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Stinger-pr

Stinger-pr's fascinating honeymoon, Fascination cruise review- Oct. 16-23, 2016

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I almost forgot. This trip I gathered all the Fun Times for those interested. These are the ones for The first day; San Juan.

 

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LOL, you caught a pic of DW. She's at the edge of the middle sail away picture wearing the blue t-shirt.

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I see the lobby bar was not staffed during those photos. Is that the norm for embarkation day? I love spending 30-45 minutes or so people watching while enjoying a couple of drinks.

I don't know if it's the norm but I did see the bar closed but the Lido bars were open if I'm not mistaken. This is the only time this area would be used for embarkation since in all other islands you would get off and on the ship on deck 3.

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LOL, you caught a pic of DW. She's at the edge of the middle sail away picture wearing the blue t-shirt.

LOL... Small ship indeed!!

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Great review and great pics. You really put a lot of time into doing this awesome review. Seeing some of those pics brought back a lot of great memories. I miss Old San Juan. Loved the Sheraton hotel across the street and the restaurant (forgot the name) that is at the water right beside the port.

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Well, yeah... I started at work but no one else has to know...lol. Glad to know you're following along. I hope you guys enjoy it.

 

BTW I also love the Outsiders book. It was maybe the first English language novel I read from cover to cover way back when.

 

Pfft...I'll never tell! :D But yes, definitely enjoying and love your sail away pictures from San Juan. Yours came out so clear and crisp in the after dark pictures.

 

I can't believe I totally forgot to add something...congratulations to you and your DW. Believe it or not, hubby and my first cruise was our honeymoon cruise, out of San Juan on Carnival's Festivale. Itinerary was almost the same except we had 1/2 day in Dominica and also went to Martinique but didn't go to St. Lucia or St. Kitts. Others were the same. I hope you have many happy years together!

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We are sailing in October. Loving this review!!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

Thanks!!!

 

Enjoying your review-

 

I'm glad you are!

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Great review and great pics. You really put a lot of time into doing this awesome review. Seeing some of those pics brought back a lot of great memories. I miss Old San Juan. Loved the Sheraton hotel across the street and the restaurant (forgot the name) that is at the water right beside the port.

 

Thanks you for your words. This things are really time consuming but to me it's worth it. When I started cruising I got a TON of info and ideas from reading reviews here so this is just me paying it forward.

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Pfft...I'll never tell! :D But yes, definitely enjoying and love your sail away pictures from San Juan. Yours came out so clear and crisp in the after dark pictures.

 

I can't believe I totally forgot to add something...congratulations to you and your DW. Believe it or not, hubby and my first cruise was our honeymoon cruise, out of San Juan on Carnival's Festivale. Itinerary was almost the same except we had 1/2 day in Dominica and also went to Martinique but didn't go to St. Lucia or St. Kitts. Others were the same. I hope you have many happy years together!

 

Meehh...call me a perfectionist but I really wasn't to thrilled they came out with so much noise but as long as people enjoy them then I'm all good.

 

Thanks you for your wishes!!! I do remember when the Festivale was in San Juan. I was a teen but my dad worked in Old San Juan and he'd take us to walk the city day and night all the time. I've lived in PR most of my life and I still find OSJ fascinating. That old Itinerary didn't have any sea day. They took away an island when the bigger ships arrived in San Juan when the ships became a "destination" not just a mean to get somewhere.

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I have a question for you, since you're a PR native. We're flying in the night prior to our cruise in December, and don't arrive to the airport until about 11pm on Saturday night, Dec 17th. We're staying at the Sheraton OSJ and I was wondering what places might be open late enough when we get in if we're hungry. I'd rather not have to settle for Senor Frogs, we'd like something a little more authentic, but having a hard time figuring out what restaurants might be open until 2am or so.

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Thanks you for your words. This things are really time consuming but to me it's worth it. When I started cruising I got a TON of info and ideas from reading reviews here so this is just me paying it forward.

 

That's a great way of looking at it. When I wanted rooms I always search the forums to see if anyone mentioned anything about my particular room. Sometimes I don't find anything about the rooms so things like that are always good to post so others will know how that exact room is in terms of location to things and the noise.

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BTW: The lighthouse at El Morro no longer has a rotating light like traditional lighthouses. They "upgraded" to a newer blinking light...maybe a high powered LED system? It sucks because it took away some of the site's nighttime character.

 

That sucks. Not everything is supposed to be modernized.

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I have a question for you, since you're a PR native. We're flying in the night prior to our cruise in December, and don't arrive to the airport until about 11pm on Saturday night, Dec 17th. We're staying at the Sheraton OSJ and I was wondering what places might be open late enough when we get in if we're hungry. I'd rather not have to settle for Senor Frogs, we'd like something a little more authentic, but having a hard time figuring out what restaurants might be open until 2am or so.

