Dawn Princess Reviews

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33 User Reviews of Dawn Princess Cruise Ship

Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: October 1, 2000

Well, I just returned from my 9th Princess cruise, 12th overall. This was actually my 4th in 2000, a fact that I can't believe. When I took my first in 1995 I never imagined a 2nd, let alone 4 in one year. The following are some thoughts on the trip.

Getting to the ship/Embarkation

I flew out on American Airlines on the redeye flight to Miami on Friday night, arriving early the next morning after an uneventful flight. (the best kind) After a short layover I boarded the next leg to San Juan arriving appox 10am. The airport was pretty quiet but finally found a Princess rep down at the baggage claim area. I was going to purchase a travel voucher from Princess for the trip to the pier but was told this could only be purchased in advance, first time I have experienced this. No problem, I took a cab to the pier for $16 and arrived by 10:30am. Boarding time was listed as 1pm but I knew it would be earlier than that. Passengers were still getting off the ship, but I was told where the line would

start and was the first one in line. At 12 noon the doors opened and I was first though the security checkpoint to check-in and was actually the first new passenger aboard. Probably only a 5 minute process once the doors opened, couldn't have been easier.

San Juan

After settling into my cabin and having a quick lunch in the pizzeria I set off to explore San Juan before sailing. I made a quick left out of the pier and headed off walking towards Old San Juan and El Morro. I believe that I read somewhere that the distance to El Morro was 2 1/2 miles, that while not a long walk was tough given the high temperature and humidity. (at least on the return it sure was!) I wouldn't recommend the walk, at least from the pier to Old San Juan, for most people as it was not though the best area, but an industrial area along the pier area. Once into the downtown area ran into much more people out exploring. El Morro was very interesting and lots of fun to explore with the many different levels and passageways. On the way back I stopped in a small gas station and bought a 2 liter bottle of Diet Pepsi to hold me until I could stock up in St Thomas. That evening I wanted badly to stay up for the sail away at midnight but the jet lag caught up to me and I retired about 11pm after a long 2 days.

St Thomas

As this was my 4th trip to St Thomas I planned and easy day. After my long walk in San Juan I cheated and took the taxi ($2.50) from the ship downtown. Once there I just wandered around looking in all the shops. Walking back to the ship I stopped at the Paridise tramway $12.00) and rode to the top. I never seem to get tired of the view from here looking down into the harbour and at all the ships in port.

Before the return to the ship I walked back up the street and bought a couple of 12 packs of Diet Pepsi for $3.98, 3 bucks less than the shops closer to the ship and much better than the $1.75 aboard ship per can. After lunch I visited the shops in the Havensight pier area by the ship before we sailed in the late afternoon.

St Kitts

Here I took the "Fortress and Gardens" tour offered though Princess. This started with a short drive through the downtown area followed by a stop at the Caribelle Batik Studio located in the Romney gardens. Purchased a nice scarf as a gift to a co-worker for driving me to the airport. After a drive along the coast the next stop was at the Brimstone Hill Fortress. This is a very large complex situiated on top of a hill with a great view of of the surrounding ocean and mountains. Very nice stop. After this we returned to the ship and I walked around town for a while exploring.

Martinique

My excursion for the day here was the "Tropical Martinique and At Pierre" tour. Again after a short drive thougb downtown we headed into the hills. First stop was a short one at the church in Balata, followed by a stop at the Botanical gardens. These were very nice once we got inside. We had arrived about 8:45 am and it seems the gardens open at 9am. The fact that there were 3 tour buses and several taxis dropping off people at the entrance gate had no effect on the lady with the key. She sat in her car until 8:55 before entering amid some loud conversation and hand motions from the bus and cab drivers in French. Too bad I hadn't remembered more from French in High School, sure didn't sound like they were telling her good morning! LOL. After our adventure here we headed into the mountains on a road that twisted and turned. Not recommended if you get carsick easily. Once on the other side we made a stop at a small very picturesque Rum distillery. Last stop was the town of St Pierre, destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902. This was the stop I had been looking forward to but we were given all of 20 minutes to explore the town. This was a very disappointng stop as the time allowed was way, way too short. This also seems strange as the tour was listed as being appox. 4 hours long but actually lasted 5 1/2.

Aside from the extra 15 minutes at the gardens I'm not sure where we had the extra time.

