We are loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers after having gone on Norwegian and Princess cruises before. The casual vibe of the ship is what we want and rarely do we dress up for formal nights - we get enough of that at work. The food is very good - though I wish they had a bigger offering of identified gluten free desserts or breakfast pastries - the ports on this cruise are outstanding, and the only thing we missed this time was a stop at Bonaire - possibly our favorite port so far of any cruise, and available on other sailings on this ship. We typically don't do ship excursions and prefer to grab a taxi to beaches or points of interest. Walking and shopping in Willemstad is wonderful. There are always local drivers anxious to take you somewhere when you dock. We never felt unsafe in any port. Love this itinerary!
5 out of 5
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Husband and I love the buffet. The salad bar suffered a bit on this cruise, didn't seem to get up and running in terms of fresh offerings until mid week, but overall the food is very good.
5 out of 5
The pool area is where it's happening on sea days, and we find a deck chair early... order a pina colada... and forget our cares. As suite guests we have a dedicated area to claim deck chairs so we don't normally have to fight for space. One of the awesome perks of paying more for a cabin!
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Royal Caribbean has perfected the art of service. We never met a surly person on the boat.
5 out of 5
The boat is small enough to find your way around without feeling lost. The Promenade is stocked with enough stores to shop while at sea, or just grab a coffee and pastry and sit. The stores could use an updating in terms of what they offer. Same stuff cruise after cruise. Marketing staff - up the game!
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Big enough to be a welcome retreat from the crowds. Nice bed with decent pillows. A tub and separate shower is lovely, separate dining area and bar. Who wants to be crowded for a week on vacation!? We love the owners suite, and the perks are outstanding: cocktails at night in the concierge lounge, a coffee machine with lattes/cappucinos/etc, and dedicated pool chairs. It's vacation, we splurge.
Get a suite. Getting onboard is a piece of cake with a dedicated suite line/same for leaving the ship. It all adds up to a real vacation, not feeling like cattle in a herd.
Second time in Old San Juan. So much to see! El Moro fort is wonderful and shaved ices are available there while you watch people fly kites in the ocean breezes. It's definitely a walkable area and so much to see, with a culture that has not been lost to chain restaurants. We stayed at a hotel in Old San Juan and grabbed breakfast at Caficultura - which has the best breakfast and coffee in all of San Juan.( Get there early) We love it there! And we always get Puerto Rican coffee to bring home.
The Dutch influence in Curacao is on display in the street names and shops. Mocko Jumbi dancers were grooving on a side street when we got off the Queen Emma bridge and we headed to La Boheme first for arepas (gluten free) and a smoothie. Then, off to Playa Porto Marie thirty minutes from Willemstad for a beach break. Didn't see the wild pigs there, but the beach was smallish and wonderful, easy swimming and bar there for smoothies and food. Lovely place.
The beach is amazing. White sand, clear water. We went to Eagle Beach and hung out for hours but learned that if you don't get there early you will NOT get a chair or umbrella - which are needed in the intense sun. Later that night we went to Yemanja Woodfired Grill and had the best food of our cruise. Second time there - it is walkable from the cruise port - and from the cocktails to dessert it is a world class restaurant. Seriously, where else will you get a lychee martini? Make a reservation or you are out of luck.
Magens Bay is the beach we went to. A couple of chairs and an umbrella will cost $58 but then you get $30 back when you return them. Food and drink are available, and a server will bring drinks to you on the beach - food is something you have to get yourself from the bar, but it's close by and full of partiers. It rains there often, then it clears, then it rains again, so the beach umbrella will be VERY welcome while others are running for cover:); and though it is not really a beach for snorkeling you WILL see schools of fish if you bring your mask, and turtles were spotted nearer the rocks. The gift shop has snorkeling gear for rent and you will quickly decide when you see the slimy water in the 'cleaning bucket' that you will pay $35 for a new set. I've raised kids so gross stuff is par for the course, but that snorkel bucket will turn your stomach. Unidentified goo alert.
5 out of 5
Piece of cake. The concierge walks you off the ship and directly to customs.
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