Fantastic cruise! We are a recent empty nest couple in their late forties who love to travel. We have cruised over nine times but always on the bigger ships. Decided to try the smaller ship and see some new port sites. Really liked that we didn't depart three of the islands until after 10 pm.
Overall, we loved the cruise, especially the personalized service and the wonderful fresh, delicious food. It was true that the staff learns your name and we bonded with several and enjoyed talking and seeing them everyday. Our fellow 183 passengers were a mix of mostly well-traveled, friendly age 40 thru 60s. There were a couple of family groups with older teens and twenties and some older folks but most were 50 to late 60s.
Embarkation: So easy! Boarded at 1 pm. Walked to the room and then had a delicious lunch. Toured the ship. Won a treatment in the spa raffle and enjoyed the sail away out of San Juan Pier 4. We had a small snafu as the captain changed our port in Saint Maarten to Phillipsburg from Marigot as the previous two weeks the seas were too rough to tender in. I was glad he let us know at the start so we could rearrange our independent booking.
Stateroom: We were in 129, an ocean view category S1 on Deck 4. The bathroom was great with a nice size tub and shower. The suite had lots of storage and space with a nice couch and sitting area. The only negative about the stateroom was the bed/mattress was too hard but after the first night we asked to have something put on it to soften the mattress and our steward took care of it right away and we were much happier.
It was also the first time we didn't have a balcony but thought the large window kept the room bright. Missed having a balcony when we were coming and going into islands but really was not that important as we anchored out in the bays and tendered in so it wasn’t the same as being docked. For sail-away we always just went out on the decks. I would definitely do the ocean view again for the price. The room itself was large and our attendant kept the mini bar stocked with free soda and water. We did not buy the alcohol package as we wouldn't drink that much but my husband bought three bottles of wine which each cost 45 dollars and we had some mixed drinks that cost about 12 dollars a piece. I also brought my own bottle of wine on board which you are allowed up to two. I poured a glass before dinner and on the BBQ night I easily went back to my room for a second glass. All nonalcoholic beverages were free.
Amenities: beach towels and water supplied port side and rooms stocked with good vanity necessities
Dining: breakfast and lunch were served on deck 7 aft. Breakfast was great and you could have eggs and omelet’s cooked anyway you liked and they also had made to order items such as French toast, pancakes and waffles. The buffet was also very good with fruit, pastries, yogurt, and various meat items. We had dinner in Amphora on deck 3 and thought the variety and freshness of the food was very good. Candles, located where breakfast was served, was the specialty restaurant we ate at one night. Made reservations the first day for one of the days we were in port late. Loved the filet mignon, other food and service but the area was much noisier than Amphora so we didn’t enjoy the atmosphere as well as the dining room. We did get coffee and snacks in the Yacht club, which is very beautiful and loved sitting in there talking with others at the end of the day.
Water sports: this is where my husband was a little disappointed with the lack of equipment. No waterskiing. Passengers were not able to take dinghies by themselves etc. But we spent most of our days on the islands so it wasn’t a priority for us. On Prickly Pear we were too late in the day to be able to use the bigger equipment: the one Hobby cat always had a line and we were too late i.e. another wait list to go tubing. We did kayak and many others took better advantage of the floats, paddle board etc. I did see the younger family groups spending a lot of time at the platform deck
Spa: Did a massage, which was good but expensive. No real extras/sitting areas. They did have a very small steam room and sauna.
Tenders: All worked well on this trip without problems. Minimal wait in the morning. We were either on the first or second tender as they gave priority to the passengers that bought their shore excursions but we never waited long coming or going.
Disembarkation: Easy off the boat at 830am after a full breakfast. Walked our luggage for about 10 minutes up into old San Juan and left them at Barrachina. No charge but they asked for donation. We gave them five dollars a bag. That allowed us to walk the old city and outside the wall on the trail around to el Moro. Did some shopping, ate lunch and then took a 25-dollar cab ride to the airport. Security line was long at the airport but we bypassed as we have TSA pre-check
Ended a wonderful, relaxed cruise that exceeded our expectations.
The bathroom was great with a nice size tub and shower. The suite had lots of storage and space with a nice couch and sitting area. The only negative about the stateroom was the bed/mattress was too hard but after the first night we asked to have something put on it to soften the mattress and our steward took care of it right away and we were much happier.
This was my favorite island. We rented our own jeep from Turbe rental for about $100 total including gas. They picked us up at the port in Gustavia and then took us to the airport to register the car. Super nice people and then we went to the supermarche near the airport and bought supplies for our picnic lunch. Cheese, fruit etc. cost 31 Euros for supplies that lasted for two days. We then drove to Colombier but took the wrong path to the beach. We took the high, steep path (ouch) but it helped me work off all the calories I was eating on the cruise. I suggest trying to park near Flamands beach and take the lower path instead of what we did. Anyway you reach the lovely beach tucked in a cove out at the tip of the island after a 20 to 30 minute walk. Another good snorkeling spot. Wear walking shoes and bring water and food. We ate our picnic lunch on the beach. Next we drove through Saint Jean and did a little shopping, drove around the island to my now favorite beach: Anse du Grand Saline. Parked and walked 5 minutes over the sand dunes to a wide, undeveloped, beach with turquoise water. Loved spending the afternoon there. We did stop by Gouverneur Beach for a little while which is also beautiful. Ended the day walking at the marina and seeing the mega yachts.
Big, busy port but we rented a car from Hertz and took off for our own tour of the island. We drove the perimeter and saw Maho beach near the airport. The Dutch side is very commercialized. Our favorite places were on the French side: Friar's Bay and Happy Bay. Beautiful coves with sandy beaches. Friar's had a couple of eateries and we drank pina coladas. Happy Bay was more secluded (10 minute walk from trail at end of Friar’s Bay.) We had our picnic lunch, swam, snorkeled and sunned. Also spent a little time on Orient Beach but it was too crowded for our taste. Traffic was terrible getting back to Phillipsburg but we were leaving port late.
We splurged today and rented our own private boat from Jost Van Dyke Scuba and the captain took us to Norman Island, Indian Rock and then to Great Thatch for the best snorkeling on the trip. It was so beautiful and clear. We walked Great harbor and shopped at Foxy's at the end of the day.
My husband did the ships diving excursion near Virgin Gorda, as we were told no tenders/taxis to Virgin Gorda on our own. He saw whales and liked the dives.