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nu2cruz

Golden reveiw b2b 1/16/05 & 1/23/05

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Ok, this portion will be short since we're in CA and just got in about 7 hrs ago. Long day!

We are a couple in our early 40's and had a mini suite on dolphin deck. We really liked the ship and the layout.

 

We flew in a day early just to make sure we got in on time. Thankfully that weekend was no problem. Folks trying to make it on the following weekend (1/23 sailing) had a lot of problems. Some folks didn't get to the ship until Tuesday (St. Lucia). I'm sure they will fill in all the details!

 

Got up early Sunday to check out a little of San Juan, but many things are closed. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Isle Verde & it was perfect for the overnite stay. They had a contintental breakfast in the morning, pool with swim up bar, easy walk over to casinos. We also walked down to the beach & it looked good.

 

Left for the ship about 11:30 and just walked right through! Stopped at the pier store & got beer & vodka for room. No problem, again just walked right on. In our room by 12:15 at the latest. Very nice room with tons of space & big bathroom! That was the reason for our choosing this cabin type. The open balcony had its advantages, but i don't think we'd opt for it again. I guess everyone on our side of the ship (starboard-odd number staterooms) loved to hang out on the balcony & it did seem a little weird to be out there with everyone looking at us. Sometimes we went out for our sailaway & because we were just back from the port day, we were in our robes prior to getting ready for the evening-i felt naked:eek: . Well, I hope everyone enjoyed the view!!

 

Our room steward, Dan, from the Phillipines was very good. Got us the robes, extra hangers & kept my dh's collapsable cooler filled with ice.

 

Sailaway that night (1/16) was a little wet. It seemed to put a damper on the festivities. We had a much better party on 1/23 when the weather was great. Although, we left about an hour late due to the people still arriving from the east coast. In fact, we left before the RCCL ship, so we had to go around them & it was fun shouting back & forth.

 

The first week were the following days in order:

Monday-St Thomas

Tuesday-St Kitts

Wednesday-Grenada

Thursday-Isla Margarita

Friday-Aruba

Saturday-Sea Day

 

Second week the following:

Monday-Sea Day

Tuesday-St. Lucia

Wednesday-Barbados

Thursday-Antigua

Friday-St Maarten

Saturday-St Thomas

 

I'll go into the ports a little later..............getting sleepy again!

 

We didn't do a lot of the shows, we just aren't that interested. We've learned that you don't need to do everything the ship has to offer.

 

We had anytime dining & really loved it! Usually ate in Donatello-but sometimes horizon court or one tiime room service. Food was good-we're not big foodies-as long as it tastes good, we're generally ok. We really liked the pizza-ate that a few more times than I needed. But since my dh keeps me on the stairs, i felt it was ok. In fact, I'm sure that's why I don't really gain any weight on cruises...we always take the stairs! And believe me, I'm the type who gains weight very easily. The drinks were good-my dh got the drink of the day promotion the first day & I got the soda program & it was very smooth. For the drink of day, he got a sticker, as I did for the soda program.

 

The staff seemed ok. I'm not into complaints, we really didn't have many, but the tour desk really didn't have a clue. I'm sure most of us on this board know more about the ports than they do. Had several different answers for the same questions. Cindy, is good, but again, her main thing is shopping. We're not big shoppers. Mostly like to check out the port & hit the beaches. She didn't have a lot of info on those. The other portion of the staff I must mention is the bar staff. Several of them very good, others couldn't care less if we were waiting or not. Now, I'm not talking about crowded bars--it was just us waiting & they were pretty slow! Again, i'm not bashing them, I'm well aware of how hard all of the ship's crew work. It just seemed that on other cruises (yes, this was our first on Princess) the bar staff seemed happy & liked to joke around & at least acknowledge that you're waiting. My dh has a theroy that the auto tipping has prompted this situation. In past cruises we'd tip extra to the bartenders right on the spot, tried on this cruise but it didn't matter. Believe me, it didn't keep us from drinking more than our fair share!! Anywho...not a big deal just something that stuck out to us.

 

Bottom line-yes, we would do this cruise & princess again (in a heartbeat).

 

Ok, that's it for now.

