Let's start with my stay down in Fort Lauderdale the night before the trip. I traveled with 4 other friends, all in our 30's. We wanted to keep the cost of a hotel room economical, so we decided to try the Red Carpet Inn. I ... Read More
Let's start with my stay down in Fort Lauderdale the night before the trip. I traveled with 4 other friends, all in our 30's. We wanted to keep the cost of a hotel room economical, so we decided to try the Red Carpet Inn. I had read reviews and it seemed like it would be an OK place to stay for just the night. Well it was more than okay! The room was $100 with tax, so break it down to $20.00 a person. They provided transportation from the airport at no additional feel, and to the cruise terminal the next day again, for no additional fee. So all in all for $20 a person we had a place to stay, and transportation. The rooms were nice, don't let the outside deceive you. We were lucky and had a brand new renovated room. There was a restaurant attached to the hotel serving food and drinks till 11pm. When we weren't ready to end the night, there was a bar/restaurant right next door (walking trail right to it) to satisfy that need. I have no complaints and thank a review on cruise critic for the recommendation.
Went pretty smooth. Lines were long, but seemed to move along rather quickly. We had received an email the night before stating not to arrive until 1:30pm, a change from the original 12:30 arrival time. We were obviously the only ones who either received that email, or the only ones who had listened to the email. This process was pretty painless. Not the most painless one I've been through, but not the worst one either.
First Stop On Board:
Once on the boat we headed right to the Lido deck, stopping for a drink at the Rum Bar next to the pool. The pool however, was empty and the net was placed over it on the Lido deck. I was disappointed to see this, as I do believe a lot of travelers were. Also, and surprisingly we never once saw a souvenir cup for the drink of the day. I usually only buy it on day one to start the vacation, so I was sad that it wasn't offered, but now looking back they didn't offer them at any point on this cruise.
Balcony Room, balcony room, balcony room! It's the only way to cruise. I swore I'd never do a balcony room, after my first 2 cruises in an interior room. I was never in the room, why am I paying more money for a balcony room... WRONG! This is my second cruise with a balcony room, and I'll never go back! Upon first getting to the room, and opening the mini fridge to stock it with our own stuff we were surprised to find half eaten desserts left behind from the previous cruisers. It was kinda gross to see, but worrisome on another level. They're supposed to have inventory of what is in your mini fridge, so if he didn't open it in between visits, how do you know what I'm starting with? You don't, and then when and if something is missing, you're gonna charge me. I called the front desk, but obviously it was embarkation still and they were chaotic. We threw it out on our own and hoped for the best. I figured we'd mention it to the steward when we saw him later that evening. Later that evening came and went, and we never saw the steward.
For the first time ever I was disappointed with our steward. Don't get me wrong he did a good job of tending to the room for the most part. I was in a triple with 2 other ladies. We each need 2 towels when we shower, and I personally like to sleep with a lot of pillows. On day 2 after having our room tended to during the day, we still hadn't seen or met our steward. We left a note when we went to dinner requesting for 6 towels each day, and an additional pillow. In the note we indicated we were looking forward to meeting him. The next day he saw us walking out of our room, and approached us to introduce himself. That was the first and only time we ever saw him while on board. Some people may prefer this, but I've always enjoyed interacting with the steward. I've never had a steward where they weren't always greeting me by my name as I passed them at any point. I think he was good and what he did, but not as friendly as I've always experienced.
Your Time Dining:
I love the your time dining. I hate being constrained to having to be at the dining hall for a set time. The only down side to your time dining is you do not have the same wait staff all week. This time though for the most part we sat in the same section and had the same staff every night, it just wasn't guaranteed. I was disappointed on the last night, we sat in a completely different section. I'm not sure if the waiter was new, or training, but he didn't understand any English. Now I know English is a second language for mostly all of the waitstaff on the Boat, but he messed up our drink order, as well as appetizer order because he didn't understand. Overall the dining staff was okay. Nothing terrible, nothing to write home about.
