March 26 to April 9 - 2011
After a nice pre-cruise day at The Springhill Suites in Dania Beach we headed for the pier by shuttle at about noon. We had no lines to deal with and were on board at about 1:15.
We simply waited in Rendezvous until our cabins were ready at 2 o'clock. Our luggage all arrived very quickly and we were cruising!
We were in a C3 - 8165. The Balcony was extremely small but the room was nice. Nothing special, but more than adequate. We did have flowers in the room and a nice bottle of bubbly on ice. The location of the cabin was ideal for access to everything on the ship! If it had a larger balcony it would have been perfect.
The changes on the ship were very nice. Everything was very clean. We used cellar masters as a nice pre-dinner sitting area as we had a table on level 5. Except for our initial waiting area we were never in the Rendezvous lounge. The Reflections Lounge was mainly the "Elite" lounge, so we were not there too often either. Our Cruise Critics Connections party was there however and was well attended! The Captain even stopped by to say hello. The new Martini Bar / Crush area is hard to get used to and was generally vacant until later in the trip, when it started to pick up. The Crush Bar is a nice spot for 8 - 10 people. We had dinner at 8:30 and the shows in the Celebrity Theatre were at 7 and 9 so we did not get to go to many. I would suggest the when they have guest entertainers on board that they add a show at 11. We had two comedians who could have done a late show. We did not go to Michael's as Perry Grant is not my cup of tea. We did see Perry at his show in the Theatre and he is a good entertainer who's act wears thin very quickly. (In my humble opinion). The pools were busy on sea days but chairs were generally available and the buffet was busy but accessible.
The BEST! Always a "good morning, afternoon, evening" The bar staff remembered what you ordered last, even with infrequent visits. Amazing people.
MDR - was good, not outstanding. Service was efficient, not extraordinary. I had only one overcooked piece of fish. The selection was good and I did not have to revert to the "any time" side of the menu.
Bistro on Five - Very Very good. We had lunch there one day and dinner on another. The staff really wants you to come back! The food is wonderful and the presentation is superb. An underused little gem (not for long I think)
Tuscan Grille - We went on one evening only and it was great. A fantastic steak served by a staff that goes out of its way to make your dinner special. Well worth the $30 cover.
Buffet - Well it's a buffet, what can I say. Hit and miss, but more hit than miss. We even had dinner there on the last night. I had sushi and it was wonderful. I heard the stir fry was good also but I didn't try it. We were there mostly at lunch and I would recommend the Panini's from the station farthest aft.
Poolside grill - Did not eat there.
We took a private trip to the Sonesta Great Bay resort. Although the beach was very nice the resort was less than what we expected. They promised 2 free drinks which turned out to be beer, soda or water. (and the sodas turned out to be less than a full can! lol). They gave us tickets and we had to go around the side of the resort to a shabby little shack to get the drinks. I suggest not going to this resort, but it was our first day at the beach and that's not all bad! No snorkeling at all here. Cost was $18 for the resort and $10 for the taxi per person. http://www.sonesta.com/greatbay/
After the beach we took a taxi to Maho to watch the planes come in. WOW! If you haven't done it, you should. Glenn and I stood right under the incoming AND outgoing planes. What a blast (literally!)
We took a taxi to Sandhaven beach. It was quite close to the ships. I think the taxi was $5 (am I right guys?) The beach there is fantastic and there is a nice little bar to look after your thirst / hunger. Not really any snorkeling, but a great beach for swimming or taking a nice long walk. I would go back! http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1195817718
We book Spencer Ambrose tours http://www.spencerambrose.com/ and went to Jalhousie Beach. His boat was clean and in good shape and gave us a nice tour up the coats to the Pitons. We stopped at Anse Chastanet http://www.ansechastanet.com/ for about a half hour and had a walk around. A very nice place, but you would have to be a mountain goat to stay there! We then went to Jalhousie beach, between the Pitons. It had some decent snorkeling, shade under some trees and we had a basic lunch served. The trip was $70 per person and it gave us a good feel for the island. Last time in St. Lucia I didn't get to the pitons, so this filled the bill! On the way back to the ship they stopped at various point of interest to show off their beautiful island.
We stayed on the ship except for a quick trip to the port mall.
We took a taxi to Mourne Rouge Beach. http://www.threebestbeaches.com/grenada/2005/10/morne-rouge-beach.html
It is a very nice beach and we had very few other people there with us. They did not have umbrellas available so we had to rely on trees for shade. Some snorkeling but very few fish. Again it was a nice beach day. We had very good pina coladas ($5 each) from the beach bar. They added nutmeg to make it special, and it was!
We returned for a second year in a row to Play PortoMari. The taxi is $20 pp return and its worth it! One of the best beaches we have been on with great snorkeling, lots of shade and a nice bar / restaurant. What more can you ask. There is a charge to go to this beach as it is a nature preserve.
We took a taxi ride to Baby Beach ($20 pp return). It was very windy that day so we saw some huge waves. I did get some snorkeling in but it was just too windy to do it properly. This is a very rugged area and we got to see some natural area of the island. I loved it but I'm sure it's not for everyone.
WOW! My new favorite island! A snorkellers / divers paradise! We went to Bongo's at Eden beach (which is now being changed to Spice Beach). http://www.spicebonaire.com/ There was no charge to enter the resort, because it is under construction. The snorkeling was unbelievable (as I'm sure it is all over the island). I want to come back to this gem.
We got off the ship at 7:40 a.m. and were at the airport by 9 for a 12:35 flight. Unfortunately we left a bag on the pier and we are trying to get it shipped home. We were traveling with a person in a wheelchair and in the confusion it got left out of the shuttle to the airport.
As with any cruise it's not the ship or the itinerary or the food that are the most important, it's the people you cruise with. The people on this cruise were an amazing group from around the world that made our vacation amazing! To our previous cruise friends who came along and all of the new people we met. Thanks for the memories, let's do it again!