 

Please feel free to ask questions, i hopefully can answer all of them. I'll get some sleep & write more later.:p

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Thrilled to see your review on the boards. Can't wait to see what you thought of the ports and what you did.

Get some sleep and get back to us....we crave these reviews!

 

Thanks!

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Hi, nu2cruz. Thanks for the review. We're doing the Golden b2b 3/6 and 3/13. My question is whether you had to leave the ship on the turn-around day to either check in or go through Customs. I've done b2bs before and didn't have to leave the ship, however, I've read some reviews of the Golden that say you have to go into the terminal for Customs and check in. Is that so? Also, how long were you in Isla Margarita? I really appreciate any info. you can give. Thanks a lot.

 

 

Cindy

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Thanks for the review. Now get up and give us more! LOL Can't wait to hear what you did in the ports.

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Nu2cruz - We agree with you about the tour excursion desk - clueless and shopping intensive. Just read the cruise critic ports boards and you'll know more than the ship's people.

 

Crew- in the bars and lounges they did seem to be understaffed. I only saw 1-2 waiters doing drink orders no matter if it was the Vista lounge or the Princess theater.

FYI - our dining room waiter told us he was on a 9 month contract. Can you imagine being away from your family that long? The spa people were a lot less 4-6 months.

 

Glad you had a good time!

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I couldn't agree for about the bartenders and the service in the bars, we were quite surprised by this. Prior to our Golden cruise on 10/24/04 we had only cruised Disney 4 times and the staff was so much friendlier. They bent over backwards to take care of your quickly, got to know you and your name and spent time with you if you wanted when they could. We made mention about this to a bartender in the sports bar (there was NO ONE else in there but us) and she said that they are supposed to be friendly like on Disney (she's got a great friend working there) but she didn't feel well, her arm hurt as she had the flu shot the day prior and Princess didn't seem to push this issue! That answer really took us aback.

Still loved Princess though as we booked another for this summer.

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Cruisin Sal -Muster is at 8 pm on Sunday but they have a make-up one for late arrivers the next day - don't know what time for that one. Dinner is the same all week for traditional 6:15 and 8:30 -ish (arrival time of diners varied 15 minutes by the time everyone showed up) - waiters didn't seem to mind.

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nu2cruz

Thanks so much for the review of the Golden Princess. We are looking to book a trip for next Feb. (2006) and one of the ones we were interested in was this one.

Did you book your flight with Princess or do it on your own? We have been on Carnival 2X and Norweigan 1X and we have always booked our flight through the company we are sailing with. Is it a lot cheaper to do it on my own? We live in Canada but I am only 1 hour from Detroit and can drive there faster than going out of Toronto. We flew to San Juan last year in April and went through the Panama but never spent any time in San Juan. Does spending the night in San Juan make up for the difference that we might save booking our own flight?

We had such a good time with the bartenders on our past cruises. I sure hope if we chose Princess they change their attitude before we get there.

I am not a fussy person but I do like to have a good time interacting with the ships personal.

Are the inside rooms(Cheap) as small as Norweigan or about the size of Carnival's. Don't spend extra on a room because we do not spend any time in it. (We did find the rooms on Norwegian too small.) Prefer to use the savings to have more cash to spend!! We love being out and about on the boat. We do travel with another couple and they are the same. Is there a certain level we should avoid? Noise from above-below etc?

Did you find that there were to many stops on this back to back? There are very few sea days.

Sorry for all the questions but I want to book the right trip.

Thanks in advance to anyone that takes the time to answer these questions. I am available to answer any questions you may have on our past cruises if needed.

 

Thanks Anne

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ok, i've gotten a little more sleep & some lunch. I even managed 2 loads of laundry!! I know how hungry i was for info before our trip so I'll try to help out best I can.

 

I'll get some of the questions out of the way.

 

Huladancerdog: As far as b2b, they got all the passengers that were leaving off the ship first then we were instructed to go through Immigration in the terminal building. It started around 11 am (i kept having dh check his watch so i could report back to the boards!) and went very quickly. It seemed a lot of people were doing b2b, maybe 200+. We just left the ship with our new cruise cards (we received Saturday night) and went through the terminal, showed them our passports & "passenger in transit" cards (also given out Saturday night) then back on the ship. Now, nothing is very easy where we are concerned, so through no fault of Princess or the San Juan Pier, somehow we ended up way outside the building & couldn't find our way back in!!:rolleyes: We almost jokingly hailed a taxi to the front of the terminal! We were one of the last people to go through immigration and by the time we made it back into the terminal, approx 200 people were sitting in chairs waiting to board the ship to start their vacation. We just made it before the rush. All in all, very easy. We used this as kind of a sea day & relaxed by the pool.

