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Navigator of the Seas; 9-day Nov 24 – Dec 4 (Labadee, Curacao, Bonaire, Aruba). We are in our very early 60’s and still working. We’ve taken about 25 to 30 cruises, around 10 with RCCL over about the past 20 years. Embarkation: D- This was the second worst embarkation we’ve had. We had stayed at a local hotel and took their shuttle to the pier in Miami. When we got there about 11:30 the place was pandemonium and the porter that took our bags was particularly in-your-face about getting a tip. Then there were problems clearing the ship so people entering the terminal kept getting packed in tighter and tighter. It became extremely crowded (claustrophobic) to the point people could not move from their spot. It was like being on a subway/metro train at rush hour (think NY/DC). One of the RCCL folks working in the terminal said this was the worst embarkation experience she’d ever seen. What was worse is the people that had checked in, lined up by escalators in front of the line for people needing wheelchairs and such, completely blocking their ability to check in or move. Finally, RCCL started letting people board around 1:00. There never was an explanation of what the delay was. Debarkation: B It was a breeze. Waited in promenade and when they called our number, we walked off. No lines. Luggage easy to find and retrieve and then we just walked out of the terminal. Easy peasy…until you get outside and try to find your transportation. Super crowded and confusing. Someone made a comment that the ships keep getting bigger (more passengers) and the terminals cannot smoothly handle the crowds. People were jockeying to find their transport vehicles, horns honking, vehicles triple parked. We waited an hour for ours. We stayed at a hotel (Holiday Inn Express Doral) about 20 minutes away the night before the cruise and we were able to leave our car there for no charge. They offer this as a package for cruisers. Decent free breakfast and in a nice section of town (clean and newer) with a Coopers Hawk Winery and Restaurant a three-minute walk away plus other restaurants. We ate at Coopers Hawk the night before the cruise. We really like that place and their wines. Cabin: B+ Cabin 1694 junior suite rear-facing. Very spacious and large balcony with two padded lounge chairs with a small round table and two regular chairs with a bigger and taller table for dining. Right wall of balcony as you face the ocean was solid metal and the left wall was opaque plastic with an opening about 4 inches wide which diminished privacy. The opening was adjacent to sliding glass doors. Even though the back of the ship was sloped, no one can look down onto this balcony because the Windjammer eating area is right above completely covering the balcony. But we could look down to all other balconies below our cabin. Something to consider if privacy is important and you want a rear-facing cabin. From the size of both the room and balcony, this is a great cabin. Reviews on these cabins right below the eating area did not indicate a noise problem from breakfast. However, we heard noise (furniture being dragged and banging) from above our cabin every night between 2:00am to 3:00am when the crew was cleaning and moving furniture in the Windjammer. The area in the Windjammer is carpeted too! Never heard passengers, just crew in the middle of the night. It was not bad enough to make me regret booking this cabin, but was for my husband. The few nights we called and asked for the crew to not be so heavy-handed resulted in them offering us a sizable credit towards a future cruise which was totally unexpected. One night when we called, we were told there was a leak that required pulling up of the carpet and that night it was especially noisy. This is DEFINITELY something to consider if noises in the middle of the night wakes you up. The beds were hard and we asked upon embarkation for some egg-crate foam to be put on the bed. They didn’t have any but put another comforter that goes in the duvet on top of the mattress. It was minimally helpful but still the bed was hard. This is the first cruise of any we have been on that egg crate was not available. Not enough outlets for charging electronics. Nothing by the bed. RCCL needs to update this as so many people travel with multiple electronic devices these days. Even the in-cabin coffee maker had to be moved to an outlet from its minimally functional wall table. The safe was at eye level small but was small. I was barely able to fit in my IPad 9.7. The closet is a walk-in, big enough for me to get dressed in as I am an early riser and my husband isn’t. LOTS of storage - didn’t even use some of the drawers. There is a small drip coffee maker in room that I used to heat water. We brought Starbucks instant coffee packets (good price at Costco) as the coffee served on board is utterly horrible. Plus I didn’t have the leave the cabin to have that first cup of morning coffee. The brand of TV in the cabin is a Samsung and not an LG. My husband wanted me to report this because several bloggers were talking about how to hook up video devices to the TV. Some reported that the TVs were LG brand and if you bring an LG remote from home, you could use it to activate the HDMI input ports. However the brand of the TV in our cabin was Samsung so the remote we brought didn’t work. Fortunately we found that channel 3 received input from HDMI port #1. Unfortunately our ROKU stick would not connect properly to the ship’s WiFi due to a nonstandard login sequence and we did not have an AV adaptor for our iPad. But the iPad would probably have worked to stream video. I have no idea what all this means as my husband dictated this info and I typed it into this review. There is no movie channel but you can purchase them for about $12 each. Only American current news