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Independence of the Seas Fun!
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We had a great embarking experience. For whatever reason, we hadn't done the pre-boarding Sea Pass paperwork, so we expected the worst with pre-boarding. RC made it easy and convenient. I had a paper print out that had our cabin # and some info, and it was enough at the beginning. Once we got through security (they just had to look up our names on a list), then the agent whipped through things and it only took us about 5 minutes. Great beginning!
We decided to take some time and sit down to plan out and book our excursions. We are so glad we booked them first thing as we had no wait and we were able to book what we wanted, as there was plenty of room.
Very impressed with the Main Promenade on Deck 5. We spent a lot of time here.
Great entertainment. Fabulous cruise director - Joff Eaton!
Great fitness center. We used it almost daily! Loved having the option of the track of Deck 12, when it wasn't too windy!
This ship catered to More
families, so as a trip for just my husband and I, it was a little annoying at times. The pool area was usually pretty loud and full of kids at times. Highly recommended for those with families, but I would choose a different ship of RC if you want less kids around. My children would have loved it.
Wished they had an outdoor movie screen, as our first cruise did with Princess. I think I heard that it may be in the works. We weren't the biggest fans of the 2 days at sea. When you're at sea, we found that we had to go out after breakfast to secure a couple of lounge chairs.
They have a 2-in-1 shampoo dispenser in the bathrooms, but my hair does not do well with that, so for the first few days I had to deal with not so great hair. Once I bought some conditioner in San Juan...a world of difference.
Great experience in so many ways. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
You don't know what to expect. It was a beautiful private island. Because this was our last part, we were a little more tired, so we decided just to take it easy on the beach. Looking back now, we wished we had booked an excursion so we could see more of the island.
I had heard a lot of hype over the zip line excursion, but when it came down to it, the cost was a major factor and the fact that it's over in a minute or two.
It took us a little bit to get our bearings straight, but once we did, we made the walk over to Columbus Cove. We chose this area because it was a swimming beach. It was a bit crowded and loud with so many kids. Yes, because it was right next to the AquaPark, it drew all the families, thus NOISE!
Another ship was there when we arrived, so many beach chairs were taken, but a native offered to get us a couple and put it wherever we wanted. I should have held off because he didn't give me time to mention that we wanted partial shade, but instead, we were mostly in the sun.
The water was beautiful, although over time with so many people in and out of it with all the sunblock, you could see the oils sitting on the top of the water as the day went on.
We brought our snorkeling gear to try it out, but when my husband went to try, there was nothing that was worth it.
The food RC provided was nice! It was eye opening to see kids on the other side of the barbed wire fence (you have to look for it to see it) with plates in the hands, gesturing to have some food. They weren't aggressive or anything, but it was sad to see.
When shopping for souvenirs of sorts, if you don't want to be bombarded by the natives, then you may want to avoid the wood huts as they are pretty aggressive. We wanted to look, but things got to a point where we had to just leave as it was becoming overwhelming. My head hurt when I left that area. They just want you to buy from them "Please buy so you can help me feed my family". Ugh...that's heartbreaking. So if you don't want to wheel and deal with them, then find the covered buildings. The vendors do have some incredible things to sell: mahogany items, art, stone pieces, etc.
Didn't like arriving at 7am, so that just meant that we got up when we did, had breakfast, then headed out. It was probably around 9:30 or so, which looking back, we wished we had more time here.
We had decided that we would just do a self-guided tour here. Castillo de San Cristobal is walking distance from the Port. It was a warm, windy day and I almost lost my hat a few times.
We only had to pay $10 for the 2 of us to visit both Castillo de San Cristobal and El Morro. We spent more time in Castillo de San Cristobal, as it is huge. A lot of history, it's amazing. The tunnels and dungeons were incredible, but the views were spectacular!
There is a shuttle you can catch for free that takes you from one Fort to the next, but we had just missed one and little did we know that it would be another 20+ minutes before the next one came. We probably could have walked it, but we stayed put.
