Less a "review" than "this is what I did on my trip." I've just been swamped this week and finally am taking some time to post...!!
Checking in was a breeze. I flew in with one friend, then met our other friend at the airport (by coincidence.) There was an issue with our bags from our flight from Philly to San Juan. When we asked one of the guys at the airport about it, he rolled his eyes and said "Philly **always** messes up the baggage." Basically, our bags didn't get on the flight we got on -- they came in one flight later (mine) and two flights later (my friend's.) It wasn't as horrible as we thought, the bags finally came around 2:30, and we headed off on the transfer shuttle to the boat...!
I expected a long line to check in but there was really no one there!! This must have been around 3:00 - 3:30. I'd read about which liquor store to visit in the terminal (the one after check in, before security.) We got a couple of bottles, and do you know we barely drank any of it!! Boo! After dropping our bags off, we headed into San Juan just to look around. Beautiful..! I wish I could have stayed longer there, or at least that it wasn't a Sunday and late in the afternoon. Oh well, now I know!
Our room (#2202) was an interior. Small! I expected this. Two single beds and one upper berth. We asked the steward to help and she ended up getting us a small platform and we would pull the mattress down from above at night. No problem. A wee bit tight, though. For me, though, not a deal breaker.
First stop St. Thomas. I hadn't really planned much, so we went to the beach -- Morningstar. We spoke with a woman right off the ship about which is the best beach, and she pointed us there. I'm sure she got kick backs from the Marriott, but it was a nice beach, so no complaints. It was $6 per, each way. 1 umbrella and 2 chairs were $35. Plus we rented goggles for snorkeling. We had bought a snorkel on the ship for $5. Totally worth it and something I never would have thought of until I saw them at the excursion desk. Cuz you just can't put a price on not putting your mouth on something countless others have, too. Eew. Anyway, the beach was gorgeous. It was a nice, relaxing day. I actually got a little chill under the umbrella, so I took another chair under the sea grape trees, and that gave me a nice mix of sun and shade. Saw a nice iguana, too. Nice day. We didn't eat there. Went back to the ship I think 2 or 3. Didn't do much that evening -- we were pooped!!
Wow. Just wow. I'd reserved space with Levi from Bumpiing tours, but by the time we'd gotten off the ship (10:30) I was sure he'd gone. Plus, being a dummy, I hadn't printed out his email to me as to where to meet him, etc., so the 3 of us wandered around a bit, then asked one of the guys there where we could find Levi.. He led us right to Alvin, one of Levi's drivers. He agreed to take the 3 of us, just us, for a really cheap price that I am sure was really not making them any money... :( But Alvin was great, super adorable, and knew a lot about the island. I knew I would tip him big.. We first visited the Emerald Pool, which I'd heard gets super crowded. He got us there early, right behind Levi and his group, and there was only about 20 people when we got there. My goodness.. I am SO glad we went!! It was absolutely gorgeous. Out of a movie. I had also heard it was cold but Alvin insisted "It's refreshing." Boy, was he right.. After about 2 seconds in there, it was just perfect. A nice switch from the salt water of the ocean and ship pool. I could have stayed there all day. We got to meet Levi and what a nice guy. I can't say enough good things about him. After the Emerald Pool, we stopped at Mr. Nice's, a place I'd heard about on these boards. That was great, too!!! We saw Levi again, and the tourists here just love Mr. Nice. You soon find out why. The fruits are all free, but if you like Mr. Nice and his presentation, you tip him. Coconut, cocoa beans, mangos, bananas.. Eat, eat eat.. Levi cut open a cocoa pod (plant? I don't know!) and it was neat as hell seeing the pods inside (covered in, I would imagine, cocoa butter) and the beans inside there. Mr. Nice puts on a great show.. flirty, funny, knowledgeable. Loved him. We were there 10 minutes, and I tipped him $10. The hanging coconut where you put your money was stuffed with tips already.. Awesome. Next stop was Titou Gorge which was even better than Emerald Pool. Again, you step into a "refreshing" shallow pool, then swim through a wind-ey cave (top is open) to the foot of a waterfall.. The color of the water is blue, and green and black.. gorgeous. Just try swimming close to the waterfall -- it's quite a workout!! I reluctantly left there -- now, there I could stay forever..! when I get rich, I"m going to recreate Titou Gorge on the grounds of my mansion. **Sigh** Oh, also, they filmed parts of Pirates of the Caribbean there.. I will have to re-watch all three to see what they're talking about..! We were exhausted at that point, but we went to Tralfager falls, anyway.. It was beautiful, but no swimming, so, I couldn't say it was my favorite place. There is actually a hot springs there, but seriously, we were beat. I must warn you, the roads here are VERY VERY WIND-EY. I'm not necessarily prone to car sickness, but I was green by the end of this tour (which turned out to be about 5 hours). I think I'd totally do it again, though. DO NOT go on a tour of Dominica if you are hungover!!!!
