Nice flight from PHL to SJU on a bright 40 degree day. Upon landing, the temperature was about 85 degrees, enough to make it feel like summer again. Taxi ride from the airport to La Concha Hotel was a flat $21 for two people. Downtown ... Read More
Nice flight from PHL to SJU on a bright 40 degree day. Upon landing, the temperature was about 85 degrees, enough to make it feel like summer again. Taxi ride from the airport to La Concha Hotel was a flat $21 for two people. Downtown San Juan looked pretty good and mostly unaffected by hurricane Maria. But, on the plane’s final approach, the homes we passed over mostly had blue plastic tarps for roofs. I’m afraid it will be years until most parts of this island are back to normal, if at all.
Had a tasty Chinese meal for dinner at a place down the street from the hotel. They had pina coladas for $7.95 which were yummy.
It was starting to get dark after we left so sat by the pool instead of dipping in the ocean. There were at least four places to buy spirits within three blocks from the hotel. You could tell who the cruisers were since folks buying two bottles of wine was a dead giveaway! Wine is also sold at the port, so you’re able to get your supply before going through security.
Day 1: Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017- Embarkation Day
Pan American Pier was just a short hop from downtown San Juan. Security and check in went rather fast after having to wait in a long line just to drop off your checked luggage. The whole process took about 25 minutes. One whole bank of elevators were being used to send the luggage to the upper decks so the elevators were kind of packed Muster drill took a good 45 minutes because some thought it a good idea to be “fashionably” late and a few absentees had to be rounded up. Aside from that, everything else went well. Dinner started at about 6:30 and the prime rib was yummy! Tomorrow(Sunday) will be the first formal night. One really nice thing about the interactive TV is that you can preview the menus from each of the dining venues. That’s something I really missed on the Vision and Rhapsody on my last two cruises. Peeking at your onboard account is another thing I’ve missed. Technology is great!
Day 2: Dec. 10, 2017 Sunday – sea day
Mostly just relaxed and soaked up the sun on the pool deck. There was a very active Zumba class going on that was full of energy. As those folks sweated, I sipped several pina coladas which worked out my elbow muscles. I didn’t get a drink package but they were only about $10 each plus 18% gratuity. Oh, my daughter sent me several emails of the snow from back home in PA. In return, I sent her a bunch a photos of people in the pools and the Adventure slicing through the warm, blue Caribbean!
Day 3: Monday, Dec. 11. Curacao
Spent the day at an all-inclusive resort, Sunscape. The ride there took only about 15 minutes. For the fee you pay you get unlimited drinks, food, beach chair, use of pools, and of course the beach. Although the property is absolutely beautiful, I got the feeling that the price was really on the high side. For example, Nachi Cocum, in Cozumel, is only half as much and you an equal amount of food, alcohol, etc. Despite that, I’d still go back again because the staff were great and always pleasant.
Day 4: Tuesday, Dec. 12 Bonaire
My very first time here so didn’t know quite what to expect. Decided to take a tour of the northern section of the island. It was $25/pp and took about two hours. Saw some of the best snorkeling/scuba diving spots in the world. The water was the clearest, bluest I’ve ever seen in all of my Caribbean travels! Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire all have the same in common. Very dry, hardly any rain, and lots of cactus. If there were any palm trees, I didn’t see them. Also, I noticed that all the villages and small towns we passed through were very well kept and there were no signs of poverty. Our tour guide said there was practically zero crime and most places didn’t even have a need for police. A home close to the ocean is over a million dollars but inland is much more affordable. Who would want to live somewhere with no ocean view, though? The downtown shopping area and even port shopping areas were very laid back and low keyed. I really enjoyed this place! No one at all in your face trying to coerce you to buy trinkets and souvenirs, etc.
Day 5 Wed, Dec. 13: Aruba
Awoke around 7:30 AM to at the beautiful port of Aruba.I pre-purchased an all- inclusive day pass at the Barcelo Hotel. I am sure glad I did because this was one beautiful property! It was a short ride from the port and we got there around 10 AM. All the staff were very nice and made us feel welcomed, like well-known honored guests. Their swimming pool area was one of the nicest I’ve ever seen! Most of the shaded loungers, by the ocean, were taken but we were very happy next to a pool. The bar staff kept refilling our drinks and the included buffet had great and tasty selections. We got back to the ship at about 4:30 PM to shower and unwind. The bright sun seared us so am glad I took along a goodly amount of strong sunscreen. Still, I feel a bit burnt. The Cruise Compass noted that “All passengers had to be aboard by 10:30 PM.” That’s the latest return time I’ve ever experienced but guess it’s a very short hop to the final stop, Antigua.
Day 6: Sea Day Dec. 14, 2017
Just kind of lazed around the ship and took it easy. Spent a bit of time in the Jacuzzi on the pool deck, read a bit, and not much else. It was like having a vacation from my vacation.
Day 7: Antigua: Dec. 15, 2017
Where has this place been all my life? It was my first visit there and was very impressed. Due to the early 2:30 PM back on board time, couldn’t get too involved with much. We ended up going to Dickenson Beach which was just a short hop from the port. The same taxi driver that took us there returned at the prearranged time to pick us up for the trip back to the ship. This island has 365 beaches! I’ve got 364 to go! After dinner (I call it the Last Supper), we started packing up and, with sadness, put our checked luggage in the hallway.
Day of Debarkation, Dec. 16
They called our luggage tag number at about 9:10 AM so off we went. All the elevators were totally backed going to the gangway on deck 1, so I had to lug two carry-on bags down two decks from deck 3 of the Sapphire Dining Room where we waited. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal but my knees aren’t what they used to be. Customs was chaotic! I managed to snag a porter which sped up the process quite a bit and we were in a taxi, headed to the airport, in no time. Boarding time for our flight was at 2:20 PM, so had about a two hour wait. Had I an earlier flight, there was a good chance I’d have missed it unless I did the self debarkation.
At first I wasn’t going to write about this but feel it’s very important to mention. I have read numerous horror stories on various cruise sites/reviews about the behavior of the locals who sail from Puerto Rico. On day 1, I noticed that about 70% (just my estimate) of the passengers were locals. I thought to myself that this could quite possibly be “the cruise from hell.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone I met, or encountered, was super friendly, polite, happy, and outgoing. I saw not one example of jumping in line, poor elevator etiquette, or any other act of rude behavior I’ve read about in other’s reviews from past cruises. Actually, I felt that the locals turned a good cruise into a GREAT cruise! To sum up, I’d give this cruise an 11 out of 10!
The absolute worst part of this cruise? Flying home after an extraordinary week of sun and fun!
Funny, after reading this review I noticed there weren’t any cons about the ship itself. Well, there weren’t really any worth mentioning. Of course, nothing is every perfect. But, this was about as good as it gets! Read Less