We boarded the HAL line pretty painlessly and had three balcony cabins next to each other but connecting. Our stewards were beyond wonderful; if I felt a little sick and needed crackers, they were there in a flash and with a Schweppe's Ginger Ale to boot. The little touches were great; extra shampoo and turn down service; the 50 times in one week I got lost our steward would get me back to the central elevators and of course the magical towel folding; we still think it's a Turkey but maybe one with a racy past? His beak was quite large. Our captain and his beautful accent gave us updates on the trip and offered to do some real evil to a little thug who was changing the word deck (to I am sure you know) to another word by moving letters around. I still have visions of the young person and his/her family sitting on the dock in San Juan and shivering...never happened but the rascal stopped. The Captain also waxed philosophical about the "bigger ships" next to us piered at San Juan. And, he arranged for his crew to tour one of the behemoths. He kept an interesting blog and I found out once and for all; I do not get seasick, the roll of the ocean reminds me of all those roller coasters and rides at Disney. Our Captain also turned the ship around one night, took us back to San Juan and dropped off an ailing passenger AND got us to the Private Island on time. Magical stuff. We had a lot of rain and squalls to outrun and when the captain spoke of the "family atop deck at 11:30 last night, with their hair sticking straight up" well those pictures are in my den as a testimony to how nutty we can be. (or Dumb Butt) actually the picture frame says "Here Comes Trouble" but basketball runs deep in our family. Gale force winds, who knew? The excursions? Exactly as advertised. The dining experience? A little Fellini-esque due to the "Oh Maury" crowd at the next table. They played a running trivia game all week in the fine dining restaurant first question was "What would you do if you were taken hostage by aliens, who would you sell out?" and it went downhill from there. By the end of the week, these out of the barn but not quite out to pasture 8 brought their ringleader Lydia a satin nightie and the Baked Alaska took a back seat to her and Jeremy (ten years her junior) and their "luckiness" Ah, traveling is so broadening. We forgave it all for the steak and lobster and delectible desserts and (affordable) wine and the all important cheese with everything! Our waiter and wine steward were sweet, efficient and funny. They had little puzzlers for us each night, How do you fit nine horses in a barn made for eight? Easy: One is pregnant. And how do you cut a cake to feed six people only making two cuts. With my family the answer is a small cake for each person. Did we overpack? Yes. Could you replace what you need easily at the ports? No, so I stick by my original idea. Bring too much and enjoy. It's your vacation and talk about do it your way. You really just need sunscreen, your vitamins, meds and a couple of nice dresses and casual outfits. (For me, that encompasses three suitcases) and a camera plus spare. If you have two cameras with you, you never lose one. There was enough space under the bed for the suitcases, the closets were small but well thought out. The photo ops by the ships photographers? Cheesy, but it is you being you and you won't pass this way again. Well, not quite the same anyway. My favorites are the 8 am pix of people who never move before 9 deer in headlights meet guy who paid 80 bucks to snorkel and he will not miss a minute...It's like anything in life you have to stop and smell the coconuts or at the very least be happy you are getting a Rum Colada at Bacardi at noon on a Tuesday. Travel well my friends.
The Bacadi tour was just right in length, the tour guide great and the drinks, well; there is nothing like getting a Rum & Coke at noon and toasting to your life, your family and remembering "It's five o'clock somewhere!" Actually, I heard that a lot on this cruise. Our tour guide careened outta the parking lot and said, "I gotta get you guys there first. When you get their first, you enjoy your two drinks. I have had some people come back to my bus and have had one drink and a ticket left for the other because they ran out of time. That my friends is not pretty." We liked him a lot.... :0)