Top 10 things to complain about while staying in The Garden Villa
10. The boat sways too much. Fix it.
9. The shower takes too long to heat up. 30 seconds is unacceptable.
With a private access stairwell and key card access on the elevator to the private 14th floor lobby shared with the other Garden Villa, we were treated like royalty with our Villa dedicated Butler and Steward.
Some of the art was a little weird (one painting that showed naked nipples was just screaming for googly eyes) and the rug in the living room was, how shall I say this nicely, loud and obnoxious, but the rest of the Villa was beautifully appointed.
I loved the bed in the master suite - so incredibly comfortable and luxurious. Any pillow request (feather or foam or ?) was accommodated. The bath products by Aramis (eye cream, body lotion, lip repair, shampoo, conditioner) were top quality. I really appreciated the lip therapy and our Steward brought me a lot extra.
We grew up in Boston so spent the 1.5 days prior to cruise visiting family. Falcon Terminal staff has the embarkation process down.
we used the free trolly car up to the forts. For $10 you have access to both the forts which are part of the US National Park Service and your entrance fee goes to their upkeep. Beautiful, stunning views dripping in history. Hot and MUGGY. 80% Humidity. Ack!
Plaza Beach Resort - All inclusive. Booked a room. Drinks were great. Snorkeling was wonderful. Lots of sea life. Fire coral got sister. VERY painful. Snorkel fins tore up my feet. Water shoes would have worked better. Note to self: do not trust a phone case that says it's waterproof. Test it out BEFORE the trip. Dinner was included. Buffet. Kind of disappointing and included weird things from the Netherlands that I tried but wouldn't try again - but I was jaded by the excellent fare on the ship.
Hotel Avila all inclusive. Booked a room. Our room was lovely and overlooked one of the 3 lagoons. The lagoons had a sandy clay that was disconcerting if you have sensory issues and also clouded the water. The ocean water was wonderful and refreshing. Not much snorkeling opportunity. However, if you're a sea glass collector, this was the place to go. Lots and lots. My haul barely dented the supply. Service in the restaurant was abysmal. Lots of wait staff just standing around with no desire to actually wait on a table. Then again, we tried to get lunch after the normal lunch hour.
We did have a reservation at the Ritz for $50 a person, but the taxi driver convinced us to go to the Aruba Beach Club and Resort (and then, knowing we just saved $250 offered us a tour for $100). The palupas (straw huts) are available to anyone but the chairs belong to the resort. Technically (where are the italics when I need them), we were squatting... but we tipped the servers well for our drinks and were not asked to leave.
We planned to take a taxi to Dunn’s Falls. 3 of us slipped off the ship when we first arrived just to do a little shopping before the excursion (the other 2 sisters were still asleep). It was a bargaining nightmare to get a taxi (one of us had a bad foot). Shopping turned out to be only a half mile away, at the most, and the driver charged way too much and dropped us off at what we suspected was his cousin’s or a kickback shop. I offhandedly asked how much a taxi would be to Dunn’s Falls. He quoted $20 per person. “ What! $100 (5 people) to go 3 miles?” I exclaimed. He instantly backtracked and said “oh. I thought you said “to the beach. $10 a person.” Still a rip off. We walked back to the ship and I refused to go to Dunn’s Falls.
The 3 sisters who ended up going to Dunn’s Falls had horrible experiences with the taxis. First, they want you to pay for a round trip ride saying how difficult it would be to get a return taxi (lie). They want to “help you” by buying your park ticket for you (lie). They take your $20 and then get a resident rate of $5 a ticket and pocket the other $15. More fiascos and stories of other people having a hard time with getting preyed upon really turned me off to Ochos Rios and made me very relieved that I stayed on the ship for the rest of the day. I felt like shark bait and it’s a very uncomfortable feeling. On my flight back to Seattle I was talking with a man who had lived in Ochos Rios and he said that they look at anyone on a cruise as rich, with unlimited disposable income for shopping and they want all of it or as much as they can scam out of you. They will scam you and laugh at you at the same time. “What’s the problem, Man. You on vacation.” My problem is that it is 4pm and the ship LEAVES in 30 minutes and it takes 40 minutes to get there from here!
El Cozmelino Resort. All inclusive. Booked a room. We had a first floor room with direct access to the pool and beach. The wait staff were not intrusive but very attentive. The food in the restaurant was decent and generous. The drinks were refreshing. We rested in hammocks by the water. Snorkeling was okay. The reef was mostly blanched out (dead)... but some of the hotel guests knew a trick of bringing breakfast cereal and feeding it to the fish. I never knew how much parrot fish would like Cocoa Puffs. Apparently, they like it so much (or I was going too slow) that they tried to nibble my hand. That hurt. They have teeth!