Followed the advice on this board about getting off the boat and just walking past the lines of people waiting for a cab, and went to the roundabout with the tree in the middle. WE found a female cab driver who would take us to the Boat Yard for $10 USD total. When we got to the cab, she tried to sell us on a tour of the island, but after still be a little woozy from Dominca's roads, we wanted just the beach, thanks. She did not like that, but 10 minutes later, we were at the Boat Yard. I decided to pay her $20 USD, cuz I felt kinda bad about not doing the island tour. When we got out of the cab, my friend told me how she'd upped the fare to $15 when we pulled into the parking lot! Boo!! I totally didn't' hear that and was really mad I'd given her so much. Oh well! The Boat Yard was nice. $15 fee gets you a free drink, chaise, and umbrella, as well as the use of the trampoline and rock climbing thingy. Possibly some other things that I don't remember. The sand there was absolutely amazing. Like Baby powder.. soft, cool.. amazing. I don't think I'd ever been on anything like it. I wanted to take about 7 pounds home with me -- maybe next time. Anyway, it was kind of a younger set, but not annoyingly so. It was fun to watch the bungee run -- the tie you to a bungee, and you try and run and grab a beer bottle off a stool at the other end. I was exhausted just watching! It was also neat to see ABC's The Bachelor last Monday, as they were in Barbados, jumping ona trampoline just like at the Boat Yard (though I am sure they were not actually at the Boat yard.) Got my hair braided (ugh! the breakage. Remind me never to do it again, though it looks really cute!) bought a necklace, fended off many, many vendors selling jet skis, parasailing, you name it. My one friend did do jetskiing -- $40 for 35 min, I believe. Lunch was kinda pricey -- $15 USD for a ceaser salad, but the food was pretty good. Bartop dancing contest for the women (groan) beer chuggingi for the guys. Winner got a $50 bar tab... A little bit more snoozing, then back to the ship!
We did ziplining!! The one and only tour booked through the ship. It was $109, which I figured was good since Carnival got you there and back, and one of the places I saw for just ziplining was $85, but you had to find your way there and back. The place was about 45 minutes away. Not as bad as Dominica, but I still felt a little woozy. Ziplining was awesome!! I am TERRIFIED of heights, but this was absolutely no problem for me. Even on the last run, where we were about 100 feet up, on a platform nailed to a tree swaying in the breeze. This was the excursion where it's just ziplining, no tram or obstacle course. The book showed it as two-people walking to indicate difficulty. The night before, I had actually booked the tram & zip excursion, which my friend pointed out after the fact not only indicated was **4** people walking, but one was in RED! Ack!!! I thought I was done for.. No way I can change it! But I did go to the desk and they let me change it to the less strenuous excursion (for $20 less!!) WHEW!! I surely would have died. yeah, I'm not so fit. Anyway, I didn't think until later that I should have taken vids of me flying along.. Next time.. My main concern was not slowing down to soon and having to haul myself using my arms to the other platform. All went well. Yippee! My friend, who is I guess a bit large, had problems, though. It was difficult for her to hold onto the cable with her dominant arm b/c she sagged so far from the cable. That's the story she's sticking with, anyway! She hated it so much that after the 3rd run, she was going to quit but the guide there wouldn't let her..! He went tandem with her for the rest of the lines (7 in total). What a nice guy.