channel is FOX but I did also see CNN doing international news that included US news and special series. Main Dining Room: Service A+, Food A to C Our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent, much better than the specialty restaurants. Attentive and always had our preferred items within moments of sitting down (iced teas and lemons). We sat in a quiet area on the top level at the window with a wall right behind our table (#620). I say this because my husband is hard-of-hearing in noisy environments and the noise level here was low enough for us to talk. Food was always nicely prepared and presented but not all the meals were to our personal taste which is typical for everyone who cruises. I will tell you though that the mushroom soup served in the dining room was excellent. Husband had lunch in main dining room one sea day and he thought it was a great experience. I wished I had tried it too but did not feel well that day. Oh, try the pesto salad dressing. Excellent. Actually not sure if is primarily a salad dressing as the Italian restaurant served it with an appetizer but did not offer it as a dressing when asked. Even could use as a dip for bread. Windjammer: Service B, Food B Typical buffet for a cruise. No complaints. Seemed crowded most mornings. Ate here for breakfast and sometimes to grab a snack around lunchtime. Lots of variety. Oh, this is the only ship I’ve been on where I could get fried eggs well done without them coming out dark, crispy and rubbery. Very pleased with this as I loaded up on protein in the mornings. Also tasted the mushroom soup served here one evening and again it was excellent. Not sure what’s going on with Chops where it was really terrible. Chops Grill: Service D, Food D This was our most disappointing meal of the entire cruise. Service was harried and the food wasn’t good. Our steaks were overcooked and not only at our table but also at our neighbors table. No one came by to refill iced tea even when our glasses were empty and catching the waiter was hard. However, they made multiple attempts to keep refilling our wine glasses. The steaks did not seem prime. My husband’s filet had a bit of gristle. We had a much better steak at Coopers Hawk the previous week. We’ve also had much better steak on other cruise ships and lines. Certainly nowhere near a Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris. The cream of mushroom soup tasted like pureed raw mushrooms - not at all buttery and not good at all. After a few spoons, I stopped. The restaurant manager tried to talk us into giving chops a second chance (we declined) but after we left I realized I did by having them recook my steak and it was still dry. Plus when they took my plate away with the sides on it, they were not replaced when the new steak was served. I would have asked the waiter to replace the sides but he was super busy and was not able to be as attentive as we would have expected from this premium dining venue. Our assistant waiter in the main dining room told us they only have waiters and no assistant waiters in the specialty restaurants which could explain the harried and inattentive service. Giovanni’s: Service B-, Food A- We ordered the steak and it was fabulous. Juicy, tender and not over cooked. As a matter of fact it was a bit under cooked for my taste but way better than Chops. So if you want a steak, skip the steakhouse and go Italian. We ran into the folks we sat next to in Chops and they also said the food in Giovanni’s was much better. Again, no assistant waiters so service not as attentive and could explain the somewhat brisk service by our waiter. We also talked to another crew member in restaurant management and that person validated our observation about the steaks being much better in Giovanni’s. Service was haphazard. In an Italian restaurant one expects to receive the antipasto course, followed by the pasta course, then the main entrée. The waiter brought out the main entrée before the pasta, then when we asked, brought it all at once. Izumi: Service A, Food B+ This Asian restaurant really excelled in ambiance, location and food. It is located at the top of the ship with large sloping windows looking out over the ocean and over the ship (pretty at nights when the ship’s lights come on). Sunset was beautiful from this view. Service was great. Emily our server was patient in explaining the menu. Seaweed salad was great as was many other items we tried. Also enjoyed sesame balls with plum sauce for dessert. Really a very pleasant evening that felt upscale. The highlight of all our dining experiences on board. About half way through the cruise they offered a 20% discount at this restaurant which cannot be combined with the dining package, which we had. Jump on it if you can. We wished we had not waited until towards the end of cruise to try this restaurant and would have loved a second meal here, especially instead of going to Chops. Sabors: Location D (didn’t eat there) Having grown up in Texas, my husband was eager to try Sabors. However, we opted out after we saw where it is – right outside the casino and seemed like a dark hole of a dining room (no windows). We went to see it around the peak dinner hour and they only had two occupied tables. Entertainment: B For the shows, the ship offers hearing-assist devices provided at the guest services desk. They also provide headphones for the devices (with no ear pads) but any headphones including ear buds would work. Just make sure they have fresh batteries when you pick them up as the one we checked out died halfway through a really good show. Saw ice show and it was entertaining. Should catch it if you’ve never seen one at sea on other RCCL ships. Husband saw ventriloquist and he laughed a lot. He thought the guy was very talented and hysterical. Pub singer is a fantastic guitarist and a lot of fun. One of