This was our 4th cruise, 2nd with Royal Caribbean. Dot and I are both in our early fifties and feel like our early thirties. I am an environmental technician and Dot is a district manager for a large banking company.
Sunday, June 1st, 2003: We flew out of Newark on Continental at 8:50am and landed in San Juan at about 12:40pm. The flight was uneventful and rather relaxing. After finding our way to the baggage area we were told that if we had attached our RCI tags to our bags, they would be sent directly to the ship. We were thankful for that, because we had been led to believe that you had to pick up your own bags and take them to the shuttle yourself. We waited approx. 20 minutes to board the shuttle and we were on our way. We arrived at the cruise terminal at approx. 1:50pm and there was a line all the way into the parking lot! After about 30 min. in the hot sun we arrived at the white chairs. Another 30 to 40 min. and we were aboard ship. (Don?t think that suite passengers or Crown & Anchor members get much special treatment. We were both and you have to wait till your line in the white chairs is called to get priority boarding. A savings of about 10 minutes.)
Well, the ship is magnificent! Spotless! We arrived in our stateroom and it was unbelievable, storage galore and even a walk in closet! After the mandatory ?pit stop? we set out to explore the ship. It is everything you could hope it to be. Had a quick lunch in the windjammer (The windjammer was wonderful the whole trip, had breakfast and lunch there almost every day. The quality and diversity of their menu was top notch.). We went to the spa to set up appointments. Dot had her hair done for the first formal night and we signed up for the Rasul couples massage.
We had the main seating for dining and were glad that we did. 6:30 as opposed to 9:00 was just fine with us. After dining the muster drill was held. I believe the time was 8:30 pm. We went to the sail away party on deck and it was fun. The parade on the promenade started at 11pm and we watched with some amazement as several of the crew walked up and down the promenade on stilts. The parade was fun and we headed for the casino for a bit. Then off to our stateroom to crash!
Monday: This was our first at sea day and we took advantage of it. After getting up about 7am we headed for breakfast and a morning of sunning! No problem getting deck chairs by the pool. I went and picked up our tickets for the ice show. Lounged around for several hours had lunch and then Dot went for her hair appointment at the spa. I went and used the computers to email our children. (50 cents a minute can add up quickly so be careful. (Internet connection was pretty fast).
Dressed early, Tux and Long gown, because the cruise critic party was at 5pm. Only five people out of 26 showed up. What a disappointment! The cruise director and the hotel manager were there to greet us and we were rather embarrassed to only have five people there. They were very gracious and spoke to us about 30 min. We went to dinner (I have to apologize right now, I can?t remember what we ate every day so dinner is stated as dinner). We went to the show and there was a really lame Charo-like singer comedian. I was bored to death but Dot seemed to like her a bit. Stopped in the casino, made a donation and then headed up to bed.
Tuesday: ARUBA. We had rented an air conditioned jeep from Hertz several months ago and it was waiting at the dock. About $90 dollars including insurance. It was a brand new jeep and we were very comfortable. We headed along the coast past all the resort hotels and eventually came to the lighthouse. Nice area for pictures. Then the adventure began. The roads stopped!! Dirt roads and sand the rest of the way. Unbelievable landscapes. Rocks and more rocks! Many small monuments, really rock piles, some very unique. This side of the island is pretty desolate. (We were told that they feed the sharks on this side to keep them away from the swimming beaches) Before we came to the Natural Bridge there was a small one that was perfect for picture taking. The Natural Bridge itself was really commercialized, busloads of people.
Then we headed to the famous ?Baby Beach?. What a total disappointment! The beach was small bordered by a refinery. The water never was deeper than waist deep! Not what we call a beach. Headed back to the ship to get showered and changed. We then went shopping and had dinner at Carlos and Charlie?s. It was great fun.
Wednesday: CURACAO: We went on the beach break excursion. A rather rough boat ride to a marvelous beach. A Caribbean paradise! Great amenities and wonderful weather for the morning (became a little cloudy and rainy later in the day). The only drawback was the sand itself. It was covered with rocks. On the beach and in the water. It made getting in and out of the water an adventure. (A note for you moms: there were some topless sunbathers there). Headed back to the ship, showered, ate lunch at Johnnie Rockets. (Great burgers and milkshakes). Then headed out to do some shopping. Big disappointment! Shopping area in general, dirty, old, and the same old tourist stuff. The pontoon bridge was really interesting. Headed back to the ship empty handed. ( Note: the ship leaves all ports, except for Aruba at 5:30 not 6pm) Smart Casual dinner. Went to the ?Velvet Rope? show. We thought, besides the ice show, this was the best show of the trip.
Thursday: AT SEA: We slept in a little and after breakfast headed for our Rasul couples massage. WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!!!!!! They lock you in a private room. You first brush each other to exfoliate you skin. Then shower together. Go into steam room with benches. Apply mud all over each others bodies. Lie down and let the mud harden. After @20 min. 4 rain shower heads come on and rinse the mud away. Then you go back into the shower room and wash each other off even more. After applying crèmes and moisturizers to each other you leave relaxed and happy.
Pretty much a rainy day, so we did some shopping along the promenade ( Note: if you are interested in buying logo wear, wait until a day or two before the end of the cruise, most item marked down 50%), had some ice cream (always available). A quick note here: They only have cones available, but go next door to the café and get paper coffee cups and fill those, less mess. It was the second formal night so we dressed and after dinner we went to the ice show. It is as wonderful as everyone says it is. Lighting, costumes, and spectacular skaters. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW! Made our daily donation to the casino and went to bed.
Friday: ST MAARTEN: Our favorite island. Took a cab to Orient Beach($16), as far as we are concerned, the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean. Crystal clear water and gentle waves. We spent most of the day sunning and swimming. Once again moms, Topless and Bottomless sunbathers and strollers. Did some shopping in the afternoon. We had lunch in a small café facing the bay and the ship. Some more shopping and then took the water taxi to the dock. Rested for a while and after dinner went to the show ?Can?t Stop the Rock?. I was disappointed with this show. I was all hyped up to rock and found myself listening to songs like ?Wind Beneath My Wings?. Yikes, ROCK!! YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME!
Saturday: ST THOMAS: Early this morning we had to get in line for an immigration check. The line was enourmous, but went very very quickly. The excursion I was waiting for Months and Months!!! The BOB (Breathing Observation Bubble). We took a boat off of the dock at St Thomas and then we got into these underwater motor scooters. It was a blast! Easy to operate and safe. Always under the watchful eye of a scuba diver. Loads and loads of fun.
Returned to the ship and ate at Johnnie Rockets again. Then shopping. We found some jewelry for our sons? girlfriends (2 sons 2 girlfriends). Also a great deal on 2 portable DVD players for our boys. After getting the obligatory T-shirts, back to the ship. After dinner and donation, went to our cabin.
Sunday: SAN JUAN: Disembarkment went smoothly. First to leave were the early flight people. We were off about 10:30 and on our way to the Caribe Hilton in San Juan for 2 days of relaxation.
Food: Dining room was hit or miss, sometimes wonderful, other times not so good
Windjammer was excellent every time Johnnie Rockets also excellent Entertainment: Inconsistent Ice Show Fantastic! Ship: Probably the best ship we have sailed on. Never seemed crowded, Never! Overall Vacation: Spectacular!!! Will sail Royal Caribbean again and again! Misc: We had a great time at the dance party ?50?s 60?s 70?s and 80?s. We danced for an hour straight. Check it out. (Can?t remember what night it was) Passengers were split about half Puerto Ricans and Half others. Never once did we find anyone disrespectful or rowdy. Wonderful people every one.
Thanks for your time, Dot and Ed