Pre-Cruise stay and info.: We arrived in FLL the day before. Our flight was delayed so we got there a few hours later then anticipated. I traveled with a group of 4 couples.
The night before we stayed at Cambria Suites in Dania Beach. We wanted to visit The Hard Rock Resort the night before and this hotel is one of the closest.
Cambria Suites is fairly new and the rooms are a good size and the beds were amazing. The shuttle service to the port was very organized. My only complaint is I went to the desk to arrange a cab for our group to go to lunch. I specifically requested a cab. A van arrived we told him where we wanted to go. The name of the "service" (we later discovered) was Welcome. As we are on our way the driver calls "his Boss" to tell him where we wanted to go and tells us it will be $56.00 roundtrip for our group. We had a total of 6 going. I found it a bit odd I didn't see a meter but at this point didn't think too much about it. We had wanted to go to Tark's for lunch. First of all he had never even heard of it and I was having to google where it was. I had researched it on tripadvisor and it had really good ratings. When we finally arrived it looked like a total dump. I wsn't expecting a 5 star restaurant but unless he just took us to the wrong place it looked nothing as described by the many reviews on Tripadvisor.
There was not a table to be seen looked like everyone was on a barstool. Suffice it to say the others I was with wanted to go elsewhere.
We had eaten at Millerr's Ale House so we asked him to take us there. At this point we still thought we were in a regular cab. He then proceeds again to call "his Boss" to tell him we didn't want to go to the original place, since plan be was on the way back he said still the 56.00. We all started to get a bad feeling about this place when we asked him about stopping at a Publix for wine. Once again he goes to call his boss.
We have never had a problem getting a cab to sit outside for us with the meter running. At this point we ask how much it would be for the "service" we had up until arriving at Plan B. Still the 56.00 price and a no go on stopping at a Publix. So from here we ended up letting them pick us back up from Millers and return to the hotel since it was going to be 56.00 regardless. When we got into the van it was a different driver.
I had already pulled up to see there was a Publix 1.6 miles away. Once again this driver calls "his Boss" and it was like going through the act of Congress to make a simple stop. We had no problem compensating them for the time etc. Once again, the driver acts like he doesn't know where Publix is and his on the phone with "his Boss".
We finally give up and tell him not to worry about it just take us back to the hotel. On the ride back the driver is trying his best to explain to us their company is a service not a cab. I was telling him I requested a cab at the front desk. I really felt bad for the driver as like us he was stuck in the middle of "his Boss" and his passengers. I was more upset at the front desk for arranging the service rather then a cab as I asked for. I told the driver I was unhappy with "his boss" and would be putting a complaint on tripadvisor.
The poor driver was really trying to make us happy he said let me talk to my boss and if I can take you to Publix at no charge will you please not put a negative review? We said yes that would be great. Well, evidently Cambria Suites and "his Boss" are in cahoots because "his boss" was at Cambria Suites when we returned. Us girls waited in the van thinking we were going to Publix. "his boss" came over to us and got all argumentative with us. Saying he didn't charge us any extra when we decided we didn't want to go to the first restaurant. I tried to tell him we knew the trip was longer and had no problem in paying for the extra distance. I tried to tell him we were really close to Publx from Millers Ale House and he told me I didn't know anything. At this point I had, had enough. We got out of the van and told him we would just call a regular cab to take us to Publix. We thanked the driver for trying as he really seemed to feel bad for the whole situation.
As I was walking back inside to get help from the front desk for a metered cab service he started yelling at me saying he had thousands of clients a month and didn't need my business. It was all I could do to bite my tongue to not get into a knock down drag out with him in the hotel lobby but somehow I managed to keep my cool and just ignore him.
I went to the front desk and asked if I could please arrange for a cab that was a regular cab with a meter not a "service". They gave me the one with all the 7's. I called them from my cell and within a few minutes we had a cab at the front. Much better experience the driver knew where Publix was got there and back without issue. We called them back when we got ready to go to The Hard Rock. All went well.
