AIDAaura Cruise Review by eltigre: Our 10 Day South Caribbean Cruise
Our 10 Day South Caribbean Cruise
I always start out thinking the review won't be too long...Then I get going & ...fond memories.
Saturday morning we (my hubby & I) flew from Vancouver BC to Chicago with a 5 hour layover.
Well actually it was supposed to be 2 hours & it turned into 5 including a terminal change, BUT we did get into Miami at midnight.
We booked La Quinta by the airport & with no shuttle available at that time we took a cab & got checked in quickly. Scheduled our shuttle for next day & as the earlier ones were already booked we had a 1pm. Then off to get something to eat at Bennigan's which was a very short walk & to bed.
YEA!!!It is Sat & after the hotel's continental breakfast (which was ample) a short wait we are off to the port.
The line up was long & it was hot (at least to us) but after snaking our way inside & then through to the actually counter, we got our first pics taken,headed up the gangway through our More first card scan past some very smiling NCL Crew's faces & on board...
As we were boarding later than we usually do, we went straight to our room which was ready & dropped off our carry ons, then out to explore the ship.
Our lifeboat drill went smoothly even though we had to wait for the usual slow pokes.
If you want to watch the best of the sail away, then go to the unobstructed viewing area through the observation lounge out onto the deck. The rest of the views are through the glass.
The restaurants & bars were all open, the music playing
This is strictly my opinion....The ship is older but she is in good shape. Some cabins showing more wear than others.
We had a balcony on the port (left side) towards the aft. Which gave us quick access to the Garden Cafe, the buffet, the pools & hot tubs.
Our cabin steward Jamie was terrific. Thanks Jamie....
The first night is the lobster night & casual wear is allowed in the dinning rooms this evening. We went to the 7 Seas which I preferred over the 4 Seasons.
If you are used to Atlantic lobster order 4 of these (:
The first Sea Day after breakfast at the Garden Cafe which is where we ate every morning I went to the Casino & got my card which I had punched along with my sail & sign card & put them on a lanyard which I brought from home...
This way I won't loose the cards, always have them with me & it opens conversations when my Maple leafs are showing (:
I also got the free slot play from on board & combined that with the Slot Play Coupon for a grand total of $50 of plays for $25 cost.
We had our Meet and Greet at 11 am at Las Rambles. The crew that attended were terrific. Coffee & cookies were supplied & our group of 50 had a good time.
Lunch was at Champs overlooking the pool & it was dress up or not for dinner so we tried the 4 Seasons.
Next was Dazzles for the Not So Newlywed Game & it was a packed house. It was also very, very funny.
2nd Sea Day pretty much mirrored the first except we found the Sports Bar!!
St Thomas we docked on the Starboard side. Took an open air cab with others going various places along the route ($22 for both of us) to Sapphire Beach & were the only people there for quite awhile...Snorkeled had a drink brought to us by a great lady who gave us a brief low down on the names of the visible islands & where to snorkel. There were some jelly fish at both sides so we decided to head back to town & check out Black Beard's Castle, 99 steps, some famous homes, all very easy to follow via signs posted on the streets & which headed us to town & shopping. Cabs here are anywhere & every where. No need to worry about getting somewhere. The Tram was not operational & as I had bought our tickets on board our refund was on our sail & sign bill upon putting our unused tickets in the slot at the Purser's Desk.
Dominica We docked on the Port Side & there were 1/2 a dozen dolphins playing in the ship's wake on our arrival.
We had booked with Sheppee Fun Tours prior to or arrival & sure enough there he was...Please Remember at all these ports these tour guides are just outside the immediate drop off area for the cruise ships. They are not allowed to be in the passenger disembarkation areas.
We headed to Scott's Head for snorkeling & on the way stopped to pick up our snorkel guide. Asha our tour guide & Linton our snorkel guide were absolutely terrific. The information, the snorkeling, the towns we saw, the people, Scott's Head & Champagne for snorkeling I can not say enough about them & our day.. PS We did have our own gear
We then went to Papillote Restuarant for a late lunch. A stop at the Straw Market & back on board.
All this in an air conditioned van, everything when & how we wanted PLUS rum punch, local beer, pop & terrific people!!!!
Barbados We docked on the Port Side & the tour operator we had arranged Gipoved Tours, Tyrone Griffith was there with an air conditioned van & wisked us off to Rogers Surf Shack & Neville who in his glass bottom boat took hubby & I out to see the turtles & then the ship wrecks. It is not that far off shore but too far to swim out.
