Got home okay from a great cruise. My friend and I didn't do a whole lot other than relax, which was just what we were looking for.
As for the ratings. . .
A.(1) Food - The dinners were excellent. I enjoyed every minute of them and had warm chocolate melting cake every night (something I'm really missing now!). Other than dinner, we only did the poolside breakfast buffet and a couple of lunches on the lido deck. Food was plentiful and good, but nothing spectacular there. The midnight buffet was gorgeous, but since we had late dinner seating, we only took pictures.
A.(2) We found the service to be great everywhere except for the purser's desk. Back to that in a minute. Our dinner waiters (Hari and Imade) were wonderful and took great care of us. Our cabin steward (Zanna) was a real sweetheart and answered our every beck and call with a smile. I played in the casino, while my friend didn't, and the dealers were friendly and the host (Jo) was very nice, even though she cleaned most of us out in the blackjack tournaments.
Of course Malcolm was always entertaining. WOO HOO! Now, for the purser's desk. They were friendly and polite, but the few times we needed information, they didn't really seem to know what was going on. They would pull out the Capers for the day and look in there. Heck, I already looked there! Heard similar comments from others. Oh, the photography folks were really nice, too, and we bought LOTS of photos.
A.(3) Shows. I confess that we didn't go to any. Well, that's not entirely true. I went to one of the late-night R-rated comedy shows. I left part way through. Just didn't find the jokes very funny. They were often made at the expense of others or just plain dumb and old. For example, "I pulled up to a stop sign and there was a guy and his woman on a Harley. I rolled down the window and said, 'Nice Hog!' They guy said, 'Thanks.' Then I said, 'Yeah, your bike's nice, too.' Worst beating I ever got in my life." That's the caliber of jokes and that's a VERY old joke. Anyway, that's the only show I went to.
B. People on the cruise - Most folks we encountered was nice and seemed to be having a great time. One thing that impressed me was the variety of people and the way everyone seemed to be having fun no matter what shape, size, age, nationality or whatever they were. In resort vacations I've taken, I've seen folks look down their noses at others who didn't have 'perfect' bodies or clothes or whatever, but I didn't see any of that on this cruise. Maybe it was there and I just missed it, but it was really nice to see everyone just simply having fun.
Of course there were a few folks who thought that waiting in line was for someone else or that other folks were waiting for something different than they were, so they could just breeze around and butt in and grab what they wanted. That happens everywhere. We were on vacation, so we didn't let it bother us. After all, we weren't in any hurry to get anywhere and we certainly weren't going to starve to death! LOL
When we were going through the boarding process, we did see one couple that was having a decidedly NOT NICE time. The guy was doing most of the yelling, but the woman got in a few words now and then. He was really being beligerent -- and doing it in two different languages. It went on for a while and were were waiting for him to whack her (seemed like that's where it was heading) when a Miami police officer came and pulled him out of the line. After talking with him for a while and calming him down, they let him rejoin his wife. Never saw them again during the cruise, so I'm not sure if they actually were allowed on board or not. And on debarkation day, we were heading to the lido for breakfast when we saw two couples exchanging words about someone banging on a door at 3:00 in the morning and the other telling them to shut up.
I suppose there were drunks. Don't know. THe most drinking we did was enjoying three bottles of Chateau Neuf du Pape with our dinners during the week.
C. SHore Excursions. Didn't do anything. SEe, I said we were relaxing! Well, actually, we did ride the tram in St. Thomas. I would have liked to go parasailing, but my friend wasn't interested and couldn't be convinced, so we skipped it. Other than that we walked around town and did some serious jewelry shopping.
We found folks in San Juan and St. Maarten to be very friendly and folks in St. Thomas to be polite, but not nearly as friendly. St. Thomas shopkeepers acted more like they HAD to be polite, while the folks in San Juan and St. Maarten actaully seemed happy to hav eyou around.
D. Debarkation. Oh. My. God! I'm from Oregon and I thought I knew from rain, but that was CRAZY. We were in the first group of passengers to debark after the folks who took their own luggage off. It was raining BUCKETS, which was okay while we were in the terminal going through Customs. But once we finished Customs, we were pretty much pushed out of the building to a scene that was rather nightmarish.
We had tried to get a porter, but there weren't any around, so we were lugging our own suitcases. Two gals with two rolling bags and two carry-ons. We had a system that worked well on dry land, but wasn't designed for a river. Leaving the terminal, we found ourselves wading in water that rose to our knees (it was at least 1.5 feet deep). We had to somehow make it across a wide span of that to a bus that was to take us to Miami International. Of course, inside our suitcases, along with our clothing, were all the souvenirs and, more importantly, pictures we had purchased. Nothing for it but to hoist the bags as best we could and go. By the time we got on the bus, we both looked like drowned rats. Crazy stuff.
Let me add here that the bus driver was AWESOME. She was hoisting bags and stuffing them into the cargo hold of that bus and barking at folks who were trying to load their own luggage in there and doing it all very efficiently and quickly. She was supposed to drop everyone on her bus at the American Airlines terminal, but given the circumstances, she made a couple of extra stops to accommodate those of us who weren't flying on American. She was great.
By the time we got to the airport, we had about 1.5 hours before our flight. I didn't have any clothing to change into. My friend had only a pair of shorts and a tank top in her carry-on that weren't soaked, so she changed into that. Fortunately, I had been able to quickly roll my jeans up so they didn't get completely soaked in the flood and my shirt was cotton and dried out fairly quickly.
All I can say is, I was REALLY glad to fly out of Miami!
That terminal area seriously needs some drainage!
The rest of our trip home was, thankfully, uneventful (except for the A/C not working on our flight from Atlanta to Portland, so it got to about 80 degrees in the cabin -- hey, at least my friend in the shorts and tank top was warm
). It's been raining off and on here since we got back, but that's okay. It's Oregon rain, which means you don't get soaked in the first two seconds of being in it, and there's no flooding.
My friend arrived safely at home in Reno tonight, where it was windy, but dry.
All in all, it was a great cruise for us. Hope it was for everyone else, too.