We stayed overnight at La Quinta, in BMW and it was nice, $159 for a room and parking for up to 14 days included. Shuttle to port included. We got picked up at 10:30 and were at the port by 11:00 and on board by 11:30 . In our rooms by 12:30 ish.
Family of 8 went for the holidays, the ship was beautiful, and we never felt over crowded.
Embarking was quick and we were on board within 30 minutes of arrival at port in Maryland.
The ship was fully decorated, we had Santa on Xmas morning, and NYE was so festive. Balloons from the ceiling, great music, champagne all around!!!
We all had inside rooms one with 4 people, it was definitely a bit crowded for 2 adults and 2 teen boys, but manageable tho they would book a bigger room in the future. Our room , we separated the beds and had plenty of room, I was amazed at all the space to put things, drawers on the vanity were pretty deep, three on the right 3 on the left, the right ones were full size, the left were half size. There was another set of full drawers in the closet( I put my shoes here). Two mirrors on either side of the vanity had shelves for toiletries, and a huge mirror, a center drawer was also in the vanity /desk. There was no refrigerator and we thought it would be an issue, but we never missed it. The bathroom had plenty of storage too. shelves and drawers and a lower shelf. Shower took some learning to not have it come on too strong, and once in a while hot water was a bit scarce. we just learned when to shower around it. We really liked the room for 2 people, and even 4 did okay. We three decorated our rooms and doors....many did. The room was plenty cool when we adjusted the air conditioning.
Our room steward Emerson Thomas was so personable and kept our rooms immaculate. He was in there after every visit to be sure things were perfect. Of course we had towel animals, always fun!! Always a smile and a hello in the halls, knew our names in one day. Always asked us about our days.
We went to the windjammer for most breakfasts and lunches, most day we were able to get a large table to fit us all around, and enjoy our start of the day. Food was aplenty, with many delicious choices, even the omelet station was over all fast. most I waited was 5 minutes.
Pool was not crowded, plenty of chairs to sit, didn't really see a lot of hogs. Hot tubs were busy but still could get in if you chose to. They opened the solarium on the colder days for children within certain hours, which was nice. The pool bar was a bit slow compared to the other bars, but it was always busy too.
For dinner we all met at the MDR we had the 8 pm seating. Our head waiter was Amlan, and his assistant was Joe. There were a re few glitches on the first nights, but they did their very best to please us. Both were new and did a great job. Brought us extra bread baskets every night always had our drinks to serve, brought us some extra plates of cheese and fruits and extra butters. One night there was no escargot on the menu( my favorite) and Amlan got one for me anyways without me saying anything, which was very nice. We enjoyed the foods we had, we enjoyed our servers, and the little shows they had a few nights. We ordered a bottle of champagne for Xmas, and it was at our table chilling, we also won a bottle of champagne and it was there another night waiting in a chill bucket. Cannot say enough great things about both servers.
The two teen age boys with us enjoyed the teen group, we had many many children on board being a holiday cruise and only had a few behave a bit naughty. Had adults behave badly as well.
We didn't go to shows as we were busy, eating, at the time they were happening many times. Only big complaint I would have is 8 pm sitting and singular activities in the centrum at 8:15 pm. So all us missed all that. Should be after both meals like 9:00pm.
Lots of fun there in the day times. Egg drop contest, corn hole games, dancing, music. This is where the chair hogs showed up. They would sit for hours and wait for each show.
We did some trivia games in the south pacific area, went to play bingo, decided $40/pp was a bit rich so found trivia fun. The Schooner bar was always pretty fast with drinks. The centrum bar was slow and some times rude. If you asked for a drink from that bar that you had in another bar, they told you you had to go back to the other bar for it. Never heard of that. We went to the viking lounge one night to watch karaoke, it was nice but again getting a drink was a 15 -20 minute wait. We learned to get it else where and bring it along.
Karaoke was a bit pre- planned. Seemed if you dressed in skimpy clothes you were in.
