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My long overdue review of my October cruise on the Carnival Victory

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Edited to add: Please view post #16 for the start of the review

 

I'll start by saying this will be a long review and my photos will be added later. I mean...I took the cruise back in October and now I'm just posting my review in January!

 

10/12/12: We had a direct flight from Houston to San Juan. Our flight was smooth. Upon landing I had a text from my driver stating that he was waiting for me (our flight arrived 30 min early). OMG! My driver was extremely handsome. Too bad he was married. But I rode up front with him. He gave us suggestions on places to eat and for reasonable prices (too bad we didn't go to any of them; my mom's a picky eater!)

 

Anyhow, we had maybe a 10-15 min drive to our hotel, the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza. I didn’t explore the hotel a great deal, but if I find myself in San Juan again, I’d most definitely stay there again. The property was gorgeous! It was split in two buildings. The building that didn’t have the Denny’s housed the ocean-view rooms and the casino. The building with the Denny’s housed the Lagoon-view rooms. I booked a lagoon-view room, but was pleasantly surprised that I had been upgraded to an ocean-view room.

 

We took plenty of photos and then headed out to explore Condado. We eventually found ourselves at Orozco’s, an authentic Puerto Rican establishment, and decided to eat there. My mother didn’t find anything on the menu except for an alcoholic beverage. Remember, my mom is very picky. She wouldn’t even try the dishes we ordered! I ordered the chicken mofongo and my aunt ordered fish.

 

After we finished our meal, we stopped at Chili’s for my mom and she ordered chicken strips!!! We called it a night because we had to rise early for our rainforest tour in the morning. I will say the beds are extremely comfy and the pillows were plush. The hotel doesn’t have a microwave on the property or in the rooms, but I called the front desk to inquire about one and they delivered one to me.

Edited by Help@
updating review

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Thanks for your report!

 

LOL...I didn't want to risk timing out while typing so I saved a bit at a time. I thought I could edit at will. Now I have to write the admin to edit my post. Or just keep adding things at the end. So sorry for the short review. LOL

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Edited to add: Please view post #16 for the start of the review

 

I'll start by saying this will be a long review and my photos will be added later. I mean...I took the cruise back in October and now I'm just posting my review in January!

 

10/12/12: We had a direct flight from Houston to San Juan. Our flight was smooth. Upon landing I had a text from my driver stating that he was waiting for me (our flight arrived 30 min early). OMG! My driver was extremely handsome. Too bad he was married. But I rode up front with him. He gave us suggestions on places to eat and for reasonable prices (too bad we didn't go to any of them; my mom's a picky eater!)

 

Anyhow, we had maybe a 10-15 min drive to our hotel, the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza. I didn’t explore the hotel a great deal except later that night, but if I find myself in San Juan again, I’d most definitely stay there again. The property was gorgeous! It was split in two buildings. The building that didn’t have the Denny’s housed the ocean-view rooms and the casino. The building with the Denny’s housed the Lagoon-view rooms. I booked a lagoon-view room, but was pleasantly surprised that I had been upgraded to an ocean-view room.

 

We took plenty of photos and then headed out to explore Condado. We eventually found ourselves at Orozco’s, an authentic Puerto Rican establishment, and decided to eat there. My mother didn’t find anything on the menu except for an alcoholic beverage. Remember, my mom is very picky. She wouldn’t even try the dishes we ordered! I ordered the chicken mofongo and my aunt ordered fish.

 

After we finished our meal, we stopped at Chili’s for my mom and she ordered chicken strips!!! We called it a night because we had to rise early for our rainforest tour in the morning. I will say the beds are extremely comfy and the pillows were plush. The hotel doesn’t have a microwave on the property or in the rooms, but I called the front desk to inquire about one and they delivered one to me.

 

10/13/12: I don’t recall what time I got up, but I went to Denny’s for breakfast. The service was slow (and there weren’t a lot of patrons in the restaurant!), but our server was attentive. Mom and I had to pack our food to go because I received a call from John stating that he was en route to the hotel. John, aka Rubio, is the owner of Rubio’s Tours. He provides guided tours in El Yunque and ensures you see the best of the rainforest. This was a shared excursion with a lovely couple I met here on Cruise Critic, Joyce and her husband Ron. After picking us up, we headed to Joyce and Ron’s hotel to pick them up. We had maybe a 45 min drive to the rainforest. I’ll just say this about the rainforest, we took the Big Tree trail and it was pure torture (in a good way) and that was the easier trail!!!!!!!

