redbeardhoosier

redbeardhoosier

Cruise Director
Avon, IN
Joined 06/2019

10

Cruises

6

Reviews

12

Helpful Votes

Consultant, project manager, engineer, general nerd. Travel for work and for play. I cruise to disconnect. My wife and I are in our early 40s, we have two tween-age girls (currently ages 12 and 10). We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC, and always with more booked. We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences.

Upcoming Cruises

Past Cruises

Norwegian Dawn

February 2019 - 10 Night Southern Caribbean (San Juan Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Dawn

Southern Caribbean Suite Life

This cruise was our first experience with a departure port outside of the mainland US. The flight to Puerto Rico isn't bad, and we enjoyed an extra day before and after the cruise. We originally booked a family mini-suite with balcony, with the full gamut of Free at Sea promotions (beverage package, specialty dining package, internet, 3rd and 4th guests sail free, shore excursion credits). We bid on an upgrade for a 2-bedroom family suite with balcony. Our bid was accepted, and we were given the Jade penthouse suite, stateroom 11020. I generally enjoy smaller ships, and this cruise exemplified why: passengers get to know each other more easily, cruise staff get to know the passengers better, and activities onboard tend to have more intimacy. I must say, I now understand the appeal of the suite life, and of longer cruises - though we found this one to be slightly more port-intensive than our liking. Almost all the ports were fantastic, though, and we greatly enjoyed getting to see some of the islands that are not typically within range of a Caribbean cruise departing from the mainland US. Overall, we loved the experience so much that we booked the same suite on an even longer cruise (13 nights) on the Norwegian Jade in 2021. Background: My wife and I are in my early 40s, we have two tween-age girls (11 and 10 at the time of this cruise; currently ages 12 and 10). This cruise was our fifth overall, and second with Norwegian. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences.

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MSC Seaside

November 2018 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean & Bahamas (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on MSC Seaside

A Cruise of a Thousand Papercuts

While any day on a cruise is better than a day not on a cruise, in the end, this cruise is not one that we would likely repeat. Did we have a bad cruise? Definitely not! We (at least, I) had an enjoyable cruise. As with most things, you get what you pay for. This cruise was cheaper than most, and in the end delivered accordingly. This cruise provided an absolutely gorgeous ship, a wonderful connection to the sea, good food, and relaxation - all at a budget price. However, due to a metaphorical thousand paper cuts - the poor stateroom service, lack of usable stateroom storage, odd theater shows, unappealing children's programming, inefficient port-call timing, overly complex drink package, and similar frustrations - our future cruise money will likely be better-spent elsewhere. Background My wife and I are in my early 40s, we have two tween-age girls (currently ages 12 and 10). This cruise was our fourth overall, and first with MSC. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences. For this cruise, we traveled with my parents, as a celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary. We booked staterooms 15173 and 15163, which were (non-adjoining) category B2 Fantastica balcony staterooms, with the Fantastica experience and kids sail free, mealtime restaurant drink package, and 2GB free internet promotions.

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Disney Fantasy

April 2018 - 7 Night Western Caribbean (Port Canaveral Roundtrip) Cruise on Disney Fantasy

A Western Caribbean Fantasy

We always wondered if the "Disney difference" in cruising was true - and we found out, emphatically, that it is. What a wonderful cruise experience, from beginning to end. In cruising, you get what you pay for, and Disney is worth every penny. While not every cruise will be with Disney, I can see us regularly cruising Disney - with our daughters, one day with our grandchildren, and even just the two of us. Background. My wife and I are in our early 40s, we have two tween-age girls, aged 11 and 9 at the time of sailing (currently ages 12 and 10). This cruise was our fourth overall, and first with Disney Cruise Line. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences. For this cruise, we traveled with my parents, who are experienced cruisers but who had also never cruised with Disney. We booked (adjoining) staterooms 6104 and 6106, both a category 04D Deluxe Family Ocean View with Verandah, with no included promotions.

