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Embarkation Embarkation was actually one of the simpler we’ve experienced. We walked right in around 11:00, waited no more than 5 minutes in line for the X-Ray, then walked right up to a boarding agent. If the Medallion app had worked properly, we would have been through the boarding process in seconds, but the app refused to scan our passports so the terminal agent had to do that manually. Once that annoyance was behind us, we walked straight onto the ship. Total time: less than 15 minutes from entering the terminal to standing on the ship. Dining Dining is truly one of the poorest aspects of this ship. There are several venues available, but only one offered both good food and good service: Slice Pizza and the Salty Dog Grill Their food was fairly fresh, made on the spot, tasty, and the people that worked these 2 places worked darned hard for their customers. I highly recommend you try them. We experienced our poorest dining in the Main Dining Room, Palm. Our first night, we were seated at a table for 2 that had a chair on one side, and a couch on the other. The couch was very low to the floor so whoever sat there sat very low…low enough that the meal was physically uncomfortable. Despite relatively good service there we requested a new table. We were shown a map of available tables and told to choose one. We chose one that was all alone – away from any other table. Imagine our surprise when we were escorted to that table the next night to find we were seated between 2 other tables with only 2 inches between each table. We were effectively seated at a table for 6! The people on one side never interacted at all, and the people on the other side made some very rude comments about how we were dressed, how often we attended that table, etc. Even the unfavorable table mates could have been overcome by excellent service, but unfortunately, we had some particularly bad service. The waiter frequently made mistakes on our order, we were served last behind the others at our “table” (often a very long time after), the waiter never interacted with us at all and was very curt to the point of almost being hostile. Thus, we ate a total of 3 meals at that table and eventually gave up in disgust. Any-time dining was much better. The servers there tried much harder to please their customers. We encountered several that were very good and friendly and efficient. We also though, encountered some who despite working hard and being nice, weren’t very efficient or able to remember food orders very well. Between MDR or Any-time dining, Any-Time was a considerably better experience, but neither was *Great*. We usually enjoy the buffet greatly on cruises, but this one was very disappointing. The buffet on this ship is about a third the size of other ships' buffets. For each meal, only 3 or 4 menu items ever varied. The rest of the choices were always the same. Perhaps on a 3- or 5-day cruise that would be OK, but on a 14-day, the monotony of exactly the same food day-in and day-out was a bit annoying. At breakfast and lunch, the buffet shares a dining room with 2 of the pay restaurants, so the seating is pretty easy. At dinner though, not only are the pay restaurant’s seats not available, but they close one side of the buffet making finding a seat very tough. There was one positive for the buffet that has been a long time coming: pagers for people ordering omelets. No longer are swarms of people blocking traffic milling around waiting for their omelet to be finished. They can simply go to their table and enjoy their morning coffee while they patiently await their food. It’s so simple, I’m shocked I’ve never seen it before. Service For a Pre-Paid gratuities cruise, the service here was quite good. At any major venue: theater, poolside, dance rooms, trivia; there were always several waiters walking around taking orders. They, and the bartenders got drinks out quickly and seemed able to multi-task. Thus, the wait for a drink was never very long. Our cabin steward was excellent. He was always friendly and helpful. Just a great person in that role. In the buffet, dozens of workers removed dirty dishes, cleaned tables, brought drinks, and positively interacted with the passengers. In fact, one could argue there are too many people working there; you can’t leave a table for more food or a drink and expect to find your tableware or remaining food…one of the staff would inevitably clear your table the second your back was turned! Cabin The size and layout of the cabin were very standard. What it lacks in drawer-space is made up in closet-space. The closet covers one entire wall of the cabin. Instead of placing items in drawers, you can simply hang them. In