LOVED the comedy shows on board.... I have to say outside the comedy shows and BINGO we didn't go much else as far as on Board planned entertainment. Curly was awesome at BINGO, o and we saw him one night for Karaoke. Karaoke was a little dry compared to other ships i've been on but that's not the fault of the entertainment staff. Comedy shows were great each night. I think the MC was a little cheesy at times, but she got a laugh one way or another. The George Lopez rules video is played out, time for a new one!
Guest Services Desk:
Has to be the worst part of any ship. Had to wait 2 times to discuss issues. When we first arrived our A/C wasn't working, and the shower wasn't draining fast so if you were in the shower for more than 3 minutes it was pouring over the shower lip and flooding the bathroom. I had to wait in line for over an hour to report this on day 2. Upon reporting this on day 2 I also told them about the left over desserts in the fridge. No apology, didn't even seem to care. I know it's not a huge deal, and I never would have waited on line to report just that, but since I was there why let them know. NO reaction, no care in the world. The second time made me mad. I will preface this with the following... I've worked in the service industry off tips for over 15 years. I'm a pretty generous tipper, but performance based. I'm always leaving you the proper amount, but based on service I'll offer more. I remove the auto gratuity because it is the one thing that drives me nuts about going on cruises. I'm spending $1,000 plus to walk on your boat, and now you want me to tip every single person I come in contact with.... NO! I will tip where tips are deserved, and I will determine how much to tip. So judge me if you want, but I remove the auto gratuity. When I went up to the desk to remove the auto gratuity the person who assisted me replied "Well have you been tipping accordingly"- I wanted to respond, it's none of your business, but I'm not rude, so I just replied yes. She was busy doing something as I replied, and seemed distracted. A 40 second delay and she goes, well what did you say, you are or aren't. I said I am, and will be leaving cash for the steward. She replies well what about the dining staff and other staff. I've never been questioned about removing the gratuity. The whole line of people was there to do the same (the whole 2nd time of over an hour wait)- My friends all removed it as well and none of them were questioned. I was extremely annoyed by this.
Overall it's a nice ship, it's clean. I wasn't blown away by any of the staff as I have been in the past. We're big drinks (no we're not the annoying drunks on board) but we're the type to order a few drinks during the day, have a few more at dinner, and then again at the shows. I've been on boats where waiters knew not only my name but portfolio numbers. They seeked me out wherever I was during the day or at night. I wouldn't have to get out of the pool to get my card, they knew the order and portfolio number already. We didn't have that on this boat. Not with bartenders, not with the servers. I was disappointed by the staff. I've already booked another cruise, and I'm hoping the staff on Board is more friendly.
As far as the islands are concerned. We're not big excursions people, and I'm glad we didn't. We had considered 2, one in curaco, one in aruba. We happened to know someone on board from back home who did the excursions we had been interested in, but sold out, and she hated them.
Aruba- We went to Eagle beach on a recommendation. Nothing fancy. Jet Ski's available. The normal haggling for a beach chair and umbrella. Aruba was beautiful, scenery was gorgeous but the beach wasn't anything to brag about. I'd imagine all the beaches in Aruba are gorgeous. I'd recommend finding one that has a restaurant and a real bathroom.
Curaco- GORGEOUS! We went to Mambo Beach! When you first arrive there's a pool where you can rent lounge chairs or cabanas. Not bad pricing either, and completely worth it to have the pool. (I'm more of a pool person than a beach so to have a pool on the beach, with beach view I was in my glory) There's waiter service right to your chair/cabana. It was amazing. Bunch of small shops down there also, very clean.
La Romana- GROSS! Dirty! Even the beach was sketchy. Want a day to enjoy the lido deck without the crowd? Stay on the BOAT! Wasn't worth it!!! I'm telling you now, stay on the boat.
Grand Turk- Second time there, didn't see much more than margaritaville. It's good to do even if you have kids. There's a pool at margaritaville, with lounge chairs. Wave Surf Pool. Swim Up Bar, and stage. Always a good time there, always packed, but not so much so that you can't get service. Read Less