Embarkation was smooth. We were on board in no more than 30 minutes.
Initial impression of the ship & cabin was that everything was spotless. Our Cabin Steward was Nicholi and he greeted us with helpful information and asked us for any special requests that were needed to be met for the cruise
As this was our second cruise and we signed up for the Crown & Anchor, our booklets waiting for us on our bed.
Surprisingly, our luggage arrived before the muster. I did not expect it to get there that fast.
Our Muster was held at 4:30 and went smoothly. It was over quite fast.
Sail away was actually delayed until about 6:00 as they were still loading supplies. The weather was picture perfect and managed to see Coney Island which, as I have been told, is not always visible after sailing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
At dinner we were suppose to have 4 couples together at one table. We found out that we were split across three tables but all close to each other. I contacted the Maitre'D and he corrected it on the spot. We were seated close to the Captain's table. Our waiter was Engin and the Asst. Waiter was Elisio who told us to call him Diesel. Head waiter was Rudolph. We made a request to Engin to see if we could make the 10:45 parade on the Grand Promenade and since we got a late start with dinner because of the table snafu, he managed to get us out by 10:15 and all courses served.
For dinner I had the Vidalia onion tart, smoked fish tapenade, cod and rum cake. The cod was good, the rum cake was adequate, but the appetizers are both recommended.
We went to the Dizzy's in the Viking Crown for drinks with our group before & after dinner and it was a great time, good drinks and wonderful view and decor.
The started out with the seas a little rough with rain. It was bearable but it was the most I felt a Voyager class ship move.
Had breakfast in the Windjammer-Island Grill section in the rear. Everything looked very clean. One suggestion, if you want an omelet, get that first and then everything else since your food will get cold. The omelet line can get long even though they are making up to 6 omelets at a time (3/side). There was a nice variety and food was adequate in taste. We ate here for most breakfasts so I will not comment every day.
The rain ended about 11 and the seas started to settle down.
Lunch in the Promenade Cafe (basic sandwiches, pizza, fruit and dessert). Food was good, but free beverage selection limited to coffee and water. You can get Coke at the counter ($1.50/glass + tip unless you have the soda package) and then headed to the wine tasting (with a coupon from our C & A booklet, else $9.95/person).
Went to the casino and typically lost money at slots.
The seas finally smoothed out late afternoon but before that we literally had a wave pool in the solarium (and I would assume in the other pools as well).
We did find out that our Meet & Mingle was delayed to Sunday at 1:00 instead of what was posted on the site as 11:00 on Saturday with no explanation. I will have to follow up with RCCL to find out why that happened, especially with no notices to the 90 that signed up.
For dinner I had escargot, lobster bisque, filet of beef (all were excellent) and cherries jubilee which I would rate good. This was the first Formal night and there was also the Captain's Reception. It was a little crowded but was great to see so many people in formal attire.
Went to the show in the Palace Theater called 'Wild, Cool & Swinging". The show was okay. The singers are very good but the impact was not WOW. Still it was enjoyable. Other members of our group that saw the show thought it could have been better.
Sailing was much smoother.
Breakfast again in WJ and mentioned only because it was omelet cooked by executive chef. I was quite surprised to see him on the line. Yes, the omelet was very good.
Went to our M&M. We had 90 that signed up and not everyone was posting on the message boards. We had many of those non-posters show up and did not get too involved with the rest of us. I went over to them to explain how they can use the boards to find new friends before boarding and make the trip that more enjoyable.
Went to see the Ice Show and again was amazed at what can be done on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. This show had less jumps, flips, etc. than last year's show on Voyager but it was enjoyable. I do not know what the show will be for the upcoming cruises since the show we saw was leaving at the end of our cruise.
We also went to the Welcome Back Party for C & A members and it was nice to see how many were there. There were over 1,000 C & A members on board this cruise and over 1,700 returning RCCL passengers out of the 3,600 passengers on this cruise.
