MimiA

MimiA
Cruise Director

Hometown: Fombell, Pennsylvania
Joined: 10/13/2015
5
Cruises
4
Reviews
9
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About MimiA

Have a travel website www.getawaydreamscomtrue.com and love to cruise.


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Cruiseline: Star Clippers

Ship: Royal Clipper

MimiA's Past Cruises

Star Flyer

October 2017 - Star Flyer to Europe - Mediterranean

More Star Flyer

We had previously sailed with Star Clippers aboard the Royal Clipper in the Caribbean --one of our best cruises. We were intrigued by sailing the small clipper ship in the Adriatic, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas and chose this back-to-back cruise from Venice, allowing us to spend time seeing that port first, and disembarking in Malta, a port not found on a lot of itineraries due to its out of the way location south of Sicily. Ports for this cruise after sailing from Venice included Mali Losinj, Hvar, and Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Katakolon (for Olympia), Santorini, Mykonos, Athens (end of first leg), Monemvasia, and Pilos, Greece; Syracuse, Sicily, and disembarkation was in Valletta. We took two private tours during the day in Venice, having arrived the day prior, arriving for embarkation (which began at 4 pm) at the terminal at 4:45 pm and being exhausted already, having arrived via a water taxi with 2 suitcases of 50 lbs.+ each which we dropped off at a different point of the terminal (to be scanned and sent to our stateroom), 2 roll-on carry-ons, and two backpacks, we found quite a few fellow passengers were in line, so we had a fair wait to go through security before boarding which also was compounded by another ship embarking in the same terminal. Upon embarkation via gangway to the Tropical Bar, we were met by the Captain and Hotel Manager with an alcoholic beverage. We elected to complete check-in in the piano bar and take carry-ons to our cabin, then return for snacks being provided at 5-6 pm that night as well as every evening on deck at the Tropical Bar. Muster drill was at 6:30 and was very comprehensive (with life jacket on and detailed instructions), compared to most cruise lines' drills nowadays. Second muster drill was the following morning (without donning life jackets). Sail away party was at 7:30 on Sundeck (top) to views the sails being raised. Dinner was served by waiters most evenings 7:30-10 as previously mentioned, open seating style (come at any time and join others at a table). The "tall ship" Star Flyer was built in 1991, is 360 feet long, and can accommodate just 170 guests. She spends her summers in various parts of Europe and her winters in the Caribbean. Life aboard is blissfully relaxed, much like traveling on a private yacht. You’ll never feel confined on Star Flyer. The ship offers spacious accommodations and expansive teak decks with ample space and not one, but two swimming pools. In fact, you’ll find that the ship offers more outdoor space per passenger than most conventional cruise ships. The décor of Star Flyer and her sister Star Clipper is reminiscent of the grand age of sail. Antique prints and paintings of famous sailing ships please the eye, while teak and gleaming mahogany rails are richly reminiscent of Star Clippers’ proud nautical heritage. All Star Clippers ships feature open-seating dining in an elegantly appointed dining room where formal wear is never required (but country club casual in the evening is the norm), their convivial indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar and Piano Bar, and an Edwardian style library where a Belle Époque fireplace glows with a warmth that reflects the friendliness and enthusiasm of Star Clippers’ hospitable officers and