the male performers who sings in shows joined him in the pub one evening and they seemed to have a great time performing impromptu together and the cruisers loved it. A definite highlight. Saw the show with Motown group Horizons and they were very entertaining. High energy, talented and interacted with the audience quite a bit. Also had a sense of humor. I don’t usually go to shows but my better half talked me into this one and I enjoyed it. Movies are shown on the jumbotron at the pool, but times were not convenient and the movies were ones we never heard of. Very few people watched movies at night on deck as it seemed difficult to get an unobstructed view of the screen. For us, it was very noticeable they had a lack of dancing venues. And they played very short sets when you could find a band that played music you could dance to. Just when they got the crowd up and dancing, they’d stop. Really frustrating for lots of folks. One band was particularly bad (I think it was named Sea Wind). The other that usually played island tunes at the pool was much better. Misc info: Prices changed as of November 1 now 18% gratuity tacked on to price of dining and beverage packages. Ten drink card is now $88 plus 18% gratuity and was offered the third day into cruise. The last days of the cruise they dropped the price to $75. Also, gratuity is now added to dining packages, which we avoided by pre-booking. They served the same beer everywhere on ship except in pub where there are pale ales. Pizza is pretty good but too heavy on cheese for me. Lookout to bridge is right outside the fitness center windows. Very cool. The ship seemed somewhat crowded but was told that previous week there were 600 more passengers. That was Thanksgiving week and I wonder if it was from families with kids in same cabin as this cruise was reportedly sold out. Curacao. Did 2 excursions through ship. A morning trolley tour and an evening walking tour to include the city Christmas lights. Both were disappointing. Trolley tour started with nine of us crammed into a mini bus taxi and driven about 15 minutes to the open air trolley. It was difficult to understand the driver due to noise and not being familiar with the accent. Actual trolley tour was OK with some interesting historical and architectural facts presented. But a lot of this was repeated on the walking tour. Our bad for not realizing that they could be highly redundant. Afterwards we walked around and bought some Curaçao liquor including Tamarind flavored which was just released in March and evidently is in high demand as we found many places that were out of it. Supposedly it is limited release and not being exported. One little shop close to the boat had some and their price was only slightly higher than downtown merchants. Walking tour started off great and the Christmas lights, set up in September, should not be missed. However tour guide did not want to use her mic and did not have a flag or something else she could hold up so we could identify and follow her, especially as it got dark. Some of us got separated from her about three quarters into the tour. One young Italian girl who was by herself on the tour recognized us and latched on as she also got separated and quite honestly was scared to be alone and to get back to the ship by herself. Poor thing. She stayed with us. The guide was at the entry gate back by the ship and was relieved to see us and asked us to tell the ship people we were the last ones so evidently others lost track of her as well. Not good. Next time we visit we will take a tour of the distillery and snorkel which others reported as terrific especially at Playa Lagoon. Another couple we met rented an Avis car right next to where the boat docks. It was $50 for the day and they raved about a National Park and snorkeling at Playa Lagoon. Some folks who attempted a tour of the distillery said it was not up and running so it was disappointing. I guess it’s best to find out ahead of time. Bonaire We took the ship’s excursion Glass bottom kayak with snorkeling tour and thought it was great. We kayaked a little less than one mile each way to the snorkeling site. Maybe there were a dozen kayaks total with 2 per kayak. We took our own snorkels, fins and vests. The tour provides all these items except the fins because they don’t want the coral to be damaged. So we had to be extra careful but were able to use them appropriately as experienced snorkelers. I guess they don’t want those without experience using fins and I get that. Snorkeling was terrific and I saw fish and coral I have not seen anywhere else in the Pacific, Gulf, or Caribbean. Tour operators were great, patient, helpful and courteous. A total of four of them were with us throughout the entire excursion. A definite recommend - KAYAK TOURS BONAIRE. You can see pics on their FB page. Oh, Bonaire beaches are very rocky with broken coral and I strongly recommend beach shoes or suffer the pain of trying to get in and out of the water barefooted. Aruba Took a tourist bus to Eagle Beach about a 10 to 15 minute drive ($5 per person each way. Taxi is $14 each way and you pay by trip not by number of passengers). Rented two lounge chairs with an umbrella for $20 total. Was supposed to be $30 but asked for a lesser charge as we were only going to be there less than 2 hours. In that heat and sun, especially after being in the sun all yesterday afternoon in Bonaire, that was about right for us. Beach has soft sand. Great for just hanging out in the water. It’s a very Long Beach and popular but it did not feel crowded at all. No rocks and beautiful aqua water that was very clear. Took the free trolley to downtown shopping and bought a few things and had some ice cream and a local pastry. Trolley is very pleasant and some are double-decker but could be too sunny for those on top in the middle of the day.

