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anniedave

Would anyone be interested in reading a Celebrity Reflection review from a newbie?

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12 hours ago, Happy Cruiser 6143 said:

I'd love to read your review.  It's always fun to hear what someone who is new to cruising thinks.  I remember the sense of wonder from my first cruise.  At the time, I knew nothing about Cruise Critic.  Plus, I'm tired of reading about Corona and how Celebrity isn't refunding money!

Thankyou Yes exactly,  I miss reading the positive posts and reviews , I do understand how upset and frustrating people are finding the situation but I'm fed up of hearing about  COVID and refunds.  I was wishing for a new review to read and then it occured to me rather than waiting, I should probably have a go at writing one ! 

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12 hours ago, vms said:

Oh this is wonderful! I love reading about how you rolled with all of the changes, and you did an amazing job of finding deals.

 

Really looking forward to more!

Thankyou. Yes I enjoy reading all the planning that goes into the trips when I read reviews, so thought I would include it. I'm happy to spend money on something if its within our budget but I love to find a bargain when I can ! 

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12 hours ago, frteach said:

Really enjoying this, Annie! Cruising is life-changing, I always said. Glad to hear it worked out for you job-wise. Those "pods" to transport you from hotel to an airport terminal look like a great idea, and so cute. For a huge airport, HR is remarkably easy to navigate, I found. I am a planner as well, and I have never felt the need for a TA in these internet times. My husband, also named Dave, seems much like yours in that he doesn't give much input ahead of time, then springs into action the day before we leave. He has even asked "Where are we going again?"

Thankyou, as you will have read, sadly we didnt get to use the pods but I think the method we used in the end  was probably easier .

Because of where we live, getting to Stansted or Gatwick is easier than Heathrow as it means going round the dreaded M25 motorway, which is never fun. As it turned out because we went at lunchtime we managed to avoid rush hour! 

Your comment about your Dave made me laugh. My Dave just gives me his holiday request forms to fill out so not only do I have to tell him where we are going I also have to let him know when hes on holiday from work ! 

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11 hours ago, mouseRD said:

Proud of you for doing what was good for you!  My sister always encourages me in this regard...and it all worked out in the end with more peace of mind for you.

Thankyou . Yes I definately made the right decision. As well as my family  I have a best friend who  I have known since our daughters were babies , she is like a sister and we always encourage and support each other in anything we do, which us a massive help when things get tough. 

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11 hours ago, mouseRD said:

can feel the excitement you were feeling when I was reading that part of your post!  So wonderful!

Thankyou, I was....very excited. I'd been saying the last few weeks prior to the cruise that I would feel like my holiday had started when I was sat in the hotel at Heathrow with a large glass of wine ...so I was just waiting for that moment !! 

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11 hours ago, abritinva said:

Great start to your review Annie. We were 'first timers' this year on Summit. I posted my review here: https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=679289

 

We hope to be going to the ABC islands in 2021 on Celebrity so interested in what you discovered.

 

Safe travels!

Thankyou. I have just been and read your review, it was great. We have booked out 2nd cruise, which is on the Millenium for 2022 and have an aft veranda overlooking the Sunset bar with a larger balcony so it was interesting to read your take on it. 

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11 hours ago, bluwes said:

Really looking forward to the review. We should be getting off the Reflection tomorrow 24th having just done that itinerary 

Thankyou . I'm sorry you missed your cruise. I feel so sorry for anyone who has a cancelled cruise. We keep saying how lucky we were that my birthday is when it is, because just a month later and we would have missed out and I would have been devastated.  I hope you get to do a cruise soon 

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9 hours ago, shefie123 said:

Would love to read your review.  And any pictures you can share.  We have a cruise booked on the Reflection for next April.  Would love to hear your thoughts on the ship.   Hoping life will get back to some sort of "normal" before next April but, if not, I will just have to continue reading reviews and dreaming about some day....

Lots of pictures to share as I go along. I have a few videos too if I can figure out how to attach them!! Hopefully by next April, things will be getting back to normality and this will all seem like  a horrible nightmare ! 

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8 hours ago, mchell810 said:

Thanks for this review.  It's lovely to have something positive to read.  No reason to apologize about including planning/packing -- many of us find that an enjoyable part of the cruise.  

