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Former Goalie

AOS suggestions and mini mini review

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We are just off the AOS. We thought the ship was in great shape, showed only the very smallest signs of wear. The staff was universally nice. We especially would like to extend kudos to DD, the concierge in the CL on deck nine, and Mohan, the exceptional bartender in the Viking Crown Lounge. So many cruisers have mentioned mixed experiences with the concierge on the AOS; DD is the concierge for the time being, and she couldn't be nicer and more accommodating. Mohan addressed me by name from day one, and remembered my desired beverage each time I visited after the first time. The ice show is spectacular, a must see. Portofinos is wonderful.

We found out that this itinerary is just OK, but we prefer more time at sea. This one only travelled about 1,300 nautical miles, some routes travel twice that over the course of a seven day cruise. Aruba was OK, Willemsted, we had rain the whole day, so that kind of limited things there.

 

Embarkation at the Pan-American pier is the worst we have seen on any cruise we have been on. We have cruised out of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Norfolk, Seward, Seattle, and San Pedro, as well as PR.

We arrived at 2 PM, the lines were LOOOONG, and there were no porters to take your bags, so you had to queue up with your luggage! Fortunately, after a short while, we saw the sign for diamond and platinum C & A, and suite pax, on the wall on the other side of this line, about half way down. We made our way over there, just crossing the line was a little difficult. Finally made it over there, and showed our docs, and a baggage handler went across the line, claimed our bags, brought them over, and tagged them. We were then directed to the front of the line, and into the terminal. This saved a lot of time, and frustration.

 

A suggestion on the immigration check on the ship in St. Thomas; unless you absolutely have to get off the ship when the doc check starts at 7:30 AM, wait until later. Looked at the line at 7:30 and it stretched a ways down the Promenade. We went at about 9:20 AM, we were there with about five other people.

This immigration check may be a factor in disembarkation, as well. We did not have to show our passports, and the whole thing was pretty easy. We were in group one, but waited until 3 or 4 was called. We were off the ship and through immigration shortly after nine. Got a cab ($25 plus tip), and were at the airport between 9:30 AM and 9:45 AM. We hailed a porter there, and we strongly suggest that. If we had queued in the US Airways line, we would have been there a long, long time. The porter went to the baggage/ticketing kiosk and checked our bags and got us boarding passes in five minutes. Well worth the generous gratuity which he very much earned, and which we gladly gave him. We then went through security, which was about a five minute process.

SJU can be a nightmare on Sundays, as some others have mentioned, but there are ways to deal with that. Some have suggested waiting until the day after disembarkation to avoid the Sunday crunch there. I would suggest that flights out of SJU after 12 noon Sunday are fairly safe to book. There is always the possibility that AOS disembarkation will be held up for some reason, although is a relatively slim risk on the AOS or any other ship. I think that risk may be lessened by the immigration document check the prior day in St. Thomas USVI, but that is just my guess.

Hope this helps, and enjoy the AOS!

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Thanks for your mini-review - will you be adding more details about your cruise?

I am on the AOS in January and looking very forward to it :) I am not, however, looking forward to the boarding process which you have described! We are in a Grand Suite so that should help eliminate some of the long line ups.

What else can you share with us about the ship itself? What cabin were you in? How was the food?

I look forward to reading more!

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Thanks for your mini-review - will you be adding more details about your cruise?

I am on the AOS in January and looking very forward to it :) I am not, however, looking forward to the boarding process which you have described! We are in a Grand Suite so that should help eliminate some of the long line ups.

What else can you share with us about the ship itself? What cabin were you in? How was the food?

I look forward to reading more!

We were in an OS on the "hump", starboard side. Absolutely make a bee line for the priority check in sign, that is an invaluable perk, especially in San Juan.

The food was very good. It was not five star, nor would I expect it to be five star on a ship serving 3,600 pax multiple meals.