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Norwegian Getaway

January 2018 - 7 Night Western Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Getaway

A Midwinter Getaway on the Getaway

We made a somewhat last-minute decision to book a cruise after the holidays, to "make up" for our Irma-interrrupted cruise the previous September. We originally thought about a New Year's cruise, but Norwegian's 3rd/4th guest Free at Sea promotion was only available for the first week in January. We picked this itinerary because the ports of call were different from the Disney cruise we had booked for the following May, and we picked the ship because it was a newer ship and also a larger ship. As I suspected, I found that I am much happier on smaller ships with fewer passengers. Due to the timing, this cruise still had quite a few college-age and twenty-something partiers. The lido deck was always active. That really didn't bother me much, because I don't tend to spend much time on the lido. However, the bars were also always packed in the evening. All that said, I enjoyed the cruise and the ship. The biggest problem for us was that our youngest daughter got very sick early in the cruise - the sequestered-in-the-stateroom kind of sick. So, I spent most of my time the first four days running to buffet and restaurants getting food for sick child and attendant wife, and trying to keep oldest daughter company. We really didn't get to relax until the last three days of the cruise. None of that is the fault of the cruise, and in fact, the service we experienced from our stateroom steward and dining room staff was top-notch. They really did their best to help make our cruise the best experience it could be under the circumstances. Background My wife and I are in my early 40s, we have two tween-age girls (ages 10 and 9 at the time of sailing, currently 12 and 10). This cruise was our second overall, and first with Norwegian Cruise Line. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences. We booked stateroom 12182, a category M2 family mini-suite with balcony, with promotional free-at-sea Ultimate Beverage Package and 3rd/4th guests sail free.

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Enchantment of the Seas

September 2017 - 4 Night Bahamas (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Enchantment of the Seas

An Irma-Interrupted Anniversary

Irma spoiled our itinerary but not our anniversary

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Norwegian Dawn

Norwegian Dawn

Sail Date: February 07, 2019

Southern Caribbean Suite Life

This cruise was our first experience with a departure port outside of the mainland US. The flight to Puerto Rico isn't bad, and we enjoyed an extra day before and after the cruise. We originally booked a family mini-suite with balcony, with the full gamut of Free at Sea promotions (beverage package, specialty dining package, internet, 3rd and 4th guests sail free, shore excursion credits). We bid on an upgrade for a 2-bedroom family suite with balcony. Our bid was accepted, and we were given the Jade penthouse suite, stateroom 11020. I generally enjoy smaller ships, and this cruise exemplified why: passengers get to know each other more easily, cruise staff get to know the passengers better, and activities onboard tend to have more intimacy. I must say, I now understand the appeal of the suite life, and of longer cruises - though we found this one to be slightly more port-intensive than our liking. Almost all the ports were fantastic, though, and we greatly enjoyed getting to see some of the islands that are not typically within range of a Caribbean cruise departing from the mainland US. Overall, we loved the experience so much that we booked the same suite on an even longer cruise (13 nights) on the Norwegian Jade in 2021. Background: My wife and I are in my early 40s, we have two tween-age girls (11 and 10 at the time of this cruise; currently ages 12 and 10). This cruise was our fifth overall, and second with Norwegian. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences.

Read Full Review

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Sail Date: April 28, 2018

A Western Caribbean Fantasy

We always wondered if the "Disney difference" in cruising was true - and we found out, emphatically, that it is. What a wonderful cruise experience, from beginning to end. In cruising, you get what you pay for, and Disney is worth every penny. While not every cruise will be with Disney, I can see us regularly cruising Disney - with our daughters, one day with our grandchildren, and even just the two of us. Background. My wife and I are in our early 40s, we have two tween-age girls, aged 11 and 9 at the time of sailing (currently ages 12 and 10). This cruise was our fourth overall, and first with Disney Cruise Line. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences. For this cruise, we traveled with my parents, who are experienced cruisers but who had also never cruised with Disney. We booked (adjoining) staterooms 6104 and 6106, both a category 04D Deluxe Family Ocean View with Verandah, with no included promotions.

Read Full Review

MSC Seaside

MSC Seaside

Sail Date: November 24, 2018

A Cruise of a Thousand Papercuts

While any day on a cruise is better than a day not on a cruise, in the end, this cruise is not one that we would likely repeat. Did we have a bad cruise? Definitely not! We (at least, I) had an enjoyable cruise. As with most things, you get what you pay for. This cruise was cheaper than most, and in the end delivered accordingly. This cruise provided an absolutely gorgeous ship, a wonderful connection to the sea, good food, and relaxation - all at a budget price. However, due to a metaphorical thousand paper cuts - the poor stateroom service, lack of usable stateroom storage, odd theater shows, unappealing children's programming, inefficient port-call timing, overly complex drink package, and similar frustrations - our future cruise money will likely be better-spent elsewhere. Background My wife and I are in my early 40s, we have two tween-age girls (currently ages 12 and 10). This cruise was our fourth overall, and first with MSC. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences. For this cruise, we traveled with my parents, as a celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary. We booked staterooms 15173 and 15163, which were (non-adjoining) category B2 Fantastica balcony staterooms, with the Fantastica experience and kids sail free, mealtime restaurant drink package, and 2GB free internet promotions.