 

 

This gave me a great laugh.  I remember that post about the ladies room hook -- I too took comfort from it. Clearly, there is a lot of obsessing happening when looking forward to a trip 😜

 

 

Sounds like a good plan.  I'll have to keep that in mind for my long layover on an international flight (when vacationing starts again.)

 

Thankyou glad you are enjoying the review . I love a long review with lots of details and a bit of background. Hopefully this will keep people a bit entertained ! 

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7 hours ago, ejnsb said:

This is just what tge doctor ordered.  I have been searching through earlier pages to find trip reports to read or reread.  Now a brand new one! Maybe you will inspire a few others who cruised before the shut down to give it a try. 

Thankyou , yes I had been searching for reviews to read myself ...so if this encourages others to write one that would be brilliant ! 

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6 hours ago, cachouonacruise said:

Thank-you anniedave for the detailed and interesting review so far.

 

It’s fun to have something fresh to read about cruising. 

 

I look forward to read the rest of your review.

Thankyou, glad you are enjoying it. 

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6 hours ago, dolittle said:

Enjoying this, keep it coming.

Thankyou lots more to come 

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5 hours ago, bunnyette said:

Fantastic review, I look forward to the next chapter...

Thank you ...next chapter later today ! 

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5 hours ago, LisaLeone said:

This is delightful, Anne...thank you for the diversion. In my mind, I am toasting you with a glass of fizz (which I think I shall call it henceforth!)

Thankyou . The funny thing is that in the UK champagne & orange juice is called Bucks Fizz...I'm sure there is a story behind it ??? Anyway on the cruise I decided that as it contained orange juice it was perfectly acceptable as my morning tipple after breakfast. I just had to keep remembering to ask for a Mimosa when I ordered or they didnt know what I was talking about !!! By the third day the staff at the Sunset bar knew to give me mine in a large wine glass, as it saved them having to pour me a second one !!!  .. .but as I said earlier...alcohol on holiday doesnt really count ! 

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3 hours ago, NemoCrownie said:

This is a fabulous review! We were supposed to be on the cancelled 14 day Silhouette replacement cruise for the cancelled 12 night cruise. We are booked on the Reflection next February and I am having a difficult time getting excited and doing my usual planning.  This review is the perfect anecdote! Thank you.

Thankyou , glad you are enjoying . Hope it inspires you to get excited and start planning ! 

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Posted (edited)

Annie  -- 

Your review is fantastic!  You share your enthusiasm, observations, enjoyment & excitement in a friendly & light-hearted manner.  Can't wait to read more.  Unfortunately, we had hoped to sail on one of the cancelled cruises:  Eclipse, 03/15/20 - Santiago (San Antonio), Chile to San Diego, CA. 

 

Can't wait for the rest of your review - you may have a new calling in front of you, cruise travels & reviews.  It appears in the first 1-1/2 days you are truly enjoying yourselves...  Do we have to wait until the end of the cruise to learn if you have joined the ranks of the rest of us on Cruise Critic, looking forward to the next cruise (whenever that may be at this point)...

 

Thanks for Sharing!

Cheers  --  Von & John

Edited by Von & John

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8 minutes ago, Von & John said:

Annie  -- 

Your review is fantastic!  You share your enthusiasm, observations, enjoyment & excitement in a friendly & light-hearted manner.  Can't wait to read more.  Unfortunately, we had hoped to sail on one of the cancelled cruises:  Eclipse, 03/15/20 - Santiago (San Antonio), Chile to San Diego, CA. 

 

Can't wait for the rest of your review - you may have a new calling in front of you, cruise travels & reviews.  It appears in the first 1-1/2 days you are truly enjoying yourselves...  Do we have to wait until the end of the cruise to learn if you have joined the ranks of the rest of us on Cruise Critic, looking forward to the next cruise (whenever that may be at this point)...

 

Thanks for Sharing!

Cheers  --  Von & John

Thankyou so  glad you are enjoying it.