crew. Most days of the cruise were spent in a charming port where one could explore on their own or participate in a ship-sponsored cruise which were limited for this small cruise line, and in some cases were canceled if not enough participants signed up. About half the ports allowed for evening exploration as well, as sail away could occur between 6 pm and midnight. Local entertainment similar to a barbershop quartet was brought on board in Dubrovnik, while most nights the entertainment was provided by the crew (or passengers in a fashion show or talent show) or a movie was shown. Most mornings we continued sailing awhile before arriving into a port and our first morning was no exception. Gymnastics class was available at 8 am (most mornings). Early Bird Breakfast (continental) is available 6:30-10:30 in the Piano Bar with coffee, tea and juices as well. Full buffet breakfast was usually from 8-10 with an egg station, fresh fruits, numerous bread options, and several hot offerings ranging from bacon and sausage & potatoes to crepes, french toast, pancakes, dry cereal, and oatmeal. Yogurt, juices, cold cuts, cheeses and a smoothie were also available daily. Lunch buffet was usually 12-2, but varied slightly depending upon arrival in port. There was always a daily meat at the carving station as well as hot meat options and various potatoes, vegetables, breads, fruits and desserts at all lunch buffets, each of which featured a specific theme. After reboarding our home for another 5 day cruise, we noticed many new faces, but continued our meal time gatherings with friends we made on the first leg of the cruise. Sail away was at 9:30 towards Monemvasia, Greece, arriving at noon the next day. This was a very unique small port with lots of history built on a hillside where there was a recently restored (exterior, with the interior restoration just beginning) Church of Agios Sophia at the top. No roads or vehicles are allowed in the small town, necessitating climbing to the top taking more than 1/2 hour where one traversed a very craggy uneven rock path, but the views were amazing, as was the church. Water sport activities were available for those staying on board. The second fashion show was presented following our sail towards Pilos at 6 pm. Our last port in Greece was Pilos where we anchored at 10 am, another port built on hills with a protected fort. There was a ship-sponsored excursion, but we elected to climb the hills of the town which afforded great views once again. On board options featured walk-a-mile and mast climbing with the sports team. We raised the anchor at 6 pm, sailing towards Syracuse, Sicily. Evening entertainment provided by the passengers was a game show with three teams competing. Our sea day in the Ionian Sea offered another opportunity to view the ship from tenders sailing and the usual events with the sports team plus another bridge visit option. Another talent show after the Captain's Dinner for the second 5-day sailing. Our last day arriving in Sicily at 10 am was bittersweet as usual. I spent an hour of the morning walking around town and later our excursion (one of two offered) took us to some of the same spots, but included others as well. Shuffle board, deck golf, and another engine room tour were available late afternoon prior to our final sail away at 6 pm. Evening movie shown was "Around Cape Horn" again. Thanks to Capt. Yuriy Slastenin and all the staff and crew for wonderful memories sailing the Dalmation Coast, Greece and the Ionian Sea. We arose early Sunday, October 21, so as to view the entrance into the port of Valletta, Malta and have a relaxing breakfast before disembarking at our leisure around 9:30. We then got a taxi to our hotel, followed by a day exploring Valletta.

