This was my first cruise and oh boy, was it ever awesome. We flew out of Knoxville, TN on the 14th of May to San Juan. Only 3 hours of sleep as we had an early flight to catch. Changed planes in Atlanta and were in San Juan by noon. We took a taxi to the Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde to get in some beach time before the cruise. It was raining when we arrived but it stopped after about an hour and we hit the beach. Lots of surfers on this beach, which suprised me. We hit the beach for about an hour or two, had a few drinks at the bar (they give you a few coupons for free rum drinks) and then changed and headed out for a bite to eat. We went to Mi Casita to try Mofungo. It was pretty good but not quite what I was expecting. We hit Walgreens on the waty back to the hotel for soft drinks and wine, went back out to the beach and swam in the hotel pool until about 10 PM. We showered before bed and called it a night.
We woke up about 9 AM on Sunday and hit the beach for a couple of hours as the sun was out for a while. We took a cab to the port around 12:30 ($19 + $1 per bag). The lines were relatively short and we were on the boat in less than 30 minutes after arrival. We explored the ship for a while before heading up the the Lido deck for a drink of the day and some lunch (Reuben from the deli-yum!). Our room was ready by 2:30 PM and we had anniversiary decorations and a liter of Appleton Rum waiting in our cabin. My wife was suprised and quite pleased with the decorations. We had an inside stateroom cabin 2228. After unloading some of our things we headed out to explore the ship some more and have another drink. After several hours of checking things out we headed to the Atlantic dining room for dinner. I do not recall what I had each night for dinner but the food was very good and left me satisfied at each meal. I had the chocolate melting cake for dessert which was every bit as good as decribed.
On Monday we arrived in St. Thomas and had booked the Trunk Bay excursion through Carnival for $70 pp. We had breakfast in the main dining room and I had the eggs benedict and my wife had the smoked salmon. Our excursion did not leave until close to noon so we walked around the shopping area of the port for about an hour. We took a boat to Cruz Bay and then a cab to Trunk Bay. The beach was awesome and very beautiful but I was not very impressed with the snorkeling. There were very few fish and not a lot of coral but it was worth it just to swim on the beach. We headed back to the boat after about 3 hours. We met a really nice couple at dinner that night (Darcy and Carl) and enjoyed their company so much we switched form anytime dining to 6PM so we could dine with them the rest of the cruise. I think we all went to the casino that night where I tried my luck at the slot machines and broke even after going up and down for a couple of hours. I think we went to the comedy club that night and saw Hoppy Cole and Frank McGauley, both were very very funny, with plenty of raunchy adult humour. I do not recall what time I went to bed, lets just say that I got very little sleep on this cruise (4-6 hrs a night max).
Tuesday was Sea Day so we slept in until about 9 AM and then staked out some chairs near the pool on the Lido deck where I proceeded to drink about 6 rum and Cokes. We pretty much stayed on deck all day and swam and tried out the waterslide. This was the first formal night and we both had the Lobster which was very good. More casino/shows in the Carribbean lounge and then to the comedy club again. We met 3 nurses from Ohio and told them we were going to the Boatyard in Barbados the next day and they decided to join us (Robin, Renee and Barb).
Wednesday we all met at 9:30 and took a cab to the Boatyard which is very close to the cruise ship and $12 pp for a chair, umbrella and free drink coupon. They also provided a shuttle back to the ship for free. The beach was perfect (sugar white sand, blue water) and we lounged until about 3:30 before taking the shuttle back to the ship. Fairly aggressive vendors at this beach but several firm no tank you's and they will leave you alone. We had dinner with our new friends that night and you guessed it, shows/casino/comedy club.
Thursday was our anniversiary and I booked the Jalousie Beach Break excursion through Spencer Ambrose Tours for $80 pp. This was by far our favorite island and the prettiest port in my opinion. We left at 8:30 in a boat for about a 45 minute ride to the beach. Jalousie Beach is a white sand beach sandwhiched right between the Pitons. The Jalousie Beach resort is located right there and is it ever nice. We will most likely come back here for a stay in the near future. We grabbed a chair and umbrella in front of the snorkeling area (no charge) and I proceeded to drink several rum punches and Piton beers provided by Spencer Ambrose. The snorkeling here was fantastic, some of the best I have ever experienced. It drops off about 3000 feet right off the side of the reef. We saw Rays, Sea Cucumbers and buttloads of tropical fish in all sizes and colors. We left (sadly) at 2:30 PM and headed back to the boat with stops to see the bat cave, homes owned by Oprah, Mick Jagger and George Foreman and went through a small sea cave suppossedly filmed in Pirates of the Carribbean. Our boat ran out of gas when we were almost to the ship so we got a tow back in, no big deal really. I cannot say enough about this excursion. If you go, book it you will not be dissapointed. That night is a blur. Do not recall what we did, ate or saw.