Spoiler alert - the week we returned home we booked our next cruise - Feb 2022 on the Millenium . 🙂

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Day 2 Cont/

Before I get back to Day 2 I just wanted to say , not only am I blown away with everyone's kind supportive comments - Thank you … it also means I have a perfectly valid reason to not go and weed the garden, but I get to stay here in my PJs , with a coffee and muffin and continue the review. For those of you who are now at the stage of empathising with Dave, you will be pleased to know that when he got home from his night shift and I told him I was writing a review and everyone who was reading along appeared to be enjoying it... he gave a resigned look... rolled his eyes  and asked if it meant I would start talking about the cruise again!!! 

 

So  to continue on from yesterday I think  after the failed the dance class and a coke … yes we did occasionally have drinks that didn't involve alcohol … we maybe ventured to Ocean view for the first time and grabbed some salad etc and then I went for a nap. Working nights usually means Dave is frequently more tired than me, but I think on this trip the time difference worked in his favour. His body clock was virtually in sync so that our waking hours on holiday were on par with his usual waking hours at home on a night shift.  After my nap and Dave had finished his  2 poker tournaments ( he lost ), I met him for a drink and to do a bit of shopping. the $10 sale gave me some spare sunglasses, an extra wrap and a new beach bag.. as it had flamingos on - my daughters favourite... I reasoned after I had used  it  for the cruise it could go home with us as one of her gifts ( she is currently using it as her work bag ). Dave had also managed to somehow break his sunglasses and so bought himself a new pair ….I think this was only because he didn't have any glue with him to fix them … he avoids shopping whenever he can.  We went to the Sunset bar for a drink, Dave had his first Pina Colada of the cruise and I asked the barman to mix me a fruity cocktail. I don't know what it was but it tasted delicious.

 

After this we went and got ready for evening chic night. When we got back to the cabin we found our afternoon snacks.. now from what I've  read and seen these appear to be more an object of amusement than a food source! True to form after the first couple of days of Dave eyeing them suspiciously for signs of fish and me taking a tentative bite we just asked the steward not to leave them as we really didn't need more food. So after getting ready for evening chic or as we called it 'posh night' we went off for dinner. I cant remember what we had but Im sure it was delicious. We then visited a couple more bars. Now before we had left for the cruise I had made a list... yes bet you are surprised! .. of each of the bars onboard and one of the things I wanted to do was to make sure we had a drink in each one, so I ticked off as we went. Now everyone raves about the Martini Bar and I was dying to try it. My favourite drink of all time is a Porn Star Martini … I have no idea how it got its name but it is very popular in the UK. Its a passion fruit martini that comes with a shot of prosecco... although I am never sure whether to drink the shot separately or pour into the drink. I had studied the drinks menus before the cruise and was looking forward to trying some of the Martini's and although it wasn't on the menu  I was sure if I asked they would be able to make me one. What I hadn't realised was that one of the few things you cant get onboard is  passionfruit... if anyone knows the reason why I would be interested in finding out. So I had to make do with sampling some of the others. The other important thing I had to do, was that before I went on the cruise I had had a manicure and pedicure with my lovely 'nail lady' . Now those of you who have a special manicure before a holiday will know one of the most difficult decisions is how to have your nails for holiday. Do you have something that's bright and different to your normal nails or do you have something that's gonna blend in with your outfits? unable to decide I had gone for different pastel shades on each nail with a bit of sparkle, and my nail lady had made me promise to get a good shot of my nails round a cocktail glass to use on her website. Thus followed a very bemused and long suffering Dave spending 10 minutes trying to get a photo I was satisfied with !!

 

The other place I wanted to try was the Sky lounge, I wanted to try my star sign cocktail. So we arrived in the lounge and I sent Dave off to get my cocktail. It was delicious . The follow up to this is that the next day when I was posting pictures to friends and mentioned to Dave that I had enjoyed my Aquarius cocktail … he told me he thought my star sign was Aries and he  thought he had got me an Aries cocktail....I definitely told him Aquarius … so next cruise I will have to try both to see which one I like !

So after a couple of drinks and me chatting away about our day.. I realised Dave had fallen asleep! It was time to go back to the cabin and put in a room service order for the morning... ready for our first port of call.  

 

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Day 3 Cartagena

 

So my logic for booking  the excursions I did was  that having never visited the Caribbean before I wanted to see a little bit of each Island, but where possible to have some new experiences along the way too. I only booked half day excursions, partly because I wanted to make sure we had a chance to look around and do a bit of souvenir shopping and  partly because for the excursions I had booked independently, I wanted to make sure we didn't miss getting back on time! 

