We flew into Miami on Saturday and stayed at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. I read mixed reviews both here and on trip advisor but I was very happy. Our room was clean, the staff was friendly and the price was perfect. The location was ideal as well. The only thing we did on Saturday was walked around Bayside Marketplace and go out for supper. We were both tired from the flight so we went to bed really early (8pm).
The next morning I was up really early. That was when we realized that Will had forgotten to pack his suit. He also forgot to pack sunglasses so we had breakfast at the hotel and then made one more trip to Bayside to get him a pair of sunglasses. We left for the port around 11:45ish. Two cab drivers almost got into an argument outside the hotel over who should be taking us to the port. Once that was all settled we were on our way.
Boarding the ship was much easier than I expected. It went very smooth and we were on the ship around 1pm. We spent 30 minutes or so walking around. We found the Windjammer and I decided that we should have lunch At this point I really regretted having breakfast at the hotel.
I thought the food was excellent in the dining room. We had dinner there every night and also two breakfasts and one lunch. Our waiters were Ahmed from Turkey and Jane from South Africa. Both were very friendly and their service was phenomenal. I also enjoyed the food at the Windjammer as well. We were hoping to go to Johnny Rockets and Portofino's at least once but that never happened. We would check the dining room menu in the afternoon and there was always at least one thing that one of us wanted to try - so the dining room it was!
The first night of the cruise was very rocky along with the following morning. I didn't get sick but I did get some Bonine pills just incase.
Our stateroom attendent was Nigel from Grenada who was outstanding. He always greeted us with a big smile.
My favorite part of the cruise was the Production Shows. We saw both History Repeating and Fast Forward and were impressed by both. We loved the entertainment on board, especially the Love & Marriage Show and the Quest.
Our Meet & Mingle was on Monday which was very nice. It was great to meet fellow cruise critic members. After the Meet & Mingle it was off to rent a tux. Tux rental was $85 for the week which I thought was reasonable.
We didn't buy the soda cards. I am not a big soda drinker and Will figured it would be cheaper for him to just buy individual cans. In the end he didn't end up buying any (his argument was that the Pepsi in Canada has a different taste than the Pepsi in the US).
Maybe we were in the minority, but we had no problems finding chairs around the pool. We spent most of our pooltime in the Solarium or in the whirlpool located in the health club.
We did find the Windjammer to be really busy during peak times but we never had a problem finding a table. If I saw only 2 people sitting at a table meant for 6 people (and it was obvious it was only the two of them) we would just ask if we could join them. I found most people offered anyways.
Our cruise director was Carly B. from the UK who we thought was great. We learned later in the week that Carly actually lives in New Brunswick, Canada (where we live). We asked her what part and she lives 20 minutes away from our house. Talk about a small world....
Overall, I was very happy with our ports. We were not overly impressed by San Juan. We decided to walk around Old San Juan on our own and for the most part I was scared..although not as scared as I was in the taxi to and from Old San Juan. This was me during the entire taxi ride -- .
While in San Juan we witnessed a few things that I am not going to go into detail about. I heard mixed reviews before we went. My best friends parents described it as very run down and dirty while my grandfather said it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever been. We ended up going back to the ship after walking around for an hour or so. If we ever go back we have decided to either do an excursion or just stay on the ship. I found some parts of the city were very beautiful and than other parts just broke my heart.
St. Martin was easily our favorite port. We spent the morning on the Explorer Cruise & Grand Island Tour Excursion. Fellow cruise critic member GailC was also on this excursion so we chatted with her and her husband. We definitely plan to do this excursion again on a later trip. The one thing I will always remember about St. Martin is the dogs. They were everywhere...in restaurants, walking around, sleeping on sidewalks. I almost wish I would have brought some dog biscuits from home The afternoon was spent shopping and at the beach. We wished that we had more time for this port.
The following day (my birthday) was spent in St. Thomas. Originally we were planning to go to Trunk Bay but instead decided to go to Magen's Bay at the last minute. We also did some shopping in St. Thomas. I much preferred the shopping in St. Martin as I found many of the shopkeepers in St. Thomas to be very pushy. Overall, we loved St. Thomas though. Magen's Bay was beautiful. All my friends are jealous of my pictures from there...especially this one:
The following day was a Sea Day which was great. We spent most of this day at the Solarium/pool area. That evening we went to the Ice Show - which was fantastic - and then it was formal night. I ate too much at dinner and ended up skipping the midnight buffet. I took pictures of it but was too full to eat anything
On Saturday we were in Nassau. We very much enjoyed this port. We did the usual sightseeing and shopping. I didn't really know what to expect at Nassau (this was another port I had received mixed reviews on, but I was pleasantly surprised). We were planning to go to Atlantis but instead decided to just walk around Nassau.
The only complaint that I had from the cruise was having to listen to a woman complain at breakfast that her bacon wasn't crispy enough. The waiter apologized and brought her a plate of bacon that was even more crispy. She then started loudly complaining how she now had too much bacon and it still wasn't crispy Seriously lady - you are on vacation, and so are we. Take a pill, shut up and eat your damn bacon!
The following morning we waited three hours before our color was called for us to leave the ship. Our flight didn't leave Miami until Monday so we expected to be last. Next time we plan to fly home the same day.
I couldn't have asked for a better vacation. The people I met on the ship were wonderful (especially gailc and Aussie). The staff were fantastic. I can't wait to cruise again. We are already planning for November 2007......only two more years to go.....