My husband and I are mid 50's and try to do a trip every 6 months. We pretty much spend our free time playing with the grandkids or researching ports for upcoming trips!
Ships: Norwegian Star
This was a great itinerary. We did something different at every stop! Ship was great, food was all adequate, Windjammer was a bit disappointing but it is a buffet... This cruise originates in the UK so for other USA travelers be aware that there are some differences! Not the same bacon and sausage we are used too, lol! Bingo is a true learning curve, very fun and much less expensive than our version! Seemed that prices all around were a bit lower and not nearly as many people chasing you down trying to get you to spend more money. Loved that aspect of the trip. Met some fascinating people and can't wait to do another trip from the UK!
First time with Royal and was a bit underwhelmed. Was expecting to be a bit more pampered and indulged. Balcony cabin was fine size with plenty of storage but needs a thorough cleaning! Found old food (gross) under sofa and curtains for balcony were very musty smelling. Cabin steward was not up to par, not sure if it was just our guy, only had a couple of towel creatures left to amaze us and had to track him down multiple times to replenish basic supplies.
Ship itself is very pretty, promenade reminded us of a fancy casino in Vegas, lots of glitz and glam. However, shows were not spectacular with exception of the ice show which did have some wow moments. Restaurants were all standard fare, windjammer is limited in selection and times open. Our agent sent us to Chops (specialty) and it was good but glad I didn't pay for it. Johnny Rockets also had an extra charge, very limited selection and not even close to as entertaining as the real thing. Ben & Jerry's has an extra charge as does the coffee place. Nothing special at either, same price as you'd pay at home only coffee isn't nearly as good! Sorrento's is included however, be advised they only have free coffee machines, rest of the drinks are bar items! Felt a bit nickled and dimed as far as the restaurants go. Will say that the wait staff in the main dining room were most impressive!
Casino was ho hum, fun to play but nothing new or exciting. They do have a smoking area in casino which didn't seem to out of control or annoying. I travel with a portable oxygen concentrator was pleased that it didn't prevent me from spending some time playing the slot machines!
Noticed that tons of the activities were geared around families, we are a 50+ married couple and were a bit disappointed that some of the games and activities that we enjoy were limited to families. That being said, if I had kids this would probably be an ideal cruise for them! There were tons of kids on board and they all seemed to be having a great time.
As for stops, we did Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti.
Grand Cayman is a one day trip, cruise excursion was perfect and we truly enjoyed our day here.
Falmouth is a bit run down and a fairly new port, have a feeling that we would of been better off going to Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. We also arrived after a five day rain which left everything a bit muddy for the morning. Did a cruise excursion in Falmouth that was interesting. The rain returned in the afternoon so we ended up just walking through the port shops and then heading back to the ship.
Labadee is a peninsula that the cruise line leases and has built a resort on. Pretty much everything (other than lunch) is an extra fee. Great for folks loving water sports, zip line, crazy roller coaster ride, couple of beaches. The only thing native is a small arts and craft "village" where you can souvenir shop. For us, not something we would want to do again.
We are booked on another RCL cruise in June and we debated whether or not to change it. Love the itinerary, North Africa and the Canary Islands so think we are going to stay with it and hope for the best.
Had not been on Carnival since the 1990's but the deal we found on this cruise was amazing! First time travelling out of San Juan and so we added a day in Bayamon to the beginning and few days in San Juan at the end of the trip!
Bayamon was awesome, brand new Hyatt Place, beautiful, great restaurant attached and mall right next door (walking distance).
We did the Faster to the Fun option, smart move! Checked out of our hotel in the morning, took a taxi to the ship, arrived at 11, checked in and were dropping off our stuff in the cabin by noon. This gave us the bulk of the day to explore San Juan while everyone else was boarding. Had a total blast, hit the CVS for some last minute items, great deals on t-shirts, and enjoyed listening to an outdoor concert being held. We also walked down to the square and then back to a little outside cafe where we enjoyed our first drink of the trip! Met some great girls who asked to share our table and bought them coffee. They were using the free wifi and in between times told us about San Juan. Turned out they worked in the dining room on the ship, instant friends! For this trip we stayed in a balcony room, 6271. Room was good size with plenty of storage and we had no problems with anything at all during our trip. Room service was fantastic, started every morning with bagel, pasty, fruit and coffee.
Once on board the ship about 7 pm we found our luggage already in our cabin. Headed to the buffet and were quite surprised by the number of choices available. We found all of the meals that we ate here to be tasty and the service spectacular. We also ate several meals in the dining room and were satisfied. The Lincoln dining room is very pretty and we loved that with the anytime dining we could request to sit alone or with a group. Met quite a few interesting people and on Valentine's Day did a date night dinner! One thing we did learn the hard way, if you order flowers on board you can't take them off the ship. Our ship returned in the wee hours of the am on the 16th. If hubby had known he would've had the flowers delivered the first day so we could of enjoyed them longer than a day and a half!
Our sea days were very enjoyable, nice casino, great shows and tons of activities! We won the duck hunt!
We hit several ports on this trip:
St. Thomas, USVI
We did a bus tour that hit the highlights and then spent the rest of the time wandering around town. We'd been here before and done many of the sights already. Did have a brief medical stop after leaving St. Thomas, detour to St. Martinique where someone was taken off the ship, Shoreline was beautiful and time was made up and didn't interfere with our itinerary at all.
We did the Coast to Coast Panorama. This was an awesome trip that really let us see all of Barbados. We also met our first monkey here! Our tour driver told us so many stories and facts, great time! We also saw a pink sand beach, Once the tour was over we wandered around town, met some more monkeys and found some great food! Monkeys are very curious creatures and loved my POC!
Castries, St, Lucia
We did the Scenes of St. Lucia tour. This was perfect as it hit all of the highlights. We loved the colonial house, truly beautiful inside and the views from the balcony were amazing. This tour also included a rum distillery and Caribelle Batik.
Basseterre, St. Kitts
The tours here sounded very similar to St. Lucia so we ended up walking around on our own and found a local museum that was phenomenal. Spent several hours inside and also in the museum book shop. We did some shopping in this port as well.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Our favorite stop! We did the Dutch & French Island Experience. Truly amazing. Hubby did the walk up to the fort while I sat in one of the many little cafes and played Candy Crush with some cute and adorable kids. Seems the parents don't use daycare, just bring the kids with them to work! Would love to go back for another visit. Tour gave option of being dropped off to shop or back to ship. We chose shop and wandered around for awhile before heading back. Very easy to get back to the ship so glad we chose to stay downtown.
Return to San Juan:
Very easy to disembark, we were booked at a hotel already and once off the ship took no time to find a porter, pick up luggage and get a cab. We were at the Sheraton Convention Center and they allowed us to drop off our luggage and wander until our room was ready, they called my cell to let us know. We spent two days before flying out to head home. We were there for President's Day so all of the forts etc. were free! The shuttle is also free and loops all through the city. Enjoyed every second we were there.
Definitely get a porter! Very confusing and have to do customs and agriculture check, was great having someone who knew exactly where to go and what to do, made things very quick and easy for us!
Oddly, we found the best airfare deal by buying one way tickets and used different airlines for each direction!
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received a helpful vote on their Independence of the Seas cruise review - An okay time.
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