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Star Flyer

October 2017 - Star Flyer to Europe

Beautiful Adriatic islands & the Dalmation Coast with a week in the Greek Isles

We had previously sailed with Star Clippers aboard the Royal Clipper in the Caribbean --one of our best cruises. We were intrigued by sailing the small clipper ship in the Adriatic, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas and chose this back-to-back cruise from Venice, allowing us to spend time seeing that port first, and disembarking in Malta, a port not found on a lot of itineraries due to its out of the way location south of Sicily. Ports for this cruise after sailing from Venice included Mali Losinj, Hvar, and Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Katakolon (for Olympia), Santorini, Mykonos, Athens (end of first leg), Monemvasia, and Pilos, Greece; Syracuse, Sicily, and disembarkation was in Valletta. We took two private tours during the day in Venice, having arrived the day prior, arriving for embarkation (which began at 4 pm) at the terminal at 4:45 pm and being exhausted already, having arrived via a water taxi with 2 suitcases of 50 lbs.+ each which we dropped off at a different point of the terminal (to be scanned and sent to our stateroom), 2 roll-on carry-ons, and two backpacks, we found quite a few fellow passengers were in line, so we had a fair wait to go through security before boarding which also was compounded by another ship embarking in the same terminal. Upon embarkation via gangway to the Tropical Bar, we were met by the Captain and Hotel Manager with an alcoholic beverage. We elected to complete check-in in the piano bar and take carry-ons to our cabin, then return for snacks being provided at 5-6 pm that night as well as every evening on deck at the Tropical Bar. Muster drill was at 6:30 and was very comprehensive (with life jacket on and detailed instructions), compared to most cruise lines' drills nowadays. Second muster drill was the following morning (without donning life jackets). Sail away party was at 7:30 on Sundeck (top) to views the sails being raised. Dinner was served by waiters most evenings 7:30-10 as previously mentioned, open seating style (come at any time and join others at a table). The "tall ship" Star Flyer was built in 1991, is 360 feet long, and can accommodate just 170 guests. She spends her summers in various parts of Europe and her winters in the Caribbean. Life aboard is blissfully relaxed, much like traveling on a private yacht. You’ll never feel confined on Star Flyer. The ship offers spacious accommodations and expansive teak decks with ample space and not one, but two swimming pools. In fact, you’ll find that the ship offers more outdoor space per passenger than most conventional cruise ships. The décor of Star Flyer and her sister Star Clipper is reminiscent of the grand age of sail. Antique prints and paintings of famous sailing ships please the eye, while teak and gleaming mahogany rails are richly reminiscent of Star Clippers’ proud nautical heritage. All Star Clippers ships feature open-seating dining in an elegantly appointed dining room where formal wear is never required (but country club casual in the evening is the norm), their convivial indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar and Piano Bar, and an Edwardian style library where a Belle Époque fireplace glows with a warmth that reflects the friendliness and enthusiasm of Star Clippers’ hospitable officers and crew. I enjoyed climbing the Crow's Nest and had I been inclined, I could have manned the winches and raised or lowered sails. The bridge is open more than 95% of the time and passengers are encouraged to learn about sailing on this vessel. All crew (72 staff) "wear several hats", assisting in multiple tasks when needed, especially on embarkation & disembarkation day. Service in the dining room was erratic, depending on the number of patrons already there upon our arrival; we also felt that total number of waiters was insufficient, given the number of tables. We were privileged to "watch" provisions be lowered through several decks in an opening starting on the main deck not much larger than 10 feet X 10 feet, if that, (while eating lunch in the dining room) to the storage bulkheads in the lowest level of the ship during one such embarkation day mid-cruise. We wish to alert you that this type of cruise is not for everyone as it has no casino, entertainment is limited, and activities on board are minimal, but the benefits of feeling like you are a part of the sailing, and not one of thousands of people, and the staff and passengers you meet, endears it to your heart forever. Most days of the cruise were spent in a charming port where one could explore on their own or participate in a ship-sponsored cruise which were limited for this small cruise line, and in some cases were canceled if not enough participants signed up. About half the ports allowed for evening exploration as well, as sail away could occur between 6 pm and midnight. Local entertainment similar to a barbershop quartet was brought on board in Dubrovnik, while most nights the entertainment was provided by the crew (or passengers in a fashion show or talent show) or a movie was shown. Most mornings we continued sailing awhile before arriving into a port and our first morning was no exception. Gymnastics class was available at 8 am (most mornings). Early Bird Breakfast (continental) is available 6:30-10:30 in the Piano Bar with coffee, tea and juices as well. Full buffet breakfast was usually from 8-10 with an egg station, fresh fruits, numerous bread options, and several hot offerings ranging from bacon and sausage & potatoes to crepes, french toast, pancakes, dry cereal, and oatmeal. Yogurt, juices, cold cuts, cheeses and a smoothie were also available daily. Lunch buffet was usually 12-2, but varied slightly depending upon arrival in port. There was always a daily meat at the carving station as well as hot meat options