Being semi retired being flexiable, watching for cruise bargins between contracts has become a fun way to get away and pick away at our list of places we would like to visit list. We mix it up a bit, cruise, fly and stay, and lucky enough to go with a sense of adventure and can honestly say we have never been dissapointed. Maybe a bump in the road once in awhile, but it takes something pretty catastrophic to rock our boat. So while checking out some cruises and following the prices for a week or two I woke up one morning coffee in hand and saw this fantastic value for a transatlantic. Having never taken a transatlantic, we had questioned the longer periods of time at sea. We also knew the Brillance of the sea was headed for drydock for updating, so knew things might be a little worn. We have traveled on RCCL before so had confidence we still would have a good time.
We left for San Juan a couple of nights prior to leaving port, mostly out of concern for spring weather, snow in the states, wise choice because we were lucky to be one day in front of the storms. Booked the Comfort Inn for two nights pre cruise. We were happy with our room and stay. Room was dated along with the hotel, but everything was clean, staff helpful, included breakfast. We would stay here again, it is not a resort destination, but it is a close walk to restaurants, beach and bus to San Juan. Since this was pre cruise we did not want to spend a lot of money at the hotel, esp since we were spending a additional week in Portugal after arrival. Would stay here again, hotels in San Juan during cruise season is higher then most cities, but that goes along with the travel.
Emabarkation was quick, smooth and effiecient, this is our 8th cruise on several different lines, and we rank it up there with one of the easiest and most pleasent we have had. This cruise was great from the beginning to the end. Stops in Saint Maartin, Sea Days, overnight in Teneriffe. We had beautiful weather, great seas across, with a few larger seas a couple of nights but nothing uncomfortable. Our Captain Hendidk was absoulutely engaging, imformative, and along with the crew interactive with the people. His sense of humor was appreciated, and it was a change from other cruises to be able to understand him. Activities on board were plentiful and options were varied, so I cannot believe there would not be something to appeal to anyone of any age group or lifestyle.
The ship was spotless, a little worn in places, but we were a little suprised to find everything acceptable and not one thing to complain about from the public areas to our stateroom, I am sure that after the updates when in dock schedules after this cruise the ship will be spectacular. Service was excellent, we were in a balcony 8642, again no complaints. We have stayed in spectacular hotels, and some not so spectacular and have a broad range of experiences. This is a beautiful ship and we enjoyed every day to the fullest. Dining in the main dining room was very good, wine steward perfect along with all service and treatment. Again, pleasently suprised. Yes there was rack of lamb, and lobster night.....again very good. We had room service every morning for breakfast, simple and keeps the temptations for too many calories away, it was always on time. Lunch was at the buffet, the varity and freshness was great. Entertainment was fine, we hit and missed several nights. Not Las Vegas or Broadway, but entertaining and we were fine with what was offered.
Upon landing in Lisboa we took our own luggage off, it was a breeze. We needed a taxi to the train station to continue our trip to Porto. We had read all the warning about the unfair charges by the taxi drivers, it is true, we did not get harmed as much a some, but after out trip to Porto we returned to Lisbon for a couple of days and had the pleasure of reporting his cab number and name. The trip to Porto is a must see for everyone, the history, buildings, and city (and don't forget the Port) was worth it all. Lisbon is a great city, enjoyed the sights, and all it had to offer, but Porto is "it".
What more can I say, this trip for the cost which including several great port days, easy transition to fight off jet lag one day, one hour at a time....This trip was a gift for Royal Carribean to us and we appreciate every bit of it. If nothing else we will pay extra to cruise with them next time because of the value this time. It is just the way are. The ship is beautiful, with or without updates, not too big, not too small. Again, we got everything and more for a great sailing and special memoreis. Remember when traveling, esp to different countries in the world, it is not up to the world to entertain you, but important to experience the people, the culture and all life has to offer, it is not a perfect world.