The service was the best overall that we had a on a cruise -- everyone was fabulous and our waiter, Wan, and the Diamond Lounge concierge, Carmeliza, were even a cut above that.
There was a very interesting passenger mix with a large group of Brazilians, another group of Norwegians and many other folks from Europe and I think South America. As Brazil and other places in South America are opposite from us seasonally, I would expect that many of the kids were on summer break. The Brazilian families and many others had babies and small children. Lots of strollers.
We had a D1 on the hump -- good location & great views but we got spoiled from the times we had a JS on Mariner and Enchantment.
We drove down from SC to Fort Lauderdale and stayed in Plantation near the Turnpike. Only 7 hours. I was nervous about driving into Miami but it was not bad early on a Sunday with no traffic and DH thought it was about as bad a driving in Atlanta and better than driving through Jacksonville. We took the Turnpike until it dead-ended on I-95 and then were on 95 for about 12 or 13 miles. We got to the port around 10:30 and DH dropped me and the luggage off across from the terminal and parked. He found a great space as lots of folks were leaving. They let us check in the luggage and were able to get our passports checked ahead of the line as Diamond and then wait in a special area until we got priority check-in. We got priority boarding (even before the weddings) and were on the ship a little after 11. I went to make Portofino reservations and they were already booked for Wed. and Thurs. Ultimately, we made reservations on Tuesday (San Juan Day) for Portofino.
Had to change tables as they assigned us to a table for 2. We got a great table for 6 with folks from MD where we moved from 4 years ago. We had the best waiter - Wan, who was scheduled to leave the ship at the end of his contract. He may be on Independence during a time frame we are looking at for winter, 2009. The headwaiter and asst. waiter were also good. The wine selection is getting a bit thin as they cannot find some Italian wines in quantities enough to buy. The food is a bout the same --not as good as in the 1990's but good if you follow your waiter's recommendations, A few dishes were standouts like lobster, shrimp scampi and the filet on the first formal night.
I almost missed the Meet and Mingle on Monday morning as we forgot to set our watches ahead by an hour on Sunday night. However, I wolfed down breakfast in the Diamond lounge and then got to the M&M in Olive or Twist next door to the Diamond Club a bit late. I talked to a few people I had been writing to.
We never made the Captain's cocktail party on Monday or the Crown and Anchor party on Tuesday as DH hates them. So we just went to the Diamond club for drinks and hors d'ouerves before dinner. Therefore, we did not get updates on future RCCL plans from the Captain.
Tuesday's sail into San Juan was beautiful as usual and I got some good pictures of El Moro. We had lunch in the dining room which was nice and relaxing. We walked around San Juan a bit but did not do an excursion. We had dinner in Portofino which was fantastic. Great service and fabulous food. We had a table overlooking the harbor with a beautifully lit up Costa Fortuna docked next to us. I really ate too much!!!!!! Glad we had walked around hilly San Juan before dinner.
We were in St. Thomas on Wed. and just shopped at our favorite jewelry store - Ballerina-Jewelers. You really notice the increase in the price of gold. Ballerina was doing a good business but other stores were not. We also shopped for cosmetics which are a real bargain.
We met our friends from here in SC who had timeshare in St. Maarten on Thursday in downtown Phillipsburg. They took us to Marigot and Grand Case (home of many, many restaurants). We had lunch at a place frequented by locals and those long time visitors in the know. Open air restaurants with all kinds of grilled foods and very cheap prices. We got lots of exercise as we walked around Grand Case and Marigot a lot. We usually go straight to Orient Beach and have not been in downtown Phillipsburg since the mid- '90's so we were surprised at how much nicer downtown is now. Ballerina's St. Maarten stores are lovely. The pier is being upgraded to accommodate larger ships including Genesis. They scheduled the second formal night on St. Maarten day which I think was a mistake as folks were tired. Wish they had scheduled it for Friday which is a sea day. I was too tired to go to the headliner entertainment which was a Temptations imitation group.
We had a lovely Platinum/Diamond breakfast on deck 5 of the dining room on Friday morning. It was sit down with ordering from a menu and they would also modify the selections. They started us out with mimosas!! Friday night was lobster night and our wonderful waiter, Wan, brought us extra tails.
Unfortunately, we had to pack on Saturday but had a lovely day and said a sad farewell to our servers and dining companions.
We were off the ship by around 7 as we had priority disembarkation and we left the port around 7:50 or 7:55 AM (we waited a bit for the luggage). This was the earliest we have ever left a port. We were home in about 7 or 7 ½ hours.
We did not make any shows although in retrospect we should have hit a few including the Love and Marriage that was well handled by CD Alan Brooks. Our tablemates enjoyed the Quest. DH really had fun in the casino.
DH really is looking forward to one more cruise on a Voyager class ship when we sail on Mariner in August, 2007. However, I will be happy with a Voyager or Freedom class ship being located in Port Canaveral at the end of 2009. We did not get any inside information on what might be located in Port C but were told we may know something in April or May. We love the convenience of Port C as it is 4 ½ hours from our house and are keeping our fingers crossed.