and various potatoes, vegetables, breads, fruits and desserts at all lunch buffets, each of which featured a specific theme. We visited the small Croatian port of Mali Losinj on our first stop (Sunday) and there was not a lot to do, but it was an enjoyable relaxation port. If one stayed aboard in port, the Sports Team had offerings of Shuffle Board and deck golf most days. This night there was a cocktail demo and the passenger/Sports Team fashion show. Dancing on deck in the Tropical Bar was always available at 11 pm or so with music by the keyboardist who also played on deck during evening snacks (5-6 pm) and other times. There is a small Sloop Shop selling a variety of logo items (some of which were modeled in the fashion show). There is no gymnastics equipment, but the sports team did off activities daily. The ship then stopped in Hvar, Croatia where we arrived at 11:30 am and sailed at 6 pm. There were quite a few optional excursions in this port. Evening entertainment was a Dance Night on deck. The next morning, our next "sea stop" was for two hours allowing those who were inclined to swim from the ship via gangway from 9-11:30; other optional equipment included floaties, kayaks and paddle-boards. Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm brought our return to Dubrovnik, Croatia, one of my favorite culturally enriched and quaint ancient ports, and several excursions were offered by the ship as well. Water sports activities from the gangway were available late afternoon for those on board. The evening entertainment after dinner was provided by a local folklore group similar to a barbershop quartet, followed by sail away at 11:45 pm. We had been informed by the Captain the previous night that we would be entering the Bay of Kotor before daybreak, and arose to view the calm waters and tall mountains of the Dalmatian Coast forming fjords as we sailed towards Kotor and arrived at 7 am. We participated in a short excursion (the other biking option was canceled due to lack of participants), with no free time and definitely not enough time in Montenegro. We sailed at noon with a deck lunch which afforded us a chance to view the beautiful scenery and the afternoon was spent sailing towards our next port of Corfu, not reached until the following afternoon. Available activities after exiting the Bay of Kotor included mast climbing, knot tying and deck golf. After dinner, a virtual tour on the operations of the hotel department was available. Our arrival in Corfu, Greece, was at 2:30 pm and several ship excursions were offered. Sail away for the next Greek port of Katakolon was 8 pm. Friday morning offered mast climbing as our arrival at this port was not until 2 pm; most passengers took the tour to Olympia, a definite highlight for this port. We, however, enjoyed shopping through several small blocks on the main street, one block off the shore and relaxing, as we had visited Olympia previously. We did not sail until 10 pm, allowing passengers to watch two other ships in port sail away ahead of us, and a movie was featured after Star Flyer sailed onward towards Santorini, but first a sea day in the Mediterranean Sea and Sea of Crete, and a chance to view the Star Flyer from tenders with sails raised. Days at sea are usually very relaxing, and like the large cruise lines, the chair hogs have "reserved" their lounger for the day by 9 am. Gymnastics at 8, followed by a sea stop to view the ship sailing as we followed in tenders. Upon reboarding, mast climbing, a treasure hunt, a "tour" of the wheelhouse/bridge, deck golf, shuffleboard, walk-a-mile fitness, knot tying class, water gym, and creating towel animals were options to keep one busy if not occupying a lounger all day. Captain's dinner was this evening; however, he was kept busy determining whether Star Flyer would actually sail into Santorini, due to extreme winds and rough seas to traverse during the night. Once the ship passed into naturally sheltered waters around Santorini, the swells diminished and it was determined we would be able to tender ashore to this beautiful Greek island. The excursion to Akrotiri Archaeological site began once we anchored before noon for most passengers. We had visited that site previously and decided to see a few sites in Fira not explored on past cruises, including the Archaeological Museum, where some of the larger pieces from Akrotiri are housed. We also enjoyed a leisurely lunch of locally caught and superbly prepared calimari while I caught up with my wi-fi work. While back on board, sunset occurred behind Nea Kameni, the island in the middle of the caldera, just prior to our sail away for Mykonos at 7:30. I had signed up for the volcano hiking scheduled there, but I was disappointed as not enough participants forced a cancellation. After another rocky night sailing, we anchored off Mykonos at 10 am. Tender rides were rough and a bit wet. This was to be another port to explore on our own as we had visited once before and there were no ship sponsored excursions. We climbed up hills to a vantage point for many beautiful photos and then walked down to the 5 windmills and Little Venice which we had not explored during our previous visit. Walking kept us in shape and we spent some leisure time at a local bar in Little Venice. Our return tender trip was even more of a sea christening with a lot of bobbing/rocking/dousing with water. Sail away was at 5 pm, after which options included an engine room visit and napkin folding demo. Movie at night was "Around Cape Horn". October 17 brought the end of the first leg of our back-to-back cruise, with many disembarking in Piraeus, the port for Athens. Since we had seen most sites in Athens on previous visits, we had booked online an independent tour to visit Cape Sounion, home of the Temple of Poseiden located at the tip of the Pelopennese peninsula with fabulous views, for the afternoon after exploring the port during the morning. There were a number of ships in port and a shopping mall there.