 

It was supposedly 1.5 miles, I think not! It felt more like 15 miles. We didn’t get to enjoy the waterfall because it was raining by the time we reached it. Yes we could have gotten in because we would have still been wet anyhow, but once we reached the shelter area to get out of the rain, we weren’t walking down to the waterfall just to have to hike back up to the shelter area to continue with our hike. John shared some interesting facts about the rain forest, but I know I’d never camp there overnight because all of the nocturnal creatures fall out of the trees at night; eew! And we got to hear the coqui frog croak; it sounded like a chirping bird!

 

After our marathon walk in the rainforest, we stoped at Yokahu Tower and climbed 98 steps, or was it 93? to the top. The climb was nothing, but had we not done our trail first, I probably would have needed to stop and catch my breath. After the tower, John was taking us back to our respective hotels. I asked about Luquillo Beach and would have taken us there, but the group was tired and ready to head back. The drive back to Condado was basically quiet. After John dropped Joyce and Ron off, we asked him to stop at CVS so we could buy soda and water to take on the cruise.

 

Once back at the hotel we decided to go to OSJ to tour it. Before leaving, Monique, my aunt, took a shower, but my mom and I opted not to since we were still going to get sweaty. We decided to take the bus into OSJ since it was 50 cent to ride. We waited forever for a bus and several taxis stopped, asking if we wanted a ride (I kept turning them down because I read it cost $14 pp from Condado to the pier via taxi. I was wrong, the price wasn’t per person, it was the price for up to 5 passengers). After waiting eons for the bus, another taxi stopped and shouted it would be $2 pp for a ride into OSJ. We all took him up on the offer and he made more than $20.

 

We took pictures and bought jewelry from local artists and then we toured Castillo de San Cristobal. The fort is massive and we could have used another day to go through this one. Eventually we found ourselves at Sr. Frog’s (though I wanted to eat at Raices or a local restaurant, but my mom wouldn’t have eaten). The food was ok, nothing to really write home about (I had a quesadilla, Monique, a taco salad, and mom, chicken strips). Our drinks were good and we received a card for complimentary margaritas at the Sr Frog’s in St. Thomas.

 

Upon leaving Sr. Frog’s we made a wrong turn to head to the area to catch the cabs and ended up walking past the bus terminal and thought we’d give it another try with the bus. We waited maybe 15 minutes for our bus. While waiting we saw Freddy Kreuger; I took a picture of him, but it’s not that great. We had 2 buses we could catch back to Condado, I don’t remember them anymore, (I think one was the C21) and we saw one in the terminal. Turns out what’s showing on the top of the bus while they are “on break” before departure in not accurate. The route they will take updates when they are ready to start boarding. FYI, you must have exact change for the bus, if you use bills, you will not get refunded. And there are no set schedules for the buses; they come when they come. And outside of the bus terminal, if you want a bus, you must flag them down to get them to stop; otherwise, they will pass you up if you’re just sitting down at the bus stop (the driver just assumes you’re resting). The bus ride was fast, there were maybe 1 or 2 stops made. Once at the hotel, I walked around one last time and Monique and my mom went to the laundry facility to wash clothes. I showered and called it a night.

 

10/14/12: Check out was at 12:30 and we all slept in until the last possible minute. We repacked our bags to make sure the liquids were in our carry on. We ate breakfast then checked out of the hotel. Before leaving, we took more photos and then our bellhop flagged down a taxi for us. I think the cost was $21; we had to pay a dollar for each bag.

 

We arrive at the pier and it looks like a mad house, but surprisingly, we moved through with no problems. We may have spent 15 minutes in line before reaching the counters. We received our S&S cards, posed for our embarkation photos (group photo and individual photos) and we were on our way to get on the ship. I think I’m in love with the Port of San Juan; we received numerous samples of wine and alcohol. I can’t even count how many I had. We went to our rooms and put away our carry-ons. Before we left the room, our luggage arrived; Monique’s was the only luggage that didn’t arrive. We went to lido, grabbed a bite, and then exited the ship.

 

We headed to the pier to catch the ferry over to Cantano so we could do the Bacardi Tour. We arrived a couple of seconds too late and watched a ferry pull off. We had 30 minutes to kill before the next one, so we went and purchased bags from a street vendor we had passed on our way to the ferry. Then we stopped at the CVS to buy some water; it was extremely hot out! The ferry came 2 minutes after we walked back to the waiting area. The ferry ride was short and there were no cabs in site to get us to the Bacardi factory when we arrived in Catano. I was thinking, “oh, hell”. Well, really, I was thinking “Oh, s***!” But we were saved by the bell. I saw a taxi driver leaving from a convenience store and flagged him down. He took us to the factory for $3 pp.