So years ago on our Honeymoon we had gone to Malta and one of the things we enjoyed was a horse drawn carriage ride around Valetta. I'd also read that Cartagena was quite notorious for persistent sellers hassling you and that it could be very hot and humid. As you can tell from my many comments about food and drink and non existent posts about exercise I'm not the fittest of people so seeing the sights from a carriage seemed like a good plan.

 

We woke to realise we had docked with a beautiful view of Cartagena as the sun was coming up,  and shortly after I got a call to say room service was on its way.  Maybe we just got unlucky but some of our items were missing and it wasn't very hot... so it was the only time we ordered room service .. however on my 'list' was eating breakfast on the balcony and we did .

 

I just want to pause here to mention tipping. Tipping isn't a British thing... its not part of our culture... we leave a tip when we go out for dinner in a restaurant but that's about it. Knowing we were going on the cruise and that its a large part of the staff 's pay, and in general of anyone who provided us with a service on holiday,  we had spoken quite a lot about tipping, and when ordering our dollars to take with us I specifically ordered some in small bills to use for tipping. We did forget a few times, in the excitement of getting on the ship and saying goodbye to my cousin we forgot to tip the porters who took our bags. When room service arrived and delivered breakfast I coughed at Dave... he didn't get my hint and asked why I was coughing !!! I then tried to discretely kick him... he still didn't get it... he even opened the door for the poor waitress to leave.. at which point I had to say oh don't forget your tip... and he realised!! So next time you see a Brit not tipping please don't judge and think we are all miserly... we genuinely don't think about it. 

 

So after breakfast and getting ready we headed with our tickets to the theatre. I was so impressed with how efficient everything is … from being given our stickers to being guided off the ship to getting on the correct coach, its all so well organised. We began with a stop off to look at the fort, which was quite impressive. We had a few minutes to take pictures and admire the view, as well as having our photo taken with some ladies in what I assume is the local costume ( yes don't worry Dave remembered to tip this time!) As soon as the coach pulled up there were vendors trying to put their hands through the coach window to try and sell us things, and throughout our short visit it was constant . I do understand that they are trying to make a living, but a s someone who likes to browse a shop in peace and walks out as soon as a sales person starts to pester me.. I didn't find it pleasant. We were soon back on the coach and arrived at a line of horse drawn carriages. There were 4 people to a carriage and we found ourselves sharing with a lovely couple who were also from the UK Peter and Lynda. They were regular cruisers and during the carriage ride they gave us lots of tips and also took a picture of us with a mime artist who had jumped onto our carriage!... which they kindly emailed us. We enjoyed a trip round Cartagena and enjoyed looking at the old buildings and hearing a bit about them from the guide who every so often stopped the group of carriages and then came along and gave each carriage individually a bit of info and history about what we were looking at. The ride ended at the dungeons which had been converted into a row of shops. We had a look round, bought a few souvenirs and Dave decided to purchase a  leather belt. After a bit of bartering he got a deal on 2 leather belts, at which point alarmingly the man produced a large knife from his pocket! He then proceeded to get Dave to try on the belts … took off the buckle, cut them to the appropriate length and then reattached the buckle... just like that 2 custom made leather belts for I think $15 ! . 

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Day 3 Cartagena Cont/

 

When we left the shopping area the coach was waiting  for us and we got told we were stopping off for a Columbian coffee. What it translated as was we were stopping off at a shop where they would try and sell us some emeralds, and in the corner they had a small coffee machine where we could sample some coffee. The die hard cruise cynics stayed on the coach, the enthusiastic newbies tried the very bitter coffee, listened to the spiel and then purchased a very small piece of jewellery. Actually this worked out quite well, I had decided that I would try and get my daughter a gift related to each port and Cartagena was known for emeralds and coffee. For $20 they had a silver coffee bean necklace with a tiny emerald in it. Perfect. 