Navigator of the Seas - Long Review - 9 Days Netherland Antilles 11/24 to 12/4

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by pd4st

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Trip Details
Navigator of the Seas; 9-day Nov 24 – Dec 4 (Labadee, Curacao, Bonaire, Aruba).

We are in our very early 60’s and still working. We’ve taken about 25 to 30 cruises, around 10 with RCCL over about the past 20 years.

Embarkation: D-

This was the second worst embarkation we’ve had. We had stayed at a local hotel and took their shuttle to the pier in Miami. When we got there about 11:30 the place was pandemonium and the porter that took our bags was particularly in-your-face about getting a tip. Then there were problems clearing the ship so people entering the terminal kept getting packed in tighter and tighter. It became extremely crowded (claustrophobic) to the point people could not move from their spot. It was like being on a subway/metro train at rush hour (think NY/DC). One of the RCCL folks working in the terminal said this was the worst embarkation experience she’d ever seen. What was worse is the people that had checked in, lined up by escalators in front of the line for people needing wheelchairs and such, completely blocking their ability to check in or move. Finally, RCCL started letting people board around 1:00. There never was an explanation of what the delay was.

Debarkation: B

It was a breeze. Waited in promenade and when they called our number, we walked off. No lines. Luggage easy to find and retrieve and then we just walked out of the terminal. Easy peasy…until you get outside and try to find your transportation. Super crowded and confusing. Someone made a comment that the ships keep getting bigger (more passengers) and the terminals cannot smoothly handle the crowds. People were jockeying to find their transport vehicles, horns honking, vehicles triple parked. We waited an hour for ours. We stayed at a hotel (Holiday Inn Express Doral) about 20 minutes away the night before the cruise and we were able to leave our car there for no charge. They offer this as a package for cruisers. Decent free breakfast and in a nice section of town (clean and newer) with a Coopers Hawk Winery and Restaurant a three-minute walk away plus other restaurants. We ate at Coopers Hawk the night before the cruise. We really like that place and their wines.

