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Review: January 19, 2007 through January 27, 2007 Star Princess, Western Caribbean
Woke up at a reasonable 4 am...and caught our shuttle to Logan airport. Fast, Convenient and quick. The Wyndham in Chelsea was really very nice.
Curbside check in was fast and convenient...and we were at our gate within minutes. Our flight was full and left within a few minutes of scheduled time.
We arrived in Miami airport after having an uneventful flight. One couple within our group had luggage that didn't arrive...so they filled out a claim form and we grabbed our shuttle to Budget...We waited for almost 2 hours for our van...which is totally unacceptable. After our van ride to Ft. Lauderdale, we went by our hotel, which of course wasn't ready...so we roamed around, hit some stores and went to lunch. We purchased Vodka and Rum...for the ship...and we transferred it to water bottles and filled the alcohol bottles with water to act as the decoy, lol. We went back to the Best Western, which was adequate and the pool area was really nice, as there was a bar and we got a free drink coupon. We went out to dinner at Umberto's and had a pretty good Italian dinner.
Saturday January 20, 2007
We were up around 6:30 ish am...and went down to breakfast...a few of us ventured out and drove by the pier to get an idea of where we were going. The first group was dropped off around 10:30 ish...the second group of us went to Budget to return the van...and took the shuttle to the port. We arrived around 12 noonish...we went into the embarkation area...we had no lines...and didn't even need the priority embarkation we have, lol. It took all of 5 minutes to check in...very fast...we had our picture taken and were onboard in a few more minutes. We dropped our carry ons in our room and were eating in just a few more minutes. This was the fasted embarkation I have had.
We met up in the Horizons court, buffet lunch! The options were excellent. There was food for every taste. Drinks at the buffet were disappointing though. They only offered, water, coffee, tea and iced tea. I would have liked to have seen fruit punch and lemonade, especially for kids. The food was very good, and was the best buffet on the cruises I have been on. We walked around the ship...and began getting acquainted with the layout...there were many "you can't get there from this deck" spots. I did master the trick though...get me to deck 7, and I was fine! We went to our room and our luggage was there by 2:30 and we started the unpacking process. Also in the room, on the phone was a clock, and caller id...which was good for two reasons...1. You could see whom you were calling, and could hang up quick if you dialed wrong, and 2. You could see who was calling you. The closet was spacious, and there were plenty of hangers. Our requested robes were already there. Our mini bar set up, complimentary, was set up as well. We had upgraded toiletries in the bathroom. We met Gregg, our room steward, and he was all too happy to fill our requests. With the triple rooms they don't typically set the beds up in queen formation...and he did warn us of possible hazards, etc. The bathroom was not huge but not tiny for us either. The bedding, well, that is another story. They really need to invest in the Carnival Comfort System, lol...but I slept well every night anyway. Muster was at 4:15, and was actually interesting, and the best one I ever attended. After muster...we went back to the room to drop off our life jackets. We met up with our group on deck for sailaway...this is when we discovered our home for the week...deck 14 aft! The Outrigger bar was open, and there were plenty of chairs, table and lounge chairs. There was never trouble getting a place to sit (except the shows...more on this later). We went to our rooms to get ready for dinner, and requested the table for 12 in the Capri dining room. The wait staff was okay...and service was quite slow. I blamed this on the anytime dining, as I don't think there is the incentive for them. We did request the headwaiter to allow us to sit together everynight, a standing reservation. He was great, but did have to check with the maitre d', who was a tad on the pompous side. Our request was granted. Dinner was good...tasty and there were plenty of choices. The best thing they offered was a "set" list that could be ordered every night, in case the special choices weren't for you. These included, Steak, Salmon, a pasta and a chicken dish. They also offered a Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail and 3 standard desserts. On the special menu, they offered a different souffl? every night too...and they were hot and yummy.
This was our First Sea day and our first formal night. We woke up early, as we normally do anyway. We ate at the buffet every morning for breakfast and were pleasantly surprised with the offering of foods. There was smoked salmon every day, and another fish. There was fresh fruit every morning, which was excellent, sweet and very fresh. Assorted pastries, oatmeal, cream of wheat, fried egg, omelets, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, baked apples or pears, pancakes, french toast, potatoes, rice, soup, and more. The juice, apple and cranberry were prepoured into small plastic cups, and could have been colder. We took a bunch extra and saved them for later in our refrigerator. We met up with our group aft deck 14, lol...they had breakfast with us...today was a day to explore the ship, play trivia, chill out. We also did the scavenger hunt and we each won a water bottle...this would be used for the rest of the ship to save our juices from breakfast. Dinner was formal and was again very good. Filet Mignon was the entr?e of my choice and was cooked perfectly. Every night they also offered 3 different soups, always one was cold. We located Shooters, the bar for the football game and watch the games with a nice crowd...this would be one of the few times I actually walked through the casino...this is the first time I didn't gamble in a ships casino. I had written a letter to the captain requesting a bridge tour...the staff at the purser's desk was always courteous and friendly. Oh and as far as the odor reports...there was a faint odor in the back of Horizons Court, but it wasn't constant, it was there and then gone again. There was no noticeable odor in any other part of the ship either. Today, Ally spent the time in the kids room, and had a blast...she kept saying it was her favorite of the ships she has been on (Carnival and Disney...RCI she wasn't old enough then)
Day 3 Ocho Rios, Jamaica....