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Star Pride

November 2016 - Star Pride to Caribbean

First Windstar Star Pride a Success

My husband picked this cruise called the Best of the ABC Islands as his retirement cruise; we liked the itinerary as it was to return to some of our favorite ports in the Grenadines and the ABC islands. Only two ports would be new to us - Tobago and Bonaire. We are avid snorkelers and all the ports featured snorkeling excursions except St. Lucia; we did snorkeling excursions in all but two of them: St. Lucia and Mayreau which did offer an excursion to three locations, but we elected to snorkel at the end of the beach there (there was a day-long beach BBQ event included). We sailed November 16, 2016, from Barbados, spent Thanksgiving in Curacao, and disembarked Black Friday in Aruba. A busy and eventful 9 days it was, but it was also a restful vacation!

 

Embarkation for us was very simple as we had arrived 2-1/2 hours after it began due to the scheduling of our flights. There were only 139 guests out of 212 full capacity, so we missed lunch and the Shore Excursions Mgr. Gonzalo was about to give his presentation shortly after checking in, followed by the safety drill.

 

We had done research about all aspects (including Cruise Critic reviews and YouTube videos) of the Star Pride. We found public rooms were well maintained and included two lounges, two bars, a complete spa and gym, counter-current swimming pool, two hot tubs (one near pool & one at bow on deck 5), the Yacht Club (for views, books, early morning continental breakfast or lunch sandwiches), library next to casino, and Signature Shop. Specialty coffee is complimentary at any venue. See Cabin review below for details of our stateroom. The ship also has a Sports Marina aft with non-motorized equipment for use when anchored. Snorkeling equipment is available complimentary for the entire cruise as well. Two tenders are also stored in this area.

 

The main dining room AmphorA restaurant was open seating from 7-9 p.m. daily for dinner only. You can ask for whatever size table you desired and change the option nightly. Verandah which was aft on pool deck was used for Breakfast (7-9:30 am) and Lunch buffet daily (usually 12:30-2). There was indoor seating, but most guests ate on deck. There were always 4-5 options for special orders or you could help yourself - I never found any type of food to be lacking, though the hot lunch buffet variety was not there. Many ate fresh fruits and salads, and there were always several desserts of the cake/pastry variety and two frozen options (ice cream and sorbet) with toppings of all kinds available. Verandah is transformed into Candles at night for an upscale (think Specialty dining) experience out on deck which all guests are complimented once during the sailing; however, reservations are required due to limited space (book at embarkation). Service was always excellent at all dining venues.

 

Activities - There were several events that were part of the planned activities which included a deck BBQ dinner in Grenada with local entertainment by the Angel Harps Orchestra Steel Drum Band after line dancing with Staff and Crew for a half-hour prior to sailing.

 

Another event was the Beach BBQ lunch on Mayreau, Grenadines (smallest inhabited Grenadine island). This was placed midway through the itinerary and made for a relaxing day after several busy port days. We, however, decided to explore the steep hillside to get views of the surrounding islands (definitely worthwhile). There was another town, Saltwhistle Bay which we had visited on a previous stop, on the other side which some of the guests explored as well.

A surprise came at our last port when after a full day in Curacao on Thanksgiving following our "Turkey dinner", we found that Willemstad had decorated for the holidays all day, and during our 9 pm sail away, the town was lit beautifully for our enjoyment. On the sea day, there were several tours and demonstrations one could attend such as towel animal folding demonstration, cooking demonstration with Chef Stany, galley tour with chocolate covered strawberries, cocktail demonstration, photography seminar, engine room tour, and an innovative Putt Putt Golf Tournament. A movie and Card, Wii, & Board games were also available. There is a small casino with a few one-arm bandits, and a blackjack table. Five of the nights in port, we sailed after 6 p.m. (between 8 and midnight) and arrived no later than 8 a.m., allowing ample time in port.

 

Entertainment - There were two duos, D'Harmony from South Africa and Mistura Fina from Argentina playing every night at the two venues of the Star Bar and Compass Rose. They also were featured during other events such as the Captain's party. There was also a Crew talent show at the end of the cruise, in addition to the local Steel Drum Band mentioned above.

