This was our second cruise and having gotten some much enjoyment and valuable information from other peoples reviews I think its only fair that I now write mine. We flew into Orlando on the Friday, as we like to have a full day before the cruise in case the airline loses a bag (has happened in the past), so we spent Friday and Saturday night at the fantastic Rosen Shingle Creek hotel at a great last minute rate of $80 per night Really is a beautiful hotel. We had rented a car of Budget at the airport and drove down to Cape Canaveral Sunday morning and returned the car and got the free shuttle to the Port. I have to say the staff at Budget were very friendly, helpful and efficient in both the airport and in particular Cape Canaveral (we rented again after getting off the cruise. Embarkation Once we got to the port it took about 90 minutes to get through security, checked in, and sea cards issued. From our previous cruise and from talking to the staff this was much longer then usual but everybody seem to turn up at 1.30. It was fine, everybody was in high spirits and you could see steady progress. Once on the ship we went to our room and were delighted to see that our luggage had made it to the room before us.
Entertainment I have to say this is where there really is added value in a cruise holiday. The quality and the variety of the shows is very high. we both really enjoyed all shows that we saw but have to recommend that you do not miss the love and marriage, the quest and the battle of the sexes. these truly are laugh til you hurt funny. At this point I also have to mention our cruise director Alan Brooks and his team. Alan has a quick comic mind and timing that would do him very well if he every decided to go into stand up comedy.
Food and Service From reading some of the reviews you would think that you are going to be served gruel "please sir can I have some more". Listen the food is good, its not "wow this is the best thing I've ever had" but it is fresh and plenty full with a wide variety. The menu in the MDR is very good and if you make a bad decision which my DW did one night your server is more then happy to change it for something else. Jade and Windjammer are standard fair and I loved the nachos and guacamole that they put on in the afternoon. Chops was the only disappointment for me, the service was good but the quality of the steak was very disappointing both my rib eye and my DW's filet were very tough even though they were cooked medium rare. We could just have been unlucky as we did have steak in the MDR and this was lovely.
Drink Drink really run the gambit, - we got the wine package which was very good value, 5 bottles for $150 (including gratuity) this gave us plenty of choice. I would definitely recommend this. mixed drinks and beer were reasonable at between $4 and $8 but it was water that was a bit of a shock $9.50 for 2 bottles of water! luckily we had known that water was expensive from other reviews so we brought on a case of 24 bottles with us which cost us $6 total in Publix.
Other activities, The climbing wall was good fun and while I didn't get to do the flow rider it was very entertaining to watch. The gym was nice and very well equipped but very busy early in the morning 7 to 9. The sauna and steam room were great for afterward.
Ports of Call Coco Cay - I'm not really a beach person however this was nice, the sea was crystal clear and I got some open water swimming in but there were 100s of jelly fish around. were we told that this happens once or twice a year for about 3 to 4 days at a time.
St. Thomas I went Scuba diving here so I did not get to see much of the Town but DW said downtown is about a 15 minute walk from the cruise terminal. She said the it was nice but preferred St Maarten. The diving was booked trough RC and the company providing the service were friendly and professional. The diving in St Thomas was pleasant but far from the best diving I have enjoyed in the Caribbean, Cozumel is by fair the best! Just a word of advice I did the dive with the basic equipment that came with the booking, the ship staff will try and get you to upgrade to their equipment which is state of the art but unless you are considering buying, its a waste of $35 dollars in my opinion. The diving company will recommend that you get a 3mm wetsuit at a cost of $10 the water was 82 degrees I went in a pair of shorts and a sleeveless T and was plenty warm.
St Maarten, Both my DW and I love this island. We did the treetop adventure tour and it was a riot. It takes about 3 and 1/2 including the 20 minute commute each way. I would really recommend this to anybody that likes a bit of activity on there vacation. Older children 10+ will really enjoy it. Be warned though it is not just a series of zip lines there are other obstacles as well that will make you work a bit. after the treetop we went into Philisburg (town were the ship is docked) did a like shopping, eating and drinking. People are very friendly and helpful but at the same time are not pushy. Really loved this island.
disembarkation. Apart from the fact that we stayed up way too late and had maybe 1 too many disembarkation was very smooth. We were called at 7.45 and we were in front of the terminal with our bags waiting for the Budget shuttle for 8.30
All in all one or two very minor disappointments but altogether a fantastic vacation and looking forward to booking the Western route for next year.