We flew in the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Cruise and Convention Centre. The hotel was very nice - modern and clean.
We walked across the street and had supper at BIMINI BOATYARD BAR. We love seafood and this place had great seafood. We were able to sit outside looking out on a little marina. The service was a little slow but it was busy.
We opted to take a cab to the cruise terminal instead of the shuttle. The cab driver screwed up and took us to the wrong ship but we stilled only paid him $16.00 for the fare.
Embarkation was very easy as we got to the terminal at 12:30 and basically just walked through the whole check in process.
Our room was on the Caribe deck - balcony room number C640. Everything about the room was great. The bed was very comfortable. There is quite a bit of closet space and a cabinet across from the closet for folded clothes. You can fit your suitcases under the bed for storage. We had ordered flowers for the room and they were there when we arrived. My husband ordered a Tux and it was there when we arrived as well. The tux was of very good quality and fit perfectly. We also ordered packages of beer, pop and some small bottles of different liquor. The vouchers were left in our room. All you had to was call room service and ask for what voucher you wanted redeemed. Sign the voucher and leave on the bed. The items will then be delivered to your room with you there or not. We found it very cost effective to purchase the Ultimate drinks package. You get a free princess tumbler with this and a sticker placed on your sail and sign card. You just show this card to the bartenders to order your free pop and mock tails. We took our bottles of vodka/rye to the pool and added to our pop. Saves some money throughout the day but we still spent lots on drinks at supper and throughout the evening. The best drink in the Beverly Hills Ice Tea. Full of alcohol and then topped with champagne. Very good value for $8.00 each. Overall the prices of wine were decent and comparable to what you would pay at home if out dining.
The food was excellent. We did the anytime dining and always went to the Da Vinci dining room. 90% of the time we opted to share a table and this was always enjoyable as you meet lots of really nice people from all over. We always ordered a few starters/appetizers and then the main. The fettuccine Alfredo was delicious and you can order this as an appetizer. On the formal nights they served main dishes of beef wellington and lobster/prawns. We ordered the beef wellington to share and got our own lobsters. This was good for all nights but the last one. The lobster and beef were not cooked properly.
We did go to Sabatini's on the first night for dinner and it was really good. We found the regular dining room to be excellent so we did not go to the specially restaurants again.
The staff are all excellent and I will try to remember a few: Barbara and another guy from India can't remember (Sham something) (waiters in the casino) were so nice. They always made sure that we had drinks. Boris - Waiter that sold me the Ultimate drinks package was a waiter at the pool and was very friendly every time we saw him. Our room steward was Meilani. She was so good at cleaning our room, ensuring we had towels, ice and glasses. I feel bad for her as they work all day and into the early evening. The casino staff for the most part were very friendly except for (1) dragon lady pit boss. In general the staff were excellent and always very accommodating.
It rained when we were in Aruba. We actually took a cab to the beach and then quickly found a bus to take us back to the ship. The cab was $18 the bus $4. We walked around for a bit, went to the Renaissance mall. Used the Starbucks Wifi and then went and had drinks in a bar (Paddocks)that looked out at the ship. We had chicken wings here that were very good.
Curacao - Not alot to do here with the short time. Walked through the stores that are right by the ship, walked across the bridge into the town. The bridge had to swing open to let a barge out so we took the ferry back across and then went to a bar in the area by the ship to have a beer and use their Wifi.
Princess Cays - we were here twice on our trip. Both times were nice. The water is a little rocky so wear your water shoes (I forgot to take both times). There is some shopping and you can get a bucket of 5 beer for $22. Everything is charged to our ship account. We were with some people who went snorkeling at the far end (off ship go to the right as far as the beach goes) and said the fish were really good down there. The tender process to get over there was very fast and efficient. There isn't any concern for finding a chair. The lunch was good.
St.Maarten - We took a taxi to Orient Beach. There were 6 ships in port. The taxi lineup looked a little daunting but went quite fast. I think it was $18 total for the 2 of us in a van with another group. This is a beautiful beach. We got chairs, a welcome drink, free wiFi at one of the beach bars/restaurants. I can't remember which one. The beers were cheap. We had some appetizer food and it was excellent.
St.Thomas - We did the ship tour to go snorkeling at Turtle Cove. Amazing. The catamaran ride was nice, the people running it were fun, all you can drink rum punch after snorkeling. The staff get in the water with you and will show you the highlights. I wasn't hopeful on seeing turtles but they were everywhere and swim all around you.
San Juan - There isn't alot to do here in the evening. We walked around quite a bit then ended up at Senior Frogs
Overall the ports were great but we are beach people so in the future would try to pick a cruise that doesn't go to San Juan or Curacao.
We did use the spa. I had a pedicure and a hot stone massage. Both were excellent. My husband had a massage and thought it was good. There are always lots of on ship specials and I might wait next time to take advantage of these instead of booking ahead of time. After your service they do try to sell you something and I thought the one girl (massage) was a little abrupt with this. She also was bold enough to request a tip of 15-20%.
Bingo was fun but I only went on the last days when they were playing off the jackpots which were $2200 the first week and $1700 the second. Unfortunately I never won.
When buying drinks you can get these clean sweep cards punched and then you enter to have your entire bar tab payed.
Art Auction - the map of the cruise went for $650 for the 1st week. Didn't see the 2nd week auction.
The shows were excellent but a little on the shirt side. We went to the comedians, hypnotist and ventriloquist.
Between the staff and many other cruisers there were so many nice and interesting people that all helped make our holiday very enjoyable.