Read Full Review

Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Getaway

Sail Date: January 07, 2018

A Midwinter Getaway on the Getaway

We made a somewhat last-minute decision to book a cruise after the holidays, to "make up" for our Irma-interrrupted cruise the previous September. We originally thought about a New Year's cruise, but Norwegian's 3rd/4th guest Free at Sea promotion was only available for the first week in January. We picked this itinerary because the ports of call were different from the Disney cruise we had booked for the following May, and we picked the ship because it was a newer ship and also a larger ship. As I suspected, I found that I am much happier on smaller ships with fewer passengers. Due to the timing, this cruise still had quite a few college-age and twenty-something partiers. The lido deck was always active. That really didn't bother me much, because I don't tend to spend much time on the lido. However, the bars were also always packed in the evening. All that said, I enjoyed the cruise and the ship. The biggest problem for us was that our youngest daughter got very sick early in the cruise - the sequestered-in-the-stateroom kind of sick. So, I spent most of my time the first four days running to buffet and restaurants getting food for sick child and attendant wife, and trying to keep oldest daughter company. We really didn't get to relax until the last three days of the cruise. None of that is the fault of the cruise, and in fact, the service we experienced from our stateroom steward and dining room staff was top-notch. They really did their best to help make our cruise the best experience it could be under the circumstances. Background My wife and I are in my early 40s, we have two tween-age girls (ages 10 and 9 at the time of sailing, currently 12 and 10). This cruise was our second overall, and first with Norwegian Cruise Line. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences. We booked stateroom 12182, a category M2 family mini-suite with balcony, with promotional free-at-sea Ultimate Beverage Package and 3rd/4th guests sail free.

Read Full Review

Cruise Tips

San Juan, Puerto Rico

The sail into port is stunning in San Juan, and we enjoyed watching the dolphins next to the ship in port. Otherwise, San Juan was a complete waste, arriving just in time to go to dinner and our show, and staying only until midnight. An evening port call may be great for those wishing to visit San Juan's nightlife, but it was completely pointless for parents traveling with children.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

This may now be my favorite port in the Caribbean. We had a full day here, which meant that we could get off the ship early, enjoy the port before it became overly crowded, and then enjoy a quiet day on the ship. The port-side views from our stateroom balcony were amazing.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

We had only a half day here, with an early-afternoon all-aboard time. We also shared the port with six other cruise ships, so the port was crowded and the views obstructed. That said, the cruise port area was really nice.

Nassau, Bahamas

Once again, we had only a half day here, arriving around lunch time. Since we have been to Nassau before, and did not have a great experience - and also because we shared the port with four other ships - we had no particular desire to go into the port. Most of the passengers decided otherwise, though; so we enjoyed a quiet afternoon on a mostly empty ship.

Miami, Florida

We love Miami as a departure port. One of the best sailaway views anywhere.

MSC Seaside

MSC Seaside

The jungle pool was generally empty for after-dinner evening swims, and even during a sea day, there were only about a dozen people using the pool. It was a great place to take the girls for swimming. As a side benefit, the jungle pool bar was possibly the best bar on the entire ship. The drinks were always fast, well-made, and often strong. If you find other bars to be too busy/crowded, it is worth the walk to the jungle pool bar.

Castries, St. Lucia

Lovely island with warm, welcoming people overflowing with joy for their independence and pride for their country. The flag can be seen flying everywhere. The view of the mist-enveloped Pitons sailing into port is iconic. We booked the Castries Trolley Train, which was fun and educational. (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

Basseterre, St. Kitts

What a great day! We have Toussiant's Taxi Tours largely to thank: a private tour of the island highlights, time at the UNESCO Brimstone Hill Fortress site, and an amazing beach break. History, architecture, and a wonderful beach break at South Friar's beach, less crowded than, and not the party/tourist atmosphere of, Cockleshell beach, and even more beautiful. (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

The bay at Charlotte Amalie might be one of the most beautiful sights in all of the Caribbean: the water, the houses dotting the hills, and the yachts and pleasure craft floating in azure waters. We have yet to book an excursion here, but we love the view. (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

