Been on about 10 cruises. Picked this one for a reasonably priced short getaway. Used Southwest for air out of Baltimore to San Juan. Flights filled fast and prices went up accordingly. Two couples traveling together.
Flight was without incident. No need to take transfers from airport to ship (Pan American Terminal). Many cabs available for 15-20 min. ride. Exit air terminal and queue up at cab stand where you get a piece of paper for the price and are ushered to a waiting cab. Party of 4 was $28 plus tip for cabby.
Did not wait for "appointed time" for embarkation which went smoothly. Inside terminal on the left is a wine and liquor store. Two 750 ml bottles of wine allowed to be carried on per person. Frankly, the liquor store bag was not checked by anyone.
Note: San Juan is U.S. Territory. Passports are not required. Cell phone service is standard service so no international plan needed.
FOS used to be the largest ship in RC fleet. It's been in service a long time with a lot of passengers and crew, ergo a need for amplification. RC treats amplification as an addition of activities and onboard experiences and a refurbishment of facilities, such as cabins.
We were an interior cabin, Deck 8, that overlooked the "Royal Promenade". There was a door to our friends' adjoining cabin. The price was right. I was afraid the sound from the RP would be terrible but the cabin kept it out well and any music or other loud entertainment stopped no later than midnight. Our cabin steward was a nice older gentleman from St. Vincent who was okay. The cabin could have been cleaner and it seriously needed refurbishment. The wake up call function of the phone system only played French. A WU call could only be placed with Guest Services and on disembarkation day the wake up call came in late with an apology. The ship's engineers really obsessed over the toilets with constant reminders not to flush anything down them other than tp and waste.
Note: As with most cruise ships electrical outlets are few so bring a multi outlet to plug in and if you are coming from Europe bring a converter.
My Time Dining is still a joke. You have to make a reservation and you may be "steered" to the same table at the same time over and over.
We only ate at our Dining Room, Leonardo, for dinner, save for one night at the Windjammer buffet. Breakfast was always at the Windjammer. Food was good, albeit under seasoned. Service was good. There were two formal nights. We don't do "formal", only "smart casual". BUT people came to Leonardo in all kinds of dress: jeans, tee shirts, shorts, midriffs, short shorts. It seemed the only thing enforced was the wearing of shoes, no cut offs and no torn clothing.
Around the pool, you could not get anything to eat. You had to go to Windjammer before 4:30 to get food and then bring it back to the pool area. But there were plenty of bars.
Note: Don't sign up for a drink package until you get on board. The price never goes up and they never run out of them. In our case our friends' went DOWN and they were denied a credit on their bill. In essence they were punished for booking in advance.
Eating in the Royal Promenade was a non-starter. Sorrento's was often overcrowded (particularly with youngsters) as was the Espresso Cafe. We avoided that area.
The pool needed work and was on the small side. It was the first cruise we were on that had lifeguards on duty.
The entertainment was good. Liked the ice skating extravaganza (Freedom), the comedy shows (which always seem good), the Marquee Dancers and Once Upon a Time. Activities seemed average but we weren't on the ship much.
Service could only be described as "nonchalant". The crew seemed as tired as the ship was. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't enthusiastic. We couldn't single out anyone who provided "above and beyond" service.
Loved Olive or Twist Bar, deck 14, for fab view, uncrowded and late night dancing.
Ports and Excursions:
SAN JUAN. Embarkation port. Landed. Checked in. Got on board. Situated. Went to pool.
ST MARTIN (Maarten) Phillipsburg (Dutch side). No excursion. Walked "Boardwalk". Rented chairs and umbrellas on beach. Two chairs with umbrella for $20. Walked all the way to end of boardwalk and lunched at Oranje Cafe with good food, cheap beer and good service. Explored town. Nice beach, clear water, lots of sun.
ST KITTS. Private excursion with Myislands Tours by Javin. Terrific experience with this young man. Well organized. Business savvy and great customer service. 12 on our trip (some half day) in Air Conditioned bus. Can take 25 in open air bus. Great tour of the island. Stops at Cotton Mill (to be historical site), Rain Forest (hike, somewhat strenuous), Lava Rocks (wonderful "al fresco" lunch) and snorkel/beach time. Some of the party snorkeled and those who did not were taken to beautiful Cockleshell Beach. Cannot say enough positive things about this tour and its guide, including continuous entertainment by pet monkeys Peaches and Moses.
ANTIGUA. Ship excursion Catamaran Cruise with Lobster Lunch. Probably our fav island. Great cruise and lunch. Open bar. No organized snorkeling. Water not too clear at two beaches visited. But we had a fun, wonderful time. Well worth the cost.
CASTRIES, ST LUCIA. Ship excursion Segway Safari and Beach Fun. Segway segment was great. Brief instruction. Rode abandoned military trail with partial shade. Segway stop at beach bar. Great views. 25 participants in two groups. One group toured on a bus while other Segwayed. Not much fun on the bus. A lot of lecturing about flora and fauna. Beach fun at the end of excursion was encouragement to eat/drink at nice bar on beach. Should have allowed more time to sit and swim. Beach very crowded.
BARBADOS (Bridgetown). Ship Excursion Mount Gay Distillery. Driver was very informative about Bridgetown. Saw a lot of it. Mount Gay was just a visitor center. Distillery itself is well north of Bridgetown. However, if you like rum and how it's made you will like this excursion.
SAN JUAN. Ship Excursion Bacardi Rum Distillery with Airport Drop Off. Better than Mount Gay tour. Great way to pass the time before mid afternoon flight. Informative tour and at the airport in plenty of time.
We probably won't take this cruise again. Too many other things to see. Some of the above won't apply, probably, after the amplification next year.
Adequate. Dated. Overlooked Royal Promenade. Quiet.