My husband and I chose this cruise for the southern Caribbean itinerary. We were on the August 5-12, 2017 cruise that went to St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. All incredible islands! The only thing we did not like about this itinerary was that it only had one sea day, and every day we were getting up early in order to enjoy a full day of the islands. We did two tours only, in St. Kitts and St. Lucia. Both were very informative tours and we enjoyed them very much. The other islands we just went to the beach by either walking into town (St. Maarten and Barbados) and taking the local bus to the beach in Antigua.
We arrived at the port for embarkation at about 1:15 pm and it was total CHAOS!! So many people on line just to drop off the luggage. Once you drop off the luggage, you then get on another line to get into the building to check-in. Then you get on the check-in line. There were so many people, but somehow we got on the ship by 2:00 just in time for the staterooms to be available to drop off your carry-on bags. On to lunch in the Windjammer! Let the cruise begin!!
We did the BOGO dinners for the first two nights and make reservations at Giovanni's Table restaurant for both nights, but after the fact we wish we had gone to Chops Grille for one of the nights. This BOGO is definitely worth doing, great value! After that we had the rest of our meals in the Main Dinning Room. We had My Time Dining at 6:30 and it worked out well. They will hold the reservations for up to 15 minutes if you are running late. The hostess that you check in with when you arrive in the MDR tries to put you at the same table with the same waitstaff each night. If you ask for a different table it almost becomes problematic, but if you insist they will do it.
The food for most part was good, not WOW, but good. I was disappointed with the escargot that I ordered the first night in the MDR, and I love eating escargot. It did not have that buttery garlicky taste that it should, something was lacking, so I never ordered it again. Other than that the meals were fine. The Windjammer food was fine also. You need to look on both sides of the buffet since they don't have exactly the same things on both sides. At breakfast there are several omelet stations, so look for the shortest line, don't just get on the first one you see. The Promenade Cafe was always busy and the line was usually long. We only went there to get a cup of coffee or tea and sit a little.
The Entertainment was good. We enjoyed the comedy shows and game shows the best. The production shows were not to our liking and ho-hum. The piano player was very good in the Schooner lounge.
The only sea day we had I went up to the pool deck around 8:30 am to get lounge chairs thinking we wouldn't be able to find any, but this was not the case. There were plenty and I got to choose my spot. It filled up though by 9:30-10:00. We spent the day around the pool and just relaxed after a very busy week.
We did 'Independent Disembarkation' and were given a time to disembark later than we had wanted, so my husband went down to the Reception desk and asked for an earlier time and got it without a problem. You are told to go to a certain lounge or space at a specific time to wait for your number to be called. But soon realized that you don't need to really wait for your number to be called to get off, instead you can just walk off with all your bags any time you want without waiting for your number. So this is what we did and wish we had known this earlier. Once through customs (long line) you go outside to get a taxi. Make sure you approach a taxi dispatcher and get a voucher because without this you won't get a taxi quickly. To go to the airport we paid $23 coming to the pier and $22 going to the airport. It takes less than a half hour to get between the two points.
Overall we had a great time and would definitely do it again, given the opportunity. The island were beautiful. The only thing I would do differently is possibly sleep in a little later each day and not feel pressured to get going early.
The Promenade Cabin was very comfortable with a seating area and desk/vanity by the window. For two people it was perfect! We didn't hear noise from down below except when the band was playing in the promenade or there was a party or parade. There was plenty of drawer and shelf space. The bed was comfortable with two pillows per person and a mattress pad on it. The location is great because it's midship and easy to walk to either staircase at the front or back of ship. The Promenade Stateroom is a great alternative to an inside stateroom. Because of the window, the cabin feels bigger and not closed in. I have stayed in a lot of Inside Staterooms, but if the price is not much more I would definitely opt for the Promenade Stateroom. The stateroom steward, Nick, was the best. He kept the cabin clean and the towels replaced as needed.
We arrived at 12:00 pm on day of embarkation. We took a taxi to the pier. Make sure to get a voucher from the taxi dispatcher, who will get the taxi for you. We paid $23.00 plus tip to the pier. It took about half hour.
We booked a private tour with Thenford Grey, who comes highly recommended on Cruise Critic. It was a half day tour (4 hours) of the island with Mr. Grey himself. Mr. Grey is and encyclopedia of information about the island. We made several stops to take pictures and see all the important sights of the island. Mr. Grey is very proud of his island and was very informative and interesting. I booked this tour literally two days before boarding the ship. It was confirmed immediately and payment was made by cash at the end of the tour.
We got off the ship and walked straight out of the port area and continued walking straight until we got to Market Street (2 blocks). We turned right and walked until we got to the Bus Depot (keep right at the fork in the road where the statue is). We asked for bus #22 since we wanted to go to Darkwood Beach. We got in the van and paid $1.50 per person cash to the driver. We waited about 15 minutes for the van to fill up and then we were on our way. When we got to the beach the driver said he would return for us and we told him the time we would want to go back. True to his word he came back as we were gathering our things and told us he was waiting for us. It takes about 20-30 minutes each way. Darkwood Beach is a beautiful, quiet beach with a restaurant, restroom and changing rooms. Paid $15.00 for 2 lounge chairs and umbrella.
We did a private tour with COSOL in St. Lucia. It was a full day tour (7 hours) but totally worth it. We saw so much, made so many stops, even were treated to a buffet style lunch with all sorts of local foods and fruits. Water bottles were provided several times. We stopped for sulpher mud baths, a swim under a beautiful waterfall, boat ride to a beach between the pitons (spent about an hour here), went to a banana plantation and tasted a fresh banana from the tree banana, etc. Given fresh local bread with cheese as an afternoon snack. It was a full day of continuous activities and totally worth doing! The only way to see the island!
We walked off the ship and out of the port area. We asked for direction to the beach and basically when you get to the main road, you make a right and continue walking straight following the sidewalk around the marina and you will walk into the town. Continue walking along the marina (on your right). You'll walk over a bridge that is across from some beautiful government buildings and a church. Once over the bridge you will see a blue building that says Pirate's Cove. We went to the beach there (Carlisle Bay). Pirate's Cove has a restaurant, restrooms, drinks and $15.00 for 2 chairs and umbrella. Music playing too!
Beautiful beach area!
We got off the ship, walked through the port shopping area and out the gates. Turn left and walk straight to the town and its public beaches. It will be a 20-30 minute walk, great exercise! We paid $15.00 for 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella. There were restaurants, drinks and restrooms along the beach. The water was turquoise and warm. Very relaxing day.