Pre-embarkation we stayed at the Renaissance, we booked through Priceline and got a great deal for the two nights before embarkation. We were surprised when checking in and got an upgrade to a Junior Suite at the hotel! We have stayed here before and find it very comfortable and would stay here again.
We took a cab to the port which was about $10 plus tip. We were in R750. I believe that the balcony is a little smaller, but not much. It is not completely private, when you are standing at the railing you can see and be seen by those standing at the aft railing, but while sitting on our balcony I felt it was completely private. We love the aft cabins! Watching the wake, we may not be able to see where we are going, but we almost always had a good view of the ports when in port and had an excellent view of the ports to say goodbye! Our room steward was also Francisco and as previously stated by others he was amazing!
We had late traditional dining. We asked for a large table as we like meeting others, but were given a table for 4, which turned out fine as it really gave us chance to recap our day. Our waiter Arthur and his assistant Deepak were fantastic. The only problem was that after the third night Arthur had a health problem and was not able to return except to say goodbye on the final night. His replacement was Joeleen and she was fine, but seemed a little overwhelmed and out of place, but got much better as the cruise went on. We found the food to be very good. There was only one night that we choose something from the anytime menu, because nothing appealed to us on the main menu. My favorites...rack of lamb, lobster, prawns (almost as big as the lobster!!), goat cheese soufflE, the soups, the fish, the veal and the sorbets. We ate at both the alternative restaurants. Sabatini's, first and foremost pace yourself or learn to just eat a bite of everything, it is a lot of food and very good! The Crown Grill was also fantastic! Three of us had the filet med rare and they were perfect; one had the ribeye also done to perfection. My DH ordered the extra charge lobster tail and said it was very good; I tried a bite and thought that the regular lobster tail was just as good. The IC (International Cafe) was a first for us and it was amazing we got a lot of snacks and lunches there. Breakfast and lunch we tried all the different choices and probably didn't prefer one over the other, except I do believe that my DH had the pizza every day.
My favorite drink and one of my favorite bartenders can be found in Adagio. Rhea and her Tiramisu Martini are both incredible! We also hung out in Crooners with bartenders Carla and Ryan also great people as well as Hervy and Nickola in Vines, which also had some great tapas and sushi.
Ports of Call....Princess Cays...we rented a bungalow and really enjoyed it. We really didn't need the air conditioning because it was a beautiful day, but having the loungers and chairs was nice as well as having a place to eat and keep our stuff out of the sand and the sand flees!! St Thomas, we did the ½ day Catamaran and champagne sail to St John (booked though the ship). It was a perfect day of sailing and snorkeling. I could have spent the entire day on the catamaran!! The crew also helped to make it a perfect day. Dominica is the island that I probably enjoyed the most, at least it is what I am telling everybody who asks what my favorite stop was. It was with other CC'ers on the trip to Emerald Falls and the river tubing, it was a great time. The island was so different than what I have ever experienced and I think that is what makes it my favorite. This tour was booked through Antours and they did a wonderful job. Grenada, we also did a snorkeling trip with our CC friends. The first stop was the underwater statues it was different, so enjoyable. The second stop was incredible I could have stayed there all day. The coral and the different varieties of fish and creatures were great. The third stop was okay the fish were a little bigger and it was a lot deeper than the previous stop, but maybe I was just a little tired and that is why I didn't enjoy it as much. Curacao, was a missed port because of the waves. As others have said though we did not have any plans on the island so I took it as a bonus sea day!. Aruba, we did another tour through the ship, it was also a sail and snorkel. It was a lot wavier and windier that any other day and that made it a little difficult, it was not as relaxing as our previous tours, but did get to see a sunken ship. It would have been nicer if we had not had to fight the waves the whole time, but it was pretty cool.
A note about accessing the internet on a laptop....my husband had to do some work one day on the trip and was having trouble logging on using his laptop, which he had to use because all his info for work was there. Nobody seemed to be able to help, we turned off all firewalls and anything that could be blocking it, no luck. As he was reaching panic mode, we were talking through all our options (he was going to go ashore at Curacao and get internet there, but as we all know that didn't happen), he had been trying to open it up in Internet Explorer and that turned out to be the problem, when he opened up the google browser it worked perfectly. Well as perfectly as the internet works on the ship, not terrible but not great!
We spent most of our day's people watching and chatting by the pool. We did not attend any of the shows. We saw the ending of some while walking by the Explorers Lounge, but that was about it. My husband enjoyed the casino some nights more than others! I found it to be too smoky most of the time, but it was not bad on the two smoke free nights. All the staff that we encountered were absolutely wonderful, even with all the extra work the first few days. Some passengers on the other hand need to take a chill pill and realize they are on vacation, relax!! But they did make the people watching more interesting!!