My sister-in-law and I came for a rest and a holiday where everything was to hand...and that is what we got!
We flew into Miami and quickly settled into the Intercontinental Hotel following the exhausting queue to get into the country! One couple had been waiting in the passport queue for two and a half hours! It was a re-play of the situation we experienced when we cruised in 2010 despite their protestaions of computer failure and change of shifts.
Following our speedy transfer by coach to the ship,boarding was smoothly executed even though one of us had packed their Boarding Card in their suitcase. The staff were all pleasant and most helpful.
Our stateroom at the rear of the ship was actually made up as a double when we arrived. Our steward had not wished to offend two ladies travelling together and said he would make two singles a little later when we had had time to relax a little and have some lunch. This was completed by the time we arrived back from lunch and was a measure of the excellent service he gave us throughout the cruise.
We braved the choppy sea (nothing like the English Channel!) to go over to Princess Cays and in fact only got caught in one short sharp shower. The rain was warm and we sheltered only momentarily under cover near the BBQ.
Although the sea was incredibly choppy, it didn't spoil our sleep and felt ready to have a look at St Thomas and Magen's Bay. Having been before, I was a little disapponted at the lack of commentary as we crossed the island but a swim with the pelicans in Magen's Bay was worth it. The stay at this beach is a little short.
In Dominica (our next port of call),we travelled on the train around the main port and also to the botanical gardens. we had a very knowlegeable and interesting young man to guide us. some walked through the gardens and others less mobile moved slowly on the train with a commentary by the driver.Theis tour was ended with a delicious glass of rum punch a few yards from the ship.
Although the tour we took in Grenada was for people with limited mobility, we were disappointed at the lack of stopping time at certain interesting points.
Arriving in Bonaire, we were delighted that the sun decided to make an appearance.However, our trip to the beach at the Spice Beach Resort wasn't very successful. Of all the beautiful beaches there are, this one is steeply shelved over an outcrop of coral reef. it seemed to me to be a little sad to prefer to swim in a pool rather than a beautiful turquoise sea. I couldn't recommend this tour.
Aruba was something else entirely and our tour (4 hours)around the island and a stop to swim for an hour was just sublime! Our guide was amusing, interesting and well informed.
The activities onboard weren't really for us although we did enjoy SHOWTIME, even if it was rather loud and a wonderful guitarist in the Adagio Bar.
Our dining experience was not particularly good in Anytime dining. We felt that the staff were rushing us and the plate was gone before the cutlery had hardly touched the plate. Staff constantly hovered in an overbearing way instead of discreetly as good service should be. We were not impressed by the quality of the food although we did have some good meals. In the end we took ourselves to the Horizon Court where we had excellent choice and the ability to try various "new to us" food. Those who don't try it shouldn't comment on the quality (how can they?). It was very good indeed....and the Sushi....just great! We dined in peace and quiet and yet the staff were eager to serve without being in our faces all the time. I think the Da Vinci was the better of the two Anytime dining rooms.
The staff around the ship were generally helpful. Would some of them PLEASE be very firm with passengers at the muster station? NO use of mobiles means just that and yet people were happily chatting away on them in front of staff. At moments like that staff need to be assertive. People who don't listen cause all the problems in an emergency situation and this should be pointed out quite clearly.....the safety of ALL of us depends on this!
The one really poor area was the ship's tannoy system....it's impossible to hear it in the staterooms.
Disembarkation was smooth and efficient at the end of the cruise although the method of disembarkatiion at our ports of call meant we lost precious time on the islands!