Breakfast on aft 14, lol...met with our group as we were all doing a tour with Peat Taylor, to go to the Falls, Fern Gully, Preschool and an island tour. It was humid, and overcast...which was fine. Disembarking from the ship was fast and easy...not like a heard of cattle like other ships. There were two areas for this, which is probably what helped too. Peat was waiting for us and was as great as ever. He dropped us off at Dunn's River Falls...everyone in our group did this, except my dad...We had a blast...this was my 3rd time there, 2nd doing the falls. We were soaked of course, and laughed the whole time. The walk through the straw market area was terrible, worse than I ever remember. Maybe due to the fact we were the first or second ones through it. The bus tour through Ferngully was nice, and we saw great countryside and views. This time we went to a preschool and the kids were adorable. They were age 3 through 5 and the boys were quite taken with my daughter, as she is 4. She has blonde hair and blue eyes and they kept touching her. They sang us songs as well. So totally cute! WE also went to a pottery place, where we watched how they make the terra cotta type pottery from scratch...it was really awesome. We had our choice to be dropped off at a local restaurant or shopping...a few from our group went to the restaurant and later reported that is was fantastic! We went shopping...whatever you do, avoid the hard Rock in the Taj Mahal shopping area, if you go to Ocho Rios. I would like to see Montego Bay area if I go back to Jamaica. Peat was there to pick us up as requested and brought us right back to the ship. It was a tiring day but it was really fun!
We went to our cabins to shower up and prepare for dinner...I don't remember what I ate, but it could have been the braised lamb, as I do recall having that and it was awesome. Tonight we were going to go to a show...but we arrived rather close to start time and there was not a seat to be had, lol...all we saw were what we referred to as "white heads" There was a large amount of people over the age of 60. Don't get me wrong, as there were also newlywed young couples and families too. I never saw a rowdy drunk causing commotion which was a nice change. We listened to Wavelength...a rock band from Canada...they were good, but the guy insisted on singing an Alice in Chains song and just could not reach the notes. We checked out the Skywalker nightclub and it was not crowded at all. We mainly people watched and had drinks...hit the hot tubs and went to bed.
Grand Cayman was a tender island. There were no really crazy lines, as their tendering process was great. I had priority tender tickets and could go whenever I had wanted, but we had a catamaran reserved so I stayed with the group. The process was to go to the Explorers lounge, get a ticket and relax til they called the number. This took all of 5 minutes and we were escorted to the tendering area. We walked to Captain Bryan's and because we were a little early, had to wait a bit. There was only about 24 people for the Stingray City tour and snorkel. The crew of the boat was great! The Stingrays were awesome and I didn't scream, as I did know what to expect. We left that area and went to the reefs for the snorkeling. This was the best snorkeling spot. I saw many new fish and some good sized ones too. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the nurse shark that frequents there or the moray eel. They then brought us to a second snorkel spot and although there were less reef areas here, the snorkel was quite nice, as the water this day was crystal. After the excursion, we did a little shopping. We could not get any alcohol, as we were late getting to shopping and it had to be purchased by 1:30 pm...oh well, not a big deal really. Back to the ship...met again on aft 14 and had drinks for sail away! By this day we had made a few trips to the purser's desk for our "free decks of cards"...woohoo.
We got ready for dinner and met at the Capri dining room and enjoyed a lovely dinner again. After dinner, it was Fiesta night, so we went to the party on deck 14 aft, but 15 and 16 were also included. I was taken by the hand and escorted to perform on stage...OMG, I thought I was going to die. For the rest of the week, I was known as Chiquita or banana girl! They also played a cute game of musical men...this was fun to watch. One thing about this ship I absolutely loved...you never ever felt crowded. The layout is such that, there are many different spots to hang out, so there was never a hugely crowded area.
