turned around like that in that short of a time period as the boat docks at 7:00 a.m. I won’t give you a blow-by-blow account of what we did, but I will categorize it. Paradise Island We were only on the ship for 2 full days – the first day at Nassau, and the second at CocoCay. I had booked a room at the Comfort Suites on Paradise Island for $270 (booked through Easy Click Travel – no problems there) – which gave us 2 passes to all of Atlantis, which was cheaper than booking the water park excursion through the ship – which was $160 each. We got to the hotel, couldn’t get checked in right away, so dropped our stuff off, and we had to go through the casino to get our arm-bands to give us access to Atlantis. Of course by then it was raining again, so we just decided to do the casino portion of our stay until we could get into our room, hoping the rain would quit. After going back to our hotel, the thought of going to the water park in the rain just didn’t appeal to us – so we both agreed to just head back to the ship. I knew my sister hadn’t been too thrilled with the water park idea anyway – so it seemed easier to just skip it as I could tell she didn’t want to do it. So pretty much a waste of $270. Learning experience 1 . Next time, I’d probably just visit the casino. CocoCay Island A beautiful island. This is Royal Caribbean’s private island. The ship was tendered so we took boats to the Island. We just hung around the beach for the morning. If you waded out a little ways, schools of fish would swim around you. It was pretty cool. It was fairly cloudy and cool, so we couldn’t get motivated to actually swim. We went on one of the first boats at 8:30 a.m. - next time I wouldn’t go until the afternoon. Learning experience 2. Plenty of things to do though. Kayaking, snorkeling, a water slide, a small water park, etc. All of these things did cost extra though. Gambling There was a note in my cabin from my host asking me to stop by after the emergency drill the first day. At this time, she gave me my 10 free drink coupons and explained how we could very easily have access to more money simply by showing our sea pass card at the cashier. They charged it to your credit card, but not as a cash advance – just as a miscellaneous charge. We also were exempt from paying the 3% fee. The free drinks were only available in the casino bar. Not a big deal, you could certainly walk out with them. But if you wanted a drink when the casino wasn’t open – you were paying for it. The casino was pretty small and not very generous (neither was much of a surprise ). Of course, that didn’t stop me from playing. The first day, the casino didn’t open until 5:30. The second day that we were at Nassau, it was open from 9-11:30 a.m., and then re-opened at 7:00 at night. The day we were at CocoCay it was open all day. By the second day, my host brought me a shirt out, and a letter telling me I was now a member of Club Royale, their invite only players club. My host was very nice, and almost always stopped by for a visit whenever I stopped in to the casino. Food Not being foodies at all, we most of the time just ate at the Windjammer Café – which was a buffet that was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The day we were at CocoCay, it wasn’t open for lunch so we ate at the Park Café which is a deli style take-out place. My stateroom Very small but efficient. And the bed was amazingly very comfortable. The first night I was still getting use to the movement and vibration of the ship, but the next 2 nights I slept great. The bathroom was tiny, but the room had a makeup table to get ready at. I can’t imagine having 2 people in the room, but that’s probably just me. I do like my own space, and like to keep my own hours. I certainly didn’t spend any time looking out my window, and if I was paying for the cruise myself, I would probably just get a cheaper inside stateroom, but the M Life cruise entitles you to an outside stateroom. What I learned: As I said, there are things I would do differently on my next cruise. Go solo – or try to talk my BF into coming with me. He just isn’t interested, but I will work on him. If not, going solo is just fine. Everyone is so friendly on the cruises, and you tend to run into the same people all the time and always have someone to talk to. Take advantage of more of the activities on the cruise. It was just difficult with my sister along, as I said, we don’t like the same things at all, and it was too much work to try to find something we both would like. She didn’t seem to want to go off on her own – but just wanted to stay with me all the time. I guess my solo Vegas trips have kind of spoiled me a bit, and gotten me used to doing what I want to do, when I want to do it – without have to check with someone else to see if they want to do it too. I’d eat at the My Time dining at least a few times. The day the Windjammer wasn’t open they told us we would have to do this. They seated us at a table with like 8 other people, and my sister wasn’t happy about eating with strangers and she didn’t feel dressed appropriately and was very uncomfortable – so we left, and went to the take-out deli. Random thoughts: For those who have never cruised, you are issued a sea pass. This is your pass for everything. If you want to buy a drink or buy anything in the shops, you charge it to your sea pass. It is what gets you on and off the ship. It is your casino player’s club card. This worried me a bit, as I am notorious for leaving my player’s club cards in the machine and forgetting to take them out, but luckily that didn’t happen. This sea pass makes it very convenient to do anything. The only surprise we had is that on CocoCay, the shops only take cash. My sister especially wanted to shop for gifts and souvenirs, but hadn’t brought any money with her. Beverage package. They have different beverage packages available, and we considered the pop one, but decided against it – figuring we could just grab a pop at meals. Then we found out that you couldn’t get pop at meals unless you had the beverage package. So we did end up purchasing it. It is $6.50 a day. You are given a cup that you put in a beverage machine and can choose from any Coke product. You could also have them filled up at any bar. So it worked pretty good. I just loved being on the ship. I especially liked it when everyone else was off the ship and the pools and stuff were mostly empty (OK, I hate crowds – I admit it). Although because the ship was mostly empty – many things were closed – like the shops and the casino. But it’s easy to work around if you know it and are prepared for it – which I will be next time. As I am stuck in the 80’s musically, I loved the music on the pool deck, which had a large video screen and played music videos from the 80’s constantly . People watching was my favorite activity. And for all you guys, there was definitely some eye-candy to look at. I'm a straight female and I couldn't help goggling them. We had one unnerving experience, when the power went out on the ship when we were docked at CocoCay. We were on the pool deck so we just stayed there, but it was a little freaky. No air-conditioning, no elevators (and probably fairly frightening for the people stuck on the elevators when the power went out), they even shut the pools down. Luckily it came back in stages after a few hours. Smokers - you can buy cartons of smokes at the duty free shops, but for someone like me who only smokes on vacations and casino trips, I only wanted a pack at a time. Those could only be purchased at the casino - and they had a very limited selection - so BYOS (bring your own smokes). I already have my cruise for next year picked out and will probably go even if M Life doesn't continue the free cruise offer. I plan on going in March, and taking a 4 night cruise out of Miami. This cruise goes to the same 2 locations, but also spends ½ a day in Key West, which I haven’t seen yet. Well, that's it. I hope someone can get some helpful information from this.