First time to Ft. Lauderdale. 9 hour drive from Atlanta. Stayed at Holiday Inn Express on Commercial Blvd. Very nice hotel, good breakfast and clean spacious rooms. Used Park N Go by the airport instead of Port parking. The cost was much less than the Port fees and the shuttle was right there both departing and arriving back in town.
Boarding was quick and very easy and we were on the ship by 11:30am. Lunch and drinks were ready and plentiful. Our rooms were available by 2:00pm. We had a balcony cabin on the Lido Deck. First time on the Lido Deck and I will definitely chose this deck again. It was so convenient to walk out of the cabin and down a hall way and you are at the pool and the food areas.
Sea Day on the first day and it was a bit rough but not terribly bad. The 2nd day we arrived at Grand Turk, but the winds were too high to get into the pier safely so the Captain canceled the port stop and we continued on to San Juan. Now we realized that this threw the normal scheduled activities out of wack because they expected to be at port, but we felt that the Activity Staff lacked severely on this day. Many of us chose to spend the day by the pool. You would think that they could at least play some music for all of the people out by the pool. That did not happen. First, we had 3 hours of Good Morning America on the big screen followed by 2 hours of Cirque Du Soleil. It was not until 1:00pm that the DJ finally showed up and played some music. Many guests were complaining, but it appears that the requests were just falling on deaf ears. I have been on 7 cruises and many of us felt that this was the worse cruise director of all of them. Just no personality and very limited games and activities around the pool area in spite of having 4 sea days!
San Juan was our first stop and we docked right at the pier. We walked to the Fort El Morro. You walk along a pretty walk along the water up to the Fort. It is a pretty good walk, so not for the couch potatoes. The Fort had a small fee to enter and was nice to walk around. There is a second Fort that you can also tour, that we decided to skip on this trip. There is a free shuttle run by the Park Service that will travels between the 2 Forts and the Port. We took this shuttle back to the Port and met the rest of our group for lunch at Senor Frogs. What a mistake!! Very over priced, service was awful, and food was so-so. $45.00 for lunch for 2 for simple lunch entrees and 2 beers. The beer cost as much as onboard the ship! This is all about name and nothing else. I much rather have authentic hispanic food than what they served! After lunch we walked across the street and took a ferry (.50 cent ride) to Catano. There are taxis available as when you get off the ferry to take you to the Bacardi Factory for $3.00/pp. The tour at the Bacardi Factory is free and you receive 2 drink tickets to sample different rum drinks. The tour was informative and the drinks were strong. They have a large gift shop with very good prices on bottles of bacardi and various merchandise.
Next stop was St. Maarten. We had scheduled group tour with Bernard's Tours at $35.00/pp. They took us in air conditioned buses around the entire island with various stops that included Orient Beach and Mayo Beach. Of course Mayo Beach is the famous beach see on You Tube of the airplanes landing right over the top of the beach. This was a great tour but the island was way too crowded due to the fact that there were 5 Cruise Ships in port on the same day.
Last Stop was St. Thomas. This was best port stop that we had on this trip. The island is beautiful and clean and very upscale. We got off the ship and took an open air taxi to Meghan Bay. There is a $4.00/pp fee to get into Meghan Bay because it is a State Park. The sand was clean and sugar white. The water was very clear. You could be chest deep in the water and still see the bottom. We rented a couple beach chairs and sat between the restaurant/bar and the bath house. The bath house was clean. The restaurant had good food at a very reasonable rate. The bar had good strong drinks at good prices. The bar tenders were Americans and joked with the bar crowd. We wish we could have stayed here several more days! We then took the taxi back to the port to catch the tram up to Paradise Point. We had read how beautiful the view was from this location. We had bought our tickets onboard the ship at a cost of $20.00/pp. What a WASTE of time and money! The view was nothing more than we had seen earlier on the taxi ride back to the port. If maybe the tram was $5.00/pp, it might have been ok, but $40.00 for two people is ridiculous. I discourage people from wasting their money on this excursion. I would gladly return to St. Thomas anytime!
Disembarkation was quick and easy. We were in Group #2, and were called early. We found our luggage and made it outside. The park N Fly shuttle was already outside picking up passengers. We were dropped off right at my vehicle. We were out and on I-95 heading North by 8:30am.
Overall, I would highly recommend this cruise. I do wish that we had stopped in Grand Turk because we were looking forward to some snorkling there. I still enjoy Carnival far better than Royal Caribbean. The food was good and plentiful. The nightly shows were very good, and the entertainment were also good. They just needed more activities and games in the pool area during the sea days.