Staff/Crew/Service - With such a small ship with few guests, it was very easy to get to know everyone. The crew learns your name within 24 hours and there is great comraderie among everyone. Some of the guest services staff, the photographer and occasionally an officer participated on shore excursions. The Captain, Alan MacAry of Scotland, was very approachable and we had several conversations with him and he posed for us (not in the formal dress whites) as well, even while on the bridge when tendering at small ports. There is a deck area in front of the bridge and guests did participate in viewing and photographing arrivals and departures from ports while simultaneously seeing what the Capt. and officers were viewing. The exception sometimes occurred when the port required docking. He also frequented the Star Bar for the entertainment in the evening with his Chief Engineer.

 

Ports

Pigeon Island, St. Lucia (anchored) - We had visited this island several times, but this time, we anchored at Pigeon Island where local water sports is in full view including parasailing and snubing (half snorkeling/half diving); on the way to the Rainforest Hike and River Pool excursion, we passed through Castries, the capital. Our only disappointment with the entire cruise was this excursion as we had taken another rain forest excursion 15 years ago and could compare them. This one was rated moderate to difficult, but the accompanying photos did not indicate the steepness of the hills, both up and down, nor the occasional steps being steep and with rotten wood. This was the end of the rainy season, and there had been quite a bit of rainfall, adding muddy conditions to the mix. We literally spent 90%+ of our time looking at our feet and determining where to step and therefore did not enjoy the tour. The guide was exceptional in helping everyone, but no-one could enjoy looking around at much, as there was little level ground (even when stopping to look). Our excursions manager did secure a partial refund for us.

Bequia (anchored) - Although we had visited less than two years ago along with Grenada and other Grenadine islands, we only had 4 hours then and really only walked through the town in 2015. We elected to snorkel and made two stops (our ship's photographer and a guest relations staff member was along as well). The tour also involved boating around the island a bit. We spent the afternoon exploring more of the town and some stayed ashore until late as sailing was at midnight.

 

St. George's, Grenada (docked) - We opted for the Shadowfax Sail & Snorkel as we had done this on our last visit, but due to the wind then, were not able to snorkel where the excursion is scheduled to - at the Underwater Sculpture Garden. The tour is with a large 60 ft., well-maintained catamaran and stops at Hog Island (think Robinson Crusoe) past Point Salines along the Atlantic side of Grenada for our lobster full lunch prepared by locals which was as good as the first time we did this excursion.

 

Charlotteville, Tobago (anchored) - Small quaint town. Our excursion Angel Reef/Glass Bottom Boat and snorkel, took us over the mountains to the northeastern town of Speyside to a private resort to board the boat. Angel Reef is very shallow, but I felt we moved too fast to be able to see what was passing below us. The snorkel was across the bay and was excellent.

Saline Bay, Mayreau (anchored) - Island Event. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, we explored the hillside town of 300 and snorkeled at the end of the beach later. There were two optional tours, one with three snorkeling stops.

 

Kralendijk, Bonaire (docked) - Our intention of snorkeling here (as it is ranked in the top ten of the Caribbean for diving and snorkeling) meant that we did two excursions, one private and one through the ship). We booked a morning, private tour online through Blue Bay Sailing. The owners are a couple transplanted from the Netherlands and they have a beautiful sailing boat with a lovely platform at aft to facilitate snorkeling. We sailed across the bay to "Little" Klein Bonaire - well-known in those parts for excellent snorkeling and diving. I then did a little shopping in town after lunch and we then took the mid-afternoon ship excursion Samur Sail, Beach, & Snorkel on a Siamese Sailing Junk. It also went to a different location around Klein Bonaire, where after anchoring, all guests transferred to a zodiac (which took two trips) to the beach. Then snorkelers walked the beach to Ebo's Reef, where we drifted with the current back to the zodiac at the beach. The scenery was quite different from the morning's snorkel but could see the wall for diving.