We did not eat in the dining room (that is one thing we prefer about NCL - Freestyle dining - and Princess - Personal choice dining). We prefer to eat when we want to. So, we went to Portofinos once, which was very, very good, the other times we went to the Windjammer for dinner.

In the Windjammer for dinner you actually have more choices than the DR. There is a sushi station, as well as an antipasto section, every night. All the same entrees as the DR, plus some, every night (except "lobster night" on Friday).

We did not do any ship sponsored excursions. We just walked around Oranjestad and shopped while in Aruba, Willemsted we took a taxi in to town, which I don't think we would do again. We didn't have much choice there, all shore excursions were cancelled, it was raining steadily.

 

St. Maarten, we took a taxi over to Marigot ($8 pp + tip each way).

St. Thomas, we took a taxi for a beach day at Magen's Bay ($8 pp + tip each way), that was great. Not crowded at all, as we were the only ship in port. Last time we were in St. Thomas, there were five ships in port, and Magen's Bay was much, much more crowded.

 

Enjoy the beautiful AOS!

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We were in an OS on the "hump", starboard side. Absolutely make a bee line for the priority check in sign, that is an invaluable perk, especially in San Juan.

The food was very good. It was not five star, nor would I expect it to be five star on a ship serving 3,600 pax multiple meals.

We did not eat in the dining room (that is one thing we prefer about NCL - Freestyle dining - and Princess - Personal choice dining). We prefer to eat when we want to. So, we went to Portofinos once, which was very, very good, the other times we went to the Windjammer for dinner.

In the Windjammer for dinner you actually have more choices than the DR. There is a sushi station, as well as an antipasto section, every night. All the same entrees as the DR, plus some, every night (except "lobster night" on Friday).

We did not do any ship sponsored excursions. We just walked around Oranjestad and shopped while in Aruba, Willemsted we took a taxi in to town, which I don't think we would do again. We didn't have much choice there, all shore excursions were cancelled, it was raining steadily.

 

St. Maarten, we took a taxi over to Marigot ($8 pp + tip each way).

St. Thomas, we took a taxi for a beach day at Magen's Bay ($8 pp + tip each way), that was great. Not crowded at all, as we were the only ship in port. Last time we were in St. Thomas, there were five ships in port, and Magen's Bay was much, much more crowded.

 

Enjoy the beautiful AOS!

 

Thanks for the info - greatly appreciated! Glad you had an enjoyable cruise :)

Our GS is on the hump too (1324) and from what I'm told, it's supposed to be a great location for a variety of reasons.

We don't plan on eating in the DR more than 1 or 2 nights for the whole cruise. We actually prefer the more casual dining atmosphere of the Windjammer and we too prefer to eat when we want to!

Some other reviewers have commented on the # of "locals" aboard the ship - what was your feeling on this?

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There were 1,600 "locals" on the ship, you heard more Spanish than English, no big. Some "locals" were there to party hearty, just as some Orlando residents are when embarking in Port Canaveral. I'd say it was a pretty normal, enthusiastic bunch of cruisers, much like other non-holiday bookings we've had before.

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Thanks for your review!!! This gets me even more excited about this cruise again on the AOS!! I am planning to try Portofino's this time, but did not the last AOS cruise! Tuesday seems to be the choice for that dinner for me. Hopefully we will not have any rain the day we are in Aruba....Palm Beach here we come!

 

What did you do in Curacao??? We are planning our own trip to Orient Beach in St. Maartin and St. Thomas we are planning Magen's Bay this time vs. Trunk Bay, but we are not completely sure....Trunk Bay is absolutely breathtaking!

 

Happy Cruising!

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The whole ship did nothing in Curacao, all excursions cancelled, steady, fairly heavy rain.

We love St. John, as well, the beaches are ever so slightly nicer than Megan's. We felt, on the last day of our cruise, we did not want to add all the travel time of going to St. John. As I mentioned, with one ship in port, Magen's was not crowded at all.

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