addition, there are shelves between the closet and the bathroom that can hold a surprising amount of items. There are only 2 “pegs” to hang anything like bathing suits or yesterday’s pants. If you need more, you’ll have to bring magnetic hooks. There are only 4 electrical outlets in the room, and 1 is occupied by the TV. 2 are next to the dressing table presumably for beauty tools like a curling iron. The other is behind the TV and tough to access. I put my cellphone/hearing aid charger on that plug as I could simply leave it plugged in for the duration of the cruise. There is a largely empty refrigerator that we used as a source of cold water for returns from the islands. Ship With 2 notable exceptions, the ship is fairly well laid out so you can get anywhere easily. Those exceptions are entry to the Palm dining room, and specific elevators for specific floors. The Palm dining room is only accessible by using the rear stairs or elevators. There is no hallway that approaches it, so if you use any other elevator to get to the 6th floor, you can’t get to the dining room. Plus, only 2 of the 4 rear elevators go to that floor. Thus, if you get on the wrong elevator you can only down to 7 and must take stairs from there. As mentioned above, 2 of the 4 rear elevators can access more floors than the others. Those can access deck 6, and 18 and 19. The other 2 can’t. Plus, none of the rear elevators will go below deck 6. Thus, for disembarking for an island you can’t use the rear elevators. As I’ve seen so many other people mention, the theater is unusually small. If you want a decent seat, be prepared to arrive 30 or more minutes in advance. If you desire a specific section, or are with a large group, arrive even earlier. This ship has the best pool areas I’ve ever experienced on a ship. There are 4 separate pools (other than the children’s pools).: the sanctuary area, the rear of the ship, and two full-sized Pool-Deck pools and tanning areas These 4 pools are well separated so the activities of one pool don’t interfere with the activities of any other. Plus, these separate pools are surrounded by “sun” areas that provide a lot of tanning opportunities. While chair hogs existed on this ship as on any other, their affect was less noticeable because there were always chairs available, even in prime locations. I discovered accidentally that the rear pool is heated. If you're on a cold-weather cruise, this pool might be quite nice to try. The upper dance floor is located in the “bar” that runs the width of the ship above the rear pool area. Even if you never have any reason to go there, take the aft elevators up to the 19th floor and take in the view from there, it’s spectacular! Disembarkation This is our third Princess ship, and all 3 made disembarkation as frustrating as possible. We always take the walkoff disembarkation as we don’t like their people handling our luggage. As usual for Princess, they told us we were the first group, and to meet in the island dining room. We arrived about 20 minutes early to find the dining room full with very few seats left. We sat for the next 30 minutes as more and more people piled in clogging the aisles and walkways all the while some employee was yelling to people not to clog the walkways. By the time they finally decided we could proceed off the ship, they called the first group but everyone in the room, regardless of group, immediately ran for the exit and jammed up there. It took 20 more minutes to work our way through this mess to simply walk off the ship. Every other line’s disembarkation simply tells you their recommended time to leave, let's you walk off the ship when you're ready, and doesn’t force you to gather en masse. On those embarkations, there is never a wait, minimal lines, and no frustration. **Note: Port Everglades appears to have learned how poorly they handled disembarkation in the past. This time, we walked off the ship, through some switchbacks straight to one of 4 customs officers. We were through the terminal within 5 minutes. Thank You Port Everglades!! Entertainment Entertainment on this ship seemed similar to many other ships. There are stage productions, comedians, bands playing several venues, and late-night dancing in the upper-most dance floor. There seemed to be less “enrichment” type of activities although they did do some minor crafting. On one of our previous Princess cruises they did educational activities like star-gazing on the upper-most deck. I saw nothing like that on this ship. Trivia is very popular and highly competitive, but was once interrupted by a U.S. football game that literally no one was watching. Apparently someone in charge of scheduling events likes US football and didn’t care about the 200 – 300 people