Three sisters and their husbands ("the six pack") sailed on Staten dam for a 17 day cruise thru the Panama Canal and up the west coast. We stopped in Aruba, then thru the Canal and six stops on the west coast of central America.
We originally planned to get off in Aruba, but some how never made it. A leisurely breakfast and a few minutes sitting at the back pool turned into a day long "lounge" so somehow before we knew it we were at a "sail away party"!
Now we got up extra early to be "there" for the transit. We loved every minute of it. During the day we went to different areas of the ship for viewing. As soon as we hit the Pacific I told my dh that I was ready to do it again. Next time I want to do a cruise that leaves Ft lauderdale does the whole cruise and then turns around and does it again! I have never experienced anything like the Canal. It is truly amazing.
Now the rest of the ports were pretty ordinary, except Cabo San Lucas. We swam at the beach near the famous hole in the rock that all the travel brochures show. To say it was amazing was an understatement. It was in my opinion magical. The water was warm and crystal clear. All six of us enjoyed that adventure. We then went back to town and ate a little restaurant. We loved the fish and the drinks. We stopped in Senior Frogs for a drink and wound up with a wonderful picture. (VERY EXPANSIVE, but the memory alone was worth much more than we paid in dollars!) A great way to end the day!
Now for the ship. There has been much discussion about ships after dry dock and yes Staten dam does have her problems. First, air conditioning. Our cabin had ac on day 7 & 8. It was also cool after Cabo San Lucas when the weather turned very cool. The crew can not be faulted here. They did all they could. One morning I admit I was so angry and tired (I had not slept all night because it was just too hot in our cabin) that I went to the front desk and told them that if the ac was not working the next night I was sleeping in the atrium! To be fair we were not the only people who didn't have ac, we were traveling with a couple in the Penthouse and they didn't have AC either. (they did have a fan for the two days it was out in the cabin.) Now for a complete surprise. On the last day of our cruise we received a letter from Hal apologizing for the lack of ac. And are you ready for this? They gave us a $275.00 ship board credit for our trouble. We were stunned and thought that was very accommodating of them to extend that customer appreciation for what we had been through.
There were two other things we found difficult about our cabin. One, No refrigerator, that was totally unexpected. On all the ships we have traveled in the past couple of year we have always had a ref. and had become accustomed to having it. We now know to order one way in advance so as to have it there. The last thing is a lack of electric plugs. We had our surge protector for the lap top so that was quickly solved.
The good thing about our cabin was the wonderful bed. Now if you are on a cruise for a week an ordinary bed is OK, but on 17 days it was a joy to sleep on such a comfortable bed. The size of our cabin was very nice. The window looked out on the aft promenade deck. Up side - wonderful view of the wake. Down side most mornings, afternoons and evenings someone was sitting in front of the window smoking. (yuck) this cabins needs to be classified as obstructed view some one's head is always in the way.
The rest of the ship did have two items which we found upsetting. One the "odor" in the aft stairway and the aft part of the Lido. To say unappetizing is a huge understatement. I understand it is to be fixed when the ship makes Vancouver. I sure hope its true.
The other item is the confusing mess in the Lido. The place is a mess for passengers without trays. Of the 17 days we were on the ship only one day at lunch could I find someone to carry the hot plate. And don't count on someone to get you some coffee or a drink. You must go back to the drink station for a drink. While we were gone to do this one morning two people sat themselves down at our table to join us! After the first two days I never went back for breakfast. Lunch I would grab a salad and some stir fry. They did have some great looking soup, but with two plates already how does one carry soup? The other aspect that made the Lido so unappealing is the lack of coordination. People just walk up from any angle and butt in the line, because quite frankly there isn't a line. I was waiting patiently for my turn when a "gentleman" came up and started ordering the staff to serve him. The staff member looked at me and I just motioned to let him butt ahead of me. Big guy, big mouth won that day.
Other than that we found the ship to be super clean and very well maintained. The staff - I can not say enough about the staff. They are some hard working people I do say. Service was the best we have ever experienced on any ship we have sailed. We ate at the Main Dining room, the Italian restaurant, and the Pinnacle Grill. All three were fantastic! I can tell you I did not have one "bad" meal.
ON the day we were in Cabo I came back to the ship and went immediately to to pool. While floating around I met a man who was clearly unhappy with his cruise and told me it reminded him of "being in prison". I now have an answer for him. "IF this is prison, please sentence me for life"!!!!!!!!