Caribbean Holiday Cruise - Part IIIAuthor: arubalisa (More Trip Reviews by arubalisa)
Date of Trip: December 2006
Continued from Part II.
I said it the last time and I will say it again, "WOW, what a way to spend the day"! This was the second time our family has sailed aboard the Silver Moon II and believe me when I say that life does not get much better than this.
Our family made up 10, out of a total of 18 people aboard. There was plenty of space for everyone to spread out. Never did we feel crowded. There was shade, and cover from the passing shower, for my Grandmother and anyone else who wanted it and plenty of spots for sunning and relaxing. Captain and crew treated us terrific and spoiled us from the first moment we stepped on board.
Our excursion had a bit of a late start due to waiting for folks who simply never showed up. Our five hour excursion remained the full five hours though, there was no skimping on the time we were allotted. Our group was transported via mini-bus the 2 minute ride to the marina. The boat is kept clean as a whistle, so prepare to remove and leave your shoes at the dock before you step aboard. We were a little concerned about my grandmother being able to get on board, but the crew very very carefully and skillfully cajoled and assisted her. Once we were all aboard drink orders were taken: soda, beer, water, rum punch and we began our 5 hours of bliss...and the glasses were always replenished!
Our only disappointment the last time we had sailed the Silver Moon II, and certainly no fault of theirs, we were unable to swim with the turtles because there were some large swells in the area that the turtles are know to frequent. Well, this year, it was all go!
First stop though was a shallow snorkel just off shore. The crew passed out high quality and well kept, snorkel gear. At each stop one of the crew members snorkeled with the group and acted as guide. Everyone in the water was required to wear a snorkel vest.
Following this snorkel, everyone re-boarded, rinsed off with the fresh water hose and off we went to our next stop to swim with the turtles! When we arrived the simple instructions were no swim fins, and only "pet" or rub our hand across the turtle's shell- no grabbing, no riding, and no nonsense. Easy enough, so we all got into the water and it seemed that like magic, the turtles just appeared. The crew member who was in the water with us was floating bait about in the water. My husband and I have dove with dolphins and felt that experience would be hard to beat, but these turtles were no less stunning in their grace.
When the turtles finally took their leave, it was time for lunch! There was a bountiful spread of chicken, fried flying fish, 2 kinds of salad and garlic bread. While the crew cleaned up we were free to swim or relax. Once they completed their housekeeping chores it was time to serve some banana bread and a choice of pina colada or strawberry daiquiri.
Seeing some of the other passing catamaran excursions packed to the gills, we knew no matter how much others had paid for their excursions, we had the best value for our money and it was the absolute best decision to go with Silver Moon. I would not hesitate to recommend this day to anyone.
We spent the day on Palm Beach New Year's Eve day. My husband, daughter and I took a taxi from the cruise terminal and had the rest our family meet us at the beach at their leisure. We knew we were going to Palm Beach and aimed for the area of De Palm Pier specifically. We asked the taxi driver to take us to De Palm Pier and he said, "okay De Palm Island" (totally opposite direction from where we were headed), so once we had him headed towards the direction of Palm Beach everything was fine.
Taxi fare from Oranjestad to the Radisson/De Palm Pier will run you $10 each way. ($13 on Sundays and holidays). That is per taxi not per person. Taxis will take up to 5 persons. Taxis will require you to have dry swim suits on your return to the ship. I made sure that I specifically told all my families members to have the taxi driver agree on a price before they got into the taxi. One driver actually wanted to charge my Mom $15 instead of the $13 (we were there on a Sunday). She and my Dad just moved along to the next driver in line. Fares are set by destination/route by the government- period- non-negotiable- period. You can also take the bus from the bus station a short walk across from the cruise terminal. The bus is much less expensive than a taxi. The fare I think is $2. So bus cheaper, taxi is quicker!
We had the taxi drop us off at the entrance to De Palm Pier. You actually walk from the street side down an alley which runs between the Radisson and Riu Resort. There are two vendors who rent chaise lounges, floats, umbrellas and such at the south end of the beach at the Radisson. They also offer banana boat, parasail, tube rides, waterskiing etc.
If you choose an umbrella on the Radisson side you should be able to receive food and beverage service right at your chaise lounge. The day that we were there the resort was packed to the limit so instead chose a shade palapa on the other side of the pier in front of the Riu Resort. The resort is closed for renovations and it being a Sunday, the worksite was quiet, so I am not sure how that would affect a visit on any other ordinary day.
My brother and his kids walked out on to the pier for lunch at Bugaloe Bar and Grill. Lunch for 4 kids and 2 beers was about $40. Considerably better bargain than the $12 I paid for my takeout Caesar Salad at the Radisson. They just renovated their beachfront restaurant so raised the menu prices to pay for it? But then again, I was able to eat my salad on the beach lounging on my chaise gazing at the ocean. For affordable soft drinks and water there is also a Dunkin Donuts on the pier.
At the end of the afternoon we walked up through the Radisson property and out through the end of the lobby. There are always taxis waiting here. Again, make sure your swim suits are dry.
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