On the return ride I felt calmed down enough to report the issue with the hotel manager. I told him I booked Cambria Suites because of it's closeness to Hard Rock but also based on their high ratings here and on tripadvisor. I said if they continued to recommend "the service" to their clients they would drop their ratings. I told him what I was most upset about was that I specifically requested a cab from the front desk. He was full of apologies but really felt like he was just telling me what I wanted to hear.
I am sorry this has gone on and on and been so wordy by no means did it put a damper on our vacation. I just wanted to give anyone else enough information staying at Cambria Suites so they could avoid the situation we fell into. I have tried to find info on this shuttle "service" but can't seem to find anything. The name on the van was Welcome.
In Summary would I stay at Cambria Suites again? Yes, if the price was right. I would just make sure to call my own taxi service in the future. The rooms were very nice and the beds were amazing. Another positive I forgot the mention that I thought was really nice. The next morning we went down for breakfast. I'm not a big breakfast eater so I just wanted a bagel. The food and beverage manager heard me trying to order just a single bagel and DH was ordering the buffet. The manager told me please don't worry about the extra charge for a bagel if that was all I was having to just get that in the same price as DH's buffet. I wish I could remember his name but I really thought that was very nice of him.
Miller's Ale House is where I will make sure to go in the future great food great prices and great atmosphere!!
We had arranged for a 11:00am shuttle with Cambria the night before. It was very organized, they loaded us by ship in order of how the driver would drop off. We dropped our luggage tipped our driver and porters and headed to the check-in line. We were in line about 10 minutes before we made it inside and went through the scanners.
I had two bottles of wine in my bag and DH had one. One of our couples didn't take any aboard so she stayed close to me to claim the extra bottle if need be. I couldn't give to her to carry as her carry on wasn't large enough. To all those wanting to know how strict they are getting I would say yes they are. They have never sent us to a wine check-in line before and when the bottles showed up they sent us to another line. Again, my friend came with me. They write down how many bottles of wine per cabin you are carrying on. Since I put a bottle on my friends cabin I don't know if they would have charged the corkage fee for going over so maybe someone else can chime in soon but, they are keeping track. The good thing about going into the line the check the wine is that when they put you back in line you are then in the line for Elite & Suites so we got to the counter really quick. This may be a glitch they they figure out after a few sailings.
We were on the ship shortly before noon and first went to drop our carry on's in the cabin.I also got on the dining line and made reservations for Crown Grill, Sabatini's & Winemakers Dinner. The Winemaker's in only done a few nights so she basically told me the nights and we would get a confirmation in the next few days if we got a time.
Of our 4 couples 3 of us were side by side balcony's on Lido. We had L227 a mini, L229 a Deluxe and L231 a regular balcony. As we were headed out we ran into our cabin steward and asked if he could open our dividers. He said no problem. Yes, the balconies are a bit smaller but when you can open 3 in a row it really helps.
We headed out to the Horizon Court/Bistro area and what everyone says is true "walk through it all first then come back and put on plate". There is so much food and so many people the first day that it really will get cold before you get to the table. The first day was the only day we had trouble finding a table for 6 of us. if you have more then two I would suggest getting the table first then take turns going to the buffet. After the first day it wasn't an issue at all. There was literally no waiting in line and everything I had in this area all week was really good.
After lunch we started exploring the ship. We went to the aft bar area and had a drink and sat in some really comfy outside furniture for a bit. Then it was time for the Lifeboat Drill so we headed back to get those and on to our Muster Station which was in the Art Gallery area.
After it was over DH and I headed to the Retreat Pool Bar where our informal meet & greet was scheduled. There were only a few of us there. Our sailings Roll Call the majority wanted an informal meeting. I was able to meet more of our Roll Call in St Marteen for a tour many of us did together.
Once the ship started to move those of us that were there seemed to all go to the railing and I don't know about the others but I never made it back.