50's night was fun!! We brought poodle skirts and saddle "shoes" and did the dances. The dancers were excited that we came dressed in 50's gear. My daughter who is a pinup girl here at home did a duet with "Elvis" of summer lovin'. It was quite fun!!
There was a 70's night but they did mostly 80's songs. Again we came prepared and had a good time. Other nights there was always a small band or a duet of violin and guitar, both were good!!
Day 5 we stayed longer for the day which was nice. We went to buck Island and Turtle Bay in St Croix, had a great crew with Grace from Carribean Sea Adventures. We had to get to the other side of the island and we were getting ab it worried about taxi rates and getting there on time. But we disembarked earlier than they expected, and found a taxi at the end of the pier for $16 round trip pp, which was great. The ride to Christenstad was hot as this Taxi decided not to use his AC. A 30 minute drive in a closed in taxi, no windows to open and hot air blasting through the vents, fortunately the ride back he used full air and it was delightful. The excursion was terrific. We snorkeled on our own and also followed a trail. Word of warning do not use reef safe sunscreen, it doesn't work. Tow different brands and multiple applications and we all still burned. Grace told us regular sunscreen is fine as long as you apply it 30 minutes before the water then it doesn't leach. embarking was quick and easy, but the alcohol collection was a disaster.
Day 6 we were in St Johns Antigua, we did the stingray city tour via rccl. Disembarking was again easy. We were promptly on our way to the boats to take us out. We liked that the rays are free to come and go and we are corralled in instead. They were magnificent. So beautiful. Got to feed them squids, and they were not afraid of us at all. Nothing as soft as a stingray massage!! W will be back!! Nothing shy of amazing. embarking was again slow only because of he alcohol situation, The man had no clue what he was doing sadly but was trying hard.
Day 7, we were in St. Lucia, disembarking was a breeze. We booked an trip to Splash Island on our own. We ran into miscommunication of pick up but once we found them behind Diamond International, we ere off and on our way in a lovely AC taxi that you pay $10 pp round trip. If you are at all weak ankles, or overweight, this is not the place for you. It is large floats and they are difficult to get up on in the water, the "ladder" is also a float. I stayed on land , and they graciously refunded me. The others in my family had lots of fun on the floats. My Teen age grandsons had a blast. The taxi came for us on time and we were whisked back to the port, with time to shop around a bit, and of course get some nice purchases of alcohol that is very expensive here. Embarking was easy but still a cluster mess around the alcohol table. Many didn't wait and took their purchase up to their rooms, no one said stop.
Day 8 we were in St Kitts, disembarking was again easy, some of us did the chocolate tour via rccl to St Kitts chocolate factory. The owner is very nice and we had samples of various chocolates and then we made some of our own to take with us. It was very nice. Seema was very knowledgeable and patient with the young 6 year old even when she asked silly questions... sadly people behind me were impatient and made mean remarks about this 6 year old. I don't know what the rush was. We still had plenty of time to do some shopping and get a bite to eat,which is a good thing because my husband and I stopped at a little stand that served chicken a fries. We ordered that and an almost an hour later we finally got our food after reminding them three times that we were waiting. Embarking was the same easy on but bottle necked at the alcohol collection table, they ran out o f tape, then told my SIL who had a $150 bottle of Johnny Blue that it was no a big deal, he waited a bit then took off for his room, who is going to assume a $150 bottle will be just fine unlabeled with the room number?
Day 9 , we were in Sint Maartine, disembarking was quick we did some early shopping with my favorite jewelers the off to Maho beach. Hubs and me already had been but it was still lots of fun and a first for the other family members. Taxi was $16/pp round trip. Beach was free, bathrooms were not. $1.00 to use. Gave you a voucher to use in the hut for beers, but most of us didn't drink beer... St Maartine has come a log way from hurricane destroying it, still has a ways to go , but was lovely none the less. Spoke to our friend the jeweler, he was broken into and looted three times, as were many there he said. His cousin who was in the clothing store was looted 5 times. Sad that people do that. Embarking was easy but again the hold up a the alcohol table. We had high waves that night and deck 10 was closed.
