For our first time cruise, this could not have been any better! It was easy embarkation and we were on the ship by 12:00 Noon. We had booked our own flight and the cab to the pier was easy. We took the rest of the day for site-seeing in San Juan. Our luggage was in our room by 5:30 and we took the late afternoon before dinner to unpack. We were told it was open seating for dinner and we were to come at 6:30. We elected to still go at 8:30 and there was no problems.
I highly recommend a room with a veranda, we are spoiled and will never do without! With late seating for dining we spent most late afternoons (the ship left ports around 6:00 pm every evening) enjoying the view and room service. Breakfast on the veranda was also a treat. It is amazing to see that most of our pictures of the island themselves were taken from our balcony!
First stop in DR was one we would have done without, but as it was our first cruise, we were excited to see anything available. Other than the Casa De Campo resort excursion, most passengers agreed this was not worth the stop. Our day at sea was fun and spent by the pool meeting other cruisers and enjoying the activities provided by the staff. In Barbados we booked the 5 Star Catamaran excursion and it was wonderful! Strictly 5 star! The boat, activities, and food were all amazing. We did not see much of the town or island, except as we cruised in the catamaran. In Grenada, the town looks very pretty from ship, but is extremely poor and somewhat depressing. We took our own cab to the Grand Anse Beach, which was pretty, but really rough surf and the vendors hounded you constantly. Not our thought of a Caribbean getaway. Antigua was pretty and we enjoyed shopping. We did our own beach again and went to Dickinson Bay. Very pretty and enjoyable. There were some good buys from the vendors, but they did not approach you, they were set up in 'shops' along the beach. Found some good gifts to take home to family. Several restaurants there as well. St. Thomas was by far what we had been waiting for. Very, very pretty. After doing some shopping in town (great place to buy a digital camera) we did another beach and went to Coki Beach. This was by far what we had been looking for all along. Something right off Gilligan's Island! Calm, clear as a swimming pool, and great amenities.
Dinners were wonderful for the most part, a chance to try some unknown foods, and to have seconds of those you loved! We did go to Oceanliners on Wednesday (this works best for the schedule of the week) and it was excellent - it met all the expectations we had.
We only made two shows, and they were enjoyable but not of the quality we had heard for most cruises. They were something you would see put on in a high school production, not by actual paid performers. But with late seating dinner, there were not many shows that fit within our schedule.
The ship and staff could not have been nicer. Everyone was friendly and willing to help in any way. Our assistant waiter, Livia, was the best! Formal dress did not translate to what I considered formal. The men were dressed but many ladies were in pants with dressy tops, and some teenagers were not dressy at all. I did not see anyone turned away. If you like to dress as we do, by all means, but do not fret over what to take for formal nights.
On disembarkation we were told we would have to find a place to store our luggage while visiting San Juan, as our flight did not leave until early evening. We were told by the ship that the airport would not take our luggage up to two hours before our flight. We left the ship at 10:30 am and went straight to the airport. Luckily we did as it took over 1 1/2 hours in line to check our luggage (they DID take it for us without a problem even though it was almost 6 hours before our flight). We then took a cab over to the Ritz Carlton, had lunch, lounged by the pool in the shade, shopped and then went back to the airport in time for our flight. Much easier than having to store our luggage somewhere and retrieve it before we boarded. We saw some people miss their planes as they waited until the two hours before flights and then could not maneuver the lines for baggage check-in. The San Juan airport is not 'user-friendly'.
One other item to note, there were many messages on the boards about alcohol brought on ship. We saw people buying in the port at San Juan before we left, walk right on with bottles, cases of beer, etc. And in other ports, we never saw anyone have their's confiscated. There was talk about people buying liquor in the ship's emporium and taking it right back to their cabin. Do not worry with packing your own, if you would rather buy in port or on board!
This was our first cruise, and we would not change a thing. We are already looking for a next one! The Constellation is an amazing lady!!