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We left California a few days early to pre-cruise in San Juan. We stayed three nights at the Marriott San Juan in the Condado area. The hotel was really nice, large rooms with a balcony overlooking the city. It had a very nice beach with chairs, umbrellas etc for guest use.
We spent the first day hanging around the hotel area and relaxing in the pool or on the beach. On the second day we hired a van/driver for the day, it cost us $270 for six of us. We went up to El Junque and drove and hiked around the rain forest. There were no cruise ships in port and very few people in the rain forest. After the rain forest we went over to Luquillo Beach and spent about 2-2? hours on the beach. Very enjoyable. The following day we spent on the beach at the hotel and then went shopping in Old San Juan. We found several good, inexpensive restaurants near the hotel and enjoyed all our meals prior to the cruise.
We left the hotel around 11:00 am, took a taxi to the dock and stood in line for about 30-45 minutes. Once they started boarding, we had Diamond priority and we breezed aboard. The rooms were not available until 2:00 pm. We had lunch in the Windjammer, checked out the dining room table, set up the wine package and made reservations for Portofinos.
We had a Cat D1 on deck 9. It was fair sized, same as Radiance class ships, with a balcony. Our daughter was next door and we had a door between the two rooms that was very convenient. The cabin steward was excellent, very efficient, if somewhat lacking in personality. Our rooms were made up immediately we left them with the ?Make up room? sign in the key slot.
Food is always a personal thing, so this is just my opinion. I thought that the choices were limited, something that we had noted on previous RCI cruises. However, what I did have to eat I was quite pleased with. We certainly didn?t go hungry. I like appetizers and usually had two per night along with a soup. Enjoyed them all. We ate one night in Portofinos. It was outstanding. The service and food were excellent and the presentation out did the main dining room, and I always think their presentation is excellent. We had a friend with us on her first cruise. She was in awe of the dining room, the service and the food. In Portofinos she was almost speechless.
The lunch buffets in the Windjammer were adequate. Fairly widespread choice. The traffic flow in the Windjammer is very poor when compared to Radiance class ships that have separate islands for salads, hamburgers, meats etc. On Adventure it was just one long line. I can?t comment on lunch in the dining room, we never had time. Same with breakfast. We had breakfast in the coffee shop on the Royal Promenade. The Promenade Caf? was a delight. Good coffee, great doughnuts and danish and in the afternoon, great pizza and sandwiches.
The Southern Caribbean is a busy cruise, five ports in a row and a final sea day.
St Thomas. We shopped in the morning, what else. No bargains. Electronic and camera stuff was about the same as at home. In the afternoon, we went on the Kon Tiki party boat. We had done this trip several years ago and it was just as much fun this time.
St Maarten. We went to Pinel Island. Snorkeling was OK, the water was on the cloudy side. The beach was first class, clean and not very many people. Thoroughly enjoyed the trip. In the afternoon we went into town and shopped for souvenirs (and a few beers). We liked St Maarten, very, very clean and no hassle from the locals.
Antigua. We got a taxi and went to a beach. The driver recommended Dickenson Beach and it was a good choice. Very clean, not too crowded and watersports if you want to participate. Our daughter, granddaughter and friend went horseback riding. We spent the afternoon shopping, at least the women did. SIL, GS and I checked out the local brews at one of the bars and watched the world walk by. SIL and daughter bought a diamond ring from Diamonds International. She was very thrilled with it and even more thrilled when she got home and had a local appraisal.
St Lucia. We did a sail trip on the Brig Unicorn. Very well done, lots of fun, beach time and very well set up.
Barbados. We did the turtle catamaran cruise. We all agreed that it was the best trip out of five excellent days. It was really well organized, first class service on board the cat and just flat out fun. Would do it again in a heart beat. We saw turtles, although the snorkeling was like swimming in an overcrowded pool. Too many people. Spent some time on the beach in Oyster Bay.
The Ice Show was excellent. It?s amazing that you can watch an ice show while cruising the Caribbean. The ?Spectaculars? were OK, but not my choice. The Cruise Director was just too gung ho for my liking.
Like WOW. What can you say. It was our second time on Voyager class and it was still very impressive. The Royal Promenade is amazing, with it?s inside rooms, Sports Bar, shops and English Pub. The dining room is three stories high and breathtaking. Of course there?s the miniature golf, rockwall, ice skating, roller blading and full size basketball court, just in case you get bored.
It went really smooth until we got to the airport. Then it was a zoo. Took us about an hour to check in. Just lots of people and there were only two ships in port. The flight home was long. We had gate problems in Dallas and we were 40 minutes late. Our friend missed her connection to LA. We then found out our flight was delayed 2 ? hours due to mechanical problems. We finally got home at 1:30 in the morning.
Overall, a great vacation. I can?t really complain about anything. We all had a great time, the weather was perfect every day, except for about five minutes in St Maarten and ten minutes in Barbados.