Bridgetown, Barbados

Beautiful beaches. When one thinks of the white sand and turquoise water of the Caribbean, one sees Barbados. We booked a beach break, a perfect way to spend the morning. (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad is the sort of quaint, picturesque port town that calls one to the Caribbean. The Dutch colonial influence is as strong in the friendly culture of its people as it is in the postcard-worthy architecture. We booked the trolley train, and enjoyed the experience immensely. (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

Oranjestad, Aruba

We called on a Sunday, so the island was pretty quiet. Well laid-out port area, with the typical port shopping establishments. Beautiful island; I'd love to spend some beach time here. (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

St. John's, Antigua

I haven't experienced such an aggressive cruise port since Nassau. The hawkers were so persistent that the entire port experience was ruined. They congregated around choke points and would barely take "no" for an answer. I'd love to see Nelson's Dockyard, but not if I have to deal with that to do so. (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

Kralendijk, Bonaire

The southern Caribbean's best-kept secret. I have not had as much time exploring any island more than Bonaire, which we did via golf cart, thanks to Bonaire Cruisers. From postcard port town, to peaceful western beaches, to the flamingos at Lake Goto, to the tropical wilds of Washington-Slagbaai National Park, to quaint Rincon (and the unique cactus liqueur worth a sample at Cadushy distillery), to the Onima indian inscriptions, to the panoramic views from Saru Largu, there's something for everyone - and that's just the northern loop. Head south from Kralendjyk past the airport to see Pekelmeer, the salt pans, slave huts, Willemstoren lighthouse, the wild eastern shore beaches, Lac Bay, and mangroves. The island is small enough to explore on your own - and we did so with plenty of time, even taking a two-hour lunch break on the ship. Simply put, this was one of the best days I've ever had in port. (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

San Juan, Puerto Rico

As a port of departure, San Juan was overall very good. The cruise terminal was easy to navigate and not crowded. Be aware that ride share services cannot be used from either the airport or from the cruise port (though they can be used from other places, such as from a hotel to airport or cruise port). (Copied from my Ship Mate port review.)

Norwegian Dawn

Norwegian Dawn

Most of the deck 6 venues are most easily accessed via deck 7. The Venetian can *only* be accessed via deck 7 aft stairs. (I believe there is an elevator entrance for those who need accessibility?)

Cozumel, Mexico

We booked the Dolphin Discovery dolphin encounter excursion. The girls loved it. Good thing to do at least once.

Port Canaveral, Florida

Port Canaveral is convenient from Orlando airport, and Cocoa Beach is a nice area to spend one or more days before or after your cruise. The cruise port is easy to navigate and not crowded.

Falmouth, Jamaica

We were pleasantly surprised by Falmouth: open, clean, well laid-out, and safe. We didn't book an excursion.

Castaway Cay (Disney Private Island)

What's not to love? Castaway Cay is my idea of a perfect private island experience. There are shuttles to transport around several parts of the island, including a family beach and an adults-only beach. The family beach has a basic BBQ lunch, and the adult beach steps up the BBQ lunch with grilled ribeye steaks. I booked a mojito tasting that was a lot of fun, even though we had to dodge a bit of Caribbean afternoon liquid sunshine.

George Town, Grand Cayman

Thus far, this is our only tender port. Thankfully, the tender ride is short. Since we didn't book an excursion, we waited until the excursion rush was off the ship, and then tendered liesurely with no wait mid-morning. Nice, clean port town. We shared the port with the Disney Wonder (I think?), which was cool to see two Disney ships in port together. Note: the rumored Mickey horn battle never took place.

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

The Walt Disney and Buena Vista Theaters allow food and drinks, but the popcorn and soda outside the theaters is not free. Snacks and soda are free in the buffet and at the lido deck quick serve shops, so head there first before going to the theater. If you must have popcorn, get the souvenir bucket for cheap refills.

Harvest Caye, Belize

Beautiful private island; feels almost "Disney" like - i.e. almost too perfect. Needless to say, well-maintained. I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea of a "private island" that isn't really a private island; from the passengers' perspective, it is the worst of both worlds: the limitations of a private island, with none of the benefits (e.g. all food and drinks are at cost). We did enjoy our excursion boating through the mangroves and seeing manatees.

Cozumel, Mexico

There is always something to do in Cozumel. We booked the Fury Catamaran snorkeling and beach break excursion here. The waters were slightly choppy for snorkeling, so weak swimmers were a bit out of luck. But, the entire family enjoyed the beach. Sailing on a catamaran is always relaxing. As usual, we booked a morning excursion, to be back on the ship before the heat of the day set in.