 

When we arrived to the gate, the guard told our driver that the last tour had already departed. Mind you I did my research prior to arriving in San Juan and the last tour was scheduled to take place at 4 pm; it was 3:45! We asked if we could go to the gift store and he said yes. Now we’re in and a tour operator instructs us to get on the trolley and catch up to the tour that went before us and collect our drink coupon at the end of the tour. We hadn’t missed anything. The tour basically gives info on the process of making the rum, the reason the bat became their symbol, and a demonstration on making certain drinks with the rums.

 

We received our free drinks (so delicious) at the end of the tour and looked in the gift shop then headed back to the ferry. Once back in OSJ I wanted to visit El Morro, but my mom started complaining, so we headed back to the ship where I then consumed 8 or 10 more samples. I make myself sound like a lush, but I’m really not a drinker. LOL. We purchased vodka, rum, and wine and then we were back on the ship. We were hungry so we went to dinner. The first night was open seating, but we had YTD to begin with. We were in the Atlantic Dining Room and were seated with Lady and her team. If you’re looking for a food review, you really won’t get one. Everything I chose was good. Also, if you want an in depth review of the ship, I’ll try my best, but I didn't explore the entire ship. I know, that was sad on my part.

 

My review of the ship: Overall, I liked the Victory. She was a beauty to me. I've read reviews where people have stated it’s old and musty; not true! Yes, the ship is older, but it isn't musty. I did notice a sewage smell on one of the floors, but only on one night. Maybe someone’s toilet backed up? I stayed on the Main deck in cabin 2310. I didn't feel cramped at all, but the placement of one of the beds was weird. If you opened the door, people in the hallway could see if someone was in the bed; you had a full view! So keep that in mind. Our room was set up for 2 twins, but if you wanted the king bed, you would have had the weird placement. Monique was on deck 6 in cabin 6332. Her set up was better; no one could see the full bed. I liked the sea theme throughout the ship. I did board the ship worried I would hit the seahorses on the stairs; a lot of reviewers complained about that happening to them, but I say they must have been overly intoxicated or just clumsy by nature, because I never hit the sea horses and I took the stairs quite a bit. The décor in the library, club, internet café, and some other places were nice.

 

Word of advice, if you go to the Punchliner, bring a blanket! A polar bear could live in there! Apparently there’s a Red Frog Pub on the ship, but I never saw it….or maybe they just sell the beer? There’s a serenity deck, but I never used it; it was always crowded, and there weren’t a lot of kids on the ship, so I didn’t need it.

 

My dining room was the Atlantic, which I enjoyed. I was on the floor level too. On the last day of the cruise, the morning we were back in San Juan, we had breakfast in the (Galaxy??) and I’m so glad that wasn’t our dining room. The set up was a little funky; there was no way a person could see the show the wait staff puts on…and this was floor level!! Maybe it was better up top.

 

I never got in the hot tubs or the pools, but I did go down the slide several times. The lines on the lido deck were ok, but I always went to breakfast around 7:30 am. One morning we didn’t get there until 8:15 or 8:30 and the lines were unbearable. I think I grabbed a grapefruit and some bananas. I’m picky about breakfast; I don’t eat breakfast meats and don’t like powdered eggs. I want my pancakes!!!! I will say that I was shocked this cruise; the oatmeal was actually good! The aft area on the lido had a leak; one of the tables had a constant drip of water falling down on it. The omelet station was always busy. The eating areas on aft seemed to be less congested. It took me a couple of days to figure this out, but turning right leads you forward on the ship, and turning left leads you towards the aft. The main floor is deck 5, you can get to all areas of the ship from there. I’d sail her again, but looks like it will only happen in Miami now sine the Valor is repositioning to San Juan.

 

Sorry if the review didn’t make sense, but I wrote things as I thought them.

 

10/15/12: We’ve arrived in St. Thomas! St. Thomas is a beauty in my opinion. I will plan a land vacation there. Our itinerary for the day is to go to Paradise Point (booked through Carnival), then do a land tour with Godfrey Tours, and then a sea trek at Coral World Ocean Park. We disembarked and headed to Paradise Point only to discover the lift was down; the staff prepared for the storm the day before, and we were told to come back at 11:00 am. Well, we had a tour with Godfrey at 11 so we couldn’t do it.