We went to do some exploring and the ship is just beautiful. The Piazza did indeed have the WOW factor. Everything is decorated very elegantly. I think the only area I thought otherwise was The Princess Live Area. There are some neat chairs outside of it but the Princess Live itself looks really out of place. I think a Explorer's type lounge is much better suited but that's just me.
We decided to go back to our cabins and see if luggage had arrived, it had so spent some time getting it all put away. We had a 8:00PM reservation at Crown Grill and were to meet up at Wheelhouse Bar just outside of Crown Grill. Wheelhouse was pretty crowded and we had 6 of our 8 to arrive with really nowhere to sit. The hostess at Crown Grill saw me and asked if we were dining there and I said yes but we still have two that aren't here. She said that was fine she could seat us if we wanted. We were all glad as there was no place to sit at the bar area.
To my surprise and was secretly hoping for we got the table in the Cellar Room. It was beautiful. I did take pictures but haven't gone through them yet.
The service and the food was amazing. My only disappointment was the scalloped potatoes are no longer a option for a side. I had read this earlier so was prepared but still holding out for a little hope.
We had 8 people and each and every course was above satisfaction for all of us.
After dinner we kind of went our separate ways. The guys the casino us girls the disco. The disco is now by the casino. There were more people there then I would have thought but still not as active as a disco on Carnival. I think we stayed till about 2:00am and there were still quite a few when we left.
Let's see where was I?? The bad thing about having to piece together a review is the memory starts to get a bit foggier!!LOL
Day 2 was Princess Cay. Since this is a tender port we didn't rush to get off as I have read reports here where some glitches are still needed to be ironed out. We waited till about 11:00am and went to the appointed location for tender tickets. We only had to wait a few seconds before our tender # was called. DH and I have been here before so knew how beautiful it was. Our other couples in the group it was their first time here and everyone loved it. The weather was hot the water was still warm we couldn't have asked for a better day. After a few mango dacquri's throughout the afternoon we headed back on one of the last tenders.
We had decided to eat at Alfredo's for dinner. While I was getting ready I started to not feel very well. I had only had two daiquiri's and a beer at Princess Cay but combined with the heat must have made me feel bad. I made it to Alfredo's and ordered but had to leave before my food arrived. Luckily I always pack phenergan so I went back to the room and took two. I tried watching a movie but fell asleep before it was over. Everyone else loved Alfredo's though!!
The TV's in the room with the on demand movies are a wonderful feature. I did miss not being able to watch ABC, CBS or NBC.
The next day was our first sea day. I must have needed the rest as it was after 10:00am before I woke up.
Now I really wish I had gotten back here sooner because my brain is getting really foggy.
Once we finally got up went to the deck to find lounge chairs. We checked out The Retreat Pool but it was really windy. We finally found 2 chairs together by the main pool, starboard side on one of the levels like stadium seating.
I was starving so I went to the grill to grab some burgers. I was the first one there shortly after 11:00. Was feeling generous so I also grabbed DH one. A short time passed and we found two of our friends, we had one chair by us and the guys grabbed another one so we could all be close by.
After about an hour the guys decided to check out the casino. We girls stayed for a bit longer then felt ambitious and went to check out the track. Where we walked our only 1.5 miles of the entire cruise. It was so funny because we would stop at the stations and as someone walked by we would start counting "98, 99, 100 whew, you did good!!" lol
We both do yoga and had every intention of doing a few classes but just never made it.
By this time is was getting late afternoon and we realized we better get back and start getting ready as it was our first formal night. We all agreed to meet at Vines. After everyone got there DH went over to the dining room to get our names on the list and was told it wasn't necessary they could seat us whenever we got there. So, we went and did a few pictures then on to the dining room. For the life of me I can't remember what I had but I think it was a fish. The last few cruises I haven't been that crazy about the fish but this one was actually pretty good.
After dinner we didn't last too long, or atleast I didn't. I knew we had to get up a bit earlier for our St. Thomas excursion.