Isla Margarita

We had a short day here as we were scheduled to sail at 1pm so my original plan was to not take a tour and just wander around town. It turns out this is one of those ports where there is nothing in the port area, downtown is a 45 minute to 1 hour $60 cab ride, which I found out after shore excursion were closed. Luckily Princess offered a shuttle bus downtown for $10 which I took. It was indeed a 1 hour ride into town where we had appox. 2 hours to shop and explore. Really nothing to see but it was interesting to visit the larger department stores. I would recommend taking a tour here.

Curacao

Based on others recommendations I awoke before dawn to watch our arrival into port. Of course this was the one morning that we had rain showers, but it was still fun watching us pull into port. It certainly is a very picturesque little town and it is fun to watch the bridge open and close. Here I took the "Curacao Island tour and Hato Caves" excursion. We made a short stop at a local museum before driving across the island to the Hato Caves. While interesting they were really too long a stop and we then returned to the downtown area. Overall a disappointing tour. The downtown area was fun to walk around, with lots of other tourists doing their shopping.

Sea Day, Disembarkation

Finally our last day of the cruise was a sea day and a chance to sleep in and relax a little. Unfornatuely I also had to pack for the end of my journey. Saturday morning arrived way too soon and disembarkation started. Princess is also very good at this and even though I was in one of the last groups was off the ship by 10am and over at the airport shortly afterward. My flight home first headed to JFK for a short connecton, then home to San Francisco. The connection in New York proved too short and my luggage did not make the transfer. American said it would be on the next flight but I didn't want to wait around the airport for another hour for it and it was delivered to my home the next day.

Cabin

I was in cabin Caribe 716, an inside, located very close to the stern on the starboard side. Pretty standard Princess cabin, although the smallest I've had. Not even a chair, just the desk area with a stool. This was not a big deal to me as I was alone but could get cramped fast with several people.

Entertainment

This is one area that Princess does very well in my opinion. The main production shows are all very impressive with good vocals. I had seen them previously this year on both the Grand and Regal, but they only vary slightly based on ship stage limitations. The commedy juggler Pete Matthews was hilarious and the others very good. The larger the Princess ship the more show options they offer.

Food

I'm not a gourmet by any standard and can only offer my opinion that the food was good. I love the pizza that Princess offers and had lunch every day in the pizzeria. My other favorite is the French onion soup and when the head waiter heard that he had them made it for me again the next night. Breakfast/Lunch buffets were good with a varied selection each day.

Ship

This was ny first cruise on a Dawn/Sun/Ocean/Sea class ship and they are very nice. They offer more options than the Crown/Regal and benifit from a newer design. With multiple show lounges they offer additional night-time entertainment. They are not as huge as the Grand so it is easier to get around, but the Grand class adds even more options. All in all a very nice design that I would enjoy to sail on anytime.

Final thoughts

Overall a nice cruise, but a fairly exhausting one. With 5 consecutive ports and only the last day at sea it was far from relaxing. It would have been much nicer if one port, say Isla Margarita, were dropped and a sea day substituted earlier in the trip.

I still prefer the Princess "feel" about ship and find 99% of the crew very friendly and ready to attempt any request.Throughout the cruise I had numerous comment from other passengers about my Cruise-Addicts henley shirt and cap and hope they all at least visit the website. I can't wait until my next cruise!

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Alaska
Publication Date: September 18, 2000

September 18, 2000: Arriving in Anchorage Get to Hopkins Airport for Northwest flight to Minneapolis, then transfer to 767 to Anchorage. Funny experience with the Mac n Cheese as I called it being served for lunch after I said I'd have the chicken breast with potatoes & veggies. But that was what they ut in front of us, salad was good, rolls fresh, but what was on the pasta no one knew.

Arrive in Anchorage at 2PM to the gal with the PRINCESS sign. She says to have a seat there at the gate awaiting all her passengers from various flights. An hour later she circles all around her to welcome us to Anchorage then asks if all put the Princess tags on their luggage. We seem to be the only ones! So now we have to follow the gang to carrousel 5 for them to retrieve luggage, get their tags filled out & on the luggage & the gal to get it all back on the Princess conveyor. Then we board buses to Seward (3.5 hour ride). See the ocean of mud that eats people as well as wildlife as

the driver tells us. We hit time & time again road construction that stops all traffic for 10-30 minutes as they repave the road in front of us, then it turns into single lane traffic wiuth both way sharing a turn. So our 3.5 hr ride was closer to 7. Then in Seward we overhear the dispatcher telling Joe the driver to drive around the city since they are filled with buses. So another hour. Then we get to embarkation & the 10 lines are packed with folks. So another hour in line & finally to our Caribe level verandah stateroom with queen bed. No luggage til around midnite do to the truck getting stuck in the traffic mess. So we get unpacked, up to the Lido Deck for the buffet & that was a great surprise. Chicken Curry, steak, Beef Rib Roast. great sides & then we saw the deserts - that can be it own meal! Stuffed & tired as it was past midnite & that is 4AM ET we goto sleep.

