Summary. It was an interesting cruise. I enjoyed visiting the islands, the ship was great. Note: I didn't find the ship rocked any more than one normally would . I`m not a Bert Stratton fan, but he was on board and his shows seemed well attended. If you are interested in pictures, go to www.fotki.com/ggrrrr . It is the top album, Southern Caribbean.
Saturday I flew into San Juan a day early. My connection was out of Philadelphia at 11:45am. the airline changed the plane and ended up having 20 more passengers than seats. They asked for volunteers to catch the 6:45pm flight later in the day. They were giving round trip flights anywhere in Canada, U.S., or Caribbean. It seemed like they had enough, so I boarded. At that point they asked for 1 more volunteer, so I did. Once I had my flight voucher, I asked to go standby on the 1:45pm flight and got on! I arrived only 2 hours later than planned and had a free flight.
I stayed at the Radisson Ambassador in the Condado area. I'd booked it through a Priceline bid. It was a nice hotel and room. It had a good restaurant. The staff were very friendly and helpful. Check-in was quick. I walked around the area, its only about a block from the ocean. I'd stay here again.
A friend had told me about a micro brewery in Old San Juan called Old Harbor Brewery, so that's where I headed for dinner. Not one of the taxi drivers outside the hotel had heard of the brewery/restaurant. I had the address so I got dropped off close by and found it without problem. They had 5 drafts on tap and you can order a "flight". The beer and food was good.
I walked around OSJ for a while, saw an outdoor wedding reception in a park by the water. I was coming back the next day to get pictures, so I headed back to the hotel for the night.
Sunday I spent 3 hours walking around OSJ taking in the sights. I visited the Castillo San Cristóbal fort and went to the El Morro fort, but did not go in. I got a lot of great pictures. Old San Juan is very scenic.
I headed to the ship around 1:00pm and boarded at 1:30pm. There were no lines at all, lots of staff. There is a liquor store at the Pan Am pier. They have a fair selection of liquor, but only a couple of types of wine.
I got to my room and there was someone else's name on the door, so I went to see the purser and found out they had upgraded me to an Obstructed Oceanview - sweet! There wasn't much of an obstruction. I had printed out my boarding pass early as I was travelling with work the week before the cruise. It appears they made the change while I was out of town - no problem.
I dropped off my carryon and went aft to see the Adventurer of the Seas, which was docked immediately behind us. I had my ceremonial cruise brew while waving at passengers on the AotS behind us. An hour later, I headed to the old cabin to check for my luggage and there it was!
At 3:30pm I met a friend for drinks and at 6:00pm went to dinner in the Palms. I had traditional dining this cruise and it worked out great, due to the table mates, although I do prefer anytime dining. My table mates were travelling together (7 of them) and they were a lot of fun.
Sunday dinner: Vegetable Spring Rolls - ok Tortellini and Spinach Soup - very, very good Prime Rib - Delicious Bananas Foster - good, but a small portion, which was probably a good thing!
I met Augustin the steward after dinner. Very nice guy. We had the muster drill and then I just wandered around until 10:00 when they started setting up for the sailaway party which started at 10:45pm. The `ship` band was very good. Sailaway was not as well attended, most likely due to the time (we sailed at 11:30pm).
Monday The advantage of booking inside cabins is that if you leave your drapes open, you don't get blinded at 8:00am after staying up late! Needed coffee!!!!!!! I headed down to the International Cafe (I had bought the coffee card on my cruise in December) and met a dinner table mate with the same idea.
Monday was a sea day and I love sea days! Lots of relaxation!
Monday dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good Won ton Soup - good Pork Roast - good
Saw comedian John Joseph in the Explorer lounge. He was very good. I then headed over to watch Princess Popstar. There were 10 contestants, 3 were good, 1 was very good. I then headed up to Skywalkers.
Tuesday - Aruba I walked down the pier and got a 2 hour land tour for $15. The tour guide was Glenda and she was very good. There were 17 of us in her bus. I took lots of pictures. Tried the local beer - Balashi and it was good! Aruba was very scenic, but very commercialized in areas. It had Benihana, Wendy`s, Ruth's Chris, Dominoes pizza, Pizza Hut, Tony Romans, even a Hooters! Its a place of contrasts.
Tuesday dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good Caesar Salad - good Fish and Chips - Good Chocolate Chip cookie with vanilla bean ice cream and fudge - very good
I tried to get into the Princess Theatre about 15 minutes prior to the show, but it was full with 4 rows standing behind. So, I headed to the Explorers Lounge, met a friend on the way and we play the `Majority Rules` game - it was lots of fun and my partner gave the asst Cruise Director a coughing fit from one of her answers that I made her scratch out (but was still readable) LOL.