For dinner I had escargot (surprise from our waiter since it was not on the menu) , beef consume, black angus sirloin oscar and cappuccino cake. The consume was okay and I would not recommend it. Everything else was a definite yes.
Day 4 - St. Thomas
We decided to have room service breakfast so we could watch arrival into port. We watched as we sailed past Puerto Rico and then turned into St. Thomas.
The arrival in port was smooth as silk w/ turnaround and slide into pier. They really know how to handle these large ships.
We took a taxi to downtown. Please take note that these are large open cabs that hold up to 20 and they stop at end of pier and ask for $4.00 each before continuing. It is understood, but this did catch some people off guard since it was not advertised when boarding. It is possible that people were getting off in Charlotte Amalie without paying and this is a way to make sure that they do. It just would be better if they let you know first.
Then we did the shopping route-ouch but dw did get decent deals.
Then a taxi from to Red Hook for sunset sail on Rumbamba. The driver had 7 passenger van w/ ac and gave us an unexpected narrated tour over Skyline Drive including photo stops for Charlotte Amalie harbor and then on the north side near Sapphire Beach for the British VI by Drake's Pass and even took group photo all for only $10/person. We gave her a tip and she agreed to pick us up after sail at 7:30.
Sunset sail was spectacular with light hor d'oeuvres and open bar included-highly recommended. Take note that in order to get to the sailboat, you have to climb into a rubber dinghy that takes you out. It is a little awkward but definitely worth it. When you get to the sailboat, you climb a ladder that is slanted and easier to climb then a set straight up the side. When the sail was over, the captain dropped us off at the pier. If you want to consider this, look them up on the Internet and write to them and ask about the accessibility if you think you will have problems
Taxi waiting for us upon return-$10/person back to ship and on time for change of clothes then headed to dinner.
Surprise of escargot again, vegetable spring roll, crab/seafood bisque, seafood penne and coffee crème brule. A total of 3 shows in the dining room as the Adventure Ocean children came in as pirates to take over the ship (real cute), then the waiters danced, then spontaneous Macarena on all three decks of dining room.
The sail away was spectacular at night.
All in all this was quite a day.Day 5 - St. Maarten
We did the America's Cup Regatta. It is well worth the price and it is a lot of work but the crew do a great job in "training" everyone and guiding them through the process to get these wonderful boats moving. We were on True North IV and raced against Stars & Stripes. Coming into the last leg of the race we were 5 lengths back and ook the lead by 1 length just before the finish line. We were making our last tack and the starboard wench slipped a chain and we lost the ability to grind the jib sail into place. The experienced crew switched the line to the port wench to take up the slack but in that few seconds, Stars & Stripes past us at the line and on by a 1/4 length. I was the bartender and my wife was the timekeeper.
Dinner-surprise escargot again (Engin was definitely spoiling us), Maryland Crab Cakes which were excellent, grilled pork chop which was better than I thought it would be but it was not as good as some of the other meals and then cappuccino cheese cake for desert.
Went to the theater for Fast Forward. This was much better than Wild, Cool & Swinging.
PHEW.....another exhausting day.
Day 6 - San Juan
We did not have any excursions planned so we decided to stay on the ship -- just too tired.
Many who did go said they were disappointed with the port.
I did manage to go on deck for the sail away and got great shots of El Morro as we left port. Again an amazing job of backing up, turning and then moving forward out of port. Never felt any movement through the entire process.
After leaving port we sailed past and through several t-storm cells which gave us a great show on the ocean. We also saw a full rainbow over ship but it was too light to get a picture of it.
For dinner we decided to start with some sushi at Jade in the Island Grill at the Windjammer. It was not the best I have had but it was very good - be careful of wasabi - it is very hot.
No more surprise escargot today (I guess we finished the supply), fried shrimp, cream of Vidalia soup (highly recommended), Ossa bucco (also highly recommended) and Irish Cheese Cake.
Thank goodness this was a quiet day. We really needed it.
