Grand Celebration Cruise Review by Medic9701
- Sail Date: August 2017
- Destination: Bahamas
We arrived at the Port of Palm Beach around 3 PM. They had plenty of staff up front to valet our vehicle. We grabbed our luggage and brought it up on the curb to get tagged. We then went inside the Port of Palm Beach toting our tagged luggage, which is where someone finally takes it from you. Getting through security was quick and followed by a stop to fill out a charge authorization form. Everyone was a little cramped looking for a flat surface to write on, so this process can be improved if Bahamas Paradise adopted more current technology by encouraging the form to be completed online in advance. Not unlike other cruises, we showed our ID to get cards issued that have the dual purpose of identification and onboard charging. The wait was short and followed by offers for excursions, drink packages, and dining reservations. We'll get to those in a bit.
We strolled on board and, like other smaller ships, there was a minimal wait to catch an elevator to our assigned floor. We found our Oceanview stateroom and was pleasantly surprised by the size of both it and the adjoined bathroom. Nothing huge, but more than we had expected for the price. Everything was clean and stateroom attendant Garry greeted us and ensured us that he would take care of everything. We dropped our carry-on bags and went to find something to eat.
Considering it was embarkation, the elevators were not that crowded. We got to the buffet in just minutes (benefits of a smaller ship). Unfortunately, the it was closed. However, staff saw that we appeared discouraged and pointed us to the pool deck for complimentary burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and sides. Unfortunately, the demand exceeded supply and we had to wait in a mob of hungry, impatient people while everything finished grilling. The food was pretty good. It was not Guy's Burger Joint of course, but a nice portion of beef and a hearty sausage did the trick to hold us over until dinner time.
Before we boarded, we all purchased the 10 drink coupons for $69 (plus 18% gratuity). I was surprised that drink service was so prompt and friendly poolside. Within minutes of sitting down with our food from the grill, staff asked what we would like. We handed the waitress our ship cards and coupons. She came back in minutes, smiling, with a properly mixed cocktail. It wasn't weak or watered down and, honestly, kind of surprised us all. We then upped the ante by ordering some tequilla at the bar. They did try to give us Reposado, but we asked for Anejo before they poured it and got nice shots which were equally covered using a drink coupon. FYI: If you do the math, each drink coupon costs you $6.90, but a beer is $6 on this cruise. So if you don't plan on getting liquor, you may want to pay a la carte.
Dinner that night was at the Stellar Prime. We made reservations in the lobby prior to boarding, which is recommended, but the dining room was never really crowded while we were there. We sat with our friends and a nice couple from Arizona. The portions were ample and the food was par for a discount cruise. The sauce on my chicken was tasty, but the "chicken breast" tasted like an oversized chicken McNugget. I hoped to have coffee with dessert, but when I ordered it, I was told that I could get some upstairs in the buffet. That was slightly inconvenient, but life went on.
The ship was very clean and ran smooth. We sat on the aft deck and I napped in a lounge chair the first night. After going back to my room, I found great water pressure and temperature range with a decent sized shower.
The next morning, we were up early because the excursion we selected prior to boarding required us to meet before 9 AM. The breakfast buffet wasn't huge but offered the typical multicultural fare you would expect. It was pretty good, but nothing to rave about. You get your own coffee or juice at one of several beverage stations throughout the dining room. The area was busy, but we were able to find open seats as soon as we made our plates. Crowding was never an issue.
We met for our excursion, which was advertised as $199 for 2 people to ride a jet-ski for an hour and a half with transportation to, from, and an all inclusive food/ drink package with lounge chairs and umbrellas on Taino Beach on Grand Bahama Island. I thought we were getting suckered, but it is exactly what they say and worth the money in my opinion. From the bus to the jet-skis, to the resort, everyone was extremely friendly throughout the excursion. We got a narrated tour through Grand Bahama Island while riding the double decker bus to Taino Beach. We then cruised the canals slowly via jet-ski to see some of the high dollar properties but also got a chance to go full throttle in the Atlantic for awhile.
The comedy show cost extra, so we opted out. In fact, we didn't attend any entertainment/ activities on board- though some were complimentary. Instead, we brought along and played cards with friends in a lounge while listening to the pianist and burning through remaining drink coupons. We made it a good time.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
FreeportGuide narrated transportation to and from Taino Beach with over an hour of jet-ski time followed by beach time that is all inclusive with chairs, umbrella, food, and drinks.View All 7,299 Freeport Cruise Port Reviews
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