Having enjoyed a ‘mini-cruise’ in Europe in 2006, I was really excited about cruising in the Caribbean, and the trip certainly didn’t disappoint.......
Flights I flew with a group of colleagues from Dublin to London Heathrow with Aer Lingus, and then Heathrow to Miami with British Airways. Both airlines were comfortable, in particular British Airways. In my opinion they offer great facilities for economy passengers: Food was great, seats very comfortable and everyone had personal seat back screen with a variety of channels and movies.
Miami Unfortunately my stay in Miami was only a short one! I stayed 1 night pre- cruise in Miami at the 4* Intercontinental Hotel. The hotel was approximately 20 minutes from the airport and is conveniently located at the port. The rooms were spacious and modern with a lovely bathroom. For a city hotel, it had a relaxed ‘resort’ feel and a lovely pool area. Although this hotel is not within walking distance of the main sights of Miami, I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for somewhere to stay in Miami pre-cruise. Also, across the road is a small shopping centre, with a selection of restaurants and great for a bit of retail therapy before boarding your luxury liner!!
Cruise 7 nights onboard the 4* Freedom of the Seas wasn’t long enough!!
This really is a beautiful ship, and currently one of the largest in the world. Its size is certainly an advantage – the ship felt virtually motionless due to its huge stabilisers, and with so many wonderful facilities onboard you could almost get lost on the ship!
We had an inside cabin, which initially I was a little sceptical about, but I was proved wrong! The cabin was perfectly adequate (if a little compact), of course en-suite, with air-conditioning, flat screen TV, hairdryer, mini-bar, vanity area, wardrobe and room service! What more could you ask for?! With so much onboard however, we spent very little time in our ‘stateroom’ (cabin).
Our itinerary was the Eastern Caribbean, and ports of call included St Thomas, St Maarten and Puerto Rico. Each island was slightly different. St Maarten is quite unique as one side of the island is Dutch, and the other French. We did a tour of the island which was very interesting and I would certainly recommend it. Puerto Rico had a distinct Latin American feel, and was one of the best spots for Duty free shopping. My personal favourite was St Thomas, one of the US Virgin Islands. We spent a wonderfully lazy day on the beach at Megan’s Bay, apparently one of the top 10 beaches in the world as ranked by National Geographic.
Back onboard, we enjoyed some terrific entertainment, including live bands, theatrical shows, comedians and a phenomenal skating show!
For the active, the ship features a rock climbing wall, an ice-skating rink, full gym and even a ‘Flow Rider’ – surfing simulator.
For the less energetic there is a beautiful spa area, (which was surprisingly reasonable), a vast pool deck, and even an adult’s only pool area. Children of all ages are catered for and seemed to enjoy themselves immensely, giving parents a well earned break!
Food onboard is fabulous. They say that the average person gains something like a 1lb a day onboard a cruise, and it’s not hard to see why. Restaurants offer a great variety and cater for even the pickiest eater, and vary from formal dining to the buffet restaurant. A couple of restaurants had a small supplement to eat in, but given the standard and indeed value they were well worth trying!
So gone are the days when cruising was considered only for the elderly and infirm, cruising is for everyone – honeymooners, retirees, families, even groups of singles!
I can’t wait to set sail again!