This was the first time we flew into San Juan to take a ship out. We really wanted to go to the ports they offered on The Jewel of the Seas. We had been to San Juan in the past as ports on other cruises. We arrived at the airport after a long flight from Baltimore it took 4 hours for some reason. When we arrived at the baggage claim they already had our bags on the belt I was shocked!
The cabs to the ship are kind of annoying they have all these vans pulled up and it is a standard fee of $21 for the trip plus $1 for each piece of luggage. There was only 3 of us and they wanted to charge the same amount no matter how many people you had. If there was more of course we could have split the cost. The taxi driver did not speak English so communicating with him was interesting.
We arrived at the port and check in was not terrible. There is a duty free shop inside that you can go buy last minute wine but the bottles are pricey like $35 a bottle. So I skipped that. We got on board at like 12:30pm and our rooms were already finished so that was a nice surprise. We went up to the Windjammer to get some lunch. My husband is gluten free so he had some issues locating items he could eat. Which is odd because I was on the Enchantment of the Seas in February and they had items clearly marked and seperated from other items.
The ship is older and is ready for its upgrade in 2014. I found even though it is a bigger class of ships that it seemed like they tried to fit more into it making the ship feel smaller. They had two specialty resteraunts Portifino and Chops. Also there is a "secret" place to eat on the aft at deck 12 they serve made to order items like fish and chips and onion rings apparently no one really knows about this place. The casino was on the small side but they did have a no smoking section which was nice! Also the theater is huge no problems finding a seat. They did have a Starbucks but no Ben and Jerrys!
The entertainment was great on this ship it seems like they have alot more funds for costumes and sets. The comedians were eh. We had the later dining so sometimes it was hard to see the shows and do the activities at the same time. I would have liked to see them offer more earlier in the day. We are huge trivia fans and they really didn't offer as much as I had seen on past ships.
The pools were weird the main one on Deck 11 was small and deep so if you did get in ya had to tred water. It was 6ft deep and my husband who isn't a strong swimmer did not like that he couldn't touch the bottom. Also it was really crowded on sea days and forgt trying to get a chair if you got to the pool any later than 9am. The Solarium pool was nice but I don't like the strong smell of chlorine and they never opened the top like they can. The childrens pool is on deck 13 and it is really small and has a slide but no one was in that I don't think people knew it existed.
Dinner was wonderful however they bumped it back to 8:45pm so it was a tad late before we would finish. My husband is gluten free so they had bread made special for him everynight and he had to pick out his meals the night before so they can prepare it.
I probably would not do another cruise out of San Juan based on the airport issues alone. When we left to come home we were given the run around as soon as we got there. We flew Southwest so since it is a new hub no one knew where it was. After we found it and waited in line they then made us get out of line at the very front because we had to get our bags scanned by the USDA scanners. I wanted to know why they waited to tell us that when we got to the front of the line.
Finally after getting our bags scanned we were able to go back in the Southwest line and check our bags. Then getting through security took forever there was only one TSA guy checking IDs and boarding passes. He was slow and then so was everyone else who actually scanned your carry on bags. Also nothing really to eat in the airport we were there for 3 hours and I had Subway and my husband had Dominos.
So so so so beautiful. We took a tour with someone by the port it was $15 per person and he took us all around the island to see it. I was so surprised by the fact that in the middle of the island away from the beach it is like a desert. Catus and rocks were everywhere. I would have loved to gone snorkeling here but you had to go out by a catameran the beaches were too busy with boats to see anything. Also I talked to another couple who said the water was cloudy where they went out snorkeling.
We booked this last minute but I was so glad we did. We took about a half hour drive from the ship to pick up another small boat on the island. From there it took us on a short ride where we went to a sunken tug boat. It was so clear and fish everywhere. The instructors were really nice as well. My husband is not a big fan of the water so he stayed on the boat while I snorkeled. After getting back on the boat we had rum punch and a slice of watermelon. They also served a hot pocket looking thing that was either filled with cheese or beef they were deep fried so really good!
The scenery in Curacao is like no other we loved all the pastel buildings and things to see. The moving bridge kind of freaked me out it swings from side to side for ships to pass through. However if you get stuck on one side then there is a ferry that is free that will take you back.
We booked with Thurmond Grey tour he was wonderful only $48 per person and he had us for over 5 hours. We saw the entire island including the Fort and a beautiful flower and plant garden. He then took us to a beach Shipwreck Cove and we were not fond of it seemed dirty and unkept. So we all decided to go back to the ship. St. Kitts is a poorer island but has potential. The monkeys out number people. I was able to see some in the wild but people trap them and try and make some money off them by making people pay for a picture. I did not do this.
I have been to St. Thomas several times so we really didn't need to see anything. We stopped at the local Kmart to pick up some items and then look in the little shops by the ship.