Thank-you cruise critic. Leading up to the cruise, we were very active corresponding with other cruise critic members. The meet & greet was well organized and my family got to meet some nice kids (pen pals) and their parents. I wish all the kids on the ship were that well behaved with parental guidance. More on that later...
Embarking was fine even though the ship left an hour late (some long shore man union thing ) We never got our luggage until after dinner. So we ate in the DaGama dining room wearing stale shorts and tees. We had a very nice family from New York for table mates. On this cruise, New Yorkers received an extra $500 resident discount from R.C. Didn't that discriminates against residents of other states? Anyway, getting along with your table mates is something that's always a concern. On C.C., we've all read about people sharing a table with unpleasant people. They were forced to change their dining time or dining venue, just to avoid dining with jerks.
The food was just O.K. The coconut ranger cookies were outstanding. A few times I got some appetizers off the kids menu. Loved the kid's guacamole. Quite the taste differerence between a Caribbean lobster and a Maine lobster. Ate once at Johnny Rockets. Terrible service. They eventually brought in windjammer servers to help out. The service in the dining room during breakfast and lunch was also terrible. It took forever to get our food. Why, because there's no assigned seats. So no extra tip at the end of the cruise. Dinner service was of course, much better. Didn't do Portofino but heard good reviews.
The service at Dizzys lounge was poor but we liked the place. Plenty of sleeping seniors taking up the good seats.
The ice show and hypnotist were very good. I believe it's the same ice show from when we sailed on explorer 6 years ago. The comedian was O.K. The other shows were lacking. Funny to see all the sleeping seniors at the later shows.
Our cabin steward Clayton was great. We had a junior suite which was a nice size.
My 15 year old checked out the kids club and came back saying it had gangsta wannabes. She wanted nothing to do with it. The club for 11 year olds was better. We signed her up, but she never went as we always found other things to do as a family. We did experience the gangsta mentality first hand. The 4 of us were at a show when about 20 of these kids came in late and sat behind us. They were talking loudly with profanity. We asked them to keep it down and of course that made things worse. When they started with the racial slurs I had to take my family out of there before it escalated. We were forced to leave to a chorus of cheers and clapping. We complained to an employee who told us we should change our seats. There was also a group walking around with straws spit balling people. I wonder how long they save their security videos?
There was a potentially serious situation involving an out of control kid. A 13 year old went missing late at night. After numerous early morning PA calls, they did a cabin to cabin search, showing his picture. Most of us thought the worst. He was found 12 hours after being reported missing, spending the night in another cabin. So much for the 1 AM curfew, which to me is much too late. A few hours after he was found, we saw the kid on our elevator. We recognized him from his "mug shot" He was on his own and still acting like a punk, as if nothing had happened. I can tell you my dad, being an ex-marine, would have given me the Captain Blye punishment. I'm all for giving kids some independence but this was ridiculous. Makes me long for the old cruise days, when the worst thing an out of control kid would do is tie up the elevators by hitting all the buttons. I really wonder how much R.C. cares. As long as the parents run up a big bar/casino bill, while the kids run amuck till 1 AM and beyond who cares. Anytime our kids were on their own, we kept in touch with our cobra walkie-talkies.
Bermuda-We did a personalized taxi tour with David Fox, mostly around St. Georges, $40 an hour. He was outstanding. Snorkeling at tobacco bay was great. It was our third time there. Nice place.
St. Martin- 1 PM port arrival. Ridiculous. We read some scary stuff about St. Martin on Tripadvisor. We rented a car anyway and drove to Mahlo Beach. I couldn't believe the squalor we had to drive through. I was here 20 years ago on a cruise. They've really fouled their nest. I don't remember any traffic jams back then either. Anyway, at Mahlo, all the drinkers hop off their barstools when the planes come in and then go back to their barstools when the planes land. Some guy was chased off trying to steal unattended items on the beach.
We went horseback riding at Cole Bay beach after that. Pretty cool. We noticed a large gray naval vessel sailing off shore and asked our instructor what the deal was. He told us they have a problem with pirates! The kids thought that was cool but he wasn't kidding! Just like the ones off the coast of Somalia, they rob other boats and yachts, just on a smaller scale.
We didn't have time to do anything else. Never made it up to the French side. I know the beaches are nice up there, but to me it's a lot of trouble just to go up there to sit on a beach.
San Juan- One doesn't want to wonder outside of Old San Juan. The tour guides hound you as you come off the pier. We followed the AAA self-guided walking tour. It was free and worked out fine. About 2.5 hours. We saw many police stationed along the way, so we felt safe. Like most tours it went to the fort ,El Morro, which is the area's main attraction.
Labadee- RC has made a nice area. Everything is walkable so no money and little time is used to get to the beach. The good beach ( no rocks) gets very crowded. My 11 year old and I have never done a zip line so we decided to see what it's all about. The operator wouldn't let us go down at the same time even though there are 4 lines. They're all about rushing through as many as possible. After she zipped, she said, "That's it?" I also wondered what the big deal was. It was a fast $200. No discounts for large families. I heard they generated close to 20 grand from the zip line that day. We should have jet skied instead. At least that lasts longer than 30 seconds. The barbecue food was terrible. We heard the VIP barbecue was so much better.
With all the full days at sea, the 9 day cruise was too long for us. We would rather more than 4 ports. Probably not possible. We really don't drink that much, aren't into public pools and don't like to spend hours sleeping on deck chairs or drinking in the sun. But, the people who had the best time seemed to be the drinkers. When life gives them lemons they make alcoholic lemonade. Anyway, next time I will think twice about cruising while school is out or even cruising out of the New York area.
One other thing. I get women buying costume jewelry on the ship, but who's buying artwork on a ship and why? I would suggest these buyers see that artwork episode of "American Greed" before they do.