Getting onboard after spending a night in San Juan at the Hilton Caribe (Highly Recommended) was no problem. A few short lines and there we were in our Balcony Room. Dirty Sheer Curtains to the balcony and no TV remote. Those issue were reported and the remote was delivered. The curtains were removed for cleaning and returned 2 days later. (A few bathrobes were left in the room and a note of apology for the inconvenience were provided).
Overall, the Crew members were pleasant and very friendly.
We signed up for excursions in all ports (St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curacao).
#1. The Coral Museum/Megans Bay was a ripoff. They took us to the Coral Museum/Aquaruim and it was a very poor version of an Aquarium you would see in any major city in the US Mainland. The only clean place there was the gift shop-(of course). Then a ride to Megans Bay. $53 deposit for 2 towels and 2 chairs that they would put in place for you for a tip. Received $30 back before leaving but other than the nice water and the surrounding view I was not that impressed. No one working that beach had any motivation, energy or desire to help. (I would suggest getting a cab from the ship to Megans Bay if you want the beach and avoid the over-priced "excursion").
#2. Snorkeling in St. Kitts was by far the best excursion of the trip. The 4 Islanders that ran that trip were clearly in tune with the fact that were on vacation. It was pouring rain on the way out and they made the best of it by dancing, singing and entertaining everyone onboard on the way out. They were very helpful with the snorkeling part of the trip. On the way back it was a complete party. They made sure everyone was never without an empty cup of their rum punch or a beer. The music never stopped and there was dancing and laughing. A great time had by all!
#3. The Sunset cruise in Aruba was pretty low key. It was basically a boat ride around the Island and we never did see the sunset because it was a hazy/cloudy evening. The bar was open the whole trip and the drinks were basic. It seemed like the crew was a bit overwhelmed. It was very windy and they did handle it well. (Not worth the Money)
#4. I did not take the early morning Snorkel trip in Curacao but my wife did and said it was a very long bumpy ride to the old boat they went out on but the snorkeling was good.
My suggestion to the Cruise Lines is to provide the approximate times the excursions will take place so we can decide if we want to participate early morning or late in the day.
St. Thomas - Been there, done that, shopped. Too built up to meet the expectation of a nice Island anymore. (had been there twice before)
St. Kitts - More of an Island, not as built up, but a lot larger than I thought. Friendly people.
Aruba - Very built up and I can see why people spend a week there. It is big enough and developed enough to provide an array of options for a vacation. However, there is crime and with the incidents in the past several years, not sure I would vacation there unless it was an all-in-one resort.
Curacao - Beautiful architecture, way too many stores but nice island. I encountered a few rude beggars and it looked like a pretty diverse island. Great to read their history and I respect how they have kept up the areas I saw.
Back Onboard - Leaving from San Juan resulted in having well over 50% Spanish speaking cruisers onboard. However, the Latin Music was being played everywhere over 80% of the time. I don't mind the music, but a balance to entertain all cruisers would have been much better. There were also many large families from Puerto Rico and they seemed to be stopping wherever they were standing (usually in a crowded hallaway) to have their family meetings.
The food in the main dining room was very good unless you ordered Steak. Our friends made that mistake the first night and it looked like it was dry and not cooked as requested. I guess they wanted guests to eat steak at Chops (which we did later in the week and it was great-extra $30 per person). The other choices in the main dining room were great and I cannot say enough good things about our Waiter, Drink Waiter and Assistant Waitress. They were attentive, friendly and knowledgeable.
The Windjammer (breakfast and lunch) were well stocked but I did get a bite of bacon with HAIR for breakfast one morning. The response when reported was "oh that's gross and sorry" and 4 strawberries dipped in chocolate left in my room. That left a bad taste in my mouth (both literally and figuratively).
We tried breakfast delivered to the room one morning but it was a spoonful of scrambled eggs, lousy toast and a few pieces of fruit. Better to eat in the Windjammer with the selection.
Throughout the trip the only announcements I could really understand over the PA system were from the Captain. Aside the Spanish announcements, even the others who were supposed to be speaking in English barely had a command of the language (this was throughout the ship-lounges, pool, casino).
Disembarking--Wow-the lines were long and very slow. This was not a good experience. Going through Security at SJ Airport was worse.
My overall assessment is that the being with very good friends and the Crew made it a great vacation!
Unfortunately, I will also remember the rudeness of some of the other passengers, the hair in my bacon and the overload of Latin Music.
One additional note-We understand that the 2nd in Command died during our trip and my condolences go out to his family. Supposedly they replaced him the next day and the cruise was not affected.
However, the method in which this was discovered was through the grapevine (other passengers). They made no announcement even at the end of the cruise, (unless it was from one of the crew I couldn't understand).