Day 10 was warm and NYE. We relaxed at the pool, enjoying our drinks after breakfast. We hung around and just chilled until dinner time, we got no pictures done as the 6 oclock seating was in line for that, so we gave up. We had lobster tails for dinner, which made 7 of us delighted, me I had a yummy dinner sans that. NYE in the Centrum was fun, and we drank champagne and toasted in the new year.
Day 11 was NYD, we relaxed, watched games in the Centrum, Drank lovely drinks ( after a late breakfast) , Chilled by the pool, grabbed lunch in the windjammer, did a little trivia about xmas movies, did oragami in Schoorner. Dinner was in the MDR, we dressed up and had lots of pictures done as there were 5 different places. Then off to dinner. We ordered a seafood tower to be brought down to us ($39) and enjoyed the ooos and ahhs. After dinner we relaxed and had a few drinks before going off to bed.
Day 12 We had breakfast in the windjammer, it was a bit more crowded but still found a large table. then just relaxed and enjoyed the ship and drinks!! It was too cold for the pool and they didn't open it to kids the last colder days. Got an announcement that Mike our cruise director had man flu as they called it. Seems many got sick after they left the ship, none of us in our party did. Packed up and placed suitcases out a 8 and they were promptly picked up but they shut off a bank of elevators to use for that and it made for long waits for elevators, we mostly used stairs, unless we were on floor 4 and going to floor 8 or 9. We chose 8:15 disembarking, but it was delayed due to the government shutdown had begun. Once we were called, it was a fast look at our passports and no declarations and we were off and running. Kudos to RCCl for having people with red Flashlights alerting porters to where they are needed, this is a nice addition since we last sailed with them. ( 2009).
We had a hard time getting back to our hotel with their shuttle, people who had just come off from a later time were running to the shuttles meant for earlier people. Thought there was going to be fisty cuffs.... people were just rude about it not being their shuttle but would get in anyways and defy anyone saying they had to get out. La Quinta needs a better system.
Over all we had a fabulous time. It is sad that Grandeur and RCCl has now split this cruise time up. You cannot go for both holidays unless you do B2B for lots more money. Many people made it a yearly trip and many knew each other from previous years. I am glad we booked it before that change. I would do it again as a full 12 days. Hopefully they will listen and change it back.
We bought the drink packages ultimate for adults, refreshment for the teens. We got a great price and got more than our monies worth. Starbucks coffees were included on this ship.
The only other thing that was rather slow was the cafe with food in the later afternoon, understaffed, salad side he would take off most of the time, and the selections went quick, when we did get food it was quite good. Hot sandwiches, soups, and the like.
Also cabins 8525 and 8529 (quad)
Emerson was simply the best. He was attentive, friendly, a work horse. Cabin was very nice and lots of storage spaces. While we didn't have a fridge, we didn't miss it. I was actually pleasantly surprised at all the drawers and storage we had and I over pack big time.
Port was nice and very fast.
The staff was great Grace was very helpful and knowledgeable. We had a great time, even out running the storm!!View All 19 Snorkeling Reviews
This was nothing short of amazing. The rays are free to come and go,people are corralled in. We got to interact with the rays, touch them, feed them, and get a massage. there is nothing like a stingray massage. the people who take us there are very loving to the rays. They name them and know them.View All undefined undefined Reviews
They were a little confusing with pickup meet up, once that was done it was great. But if you are heavy or weak ankles it is not something you can go out on to play on the floats. I couldn't and they refunded me that part. The rest of my party had a blast.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Nice people Seema was great as the owner and host. Delicious chocolates!!View All undefined undefined Reviews
It was quite an adventure for our group to watch planes fly close over head.... it was quite wavy that day and the under toe was strong. Some of our party got a lot of sand in their noses or other parts..... we shopped in our favorite jeweler.View All undefined undefined Reviews