Upon arrival in our Limo at JFK, we had curbside AA check in, so the bags were not weighed and we were inside the terminal and thru the screening in less than 10 minutes. The flight was unexciting, but we did get a decent breakfast and the seats were roomy. We landed OnTime and thanks to the help of many, knew to go to the booth for the pricing for the cab. For 4 of us the total, with lots of bags, was $24. We got a porter and was in the cab within 10 minutes of getting off the plane. The RCI transfers were still gathering when we had left and did not make it to the pier for at least another 20-30 minutes. This gave us an advantage and we went into the terminal at the pier and got seated. Within 15 minutes after we arrived the inside was filled and the rest of the passengers had to wait outside on line in the heat. There was a considerable wait to board because the last route also has immigration along with the customs check. But we were on the ship by 1PM and our rooms were ready.
At first sighting this ship is very impressive and as time goes on, her beauty becomes more prominent. We then went up to the Windjammer for the lunch buffet, it was sumptuous. There was plenty of seating. Then we were off to explore the ship. We had already been on the Radiance and was impressed with that, but this ship is something else indeed, what an incredible ship. It is a beauty to behold inside and out. We tried to find every nook and cranny, but I am sure there were some that even after a week we did not find. I am in love with the promenade with it's little cafes. We found it relaxing after a tour to sit and have drinks or a snack.
We had a TR cabin which overlooked the promenade and it was lovely and roomier than I thought it would be and noise and light were never a problem. I had already seen pictures from travel site, so knew pretty much what to expect. Our friends had a balcony cabin on the bump and it was very spacious. We then went to meet our CC pals at the pool bar and had fun introducing ourselves. 2 other couples from CC were also our tablemates and we had talked before so we were bonded fairly well. It is always nice to know the people you are going to spend dining with for an entire week.
Dinner the first night was wonderful, (as were the food the rest of the week) and so were our servers, which set the tone for the entire week. We were at table 529 on the 5th floor, right by the piano landing, so the music added ambiance to our lovely table. I was very pleased with all the food and our servers made every effort to anticipate our individual needs, no matter how demanding. They went out of their way to correct whatever anyone was not pleased with, and for that I give them credit.One of the couples at our table was constantly sending things back, and in my opion were overly critical, so they made the staff work really hard.
I loved all of the shows and was wowed by the ice show, such precision skating on such a small surface. And the same goes for the production shows. I am used to Broadway in NYC with expansive stages. It is hard to believe they all perform so well on a moving stage that is smaller than most.The show the last night was wonderful with the song :"Proud to be an American "and then" Imagine" by John Lennon which brings tears to my eyes. The both songs to me represent the fact that the world can be one if we tried and yet it is still wonderful to be proud of out heritage's, which are diverse. The ship houses many nationalities which work in unison.
The day at sea was relaxing and we did more ship exploring and played mini golf, a real adventure when the ship is rolling back and forth. The pools were full, but there was room for all. The ship was full as Party Lite had 1500 winners also onboard. There are 6 hot tubs and three pools and plenty of deck space if you wanted to lie in the sun (as I am fair, I do that as little as possible and even with my 50 SPF applied frequently, I still got a little pink).We made a visit to Johnny Rockets of course, as we have one here on LI and I love them. Later in the day we had the official CC party and we all had a good time. The cruse director Kirk spent a considerable amount of time talking to us and when we saw him on the ship anytime on the ship he stopped to say hello. He is a very nice man and was very entertaining.
The islands were nice and on Aruba we did the DePalm Jeep safari/snorkeling tour, which we affectionately refer to as shake and bake. The tour involved an off road jeep caravan with the tourguide in his own lead car and the rest driven by the tourists, which is a scary thought! Imagine 6 cars with crazy drivers (driving a stick shift) following each other in the dunes and dust without running into one another or hitting anything. It was dusty, and we got shook all over the place, and baked in the hot sun and came back with dirt in places we did not even know existed, even after swimming. We saw the old chapel, the gold mine ruins and the caves and the natural bridges. Then we went to DePalm Island where we were served a lovely buffet lunch and drinks. Then you did one of the following, snorkeled, swam, helmet dived or scuba dived or just laid on the beach. I booked it on my own online and saved $25 per person over the ship price. We had a great day, and this tour was the highlight of our trip. In the evening we had dinner in Carlos and Charlie's, a real party place, and we loved it. I must say that while we had fun that day, I do not think I would go back to Aruba again as we had seen all there was to see and aside from the beaches, many of which are manmade, and the casinos, there is not much to do for more than a day. The island is extremely windy, so do not even think about a hairdo, and when wearing at hat, make sure you hold on or it will fly away.
Our next stop was Curacao. We were so zonked from the day before, we took a tour in the afternoon on the trolley. This is a lovely Island and the city is very pretty, the beaches lovely: I would go back someday. Next stop was St. Martin. We did the butterfly farm tour which was fun. And then we had a tour of the rest of the island and some shopping on the French side, which was included in the price of the tour. Also another island I would enjoy seeing again.
Next was St. Thomas and we did the St., John tour. The beaches there are spectacular. We also stopped to visit a friend on St. Thomas who is from NYC and has a pizzeria near the pier, Pizza Amore. He makes real NY pizza. He also told us which shops were good and we found some lovely things, I had a hand painted t shirt which was done in the little mall his shop is in. I like unusual souvenirs, and this was just lovely and it also comes in all sizes, not just small ones. My husband and our friend Jim retired the day before the cruise and believe me, if it were not for our families, we would all consider retiring to St. Thomas.
It had a wonderful time on this ship and have only one or two small gripes, which did NOT ruin my trip as it was an incredible experience. The first is that The Quest was scheduled at 10:15 and those of us at late seating could not get there in time to be in the contest. And right after it another show was scheduled, so Kirk had to fly thru it and then run off to another theater. It was still fun nonetheless, as usual something not to be missed.
The second is the fact that Partylite had such a presence on the ship, that even the jokes were geared to them. The last show which was for both seatings was scheduled right after they had some sort of event in the main theater and so they just remained in their seats, so the good seats were all gone and if you were with other people you all had to get single seats as the only other ones were behind poles or other spots which you could not see from easily. The lounges and bars were also taken over by this group many nights, so others sought refuge in other spots in the ship (which were of course plentiful). Of course that is not their fault, because as individuals they were all nice people, but in a group they had a group mentality some of the time, and took over things. Of course when I booked this date I was aware of the fact that a group was on the ship, so could have taken a different date, so the choice was always mine. But I will not make that mistake again. All in all I would say that this was one of the most fun and memorable trips I have taken in my life and I have made great friends and love this ship and plan to go back.