Freedom 8 day route including Grand Turk, Romana, D.R., Curacao, Aruba. Grabbed a great last minute deal just days before departure. Ship was fairly full, but never felt crowded except around the main pool on sea days. Embarkation was typical. Rooms were ready soon after we got aboard around 1PM. Headed to buffet for a bite and sat on the fish and chips level above the buffet. Buffet food was good if you were selective with usually something worthy of eating and even healthy stuff. The Fish and Chips as well as the Deli are hidden gems with great quality selections that many people don't find. The service on the ship was generally quite good and the staff seemed to have a great attitude and it showed. The entertainment was fair, not bad, but not great. They had music every evening by the casino and lobby the quality ranged from good to just ok. They had DJ music by the pool and some sea days guitarist that were good. The shows were only fair; quite a lot of overdubbed singing dancing numbers with video backgrounds; not as deluxe as some ships, but interesting distractions. They have added additional commedians including all age shows with a different set on the outbound route and return route giving you a chance to see 4 distinct shows and a couple more if you hit the clean all ages shows. The ship is in pretty good shape though the decor ranges from loud to strange. The main dining room service was excellent and the food was good if you were selective. Some entrees I would have been disapointed with, but if you stick with the better choices you will not be unhappy. I enjoyed multiple appetizers and all were really done well from presentation to flavor. They are happy for you to pick several appetizers if you wish. The various steak options (available every night) were all good. The Guys Burgers are also not to be missed. The Gym is full of almost new equipment with really nice treadmills each with TV. The adult areas were peaceful and those hot tubs at the highest deck front of the ship are wonderful; you get a wonderful view. We have a teenage daughter and she had a blast with lots of other kids to run around with; they would start at the Circle C club and then head out on their own for hours at a time. The ports on this cruise were our major attraction since we have been on other conquest class ships we were very familiar with the layout. We are avid divers and Grand Turk especially will not dissapoint you.
Took cab to Palm Beach resort area. This area has a nice public beach in front of the various high rise resorts. Lots to do here for fun. We walked up and got a 2 tank dive last minute, but I would recommend reserving becase they do fill up. The operator was right on the beach, we geared and then loaded a boat right off the beach. The diving was OK and for people who do not dive much it would be very good. Not as good as Grand Turk which was excellent. They dive the Antila wreck which would be nice except there are sometimes half a dozen or more other boaths there at the same time so a bit chaotic and not the best visibility. The wreck itself is interesting and encrusted with lots of sponges and life, just wish for lots less people. Second dive was patch reef off Arashi beach area; more scerene and got to see some turtles; visibilty again was fair.
Grabed tour bus outside of the port for $20 each. Air conditioned tour of town, over the big bridge, couple stops Curacao distillery, shopping, optional beach drop off near Sea Aquarium beach area or down town. Great walking in the old town; reminds you of Europe. Kind of pricy, but safe and fun with lots of photo ops. The floating market and floating bridge areas are nice. Lots of cafe style eateries along the water. Easy return to ship walking across bridge and following waterfront back through fort and resort. Very nice and ship stays into the evening if you want to play late. Stores close by 6; so shop early. Did not dive here, but friends who did say it was very nice and well worth doing. The ship does not offer diving because they get in early afternoon, but local charters are available.
We booked a dive privatelythrough Grand Turk dive gtdive.com. They were very responsive and the diving was phenomenal. We did 2 dives over the wall right in front of their little resort hotel area. We dive a lot and this diving was nice; near unlimited visibilty and very health coral and fish stocks. Their dive boat is just a little 24' skiff, but the dive master is excellent and the underwater terrain is unbelievable. This is a nice quite area just 5-10 minutes by taxi from the port and we were the only people on the most beautiful beach; very few ammenities in this area; just some low rise motel catering to divers and a small pub.
This port is only fair. D.R. is a fairly poor country and there is not much to do without a tour. The Altos de Chavon in the Casa de Campos development was worth a couple of hours max. It is a recreated village; well done and looks old over looking the Chavon river with lots of photo ops. The shoping and dining were pretty expensive, but there are a couple of places worth seeing and the small market at the far end has some good stuff and beer for only $2-3. Get there early because quite a lof of tours pass through quickly. It is very serene when they first open, but gets busy later. We got a bus right outside the cruise terminal for around $20 each. The ship price was higher $49/39, but may have included a second stop. The drive in through the resort is also very pretty and it looked like they had other intersting options as well.