The night before I had filled out the room service card to get breakfast between 7:00-7:30. They arrived shortly after 7:00. I had written in a few items since reading lots of times they would add them. It wasn't anything like eggs Benedict just bagel with cream cheese and it arrived. I have to say I saw the selection for a English Muffin Breakfast Sandwich and got 2 to try. OMG they were better then McDonald's.
I was really worried about what I had planned for the group today. While I did give them the option to go with us or not they all did so trying to please 6 other people is always a issue for me. I'm always worried they will hate it especially when this excursion is a bit pricier then some.
In 2008 I discovered High Pockets Day Sail and this is what we have done every visit to St. Thomas since. My only problem was I had 8 people and the daysails can only take 6 people. Kathleen was wonderful and coordinated with Fantasy Daysail for us to do a tandem sail.
On the morning we arrived she had a taxi meet us just off the ship. He was really easy to spot with a neon pink sign. The 8 of us loaded up and off we went to Red Hook. Once there we had 4 go with each boat. I knew the couple that came with us was loving it from the second they got in the dinghy to get to the sailboat. The other 4 I wasn't so sure. I hadn't prepared them for the dinghy but with a little help they got in then onto the other Sailboat.
The water was a bit choppy due to a tropical system Melissa but as usual Katheleen did not disappoint she took us to an area where it was surrounded by islands and very little water movement. We got to snorkel around a coral reef. Up until now I hadn't been able to tell if the other two couples were having a good time or not. Well, lo and behold my other friend who can't swim was in the ocean. She was in the middle of a life vest and loving it. Her husband pretty much jumped off the boat before it stopped he was so excited so I knew they were having a great time.
It was the other couple I was worried about who pretty much are die hard Oasis Class and compare everything to it but much to my surprise they were having a great time too. These 4 even got on the sailboat saying they might want to go in earlier. Well when the time came for them to stay or go guess what? They stayed.
Kathleen then took us to another area where the water was even calmer. I just went out with a noodle this time and myself and the other lady with me swam over to the other boat. Guess what? My non-swimming friend was in the water again. After we got back to our boat against the current, they decide to tell us we had a Barracuda under us. I can't remember exactly where we were but there is evidently a barracuda named George that hangs out there. I did a limb check had had all my arms, legs fingers and toes so I guess he must be friendly!!!LOL
On the way back to Red Hook Kathleen serves homemade Rum Cake. The other did cookies so we were all holding up our rum cake to the other boat.
We arrived back to Red Hook, our same taxi driver was there to take us back. It had been another wonderful sail and hated to say goodbye.
We got back to the port about an hour before we were to depart and walked around the shops and back to the ship.
Now once again here is where I am getting foggy. I am pretty sure we ate again in the MDR. I can't remember what I had but I know it wasn't bad because I didn't have a bad meal the entire sailing. One of the guys in our group decided he was in love with the Fettuccine Alfredo and had it every night.
Once again, I go back to the cabin close to 11:00. St. Martin is the next day and again have to get up a bit earlier.
Let's see if I can get this finished before I forget anything else.
Today is St. Martin and I have not only my 8 set up for Bernard's Tours but many of my roll call as well. There was 39.5 of us. We were originally supposed to be with Bernard but when we got there I had everyone crossed off and accounted for, (except for one couple that I think had to get off the day before and go home due to a family emergency. I hope all is ok with them.)
I had requested Bernard when I originally booked him but he had broken his leg. Everyone went to Bernard and paid for their tour. He had us set up with guide Sugar and driver Eddie.
It was overcast that morning and Sugar suggested us going to the Iguana Farm first in hopes the sun would appear. Again, I am a people pleaser and was worried the entire time I would make a decision that someone didn't really want to do. I jumped up and asked everyone and they all seemed ok with it.
As to try and not have any conflict with each other I had pretty much said the entire time that if anything weather wise didn't work out was everyone ok with adjusting how much time we spent where and all seemed ok with that. By the time we got to Orient Beach the wind was really bad and still not sunny. After a quick poll everyone seemed fine with cutting our stay a bit short here. We agreed on one hour and everyone went there separate ways. I think everyone got a kick out of the "welcome Weinee" at Orient Beach!!LOL
From here we headed to Marigot. Safrina's was well worth the wait or should I say "weight". I think this is where I picked up 6 extra pounds!!
