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Everything posted by donalk

  1. Venice is almost four hours from Rome by train, I would say that rules it out. It's a city that (as you can see above, evokes different reactions). My wife had been in Venice before and hated it. It was smelly, overbearing, crowded, and dirty in her view. I'd not been there until we spent three days in Venice before a Rhapsody cruise last year, and she loved it! I think the big difference is we were there together in late October, she was previously there in mid July! I think Venice needs two days minimum, as do Florence and Rome. Obviously, living in Ireland, Italy is more accessible to us, and we've been there a few times. My personal view is stay in Rome.
  2. We might see you Pamela, we're hovering between Jewel out of Civitivecchia and Rhapsody out of Venice next year! Rhapsody is winning at the moment, shorter, but a great itinerary and it would put me on Santorini for my birthday!
  3. Delighted to find this. On the verge of booking Rhapsody for May next year, and 7588 is available at a very tempting price. Great itinerary too, with both Dubrovnik and Kotor.
  4. On Anthem at the moment, most people don't have Wow Bands, and staff seem to hate them, particularly in bars and at the pool deck (yes Anthem, in Canada and New England, is still insisting on checking towels in and out.
  5. Just docked in St John New Brunswick this morning, and as I walked the deck at stupid o'clock, I was listening to the Anthem Royal Suites podcast. I then hit the gym, clicked on Abe's morning show, and as I watched, he did the phone call to the captain routine, no more than 10 minutes after I heard it discussed on the podcast! Review to follow next week, but right now, we're off for a stroll to Fort Howe.
  6. I concur with the comments on Orient Beach, we did a similar itinerary on Jewel late last year, here's a link to my review http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php/topic/1262-jewel-of-the-seas-review/?hl=jewel
  7. Friday - Jasmine Menu (Formal)
  8. Wednesdsay - Portobello Menu
  9. For my encore - The Compasses!!!!! I'll post all four pages for the first few days, after that, the dining tines etc. are identical. The second formal night was Friday BTW Sunday -
  10. We boarded our plane without incident, and were soon taxiing to the runway, crossing over what appeared to be a main road in the process. The flight was uneventful - I was happy to see Fantastic 4 was one of the free movie options, but it turned out to be the dubbed Spanish version! Either way we were soon flying over Long Island and into JFK. We landed at JFK at 1.20pm, with three hours to make our Aer Lingus connection to Dublin. We came in to Gate 9 in Terminal 5. Aer Lingus uses Gate 11. Judging by what I saw from my window as we taxied to a stop, I reckoned we'd probably make it! And we did. We even had time for lunch. As we sat in the concourse eating our Cheeburger Cheeburger (never heard of it before, good burger and excellent onion rings), a lady passed. "She's the spitting image of Liz", observed Pauline. We had sent a lot of time with Liz and her husband and two adult children on Liberty a year earlier, they hail from Limerick. I looked closely, and realised there was a very good reason she looked like Liz. She was Liz! It transpired she, her sister and daughter and other assorted female clan members were returning to Shannon after a few days shopping in the Big Apple. We chatted for a while, and then went on our way, reflecting that if you stand still in JFK for long enough, you're bound to see someone you know! Before too long, we boarded on time and were soon in the air, landing at Dublin Airport at 4.10am our time. We picked up the car, drove 150 miles home, and arrived at our front door just before 8am. As we were falling into bed, Jewel of the Seas was heading towards St Thomas. Hard to believe had been on board less than 24 hours earlier! After a few hours it was get up, do some shopping, check e-mails, and real life slowly consumed us again. Ever since though, there's been an extra little pep in our step. I admitted at the start that I would have been happy with Europe. Now, I'd happily go back to San Juan and do the other islands in the region. And then go back to the ones we've been to already...........maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.........
