We had a very nice time.
Booking: RCI has very efficient on-line-check and in posting pages. Printed most of tour documents on-line
Flights to San Juan, Expensive flights due to the season, and American and Canadian spring breaks. Delta charges $23 bag online-$26 at the airport. Baggage Service is now very good- we pay dearly for it.
Tip: Get a porter when you pick up your luggage in San Juan- great help getting through lines and into cab. Porter is also suggested on return to airport. He has to get you through the agriculture check.
Pre-Stay. We were at the Candado Radisson. Make sure you get breakfast, we were placed in Concierge level- separate check in on 9th floor and Hors d'oeuvres and a "we trust you" bar in the evening. Nice pool on roof; no real beach in Candado. Our very favorite Restaurant, Ropa Vieja, Cuban, Island cuisine on Ashford- get there! short cab ride.
Arriving at Cruise Dock: Alert: It is the Pan American Pier- not the pier in middle of Old San Juan. (about 12:15pm) it seems everyone is asked to wait on line to check in with luggage. We were traveling with a handicapped person in large party with plenty of luggage. We alerted RCI of requirement through their great Special Needs department well in advance. We asked porter to place our pre-tagged bags on the luggage dolly (So we did not have to wait in line with all the luggage) which he did. The line on left (no checked luggage) seemed to go much faster. You can buy water at dockside store once inside. Much cheaper than $3.99/liter on Board. Boarding process without other incident. We were told - no entry into staterooms until 1:30. Windjammer Buffet very roomy and good food. If it seems crowded, walk past into the next section.
Stateroom. 8652 with Balcony: We were very satisfied with the overall size of room and balcony. Balcony seemed much bigger than last cruise with NCL. Luggage arrived outside of cabin at 2:45PM! Steward produced bar soap on request.
RCI "Green" Savings: Our water supply in shower and sink was really on the grey (color) side. I don't know if it was potable but it seems RCI saves plenty of energy by not purifying the water further. Besides the water, the "fresh" towels came clean but with yellow brown stains.
In Room Dining. We selected room service for breakfast before an early day and it was wonderful, warm and tasty.
Land Excursions: "Automated" In Room TV Tour selection process: Fuhgetaboutit. It was so confusing we wound up with 4 tickets for first day tour instead of two. It took a few days for the live tour desk to catch up. The tour desk could not handle the crowds wanting to sign up. I will say, most of tours are moderately priced in the mid $30 range. The TV was a good place to keep track of all your cabin charges.
Island Reviews (Comments): St Thomas. The shopping at the Ship birth a few steps from the Havensight Mall provides much variety and fair pricing. It certainly beats taking a Taxi Ride Downtown to the suggested shops. Curacao: I forgot to bring my camera battery charger and natch - battery failed on first day of cruise. Nice man at large camera shop across pontoon bridge charged it up for me. We did not take any tours in Dominica- not much in Roseau port area. We took tour bus to beach in Curacao and Aruba.
Dining Room: We had early (main) Seating at 6PM. Our party of 6 thought that this was just right after our early tours were complete we had plenty of time to make use of ship and to see the shows after dinner. Food was very good, waiters and staff very efficient. Special thanks to our waiter, Lorenzo.
On Board Bingo: Very expensive, $22 Minimum for 3 tickets for 4 games. They award about $700 over 3 games plus 4th game for free cruise for 1 (one). With room filled with 300 people, they make about $6,000 a session.
On Board Shows: Ice show the best, a must see. They have about 4 ice show performances so everyone has a chance to get to see it. We were not impressed with 2 nights of "dance and sing" entertainment and they only lasted for 35-45 minutes. The Headliner show, with brother Merrill Osmond was terrific.
Casino: Nice variety of Table games (with craps), nightly Texas Hold 'em tournament. Slots outdated; Even dollar machines paid off in quarters.
Drinks in Bars: Fair prices, $5.50 for rum & coke (Barcardi), $6.50 for Pina Colada - Must call "House" drink if want bar liquor, 75c cheaper.
Muster Drill: Life jackets not required. If you get there early, must stand very long time. Let them know in advance if handicapped.
Internet Cafe: Sixty Five cent per minute. Very slow response time. Purser did give 50% refund off charges.
On Board Photographer. Each picture $19.95
Meet and Greet: Very nice job by RCI. They had raffles and a special gift for us with soft drinks and snacks. Special thanks to all who set up unofficial meet and greet. We learned so much from all your comments.