I have never cruised before. I choose this cruise, as my wife gifted me with this for my birthday and then proceeded to have me plan it. She wanted to do the southern Caribbean. I read other reviews and found that Royal Caribbean would ... Read More
I have never cruised before. I choose this cruise, as my wife gifted me with this for my birthday and then proceeded to have me plan it. She wanted to do the southern Caribbean. I read other reviews and found that Royal Caribbean would probably be a good fit for us, we are in our 40's.
Our original cruise date was 9/30, but that was cancelled, so we rebooked for 10/21. All of that went really smooth with RCCL, American Airlines, and the excursion people, so thanks for making that easy.
We were going to stay in Puerto Rico 2 days early, but again due to the hurricane we skipped that and came in the day the ship was leaving.
We had the free transportation to the ship through RCCL and other than a 15 minute wait, it went just fine, yeah the bus was a little hot and crowded, but hey, it was free and all handled for us. It turned out to be a short trip anyway.
Getting on board didn't take too long, I would guess 15-20 minutes from getting dropped off to getting to our stateroom, we didn't get in until 2:30pm. so maybe that made it easy.
The cabin was nice enough, we had a balcony and there was plenty of storage for all of our (my wife's) stuff. One of our suitcases wouldn't fit under the bed, so that one went in the closet.
We didn't do any of the specialty dining, we did all Main Dining (My Time Dining) except breakfast twice, which was in the Windjammer.
We didn't do the drink packages, as my wife and I don't drink lots of alcohol and we don't do soda.
I heard other people say the water on the ship is fine, I use an RO at home and the water tasted like crap on the ship, we had to get lemons everyday to cut the chlorine taste out of the water, then it was ok.
Main dinning was ok, the selection was good enough, but went I got the food, it just didn't have much in the way of flavor. I was expecting more. I did return 2 of the dishes and tried something else on the menu. I was looking for flavor, but even the dishes that they labeled as "spicy" didn't have much heat. The mushroom soup was good. The pasta was not, it tasted off and it was clumped together, to be truthful I thought of Chef Boyardee when I was eating it, it was one of the ones that I returned.
We loved our first set of Waiter and Assistant (Sixto and DWI), but for some reason got moved and just never clicked with the second set, we asked to get moved back, but it didn't work out. Ex. We sat at the table for 10-15 minutes with dirty dished twice in the same evening, after main and desert.
For desert, my wife really likes Crème Brule, but they seem to make it more like Flan, it wasn't what we wanted and my wife asked for it to be changed and tried on 3 different nights, but it never came out right.
I do have to say however that my wife has a food allergy and Anthony the Head Waiter for Sapphire Deck 3 went really over and above to make sure that she had items that she could eat everyday. He even made sure that she had extra buns for making PBJ's for our time on the islands. He talked with us about our day and came by after each course to make sure she liked what she got.
Windjammer was for breakfast only and was a typical buffet, so nothing wow and no complaints.
I did try the pizza at the Café Promenade, it was like cardboard, the crust was limp, and there wasn't much flavor.
We did the behind the scenes galley tour and that explained, I think, why the food tasted the way it did. It mostly premade, in their kitchen, but way before dinner and then they stack it and the waiters just come around and pull it out of the stack to serve. I get that they have something like 600 people at a service per kitchen to serve, but they have to do something to make the food better. We came home and stopped by Chipotle after our flight came home and the food was better than most of what I go on the boat. If Chipotle can do fresh food like that, I don't see my the RCCL couldn't.
Entertainment and activities - we did a couple of the shows and they were good enough. We didn't do many activities, we just didn't seem to have time. We ended up going to bed by 10:30 or 11 most days due to the excursions we were doing.
Spa - my wife's mani/pedi was outrageously expensive, that taught us, to do it at home the next time. Wife and I each had massages which were nice, 1 was free and the other was $50 off due to a raffle, otherwise way overpriced, if that wasn't the case.
Ports - We did the ABCs and St Kitts.