If you take the shuttle, make sure you stay on all the way to the entrance itself of El Morro. We didn't know where the shuttle stopped, so we got off at where the street ends, but the shuttle continued down the pathway to El Morro. Expect to do a lot of walking.
More amazing history at these Forts and spectacular views. We had no idea San Juan was so big and beautiful. We wished we had more time.
On the return, we waited a little while again for the shuttle and nothing, so we grabbed a taxi from El Morro (very reasonable in price) and our great driver gave us some history on buildings that we passed as we went back. We asked the driver about a grocery store and he recommended CVS Pharmacy which was real close to the Port, so that was super convenient. We had to buy some conditioner, sunblock, etc. This is definitely the place to do it, as it is equivalent to what you'd pay in the states, not the ship or other islands where the prices are jacked up.
We waited a little while, then quickly boarded an excursion bus and van, as there were about 20 or so of us. We were in the smaller van with "Elvis" our driver. We took about a 20 minute or so ride and made a scenic stop along the way at the top of this mountain where you can see the Atlantic Ocean, then the Caribbean. It was a beautiful scenic outlook that is not a mandatory stop, but they have chosen to do.
We make it to White House Bay where our guides give us some instruction, we get our snorkeling gear and are able to spend a good amount of time snorkeling and area that had a sunken pier that was destroyed by a hurricane some years back. So this area was more prime for fish. No coral reef or anything, but some cool fish.
We made our way back to the kayaks, where we shared a two man kayak. They had a guide in one of them, as well as another one trailing in a motorized boat. We spent the next 45 minutes kayaking, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and scenery. It was a great time! Once we got to our destination, the crew had some cold fresh fruit juice, and island snacks. One of the crew members had a giant starfish that a few of us got to hold. Pretty cool. Had a little time to dry off before heading back to the port.
Makes a huge difference when you have a crew that knows the perfect spots. We loved St. Kitts and would come back again!
We had brought a backpack, but once we started snorkeling, then kayaking, we left our back pack in the truck (secure) and just had our sunglasses and waterproof camera with us in the kayak. Once we finished kayaking, the truck was there and we were able to get our belongings.
Make sure and bring sunblock, towel, sunglasses and Teva type sandals. I just had flip flops which I had to take off while snorkeling, then had inside my kayak. Not real convenient!
We enjoyed this excursion, despite being disappointed by the snorkeling. The Golden Eagle is a big size catamaran that holds about 80 I believe, so you'd better enjoy some company. We enjoyed meeting others. The ride to and from take in some beautiful areas. The location we stopped to snorkel at was a pretty busy area. The water was a little cloudy and we covered a wide area, but still didn't see any coral reef and only a handful of fish. Someone on the boat asked us if we saw the sunken cannon, which we hadn't. After that disappointment, we got back on board and road over to this beach area where we'd get to spend some time. Since they had to stay offshore a bit, you had to swim to shore if you wanted to hang out at the beach. Because of the amount of people on board, they ran out of swim noodles you could use to get to shore, I didn't mind that going to shore as it was much easier going in with the waves. I should have gotten off the boat sooner and to shore, as the time went by way too quickly. By the time I got to shore, my husband was there already and we started walking along the beach and ended up having about 15-20 minutes at that point before we saw the crew asking people to head back. I consider myself an intermediate swimmer, but I struggle heading back, as you are going against the tide coming in. One of the crew members had a small boat that he was pulling a life preserver back with, so a few of us hung on as he pulled us back.
Our trip back was fun between the great music they had playing, the drinks and sandwiches they provided and the views. I would not recommend a hat, unless you are sitting underneath the cover, as it gets fairly windy. If you get seasick at all, I would take the necessary precautions as the water can be rough at times.
The crew members were great and fun! There is a note with this excursion that there may be some nudity on the beach area, but we did not see anything.