My wife and I started our trip flying out from the Indianapolis International airport to Miami International airport on an evening flight. Our American Airlines flight left on time, allowing us to escape the twelve degree Indiana weather. We stayed at a Hampton Inn just outside of the airport and took a taxicab to the cruiseport at Port Everglades, arriving just after 11:00 AM. Embarkation was rapid and easy and we were onboard the ship within ten minutes. We had a quick bite to eat at Windjammers and wandered the ship for a short time while waiting for the cabins to be available at 1:00.
This trip was our first time staying in a junior suite. We appreciated the increased space that was available in our cabin (it was about three feet wider than our previous cabins, except for the times that we had previously had an ocean family suite with our three children. With just my wife and I this time, it seemed like quite a bit more space. There was a small walk-in closet and a bathtub in the bathroom instead of the usual shower tube. The cabin was clean and our stateroom attendant pleasant.
The first two days were sea days and we spent them relaxing and taking in a few shows. Our first port day was at St. Martin and we went on the See and Sea excursion. I got off of the ship early and took the water taxi over to town to wander around and shop for about 1.5 hours then returned to the ship to meet my wife for our scheduled tour. We took a bus ride over to the French side at Marigold. We spent about one hour wandering through the shops, getting a quick snack and seeing some of the artisan's stands. Afterwards, we drove to the shore to get on a semi-sub for an exploration of a nearby coral reef. The boat was OK except that the submerged seating area was quite cramped with uncomfortable seats. There were rivets on the walls on the sides of the seats that we're digging into my left leg as I sat in the seat. Our tour of the reef only lasted about fifteen minutes and the reef itself had a moderate amount of coral. A diver went off the boat and swam around the outside of the boat feeding fish so that they would congregate around the boat for our viewing. Afterwards, we took the bus back to the ship.
The next day, we arrived at St. Kitts and took the Scenes of St. Kitts tour. We took a tour bus to the Fairview Great House for a half-hour stop to see the house and the botanical gardens. The house itself was pleasant and the botanical gardens were small but enjoyable. We then drove to the Romney Manor house which was mostly a store selling dyed clothing and other items. There was a woman demonstrating her technique on creating her clothing art and the grounds were pretty but overcrowded. It seemed to me that this stop was mostly so that we could purchase things from their shop. Afterwards, we drove to a beautiful overlook where we could see where the Atlantic Ocean was separated from the Caribbean Sea by a thin strip of land. It was quite beautiful there for our brief stop and there was a monkey in a diaper and a donkey wearing sunglasses there for photo opportunities, neither of which I took. Next, we drove back to the ship and I spent a short while touring through some of the tourist shop and the St. Kitts museum. The museum consisted of three rooms of exhibitions. I wandered the museum for about fifteen to twenty minutes before heading back to the ship.
Our next stop was at San Juan, Puerto Rico where we took the Old and New San Juan tour. We boarded an old bus for this which had cramped seating and did not seem to have any working front shock absorbers. We had a bouncy ride through town and east along the shoreline just a bit past the airport and then back to a stop at the fort at San Juan. Our tour guide was pleasant but I felt that the bus tour was uninspired. The fort itself was much grander in scale than I has anticipated and I enjoyed spending about an hour and a half touring through the fort. Unfortunately, we were scheduled for only a 45 minute stop here so I skipped the return bus stop to the ship and spent the extra time at the fort while my wife went back to the ship. After the fort, I spent about two hours wandering the streets of old San Juan shopping and exploring before easily walking back to the ship.
Our last island stop was at Labradee Haiti. We were expecting a busy port because the Explorer of the Seas was supposed to join us that day, but it never arrived. I later found out that the Explorer was diverted to San Juan to deal with an onboard outbreak with what was presumed to be norovirus. I was glad personally that the Explorer was diverted away because it would have been bad for our ship's passengers and crew to be exposed to their illness especially with the shared buffet on the island. Anyway, I did some snorkeling off the shore and saw quite a few fish and even two squid playing with each other. I enjoyed a nice buffet at Labradee and then went back to the ship for a rest.
Our last full day on board was a sea day and I spent it relaxing, eating and playing trivia.
On our day of disembarkation, we enjoyed breakfast at Windjammers, went back to the room to gather our luggage and self-carried our luggage off of the ship. It took about 15-20 minutes to get from the ship, through customs, and hop into a cab for a trip to the Fort Lauderdale airport to pick up a rental car so that we could tour around the Miami area for a day before heading back to Indiana the following morning, not looking forward to the 4 degree Fahrenheit temperatures expected on our arrival.