Cabin: B+

Cabin 1694 junior suite rear-facing. Very spacious and large balcony with two padded lounge chairs with a small round table and two regular chairs with a bigger and taller table for dining. Right wall of balcony as you face the ocean was solid metal and the left wall was opaque plastic with an opening about 4 inches wide which diminished privacy. The opening was adjacent to sliding glass doors. Even though the back of the ship was sloped, no one can look down onto this balcony because the Windjammer eating area is right above completely covering the balcony. But we could look down to all other balconies below our cabin. Something to consider if privacy is important and you want a rear-facing cabin. From the size of both the room and balcony, this is a great cabin. Reviews on these cabins right below the eating area did not indicate a noise problem from breakfast. However, we heard noise (furniture being dragged and banging) from above our cabin every night between 2:00am to 3:00am when the crew was cleaning and moving furniture in the Windjammer. The area in the Windjammer is carpeted too! Never heard passengers, just crew in the middle of the night. It was not bad enough to make me regret booking this cabin, but was for my husband. The few nights we called and asked for the crew to not be so heavy-handed resulted in them offering us a sizable credit towards a future cruise which was totally unexpected. One night when we called, we were told there was a leak that required pulling up of the carpet and that night it was especially noisy. This is DEFINITELY something to consider if noises in the middle of the night wakes you up.

The beds were hard and we asked upon embarkation for some egg-crate foam to be put on the bed. They didn’t have any but put another comforter that goes in the duvet on top of the mattress. It was minimally helpful but still the bed was hard. This is the first cruise of any we have been on that egg crate was not available. Not enough outlets for charging electronics. Nothing by the bed. RCCL needs to update this as so many people travel with multiple electronic devices these days. Even the in-cabin coffee maker had to be moved to an outlet from its minimally functional wall table. The safe was at eye level small but was small. I was barely able to fit in my IPad 9.7.

The closet is a walk-in, big enough for me to get dressed in as I am an early riser and my husband isn’t. LOTS of storage - didn’t even use some of the drawers. There is a small drip coffee maker in room that I used to heat water. We brought Starbucks instant coffee packets (good price at Costco) as the coffee served on board is utterly horrible. Plus I didn’t have the leave the cabin to have that first cup of morning coffee.

The brand of TV in the cabin is a Samsung and not an LG. My husband wanted me to report this because several bloggers were talking about how to hook up video devices to the TV. Some reported that the TVs were LG brand and if you bring an LG remote from home, you could use it to activate the HDMI input ports. However the brand of the TV in our cabin was Samsung so the remote we brought didn’t work. Fortunately we found that channel 3 received input from HDMI port #1. Unfortunately our ROKU stick would not connect properly to the ship’s WiFi due to a nonstandard login sequence and we did not have an AV adaptor for our iPad. But the iPad would probably have worked to stream video. I have no idea what all this means as my husband dictated this info and I typed it into this review.

There is no movie channel but you can purchase them for about $12 each. Only American current news channel is FOX but I did also see CNN doing international news that included US news and special series.

Main Dining Room: Service A+, Food A to C

Our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent, much better than the specialty restaurants. Attentive and always had our preferred items within moments of sitting down (iced teas and lemons). We sat in a quiet area on the top level at the window with a wall right behind our table (#620). I say this because my husband is hard-of-hearing in noisy environments and the noise level here was low enough for us to talk. Food was always nicely prepared and presented but not all the meals were to our personal taste which is typical for everyone who cruises. I will tell you though that the mushroom soup served in the dining room was excellent. Husband had lunch in main dining room one sea day and he thought it was a great experience. I wished I had tried it too but did not feel well that day. Oh, try the pesto salad dressing. Excellent. Actually not sure if is primarily a salad dressing as the Italian restaurant served it with an appetizer but did not offer it as a dressing when asked. Even could use as a dip for bread.

Windjammer: Service B, Food B

Typical buffet for a cruise. No complaints. Seemed crowded most mornings. Ate here for breakfast and sometimes to grab a snack around lunchtime. Lots of variety. Oh, this is the only ship I’ve been on where I could get fried eggs well done without them coming out dark, crispy and rubbery. Very pleased with this as I loaded up on protein in the mornings. Also tasted the mushroom soup served here one evening and again it was excellent. Not sure what’s going on with Chops where it was really terrible.