gathered for trivia. Too bad. Princess’ Medallion I believe Princess Cruises released their medallion concept too early. The new Medallion and it’s app still has too many flaws to be very useful. Most of these flaws relate to the associated app, but the medallion itself has one very large flaw…no easy attachment method. The medallion is a disk about an inch in diameter and ¼ inch thick. There are no holes in it, it is solid. The only way to carry it is to use the provided, much larger lanyard, or buy a bracelet, pin or necklace to hold it. Unlike the lanyard that totally encases it, the item I bought, the bracelet, holds the disk magnetically around its edge. You can lightly push on the medallion and it moves within the bracelet. This magnetic attachment is too weak to grasp the medallion well enough to prevent losing it; a fact that I proved while swimming on a beach in Barbados. My first medallion is now under 12 feet of water somewhere on Carlisle beach. Luckily, local Barbados security is very lax and no one asked to see my ship identification at the port terminal. Otherwise I would never have made it back to the ship to get my medallion replaced. The app has even more flaws: I put great effort into being “Ocean Ready” before we left for the cruise, but the app refused to scan our passports. Instead of scanning, the app hung up and had to be restarted. I tried several times on multiple phones but never got it to work properly. The app told me we hadn't finished the "Ocean Ready" process, but didn't tell us what wasn't done. So, when we arrived at the terminal, an employee had to manually scan our passports; not considerably better than any other line’s check-in process. The menu on the drink and food ordering tab appeared to be limited compared to what is actually available on the ship. I prefer to buy beer in “buckets” of 5 to save some money over individuals, but no buckets were offered on the app (or if they were, I couldn't find them). I only used that function once for a free drink they offered. On my phone, the locator application never showed a map when it was showing me where someone or something was. Thus, I had a wonderful dotted line, but no way to know where to go! My phone is a fairly recent Samsung; not an uncommon device; there is no reason that the app should have this bug on such a modern phone. When you request your account, the app opens a blank web page and starts downloading a PDF file of your account, but without telling you what it’s doing. I requested the account info 3 times before I discovered my phone was downloadingsomething. They really ought to show the account info from within the app, or at least have that blank web page tell you that you are downloading the information. The events planner makes you scroll vertically to see all of the events on a given time frame, and makes you scroll horizontally to change time frames. The horizontal scroll is so “touchy” that I couldn’t get it to stop moving on my phone. Plus, you have no way to know if there are more events below what you can see, so you’re constantly scrolling up and down to simply confirm you’ve seen all of the choices. It’s much easier to simply get your events from the daily paper newsletter, the Princess Patter. As a tool to speed ordering items while you’re at the bar or store, despite the ability to read the medallion remotely, the staff still requests your room number and name for each order; not much better than simply scanning a more typical seapass card. The app is missing some very basic things that people *do* want, like daily menus at the dining venues, appropriate evening attire, or the drink of the day. All of the negatives aside, the app provides one very useful function: it unlocks your cabin door for you. As you’re approaching your door, it will unlock it before you even arrive. You simply have to press the handle to open it. Ultimately, the functions the medallion performs are still performed better by other, more traditional, means. Until they make the passenger's experience *better* using the medallion, there's no reason to bother with it. Conclusion I have illustrated many of the negatives of our cruise in this review, and probably not stated the positives well enough...and there are many positives! Consider that this cruise was the longest we’ve ever taken, and on some of our previous cruises, we were ready to leave those ships near the end of those cruises- we never felt that way on this cruise. Up to the moment we left the ship, we enjoyed ourselves and were sad to leave. This ship offers plenty of entertainment and relaxation with relatively few annoyances that can spoil a cruise. In all, I highly recommend this ship and would love to sail on her again some day.

