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You embark by climbing the portable steel stairway, usually reserved for some undeveloped ports, and enter the ship, via the deck, at the main lobby. No fancy gangway leading you into a huge atrium.
He feeling of d?j? vu continues as you work your way through the ship, to your cabin, surrounded by oak, mahogany, teak and brass, instead of the now-common glass, mirrors, chrome and neon now popular on all of the newer ships. Portholes greet you where you now expect to find picture windows?
Not only the physical characteristics of the ship, but everything about the cruise, takes you back to the 70?s.
The ship itself, built in 1953, and launched as the ?Olympia,? underwent a full ?rebuild? when she was converted to cruising, as the ?Caribe I,? and a number of changes, and refurbishments, over the years since then. She is, unfortunately, showing some signs of age and wear, and will be going into dry dock in October, for some much-needed work. However, despite this, she remains a true classic and a lady of the sea.
Although small, she has a full compliment of entertainment facilities; the Grand Showroom, a disco, a piano bar, a karaoke lounge, etc; there is plenty to keep you busy!
As with many ships of her class, it can, occasionally, be difficult to get from one place to another and there are times when you must go up/down a deck or two and, then, forward/aft to another staircase, where you then go up/down, again? This was common on the older ships that were converted from several Classes to a single-class ship. But, she?s small, and the trek from one place to another is slightly inconvenient, but not annoying.
The Pool Deck, located at the stern and surrounded by the sea on three sides is truly classic! As far as I?m concerned, this is where the pool belongs! The newer designs, which feature the pool at mid-ship, surrounded by glass windows and a deck above, give you a closed-in feeling.
Because the fare for the 2-night cruise, starting at $149.00 p.p., is so reasonable, the ?push? for onboard revenue can get a little bothersome. The bar servers, poolside, are constantly annoying the passengers in their quest to sell drinks, and the constant announcements, ?reminding? you that the Shore Excursion Desk in open, can be frustrating.
The food is, surprisingly, good and is better than that found on several of the larger, more popular, lines. The welcome aboard buffet is not large, but has a decent array of good food. In addition to the customary hamburgers and hot dogs, there was a delicious baked chicken dish, beef stew, a carving station, several varieties of pasta and a nice salad selection. Although buffet style, the staff dishes out the various items.
The dining room service was excellent, and puts some other lines to shame. I asked for iced tea the first evening, and did not have to ask, again, on the second, as it ?magically appeared.? In addition, the glass was never allowed to become empty. Used butter wrappers, creamer containers, and other discarded items, were expeditiously removed.
Dinner was a treat, with a ?typical? cruise menu. The food preparation was pleasing to the eye, but even more so to the palate. The New York Strip was served correctly; passengers receiving it prepared as requested (rare/medium/well) and was not the least bit tough or chewy. The Veal Marsala was absolutely fantastic. Lunch was served in the dining room, ?open-seating, only, with no lunch buffet. I prefer this, but some of the passengers voiced a problem and missed a buffet lunch.
The entertainment was very good, if not exceptional. The two Production Shows are presented ?cabaret style,? due to the space limitation of the showroom. As was common, in days past, the showroom was only one deck high, limiting the dancing/jumping. However, talented performers, and a good choice of songs, made up for the other shortcomings. ?Nico,? in the piano bar, was terrific; the disco was jumping and the karaoke jam-packed with passengers having a ball.
They even had horse racing, poolside, as we left Nassau! Talk about d?j? vu!
All-in-all, I did not hear one negative comment, from any of the other passengers, regarding this particular cruise. On the contrary, everyone seemed to have a great time! Sitting on the Pool Deck, waiting to disembark, I heard nothing but favorable comments.
One word of caution; this is an inexpensive ?budget? cruise. If you expect to find all of the amenities found on today?s ships, you will be disappointed. During non food service hours, other than the complimentary room service, you won?t find food anywhere and only coffee & water at the buffet area; no iced tea, juice, etc; However, you will get much more than you might anticipate for the money the cruise costs!