Day 1: arrive at the pier around 10:30 am and we are in our cabin by 11. #7416 is an awesome room! Much larger than I expected, and I love the configuration with the bathroom NOT in the hallway. King size bed (we were told it would be a queen) and extra long balcony. Quick sandwich on Lido and we head off for a walking tour of Old San Juan. Fairly long lines to re-board around 2:30. Luggage arrives at 4 PM. First night dinner in the MDR is extremely slow and disorganized. We enter the DR at 7 and have to rush through dessert to make the 9:30 muster drill.
Day 2: St Thomas. Pre-booked with Papa Bear of Air Force One Tours. $25 pp for a 1/2 day tour of the island. We are his only clients today and have the whole open-air van to ourselves. Good tour - he boasts that he is the only one who takes a longer back roads scenic route up the hills, eventually to the "World Famous" Mountain Top overlooking Maegan's Bay. Stop to sample local fruit, "sour sop".
Day 3: Day at Sea. When we booked the cruise, Dominica was the port for today. Disappointed we will miss it. Elegant night at dinner.
Day 4: Barbados. Pre-booked with Glory Tours "Explore & Discover Barbados" $81 pp. Owner Sarah Taylor takes us in her Toyota SUV for a personal tour, once again just the 2 of us and the guide. Loop the entire island, stopping at many beaches and scenic vistas, St John's parish church, a windmill, etc. Fried flying fish lunch is included. Snorkel and swim with turtles, stop at rum factory, then back to ship. Excellent tour with a wonderful overview of the island. Our most expensive day but Sarah did a great job of packing it all in.
Day 5: St Lucia. Pre-booked tour with Herod "Land & Sea" $70 pp. Owner Herod has a full van so we go with his associate John in a car. Once again, just the 2 of us with a guide! Many stops for scenic views and photo ops, stop to sample bananas at a farm and fresh bread in a village. Visit the volcano/sulpher springs, lunch at Herod's mother's home, then to the beach between the Pitons. Some of the best snorkeling I've even done. Long (45 minute?) water taxi ride back to the ship. An excellent tour - highly recommend it! Second elegant night in the MDR.
Day 6: St Kitts. Pre-booked with Jim & Rose's Taxi service for a full island tour $41 pp. It was a nice tour, however we were placed in the van with Jim (Rose had another van full) and a group of rowdy party-people. It wasn't a good mix and soured the tour for me. Stopped at the lame Batik factory. Gardens are nice, but it's a typical "tourist factory tour" and we stay way too long. Also stopped at Brimstone Fort and Black Rock, eventually to Frigate Beach and Shipwreck Bar. Past guest party on the ship this evening - free drinks for 45 minutes in the Caribbean Lounge.
Day 7: St Maarten. Took a taxi tour of the island, $40 pp for about 3 hours. See the highlights (Phillipsburg, Sunset Beach, Marigot, Fort St Louis, Orient Beach) of this prosperous island. Probably my least favorite port of this cruise because it is all about tourism. No more agriculture. Just casinos and fancy marinas and malls.
Day 8: Debarkation was very slow, but we are allowed to wait on Lido, so it was fine for us to keep lingering in the sun by the pool. We had a late flight, so walked to pier 2 and left our luggage at a cafe for $3 per bag while we walked around Old San Juan. Taxi to airport $22.
Overall, food and service was great in the MDR. I don't care for buffet lines and get creeped-out watching everyone touch the same utensils along the line, so we didn't go there. Some of the entertainment was lame ("Vroom" was awful). Liked the late night comedy shows and "Love & Marriage" best. Brad was the cruise director this week. Our cabin was terrific, but our room steward was a tad lazy. Loved the new multilevel Serenity deck!