FYI, everyone has always stated to buy the Paradise Point tickets through Carnival because they are cheaper ($20) when compared to buying them at the park ($25). Well, I learned the $25 covers the sky lift and a tour of the island!!!!!! If you buy through Carnival, you’ll only get the sky lift.

 

Well, we had 2 hrs to kiss so we looked at stores, took pictures and then walked back to Paradise Point because we were meeting Godfrey there. Godfrey had a full van, so he sent Burlie to give us our tour. We had the van all to ourselves. They provided soda and water for us if wanted it. I don’t remember all of the stops we made, but they were all breathtaking stops. Burlie even took a route that Godfrey doesn’t take because his van is larger and can’t make it through the tight turns. We did have a stop at Mountain Top; absolutely gorgeous views from there. Our final stop was at Coki Beach, but I pre-booked our sea trek at Coral World Ocean Park so we walked over there. Burlie came back for us after our excursion.

 

We were early for our appointment, so we walked around, took pictures, and watched the sea-lion show. 2:30 finally arrived and we went for our briefing then did the trek. It was cool, but my water proof camera flooded and I was pissed, but Olympus is taking care of me. Burlie dropped us off at Sr Frogs so we could get our free margaritas. We took them to go and ran back to the ship because we were cutting it close on time. I panicked for a moment because I thought the gates to get out of the port were closed, but we were fine; people were still getting on the ship. Once on the ship we showered and went to dinner in the dining room.

 

If I failed to mention it, it was my mom’s birthday. When it was time for dessert, my mom’s cake was delivered to the table (I pre ordered it) and the waitstaff sung 3 versions of HBD to her; the regular version, Stevie Wonder’s version, and 50 Cent’s version, and put a bow on her head made from the napkins. My mom isn’t a cake eater, but I wanted something delivered to her. The chocolate cake was mmm-mmm-good. It was so good that we ordered another one. I’m sure we did something after dinner, but I don’t recall. I do remember at some point I showered and went to bed.

 

10/16/12: This was our sea day and I had a photo scavenger hunt planned for us. This was so fun. My mom won the challenge! I didn’t recall everything else done that day, but we eventually got dressed for elegant night. Dinner was good and do remember going to the night club and dancing. We caught 2 comedy shows that night. I don’t recall the comedian’s name, but he was funny. And I loved the host Miguel. He said “azucar” after everything he said. Eventually my mom called it a night, but Monique and I went back to the night club. We danced some more and then called it a night.

 

10/17/12: Barbados. I wanted to do a snorkel and turtle encounter, but my mom didn’t want to do it and I hadn’t heard back from Nicole or Monique and I didn’t want to book it and be the only one going. So I didn’t pre-book anything for this port. We hired a taxi to give us a tour of the island. It was $20 pp. Barbados is nothing to write home about. We didn’t have a real beach break, but the one we did visit was pretty. I asked the driver to stop for local food and he assured me we would, but that never happened. When I realized we were headed back to the ship I informed him of his oversight and he told me that he mentioned it when we stopped in the city; he did not, but he did offer to take me back, but I declined. It’s possible he thought he mentioned it because while we were in the city I needed a bandaid for my bleeding finger. I didn’t have small bills and Paris, the driver, mentioned I could go the pharmacy but needed small bills because the store only refunded in Barbados dollars. Well, he was nice enough to go to the pharmacy with me and he purchased them for me. FYI, they call bandaids plasters and plasters are much cheaper the brand Band-Aid! Back in port we sampled rum that would put hair on your chest. I bought a bottle for a friend who has a palette for it.

 

Activities on the ship are a blur at the moment. We ate in the dining room this night. We weren’t seated with Lady this night because it was extremely busy that night. I don’t recall who we were seated with but their service was horrible! The server one section over was entertaining; too bad we didn’t get him. We couldn’t wait for dinner to end. We stopped by our cabins for a moment and discovered we had a treat from the dining room apologizing for the long wait. We went to a show this night, but I was bored to pieces, so I left and called it a night. I had been operating on little fumes of energy.

