A little background info: I'm 26 and my boyfriend is 34. This was my first cruise and his 4th overall. Because he has cruised before when he was younger he retained their status as a "Platinum C&A member".
Pre Cruise: We're from the Philadelphia area and figured our best option would be to find a stay and cruise package at one of the hotels in the Baltimore area. We chose (after weeks of looking on the East coast departures boards) Best Western, Elkridge. I booked through Trinity Reservations for a rate of 104 inclusive of tax. They offered 1 room, parking for the duration of the cruise, a buffet breakfast and shuttle to and from the port. (No brainer!) The hotel was very lovely and clean. The restaurant next store, The Stained Glass pub was great too. Good food and great prices. If you make it for happy hour you;ll get some super cold frosty CHEAP beer :-). We arranged our shuttle to leave at 11 am. 3 shuttles went to the port that morning. We got in the terminal around 11:30.
Embarkation: What a breeze. Since my boyfriend was platinum we went right to the priority check in line and had our sea pass in hands within minutes. We were on the ship by 11:45. Everything was beautiful and clean. We went up to the pool deck to hang out a while and wait for other people from our group who were driving in to arrive. Much to my boyfriends surprise they did have the beer cooler special and it was the very first thing he got, which was not limited to Budweiser products....
Cabin: We had booked a guarantee inside cabin and were assigned Cabin 3509, starboard side all the way forward. The actual location of this cabin was fantastic. We were in a little alcove so there was a lot of room by our door which made for putting our luggage out on the last night nice. Our cabin steward was Curtis and he was great! The room was small, I wont lie....and so was the bathroom (if you could even call it that). But plenty of storage for the both of us and the 7 pieces of luggage we brought. If you are prone to motion sickness do not book this cabin, while very quiet it was rocky. We heard our hangers clang every night.
Dining: We had the early seating time, with Sunil as our waiter and Rhea as our assistant waiter. They were AMAZING. One of the true highlights of this cruise. I am by no means a foodie but some things were really hit or miss. Things not to miss: Vidalia Onion Tart, Beef Shoulder filet, mustard crusted roast beef and parmesean crusted turkey with FRIED mashed potatoes (heaven).
The Windjammer: good food mostly, but stay out during peak dining times
San Juan: We took a tour from a nice guide named Bruno, $10 pp for a 90 minute tour. He was good. After the tour we went to dinner then back out to Barrachina...AMAZING PINA COLADAS
St. Thomas: Took a cab to Magens Bay ($8 pp each way, with $4 pp admission to the beach) It was beautiful! Then we shopped around Havensight
Dominican Republic: We stayed on board and took advantage of the empty pool deck
Labadee, Haiti: My favorite port... We had pre booked the dragons breath zip line and I was freaking out since the day we booked. Im very very very scared of heights and it was amazing. Afterwards we hung out at the beach between Barefoot beach club and the water park. Sandy bottom, clear warm water. It was perfect. DO NOT GO to the shopping area. So many aggressive people.
If you are looking for a peaceful quiet deck go to deck 5 outside. It was our favorite spot. Very relaxing.
Debarkation: Fast and easy, found our luggage with no problem, called for our shuttle and he was there very fast.
Amazing trip can't wait for the next one!
** a few times we did smell a sewagey smell, luckily not near our cabin***