Buffets: Both the Verandah and Lido Restaurants served meals cafeteria-style, which is not as elegant as your classic buffets, but the variety and quality of the food makes up for it. There is so much food on the buffet, that menus are available at the end of the line, so you have a few minutes to decide while youíre waiting.
Admiralís Lounge Showroom: Seating is more than adequate, with a good view for everyone, even in the Admiralís Terrace (showroom balcony). Here there are a few obstructed views, but nothing bad. Overall, the entertainment was quite varied and professional.
Shops: There was one for clothing and souvenirs, one for jewelry and perfumes/cosmetics and a duty-free shop. All were adequately stocked and offered good values.
Casino: Lots of slots and my favorite--a craps table--although there was only one and it was crowded sometimes, but I loved it, and thatís what counts.
Excursions: The Shore Excursion Manager gave a talk the first day regarding available port activities. There were 44 shore excursions on the list--plenty from which to choose. We chose to go off on our own, hiring a van for the six of us so we could see only those sightts we wanted, without having to tour yet another banana plantation because it was included. American currency is welcome everywhere. Take small bills and change.
Best Thing Right Off the Bat: Two full days at sea. ĎNuff said.
St. Maarten/St. Martin: Nice little shopping area in Marigot on the French side. That is where Speed 2 was filmed, and some artifacts are still there. The quality of the crafts here are the best of the trip. The nude beach was no big deal.
St. John/St. Thomas: Unfortunately we missed the St. John tour, which ferries you over to St. Thomas. From what I understand, this is a most beautifully preserved island with much history. We enjoyed some of the best shopping in the Caribbean in St. Thomas, and missed all the sights.
Nassau: Ran a little late getting into port, and only had a few hours ashore. If it had not been Good Friday, we would have been able to do more. We did visit the Nassau Beach Club and use the beach. I understand The Atlantis is quite a beautiful place...maybe next time.
Ft. Lauderdale: Took a bus tour that was really boring. After a week at sea, many of the tourists fell fast asleep.
Ship Activities: Each day we received an extensive Daily Program listing all planned activities, meals, movies, etc. This is most helpful when there is so much to do! The Times Fax (from the pages of The New York Times) and CNN brought us up to date on the real world. We had three whole days at sea with plenty to do...or not. Production shows, bingo (although pricey), horse racing, volleyball, ping pong, water games, newlywed game, ice sculpting demos, golf or Ping-Pong tournaments, dance lessons, gambling, dancing, even daily AA meetings are available to fill your time.
Staff: Julien Sharp, our Cruise Director, was perky and energetic--very knowledgeable, organized, personable and accessible. Mingkie, our cabin steward, was superb! He brought us breakfast each morning, filled the ice bucket and kept our cabin neat and clean all day. Room service requests were attended to immediately and he treated us as if we were his only guests.
Ronald, our waiter, and Naymon, his assistant, were attentive and handled our special requests cheerfully.
Passengers: Average age looked to be about 45-50. There were 1,500 passengers, including 250 of the most well-behaved children Iíve seen on a vacation at spring break.
Motion: The stabilizers made the entire trip smooth and comfortable. The slightly perceptible motion was just enough to rock you to sleep at night.
Disembarkation: The very well organized colored tag system moves passengers in shifts to avoid crowding.
This was our second cruise, with many more to come. Weíre hooked. The most notable feature was the cabin. It was much larger and better appointed than some we looked into. In fact, the entire ship was more comfortable than we imagined. As we consider it to be a great value, we will probably take the Westerdam, but maybe a different itinerary.
Candy & Jim Brock can be reached for questions or comment at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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