 

Regarding Isla Margarita, we were in port 8am - 12noon. For some reason I was nervous about this port--whatever--totally no reason to be. We exited the ship & there are quite a few thatched roof huts with souvenirs, local arts, etc. They trail on and lead to a bar/food place then to the beach!! I was very pleasantly surprised by the locals & the beach. Very soft sand, could walk way out without the dreaded drop off into neck high water! We didn't plan anything in this port besides shopping & checking out the beach. Many people spent time on the beach, they had lounge chairs & umbrellas for rent. We met 2 very wonderful locals selling their items & couldn't have been nicer. We like to collect money from different countries and we asked one if we could buy a few coins-he didn't want to accept any money, but we made him take some anyway. Then he chased after us saying he found some more different coins & we need to add them to our collection.

 

CrusinSal: As i think someone else mentioned, muster is at 8 pm and is the best way to do it. In the theater for our station, sitting down....not standing with the life vest on in the hot sun. I know alot of people missed it because they were showing the football playoffs at the same time & many people were not about to miss that. They don't take any roll call, so I'm not sure how they go about verifiying you attended. Also, on b2b, no need to go through again.

 

Mulvihill: We never book through the cruise line-i'm a fanatic about how we fly, thankfully we usually can use miles to travel in first or business class. This was a VERY welcome treat for this particular trip. Since we are in CA, we flew in the day before. We seemed to be traveling all day! We left our house at 3:30 am and arrived in San Juan at 9:20 pm. We had one stop in Chicago (not something I usually like to do) and thankfully the weather held up for us. As far as i'm concerned, staying the night ahead is a plus. For the first time we had enough Hilton Honors points to stay 1 night free. Of couse, the Caribe Hilton & Embassay Suites were booked, but the Hampton Inn belongs in their chain & was available. I really would recommend this hotel as far as convenience to airport-10 minutes, $16.00 + tip for 2 people & 4 bags.

 

We have also been on NCL and I must say I like Princess' rooms better. On NCL, we had a tub/show which was great, but the bathroom was so dark, I literally could not see to shave my legs. It was done in dark woods with very little counter space. I believe we were on the Star, in a balcony cabin, i'm not sure what category. But the Princess mini-suite bathrooms are so bright & plenty of counter/shelf space. We looked into a few of the inside rooms, they seemed decent, but I really don't have anything to compare them to.

 

Since we were on the Dolphin deck, we really had no noise at all. The deck above is all cabins I think. The second leg of our trip we had a little kid at the very end of the hall who actually ran up & down the hall, banged his head on the wall then did it again. Where were his parents?? I don't know, but this was 11:30 at night & one of the neighbors yelled at him to stop running! If he hadn't done it I think my husband was going to put his foot out:D

 

As far as the port schedules, it is very hectic & i think the one thing i would do different would be to flip the weeks we scheduled. I think I would have liked to have started and ended with a sea day. Since we used San Juan as as sea day, we had 3 in a row & really didn't need that.

 

We didn't book another trip, although it was tempting. We like to do land based vacations as well and generally use cruising as a way of checking out some of the spots we might want to visit on a more extended vacation.

 

I didn't mention earlier that we went to the Desert Rose Steakhouse twice. We really liked it. I had the filet mignon both times & it was perfect.

 

OK, lets do some port talking. Just so you know, the only port that wasn't new to us was Aruba all the rest were being viewed with fresh eyes!!