Day 7 - Labadee
We might have managed to get on the first or second tender. We did not plan it that way but it happened and we headed straight for Barefoot Beach. We did take the tram but unfortunately, they do not turn around even if you are the only one on so make sure you are taking it in the proper direction or you might be on a longer ride that you thought. It was nice though that we got to see Columbus Cove and the Market Place which we did not see last year. We also noticed that they appear to be building a new entrance for the Haitian workers and security to enter.
Barefoot Beach is the 2nd beach on the left and it seems to have everything, plenty of sand, trees and very few rocks. It is about halfway between the pier and the BBQ.
Speaking of the BBQ, it was decent and plenty of food not fantastic. The best was the chicken.
After a great day in the sun and surf (and not going into the market place) we headed back to the ship.
Dinner - antipasti, scallop risotto (just as good as it was last year), lamb shank and Tiramisu.
After dinner we went to the Quest. Now in order to maintain the sanctity of the Quest, I cannot tell you anything about it if you do not know what it is, but what I can say is that it was a little tamer than it was on the Voyager last year but still a great take.
Made another trip out to the bow and made sure my wife went as well. There is no way to describe the feeling of standing at the bow of this ship and feel like you are flying over the water
Participated in the slot tourney and we will leave it at that.
Went to Johnny Rockets - had coupons from the C & A book, food was very good. I can understand why some people might not want to pay a cover to get in, but the food is unlimited when you get in and it is definitely good. The Onion Rings are fantastic. One major disappointment is the size of the shakes for $3.60 + tip.
Dinner - mushroom puff, fisherman's plate (okay I will admit 2 of these), dessert sampler started and then started packing in order to let us enjoy last full day at seaDay 9
Did nothing but relax and roam the ship for a few more photo opportunities
Attended the farewell show and the only good part of it was the power acrobatics and the always popular "10 Most Stupidest Questions Asked On Board". Can you believe that they put the crew on jet skis so they can sleep in Cape Hatteras for the last night?
Dinner - shrimp cocktail, spinach & sweet pepper dip (this is a warm dish and much better then I thought), NY Sirloin strip (like butter it was so tender), dessert sampler (the chocolate component was the best of the three items).
Went to the Viking Crown after dinner for group wrap up drinks.
Day 10 - Debarkation
Our color was the third called by 9:30 and we were on the bus back to Boston 10:00, much smoother than last year.
I can say that the process on the ship is still an issue as far as I am concerned and I would think that they should open the dining room to make more seats available since many people are standing with their luggage in the area outside Studio B and also on Decks 4 near the Aquarium Lounge and Deck 5 from Guest Relations to the Champagne Bar. It also seems that they only had one elevator for those that needed assistance to deck 1 while the others stopped at deck 3.
I cannot comment about the porters and the traffic because we were off so early, that I did not see much of the confusion. I would agree that there might have to be considerations to make sure that there are enough longshoremen there to assist with the luggage since the debarkation process has less time allocated to it then the embarkation process.
I have read other posts that state that the chair hogs were still in force. I agree that there were many chairs being saved but if I needed 1 chair, I was always able to find one as long as I was not looking for one in a particular area.
The Windjammer is always mass confusion because of so many people going in and out but some of the passengers make it worse. I noticed people cutting through lines without asking, slopping food on their plates so that some of it fell into another serving trays and just walk away.
I was pleased to see that there were hand sanitizing stations at every food venue and that people used them (for the most part). There were still some that did not, but they were in the minority.
I liked that most everyone in the Dining Room on formal nights abided by the unofficial rule of formal attire but I can not understand how parents will dress formal and then allow their children to go less than casual. I am not judging them, I just do not understand.
I was fortunate to not come across anyone that might have had a little too much alcohol or possibly had an adverse reaction to the same (do not want to get graphic) or even fights but unfortunately there are always going to be those that will do this and the results will always be the same.
The bottom line is this. Read my review and take it for what it is worth. It is just my comments on what I observed and did and in no way am I suggesting that others had the same experience nor will others in the future. Go on the cruise for yourself with low expectations and you will always be surprised. Go with high expectations and you could be disappointed.