 

Willemsted, Curacao (docked in the industrial port area) - I took a UNESCO World City Heritage Walk as in the previous visits, I hadn't had the opportunity, conducted by a transplanted Dutch lady from the Netherlands -- included was walking across the Queen Emma pontoon bridge, the governmental buildings area, Punda, the Maritime Museum, and the floating market where Venezuelans sell their fruits and vegetables and fishermen sell today's catch. As noted above, we were treated to a most lovely holiday lights display as we sailed for Aruba. Later, I finally had the opportunity to visit the gymnasium as it is opened 24 hours.

Disembarkation - Quick and easy - We had completed customs forms several days prior which enabled Windstar to complete customs for all guests, so we merely retrieved our luggage and went on our way. Many passengers had made arrangements to spend at least one night in Oranjestad, so there was a line of taxis available to transport everyone to their location. We stayed one night at the Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort, but also visited the Renaissance Resort's private Renaissance Island which has flamingos, iguanas and other wildlife at several different beaches, and snorkeling which I enjoyed. In the evening, I walked to the Divi beach to watch Star Pride sail on her next cruise, the same as ours in reverse.

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Carnival Pride

September 2015 - Carnival Pride to Caribbean - Bahamas

Mostly good cruise

Our party consisted of our son and new wife for their honeymoon, along with my husband and myself who are cruisers (23 for me and 18 for DH); it was our son's third cruise and his wife's second (first on Carnival for both of them). Cabin was Balcony 8215 located below the Lido Deck, One could hear rolling carts across the floor in the Mermaid's Grille above us from time to time since parts of it are open 24 hrs. and continental breakfast was available at 6 am.  I had made purchases online prior to embarkation for the newlyweds and a case of bottled water. All items were in the cabin upon arrival or delivered at the specified time. The previous cruise was late arriving back to Baltimore and our original time frame to arrive requested by Carnival via email was 1-2 pm but it was changed to 2-3 pm. We had a 5+ hour drive from north of Pittsburgh to the port of Baltimore and arrived in the parking area around 1:30. Lot employees and porters operate very proficiently at this port which we had sailed from previously on Royal Caribbean. Apparently, all embarkation was delayed significantly as we had a 45 minute wait in line to check in, with only Diamond/Platinum level enjoying a short line or FTTF passengers who had a separate check-in point. There were about 28 agents checking people in.  We were able to go directly to our cabin upon arrival which was great since we had brought soda and wine that is allowed to be brought on and we all had multiple carry-on items. We had received all but one piece of luggage within 30 minutes. We then went to the Mermaid's Grille for lunch and the final bag had arrived when we returned.  After sailaway, we enjoyed time out on deck viewing the sunset and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge prior to dinner. We were assigned a table for four at the late sitting in the MDR. Our waiter's name was Nevlin and stateroom steward was Sutopo. They looked after us very well and were excellent.  The ship itself is laid out well with few bottlenecks except at the Mermaid's Grille. Many public rooms are underused. The Ivory Piano Bar is gorgeous but was not used much. The refurbished Lido Deck is definitely a popular spot with several bars and eateries, along with the movie screen, being fully utilized.  Our son booked dinner in David's Steakhouse ($35pp charge specialty restaurant) on the second at sea night. It is worth the fee and also, you need to allow additional time for additional courses. Everyone there gave excellent service and the food was superb. They even made a special dessert treat for the honeymooners with a candle to blow out.  Excursions - We had booked two excursions through Carnival prior to sailing - Kennedy Space Center (KSC) self-guided tour in Port Canaveral and the Scenic Underwater Bubble (SUB) in Nassau and our tickets arrived for these embarkation day. We left for the KSC tour around 8 am and the bus for the return to the ship left the Visitor's Complex at 3:30 pm. Our DIL has mobility issues with her knees and cannot stand or walk far at one time (this became very evident while waiting in the embarkation line) so I made arrangements to rent a wheelchair from Carnival as I knew the KSC was a large facility and would involve lots of walking. KSC provided buses from the Visitor's complex to the launch pad area, so employees requested special handicap lift buses for our DIL. Unfortunately, this necessitated additional wait times. 