September 19: College Fjord What a beautiful experience. A guide from Maui was aboard to track humpbacks, but Princess hired her for the cruise to keep folks informed both on TV as well as on the bridge mike for those out on deck. Calving was a thunderous thrill both noise & the blue that it leaves.

Dressy night for dinner with cocktail party with Captain Warner, who was very friendly & intro'd folks from all over the world on the cruise. Photos for those interested then dinner in the Venetian. We were seated with 2 other couples who were fun to be with. Folks in their 80's down to newlyweds were aboard & everyone seemed like an old friend. All commented at the excellent choice of meals even ordering more than one for all to sample. Our servers got to know who was cream in coffee, who was a fish lover, who wanted anything chocolate, etc.

September 20: Glacier Bay We awoke at 7AM to FOG, thick white fog. So not too much sightseeing so upstairs to breakfast on the Lido & nothing to look at. So we hit the casino, Piggy Bankin (the original) was against the wall with 4 machines. Banks were 50+, so I feed a $5 bill in, play single coins & crash the banks on all 4 for a profit. Still foggy outside so we goto the Venetian for lunch since they have pastramai sandwiches today. As we are being seated I look out the window & see a mountain - the fog is lifting so we exit. Jerry feels his arm being grasped & it is the Head Waiter asking what the problem was. We told him we have the camcorder ready for Glacier Bay & were headed back to our balcony & room service. So Caesar chicken salad & coffee were delivered as well as a fruitbasket with everything from grapefuit to kiwis. The experience of Glacier Bay was peaceful, amazing at all the colors & textures. As far as wildlife all we got were Orcas, sea otters & the opposite side of the ship got to view bears as we circle for all to see Marjorie Glacier. Then dinner of a British theme from welshire pie to fish n chips. There we learn that the ship had picked up Park Rangers who will speak on what everyone saw & maps to remember it with.

September 21: Skagway What a great town. Its building resemble a Hollywood set for Gunsmoke. Easy to walk the whole town which we did from 9AM to 2PM. Nice free movie from the Park Service to shops that have everything from jewelry to fish. We did the majority of our souvenier shopping since everything was 50% to 75% off. Back t the ship to have high tea. This is cute. Waiter in white uniforms, white gloves with white teapots of earl grey. Another with scones, another with cream & perserves, another with finger sandwiches from turkey to shrimp & finally the favorite was Mr Cookie Man with the hit of chocolate filled with fudge. Then in 2 hours it is dinner! All we do is eat here & it is heaven!

September 22: Juneau This is helicopter day for us. We bought the Panorama of the Glaciers, fly over & thru the Juneau Icefield & even land on the big guy to walk around for close to an hour. On it we saw where it had just split & a small waterfall had started with the coldest water. Big gorge of blue that no one wanted to volunteer to slide down & in....... we learn that they just turned over 30K population & have 29K registered cars to drive on 121 miles of road. 1 of 3 folks owns a plane which is their mode of transportation out of Juneau. The house looked very warn from the winds up to 125 mph & we learn they sell for over $200K - expensive housing! But what a view & all their stairs.......... As we walk back to the boat which leaves at 8PM, then sun going down & 8 orange boats in the water surrounding the ship. It was our lifeboats looking for something or an employee safety drill. As we get back to our stateroom we have a note from the Pursers Office asking how we are paying our bill. We call to say we have given our Amex card at embarkation & they state it may be a bad embossing. So down we go to be told by Jayne "Your bank closed the card since you are away from home". I told her Amex isn't a bank card & to check with them giving her their toll free number. She refuses. So I use my cellphone to call Amex who knows nothing about an inquiry on our card. SO I have the Purse's Office on the ship's phone& they give them the ship to shore #. We return to the Purser who comes out to apologize for the mix up. We are perfect creditwise, but his dept miskeyed the number to GCS in Miami who checks all credit for them.

September 23: Ketchikan Home of the Red Dog Saloon & Salmon. God love those fish that jump into the raging waterfall when they have a salmon bridge the town built for them to swim up to spawn & unfortunately die. We have a bunch of folks lining Crane St with its quaint shops & the salmon run. We were rooting on those guys jumping out of the water to be smached back down into it. We spent an hour at the Fudge Factory watching the hard work of making it, since it is college kids that keep turning it over & over atop a marble table, adding the goodies such as chocolate chips when it was cool enought not to melt them. Then we bought what we watched being made. Can't be much fresher!