 

The port is directly across the street from Sheraton and beside that is a place where they catch boats to the Bacardi factory and beside that are a couple restaurants that prepare really good food (forgot the names). They are open late. Not sure if until 2am though but I have been there until around 11pm-ish and when I left they were still serving. Maybe the OP will know the name of those restaurants.

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I just got back from my second trip on her this past Sunday, the first trip being last May. Found some differences that I may go into at another time, the experience not as great as the first one, just not sure if it was just the crowd last week or not.

As far as the Sheraton, second time there, so easy to just walk to the ship, and convenient with a Walgreen's on the bottom level. There was stuff I just waited to buy once I got there.

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I have a question for you, since you're a PR native. We're flying in the night prior to our cruise in December, and don't arrive to the airport until about 11pm on Saturday night, Dec 17th. We're staying at the Sheraton OSJ and I was wondering what places might be open late enough when we get in if we're hungry. I'd rather not have to settle for Senor Frogs, we'd like something a little more authentic, but having a hard time figuring out what restaurants might be open until 2am or so.

 

There really won't be any places near the Sheraton open at that time to eat if I recall. You might have to take a taxi back to the Condado area for food that late. I know it's not local but the closest restaurant that's open so late would be Denny's at the Hilton Condado Plaza (about 7 minutes from the Sheraton).

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Ok, guys here we go...

 

Day 2 St. Thomas:

 

I'll start out with today's Fun Times

 

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The back page was basically the same every day so I'm going to skip posting that page.

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There really won't be any places near the Sheraton open at that time to eat if I recall.

 

Stinger - maybe you know where this place is. DH and I were on a tour to the biobay on our last trip and we too came back really late. Our driver was really cool and stopped at this open air restaurant (he said its open 24 hrs.) We got really good rice and beans and ribs, etc. Just picnic tables to sit at. Everything was displayed in these glass cages (I passed on the full head of some beast. :O) It didn't seem that far from the Sheraton.

 

Anyway, maybe Wanna Cruize would like that for local flavor. :)

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Day 2 Continued:

 

Even though I am on vacation I gathered the guts to get up at the un-Godly time of 5:45am. What the heck for?? Sunrise pictures! Yeah, I know…. Sunrise was due about 6:10am but I needed a bit of extra time to get the camera ready.

FREE TIP: After being in the cold of your room all night you need to set some time aside once you get outside in order for your lenses to defog. If you have a DSLR or a bridge camera with filters attached you can save some time by unscrewing the filters while they defog. Otherwise, the outer one (or ones) will do so faster that the actual lens. It was my first experience with lenses under these conditions and learned this the hard way a few days into the cruise.

While waiting for the sun to break out on the horizon I took a few pics around the ship, taking advantage that there weren’t really many people around.

 

BTW, the metal bar I mentioned before that you could hear inside the room everytime equipment rolled over it is on the floor bellow this door frame:

 

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Promenade Deck 9 aft elevator lobby

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Main pool (well, actually the only pool)

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This is part of the Serenity area aft, deck 9 . Most days there were a lot of passengers using the area but it wasn’t to overly crowded. The hot tubs on the other hand were usually full at almost any time.

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Day 2 Continued:

 

Thankfully, I did not waste my time getting up early since nature did not disappoint and gave us an amazing sunrise today.

 

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After a few pics I walked around the ship a bit and at that hour it was mostly deserted. Mostly people from the crew, picture-crazy people like me and those doing exercise at the track around the mini golf course. This is when I discovered that this ship had “secret decks”!! Just past the golf course and across the track there’s a wall with openings on either side that leads to a narrow walkway with a great view towards the front of the ship.

 

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Day 2 Continued:

 

This picture was supposed to go with the explanation above of where the "secret deck" is but it slipped my mind. On the far right you see some rectangular windows and a "mast-like" structure. Just in front of that is the narrow walkway. There is access on either end of that length of windows. Oh there's also the mini golf course somewhere in that picture as well...jaja

 

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For those wondering where the Paradise Point tram is located relative to the port, here’s a wide view from the ship as we were docking. Heavensight Mall is on the lower center and left of the picture.

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While there I looked down to see another observation deck below. I’m going to have to find out how to get to that lower deck later on. For those of you who keep track, the ship went in straight, with the dock on its right side. After taking more pictures than what I really needed, I went to wake DW up for breakfast and be on our way off the ship.

FOOD REVIEW WARNING: We are creatures of habit and both have very limited palates in the sense that we are not too adventurous when it comes to food. Most (if not all) of days we had basically the same things for breakfast. I usually went for the omelet station while DW went for the buffet. While here are some pictures of our first breakfast onboard, I won’t bore you with similar pics for each day. I *think* I got pictures of the breakfast menu everyday from the breakfast buffet, so I’ll help you guys there. I will try to make note of food quality when I can, though.

As you can see, some of the pictures were before breakfast time, others as we returned later to have breakfast ourselves.

