The itinerary for this cruise is very attractive. The ABC islands are a wonder to see and this cruise hit all of them, with an overnight in Aruba. We also tendered into Grand Cayman and docked in Cartagena, Columbia. In hindsight, we could ... Read More
The itinerary for this cruise is very attractive. The ABC islands are a wonder to see and this cruise hit all of them, with an overnight in Aruba. We also tendered into Grand Cayman and docked in Cartagena, Columbia. In hindsight, we could have skipped Cartagena and spent an extra day in Bonaire.
As we were with a group who had sailed to most of our destinations, we did not do any of the traditional "get to know the island" tours, but did do a snorkling excusion through the ship and took a water taxi (on our own) to Klein Bonaire to snorkel there. The remainder of the time, we simply wandered the port, which worked fine for us.
Grand Cayman was very nice and i would like to go again, maybe explore it a little more. We toured the port for a bit, but didn't really spend too much time there.
Cartagena is an experience, but not one I'm sure I want to repeat.. We took a bus to the walled city so we could look around the market. The guide on the bus, when we asked How do we get back to the ship, replied, I meet you here at 11. So, at 11, we found him and started following him. He was walking away from the market area; we thought the bus was parked a little ways away. But after we had been walking for about 15 minutes, we questioned as to where we were going. He was bringing us to a mall. No! We said. We want to go back to the ship. He got on his phone and about 5 more minutes of walking and a short wait, we were back on the bus on the way to the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool, where we actually got a chair, instead of looking at all the chairs with towels and books on them, but no people.
Aruba is a beautiful port, but there didn't seem to be much to do there. We went off the ship when we docked and walked around. The next morning, we had a snorkeling excursion through the ship. We only had to walk about 100 meters to get on our catamaran. We had the obligatory safety talk, they passed out safety vests and we were on our way. They had an open bar, but it would only serve alcohol after we were done snorkeling. Until then, it served soft drinks, orange juice, pineapple juice and water. Then first spot we stopped at was very calm, and although there were at least 3 other boats there at any one time, it didn't really seem crowded. The second spot, the shipwreck Antilla, was a different story. The water was very choppy, but the fish and the wreck were worth the effort.. It was a little difficult climbing the ladder and we had to wait for xome other swimmers before we could even attempt it. We did get battered a lttle while we were waiting. But the trip back was very nice. They cut the engine and we were on wind power. The bar was open and the rum punch was flowing freely. A few people were complaining that they didnt have enough rum in their punch. Then, i watched them mix the rum punch. Rum, vodka, triple sec, banana liqueur, amaretto and a splash of grenadine for colour went into the Rum Punch bottle. Yep. Not enough rum! LOL.it was a great excursion, and that's not just the rum talking.
Curacao was our next stop. Once again, we just did a self tour of the port. There lots of shops to explore and the swing bridge to cross. It was a nice, relaxing day, wandering around port for a bit, then back to the ship where we again scored some chairs by the pool.
Our next port is by far my favourite of the cruise. Bonaire was also our shortest port. That is very unfortunate. As stated above, I would forgo stopping in Cartagena for extra time in Bonaire. My husband, myself, and a recent cruise critic friend walked off the ship and over to some tents set up just off the pier. There, we were able to secure water taxi tickets to Klein Bonaire for $20 each. The taxi runs every hour on the quarter hour and picks up on Klein Bonaire every hour on the 3/4 hour. Since we had missed the last taxi by 10 minutes, we waited around by their dock for the next one. That also meant, since we had to be onboard by 2:30, that we only had one hour to enjoy Klein Bonaire. Bummer. The abundance of wildlife and the coral was well worth a 2 to 3 hour excursion there.
I will lump all the sea days together, since the activities were consistent throughout. Firstly, I would like to commend the Opus Dining Room . Jolanta, the Hostess in the Select with Reservations and Suites section was amazing. After our first night, we asked to be seated at Table 440 with Duarte and Jeff for the rest of the cruise. She said she couldn't guarantee it but would try. Well, she delivered and we had the pleasure of Duarte and Jeff for the rest of the cruise. My mother has Celiac Disease and cannot consume gluten. But, she "doesnt want to bother anyone". There were lots of gluten free selections on the menu, so she was content with that. But, on our second night, I asked Jeff if they had any gluten free bread. Of course they did. He quickly went to get her a special basket of bread and some butter patties of her own, so she wouldn't have to use our contaminated butters. And Jeff loved to find special desserts or appetizers for her, never failingmto bring her basket of bread and butter with ours.
The food in the dining room was amazing. Even the night's when nothing in the specials list appealed (sorry, not a fan of lamb or or pesto) their "favourites" list had a yummy steak, chicken breast and.. okay, I never had anything but the steak, and only twice. ☺. But the service we received was above excellent. Duarte, Jeff and our sommelier, Dusko, were super attentive and we never wanted for anything.
As for onboard activities, there wasn't much choice, IMHO. They had a lot of spa talks, which I wasn't interested in. They had a number of dance classes, which I was interested in. Unfortunately, they held them in the Grand Foyer. Between the stairs, the support posts and an ugly rose sculpture, there wasn't much room to move. I participated in one class, tried to attend at least 3 others, but there was no room for more people and still be able to move.
We were fortunate that the weather was beautiful form the entire trip. The poolside was always full. Had the weather turned, the indoor venues would have been very congested. We did go up to the Sky Lounge a few times. It was unfortunate that this venue was not staffed during the day. It would have been a nice place to be in when the sun was too intense. The shops onboard had beautiful things for sale, but most of it was too expensive for my taste. The bars were not consistently stocked, or were the bartenders consistent. I ordered Bahama Mama at several bars around the ship. I ended up with at least 3 variations of that drink. They were all good, just different. Hey a,so consistently fan out of popular items, such as corona and Coors light.
The entertainment was hit and miss. A couple of comedians were fantastic, another, not so much. The Beatles tribute band was very entertaining.the one production show we watched was okay, but not for everyone.one house be d was very good another one was not. . It would have bee nice to have a steel drum out by the pool. Any music around the pool is great, bit there were long stretches without any.
The lawn club while a good concept, is misused. The large expanse of lawn is wasted to anyone not willing to spend the money to rent one of the cabanas along the edge. They do not allow furniture on the lawn, so watching anything on the large screen means sitting on a towel.
I did enjoy this cruise immensely and will be cruising again. I'm just not sure what cruise line I will be cruising with.. Read Less