So glad we did this one. Turtles we had seen before in Mexico au natural, Here they feed them but still DO NOT TOUCH please...& if you are wearing fins please don't kick...
The ship wrecks are amazing & Neville was very knowledgeable explaining what was what as he passed over the wreck before stopping to let us swim. A true Barbadian Host his homemade rum punch was the best of all the islands.
Tyrone waited for us & then took us to Rockley Beach where we swam, ate a flying fish (cutter) sandwich & tried the local Banks beer. Then we went to Pelican Village which I have to say was not impressive for us & back on board.
The Sports Bar first then order pizza to the cabin & it was good!! some R&R & then to the Caribbean Party on the deck by the pool. A medium sized crowd for this one...
St Lucia docked Port Side & this is my "bucket list" island,,,
We booked Spenser Ambrose Land & Sea Tour & again it was spectacular. Spenser a knowledgeable man drove the 9 of us in an air conditioned van with all the pop, beer & rum punch you wanted through towns, the "drive in volcano", past waterfalls, taught us history of the island, stopped at a banana plantation, got clay pot baked bread from a local & Cassava bread from another.
We took a water taxi to the black sand beach between the Pitons & had a wonderful more than enough to eat & drink homemade Creole lunch. Then we snorkeled in the most amazing shoreline area with corals, sponges, huge parrot fish, Trumpet fish, Eels & more, finally heading back by boat all the way to the ship. Along that water part we stopped a bat cave, Marigot Bay & through a rocky overhang where Pirates of the Caribbean had filmed..
After all that it was the Sports Bar (: the Buffet & then the Ventriloquist show & he was Great..
St. Maarten docked on Starboard side today. Our CC Group had booked a tour here & although it was a Sunday & St. Maarten Day which meant nothing was opened as far as shopping went, we headed for a tour of the island by bus.
We did stop at Orient Beach by Bikini Bar which is a good location. You can go left to see more of the beach shacks & bars & food. OR you can go right to the nude section. Either way it isn't too far a walk. Buy a chair & umbrella get a drink. There are washrooms here too.
Then to Maho Beach for the jets coming in & the Sunset Bar for food & drink if you are so inclined.Didn't do much tonight. Naturally the Sports Bar, Buffet, Cabin. The seas are starting to roll.
Sea Day & we are still rolling. Captain says when we get back into the shelter of Haiti & Dominican Republic things will calm down. Did I mention Hubby got a cold...guess what! I too succumbed. Washy Washy Happy Happy...not so much....hung out on our balcony for some R&R then dressed for pictures & dinner at the 7 Seas. Watched the Cirque Show & it was good. Chilled in the cabin then off to the White Hot Party where we stayed till midnight.
Sea Day & the Seas are calm & we just hung out at various spots on the ship. Time to pack ):
It's Over watched us sail into Miami in the dark. The lights are pretty. We brought coffee & baked goods to our balcony & watched
The self disembark was easy & there was a shuttle to Hertz for a car rental. It went really smooth.
A Few More Things
We enjoyed the ship. It is easily walk able & you will meet some of the same people as you move about.
Don't forget your TV (very old school) is a wealth of knowledge if you watch the NCL channels.
The Sports Bar was a favourite from 4-6pm with 2 for 1 drinks & great wings. You can also meet a good crowd of friendly people there. Yes you can take the 2 for 1 drinks with you somewhere else. Drink of the Day is not included in this special, however buckets of beer are & you can take your bucket to your room & your steward will keep it full of ice for you.
The BBQ's on the deck by the pool are nice & something I had never experienced before.
There are no trays on board so if you decide to bring something back to your room it is "by the plate" unless you bring your own plastic tray. FYI The plates are heavy (:
All disembarkation for ports was Deck 3 mid & forward.
The Galleria Shops had the usual jewellery, alcohol & cigarettes (with good pricing), some clothes, souvenirs etc. but not as much shopping as I have seen on other ships.
The $10 shopping day for purses, scarves watches etc was held by the atrium elevators, A T Shirt Sale was held down by the pool after all the ports in case you didn't get one!.
The White Hot Party was fun. Get there before the start time of 10:30 if you want good seating and join right in, don't wait!. Surprisingly when we left at midnight the crowd had already dwindled to ½. Bring your bling, glow sticks if you've got em & of course white...
Did I forget anything? I hope not. CC members have always been helpful to me so I like to try & return the favour.. Less
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