We arrived at the cruise terminal in Ft Lauderdale right around 12:30 on embarkation day. There was a small line (about 100-150 people) and breezed through the embarkation process in about 15 minutes. We were taken to our room to put down our carry on bags and directed to the buffet lunch upstairs. There was a variety of foods on the buffet, hotdogs, hamburgers and fries on the American bar, pizza on the pizza bar, and then the actual buffet itself. Wow!! This buffet had, cold cuts, cheeses, fruits, salads, hot entrees-lasagna, roast beef, pork etc, vegetables, breads and desserts.
After filling our bellies, we wandered the ship. The ship was well appointed even for a smaller ship. The decor was tasteful, and interesting. The ship was immaculate and everything was shining. The casino had a good variety of slot machines and several gaming tables. The library had selections in several languages and tables and chairs to play cards. The shopping area was a little smaller than on the Royal Caribbean ships, but as I found out later, there was ample selections, and a different bargain every day.
There were several lounges or bar areas, a disco and Lord Nelson's pub. The Casino and Lord Nelson's pub were the only two smoking areas inside the ship. The disco, which served as a meeting area for the children's and teens' clubs was non-smoking which pleased me since the club used by another cruise line was a smoking club. Next, we went out onto the pool deck where one side was set up for smokers and the other was smoke free. There were plenty of lounge chairs, all of which had their own little sunshade and plenty of places to put the chairs. I found them quite comfortable. There were two pools and two hot tubs. During the 3 sea days we had, the pool area was quite popular, yet it never felt overcrowded. Over the course of our 10 day cruise, we ate every dinner, most lunches and most breakfasts in the dining room. The staff, and our waiter in particular were wonderful. Warm, friendly, attentive.We ordered tea the first night, and never had to ask again. We also never had to ask for refills. The variety and taste of the food was terrific. I had the steak and ordered it medium rare. What I got was a perfect medium rare. Definitely no complaints about the service or food in the dining room.
We had an ocean view state room on deck 8. The room was clean and had plenty of closet and storage space. The bathroom was on the small side but still workable. The shower is a little cramped, but again servicable. It was very quiet and even with 4 people in the room it did not feel crowded.
We took the El Junque rain forest excursion and it was very good. We booked it through MSC. It was nice because on all our excursions, it was only other MSC passengers on the excursions with us, and usually an actual MSC staff person was with us. Our driver was very professional and knowledgeable. The ride was pleasant. The walk was moderate and we saw some beautiful plants. The views were spectacular. We ate lunch at Raices restaurant and had some awesome authentic Puerto Rican food.
We booked an excursion through MSC that took us to both the French and Dutch sides of the island. It was interesting to see how dry St Maarten was compared to San Juan. There were actually cactus growing there. We shopped in Marigot on the French side, and in Phillipsburg on the Dutch Side. Had lunch at the "Blue Bitch" Bar.
Took St Lucia rhythms tour through MSC. Very good, saw St Marks-a private historic home that had hand crafted mahogany furniture and is still sometimes used by the family that owns it. Rum punch as a snack, an old sugar mill where we got to taste some of the local fruits, got more rum punch we went to Corabelle Batik to see how batik is done - buy your items there if you want them much less than in town. went to Marigot Bay saw beautiful views definitely worth doing
Did Stingray City excursion- this was the best of all. Got to touch and feed the sting rays and snorkel on small reef. Saw some beautifully colored fish. The sting rays were really cool. They feel smooth and spongy. They swim around between your legs and bump you. Water was about neck deep on me and I am only 5 ft tall so not to bad. Did not see much of the town because it was Sunday and most of the shops were closed.
We set up our own excursion with a taxi when we got to town did the highlights of tortola. went up into the mountains, beautiful scenes and saw the beaches. This is truly one of the prettiest islands have seen. We live in FL so beaches don't usually excite me, but the water was so blue and the beach so pristine. The shopping by the pier was great too.