 

10/18/12: We’re in St. Lucia and I’m amped for the day because I pre-booked an excursion with Treetop; I booked the Triple Adventure (jeep safari, zipline, and waterfall hike) for $89! Monique didn’t book when I sent the information to her and the special was no longer running and paid $125 which isn’t bad because Carnival’s zip line excursion is $99 or $119 with a different company and they don’t have as many lines as Treetop (12) and is only for the zipline. Showayne William was our guide for the day. Our groups were split by the packages chosen…those who didn’t book our package were in an air conditioned van and we were in an open-air jeep. Basically, we had a tour of the island like the others did, but once we were off the main streets, we were able to stand up for a thrilling ride; one where you could lose an eye or your head if you didn’t duck when instructed to. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t have lost an eye or your head, but you could be injured because of the foliage in the rainforest.

 

Once we were at Treetop, we disembarked the jeep and went in to be harnessed. Oh, we did put away our belongings first. Note: The lockers have no locks, but no one stole anything. I’m not too trusting, so I did put my money in my sock; I wasn’t leaving that in an open locker! I wore a backpack and thought I could bring it on the zip line, but I couldn’t. While walking to the demo platform, they told us which lines were easy and which were more challenging. My mom was funny…she told the guides to put her on the easy lines. I explained to her that it didn’t work that way. She then stated she’d only do the 1st line and not do the rest. I told her if she wanted to get out of the park she had to do them all (I know, I was wrong for doing that, but I had to get her to do something different for a change). She made it through all 12 lines although she was angry after the 1st one; the guide gave her the slowdown signal too late and she crashed into the tree. It scared her, but she was fine…the trees are well padded. I crashed into one too. The guides did fuss at me on my 1st line because I spun and in my attempt to face them, I grabbed the top line; thank God I wasn’t hurt.

 

After the zipline we headed to another area via the jeep and had to walk down a trail and cross over a brook to get to the waterfall. Let me tell you, it was rough on my feet because I was barefoot, I wasn’t going to walk in mud and water in my tennis shoes. We were instructed to only wear watershoes or flip flops and guess who left theirs on the ship? Me (raises hand). Technically, I wasn’t barefeet because Monique had flip flops I could use, but it felt like I was because those rocks were sharp and it was muddy and the flip flops kept getting stuck in the mud. I took my Kodak Sport Video Camera because my water proof camera died in St. Thomas. Though it can take photos, the zoom sucks. As long as we were at the base of the waterfall our pictures were great, but if we wanted to the climb the rocks to get in the waterfall, we’d need a better camera. So I asked one of the ladies on the tour with us if she’d mind if Showayne used her camera to take pictures of me and Monique (my mom didn’t come down for the waterfall because she didn’t wear her swimsuit). So, many thanks to Monica and she sent the photos as promised!

 

On the way back to the jeep it began to pour down on us. Showayne gave us ponchos, but I opted not to take one…I was already soaked. Once we left the rainforest and the country-side of the island, the sun came out. We stopped to take a photo at the location where Pirates of the Caribeean 1&2 were filmed. Monica and her family and I decided to eat the local food before heading back to the ship. Showayne stayed with us and the others were taken back to the ship. We ate at The Dolphin Ocean and the food was delicious to me. I had the fish meal which consisted of fish, fried plantains, cooked plantains, macaroni and cheese, and rice and peas. Monica had the chicken meal, her husband the lamb meal, and she ordered the chicken plate for her children. The plate came with French fries. I also had a small cup of rum punch…whoa is all I have to say…I think there was more rum than punch…if someone had a lighter they could have set my breath on fire. It burned going down. Let’s just say it took a while for that to wear off.

 

I walked across to the flea market and bought some local soap then went back to the restaurant so Sowayne could walk us to the pier. At some point we went to our 2nd elegant night, but avoided taking pictures. We walked around the ship and went to the Lido deck for my mom because she didn’t eat all of her food from the dining room. We caught a show and my mom eventually headed back to our cabin, but Monique and I explored some more and found ourselves at the Mexican buffet. We ate some dessert and called it a night. Well, I wasn’t exactly sleepy, so I decided to play a prank on Monique. Earlier that day she told us how her room steward fell in love with her. He hit on her, telling her that he was lonely and needed affection. So, after I let her know I made it to my cabin, I called her back 10 minutes later pretending to be a man. She thought it was my mom playing a joke on her. Long story short, she hung up and wouldn’t answer the phone anymore. So I gave it a rest and called early in the morning, saying, “Monique, you hung up on me. I was in want of you last night. May I come to your room?” She hung up and immediately called our room. I feigned ignorance and told her I didn’t know what she was talking about. Once we arrived to her room I came clean because I didn’t want her to think it was her room steward or anyone else for that matter and call guest services and get someone in trouble behind me playing a joke. And I forgot to mention this will be a land vacation too.