Chops Grill: Service D, Food D

This was our most disappointing meal of the entire cruise. Service was harried and the food wasn’t good. Our steaks were overcooked and not only at our table but also at our neighbors table. No one came by to refill iced tea even when our glasses were empty and catching the waiter was hard. However, they made multiple attempts to keep refilling our wine glasses. The steaks did not seem prime. My husband’s filet had a bit of gristle. We had a much better steak at Coopers Hawk the previous week. We’ve also had much better steak on other cruise ships and lines. Certainly nowhere near a Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris. The cream of mushroom soup tasted like pureed raw mushrooms - not at all buttery and not good at all. After a few spoons, I stopped. The restaurant manager tried to talk us into giving chops a second chance (we declined) but after we left I realized I did by having them recook my steak and it was still dry. Plus when they took my plate away with the sides on it, they were not replaced when the new steak was served. I would have asked the waiter to replace the sides but he was super busy and was not able to be as attentive as we would have expected from this premium dining venue. Our assistant waiter in the main dining room told us they only have waiters and no assistant waiters in the specialty restaurants which could explain the harried and inattentive service.

Giovanni’s: Service B-, Food A-

We ordered the steak and it was fabulous. Juicy, tender and not over cooked. As a matter of fact it was a bit under cooked for my taste but way better than Chops. So if you want a steak, skip the steakhouse and go Italian. We ran into the folks we sat next to in Chops and they also said the food in Giovanni’s was much better. Again, no assistant waiters so service not as attentive and could explain the somewhat brisk service by our waiter. We also talked to another crew member in restaurant management and that person validated our observation about the steaks being much better in Giovanni’s. Service was haphazard. In an Italian restaurant one expects to receive the antipasto course, followed by the pasta course, then the main entrée. The waiter brought out the main entrée before the pasta, then when we asked, brought it all at once.

Izumi: Service A, Food B+

This Asian restaurant really excelled in ambiance, location and food. It is located at the top of the ship with large sloping windows looking out over the ocean and over the ship (pretty at nights when the ship’s lights come on). Sunset was beautiful from this view. Service was great. Emily our server was patient in explaining the menu. Seaweed salad was great as was many other items we tried. Also enjoyed sesame balls with plum sauce for dessert. Really a very pleasant evening that felt upscale. The highlight of all our dining experiences on board. About half way through the cruise they offered a 20% discount at this restaurant which cannot be combined with the dining package, which we had. Jump on it if you can. We wished we had not waited until towards the end of cruise to try this restaurant and would have loved a second meal here, especially instead of going to Chops.

Sabors: Location D (didn’t eat there)

Having grown up in Texas, my husband was eager to try Sabors. However, we opted out after we saw where it is – right outside the casino and seemed like a dark hole of a dining room (no windows). We went to see it around the peak dinner hour and they only had two occupied tables.

Entertainment: B

For the shows, the ship offers hearing-assist devices provided at the guest services desk. They also provide headphones for the devices (with no ear pads) but any headphones including ear buds would work. Just make sure they have fresh batteries when you pick them up as the one we checked out died halfway through a really good show.

Saw ice show and it was entertaining. Should catch it if you’ve never seen one at sea on other RCCL ships.

Husband saw ventriloquist and he laughed a lot. He thought the guy was very talented and hysterical.

Pub singer is a fantastic guitarist and a lot of fun. One of the male performers who sings in shows joined him in the pub one evening and they seemed to have a great time performing impromptu together and the cruisers loved it. A definite highlight.

Saw the show with Motown group Horizons and they were very entertaining. High energy, talented and interacted with the audience quite a bit. Also had a sense of humor. I don’t usually go to shows but my better half talked me into this one and I enjoyed it.

Movies are shown on the jumbotron at the pool, but times were not convenient and the movies were ones we never heard of. Very few people watched movies at night on deck as it seemed difficult to get an unobstructed view of the screen.

For us, it was very noticeable they had a lack of dancing venues. And they played very short sets when you could find a band that played music you could dance to. Just when they got the crowd up and dancing, they’d stop. Really frustrating for lots of folks. One band was particularly bad (I think it was named Sea Wind). The other that usually played island tunes at the pool was much better.