 

The first week was a little rainy, but we didn't care, we wanted to relax. Here's what we did:

 

St Thomas-1st time: We chose to go over to sapphire beach after hearing some excellent reviews. Took a cab from the ship, $8 pp +tip. We had 7 people in our van. The views from the top of the hill looking down into the bay were magnificent! The water was warm, slight breeze, just as you would imagine it! We rented 2 chairs, $5 each-no umbrellas to rent, but there were some shade trees--i didn't get burned so that's a good sign! Had wave runners, etc to rent, beach bar & restaurant, souvenir shop. Nice day, then the rains came about 2:30 and didn't seem to let up so we went back to the ship. The Havensight mall is basically the mall at the port, i didn't really understand that until we got there. Had your usual stuff, jewelery etc. We only got an xmas ornament-i was really beat. Our sailaway was at 6 pm and I have to say, we had the best side of the ship. I think we always had the port side so we could check it out. But sailing out of St Thomas we saw the Queen Mary 2 anchored off shore. It is quite an amazing ship so big & impressive looking. We sailed right in front of it & we waived back & forth. Quite fun to see that ship!

 

Next day was St Kitts. We chose to do the Nevis sailaway through Princess. Really enjoyed it! Crew was great, weather was a little rainy & some of the people were so funny! They didn't want to get wet! Didn't they think they would get wet when they went snorkeling? It was kind of funny. We went ashore in Nevis, just down the beach from the 4 Seasons Hotel. They set up a bbq lunch, had drinks flowing. Very relaxing day. Highly recommend this excursion.

 

Wednesday Grenada. We could see some of the hurricane damage, but never having been here, hard to see totality of it all. The brand new dock is great. We docked next to Celebrity, nice not having to tender in as originally planned. We did another Princess excursion, the beach party-sorry i can't think of the name. Anyway, it was a party boat with a narrative on the way over to Mourne Rouge beach. Beach was nice, lots of vendors. Although they easily went away with a "no thank you" they just kept coming back! It is a small beach, so they just kept going back & forth. Kind of amusing actually. Of course everyone wants to braid your hair, so when I said no thank you, she offered to braid dh's chest hair:eek: I couldn't stop crying it was so funny. Then, we get back on the boat & sure enough, some guy had his chest hair braided. Well, it was only one braid, but it had beads:D

It was really raining on the way back, but I was determined to spend some money on the island to help their economy. They had some tents set up just off the pier and I did some shopping! This was actually comical because the tents with all the stuff had the women shopping and all the guys were hanging around outside, in the rain!!!!!! What good guys!

 

Thursday was Isla Margarita, and I've pretty much said everything about it above. Again, we really enjoyed the people.

 

Friday-Aruba. Since we've been here before, we decided to just head over to Palm Beach and hang out. Well, Aruba is very hot as you probably know, so there is no denying that you need an umbrella. Well, we got an umbrella (large market size) and 2 chairs for $35. I was a little shocked at the price. But had to have it. The beach is very nice, except this day there was a lot of seaweed, both on the sand and in the water. I usually like to bob around and swim, but it was only out of pure heat that I went in. I don't like to come out looking like swamp girl. Even though, it was a good relaxing day & once again, i didn't get burned!

 

Next day sea day, then San Juan, then another sea day.

 

Tuesday St Lucia. I had been so looking forward to this itinerary & wasn't disappointed. Through recommendations on this board, we went over to Rendezvous Resort. It is couples only & we got a day pass for $38 pp. This included all you can eat & drink-yes alcohol included. This was so relaxing! Not even realizing it, it is very noisy on the ship. It was so quite at the resort it was wonderful. We sat by the pool, got drinks at the swimup bar & had a fabulous lunch. The beach was very beautiful, very calm & warm water. This resort is very close to the ship, so not a long taxi ride at all. St Lucia also has a great little pier side shopping area where we bought several items to bring home. We also had the taxi driver drop us off over in town so we could look around there at the marketplace where local venders sell stuff. Very nice people on this island & we will definitely be back. Took the water taxi back to the ship-great day!