 

Today's breakfast buffet menu:

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Breakfast menu for the MDR:

 

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Breakfast buffet setup prior to service:

 

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Day 2 Continued:

 

Some more pictures of the breakfast buffet and service

 

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Now this was my go-to place for breakfast. This is where I would order from most mornings. You do have to wait sometimes but these guys work fast, making at least three omelets at a time and were always very courteous and attentive to passengers’ requests. On the other hand, servers at the buffet side always seemed too serious and rarely had a smile going.

 

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Finally, our usual breakfast plates. Even when getting food on the buffet side instead of the made-to-order omelet station, everything was fresh, hot and tasty. We had absolutely no complaints with food quality from any breakfast on Lido. We did not go to the MDR for breakfast any day so I can’t comment on that.

 

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Drinks included for free were usually orange juice, lemonade, either fruit punch or passion fruit/guava (I think) combination as well as hot tea, coffee (non premium) and water.

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Day 2 Continued:

 

This is the seating area to the sides on Lido. There were doors at either end of this hallway (at both sides) that accessed the outside walkways. Watch your step since the frame of the doors protrude from the floor and those doors are also heavy so use some muscle.

 

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This is one of my favorite stops since, after being here a few times before, I now know enough that I can navigate some parts of the island with no major setbacks. For our stop I have reserved a car through AVIS, just like last year. Unlike last year, we didn’t have to walk too far from the ship to get to the AVIS office. While the office used to be outside the Heavensight mall, now it’s in the same building you see right besides the ship on the exact opposite corner from Señor Frogs.

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This is where you exit the terminal. Behind me to my right is Heavensight Mall and the taxi stands, to my left is where the AVIS (and I think Budget or Hertz) offices are now located.

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We were off the ship around 8:15am (after having our gangway picture taken) and by 8:35am I was at the car (a Ford Focus) doing a video walk-around noting any previous damage just in case they even tried to stiff me with some of it. It’s just a personal precaution, though. My experience with AVIS St. Thomas has been just excellent! Customer service this time around was awesome and neither time renting with them have I seen any dubious or phantom charges to my CC.

FREE TIP: You can get the same price when reserving through either AVIS website or (like in my case) one of the online travel site (name is similar to EXPEDI-tion). The difference is the insurance price. The OTA (Online Travel Angency) quoted insurance price was less than half of AVIS’s and since I had prepaid insurance, no extra hold was put in my CC. Just the balance for the actual rental costs. Total cost for rental including a gas top-off and insurance: about $80. Considering it takes about $10 per person, each way just to Coki beach (a total of $40 both ways), I consider this a great deal. Not only do I get to the beach faster than most (even doing two stops along the way), I do so with A/C, I visit two beaches on my own time, Drive around a bit and shop a while in town during my day there.

It can be a bit strange to drive in St. Thomas since the wheel is on the left but you also drive on the left side. So as long as you keep the curbs near the left of the car, you’re fine. Only turning on some of the big intersections or stoplights with lanes turning every-which-way are a bit challenging. We made a pit stop at the nearby Pueblo supermarket for some ice, sodas and snacks (we had brought a collapsible cooler), another stop at nearby Kmart and off we went towards Coki beach.

 

On our way to the north side and Coki:

 

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This is the right side of the road as you reach the Coki beach parking lot.

 

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Day 2 Continued:

 

Coki Beach

 

We arrived about 9:45am and the parking lot was almost empty. There is a $5US fee for parking and there are a few access points from the parking to the beach in between the many kiosks and beach bars. Be sure to keep your parking stub handy. While we were on the beach, they changed attendants and the new one wanted to charge us again as we were leaving since he thought we had arrived before they actually opened. He stopped asking when we showed the stub.

The beach was almost deserted when we arrived and, while it got busier later in the day, it never felt anywhere near crowded or packed. One thing I noticed right away was that it was wavy as heck today. Last time I was here a year ago, even though it was windy and a bit wavy, it was worse this time, not big waves but definitely moderate in strength. Either that or it was high tide time because the water was getting much further up the sand than last time.

 

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A very nice couple from Tennessee that was already there saw us getting ready to snorkel and offered a large dog biscuit so we could feed the fish. Now for the uninitiated (like my DW), this would be a *** moment. But having been here before and having seen the results I gladly accepted it and into the water we went. The best areas for snorkeling at Coki are on the right side of the beach near the rocks. But over the sand you’ll also encounter lots of different kinds of fish and of all sizes but mostly the bigger ones.

 

Now, bear with me on this: I've tried to ID some of the fish but I'm no expert so feel free to correct me if I call "Mike" a "Peter".

 

Our first encounter was with a small school of Palometta and a Permit (maybe??) behind them.

 

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A few minutes in, the fish started swimming around us trying to get to the biscuit so I stretched my arm and presented it to them. DW was a bit scared at first but after a while she held the biscuit herself for and experience like she’s never had.

The first curious bunch were some Parrot Fish

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Then the Sergeant Majors arrived.

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