September 24: At Sea A day at sea with more to photograph with porpoises & whales as added attractions. Time to pack & have luggage outside the door but the tags sent to us are Silver 1 stating CANADIAN FINAL DESTINATION. Wrong again! So on the phone to the Purser (Francisco) who sends us Red 2 tags for the bags. He also stated he was writing a complaint on everything that happened to us by his department & was glad we were not upset.

September 25: Vancouver We arrive in Vancouver about 8AM, get bused to the airport & Canadian Air to Toronto & then a small lear jet to Cleveland. Still in awe over the wonderful week, we are back home getting ready to board her again 11/18 for a Carribean cruise!!!!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: April 9, 2000

This was our first-ever cruise that we took to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We followed some advice from our travel agent, some from viewing different cruise sites on the internet, and did other things just cause we wanted to!

I have not focused on food through this review. Being on weight-watchers (and having lost quite a bit of weight before the cruise) I was a little concerned that we not focus totally on food. I ate lightly for breakfast and lunch, and ate well at dinner, coming home only 3 pounds up on the scale. ALL food we had (with the exception of Mark's Pot Roast one night at dinner) was incredibly excellent!

At the end of this review are some "lessons learned".

Day 1 - San Juan: We booked our tickets through the cruise line. We were quite concerned after reading several reviews from people who were routed various ways with long stopovers. However, we were quite fortunate to be booked on a direct flight. When we got to the airport we were pleasantly surprised to see that we were booked in first class seats!

We arrived in San Juan airport at

1:30 on a beautiful sunny Sunday. We walked down the terminal a bit until we saw people holding signs saying Princess Cruises. We stood in a holding area, pleased that we did not have to go down to baggage to claim our bags. The cruise line would pick them up from our luggage tags that were sent to us before we left home. We then boarded an air-conditioned bus that delivered us to the dock. We went through the terminal building, signed away our credit card, were given our cruise cards, and off we stepped to the biggest ship we've ever laid eyes on. We didn't believe it could possibly float! We were going to just drop off our carry-on bags and then go to Old San Juan, but we got caught up in exploring the ship so never made it.

From the moment we stepped on board, walked through the atrium and up to our stateroom, our mouths just hung open in wonder at the beauty. Some people have commented that on other ships they are personally escorted to their rooms, but not having this wasn't the least bit of a problem for us. There was staff about every 20 feet to welcome us with a smile and point us in the right direction. We were glad that we brought a change of clothes and our bathing suits in our carry-ons, as we didn't see all of our luggage until after dinner.

We went to the dining room for dinner and met our tablemates for the trip. One couple was from England, and the other from Wales. Both couples were on their second week of their cruise, and we replaced another American couple at their table. We all enjoyed each other's company enormously throughout the week. We learned a few new words (such as fortnight means two weeks), and they told us that we changed their stereotyped versions of Americans being loud and bossy. We spent several evenings with each other, and ran into them several times on off-shore adventures.

Day 2 - At Sea: We ate all our breakfasts and lunches (when on-board) at Horizon Court. The food was always delicious, pleasantly arranged, the staff eager to help, and the most wonderful Executive Chef who would walk through the dining room or buffet area saying in a beautiful singsong voice "Good Morning."

Being naturally early risers, we were up for breakfast by 7:30 Monday morning. After breakfast we went to the Riviera Deck and easily found a couple of lounge chairs. Throughout the morning we had a snorkeling lesson in the pool, Mark played in a ping-pong tournament (taking 2nd place), we played Crackpot Jackpot Bingo (with unlucky cards), both of us entered a putting contest (with unlucky putters), and explored the ship a little more. In the afternoon when we returned to the pool deck we had a bit more trouble finding lounge chairs, but finally located two next to each other. That night we went to the Princess Theater to see "Rhythms of the City", one of the wonderful singing/dancing shows that were performed throughout the week. The entertainers on-board were talented and delightful to watch. It always amazed us that they could dance with grace and style, even in high seas!

Day 3 - Barbados: As we had a tour planned in the afternoon, we decided to go walking through Bridgetown in the morning. This was a big mistake! Every other step throughout this tiny street you are accosted by a taxi driver asking you to go in his cab. I felt very unsafe in this town and made sure my husband was next to me every moment. We did find a cute little Internet shop where we paid $2 US for 15 minutes of internet time. So, instead of sending postcards to our family, who probably wouldn't receive them until after we arrived home, we sent one email to everyone saying hello and a bit about our adventures so far. We then took a few pictures and quickly returned to the ship.