 

10/19/12: We’re up early and head to Lido for breakfast and then we’re on our way to meet Royston for our tour of St. Kitts. Guess I booked too late because his cousin Ashton provided our tour, but it was fine, our group was smaller and more intimate. We stopped at Romney Manor, a botanical garden, took pictures with monkeys, and toured a fort. We also had a stop at a beach that wasn’t far from an active volcano. The fort wasn’t as big as the forts in San Juan, but it was much taller. Getting up to the fort was a bit scary, but all of the rides in all islands were scary because of the narrow roads and hairpin turns with the death drops! Ashton showed/told us about some home remedies and showed us a “touch me not” plant. The views from the fort and the botanical garden were breathtaking. Ashton made a stop to get our lunch and then we headed to another beach. Afterwards, we were taken back to the ship. And before I forget, Ashton takes a lot of pride in his work; he’s a real history buff.

 

Back at the port, the infamous guy with the monkeys approached us and stated it would be $5 to take pictures with them…with our own cameras! I read all about him and knew not to do this, but Monique had already agreed to it. I heard he charged others $10 so I was trying to find out if the $5 would be for both of us and before I knew it, he had thrown a monkey on me. Turns out it was $5 pp and the guy was impatient. The monkey moved my shades and as I was trying to adjust them, the guy continued to take pictures with my shades on crooked. Avoid him if you can.

 

I showered when back on the ship because I was the only one to get in the water at the beach and I had Chef’s Table to go to. Monique and my mom ate on the Lido. We stated we’d meet each other at 10:00 for the comedy show. I really enjoyed the Chef’s Table. I ate everything! It’s worth the $75. I teased the chef and told him he had to come home with me because I ate a tomato dish and I hate tomatoes! By the time dessert came I was stuffed, so I asked them to prepare my dessert so I could take it to go. Chef’s Table started at 6 pm and didn’t end until 10:30 pm!

 

I was late getting to the comedy show. Once I spotted my mom and Monique, I headed to the table and next thing I know, the whole room erupts into laughter and some people shout, “She made it!” Turns out my mom had been watching the door the entire night and the comedian called her out about it. She explained I was at CT and he told her I was in someone’s cabin. So, once I had arrived, he asked me about CT and I told him I was stuffed, and he said, “I bet you are.” The crowd just lost it. The comedian was Happy Cole. He was a riot. We stuck around for his next show and I went to the room for cash so I could buy his CD. I’m sure we did something else before going to bed, but I don’t remember.

 

10/20/12: St Maarten, where do I begin? Well, when we reached the yellow building in port, a uniformed officer asked what we were doing for the day. I told him and then he asked for my name; people who had pre-booked excursions names were already provided to the guards!!!!! He instructed us where to go and then a rep for Bernard’s Tours collected our money for the tour. Afterwards, we were on our way for a tour of the island.

 

Sexy was our driver. Our 1st stop was to an iguana farm and there was an iguana that looked like a miniature dog; it was huge! The rest of our stops I can’t recall in which order. We toured both sides of the island, Dutch and French. We had a 15 minute stop at Orient Beach and it was absolutely gorgeous. I now hate I didn’t choose a beach break and I’m wondering why most people hate Orient. We had a stop where we could see Pinel Island; you have to take a ferry to actually get to it. We had a very brief shopping stop; we told Sexy we were there to see the sights. He took us to a location that’s not a part of the tour and it was a sight to see.

 

We went to Sarraphina’s Bakery on the French side; the sandwich we ate was delicious, but my cheesecake was dry. We had other stops on the French side, but I don’t remember them. We eventually headed to Maho Beach to watch the planes land. I had a guava berry smoothie or something at the bar there; it was ok. And I forgot Sexy had rum and other drinks for us on the van. I wasn’t too fond of the rum because I don’t like apple juice and that was the base of their rum. We walked over to the casino to use the facilities and I noticed that cigarettes were $2, so I took out my camera to take a picture of the vending machine and an employee yelled at me. She said I couldn’t take pictures and I said of the vending machine, and she said no…so we left. I may have stayed a little longer, but she rubbed me the wrong way with her tone. I fell in love with St. Maarten so I’m researching prices to there for my birthday in July!