 

After this we were then taken back to port. At the port there was a small free zoo that I had seen pictures of on cruise critic and as I had planned we had a look round and took some pictures of the beautiful birds. We then had a walk round the gift shop , which was a very large store, containing many different sections and several jewellery counters. So we have a bit of a tradition that alongside anything else I may get as Christmas and birthday presents , every 5th Anniversary Dave buys me a piece of jewellery. I say its a reward for putting up with him... he says its a gift to remind me how lucky I am to have him.... either way it means I get jewellery!!  It isn't necessary something expensive, its usually something very simple  I have found and really like.... one of my favourites is a purple glass butterfly I found on a holiday to the canaries. We had agreed  the previous June when it was our 20th anniversary that I would wait and see if I saw something I liked in port on our cruise. Dave had the idea that I should have an emerald to remind me of visiting Columbia. The problem is, as mentioned previously I have an allergy to nickel which means I  can only wear costume jewellery for a couple of hours. All the emeralds were either set in very expensive  18 carat gold or in cheaper settings  I was allergic to.  I then spotted a tiny bright green raw uncut emerald, which was attached to some very thin gold wire, which I  could attach to a gold chain I had with me …. I loved it  and it was only $45. If you look carefully you will see me wearing t in quite a lot of the photos from herein.

 

So after our busy morning in port and very hot and sticky we returned to the ship. You read about the luxury of the ice cold towels and ice cold flavoured water you are offered whilst you are waiting to reboard… but you don't appreciate what it means until you are stood in the heat.. hot and thirsty waiting to get back on board. I also hadn't thought about the fact that each time you reboard you have to go through security, which I think is handled really efficiently . 

As mentioned earlier we go to rockabilly/ psychobilly ( before anyone asks cross between rockabilly and punk ) gigs and have friends in a few of the bands. Dave has t shirts for quite a lot of the bands so every time he wore one that was one of our friends bands I took a picture to share with them. The first one was  entitled Thee Scarecrows go to Columbia 20200123_122744.thumb.jpg.eb579b9e80cdb8a09080222e72bf3bf7.jpg

 

I don't have any notes or photos for the rest of the day . I suspect we probably went for dinner and then had an early night . I was very excited about Aruba the following day as we had so much planned.

 

 

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I have enjoyed your review.  I was on the Reflection in Feb visiting some of the same ports.

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Loving this but please no more pics of clown \mime  . These times are scary enough.

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Day 4 Aruba Day 1 (Mainly Sea Day)

So, as we didn’t arrive in Aruba until 4pm and weren’t going out for dinner until 6pm we were counting this as a Sea day. Its amazing how quickly you get into a routine... Coffee & pastries, breakfast, an after-breakfast drink at the sunset bar... whilst watching a group of friends who gathered there each day play boules. It was men again women and was quite competitive and fun to watch.

When sat at the Sunset Bar we had various conversations with various people. Once people realised, we were British they loved to ask us about Brexit …. We aren’t really pollical and ‘No we didn’t understand it either and were glad to be away from the incessant news stories about it’ and the big news story of Harry & Megan’s move  … it was interesting to hear what perspective of it the Canadians had been given by their press as opposed to what our press were saying. At the time I remember discussing it with a lovely couple of ladies who were sisters and saying …’ Oh Im sure soon something else will take over everyone’s interest’…. How little did we know.

For breakfast we alternated between Ocean View and Blu. I enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of Blu with the servers coming round with the trays of freshly squeezed juices and crispy warm pastries, whilst Dave preferred a full English and enjoyed the choices that Ocean View had to offer. I think this may have been the morning we actually skipped breakfast and had an early lunch from the Mast Grill.

Looking at the ‘Daily’ I think this is the day I actually went to one of the beyond the podium talks on logic. I have a psychology degree and was pleased when I learnt that one of the speakers would be discussing various psychology topics, although as I previously mentioned. I’m ashamed to say I ended up watching most of them on the TV in the cabin.

This was also the day I discovered my love for the Solarium. Now I love the concept of sunbathing… I like the idea of having a nice tan that makes me look healthier and slimmer… but in reality, I’m not great with the heat. The sundeck always appeared, crowded, hot and noisy, and I couldn’t be bothered to get up at the crack of dawn to get a sun bed…. Besides which I only had regular towel clips and I think you have to have dolphin or flamingo ones to entitle you to a sun bed? (sorry I couldn’t resist!). So, I decided that whilst the sun deck wasn’t for me, I loved the Solarium.  Lots of empty sunbeds to choose from, a quick swim of a few lengths to cool down and make me feel like I was being healthy… some delicious snacks from the Spa Café (they were from the Spa Café and therefore healthy so didn’t need to count in my food intake!) Some very lovely waiters and waitresses who were happy to bring me a drink ... and an uncrowded Jacuzzi. From therein this was my go-to place whilst Dave was playing poker.

