This was our first cruise. It was to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary so we left the kids at home! We picked this for its itinerary to so many different islands: Tortola (which became St. Thomas since the Tortola dock was in repair), St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados, and St. Marteen. I don't have anything to compare to, but I thought the ship was in great condition and clean. The glass elevators and walls make for a beautiful view at even the interior of the ship. I NEVER felt crowded on this ship and ALL the rooms were booked! The only 'busy' place was in the Windjammer buffet at breakfast and sometimes lunch, but we still found seats fairly easily.
We were in the cheapest room on the bottom floor! Yes the rooms are small, but for 2 people it was comfortable. I actually liked the lower floor because disembarkation at each port was on our floor and it made an easy on/off procedure. Our room steward, Roy, was sweet and helpful.
First off, we were never bored. There were many scheduled activities, and we are active people in our 30s. We enjoyed the rock climbing, shuffleboard, mini golf, and even saw a movie in a stadium seating room. On the 1 Sea Day we played volleyball for 2 hours with other guests. (The basketball court is only 1/2 court.) My husband used the gym almost every day. I enjoyed running on the deck track. We LOVED the Quest game! We went to three shows in the theatre. The City of Dreams was an odd story line, but the singers and dancers are very good. The Broadway Review was similar. We saw a comedian who was funny. We even went dancing in the Vortex. The cruise director, John, was a great MC and kept everyone entertained.
Dining in the Main Dining Room (MDR) was a highlight of the day. We sometimes had breakfast in the Windjammer, but the granola bar in the MDR was so good, we tried to go there every day. Lunch was always in the Windjammer which has consistent quality buffet food. (I actually liked their deserts better than most of the MDR ones.) We ate at the SeaSide Cafe and Solarium Cafe once each. I am not a 'fast food' person, so I can't critique them well for this reason. The Solarium did have an amazing curry chicken wrap that I would have eaten every day if I had found it sooner. We had the 8:30pm traditional dining. (I suggest this for such a port intensive cruise. We usually eat at 5:00pm at home but by the time we were back to the ship and showered, that would have been a rush. We often got a snack then to tide us over.) We were seated in the center of the MDR with absolutely PERFECT table mates. This added to our positive experience. The food was always very good. I thought the portions were perfect (you can order more dishes if you want!). Our service was phenomenal. Wendell, our waiter, was funny and always happy! It is worth changing for dinner when the food is such good quality.
(Note: I noticed we saved about $10 each for each excursion, since we booked in advance instead of on the ship.)
St. Thomas - Took the all day ship excursion to Christmas Cove, and Honeymoon Beach. The boat is rougher on the ocean than a catamaran (if you get sea sick). Only had 45 min. to snorkel. I could have done that much longer, but we did see sea turtles and a sting ray. Lunch at the beach was very good. The beach, on Water Island, is small and secluded, quiet and comfortable. It was a great value.
St. Kitts - Just got a taxi at the pier and took a tour of the island for $20 each. Took 4 hours. I would have liked more time at the Fort and Romney Manor though.
Dominica - YOU MUST GO HERE!!! This was our favorite island. (This is not a beach and shopping island, but there is nowhere else like it.) It is a true rainforest. We pre-booked an all day excursion with Levi from Bumpiing Tours. He was AMAZING!!! We hiked the rainforest, swam in waterfalls and Titou Gorge. He lets you jump in, which the ship excursions won't. At the end we snorkeled in Champagne Reef. (Tour was $70 and lasted over 7 hours!)
Barbados - We took a taxi to the Boat Yard in Carlisle Bay. It is about a 30 min. walk through town. If you want to try that, the tourist station will give you a map. The Boat Yard was a good deal since for $15 each you get a drink, chair/umbrella, and use of the activities, and a free taxi ride back to the pier. We ended up walking down the whole beach. We used our own snorkeling gear to swim out 100 yds. to a sunken ship.
St. Marteen - Took another ship excursion, Regatta Racing. St. Marteen is the only place you can do this. It was an expensive excursion for only 3 hours, but a great experience. We helped sail the boat as we raced another one. The crew tells you what to do. We ended up walking into town afterwards to buy spices and eat at an indian restaurant on Front Street. There is a beach there too. It is a very easy walk back to the ship, or you can take a water taxi.
We pre-purchased the ship transfers. Embarkation from the airport was very easy. Disembarkation was not bad, but we had to wait for 1 hour for our luggage to get to the airport. It would have been a lot faster to take a taxi. (The luggage comes once the truck is full. You take a separate bus, so if you are first it is a long wait. If you are last, you will get it right away.)
I would not hesitate to take this ship again... even with the same itinerary! (We saw only 1 other ship in port in St. Kitts. It was a Carnival and I could hear their music from across the bay. I liked how Royal Caribbean was fun and entertaining but also relaxed and "luxurious" feeling.)
Clean, comfortable. Location was perfect for getting on and off the ship each day. We walked the stairs a lot, on purpose. It is only 2 flights to the centrum and dining room. This floor is quiet, since there are so few cabins and no one else uses your hall. The hall behind is a service hall, so we could hear some noise but very rarely. This is the only drawback: you can't get to the forward stairs/elevators from deck 2. You must go up to another floor, and then walk over.
Snorkeling at Christmas Cove we saw sea turtles and a sting ray. Decent sized reef. I would have liked to do this longer (only about 45 min.)! Complimentary lunch buffet was very good. Honeymoon beach was clean and quiet. We swam with a turtle there on a fluke!View All 26 Schooner Tour Reviews
Best Excursion we've ever done! Bumpiing Tours was amazing. We were out for over 7 hours and went to Middleham Falls, Ti Tou Gorge, Trafalgar Falls/hot springs, and added Champagne Reef at the end. Levi was social and informative. We were a fairly fit group of 10. I will try to come back to this island just to do a tour with him again!View All 43 Rainforest Tour Reviews
I would have rated this higher if it had been longer. It was expensive for only 3 hours, but an amazing experience you won't be able to do elsewhere. It is not that strenuous. The crew tells you what to do, and it was fun to race another boat. We were able to have time and walk into town for shopping afterwards.View All 52 America's Cup Regatta Reviews
We went to the Boat Yard. It was a great value. If you have your own snorkeling gear, you can walk down the beach (about 1/2 way) and see where the boats are taking people. There is a large shipwreck about 100 yds. off the beach.
Just did this with a group taxi for $20 each. Enjoyed the Brimstone Hill Fortress and Romney Manor. I would have like more time in these locations since we only got 45 min at each place. It was a lot of driving around the island but very pretty.View All 293 Island tour Reviews