Some minor flaws, but exactly what we wanted

Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by n2tpa

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2019
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
Embarkation

Embarkation was actually one of the simpler we’ve experienced. We walked right in around 11:00, waited no more than 5 minutes in line for the X-Ray, then walked right up to a boarding agent. If the Medallion app had worked properly, we would have been through the boarding process in seconds, but the app refused to scan our passports so the terminal agent had to do that manually. Once that annoyance was behind us, we walked straight onto the ship.

Total time: less than 15 minutes from entering the terminal to standing on the ship.

Dining

Dining is truly one of the poorest aspects of this ship. There are several venues available, but only one offered both good food and good service: Slice Pizza and the Salty Dog Grill Their food was fairly fresh, made on the spot, tasty, and the people that worked these 2 places worked darned hard for their customers. I highly recommend you try them.

We experienced our poorest dining in the Main Dining Room, Palm. Our first night, we were seated at a table for 2 that had a chair on one side, and a couch on the other. The couch was very low to the floor so whoever sat there sat very low…low enough that the meal was physically uncomfortable. Despite relatively good service there we requested a new table.

We were shown a map of available tables and told to choose one. We chose one that was all alone – away from any other table. Imagine our surprise when we were escorted to that table the next night to find we were seated between 2 other tables with only 2 inches between each table. We were effectively seated at a table for 6! The people on one side never interacted at all, and the people on the other side made some very rude comments about how we were dressed, how often we attended that table, etc. Even the unfavorable table mates could have been overcome by excellent service, but unfortunately, we had some particularly bad service. The waiter frequently made mistakes on our order, we were served last behind the others at our “table” (often a very long time after), the waiter never interacted with us at all and was very curt to the point of almost being hostile. Thus, we ate a total of 3 meals at that table and eventually gave up in disgust.

Any-time dining was much better. The servers there tried much harder to please their customers. We encountered several that were very good and friendly and efficient. We also though, encountered some who despite working hard and being nice, weren’t very efficient or able to remember food orders very well. Between MDR or Any-time dining, Any-Time was a considerably better experience, but neither was *Great*.

We usually enjoy the buffet greatly on cruises, but this one was very disappointing. The buffet on this ship is about a third the size of other ships' buffets.

For each meal, only 3 or 4 menu items ever varied. The rest of the choices were always the same. Perhaps on a 3- or 5-day cruise that would be OK, but on a 14-day, the monotony of exactly the same food day-in and day-out was a bit annoying.

At breakfast and lunch, the buffet shares a dining room with 2 of the pay restaurants, so the seating is pretty easy. At dinner though, not only are the pay restaurant’s seats not available, but they close one side of the buffet making finding a seat very tough.

There was one positive for the buffet that has been a long time coming: pagers for people ordering omelets. No longer are swarms of people blocking traffic milling around waiting for their omelet to be finished. They can simply go to their table and enjoy their morning coffee while they patiently await their food. It’s so simple, I’m shocked I’ve never seen it before.

Service

For a Pre-Paid gratuities cruise, the service here was quite good. At any major venue: theater, poolside, dance rooms, trivia; there were always several waiters walking around taking orders. They, and the bartenders got drinks out quickly and seemed able to multi-task. Thus, the wait for a drink was never very long.

Our cabin steward was excellent. He was always friendly and helpful. Just a great person in that role.

In the buffet, dozens of workers removed dirty dishes, cleaned tables, brought drinks, and positively interacted with the passengers. In fact, one could argue there are too many people working there; you can’t leave a table for more food or a drink and expect to find your tableware or remaining food…one of the staff would inevitably clear your table the second your back was turned!

Cabin

The size and layout of the cabin were very standard. What it lacks in drawer-space is made up in closet-space. The closet covers one entire wall of the cabin. Instead of placing items in drawers, you can simply hang them. In addition, there are shelves between the closet and the bathroom that can hold a surprising amount of items.

There are only 2 “pegs” to hang anything like bathing suits or yesterday’s pants. If you need more, you’ll have to bring magnetic hooks.

There are only 4 electrical outlets in the room, and 1 is occupied by the TV. 2 are next to the dressing table presumably for beauty tools like a curling iron. The other is behind the TV and tough to access. I put my cellphone/hearing aid charger on that plug as I could simply leave it plugged in for the duration of the cruise.

There is a largely empty refrigerator that we used as a source of cold water for returns from the islands.

Ship

With 2 notable exceptions, the ship is fairly well laid out so you can get anywhere easily. Those exceptions are entry to the Palm dining room, and specific elevators for specific floors.

The Palm dining room is only accessible by using the rear stairs or elevators. There is no hallway that approaches it, so if you use any other elevator to get to the 6th floor, you can’t get to the dining room. Plus, only 2 of the 4 rear elevators go to that floor. Thus, if you get on the wrong elevator you can only down to 7 and must take stairs from there.

As mentioned above, 2 of the 4 rear elevators can access more floors than the others. Those can access deck 6, and 18 and 19. The other 2 can’t. Plus, none of the rear elevators will go below deck 6. Thus, for disembarking for an island you can’t use the rear elevators.

As I’ve seen so many other people mention, the theater is unusually small. If you want a decent seat, be prepared to arrive 30 or more minutes in advance. If you desire a specific section, or are with a large group, arrive even earlier.