Wednesday - Bonaire We were only in port from 7:00am-1:00pm. Again I walked down the pier and got a good 2 hour tour with Orlando for $20. After the tour, I hopped in a taxi and went to get pictures of a client's plant I support. I told them I`d mail a picture of me standing by their plant entrance. The people on Bonaire are very friendly and it is a very pretty island. The guide told us there is not much in the way of nightlife, but more than makes up for it with very good snorkeling, scuba diving or just enjoying the sights. They have set up many preservation areas. This would be a good island to return to.
Wednesday dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good (yes again) Caesar Salad - good (yes again) Chicken Cutlet with Fontini cheese Fruit with cheese sabayon Limoncello
Thursday - Grenada For Grenada, I had booked the Princess `Spice Island Tour` for $49. This tour stopped at 2 spice factories (1 was very seedy so to speak). Laura's Spice Garden was very good and informative. We had a guided tour around the spice garden and I found this to be worthwhile. I bought some spices to give to some friends, as how much fresher can you get! We then stopped at a rum factory and while I got some good pictures, my advice is not to do this, not very good.
Thursday dinner I just had a hamburg as I wasn't very hungry. I found out later that this was the night they had the Twice Baked Goat Cheese SoufflE with Garlic Sabayon. I would have gone just for that! I then watched the March Madness games
Friday - Dominica Myself and a friend walked down the pier and found a private cab - Bobby. There ended up being 6 of us taking a tour. Bobby took us to the Emerald Waterfall and to a locales area where there was a hot spring (it was like a little hot tub). We then went to a locals fresh fruit stand where the guy would cut up the fruit we wanted right there and there was no charge, we would just leave what we wanted to leave. We then dropped the other 4 people off, they were ziplining and we headed back to the ship area.
Dominica is an interesting island to explore. It is very scenic. Unemployment is the highest in the islands around here (around 18-20%). There were many, many, many taxis waiting at the end of the pier for passengers and while they are not rude, there are a lot of people vying for your attention. I'm very glad to have seen Dominica, but I doubt it will be factor in another cruise.
Friday Dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good (sigh, yes again) Filet Medallions - very good
I went to the Captains Circle party and then headed to the Explorers Lounge to the see Michael Harrison, a comedian ventriloquist (he was good). After that it was more March Madness.
Saturday - St. Thomas I stayed on board as I've been here. I don't think I`ll book a cruise with 5 islands again, I like my sea days. It was very quiet on board and they let me run with scissors!
Saturday dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good (sue me!) Pepper Pot Soup - good Striploin - very good Dessert was a Baked Alaska that I didn't try as I was full. I was told it was good.
Sunday - Disembarkation We had to put our luggage out Saturday night, you have no choice, there is no walk-off. They give you a color code and you attach it to your luggage. They move your luggage to a holding area where you pick it up after you go through customs. My disembarkation time was 9:30am from the Palms. My color got called on time and I was through customs in about 15 minutes, very smooth. You then pick up your luggage and away you go. I easily got a cab and was at the airport around 10:30am for a 2:30pm flight.
This airport is a zoo. There were 3 cruise ships coming in Sunday. First you have to stand in line to have your bags scanned by the USDA. Then you get in line for your airline. Then you get in line for security. And of course there is no one directing people to the USDA line, so people just get right in line where ever they want. Stay the extra time and see the sights, or, book a late flight and go later and hopefully the lines will be shorter. Also, once through security and in the waiting area, there is 1 sit down restaurant and 1 fast food place. Seating is at a premium. If I fly out of San Juan again, I`ll stay the extra day.
We starting boarding at 2:00pm and I was ¾ down the jetway when the ticket taker came down the line and asked if I was travelling alone and if so, she would upgrade me. So, I went first class from San Juan to Philly! We got into Philly about 6:30pm and my flight was at 8:50pm. So, they came on and told us it was delayed. They said the plane was on it`s way from Greensboro and would land at 9:00pm. At 9:20pm, I wondered if they knew their plane was missing. They then told us it was delayed again and that they were overbooked by 5 and were looking for volunteers. Not this time, I was tired. We ended up on the plane at 11:00pm. An airline employee then came on the plane and said they needed 1 more volunteer or the plane would not take off. Someone volunteered.