Bonaire we walked the town a little bit in the morning to do some shopping and Woodwinds in the afternoon.
Woodwinds was awesome, if you go, you should do it, shout out to D and her crew. They did 2 drift snorkels off of Klein Bonaire, they provided all of the equipment including Rashguards or suits if you wanted them, floaties, and even prescription goggles. They provided drinks before and after each dive, after the first we got a snack and after the second they gave use lunch which was noodles, chicken. and veg, including plantains, it was great. They sell you photos afterwards if you want, we took them and like what we got, which was sea life and shots of each of us on the trip (I think around 30 people), around 180 photos, they put it all on a thumb drive that you took home right away. I did do my own GoPro filming, as they didn't do any video, but it was nice to get the shots of the sea life and the shots in the water, my wife and I were in 2 different groups (they broke us up by experience, I am a diver, my wife had never snorkeled before this). She loved snorkeling after this.
Curacao - we did the Curacao Actief tour with Kurt. Again would recommend. It was an all day open air pickup with a soft top on the back. 6 people, We went all over the northern part of the island. Saw some of the towns, did a lot of off roading, 2 blow holes, a bat cave, Green Turtle area (from above), then to Westpoint beach to snorkel with the turtles, they do provide equipment, but you should make sure they have your size, before you leave, there was a mix up with one of the other guests and they had to try a few sets to find one that fit, also they don't do any photos, so bring your own underwater camera. On the way home he drove us over the big bridge and even dropped my wife off at the shopping area after we go back and dropped everyone else off.
Aruba - Our excursion through RCCL was cancelled the night before. We ended up walking off of the ship and taking one of the old school buses with no windowpanes for $20 per person for a 4 hour trip around the island. Did the rock formation, the Aloe Vera plant, the lighthouse. Nothing special, but not horrible either, got us to see the island. Dropped my wife off so that she could visit the History museum in town and I did the Seabob Aruba, that was awesome. It turned out that I was the only one on the trip, though my understanding is the max is 6 anyway. Seabob is a 1 person underwater sled that goes ~13 MPH. Mine was set to 30 feet as I am a diver, but I was having problems equalizing my left ear so I only went down 15-20 feet. The water off of Boca Catalina was not as clear as Curacao or Bonaire (Bonaire was the clearest by far), however we did go out to the Antilla shipwreck and got to go around that with the Seabob. That thing is really fun to use. They provide all of the equipment, even the wetsuit. Fins and snorkel aren't needed. It is a strenuous activity, so if you go, work on being able to hold your breath to get the most out of it, I am a fit guy and was rather tired after doing this for just an hour and a half. They do take photo/video and sell it to you, again, I purchased it, it was 283 photos and videos, again worth it.
We ate at the Hard Rock for dinner, they were accommodating for my wife's food allergy, but for the price you pay for dinner for 2 ($68) + $25 for taxi and bus there, the food wasn't worth it.
Cruise day - Did the wine tasting and Galley tour and Bruch. Wife isn't a wine person, but wanted her to experience different wines, she didn't like it, but that's because she only likes sweet wines, not the tour fault.
St. Kitts - Did the Greyford tour. AC bus, does a tour of the north of the island, including the main town, the botanical gardens, the fort, and a stop at the beach. This one was just 8 people, the van windows are smaller than a bus, so limits the view a little bit. Was a good overall tour of the island. The beach was disappointing as the tour says to bring snorkel equipment, and when comparing to the other snorkeling, there wasn't anything at the beach we were on to see. They did have a restaurant at the beach to eat, however the prices were pretty high so we skipped it.
Would I go again? Sure, overall the cruise was very relaxing, the excursions I took (none of which were through RCCL on the islands) are what made the vacation a great one. The snorkeling was awesome and my wife now loves it and wants to do it again.
The ship and room were fine for what I paid for it.
I would love it if they changed up the food, I would think about just doing the specialty restaurants in the future, but I am loath to pay more for food on an all inclusive trip. Read Less