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Enjoyable cruise with Cruise Critic group! Kudos to Rick
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Embarkation was a bit slower than normal, with fewer check-in personnel available. Since the terminal has no restroom facilities nearby the boarding area, plan accordingly. Once on the ship you are greeted with champagne and mimosas by all the officers. This is the best crew afloat, very friendly with lots of passenger interaction. Since we boarded around 3pm, we had immediate access to our cabin. Our cabin was small but quite adequate with plenty of storage space. The shower is rectangular instead of a semi-circle, and was more comfortable and spacious than the one on the Equinox, especially for tall people. We had a small veranda that comfortable enough for two. Our Cabin Steward was Prezar and he was excellent. Our first Cruise Critic event was an informal Sail-Away party in the Sunset Bar. The port photographs all ship departures and later you can see photos of you and your ship sailing away to paradise. We had Select Dining, so ate when we wished, usually around 7. This More
can make it dicey to attend the shows as the early show is around 7 and the 9pm show is often full when you finish dinner. The Cruise Director, Sue Denning, is wonderful and seems to be everywhere, very visible, as are all of the officers. Alan from Guest Relations arranged for a "Meet and Mingle" with our new Cruise Critic friends and saw to delivery of notices of all the events. Make sure you visit the forums and sign up for the roll call for your cruise. You will get acquainted with others on your cruise from all over the world. Our group had two special Karaoke nights, a slot pull, a cabin crawl and a farewell luncheon, all set up by Celebrity. The first At Sea day is the first formal night and most people dress for the formal nights on the cruise. Make sure to visit the Martini Bar, manned by Boob-Boom. He is a master at his craft and very entertaining. He pours six different martinis as once. The Perry Grant show in Michael's Club is also a must see. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
This is a lovely island, not as citified as St. Maarten and more mountainous. It is very clean, as are all the islands that are former British colonies. There is a large vendor market near the port with the usual sort of tourist stuff. We hired a local taxi to take us around the island to see the 200+ year old Anglican Church, Falmouth, the English Harbor, and Nelson’s Dockyard. There were a lot of yachts in the harbor, practicing for the regatta to be held a couple of weeks later. We were the only ship in port, which reduced the crowds significantly. The taxi cost us $25 pp.
We took the Atlantis submarine that goes down 130 feet to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. We saw lots of fish, hard and soft coral, two shipwrecks and a huge, green moray eel. He was really scary looking. It was a unique and most enjoyable experience. We booked this through the ship, since the number of tickets is very limited. The cost was $99.75 and it was worth it. They are very safety conscious and since I am clausrophobic I was a little concerned, but it is very well ventilated and did not give me panic.
Today we shared a cab with another couple at a cost of $25pp. Our driver was Clyde, ask for him at the taxi stand. He was outstanding. He took us all over the island to the resort and club where Tiger Woods was married. He explained the history and politics of the area and was very interesting. He took us to a beautiful Anglican/Episcopal church, St. James Parish Church, built in 1680. It is the oldest consecrated ground on the island and is knows as “God’s Acre”. There is a mural inside that is absolutely unique. This is a coral island and not mountainous like St. Lucia. We stopped at a scenic overlook where there was a green monkey and we had a local Banks beer. His tour lasted 3 1/2 hours. Certainly a good value.
This port was one of our favorites. We booked a Glass Bottom Boat through the ship because there is only one and it is limited to 14 persons per sailing. They take you out to Klein Bonaire (Little Bonaire) to the reef. The water is some of the clearest in the world and is a favorite for divers. We saw tons of fish, schools of many different varieties and even a green turtle. Later they took us by some expensive resorts. The cost is only $25pp and worth it. Book it early. Afterwards we took a taxi to the north end of the island where there are lots of flamingos at Goto Lake, right next to the oil storage tanks. We saw the thousand steps where the divers walk down the cliffs to the sea, the small town of Rincon Village, wild donkeys and goats left by the Spaniards. We went to the south end of the island by the Solar Salt works. This is a major export of the island. Then we continued on to the White Pond slave huts where 6-8 slaves shared a tiny, doghouse like shelter. It was shocking. Bonaire is arid and has no rivers that empty to the sea, which is why the water is so clear. It is very pretty and not humid at all. Few cruise ships come to this port, as divers provide a much greater source of income for the locals.
We took a local tour bus to see the points of interest around town. It is a charming place, but you can smell the oil refineries, since they refine oil for Venezuela. We stopped at a shop that has Curacao tastings, very interesting. The buildings are just beautiful and have lots of colors. We crossed over the huge bridge with wonderful views of both sides of Willemstad, Punda and Otrabanda. We also walked around the local vendor area at the port where there were many nice things for sale at reasonable prices.
This was one of our favorites, the Spice Island. It is very mountainous and lush. This island was devastated by Hurricane Ivan back in 2004, and that destroyed 70% of the nutmeg trees. Since it takes seven years to get a crop from a new tree, they are just now selling nutmeg. We shared a taxi from Knox Tours. The driver took us to a spice shop and demonstrated how they grow and harvest the spices. They sold spice souvenirs at the shop for very reasonable prices. We went to the Anabelle Falls where men will dive off the falls for money ($5-10) and some smaller falls where the Flower Ladies pose for pictures. We went to Mark’s Rum Bar and he showed us how they make the spiced rum, and we had an opportunity to taste it. It is very, very strong. I bought some just for show and tell back home, it still has the spices in it. We then went to Grand Etang National Park, which is very scenic, then down Market Street where the fresh fish and produce is sold, and the Carenage (the road bordering the harbor). This was a very comprehensive tour for only $20 pp. This was the second formal night, after our fifth port is as many days! We dressed up a bit but did not do the tux and formal gown, we were tired! They need to move this to the next day, which would be a sea day.
We booked a ship's tour, a Catamaran Coastal Cruise to the Pitons. This is the only tour that goes to the Pitons, which are a must see. It was a lovely ride along the coast, fully narrated with a stop to take a dip in the warm waters. After the dip, rum punch was served along with sandwiches. The Pitons are spectacular. This is a wonderful tour and I am glad we booked it with the ship, as these one-of-a-kind tours book out. St. Lucia is a favorite spot with many beautiful mansions, especially overlooking picturesque Marigot Bay. The cost is only $33pp
We took a ship's tour of the Island since there were 5 huge ships in port that day and I was concerned we would not easily find a taxi. The tour was about three hours for only $15 pp. It shows you Phillipsburg, the Capitol on the Dutch side and Marigot, the Capitol on the French side. We had about an hour stop in Marigot for shopping or lunch. The French side is more tropical but not as tidy as the Dutch side. If you have never been to this island, as I hadn't, this is well worth the money.