  11. One observation from the point of a newbie to San Juan. As I indicated, I had registered for the 7.30 departure off the ship, and we were at the theatre as instructed 10 minutes before. It went like clockwork, and as I expected, we were approached by a porter when we got into the baggage hall. I nodded, he helped with the bags, guided us through customs, and had our cases in the back of a taxi before you could say "that was quick!" We were at the airport within 40 minutes of leaving our cabin, enough time for a stroll around the airport while beloved read a book! We went in, checked in, in plenty of time for our flight to JFK. On our first day in San Juan, we'd looked across the bay from Raices and looked at the area's most iconic factory. Now, in the Duty Free Shop, its produce was on prominent display! [url=http://smg.photobucket.com/user/madra/media/8sc24_zpsgsjeqgy5.jpg.html]
  12. That night was a night of finality - Our final night in the MDR, final trip to the sauna, steam room and whirlpool, final virgin cocktail in the Solarium and final visit to the theatre for the farewell show. Cases were packed and left out, we had an 11.10 flight out of San Juan the next day, and were booked for a 7.30 departure off the ship. For the last time, we crawled under those wonderful Royal Caribbean sheets as Captain Dustin and his crew steered us back to San Juan.
  13. I know that St Croix has had issues, and the cruise ships are only now beginning to return. I hope it succeeds, and this town can thrive again. Sadly, the weather was severely impacting on this cruise's interaction with local people and more importantly for them, the amount of money being injected into the local economy. We had intended renting beach chairs, maybe eating lunch on the beach, but it was clear that the pattern for the day was going to be intermittent heavy showers and very little sun. We just plonked our bags and towels onto the sand, took the obligatory "ship in the background" selfie, and got into the water. Tomorrow, we would be heading back to the Irish winter, this was our last chance to swim in the Caribbean for some time, and by God we were taking it! That beach should have been packed, the water should have been jammed with people. The beach bar, which should have been doing a roaring trade was deserted, there were no more than 10 people dotted around the beach. The colour of the sky in the last picture is an indication why. I'd like to go back to St Croix, to see it on a sunny day when it will look its best. I'd like to relax on the beach, visit the museum in Fort Frederik , we intended to, but after three very heavy showers over the course of the time we were ashore, we were wet and just wanted to get back onto the ship. We went to eat lunch in Windjammer, sat in the outdoor seating at the back, but had to move very quickly when a huge shower was accompanied by some very strong wind made us feel right at home! The cruise director cancelled most outdoor activity on the pool deck, and instead, Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation was shown in the theatre. As we left, perhaps more so than any other port, I said goodbye with a sense of unfinished business. We had hoped for a little more from St Croix, and it had certainly hoped for a little more from us!
  14. Time moves strangely on cruise ships, for me at any rate - The first few hours drift lazily by after embarkation. The first full day, particularly if it is at sea, is like a long luxurious soak in a hot bath, with no sense of urgency. By the time the last day comes, time flies like a hot shower, and in St Croix, that was literally the case. Our plan for the day was to hit the local beach, spend some time in town, relax and then return to the ship. The forecast was not great - Partly cloudy, showers, wind. As I walked the jogging track on Deck 12 that morning, I struck up a conversation with a young woman I'd seen out there every morning, the latest in a series of friendly encounters which made an impression. The weather was clearly not good, it had rained overnight, and would clearly do so very soon again. Still though, the early morning sky was beautiful as we approached St Croix. At my request, we decided to have breakfast in the MDR, and were seated with a group of new cruisers from Canada and Richard and Sharon, the couple we'd shared the taxi with in Antigua, two days earlier. I wanted to to this because I love Royal's Eggs Benedict, but for some reason on that day, there was no buffet and everything was being served at the tables. That put the servers under pressure and delayed things considerably. Whether it points to a noro issue, I do not know. Inevitably, talk was already straying towards the depressing topics of packing, flights etc. Nooooo, my brain silently screamed, as I tried to steer the conversation towards what we were going to do that day. At this point, the rain was teeming down, and as soon as it stopped, we grabbed our towels and headed out, bound for Frederiksted and the beach right beside the port. It should have been jammed, but it was virtually deserted. We left the ship after 10am, and met scores of people coming back, already having spent some time ashore. We persevered into the port area, and within minutes were sheltering under a gazebo during a heavy shower. Once the rain cleared, I strolled through the part of downtown Frederiksted closest to the port. Having been in the bustling towns of Castries and St John's during the week, this was a sharp contrast.