 

We’re back in port and check out prices on the guava berry rum; it’s more than I want to pay, so I leave it there. We never made it to dinner this night. We grabbed something from the Lido deck. My mom and Monique spent time washing clothes and I packed my mom’s luggage. Eventually I found myself in the Photo Gallery looking for my pictures that were nowhere to be found. To say I was highly pissed off about the lack of organization in the Photo Gallery is an understatement. I eventually found my pictures and purchased what I wanted. I headed back to the room and finished packing. I did well; I came with 2 non-checked bags, so did my mom, and left with 2 non-checked bags and 1 checked bag, each. We went to see Happy Cole again, but I was asleep at the comedy show. When we got to the room I didn’t bother showering; I went to sleep in my clothes. I woke up in the middle of the night because I was hot and took a shower.

 

10/21/12: Back in San Juan. We went to (Galaxy???) for breakfast. I used my drink coupon, but was charged tax on the drink because we were back in port. After breakfast we hung out in the Lido deck until debarkation number 25 was called. After going through customs to get off the ship, we entered the mad race for cabs. Some lady tried to cut in front of us and take our cab, but the “cab police” told her it was ours and told us to get in. That woman was furious! Anyhow, we get through FDA and customs with the no problems at the airport. Now it’s just a waiting game; our flight didn’t leave until 4:30 and we were in the boarding area by 12 pm. I saw the chef while I was in the airport; I thought he was really coming home with me. LOL But that was my trip in a nut shell!

 

Forgive me if there were comma splices, run-on sentences, or sentences that just make any sense.

 

Hope you enjoyed my travels!

Edited by Help@
Bolding headers

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great info, thanks for sharing :)

 

 

Barry

Edited by BarJen

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I totaly enjoyed your review and can't wait to see your pictures....We love St Maarten it is our all time favorite Port to visit.....

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Bear with me; I took over 800 photos, but will only post the ones that will give you an idea of the fun we had and the beautiful scenery we saw. :)

 

While uploading 5 photos I received an error message. So I will try again later to post the photos.

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Thanks for your review...long overdue or not. :):):):)

 

Great review! Can't wait to see pictures!

 

Thank you two! I will try and post pictures. I was having problems, but someone gave advice on getting them in from FB. So, I'll try that.

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Thank you two! I will try and post pictures. I was having problems' date=' but someone gave advice on getting them in from FB. So, I'll try that.[/quote']

 

Did u post the pics on FB? gotta see !!!

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Did u post the pics on FB? gotta see !!!

 

They are on FB. I contemplated posting them on here, but didn't know if I should resurrect the dead post. But since you've asked, I'll post them.

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Back information. Last year I surprised my mother with a cruise for her birthday, this year wasn't a surprise, she knew about it.

 

I reached out to her friends to see if they wanted to join us on this cruise; 2 stated they couldn't go, but the others never said anything. I don't like feeling like I'm bothering you, so I didn't bother sending information to them again. After they saw the photos they were upset stating that I didn't remind them about the cruise! Whatever!

 

We're spending two days in San Juan prior to the cruise and I've researched like crazy on activities to do. Something was planned in every port except for Barbados.

 

10/12/12:

 

We had a direct flight from Houston to San Juan. Our flight was smooth. Upon landing I had a text from my driver stating that he was waiting for me (our flight arrived 30 min early). OMG! My driver was extremely handsome. Too bad he was married. But I rode up front with him. He gave us suggestions on places to eat and for reasonable prices (too bad we didn't go to any of them; my mom's a picky eater!)

 

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Anyhow, we had maybe a 10-15 min drive to our hotel, the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza. I didn’t explore the hotel a great deal except later that night, but if I find myself in San Juan again, I’d most definitely stay there again. The property was gorgeous! It was split in two buildings. The building that didn’t have the Denny’s housed the ocean-view rooms and the casino. The building with the Denny’s housed the Lagoon-view rooms. I booked a lagoon-view room, but was pleasantly surprised that I had been upgraded to an ocean-view room.

 

We took plenty of photos and then headed out to explore Condado.

 

Hotel photos

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I forgot to mention; the photos with a date stamp were taken with my mom's camera and the date was wrong. I eventually saw it and corrected it, but we were well into the trip when I did notice it.

 

Photos around the hotel

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Photos around Condado

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We eventually found ourselves at Orozco’s, an authentic Puerto Rican establishment, and decided to eat there. My mother didn’t find anything on the menu except for an alcoholic beverage. Remember, my mom is very picky. She wouldn’t even try the dishes we ordered! I ordered the chicken mofongo and my aunt ordered fish.