 

Wednesday, Barbados. We went through the pier shopping area and were very impressed with it. Then we walked outside to get a taxi & basically it was a zoo. I would like to call it organized chaos, but it wasn't organized. We were directed to an area to wait for a taxi to go to the Malibu Rum Distillery. We always do as we are told. So we waited patiently. More people showed up & it looked like we had enough to go. The dispatcher said it would be $3pp, great. We had 2 people who wanted to be dropped off in Bridgeport, no problem. Well, our taxi driver did have a problem-he really is in the wrong business!! He didn't want to take us anywhere! So eventually we drove off, all the while he is very upset at having to take us to Bridgeport (which is really only minutes away) Ok, that's done, on to Malibu. We get there and he says $4pp. I said the dispatcher said it was $3pp. He asked if I was trying to rob him. Well, of course i said no, i really don't care what it costs, but i want it to be the same from the beginning to the end. Well there was another couple in our taxi from Jamaica, who basically speak the same language & told the taxi driver he was robbing us. Well, my dh just handed him the $8 and walked away. He then yelled about getting no tip. Well in my eyes he did get $2! We decided to not let it bother us and it didn't. Malibu Rum Distillery was fun. For $10pp you get the 1/2 hour tour of the distillery, 2 chairs, 1 umbrella & 1 drink each! It was very facinating & informative. Also, we got samples!!!!!!! The beach was quite lovely. Powdery sand & soft waves. We saw another Carnival ship coming in, there was already one in port with us. Getting back to the ship was much easier, but it was very crowded at the pier with 3 ships.

 

Thursday, Antigua. After loving St Lucia so much, we now have a new favorite! Took a taxi over to Dickenson Bay Beach-short cab ride away. Rented 2 chairs & umbrella (well it was some kind of beach hood-it worked!) for $20 (i think-nothing outrageous) Now i'm convinced this is what the Caribbean should look like. Played in the water, had a drink at the bar. Sandals resort is right next door. The beach rented jet skis & stuff. I have to say it did get a little crowded by about 1 pm. But still, very beautiful.

 

Friday, St Maarten. Took a taxi over to Orient Beach, sat by Kon Tiki Bar, rented 2 chairs & umbrella for $18. This is also a very beautiful beach, very long stretch with maybe a thousand people, but never felt overly crowded. It does have the clothing optional area (to the right as you're looking at ocean) So you get beach strollers who are getting an allover tan or just the tops done! My dh loved it. He wore his sunglasses the whole time!! We did a little shopping back in Phillipsburg, then took the water taxi back to ship.

 

Saturday, St Thomas 2nd visit. We took the ferry over to St. John. Now, this is my new favorite!! Swam & snorkeled at trunk bay. I was a little worried since there were 4 ships in port that it would be crowded but it wasn't at all. They rent chairs for $7 each. We only got one because it was just a beach/sand chair, not a lounger. They have a snack bar and it's very reasonably prices. Took the taxi back into town to catch the 2:15 ferry to Charlotte Amalie-next one isn't until 3:45 & didn't want to chance it with it being 45 minutes to get over to St Thomas. We had a drink in a little bar waiting for the ferry-very nice day........again.

 

I know I'm leaving things out, but boy, this takes longer than I thought. I have a new appreciation for all those that post reviews.

 

Please ask me any questions...................

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Thanks nu2cruz for posting this so soon upon your return. We will be on the Golden in just under three weeks so everything we can read is just wonderful. I have some questions -

 

* Which side of the harbor does the Golden tie up at? I know that when we cruise don another Princess ship (the Dawn maybe) that it was on the side where Old San Juan is located. I also know there are some ships that board on the other side of the harbor over by the airport / raceway. Can you clear this up for me?

 

* Who was the Cruise Director?

 

* Was there tea everyday or just the first day?

 

* Did you try the Horizon Court late night selections? We found out on the last night on the Coarl last year that you could go up there and order off a pretty decent menu after midnight.....like steak and eggs, pasta, etc.

 

 

I am sure I will have more and will be back to ask! :D

 

Thanks for your info!

 

Judy

20 days until we sail on the Golden

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Thanks for the review above.

 

The Golden docks at the Pan American Pier (next to the small airport) next to Adventure of the Seas. I just got off AOS yesterday and will be on the Golden in a year. We got a good look at the Golden after docking by it at three ports. Looks very nice.

 

Couple of questions for those who have been on the Golden out of San Juan

 

1.) Is there a duty free liquor store in the Princess terminal at the Pan American Pier like there is at the Old San Juan Pier?

2.) Is there a basketball/volleyball court on the Golden?

3.) What was the cost of the soda package this year?

4.) Are the pools/hot tubs open 24 hrs?

