- cabin kept up really well by our stateroom steward, Emmanuel
- awesome waiter and assistant, Darma and Ana
- excellent bar waitress, Yuliya, who remembered our names after one order (and we didn't order many drinks, she was just that friendly)
- Okay shows
- Good activity selection, even though we didn't try many of them
- Decent food throughout
- Karl with a K. HOLY COW is that guy irritating! Every time his voice came on for one of his interminable announcements, we would cringe
- tiny pools that did not entice us to get into them even once
- huge lines at the buffet for breakfast and lunch
- limited buffet options (particularly at breakfast)
- confusing ship layout (why can't you go from one of the ship to the other without going up and down three floors?)
We came in the night before and stayed in a hostel in Old San Juan. The hostel (Pasado San Francisco) was about three blocks uphill from the cruise terminal- awesome location! We woke up in the morning and could walk out and see our ship. The hostel was really affordable and very nice, run by a family. I highly recommend it. OSJ was okay, but there are a lot of guys walking around that will recommend restaurants "to be friendly" and then expect a tip. It seems rude, but you have to just walk away and not talk to them or they will follow you. Embarkation was pretty easy, even though we had to wait over an hour to board the ship after checking in because of "heightened security due to 9/11". We didn't really notice any more security than we would normally expect to see.
Our kayak and sea turtle excursion got cancelled because of TS Maria creating low visibility, so we caught a taxi to Coki Beach at the cab driver's recommendation. It was beautiful! It rained off an on the whole time (POURED!) but it was so great that we didn't care. There is excellent snorkeling here because it is right next to the Coral World aquarium and there are tons of fish that eat right out of your hand. This was our favorite beach that we saw on the whole cruise.
Day at Sea:
Not much to say. The photographers for formal night were very irritating, but only because they kept posing people in the main walkways. We found the photographers to be very respectful of a "no thank you" for pictures. The show was okay but we liked the second one, "Vrooom", better.
Pushy locals on Barbados! We got a taxi tour with a group of people that was decent and took us to Highpoint for the view, an old church, and dropped us of at the beach. He also stopped at a fruit stand so that we could get some local produce (this was not a normal part of the tour but he stopped just because we asked). At the beach we were constantly harassed by people trying to sell us things/excursions from the minute we set foot on the sands- before you can even see the water. They are hard to dissuade. One guy even rubbed aloe on us without asking and then expected a tip. No fish to see in the water, but it would have been fine if not for the vendors.
This was our favorite island. We had a zipline excursion booked (Treetop Adventures I think is the company name) and got in a bus with about 20 other people for the most terrifying and nauseating bus ride I have ever taken. If you get motion sickness, stay on the boat at St. Lucia as it is allllll mountain. I did not enjoy the ziplining and got off halfway through the course, but my husband really liked it and did all 12 lines. The jungle was gorgeous, if humid, and the operators of the excursion were all incredibly friendly and helpful to me when I was needed to leave the zipline. On the bus ride back, the guide got us fresh coconut, cocoa berries (which looked like brains, lol), sugar cane, and starfruit that he went "jungle shopping" for. It was great.
We had an excursion for horseback riding with Trinity Stables in the jungle. We were the only two doing the ride, so our host picked us up in his wife's car and drove us to their apartment building- the horses were behind it which was confusing at first since they weren't visible! I guess they have a separate set of stables for beach rides. We got helmets and a guide and mounted up. I had Tonda (which I think meant "bushwhacker" since he kept trying to head into the barbed wire/trees/bushes/anything... thank goodness I'm an experienced rider but they did ask if I was so I suppose I got myself into that) and my husband, who is not very experienced, had Blanco. Blanco would pass gas with every step going up the trails. It was hilarious. After our three hour ride in the heat, we got an (air-conditioned!!) tour with Bernadette, who was great. We got an awesome view of both oceans and both islands.
We got another taxi tour on this island and it was mediocre compared to the others we had been on. I was very excited to go to Marigot and try a French bakery, but it wasn't as good as I was expecting. There was a flea market that we spent some time in, and we got the best smoothies and lemonade ever at the Exodus Juice stand. We also saw Maho Beach (the airport beach) and saw a plane take off. It was really neat! We didn't really care for St. Maarten... it just wasn't quite as friendly as the other islands (excluding Barbados of course).
Overall, we really enjoyed the cruise and wish it could've lasted longer.