 

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After we finished our meal, we stopped at Chili’s for my mom and she ordered chicken strips!!! We called it a night because we had to rise early for our rainforest tour in the morning. I will say the beds are extremely comfy and the pillows were plush. The hotel doesn’t have a microwave on the property or in the rooms, but I called the front desk to inquire about one and they delivered one to me.

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10/13/12:

 

I don’t recall what time I got up, but I went to Denny’s for breakfast. The service was slow (and there weren’t a lot of patrons in the restaurant!), but our server was attentive. Mom and I had to pack our food to go because I received a call from John stating that he was en route to the hotel. John, aka Rubio, is the owner of Rubio’s Tours. He provides guided tours in El Yunque and ensures you see the best of the rainforest. This was a shared excursion with a lovely couple I met here on Cruise Critic, Joyce and her husband Ron. After picking us up, we headed to Joyce and Ron’s hotel to pick them up. We had maybe a 45 min drive to the rainforest. I’ll just say this about the rainforest, we took the Big Tree trail and it was pure torture (in a good way) and that was the easier trail!!!!!!!

 

It was supposedly 1.5 miles, I think not! It felt more like 15 miles. We didn’t get to enjoy the waterfall because it was raining by the time we reached it. Yes we could have gotten in because we would have still been wet anyhow, but once we reached the shelter area to get out of the rain, we weren’t walking down to the waterfall just to have to hike back up to the shelter area to continue with our hike. John shared some interesting facts about the rain forest, but I know I’d never camp there overnight because all of the nocturnal creatures fall out of the trees at night; eew! And we got to hear the coqui frog croak; it sounded like a chirping bird!

 

Rainforest photo break

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My aunt and I thought the guy was crazy for climbing up there...and then we did it!

 

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My mom was supposed to be taking our picture as we climbed to the top, but she's posing with Rubio

 

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We made it!

 

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More rainforest photos

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I was literally scared to hold my arms up

 

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This was the start of the trail and Monique is touching something she has no business touching.

 

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I wouldn't have touched the trees to begin with, but after seeing that, I definitely wasn't touching any trees!!! And Rubio told us that snails fell out of the trees...I was done...my hat never came off!

 

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Rainforest photos

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The roots of a tree. This is so neat. The tree is alive

 

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It hadn't rained yet!

 

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A ray of light. We're nearing the end of the trail!

 

After our marathon walk in the rainforest, we stopped at Yokahu Tower and climbed 98 steps, or was it 93? to the top. The climb was nothing, but had we not done our trail first, I probably would have needed to stop and catch my breath.

 

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Our view from the top. Absolutely breathtaking!

 

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Another breathtaking view from the top

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After the tower, John was taking us back to our respective hotels. I asked about Luquillo Beach and he would have taken us there, but the group was tired and ready to head back. The drive back to Condado was basically quiet. After John dropped Joyce and Ron off, we asked him to stop at CVS so we could buy soda and water to take on the cruise.

 

Once back at the hotel we decided to go to OSJ to tour it. Before leaving, Monique, my aunt, took a shower, but my mom and I opted not to since we were still going to get sweaty. We decided to take the bus into OSJ since it was 50 cent to ride. We waited forever for a bus and several taxis stopped, asking if we wanted a ride (I kept turning them down because I read it cost $14 pp from Condado to the pier via taxi. I was wrong, the price wasn’t per person, it was the price for up to 5 passengers). After waiting eons for the bus, another taxi stopped and shouted it would be $2 pp for a ride into OSJ. Everyone at the bus stop took him up on the offer and he made more than $20.

 

We took pictures and bought jewelry from local artists and then we toured Castillo de San Cristobal. The fort is massive and we could have used another day to go through this one.

 

OSJ Pictures

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More OSJ photos

 

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My mom forbade from taking a photo up here! Really mom? She wouldn't let Monique do it either, but when my mom went to the rest room, she took it any way...and had me to take it! Do you see the port behind Monique?

 

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The perfect prop for her; she loves to read

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Eventually we found ourselves at Sr. Frog’s (though I wanted to eat at Raices or a local restaurant, but my mom wouldn’t have eaten). The food was ok, nothing to really write home about (I had a quesadilla, Monique, a taco salad, and mom, chicken strips). Our drinks were good and we received a card for complimentary margaritas at the Sr Frog’s in St. Thomas.

 

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Yes, Monique ate it all!!!!

 

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Do you see Spider Man?

 

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This baffled me. Is there really a need to have a flat iron vending machine? I guess people use it since Sr. Frogs has one in their restroom

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