We sailed out of San Juan January 24, 2016 on Jewel of the Seas. We stayed a night off of Condado Beach, which was a wonderful location with lots of shopping, beach, park and restaurants - even a Walgreens nearby. Costs of cabs varied - ... Read More
We sailed out of San Juan January 24, 2016 on Jewel of the Seas. We stayed a night off of Condado Beach, which was a wonderful location with lots of shopping, beach, park and restaurants - even a Walgreens nearby. Costs of cabs varied - $25-36 from airport to hotel per cab, hotel to airport was $4 pp; Cab to port was around $7 each; shuttle from port to Old San Juan was $10 each. I had understood prices were set, but they were not, at least not if we wanted a cab and didn't want to wait.
Embarkation was a breeze, as was the entire first day. We were able to board much earlier than told, so that was very nice. Since people boarded throughout the day, nothing was overcrowded at any one time. Perfect!!
Sail away was right at dinner, so we had to miss that or miss our first night at the MDR. In retrospect, I wish we had watched sail away, at least past El Morro.
Our only day at sea was nice - not a lot of activities for the very active (one member of our group was already bored). We did scrapbooking and ribbon tying if that gives you an indication. Having seen the bellyflop contest once, we have chosen to miss it ever since, and having gone to numerous shopping lectures, again, we chose to miss that. Not much for people who have been on a number of cruises.
The ship immediately showed her need for dry dock and TLC. Lots of paint chipped, stains, huge carpet stains, and so much more.
Still, she fulfilled her purpose, which was as a floating hotel getting us to a variety of destinations with some entertainment and food.
Speaking of which, shows truly need an uplift. The first production show, usually one of our favorites, put many people to sleep. I saw lots of yawns, people walking out, and many snoring. The second one was a mix on opinions, so I will leave that one alone. The comedian the first night, and the one for the adults only comedy show both were extremely offensive on many levels, and should be dropped like a hot potato.
The food was edible, and not once so good we talked about how good it was, in the MDR, and we can only guess this is the way they push us into specialty dining. The nightly escargot was lukewarm at best, and this after requesting the Head Waiter take charge on it. We gave up after the 3rd try.
The service was very good throughout the ship. Dinner was very slow, but our Head Waiter and our Assistant Waiter took good care of us. Our room steward was stellar, bartenders and bar waiters and waitresses kept drinks flowing and moods happy.
Shopping left a little to be desired - the same old tired items that break or wear out within a week after going home, so nothing for us there. I asked if we could exchange those items we purchased on the last cruise and was told to clean them - seriously? Cleaning cannot fix broken watches and rings that turn within a couple weeks!
Otherwise, as I said, the ship did exactly what we wanted, which was got us to the itinerary.
Barbados, from what I understand, is a port that is often late - at least that is what our excursion leader told us. Be aware of that possibility. Also, that there is a VERY long walk to the terminal. Shuttles are offered, but by the time we got cleared to disembark, it would have taken numerous shuttles so we walked.
Otherwise, it was a fantastic port, beautiful water, lots of beaches and history. Lots to do and worth visiting. We did a turtle snorkel and saw a number of turtles - Cliff Sharker gave personal attention. Did a wreck snorkel - fabulous. We also visited Sandals Barbados, which was an amazing property! Definitely recommend - the beach was incredibly beautiful!
In St. Lucia, we did a tour with Spencer Ambrose Tours - the land and sea, which was also quite amazing. Be aware the boat ride is long and can be bumpy if the waters are rough, but sooooo worth it! The views are amazing, the beach fantastic with views of the Pitons and a great snorkel from the beach, the mud bath made our skin so soft and smooth, the food delicious, and the waterfall beautiful. Great excursion!
In St. Martin, we took a cab directly to Orient Beach - we had done Maho many times and just wanted to relax. We had a wonderful time at Kontiki and truly enjoyed our day. Beautiful water and beach - lots of toys out there for rent.
St. Croix was the favorite for us - mostly because you could go right to local vendors without the hassle of a large shopping mall - just right out the gate. It was truly refreshing! We loved the beach we visited, the waters were amazing, the snorkel nice, and the locals friendly and helpful. Loved it! You can walk directly to the beach from the ship easily. We chose to go to Sandcastle, which was very nice, but they said water toys were available at Fredericksted and some would have enjoyed that.
We built many memories, shared a lot of laughter, made new friends, and truly enjoyed this trip. Read Less