This ship has the best pool areas I’ve ever experienced on a ship. There are 4 separate pools (other than the children’s pools).: the sanctuary area, the rear of the ship, and two full-sized Pool-Deck pools and tanning areas These 4 pools are well separated so the activities of one pool don’t interfere with the activities of any other. Plus, these separate pools are surrounded by “sun” areas that provide a lot of tanning opportunities. While chair hogs existed on this ship as on any other, their affect was less noticeable because there were always chairs available, even in prime locations.

I discovered accidentally that the rear pool is heated. If you're on a cold-weather cruise, this pool might be quite nice to try.

The upper dance floor is located in the “bar” that runs the width of the ship above the rear pool area. Even if you never have any reason to go there, take the aft elevators up to the 19th floor and take in the view from there, it’s spectacular!

Disembarkation

This is our third Princess ship, and all 3 made disembarkation as frustrating as possible. We always take the walkoff disembarkation as we don’t like their people handling our luggage. As usual for Princess, they told us we were the first group, and to meet in the island dining room. We arrived about 20 minutes early to find the dining room full with very few seats left. We sat for the next 30 minutes as more and more people piled in clogging the aisles and walkways all the while some employee was yelling to people not to clog the walkways.

By the time they finally decided we could proceed off the ship, they called the first group but everyone in the room, regardless of group, immediately ran for the exit and jammed up there. It took 20 more minutes to work our way through this mess to simply walk off the ship.

Every other line’s disembarkation simply tells you their recommended time to leave, let's you walk off the ship when you're ready, and doesn’t force you to gather en masse. On those embarkations, there is never a wait, minimal lines, and no frustration.

**Note: Port Everglades appears to have learned how poorly they handled disembarkation in the past. This time, we walked off the ship, through some switchbacks straight to one of 4 customs officers. We were through the terminal within 5 minutes.

Thank You Port Everglades!!

Entertainment

Entertainment on this ship seemed similar to many other ships. There are stage productions, comedians, bands playing several venues, and late-night dancing in the upper-most dance floor.

There seemed to be less “enrichment” type of activities although they did do some minor crafting. On one of our previous Princess cruises they did educational activities like star-gazing on the upper-most deck. I saw nothing like that on this ship.

Trivia is very popular and highly competitive, but was once interrupted by a U.S. football game that literally no one was watching. Apparently someone in charge of scheduling events likes US football and didn’t care about the 200 – 300 people gathered for trivia. Too bad.

Princess’ Medallion

I believe Princess Cruises released their medallion concept too early. The new Medallion and it’s app still has too many flaws to be very useful. Most of these flaws relate to the associated app, but the medallion itself has one very large flaw…no easy attachment method.

The medallion is a disk about an inch in diameter and ¼ inch thick. There are no holes in it, it is solid. The only way to carry it is to use the provided, much larger lanyard, or buy a bracelet, pin or necklace to hold it. Unlike the lanyard that totally encases it, the item I bought, the bracelet, holds the disk magnetically around its edge. You can lightly push on the medallion and it moves within the bracelet. This magnetic attachment is too weak to grasp the medallion well enough to prevent losing it; a fact that I proved while swimming on a beach in Barbados. My first medallion is now under 12 feet of water somewhere on Carlisle beach. Luckily, local Barbados security is very lax and no one asked to see my ship identification at the port terminal. Otherwise I would never have made it back to the ship to get my medallion replaced.

The app has even more flaws:

I put great effort into being “Ocean Ready” before we left for the cruise, but the app refused to scan our passports. Instead of scanning, the app hung up and had to be restarted. I tried several times on multiple phones but never got it to work properly. The app told me we hadn't finished the "Ocean Ready" process, but didn't tell us what wasn't done. So, when we arrived at the terminal, an employee had to manually scan our passports; not considerably better than any other line’s check-in process.

The menu on the drink and food ordering tab appeared to be limited compared to what is actually available on the ship. I prefer to buy beer in “buckets” of 5 to save some money over individuals, but no buckets were offered on the app (or if they were, I couldn't find them). I only used that function once for a free drink they offered.

On my phone, the locator application never showed a map when it was showing me where someone or something was. Thus, I had a wonderful dotted line, but no way to know where to go! My phone is a fairly recent Samsung; not an uncommon device; there is no reason that the app should have this bug on such a modern phone.