Caught a cab outside of the ship. They paired us up with a couple from North Jersey (I'm from Central NJ) that were really nice. This way, it was only $6 pp each way. Walter was our driver and he took us to Jolly Beach. What a trip. This guy was about 90 years old, black as coal and told us about his 15 kids from 5 women.. what a hoot. One unsettling thing was driving through a village, there was a HUGE sign posted looking for "The Rapist".. I guess they only have one there?? We did not get a picture of it.. We'd decided to go to Dickinson, but of course, someone talked us into Jolly. Gorgeous water. Just gorgeous. I've never seen anything like it. Kind of a milky, light light blue green. Or green blue. Loved the water. It was sorta cloudy, but I got a lot of sun. Renting two chaises and 2 umbrellas cost us I think $30? So worth it. The sun was beating down when it was out!! Rosie sold my friend a necklace, then in very colorful language told us how she had gotten a late start to the day due to, um, some overzealous loving that morning with her man. What a hoot. She came back later and walked us to the restaurant. Forget the name, now, of course, but it's past the all inclusive hotel there. Service was terrible to non-existent, but the food was okay. We saw Rosie taking a break and now she had a baby with her. She called to me and we asked if it was her baby. "No! It's my grandbaby.." Walter was waiting for us at 3:45 (though we'd told him we'd be ready at 4!!) just as he'd said. Bit of traffic coming back, but not too bad. Walter was great b/c the couple we came out with wanted to go back at 2 -- no problem. He just made two trips. I tipped him pretty well, I think. I even got a "God Bless You" from him when we got out, which I then returned to him. Really nice man.
We'd run out of steam and ideas, plus it was a bit cloudy that day, so we just walked around the port. It seems fairly new, as there wasn't much as far as food/refreshments were concerned, though of course multiple jewelry, clothing, and souvenir shops. they're still building there, though. Behind the newer buildings is an older section, with lots of handmade crafts. A group of young boys played on pots, pans, car parts, plastic drums, etc. which was great, and guys walked around with diapered monkeys that the tourists would take pix with. I wasn't brave enough, though the monkeys were absolutely adorable. I bought a few handmade things, then splurged on pearls which were 50% off. I really don't know if they ended up being a deal, but I felt like it was!
By the way, msot of these ports only had one ship (us) in town, while I think St. Kitts had two. We spent some time during the week at the casino, and its bar. Only one night in the club, though it was mostly dead. No big deal for me -- I was pooped the whole week and it was a challenge to stay up later than 12:30!! I know people say the ship is old, but I didn't see a problem. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to do a cruise on a new ship! Maybe next year!! I thought the food was good, though one of my friends didn't really care for the dining room fare. The only thing that was weird was Saturday night, our steward never came to pull down our mattress for the night. No big deal, but then we saw her the next morning and really gave us a kind of nasty look, and didn't acknowledge when we said goodbye.. she hates us!! Well, we came to find out later that the one person in our room had Carnival remove the $70 gratuity from her Fun Card. Could our steward have found out about that?? This person said she was going to leave a cash tip, but we found out later that she didn't -- none at all. Don't get me started. We smoke, and I really expected there to be many less places to smoke than there were. The casino, the casino bar and the club were fine with me. I'm trying to quit, so it didn't bother me so much. Oh, and the cigar bar, of course.
We took the option of leaving at 7:15 instead of getting off with the majority of the cruisers. Our trip on the shuttle to the airport was mostly pleasant, until this same person caused quite a stir. Anyone on these boards witness this? It was the shuttle that left about 8 am from the port. Of course, if you were there, you would **know** what I'm talking about. If you were, I totally apologize for this person's behavior. Completely and utterly insensitive, uncalled for, unwarranted, childish, rude, self-absorbed outburst. That's all I have to say about that.. !
Overall, I loved it. Would definitely do it again -- to see the many, many, many things I was unable to this time around. I'd like to try a new ship next time. I have also been on the Triumph back in 2005. There's something so wonderful about the salt air, the sun, the sounds of being in the islands that is just peaceful and exciting, too! Possibly addictive!
Let me know if you have any questions!!