Our cruise began on September 19th. All things considered with the hurricane still lurking out at sea, we were very lucky to have gone to 3 ports out of 4.
Embarkation was a breeze, we got to the airport early. (We booked our air transportation on our own and flew down the day before.) The ship was the best we have ever been on. This was our ninth cruise, the second one with Royal Caribbean.
We booked an inside cabin which was very nice. Plenty of room for all the clothes we packed. I wasn't sure if we would run into bad weather, so we packed everything, just in case. What I liked about the room...to close the safe, you punched in a 4 digit code instead of using a credit card, like on some of the ships. That way, we didn't have to worry about losing a credit card on the ship. The room was very comfortable and quiet. We were able to access our shipboard account on the TV which made it nice to keep track of expenses. The cabin steward was a really nice Phillipino who took exceptional care of us.
The food was fantastic. We had a small table, which I prefer, with 2 other couples. I think we put on a few pounds just from dinner. The food on the Lido deck was very good, also. Good variety. We also tried the room service one night after dinner. Also very good. Also, try Johnny Rockets. It's like a 50's diner, really cool. The only thing you pay for is the milk shakes at $3.50 each, but it's worth it. Also at the Promenade Cafe, they are open 24 hours for pizza and sandwiches. The sports bar was also fun. If you buy a bucket of beer, they give you a really nice ice bucket, opener and shirt for free.
They also have parades on the Promenade. And there are all kinds of things going on there. The pools were very nice. And the hot tubs were the biggest I've ever seen. You can fit 15 people in each one comfortably. What I liked about them....they are open 24 hours, not all ships do that. And they serve alcohol in the pool and hot tubs, again, not all ships allow that. If you want to get away from all the noise, the solarium pool and spas is the way to go. Public rooms were very clean, the only problem is trying to find them, but that's a problem on every ship. They kinda blend in with the other decor.
We missed the shows except for the ice skating show, which was wonderful. We went to the art auctions. What I liked about them....every cruise we have been on, they always send the information about the art auctions to the cabins and on the pamphlet it always say that they give every person a free work of art worth $95 just for attending each session. This was the first cruise when they actually gave away these prints. Every other one we went to on other ships, they would have a drawing and that was all. So we ended up getting a lot of nice art for free, also one two pieces in the drawing and purchased another one.
We stopped at San Juan first. It was ok, nothing to write home about. They tell you the shopping is within walking distance but, trust me, take a taxi. It's a long, long walk and when it's hot out, it's not pleasant. The usual tourist souvenirs can be found there. We decided not to waste our money on that stuff. Next we stopped at St Maarten. We did the Afternoon Beach Bash from the ship. It was well worth it. It went to Orient Beach which is an optional clothing beach. Some people were nude, most people were wearing something. It was $36 a person but I didn't mind paying it. It's open bar all day, they have a beach chair for you and if you went there on your own, it would cost $18 one way cab fare, then you have to worry whether or not a cab would show up later to bring you back. Really clean, beautiful beach. We also did some shopping in St Maarten. There are some nice shops. Next we went to St Thomas. There is an outlet mall with in walking distance from the ship with lots of little shops selling unique things. Don't waste your time going into town. The merchandise you see there will be the same stuff you can get in the outlet mall. After shopping, we did the afternoon Catamaran Sail & Snorkel from the ship. We went to Buck Island. The snorkeling was great and the catamaran was not crowded, which was nice. That excursion also included snacks and open bar.
After that, we had a day at sea, which was nice because we needed a rest. We were supposed to go to Nassau after that, but the hurricane also had the same idea, so we missed that port. Too bad, we so wanted to Atlantis. Oh, well. So they announced we would have another day at sea, instead. But on Saturday night, the Coast Guard closed the ports and the airlines were also closed due to the storm, so we ended up staying on the ship an extra day. Which would have been fine except, we had to reschedule our air reservations and it was impossible to get a phone line out with 3,700 people trying to call out. Cell phone couldn't get a signal so I ended up spending hours in the internet room trying to reach somebody who could rebook my air for me. The Delta website wouldn't let us do it on line. They were saying to call for rescheduling. Finally, I reached somebody back home and she was on hold with Delta for an hour before she could get through.
We took the only flight out to Las Vegas on Monday, which was delayed because our pilot was coming in from Atlanta, and the planes were grounded. It was a mess. We spent 14 hours in the airport. People were sleeping everywhere in the chairs and on the floor. Overall, this gruise was wonderful and like I said we got really lucky with the weather, but even if we were stuck on the ship the whole time, we would have still had a great time.
Also, we always tip well, but my personal feeling is that when the tip is not automatically added on to the bill, the staff does a better job at pleasing the guests. If you do take a cruise, you won't be disappointed with this ship.