My wife and I had a relaxing time on the seven night cruise leaving on Sunday, January 16. Unlike most, we did not do the formal dining, but we found the food excellent on the Lido Deck in the buffet dining areas. What stood out to us that we liked follows:
- Lack of selling and promotion of services offered (spa, bingo, etc.) compared to other major lines, which is a good thing
- Unobtrusivenss of announcements (kept to a minimum)
- Excellent service in the stateroom and throughout the ship
- Decent sized bathroom for a standard interior stateroom compared to other major lines
- Good embarkation drill that allows you to do the lifeboat drill while sitting in a lounge
- Quick and organized disembarkation using the walk-off baggage option
- Very nice large size video screen on the Lido Deck ("Movies Under the Stars") where we watched a NFL playoff game, a Tina Turner concert and the movie "The Social Network"
- Free popcorn and wool blankets for watching "Movies Under the Stars"
- Great ice cream cones and pizza
- Excellent flavoring of food served in the buffets; delicious desserts; good variety too
- Good quantity of elliptical and treadmill machines to exercise on; Free weights were more than adequate.
- Enjoyable afternoon tea offered almost every day from 3:30 to 4:30
- Internet Cafe had more than enough stations and decent Internet speed
What stands out that we did not like includes:
- Hard bed and not as comfortable as would have liked deck chairs on the Promenade Deck and reclining chairs to watch "Movies Under the Stars" on the Lido Deck; you might bring a pillow to watch the big screen movie to be more comfortable.
- Would have liked non-fat yogurt cone option at the Ice Cream and Pizzeria
- Toilet flush delayed anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes at times.
- I heard from another couple one night of up to an hour wait in line to be seated for first seating dinner
- Laundromat was a nice touch, but there should be a sign to others to not take other people's clothes out of a washer or dryer so that they can use the machine for themselves
- No running track. That is the first time in 22 cruises that I have not had a running track on a top deck.
- Promenade on 7th deck is a good place to walk but not so great for jogging due to width at times. You do have to climb and descend 20 plus stairs to complete a full lap.
- Promendade was closed off from around 6 to 7 a.m. on the days I visited as maintenance people sprayed it down. Not the best time for me as I wanted to run then.
- Elliptical machines in Exercise area of the Spa were under low ceilings meaning anyone over 6 foot one is going to have to be careful and watch out on bumping their head on the ceiling as he or she used an elliptical machine.
- No bill was given to us at the end of the trip, although we left the room early around 7 a.m. to do the walk-off baggage option. Still, I never experienced that before.
Weighing the pros and cons, the cruise was a great relaxing overall experience. Service people always said hello and made you feel comfortable. Here is a brief description of each island we visted:
Princess Cay - Tender in took about 7 to 9 minutes. Good lunch on the island but not a wide selection of vegetables. The shops were ship owned. One unique item is a hanging monkey wearing a small Princess Cay T-shirt for $18. Nice walk on a sidewalk that I would recommend to see the little rental cabins.
St. Maarten - Only saw Phillipsburg on the Dutch side. I would recommend doing the 20 minute walk to the pier (10 minutes from where our ship was berthed to the pier and 10 minutes to the town of Phillipsburg) as opposed to a slow taxi ride. Six ships were in on the day we visited. Fun to watch as the large ships, the Oasis of the Seas and the Solstice left. Went to one place, The Jewelry Box which quoted $20 for pearls with a clasp in the morning and then said the same piece was $50 in the afternoon saying the first price was a first customer of the day price and the price was no longer available. As a result, we were no longer available to make a purchase from that store. Loved The Art Box (practically the first store you see on your walk to the town) for the owner and the selection of unique, locally-made art pieces at a reasonable cost. Went to McDonalds on Front Street for an iced tea and free WiFi. A couple of bars/cafes had WiFi too.
St. Thomas - Ship berthed at Havensight. This was a 25 minute walk to town from there. No free WiFi in town. Heard that you could get WiFi for $5 at JRs or 10 cents a minute at Beans & More. Found a pharmacy and daily paper in town. The ship let us off at 7 a.m. but nothing really opens until 8 a.m. Good variety of shops. Great town to take pictures in of the sea and the green mountains around us.
Grand Turk - Beach on the right as you walk in off the pier has a variety of shaded areas to recline. Good deals on pearls at the Indigo Shop. You can get free WiFi by sitting on the deck of the cruise ship from one of the bars across the water that has it. Pool was at a good temperature and not too crowded to swim and get some good exercise in. Had drinks at The Marguirita Bar on the second level. A little bit too noisy and overpriced for our taste.
The ports chosen provided a good variety and for us coming from the freezing cold MidAtlantic we appreciated the sunny and warm days that we got. Great cruise!