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I've been told by many that those from the UK have an easier time embarking in Barbados and thus a double embarkation. During our two week cruise some got off and some on at Fort Lauderdale and some at Barbados. This did not allow for a smooth sailing where everyone is on the same page from day one. The ships officers were from the UK as well as most of the staff except for the stewards and waiters. The entertainment was also fitted for the UK humor, and took some getting used too. The itinerary is what drew us to the ship, so we learned to deal with the inconsistencies that you would not have to deal with like two muster drills etc. Most of the shows in the first few days started out for those of you who were here last week and then for you new people. As I said the flow from beginning to end was not there, but my husband and I quickly tried to overlook those things that could have been somewhat bothersome and focused on each other.
Princess Cays: was a beautiful island and the service on shore was well done. the BBQ lunch was plentiful and the weather was sunny and warm. There was no hassle to buy anything so we found the day very relaxing. We rented a cabana for $15 and life vests for $7pp (we brought or own snorkel gear) but found that we did not even use the cabana to warrant spending the extra money.
Tortola: we planned ahead of time to go with Speedy's ferry to Virgin Gorda to the Baths. I found on their web site the "Fun and Sun Day Tour" for $35 and we are so glad that we took advantage of this offer. Everyone else paid $30 just to get to the Baths and with the $5pp we paid we were taken to a nice restaurant and given a meal worth $15pp,including beverage. We were the only ones on our ship that found this deal so I encourage everyone to look into this deal. It rained hard for about 15 minutes as we waiting for the ferry to take us back to Tortola but otherwise the day was sunny and beautiful, another relaxing day. The Baths are definetly worth seeing.
St. Kitts: was to be our next port but it was too windy to dock so the captain after several tries decided for the safety of the ship that he would abort trying and we had another sea day. It was fine, I decided to take pictures of the ship.
St. Maarten: We docked on the Dutch side of the island so we decided to go shopping and found some good deals. We walked around and again I took pictures. There was a water taxi for $5 to take you back and forth RT to the shopping district.
St. Lucia: My favorite island. Everything is lush and green. I did my homework and found a man named Bernard Montoute called the "Taximan". We hired him to take us around the island to see the Pitons, Volcano, Waterfall, and small fishing villages. We had the best time with this gentle man. He went out of his way to make sure we enjoyed the day. He had cold drinks for us all day, he stopped at a banana plantation and asked a kid to cut us fresh bananas right off the tree (yum) and he stopped later at a bakery to give us some hot fresh bread. We asked him to stop for lunch and he took us to a very nice place where the food was reasonable and the view was spectacular. For anyone who is planning to go to St. Lucia please send Bernard Montoute an email at stluciataximan###### His rate was 1/3 the going rate of the ship.
Barbados: This was a rather flat and scruffy looking island compared to some of the others. We were in port until 11pm because of the double embarkation but the ship was not in a good neighborhood to be wondering around alone. We took a private tour arranged through shoretrips.com I did not enjoy the beginning of this tour because there were too many people put into the van to be comfortable. There were two tours in one van so when Andre'and I split off to go snorkeling with the sea turtles the day began for me. We had the glass bottom boat all to ourselves so we had the guides full attention. He fed the turtles and 4 of them came to feed. It was amazing!! to say the least.
St. Vincent: I negotiated for 4 of us to take a van taxi to a couple of villages as we did not want to go too far because of time restraint. I was able to take lots of pictures of people doing what they do on a daily basis. It was Sunday so there were more people on the street then usual. St. Vincent is not a common stop for the cruiselines so take a tour if you can when you go. The island is mountainous and green.
Trinidad: I did not trust this island after reading about the recent bombings so I opted to take a ships tour. Big mistake, it was terrible. We took a tour of the city which was so crowded that we were caught up in traffic most of the time. The Cultural Show was held in a hot poorly lite building instead of outside as many of us thought it would be and the people in the show were amateurs to say the least. Only a few of the dancers were enthusiastic. They only had one guy playing the steel pan drum to music and he could not keep a beat. We could have done better taking a tour on our own but I was concerned about our safety.
Bonaire: We took a tour of Bonaire on a safari truck sitting in the open air in comfortable seats. I was able to get many pictures but the ships photo gallery mixed up my order and I lost atleast half of them. I have a call in to see if they still have them on their computer. The slave huts by the salt ponds were the most memorable to me. To hear how terrible those people were treated was just heartbreaking. We enjoyed Bonaire as our guide was Dutch and my husband was able to talk with him.
Curacao: Was another shopping day with all of the colorful buildings it made for quite a backdrop for my pictures. Unfortunately my camera card blanked out when I went to have it downloaded at the ships photo gallery so I got some but not all of my pictures. I got some nice pictures of the Adventure of the Sea so if anyone wants them I will send them to you, via email.
All in all the food and service was great in the dining room but so so in the Horizon. Once again I believe they were trying to cater to those from the UK because I have not seen beans with eggs in the morning.
There were no big productions as other ships have for entertainment and one can only hear so many playing the piano.
We did enjoy and take advantage of the MUTS Movies Under The Stars as often as we could. During the day there were earphones provided so as not to disturb the other guests but at night it was just like an outdoor movie theater. We saw current movies as "Cinderella Man" "Mr. and Mrs Smith" "Spiderman 2" etc. They even had popcorn.
We enjoyed the pools not closing so we could go and sit in the hottub at 10pm under the stars. We found it strange to see the Moom straight up above our heads down by Trinidad instead of on an angle.
We enjoyed the Pizzeria and ate there several times. It was not not like eating fast food at all but rather like eating in a nice Italian restaurant. The pizza was just small enough to fit on a dinner plate. They also had soup, salad, pasta and dessert.
The casino was small and not intrusive to those who did not want to play. The deck plans did not force you to walk through to get somewhere else. It had enough of everything for those who did want to play and I lucked out one evening on the nickel machine by putting in $6 and coming away with $92.45
One thing we missed is people dancing. We were used to dancing before we went to dinner but people were into having a drink and listening instead of dancing.
Island night was fun. They had a Mr. Sea Princess contest were a little firecracker of a man in his nineties won. The oldest man on the ship named "Fred" turned 103yrs. while on board. I asked if I could take his picture and he agreed but when I tried to show him that it turned out nice he said "honey my eyes don't work so good anymore but everything else does" ha ha Instead of playing musical chairs we played musical men where the woman had to go and grab a guy instead of a chair. It was quite funny as the women ran full force at a guy in order to not be eliminated. At one point two of us had hold of one guy and the woman that had hold of more of him was declared winner (me) It was all in good fun.
We enjoyed our land vacation in Fort Lauderdale and were quite surprised at how much they got cleaned up after the hurricane. Many of the trees had been topped and roofs were still missing shingles or tiles but all in all we had 3 beautiful days. We took the water taxi that I would recommend to everyone as they give you the same tour as the sightseeing boats at half the cost. It only cost $7 for the entire day and you can get on and off as many times as you want. We enjoyed the Jungle Queen night tour, seeing the lights and getting a meal on their island. The show was pretty good as well. Well worth the price.
We came away with the impression that we would sail with Princess again so we signed up for their future cruise Option at a bargain price of $100pp This option is good for any cruise within the next 4 years or your money back.
I tried to cover as much as I could think of and I hope this helps in your future cruise decisions.