7-8 hours is minimal time to see the complex, but it is worth seeing; I recommend seeing it over two full days and not as an excursion from a cruise. Disney in Orlando was even further away from the port and the only other thing to do there is go to a beach.  Our other excursion which only my husband and I took (we are avid snorkelers) was the SUB. The weather was liquid sunshine and since we were going underwater, that was OK, except all our stuff including towels got soaked in a driving rain while taking the "speedboat" out to the snorkel boat. Once on board, we were divided into two groups: one to go on the SUBs and the other to snorkel. Then the two groups switched, although not many wanted to snorkel after doing the SUB. Several people in the first group declined to go in the water or came out immediately after getting in the SUB - unsure of the reasons. I was the last in the first group and the steering on my equipment was not functioning so I would continue to spin in a circle. Then one of the crew guided me around following the leader and the others. Both my husband and I were VERY PLEASED with the overall excursion and can't wait to do it again. A buoy attached to the SUB keeps everyone exactly 15 feet below the surface and your head remains dry.  Our last port excursion at Freeport, Bahamas, offered a pleasant surprise. Our son had never snorkeled and is not a very good swimmer, but he wanted to try, so we booked an independent excursion through Viator to snorkel from the beach at Paradise Cove (Deadman's Reef). While my DH was helping our son learn how to use the equipment along with employees at the beach, I started swimming out to the reef. For a non-swimmer, it is a great distance and the equipment for flotation was not a vest, but a belt; our son did get to see a couple of small fish swimming close to the shore while standing on sand. It was low tide when we arrived and I had never snorkeled so close to the coral and fish as my underwater photos can attest to. I saw several turtles and a spotted ray probably 4-ft. in span with an even longer tail/barb, along with the usual assortment of fish and coral. For me, this was my best snorkeling adventure ever, due to the proximity to everything.  Entertainment - For late diners, options for entertainment were minimal; we do not frequent comedians which seems to be a typical Carnival show. The 80s show was not good in our opinion. We also are not bingo players or interested in hairy chest contests, etc., so activities we enjoy were not plentiful.  The Serenity Deck is too small for the number of people wanting to use it and when we ventured there, there were really no chairs available (some chair hogs, but not a lot). Also the hot tub could not handle more than 7 people. There were 15-20 children on board to attend the camps/clubs.  There was a medevac on our last sea day which put us behind in time to arrive in Baltimore. I never made it to the gym, but did enjoy a massage at a reduced price on the last sea day and I had purchased an OBC prior to sailing for our DIL to get a massage also - she enjoyed hers as well; however, we started to experience rocky seas and the spa is located forward on deck 9 (Lido). She experienced seasickness and did not go to dinner.  Our arrival time was pushed back until 11 am into the port (I am sure the succeeding cruise experience at least a two hour delay with embarkation as well). We asked for wheelchair assistance for our DIL for debarkation, but were waiting until after 12:45 pm before being escorted off based on the location of cabin by deck - I found this to be a very unsatisfying way to disembark. Handicap assistance followed platinum/diamond pax, then FTTF, self-assist people, who took an hour total. Driving away from the port was very easy and we were on the road before 1:30 pm.  Would I sail on the Pride again? - Probably if a different itinerary. Would I sail from Baltimore again - absolutely!   

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Celebrity Summit

April 2014 - Celebrity Summit to Caribbean - Southern

Grandeur of the Seas

November 2013 - Grandeur of the Seas to Bermuda

Crown Princess

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Ruby Princess

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Celebrity Equinox

July 2010 - Celebrity Equinox to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

Royal Princess (RETIRED) 181

January 2010 - Royal Princess (RETIRED) 181 to South America

Horizon (RETIRED) 327

November 2003 - Horizon (RETIRED) 327 to Panama Canal, Central America

Sea Princess

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Celebrity Meridian

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Norwegian Star

March 1912 - Norwegian Star to Caribbean - Western

MimiA's Tips

Star Flyer Star Flyer - Very relaxing and slow paced as desired
Star Pride Star Pride - Soda in mini-bar complimentary; also specialty coffee in all venues
Carnival Pride Carnival Pride - Several photo packages available; serenity deck too small; hot tub too small

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