Caribbean Cruise – Dec. 2013

A belated summary of our cruise in December! Our first cruise.

Day 1Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey4:00 pm
Day 2At Sea
Day 3At Sea
Day 4Labadee, Haiti8:30 am5:00 pm
Day 5San Juan, Puerto Rico2:00 pm10:00 pm
Day 6Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI8:00 am5:00 pm
Day 7Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles8:00 am5:00 pm
Day 8At Sea
Day 9At Sea
Day 10At Sea
Day 11Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey8:00 am


Labadee, HaitiThis was my first truly relaxing trip. It was great to sleep and veg out as much as we wanted. I also went to the gym every sea day, sometimes twice per day, and for me that was truly enjoyable. The gym wasn’t extensive but it was very good considering it was on a boat.

The food was awesome. I was so happy that there were seated options for every meal so we could almost avoid the buffet environment completely. I don’t like buffets. There are times for seated breakfasts and lunches as well as the dinners. The food was all very good, sometimes excellent, and a terrific value since that was all included.

Because of the kind of trip we had booked, we were at sea for most of the time with just 4 stops. For the most part, I really enjoyed being on the boat. We even got the cheap interior rooms with no windows which didn’t bother us. Of the stops, Labadee was a really pleasant surprise and it was really nice. Labadee is owned by Royal Caribbean and it’s a private beach. They served a lunch BBQ which was the only really poor vegetarian meal of the trip. We didn’t do any excursions and that was just as well. We had a nice time on our own and it was one of my first times every really doing a beach trip, spf 110 and my giant hat ready to go.

We arrived later in San Juan and I got really overheated and wasn’t feeling well when we first got off the boat. It passed as the heat cooled down and we made the best of it later on, but I sent Geoff to one of the fortresses without me and then I joined him at the 2nd fortress. Even though we’d been eating non-stop on the cruise, we indulged in a really nice dinner at Marmalade; not traditional Puerto Rican but the reviews were good and well deserved.

CruiseWe didn’t really get to see St. Thomas itself because we went on snorkeling trip to see the sea turtles. It was my first time snorkeling and I enjoyed it, though it was a bit cold. I embarrassed myself by getting drunk on the boat ride back to shore… and it wasn’t even noon!

We didn’t care for St. Maarten which was very touristy. We went snorkeling in the morning but it was kind of lousy and then in the afternoon when we went to see the town we were unimpressed. It would have been better to book some sort of all day excursion to the rain forest or something like that.

In terms of the ship itself, the shows and evening presentations were really great. We enjoyed the Cruise Director, Leigh, and his various shenanigans. I don’t want to get into it right now but we did have a lot of problems with the evening activities outside of the shows though. I’ll leave that be for now, but it’s something I’ll come back and write about later.

For the meals, you’re seated at group tables. At night, you’re with the same group every night while during the day they seat you with whoever arrives when you do. We actually got to have dinner privately for the first 2 nights which I liked, but the group situation was ok too. I guess it’s a gamble depending on who you’re sat with.

There were several times when I ordered a drink “just because” but actually, I don’t even like to drink so I could skip that next time. We also indulged in massages and some other treatments that were nice but it would have been less expensive without it. In the end, we did spend about another $1000 together by the end of the trip which included the excursions I mentioned.