Friday was St. Kitts and we hooked up with our nurse friends again and took a cab to Cockle shell Beach. This was not the nicest beach we visitied but had a lot of character. Home of the Reggae Beach Bar and world famous Wilbur the pig. We rented two chairs and an umbrella for $15 and I got a Mango Colada, follwed by Painkillers and assorted Tropical Rum drinks from the bar. There were guys with monkeys there (Green Vervet) who would let them climb all over you and take your pictures with them for $5. The guys with the monkeys were very nice and they sat and talked with us and my wife got to cuddle with two monkeys "Sarah" and "Jimmy Cliff" for about an hour for no charge. They also have a goat and a monkey in a cage and they are best friends. The monkey would kiss and hug the goat and sit on his back and the goat seemed to really enjoy it. Apparently there are over 70,000 monkeys on ST. Kitts and only about 38,000 people. Wilbur was asleep most of the day but shuffled once or twice. They said when he gets really hot he gets in the ocean. Lots of people trying to sell you aloe massages if that is your thing. We brought our snorkeling equipment and went along the reef on the left side of the beach. It was decent but after St. Lucia I was not easily impressed. We had lunch on the beach (Roti Chicken and Mahi-Mahi sandwhich) about $40 for two with drinks. The food was excellent. We also found two really nice conch shells on the beach which we took home as souvenirs. Back in the cab at 3:30 and back to port. At dinner that night I think I had Snapper which was also very good. More drinks, shows and casino time.
Saturday was sadly our last day and we were in St. Maarten. We had originally planned on just taking a cab to Orient Beach but it had been raining and was overcast so we hired a cab driver to take us and our nurse friends around the island for $30 pp. We stopped at Maho Beach and the Sunset Bar for Guavaberry Coladas, which were strong and very, very tasty. My favorite drink on the entire trip. We then went to Marigot Bay and had lunch at a local restaurant "Chez Coco". I had the stewed goat, salad, fries and plantains. at 7 euros it was a great deal and I could not finish half of it, save the goat. My wife had the shrimp creole and others in our party had the curried chicken which they really enjoyed. Back into the cab and on to Orient Beach. We went to the nude beach side, mostly out of curiosity but I decided "When in St. Maarten" and we all dropped our clothes and went for a swim, which was actually quite liberating. I had 4 more Guvaberry Coladas at one of the beach bars. We left at 3:30 PM and arrived back at port by 4:00 PM, just enough time to purchase a bottle of Guavaberry rum. That night we had a table for six, with two of our friends from Australia, Liz and Ian, Darcy, Carl and my wife Beth. I had the prime rib which was excellent. We went to the Legends show that night which was pretty amusing and then to the comedy club before calling it a night.
On embarkation day we booked a San Juan city tour through Carnival with airport transfers for $40 pp as our flight did not leave until 3:30 PM and we did not want to deal with finding a place to store our luggage. We went to San Cristobal fort and Old San Juan where we had some empanadas. It was scorching hot and extremely humid. We were at the airport by 12:30 PM, went through the USDA screening and checked our bags and went to the gate where to our suprise we ran into Darcy and Carl.
I had an excellent time and would definitely cruise again. There is so much to do on a cruise ship that one can never hope to do or see everything and get any sleep at all. The staff were extremely pleasant and helpful and no request seemed to small. Our cabin steward, Frank from St. Vincent was awesome and a very sweet guy so a tip was in order. Our Maitre de 007 was awseome as well. I would like to give a shout out to all our new friends: Darcy and Carl from Ohio, Liz and Ian from Australia, Robin, Rennee and Barb from Ohio, Dolphin Girl and Jason from Cruise Critic, the Tennesseans from Nashville and anyone I forgot