Its strange I am a very sociable person who chats to anyone, but on the cruise, I seemed to spend most of my spare time chilling out with a book – maybe it’s just what the doctor ordered after my stress few months previously. Dave on the other hand had his ‘smoking’ friends who he used to bump into regularly at the various smoking places around the ship, and his ‘poker’ friends he played poker with. When he used to bump into someone onboard and say hello I always asked… is that a poker friend or a smoking friend? ..how funny that we get into these routines and pick up these habits in what we do !

So today was the day our cabin steward was leaving the ship. We said goodbye and gave him a tip... See we remembered! One thing I did appreciate was that after the first day I asked him about different towels. Now I’m not a small lady and I do love a big fluffy towel to wrap myself in after a shower. The towels in the cabin were neither large nor fluffy. When I asked if there was a possibility of any other towels, he did say that whilst there weren’t any other cabin towels available, I could have the larger and more fluffy pool towels if I wanted. He did point out that they were grey and not white. Once we had established, I would be perfectly happy with grey towels he provided 2 fresh pool towels for me each morning when he came in to make up the cabin for the day. This small thing made me so happy and I know from others comments on here it’s the little things they do that make the staff so amazing!

So it was then time to get ready for our meal ashore at Barefoot Beach… this was one of the things I was most looking forward to on the cruise

 

 

 

 

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Day 4 Aruba Day 2  cont/

 

When deciding on an activity for our evening in Aruba I considered a few options. I looked at the various excursions celebrity had to offer,  but none of them really appealed. Although I was find on the ship I have been known to get seasick on smaller boats so that ruled out those options. Dave made a suggestion of going to one of Aruba's  famous casinos. ( no it isn't a misprint... Dave did make a suggestion!) I heard about Barefoot Beach through the cruise critic Aruba board,   and saw some photo's and thought it sounded lovely. I took a look at the menu and there were enough non fish items on the menu to choose from. Also the fact we could eat in the open air meant there was less likely to be a problem. When looking at the menu prices I did question whether I could justify the cost of eating ashore when we had a perfectly good restaurant for free aboard the ship.  I did book a table for 6.00pm ( sunset was going to be 6.30) and thought I could always cancel nearer the time if we decided against it. However as it got nearer to the holiday I had some lovely family and friends who said that they didn't know what to buy me for a 50th birthday present so wanted to give me some money to have a drink on holiday. What I decided to do was to put the money together and then explained to them all about Barefoot Beach and used the money to pay for our meal. That's why you will see quite a lot of pictures as I wanted to show them what I had spent their money on.

 

I was so glad we had done it and would recommend it to anyone who is in Aruba overnight, from the food and drinks, to the Service to the breath taking views of the sunset the whole experience was amazing. I cant remember what Dave had but I can still remember my meal... I had a delicious goats cheese salad, a very unique sweet and sour chick and pineapple dish that was served in half a pineapple, and to finish a very rich banoffee tiramisu. We easily got a taxi from the port to the restaurant, which took about 10 minutes and the staff ordered one to take us back after. The staff were happy to take pictures off us on the beach and against the sunset and there was such a friendly atmosphere that everyone was quite happily taking pictures of each other. The original plan was for us to eat dinner and then possibly go to one of the casino's , but we were so full after dinner that we just headed straight back to the ship. I think we went for a nightcap at the Sunset Bar and the headed to bed .

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Posted (edited)

Following along ,..great review...great wit, humor, whimsy  and chock full of info!

 

Enjoyed hearing about Cartagena.  Sadly, we recently cancelled a cruise where we were looking forward to that port so we really appreciated  your photos.

 

From the Aruba photos,  we saw you had a nice pedi  to match that mani! Hope you post some photos on the Fav Cruise Photo thread.....the Sunset Catamaran shot is  outstanding

Edited by hcat

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