We chose this cruise as one of our favorite islands, Barbados, was the first stop and it happen to fall on our actual 25th anniversary. We planned to renew our vows on the beach there.
We flew into San Juan on Friday night and spent our nights pre-cruise at the Ritz Carlton. I loved this hotel, they made it a special stay, as they knew we were celebrating our anniversary, and had our room decorated with rose petals, everywhere. The pool is beautiful and the beach was nice too. We spent Saturday sitting on the beach for most of the day, and then by the pool. We went across the street for dinner at Metropol, for some authentic Cuban/Puerto Rican food - yummy!
Sunday - I had my husband's father and his wife (Jim & Sandy) and another couple of friends (Glenn & Lauri) staying at the Raddison, surprise cruise guests for my husband! He had no idea, I had kept the secret for 3 months. I had arranged for a car to pick them up and take them to the ship before us, so they could get champagne and meet us in our room for the big - SURPRISE!
The other couple (Kevin & Darla) flew into San Juan that morning, and caught a taxi to the Ritz to meet up with us. We took a private SUV to the port and got in line to check in. All together, from getting out of the SUV to walking on the ship took less than 30 minutes, all the while I was texting our surprise guests with our location. We went straight to the forward elevators and headed up to deck 8 - where my husband got his socks knocked off - our surprise guests were waiting there! He was shocked to see his dad, wife and our other friends, he almost forgot to get off the elevator! We went to our room, shared a bottle of champagne and then headed to the Windjammer for some lunch. This was Jim & Sandy and Kevin & Darla's first cruise, so we showed them around a bit after lunch. We had 6pm reservations in the MDR, so we all went back to our cabins to refresh, unpack a little, and rest. Dinner was great and then came the sail away - we watched from the helipad on the front of the ship, taking the "I'm King of the world" pics....
Monday - We had breakfast in the Windjammer, it was nothing spectacular, just your normal buffet food. The crew was very friendly though, and always smiling, I liked that. Everyone went their own way then, to explore the ship, work out, and what ever. Me? I was at the pool, where my husband sat me, while he went back to the cabin to write his vows for our ceremony the next day in Barbados. Around 11am I ordered a bucket of beer and had a couple, as it was pretty warm out there. I fell asleep and missed the M&M get together. And then about 2pm, Lauri & Glenn found me - still alone - and we moved into the Solarium. I was wondering why it was taking my husband so long to write his vows, but after I heard them on Tuesday, I knew - Sorry, ladies, I have the best husband in the world!! Everyone mt up for dinner at 8pm in the MDR and chatted about their day.
Tuesday - Barbados - Our vow renewal day! We were met by the agency outside the shopping area and whisked away to the Hilton. There on the beach was our Reverend and the other witnesses from the agency. We had the most beautiful ceremony, with the waves crashing in the background. The view of the ocean was awesome and so blue....
After the ceremony, we headed to Harbour Lights for our reception, which I had set up with them before hand. They totally took care of everything we needed, food, wine, buckets of beer, chairs, umbrellas and even took some photos for us. Gave my husband and I their t-shirts for souvenirs. I highly recommend spending your day there while on Barbados (even if you just stop by after an excursion). It's about 5 minutes, by cab, away from the pier.
We had dinner reservations at Chops for our celebration to continue. We brought our wedding cake to them to serve to us for dessert, which they handled great! Our waiter and assistant even came up from the MDR to give us a congratulations too! Food and service in Chops is great - well worth the extra charge!
Wednesday - St. Lucia - I booked a private tour to TiKaye Resort, as we had been there before. They sent a water taxi to pick us up and take us to the resort, about 35 minute ride from the ship. We spent the day on the black sand beach, snorkeling in the marine park and having a wonderful, slightly overcast day. The resort is beautiful too, just 156 stair climb, but worth every step.
Thursday - Antigua - I booked Ziplining on our own, as I had done it before when they first opened about 4 years ago, Rainforest Antigua. They sent a van for us, and picked us up at the pier. It was so much fun, and after we had our driver take the scenic way back. He called ahead to a place at Valley Church Beach for lunch for us. That beach was beautiful! Will definitely return there! Lunch was good, as was the seagrape rum!
Friday - St. Maarten - I booked a private yacht through Turtle Tours and when we got to their place at Simpson Bay, their boat was not working. The owner already had an alternative plan in place and proceeded to take our order for lunch and drinks on board another boat. We waited about 40 minutes for him to get the replacement boat and supplies, and then we were off. It was just the 8 of us, our captain and his first mate. We got a full tour of St. Maarten from the ocean. We stopped at a beach and had lunch, swam, took pictures and drank beer & wine. The captain then took us to Maho beach and let us film the planes coming into the airport. They literally fly right over your head! Way too cool!! A MUST see!!
Saturday - St. Croix - We all went our separate ways on this day. We had been here before and went straight to Cane Bay for some snorkeling. I got some great photos and even saw a turtle! Just a relaxing day. St. Croix is beautiful!
Sunday - Disembarking was a little tough for us. We are so used to just getting up and walking off the ship when we are ready, so the whole time schedule thing threw us for a loop. We were supposed to get off the ship at 9am - but didn't walk off until 9:45. We sat in the theater for the last 45 minutes, waiting...The last few ships we had been on were much smaller - so I guess it takes time to get that many people off the ship.
I liked this cruise, but it was exhausting! Our next cruise will have more sea days, for sure. One benefit to not spending a lot of time on the ship, is a lower ship card bill at the end - ours was only $180!! The lowest we've ever had!!! The ship was beautiful, the crew was great and the food in the MDR was great. The food in the Windjammer was just ok, but good enough for breakfast & snacks.
If you have any questions, please shoot me an email - crez4jc at me dot com