I booked this vacation for myself, my two daughters, ages 18 and 22, both in college, and my son also joined us. He recently came home to go to college after serving five years in the USMC. I wanted a time away for the family to be all together and this seemed to be a good choice. I have been on the Carnival Victory, and two RCCL cruises, one on the Serenade of the Seas in 2003, and one on the Liberty of the Seas, along with my daughters, in 2007.
We flew into San Juan on Jet Blue from Boston on New Years Day. I had booked 2 rooms at the San Juan Intercontinental Resort and Casino for $110/room/night on Priceline. I also paid an additional $17.75 per room on checkout for their resort fee. The rooms were nice, and we had lunch near the pool, while we were waiting for our rooms. My daughters swam most of the afternoon as they wanted to enjoy the weather considering we had just left snow and cold back home.
The next day my son and I went to a small restaurant diagonally across from the hotel, Mi Casa (recommended on this board) for a great inexpensive breakfast, while my daughters searched for s Star Bucks at the hotel next door. We checked out of the hotel at 12 noon, grabbed a cab at 12:30pm, and headed for the pier. Porters took out luggage and we were in line headed for the ship. We had priority embarkation as we were in a suite, which was nice as we were on the ship and headed for our stateroom to drop off the carry-ons by 1:00pm. Of note, 1500 passengers were from Puerto Rico and I must tell you they know how to have a good time. I loved to watch the dancing at the deck parties, and everyone I met was friendly. Announcements in Spanish and English was not an issue.
Our room, a Grand suite, was more than adequate for the four of us. My son and I had the two twin beds, and the girls shared the pull out couch. I booked this cabin as I wanted us to be together and to spend time together as a family. There is of course only one bathroom, but this was not an issue as we only have one bathroom at home and we manage just fine. The bathroom was huge, with plenty of counter space, though I still brought and used an over the door pocket storage organizer. The cabin itself has more than enough storage, and once we unpacked, the suitcases fit easily under the beds. The balcony had a lounge chair, and a small table and two chairs, perfect for that morning coffee or afternoon tea. There was a big flat screen TV on the wall near the balcony. Our state room attendant was Fernando, and he took care of our room very well, providing a wide assortment of towel animals, extra towels, etc, and always greeted us with a smile.I had purchased two soda packages before we left, and the insulated cups were in our cabin when we returned from lunch.
Once we dropped off our carry-ons, off to the Windjammer for lunch. Overall it had plenty of choices and none of us went hungry any time we wandered in to get breakfast, lunch, or a snack. Our luggage was delivered by 4:30pm and we quickly unpacked and got ready for dinner. Muster was at 6pm (no life jackets required).
Food-We chose MTD and ate at 6:30 every night. We ate in the dining room each evening except for a night we went to Portofinos. We had Jacob as our waiter, and Ricky was our assistant waiter. Both were very efficient and friendly. My son purchased a bottle of wine which he drank over the next few days. The food was generally good and you could always find something that was appealing. We occasionally had two desserts or shared an additional entree, or Jacob would bring something out for us to try. We went to Portofinos on day 4 (Wednesday) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the seafood skewer, and the girls had the beef fillet. My son had some kind of fish dish. The service was good, and it was nice to relax and eat in a different venue. I thought it was worth the $20 pp. We ate breakfast and late lunch or snacks in the Windjammer, and I had no issues with the food. I looked forward to a nice fresh salad and bread every afternoon. We sometimes had difficulty finding a seat when it was really crowded, but overall this was not really a problem.
Formal nights were day 2 (Monday) and day 5 (Thursday). Though we tended to get dressed for dinner every evening as we enjoy doing this, we saw every manner of dress presented in the dining rooms, but overall I would say that most people were dressed appropriately.
Entertainment-We took advantage of the reserved seating at the shows in the Lyric Theater. Anna Bass was the cruise director and she was fun.The production shows were good,though I did enjoy the shows on Liberty of the Seas much better. The Beatle Mania show was great. The audience was singing along and it brought back a lot of memories for me! The comedian on the first night was ok, and the one on the last night was from Boston and was actually pretty funny, however many of the older people left during the show as they just weren't getting some of his humor because of the language barrier. The ice show was excellent! We also went to the Love and Marriage show which was very funny, and of course Quest, which all three of my children actively participated in, was hilarious. We also went to two of the deck parties, several trivia contest, and happened to be sitting in a deck chair for the belly flop contest (funny but stupid).
Pools-My daughters sat out everyday they could, especially sea days. They tended to use the lounge chairs near the track. I preferred the reserve deck seating for the suites as it was elevated and I could see what was going on, or I and could relax and read my book. I don't drink alcohol but my daughter usually bought the drink of the day, and I could get iced water at the bar as often as I wanted without a problem.
Embarkation-My son had a flight home at 2:45pm and my daughters and I were not leaving until Monday. We left the ship about 10am, went through customs quickly, and off we went to find a taxi. It was a sad day...heading back to Boston to the ice and snow.