  15. We considered going into Philipsburg itself, but after a packed day, we left the town centre for another time and stayed around the port for a while, taking a Caribe beer and buying a few souvenirs before reboarding. A little later, we got to watch Liberty sail away. The rest of the night was predictable. We ate in the MDR, watched a bit of The Edge Effect, a vocal harmony group in the theatre, and went to see Ant Man in the cinema. Some people had popcorn, I never saw where it came from. Then, I heard a few people muttering about the price, so it obviously wasn't free. Later on, our heads hit the pillow, and it was Goodnight Irene!
  16. We saw three more jets and a few smaller planes land while we were there, after the Delta I decided to leave the camera down and just savour the moment Maho is, I suspect, one of those places where there is a risk of it being underwhelming. Not in my case. Of course that's partly due to the fact that shortly after the Delta landed, a very loud whine came from the airport. That could only mean one thing - KLM was on the move. I don't have great balance so I stayed well to the side, those who stood directly behind were blown and buffeted by the savage power of the Jumbo's four engines. Then, it was time to return to Philipsburg, where we'd been joined in port by MSC Divina.
  17. I must be honest, at this stage I'm getting a bit excited. In fact, it's a feeling not unlike the one I had before we drove the Grand Prix circuit in Monaco last year. Having watched videos of planes coming over Maho Beach for so long online, we were finally on our way there! We left the French side, and soon crossed the border into Dutch territory again. Then, we crossed the bridge leading to the airport, turned the corner, and the airport came into view. Suddenly, my excitement level rose even more, and I mouthed an expletive under my breath. "What's wrong?", asked Pauline. I pointed to a blue shape in the airport grounds and gasped "It's the KLM". Yep - The KLM 747 was on the apron, and provided it was a reasonably quick turnaround, we were in time for the ultimate take off. The area has obviously developed a lot in recent years, videos I've seen show the Sunset Bar as a small bar on the corner of the beach. Now, it's a lot bigger than that! Soon, we were treated to the first approaching jet, and a Delta flew over before landing. I took two shots of it, and to be honest, didn't bother for the rest of the time. I just put the camera down, got into the water, watched and listened.
  18. Marigot is where Speed 2 - Cruise Control was filmed, culminating with Seaborn Legend crashing into the seafront. Needless to say, the actual seafront in Marigot looks nothing like the scene in the film. All of the buildings featured in that scene were models, except this one, the public toilets. It was now lunchtime, so the question was if we were in France, could we find a shop selling fresh ham and cheese baguettes? Oh yes! Le Divin, and it lived up to its name! We spent a little more time around Marigot, not enough time to visit Fort Louis, unfortunately, but as is so often the case, we vowed to come back.
  19. Next, we stopped off for 90 minutes or so at Orient Beach, where for a reduced rate we could rent chairs and get a complimentary punch. We did so, and enjoyed the relaxation. The water was beautiful, and I can understand why this is one of the best regarded beaches in the world. We were intrigued about the massage sign at the entrance, 30 minutes and about 15 different offers later, we understood. There were several people offering massages and selling knick-knacks up and down the beach, but they were by no means pushy. Into the water we went for a beautiful swim, the waves were excellent, and the temperature was just right. This last thingummyjig is called a flyboard, apparently. I'd never seen one before. An amazing yoke altogether! Off we headed again shortly after noon, bound for the French Capital - Marigot. One of the first things you notice is this shipwreck, which has been there since Hurricane Lenny in 1999.
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