Misc info:

Prices changed as of November 1 now 18% gratuity tacked on to price of dining and beverage packages.

Ten drink card is now $88 plus 18% gratuity and was offered the third day into cruise.

The last days of the cruise they dropped the price to $75. Also, gratuity is now added to dining packages, which we avoided by pre-booking.

They served the same beer everywhere on ship except in pub where there are pale ales.

Pizza is pretty good but too heavy on cheese for me.

Lookout to bridge is right outside the fitness center windows. Very cool.

The ship seemed somewhat crowded but was told that previous week there were 600 more passengers. That was Thanksgiving week and I wonder if it was from families with kids in same cabin as this cruise was reportedly sold out.

Curacao.

Did 2 excursions through ship. A morning trolley tour and an evening walking tour to include the city Christmas lights. Both were disappointing. Trolley tour started with nine of us crammed into a mini bus taxi and driven about 15 minutes to the open air trolley. It was difficult to understand the driver due to noise and not being familiar with the accent. Actual trolley tour was OK with some interesting historical and architectural facts presented. But a lot of this was repeated on the walking tour. Our bad for not realizing that they could be highly redundant. Afterwards we walked around and bought some Curaçao liquor including Tamarind flavored which was just released in March and evidently is in high demand as we found many places that were out of it. Supposedly it is limited release and not being exported. One little shop close to the boat had some and their price was only slightly higher than downtown merchants. Walking tour started off great and the Christmas lights, set up in September, should not be missed. However tour guide did not want to use her mic and did not have a flag or something else she could hold up so we could identify and follow her, especially as it got dark. Some of us got separated from her about three quarters into the tour. One young Italian girl who was by herself on the tour recognized us and latched on as she also got separated and quite honestly was scared to be alone and to get back to the ship by herself. Poor thing. She stayed with us. The guide was at the entry gate back by the ship and was relieved to see us and asked us to tell the ship people we were the last ones so evidently others lost track of her as well. Not good. Next time we visit we will take a tour of the distillery and snorkel which others reported as terrific especially at Playa Lagoon. Another couple we met rented an Avis car right next to where the boat docks. It was $50 for the day and they raved about a National Park and snorkeling at Playa Lagoon. Some folks who attempted a tour of the distillery said it was not up and running so it was disappointing. I guess it’s best to find out ahead of time.

Bonaire

We took the ship’s excursion Glass bottom kayak with snorkeling tour and thought it was great. We kayaked a little less than one mile each way to the snorkeling site. Maybe there were a dozen kayaks total with 2 per kayak. We took our own snorkels, fins and vests. The tour provides all these items except the fins because they don’t want the coral to be damaged. So we had to be extra careful but were able to use them appropriately as experienced snorkelers. I guess they don’t want those without experience using fins and I get that. Snorkeling was terrific and I saw fish and coral I have not seen anywhere else in the Pacific, Gulf, or Caribbean. Tour operators were great, patient, helpful and courteous. A total of four of them were with us throughout the entire excursion. A definite recommend - KAYAK TOURS BONAIRE. You can see pics on their FB page. Oh, Bonaire beaches are very rocky with broken coral and I strongly recommend beach shoes or suffer the pain of trying to get in and out of the water barefooted.

Aruba

Took a tourist bus to Eagle Beach about a 10 to 15 minute drive ($5 per person each way. Taxi is $14 each way and you pay by trip not by number of passengers). Rented two lounge chairs with an umbrella for $20 total. Was supposed to be $30 but asked for a lesser charge as we were only going to be there less than 2 hours. In that heat and sun, especially after being in the sun all yesterday afternoon in Bonaire, that was about right for us. Beach has soft sand. Great for just hanging out in the water. It’s a very Long Beach and popular but it did not feel crowded at all. No rocks and beautiful aqua water that was very clear. Took the free trolley to downtown shopping and bought a few things and had some ice cream and a local pastry. Trolley is very pleasant and some are double-decker but could be too sunny for those on top in the middle of the day.
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