Cozumel, 6 of us had booked the dune buggies through Princess. The reasoning for this was...the independent companies would not guarantee you your own buggy and we wanted to sit with each other, lol. We met up with the excursion at the end of the pier, yes PIER! It was such a treat! We met Martin and our other guide Luis. The buggies were adorable and reminded me of Speedy, a cartoon from when I was a kid. The ride was so much fun and we got to see quite a bit of the island. There is much evidence of the hurricane and so much building and rebuilding. We snorkeled too, but it was not as nice as in Grand Cayman. Lunch was on the beach and a traditional Mexican array. It was yummy! On our way back we stopped at the "Pee Pee Station" where I purchased a beautiful blanket. They had many for only $4 but those were machine made. I got a handmade one, that is very heavy...and so nice my son took it when we got home, lol. We went back to the shopping area where we picked up our Dune buggies, and dropped them off. We had stickers for a free drink of our choice at Carlos and Charlie's...awesome frozen Margaritas, and I also got a shot...which Brian left the camera lens on and missed taking pictures...we shopped a bit. I had been looking for tanzanite earrings and had one place trying to pass of Amethyst as a Tanzanite...LOL...We went back on the ship and met on the aft deck 14 again! We had reservations this night for Sterling Steakhouse at 8:30...We did however, have a snack at the buffet, lol...fed Allison and brought her to the kids room around 7:30. She had made a T-shirt, necklaces and was having a blast, and kept asking what time it was, as she wanted to go back as soon as they opened! We met our group at Sterling's and sat for dinner. They had a spinach artichoke dip that was the best I ever had. The steaks were absolutely fabulous...and this meal was definitely worth the $15 pp cover charge. It was late after dinner, so we changed for the hot tubs and hung out there. Then to bed.
Sea day...we were planning on sleeping in, which we did if you consider up and having breakfast by 7:15 am. This was the day the Captain invited us to the Bridge, which was at 2:00 pm. In the morning we did nothing but shop, hang out and play trivia. We were determined to win. Well, the same young couple kept winning and there was no way they knew all this stuff. Brian and I met my dad for the bridge tour. We were escorted to the bridge and met by Jonathan, third officer. He was British and quite funny. He reviewed all the equipment and made the information interesting. The bridge was pretty active today, as it was raining and seeing was difficult. They were watching a ship in the distance, off to the port side, about 3 miles away. Jonathan showed us how they can click on any ship in the radar and learn everything about them. The windshield wipers were on, which was neat. It was really scary to look straight down and realize you were high up and right over the water. We were given maps of our route, and I got a few extra for the people in my group. We met up with everyone after the tour, yes, you guessed it, deck 14 aft! Tonight was our last formal night which meant lobster tails! We changed and got cleaned up for dinner and made our way to the dining room. We told the waiter to keep the tails coming. They were cold water lobster, but not Maine, so they were smaller. After the 2nd night the waiter knew who drank which soda, and my daughter had chocolate milk and always had it waiting for us. The lobster was very tasty. I actually ate 4 myself...the total for the table was only 32 lobster tails! Wow, it sounds like a lot when I add them all up, esp. considering only 5 of us were eating them. After dinner we changed and hit the Skywalker' after listening to the Wavelength band again. Hot tubs came later too.
Princess Cays...the private island portion of Eleuthera, Bahamas. We had rented bungalows so we had priority tendering and we were the first tender off the ship, after the crew. It was cloudy and windy and we sat on top and got sprayed with seawater quite a bit on the ride over...it was fun though. The temps were only in the mid 70's, but it was nice. I have to say...Half Moon Cay was much nicer for the beach. Our private bungalow came with our own waitress for our drinks and food, which was nice. The drinks were awesome...as they were the whole trip. They were definitely stronger than the ones we had on Carnival last April. The last tender was supposed to leave at 3...the line was long so we sat in comfy chairs and were on the 2nd last tender back, which was actually 3:30. We went to our rooms and began the sad task of packing to disembark the next day. We packed pretty quickly and had our luggage out before dinner. Dinner again was very good...they had some of the best seafood choices! This was the last night for trivia...and we lost by 1 point, yes, to the young couple...there is just no way they knew this stuff! Oh well. We had to get Ally from the kids room at 10, as there was no late night babysitting this night. We went to bed early...no big deal, as we really were tired.
Time to leave. We met everyone for breakfast at deck 14 aft around 7:30. We had orange disembark tags as we were transferring to Miami for our flight. They called our color and we slowly made our way off the ship. It was orderly and not overcrowded and definitely did not feel like a cattle call! We showed our passports and were quickly in the luggage area, which took all of 5 minutes to find our luggage. We grabbed a porter and were then on the bus within another 5 minutes! Our trip to Miami airport was uneventful and we arrived within about 45 minutes. We were very early, 12 noon, as our flight was not until 4:20 pm, but we were able to check in our luggage, and did so curbside! We went to our gate to drop our carry on luggage and took turns going for food. Our flight left on time and we actually arrived at our gate in Logan airport 20 minutes early! All of our luggage made it, and we were off and heading home.
Some observations of the ship:
The staff was fabulous all around the ship. They appeared older and "seasoned" over all. Karl in the jewelry store was a total riot. The drinks were strong and we never had a problem with our bar services. The ship was very, very clean in all public areas. The public bathrooms were equally as clean. There were a few of the bar staff that were a little on the slow side, but that was not the norm.