Hubby and I flew from CA to Miami the day before the cruise. We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Miami International Airport on South Royal Poninica Ave. The room was nothing special, the main enticement here was that they provide a free shuttle to the pier. Embarkation was a breeze. It took only about 20 minutes from the time we stepped into the terminal until we were in our Stateroom. A month before the cruise we received a free upgrade from a deck 8 forward balcony cabin to a deck 9 mid ship balcony cabin.
Before the cruise I began chatting with several my fellow cruisemates who I met through the Cruise Critic website. I encourage everyone to join this site. There were a total of 112 of us who met in person in the Dazzles lounge the day after sail. What a wonderful, fun, friendly, and crazy group of folks. We got together throughout the cruise and did many excursions together as well as a group dinner. It was a total blast, and made the cruise extra special for all involved.
Here is my 1-5 rating. 1 being poor - 5 fabulous. Food : all resturants good to very good. 4 stars Ports: Excellent itinerary. 5 stars Ship: Gorgeous 4.5 stars Service: Polite but slow, could use improvement. 4 stars Entertainment: Great 4.5 stars
Excursions: Book your own, it is much cheaper ! Montego Bay - Can't comment we stayed on the boat
Aruba - We did a snorkeling excursion to the wreck of the Antilla. The water was very rough & choppy but the wreck itself was worth the trip. It takes about 40 minutes out to the site via boat from the cruise dock. Also, did a round the island tour with a taxi driver. This guy was good! We were gone 2.5 hours, and he only charged us $15 each.
Curacao - Took the ship sponsored excursion to Caracas Bay. This was a really great spot. It is a sunken tugboat with tons of various tropical ship. Highly recommended! Grenada - Kathy one of the CC'rs (cruise critics) hosted a group of 55 CC'rs on a tour of this beautiful island through a company called Mandoo Tours, check his website on the Internet. I highly recommend taking one of his tours. Because our group was so large we paid $25 each for a 5-6 hour tour, taking in the plantations and falls, as well as the rest of the island. Thanks Kathy!
Dominica - There were 14 of the CC'rs on this trip. We took Ken Hinterlands tour he also has a website. Went around this fabulous island then to Trafalgar Falls and Ti Tou Gorge. Because our group was over 4 people the cost was $25 each for a 3-4 hour tour. I highly recommend this tour also.
Tortola - Took a cab from the dock with yet more CC'rs to Cane Garden Bay Resort. The scenery is unreal. What a beautiful place. We swam, and rented lounge chairs for $5 a piece. We asked the taxi driver to pick us up in 3 hours and he was there right on time. I can't remember the price for the cab but I think it was about $8 per person round trip. You pay the driver when he returns you to the ship. Its a bargain.
St. Thomas - got off the boat and into a taxi/open air van for a 2 hour island tour. Cost is $20 per person. Then ate lunch and went to Sapphire Beach Resort. This is another Kodak moment. It was so beautiful there. Water is very rough though. We rented lounge chairs for $5 each, and snorkeling equipment for $5 per person for one hour. Watch the snorkeling equipment! We received a total of 2 broken fins, and 1 fin which strap broke shortly after I put them on. They need to invest more money in better equipment.
Newport, Rhode Island - I fell in love with this place. We walked 2 blocks and took the trolley to see the mansions. We did not get off to see the inside of the mansions but did very much enjoy the ride. They have all kinds of cute little shops on Thames Street and elsewhere. Lots of wealth in this town.
Martha's Vineyard - We had 60mph winds and overcast weather while here. Stu, another CC'r had arranged a walking tour with a woman from the Historical Society. There were 14 CC'rs who boarded a public bus $5 per person all day pass, and went to meet her. Boy am I glad we went on this tour. The woman was a total RIOT!!! She had the best personality, not only was she entertaining, but she was extremely articulate as well. I really enjoyed my time here as well, with one exception. The tender ride back to the ship was a harrowing experience. As I mentioned there was 60mph winds so the seas were really rough. You know it is bad when they hand out "Barf Bags" when you get on board. There were some ladies in our tender who thought it was funny to laugh and scream as those LARGE WAVES, brutilized our tenders. What a bunch of pycho's!!!!
Disembarkation in NY was a fiasco. They did NOT begin letting people off of the ship until 2 hours after they were supposed too. Needless to say there were a lot of angry folks. One of the CCr's waited 3 hours for a taxi after getting off of the ship!!! Lots of folks missed their flights. We made it to the Newark airport just in the nick of time. Thank goodness there were only 5 people in front of us in the security line. Now I know why many of the airlines are filing bankruptcy. All in all it was a fantastic trip, made all the more special by our Cruise Critic buddies. Thanks everyone! Keep checking those cruise boards for more from Paljoeysmom.
God bless, wishing you all the best, health, happiness, and prosperity. Hope to see you on a future cruise.