From here we went to Maho Beach, Sugar called ahead to Sunset Beach Bar and got us a section blocked off. Many ate here. Next time I am getting a cheeseburger they were big enough for 4 people!!
We got to see a few good sized jets. We loaded up and were about to pull out when one of the one's in my immediate group says we are missing someone, of all people it was my husbands boss. After a minute or two we found him walking thru the parking lot.
My DH, myself and one other couple got off in Phillipsburg. We thought we would make it back when Sugar came to get us but just to be safe I went ahead and tipped him and the driver. It was a good thing because the weather was perfect and we ended up taking the water taxi back.
Next is quite oddly one of the highlights of the trip. In port we were beside RCCL ship I think it was Freedom of the Seas. We had 3 starboard balconies in a row they faced their ship. Both ships were waiting on last minute passengers. RCCL ended up winning the race for the last passengers on the ship. For awhile there it was like a horn match going on, we won the race on this one because what ship horn could beat one that was The Love Boat Theme?? Finally the last RCCL passengers arrived via golf cart. Everyone was out on their balconies hooping and clapping as they boarded.
St. Martin had come and gone but now it was time to shift gears and get ready, we had The Wine Makers Dinner to get to.
For those of you wanting to try, it's 40.00 per person and well worth it. The wine flowed freely (thanks Bill from Roll Call for the warning so I knew to lay off the rum punch, too bad DH boss didn't as they didn't make it)first course is a chef's prepared appetizer that the way they explained he basically doesn't know what it will be until shortly before. It was a scallop on some kind of mashed peas, it was ok. Next was the soup, omg it was amazing. Next course a gnocchi wow was it filling. Filets were the main course. By this time I was so stuffed. I wish I had skipped the meal at Sunset Beach Bar. They served Napoleon's for desert which I didn't think could be any better then the one I had from Safrina's but it was to die for. Sadly, I could only eat 2 bites.
I truly felt like The Michelin Man or should I saw woman tumbling out. I was so stuffed I was miserable and went straight back to the cabin. So, suffice it to say along with watching what you drink during the day you also should skip lunch!!
I headed back to the cabin to finish watching a movie.
Our last two days were sea days. I laid out for a little while, then checked out the pictures. Looked in the shops and played bingo.
This was our next Formal night and we opted to eat in the MDR. Again we had no wait the food and service was wonderful.
After dinner we all kind of went in different directions. Myself and one of my friends aren't too much on the casino so we stood out and watched Beatlemania for a bit then went to Crooner's and say Kory Simon. We both thought he was really good.
After that we went to the disco and later the guys joined us. Once again there were quite a few people there.
I think this is the night we got back to the cabin and got room service. I got a club sandwich and hubby got a cheeseburger. Both were great and got there about 10 minutes before they told us it would be there.
I had packed a little during the day so I wouldn't have as much to so the last day.
We once again slept really late for us it was almost 11:00 before we got up. We basically did much of the same from the day before. We had Sabitini's booked for dinner tonight. There were 6 of us. The menu has changed since I was there last. Service was great but it just wasn't as fun as previous cruises. The food was good but wasn't great. I have always raved about Sabitini's. It may be the Wine Maker's Dinner has just surpassed Sabitini's. I really enjoyed Sabitini's on The Ruby, it's in such a great location.
After dinner we wondered around for a bit then on to finish packing. Our week had come to an end.
Debarkation was very smooth. We were off the ship and to The Hard Rock Resort by 10:30am.
We had a wonderful cruise and I am so glad I have sailed this ship. She truly has by far been the most elegant and best food of any ship I have been on. Would I sail her again? Yes, but the itinerary would really have to change. Love all the stops but would like to see some sailings going to St. Kitts, Antigua etc.