We had booked the Photographic Tour of the Island for the afternoon, so met down on the pier when it was time to go. I had my big Nikon, several lenses, filters and tripod for what I was hoping to be a wonderful opportunity to get some great shots of the Island. We got on a nice mini-bus with a delightful guide and started our journey. I seemed to be the only one with "serious" photo equipment, but that didn't phase me. However, we seemed to be passing by all the great photo-ops! At one point the bus pulled over and people shot pictures through the window. I asked if we could get out to take some pictures and was given a funny look and told ok, but to hurry up. Hmmm.at this point I should have started getting suspicious! But, our guide was very interesting and gave a wonderful point-to-point history of Barbados as we continued our journey. When we stopped at St. John's Church everyone followed her into the church for more touring and history lessons, while I took my equipment and shot away. When we arrived in Bathsheba, billed as "truly a photographer's paradise," everyone seemed more interested in the rum inside the Edgewater Hotel than in shooting the magnificent coastline. Oh well, thought I, their loss. It was a long drive and we felt that the description in the Adventures Ashore book were very misleading - this was not the tour I thought it would be! When I finally went to the Tour Office to complain a few days later I was told that it was impossible for me to have gone on the Photographic Tour, as that had been cancelled! So, instead Princess automatically booked me on the Scenic Tour. Since the names were similar I didn't question it when I looked at my tickets. After insisting that I shouldn't have to pay for their error, and the tour desk insisting that we had already taken the tour and should have read our tickets more carefully, they finally agreed to refund ½ of our money "in good faith." At least touring the other side of Barbados made us realize that this was a beautiful Island, but our tablemates booked a taxi for $20 and got virtually the same tour with stops as long as they wanted wherever they wanted!

Day 4 - St. Lucia: We took a $12 taxi ride over to Rodney Bay and stayed at a beautiful beach for the day. Mark wanted to go over to Pidgeon Point and climb up to the fort, but I nixed that idea in favor of more suntan lotion and swimming. We had lunch at an outdoor bar which had a great deal of trouble exchanging the currency into US $'s. This was the only place all week where we experienced this difficulty.

Day 5 - St. Kitts: This was the most fun day of the cruise. We had a full day Catamaran/Snorkel adventure booked through the cruise line. We were on the Eagle, with a very attentive, courteous, fun crew. We sailed over to a secluded little spot at the bottom of some cliffs that the British couple next to me claimed to look exactly like the coast of Scotland. At this point we got on our snorkels and fins and started our snorkel adventure. It was really lovely - we saw a Morey Eel, and another woman saw an octopus, along with many beautiful fish. Mark slipped and banged his leg on the ladder when coming up from snorkeling, which ended up with a trip to the Dr. once back onboard the Dawn. (His story grew throughout the day to finally end up with his telling everyone that he saved the entire snorkeling party single-handed from a school of Barracuda!) We then sailed over to a lovely little beach area where a fully cooked bar-b-que was waiting for us. There was a coconut salad that looked like cole slaw that was really out of this world. We spent a couple of hours on the beach before heading back to the catamaran and partying all the way back to the pier. Drinks flowed freely, which one young couple took more than their share of, so we were placing bets on which one of them would be first to be Man Overboard. However, the diplomatic and attentive crew kept eagle eyes on them throughout and the day ended with no unintentional swimming.

That evening we ate dinner at Horizon Court. We saw a very talented comedian, Jim McDonald, in the Vista Lounge.we laughed till there were tears coming down our cheeks.

It was Tropical Island Night Deck Party on the Riviera Deck Poolside. Everyone was dressed in their tropical clothes and much dancing and partying, conga lines etc. went on throughout the evening. We met two delightful British sisters, well into their 80's. The one sister didn't miss one single dance. They were delightful and we ran into them several times throughout the rest of the week.