Miami, Florida

Still and always a great departure port. Lots of convenient hotels between the airport and cruise port, and convenient transportation/ride share. Note that hailing your ride share can be tricky at the cruise port, since it will be hectic with debarkation/embarkation crossover traffic.

Costa Maya (Mahahual), Mexico

Costa Maya is a planned cruise port, but it is very well-done. We actually really enjoyed our time here. There are free pools and entertainment, along with the typical shopping and restaurants. We also did not book an excursion here.

Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Getaway

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea has a small, but excellent breakfast buffet (including an omelet station).

Miami, Florida

Love the sailaway. Wish I had my GoPro out to record the Port Authority chasing off the pleasure craft that got too close to us.

Nassau, Bahamas

Hawkers are way too pushy. Being in port is not pleasant. Which is unfortunate because it is absolutely beautiful.

Enchantment of the Seas

Enchantment of the Seas

Join the roll calls. The Enchantment has a loyal following, and you are sure to meet some of them.

Basseterre, St. Kitts

What a great day! We have Toussaint's Taxi Tours largely to thank: a private tour of the island highlights, time at the UNESCO Brimstone Hill Fortress site, and an amazing beach break. History, architecture, and a wonderful beach break at South Friar's beach, less crowded than, and not the party/tourist atmosphere of, Cockleshell beach, and even more beautiful.

St. John's, Antigua

I haven't experienced such an aggressive cruise port since Nassau. The hawkers were so persistent that the entire port experience was ruined. They congregated around choke points and would barely take "no" for an answer. I'd love to see Nelson's Dockyard, but not if I have to deal with that to do so.

Bridgetown, Barbados

Beautiful beaches. When one thinks of the white sand and turquoise water of the Caribbean, one sees Barbados. We booked a beach break, a perfect way to spend the morning.

Castries, St. Lucia

Lovely island with warm, welcoming people overflowing with joy for their independence and pride for their country. The flag can be seen flying everywhere. The view of the mist-enveloped Pitons sailing into port is iconic. We booked the Castries Trolley Train, which was fun and educational.

Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad is the sort of quaint, picturesque port town that calls one to the Caribbean. The Dutch colonial influence is as strong in the friendly culture of its peoole as it is in the postcard-worthy architecture. We booked the trolley train, and enjoyed the experience immensely.

Oranjestad, Aruba

We called on a Sunday, so the island was pretty quiet. Well laid-out port area, with the typical port shopping establishments. Beautiful island; I'd love to spend some beach time here.

Kralendijk, Bonaire

The southern Caribbean's best-kept secret. I have not had as much fun exploring any island more than Bonaire, which we did via golf cart, thanks to Bonaire Cruisers. From postcard port town, to peaceful western beaches, to the flamingos at Lake Goto, to the tropical wilds of Washington-Slagbaai National Park, to quaint Rincon (and the unique cactus liqueur worth a sample at Cadushy distillery), to the Onima inscriptions, to the panoramic views from Saru Largu, there's something for everyone - and that's just the northern loop. Head south from Kralendjyk past the airport to see Pekelmeer, the salt pans, slave huts, Willemstoren lighthouse, the wild eastern shore beaches, Lac Bay, and mangroves. The island is small enough to explore on your own - and we did so with plenty of time, even taking a two-hour lunch break on the ship. Simply put, this was one of the best days I've ever had in port.

Nassau, Bahamas

Once again, we had only a half day here, arriving around lunch time. Since we have been to Nassau before, and did not have a great experience - and also because we shared the port with four other ships - we had no particular desire to go into the port. Most of the passengers decided otherwise, though; so we enjoyed a quiet afternoon on a mostly empty ship.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

We had only a half day here, with an early-afternoon all-aboard time. We also shared the port with six other cruise ships, so the port was crowded and the views obstructed. That said, the cruise port area was really nice.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

The bay at Charlotte-Amalie might be one of the most beautiful sights in all of the Caribbean: the water, the houses dotting the hills, and the yachts and pleasure craft floating in azure waters. We have yet to book an excursion here, but we love the view.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

As a port of departure, San Juan was overall very good. The cruise terminal was easy to navigate and not crowded. Be aware that ride share services cannot be used from either the airport or from the cruise port (though they can be used from other places, such as from a hotel to airport or cruise port).

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