 

Thanks

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where did you purchase the tickets for the resort in st. lucia, thanks milly

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Thank you!! I am doing the same B2B!!! Love the southern.....Anyway could you please tell me about the drink of the day promotional sticker??? How much and for what? Thanks again

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Thanks for the info., nu2cruz. It's all very helpful. Now I'm really excited to get started on our cruise!

 

Thanks again.

 

Cindy

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We have been on RCCL and Carnival and have purchased drink cards. Can anyone explain the program on Princess. And where do you stop to get alcohol to take on board leagaly?

 

Thank you

 

Lea Ann

 

Golden 5/1/05

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Initially, Drink of the day (taken from Patters Nancy gave me)

Regular $5.00, Medium $6.00.....rest of week (with sticker--you receive with initial purchase) regl $3.25 medium $4.25

 

Also, there is a liquor shop at terminal. IF you put your liquor purchase in a back pack or tote, it will not be "stored" by Princess staff. IF you bring it aboard in the store's bag/box it will be taken & stored.

 

Soda package: $25.00...also a sticker for your ship card.

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If this was your first time in Aruba, what would you choose to do?

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Looks like some of the questions have been answered.

 

Sans10: Cruise director was Omar; not sure about tea; and we were never up that late to check into more food!!

 

Clubber: Didn't see any basketball or volleyball areas. They have a small tennis court & also a pee wee golf area along with virtual golf which my dh never got around to. Soda card program was $25 with cup, or $22 without cup as i did the second week. Pools are open 24hrs and seem to rotate around ones that might happen to be closed for cleaning.

 

Milsey: I emailed the resort directly at reservations@theromanticholiday.com. I got confirmation from them to just pay at the resort which is what we did. They did accept Visa credit card, so we didn't waste the cash. I would recommend bringing the copy of the email confirmation because they seemed not to understand what we wanted until I dropped the name Cindy and that she authorized us to just show up.

 

Kizzmequik: We've been on RCCl also and had the card that was punched. This seemed a little easier because you just show your card with the "Hurrican Promotion" sticker and you automatically get the cheaper price. I think someone else answered that you buy your first drink of the day in the hurricane glass and get the sticker from then on.

 

Crisp1: I'm not sure what perks for HHonors you're referring to. I'm not sure if we would be eligible because of the free stay.

 

Mmsoko: In Aruba we had previously done the De Palm Island thing, I think either as an excursion through the ship or on our own. It's a neat little island that has great snorkeling, bar & dining area. It also has a gift shop & showers/bathroom facilities. Wemust have been on our own, because we took a taxi back to the ship & the driver drove us over to the Palm Beach area with all the high rise hotels with casinos. We were in port late on that cruise, didn't leave until 1 am, so we walked over to the casino on the main street, then down to Carlos & Charlies for a drink & some wild entertainment.

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Another question:

 

Were you able to check your bags and get your boarding pass at ther Pier when you disembarked just after U.S. Customs? They had that available last weekend at the RCI terminal next to the Princess Terminal. It was nice to grab your bags in the warehouse, go through Customs and then take a few steps and check your bags. It looked like it was available for United, American Airlines, and U.S. Airways and only if you had a ship to airport transfer.

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thanks so much for info. can you tell me what was included in the price also thanks milly

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Crisp1: I'm not sure what perks for HHonors you're referring to. I'm not sure if we would be eligible because of the free stay.

 

 

Late checkout, cocktail party, and upgrade is what I'm hoping for.

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Milsey: Everything the resort has to offer was available. Full bar including alcoholic drinks. We used the bar at the pool mostly, had a swim up section which was fun. Also, the open air restaurant is included. We had a buffet style lunch and sat at a table that was already set with silverware & stemware. Waiters came around to see what you wanted to drink. Now, just a word of caution from my dh. He wasnt't too impressed with the buffet food. Had a lot of fish & things he couldn't easily identify, so went light on the food. To his relief, the bar at the pool had hot dogs so he was able to finish off his lunch poolside!

 

Clubber: I didn't see anyone doing boarding passes at the pier. We got a porter as soon as we cleared customs & he wisked us to our bags then a taxi in maybe less than 5 minutes. We didn't have the transfers & really don't know that it would have saved us any time. There were alot of people lined up waiting for the buses and we definately beat them to the airport.

 

Crisp1: No, I don't think any of those were available for us. But then again, I didn't ask:cool:

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