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Caribbean Holiday Cruise - Part I

Author: arubalisa (More Trip Reviews by arubalisa)
Date of Trip: December 2006



Norovirus

There was none as far as we were aware. No mention of it by anyone we were in contact with. The crew was very diligent in making sure everyone is aware of and takes precautions against norovirus. I was a little nervous pre-cruise about that. I know I wash my hands frequently and at all of the "appropriate" times, but don't know that about my fellow passengers. At the entrance to the dining room and Oasis Cafe you were always greeted by someone with "the bag" of hand sanitizer who would splash some onto your hands. There was also someone left holding the bag when re-boarding the ship after a day in port. The dispensers are also still in all the usual spots in the buffet lines and entrances to dining venues. Never ever did I encounter one which was empty.

Aquaspa

Last year I had an outrageously priced manicure. This year for $17 I had a very nice "polish change" done by a very pleasant young lady from South Africa. Cannot help but mention, but always try to make your spa appointments as soon as you board the ship. The best spots, like the formal nights, vanish in a heartbeat.

Shows/Entertainment

Having a little one, we did not attend any shows. Family members who did, said they were "pretty good." During pre-dinner cocktails, we regularly listened to Class Duo in Rendez-Vous Square. They were much better than the duo last year. Strange thing was some nights the place was packed and other nights deserted. Even more noticeable after dinner. The place was either packed or empty, no in-between.

Tammy Rafferty who plays at Michael's Piano Bar (former Cigar Bar) is supposed to be excellent. Sorry we missed her. The Allegro Quartet was aboard again this year and the ladies are still fabulous. IMHO, the "party band" Changez was not nearly as good as Quintessence last year. Way too loud even at the pool on sea days, and way too heavy on the bass. We'll leave out the part about playing the same songs for 11 days straight...

According to my brother who is single and a night owl, for the most part, after the last show, the ship grew fairly quiet. He never complained though that there was no one to hang out with. Mostly, you could find people in the casino or the Stratosphere. New Year's Eve was the latest night and busiest, at the Stratosphere... from what I understand they went until about 4 am.

Cabin Accommodations

Our family had four balcony cabins-Cat. 2A- on deck 9, Vista deck, cabins 9155, 9157 & 9151, 9149.

For two people the cabins would be just fine. For families, a 172 sq. ft. cabin is cramped. It is even smaller than it sounds and I thought I was mentally prepared. With 2 adults and 1 child on an 11 night sailing, we "just" fit our clothes in every available space. Is taking a shower sideways in a stall shower while being attacked by a shower curtain sticking to parts of your body what cruising is all about? We will not even get into the contortions a woman suffers in attempting to shave ones legs in this particular situation.

Last year a sky suite with 246 sq. ft. was much more spacious in regards to living and storage space and the bath with a "real" tub is a luxury worth paying for if you can afford it. If you can live without a balcony and are more than two people, a family oceanview stateroom at 210 sq. ft. would be a better choice than 172 sq. ft. box they call a 2A.

The cabin offered a plain "old" TV with VCR. No flashy flat screens or DVD players. My nieces and nephews picked up a few videos for viewing on the VCR. I do not know if they were obtained through the library or guest relations. The TV is interactive so you can view your bill on screen and such. My husband loved (not) going on to find out how much money he had just wasted trying to get some emails through to his place of work. After the first $75 in internet connection charges, he finally threw in the towel and considered it a lost cause. Fortunately for him there were no work emergencies.

Our 4 cabins had the same cabin steward and assistant. They did just fine in keeping the cabins kept and orderly. No toilet paper shortages or the like and the cabins were always made up in a timely manner. If you want me to nit pick, they could have dusted a bit better, but most people would never have noticed.

I thought our cabin steward spoke English just fine. Well at least I thought so. That was until I ordered a bottle of wine, 3 bottles of beer and 6 cans of sodas to be delivered to our cabin along with a cheese and fruit platter for Christmas Eve about 10:30 pm. When I approached the steward when he came on duty late afternoon, he asked me to put in writing whatever we wished to order. A few minutes later I handed him the list along with a $10 tip which I thought would insure a smooth delivery. The steward knew we would be at dinner, to deliver the order I told him he could just let himself into the specified cabin where our family would be later opening our Christmas presents before he went off duty.

When we arrived back at the cabin, there was everything placed on the desk. One warm bottle of wine - no ice bucket, 3 warm bottles of beer and 6 cans of warm soda. I had forgotten that the gratuity was still added onto the bill automatically. If I had known we would receive warm beverages after specifically explaining we would be drinking them when we returned to the cabin after dinner, I would not have wasted the $10. I could not have been more specific in explaining that this was all for our consumption later on that night. Not wanting to have to wait for the bottles to be switched out, we drank our Pouilly Fuisse with ice in it. It doesn't take more than that to ruin a great wine. None of us were impressed by this less than outstanding service. The worst service experience of the cruise and it did not come close to ruining it.

Out of the four cabins our family had, the only maintenance problems were with our cabin. The air conditioning even when turned down all the way to 60 degrees was non-existent. The first night we got into bed and said there was no way we could live like that for 11 nights. Guest relations has an extremely bad habit of not answering their telephone. This was at 11:30 pm so my husband had to get dressed all over again and trod down to guest relations to explain the problem. To their credit, there was someone at our cabin within 5 minutes.

The gentleman came in, politely inquired whether it was okay to step on our bed -- picture me in night clothes under the sheets :-) The cabin is small enough but with the couch opened up into a sleeper for our daughter, the only place for me to go would have been in to the bathroom. I preferred the bed. So he removed the panel plate from the vent above our bed, twisted something or other and within a half hour things had cooled off nicely. The cabin was never an ice box, but as long as we kept the drapes closed when the sun was on our side of the ship there were no further problems with temperatures inside our cabin.



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