Day 6 - St. Maarten: We had decided that this would be our shopping day. We tendered to the pier of Philipsburg in Great Bay and walked to the shopping area. There are hundreds of little shops, one after the other. The people were very pleasant and all willing to bargain here. We had lunch at Cool Beach, then decided to go to the French side to look for a specific piece of jewelry that we couldn't find in Philipsburg. When we asked the young lady at Cool Beach were to grab a taxi, she advised us to walk down one street and catch a bus. The taxi would have cost us $20, the bus was $1.50 each. It was air conditioned and clean, and we took it around to Marigot. On the bus we sat next to four adorable school children and struck up a delightful conversation with them. Marigot is lovely, but much to our dismay all the jewelry stores were closed for lunch from noon to 2:30! Most of the other shops were open, and the open-air market at the pier was bustling, but we were surprised to see closed stores with ships in port! We walked around and made some small purchases, then caught another bus back to the Dutch side to finish our shopping before returning to the ship. We spent the day shopping, so unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to explore the rest of this beautiful island. Several people went to Orient Beach out of curiosity.there were many bare-bottomed men, but the women were only topless for the most part. (Hopefully they were using SPF 65 sunscreen!)

Day 7 - St. Thomas: Mark went golfing at 8am to Mahogany Run. The golf course was in good condition, but he felt it was not a true test of golf - that the course was "tricked up" and didn't reward a good shot. He warns those going to take many balls - his golf partner lost 30 (10 of which were Marks on loan!). Mark only lost one for the day. He would never go back to play this course again, although he complains that he has nothing to compare it to in the islands (he was only allowed one golf day!). He says the course was made for Billy Goats, not Humans. He was one of two people on the excursion who brought his clubs from home, but they fit very nicely under the bed, and his golf bag held all our shoes perfectly for the plane ride!

I went on a half day Sail-away/Snorkel adventure while he was putting the greens. The seas were very rough and the captain only put up the jib throughout the trip. The Fury's Captain and his Mate were both from Texas, and while they were charming, it was not as enchanting as having locals as we did on the catamaran. We went over to a little bay where the seas were much calmer for our snorkeling. This was better than the day in St. Kitts. The mate from the boat came into the water with us and pointed out and named all the fish we were seeing. He also dove down with our cameras to take close-up shots of several fish on the bottom, and let us hold a sea urchin. We then sailed back to the dock.

I had quite a bit of trouble with my key card getting into my room upon return to the ship, and it required two frustrating trips down to the Purser 's desk to get it straightened out. I ate a quick lunch, hoping that Mark would return from golf in time to join me on a trip to Megan's Bay. Finally at 2:00 I left him a note of where I was going, told him to slip on his bathing suit and bring the camera (he had for golf), packed up a bag, and took a $4 taxi ride across the island to the bay. It is spectacular! About 25 minutes later Mark found me, but forgot the camera - so this is forever in my mind instead of on film.

Overview and Lessons Learned: We would never consider getting a room without a balcony on any future cruise! The room was small, but big enough for our needs - and we loved having the balcony. We were on Baja Deck, B-502. We were totally amazed at the amount of storage space. The little bins that swivel out of the cabinet hold tons of things. No problem with closets or drawers either. All our luggage and golf clubs fit under the bed so were out of the way throughout. They do need to come up with some system when attaching two twin beds to make a queen bed. The gully in the middle of the bed was uncomfortable and made snuggling through the night somewhat difficult.

The staff was all pleasant and attentive. One night Mark went to bed early and I was going to meet our tablemates at the Wheelhouse Bar. I got turned around a bit and asked an officer the way - he personally escorted me to the bar. The cruise director, Tim Donovan, was funny and a delight. He was always smiling and peppy and seemed to be up from the wee hours of the morning to very late at night.

Mark, who is somewhat crowd-aphobic, never felt crowded on this ship. You would never guess at any time that there were 1,950 passengers on board! The design of the ship is ingenious.

Second seating for dinner was definitely the best choice for us. We would come back on board from our various activities during the day, take a little nap, and then take our time getting dressed for dinner. The shows were all offered after dinner for us to view. Also, don't miss High Tea at least once during the week. We were dressed casually in shorts and it was fine. This does, however, seem to be the training ground for future waiters, so there are a few times where the clotted cream doesn't quite make it to it's intended spot!

Our two lessons learned: First always make sure that your on-shore excursions are EXACTLY what you signed up for! Second - when you receive the paper to sign up for the hotel stay in San Juan if you have a late flight, act on it immediately! We hemmed and hawed, then tried to sign up the day before disembarking. They were all closed and we ended up spending six hours in the San Juan airport. We thought we'd take the opportunity to go to Old San Juan, but we had our carry on bags to tote about, and there weren't any lockers at the airport to park them in.

All in all, we loved cruising and we loved the islands we visited. Our tablemates said these islands were much better than the ones they visited on their first week of the tour. We each took Monday off work to catch up and get back in non-vacation mode, and am I ever glad we did!

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