When you request your account, the app opens a blank web page and starts downloading a PDF file of your account, but without telling you what it’s doing. I requested the account info 3 times before I discovered my phone was downloadingsomething. They really ought to show the account info from within the app, or at least have that blank web page tell you that you are downloading the information.

The events planner makes you scroll vertically to see all of the events on a given time frame, and makes you scroll horizontally to change time frames. The horizontal scroll is so “touchy” that I couldn’t get it to stop moving on my phone. Plus, you have no way to know if there are more events below what you can see, so you’re constantly scrolling up and down to simply confirm you’ve seen all of the choices. It’s much easier to simply get your events from the daily paper newsletter, the Princess Patter.

As a tool to speed ordering items while you’re at the bar or store, despite the ability to read the medallion remotely, the staff still requests your room number and name for each order; not much better than simply scanning a more typical seapass card.

The app is missing some very basic things that people *do* want, like daily menus at the dining venues, appropriate evening attire, or the drink of the day.

All of the negatives aside, the app provides one very useful function: it unlocks your cabin door for you. As you’re approaching your door, it will unlock it before you even arrive. You simply have to press the handle to open it.

Ultimately, the functions the medallion performs are still performed better by other, more traditional, means. Until they make the passenger's experience *better* using the medallion, there's no reason to bother with it.

Conclusion

I have illustrated many of the negatives of our cruise in this review, and probably not stated the positives well enough...and there are many positives! Consider that this cruise was the longest we’ve ever taken, and on some of our previous cruises, we were ready to leave those ships near the end of those cruises- we never felt that way on this cruise. Up to the moment we left the ship, we enjoyed ourselves and were sad to leave. This ship offers plenty of entertainment and relaxation with relatively few annoyances that can spoil a cruise. In all, I highly recommend this ship and would love to sail on her again some day.
n2tpa’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BE
Not much different form any other cruise cabin. Few drawers but big enough closet to compensate for it. This cabin has a particularly good location: under the overhang from the deck above. No weather or people able to look down onto the balcony. Plus, it's about 10 steps from the rear pool. There was never any noise from the restaurant above. The air conditioning doesn't work very well. It was always very hot while sleeping.
Riviera Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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    Once I was back, we walked the beachfront area and settled into a couple of drinks at Lucy's retired surfers bar. It was an enjoyable, relaxing place with a good view of the marina.
    We finished our day with a sunset sail on a schooner. The sail was quiet with great views of the area and the sunset, but was considerably shorter than advertised.
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  • Beach
    The first time I visited this island I found it be over-developed. It was almost like visiting Miami with a Caribbean accent. This time we skipped the ship's tours and simply grabbed a taxi to take us to Carlisle beach. That was great luck! We were dropped off at Harbour Lights bar and walked right onto the beach. We walked down past the pay chairs and simply sat on the sand while we sunned, swam and snorkeled. That provided me an appreciation for the beaches of Barbados; it was one of the best beaches I've ever visited.
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  • Island Tour
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    Maracas Beach is on the Atlantic side of the island. The current was so strong that I waded out up to my waist and had to struggle to get back to the dry land. My wife walked in water up to her calves and was pulled under the water by the undertow. That beach's current is literally dangerously strong and there were no lifeguards. The beach area is dirty and strewn with rocks; not a good place to swim or tan at all.
    While there I wanted to try the Bake & Shark for which they're known. I walked over to Richard's Bake & Shark on someone's recommendation and waited for nearly 10 minutes while the counter clerk talked with what appeared to a friend and utterly ignored me. I walked away in disgust and went to Abbi's Ice Cream and Bake & Shark instead. The young lady working there was very helpful and nice and showed me how the locals eat this dish. Given the choice, I recommend anyone looking for Bake & Shark go straight to Abbi's Ice Cream and Bake & Shark.
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  • St. Thomas
    We docked on the southern dock which is further from town that the other. Since we’d previously been to St. Thomas and found it be a dirty, expensive place, we only walked off the ship for 30 minutes or so to look at the dockside trinkets. We didn’t bother leaving the dock area.
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