Review AOS, so. carib. rte. 5/25/08

Jun 7th, 2008, 04:30 AM
  #1  
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Review AOS, so. carib. rte. 5/25/08

We took this cruise out of San Juan. Being cautious we flew in the day B4 and stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan which is next to the dock. Much to our surprise the Sheraton put us up in what amounted to a mini apt. with a separate bedroom, living room and dining area and about 4 balconies, two TV's including a large flat screen in the living area. Way to go! I did some research and found that a well reviewed restaurant, the Dragonfly, is in Old San Juan and in fact was a short walk from the Sheraton so we called the day B4 to be waitlisted (no reservations accepted) and actually got in w/o a hitch though we did go early on a Sat. night. The decor was ala a 1930's San Fran bordello and the food was quite good actually, a mix of Asian-Latin flavors. Try the lo mein if you ever get there.
The nexy day, Sunday it was off to the ship. The first thing I noticed was that the Carnival Desting had moored in the dock right across from the Sheraton and the AOS was a bit further back at the Pan Am pier. I must say the profile of the Destiny is very nice with sleek lines and a sort of aero-dynamic look. Nice view to start he day! We cabbed it to the AOS around 1200 or so and check-in was very quick. Don't you just love a short check in. Actually by 1245, some 40 mins. after leaving the Sheraton we were on board. The cabins don't open until 1300 so it was off to lunch at the windjammer cafe.
After lunch we explored the ship WOW!! We went with another couple and our son and after seeing the promenade Asha, our friend said she wanted to stay 20 days. Yes it is that impressive. So now it was off to our cabin, which was a jr. st. and its the 1st time I had ever booked one. Well my wife saw it and said YES! about 5 times and tasked me with this level of accomodations for all future bookings. :rolleyes: OK so I need more OT now.
So lets begin a review of the ship;
Public areas: In a word gorgeous. Everything was very well maintained, very clean and virtually spotless. There are many lounges, bars, etc. The shops are nice but not anything more than I have seen on other ships. What really sets this hip apart is the promenade. Its like walking a street really with shops, a bar, a sidewalk cafe style restaurant and a sports bar. The restaurant is open 24 hrs. and serves pizza, pastries, fresh fruit and coffee, expresso and tea. Actually there are inside cabins above this area with windows that I am told have very thick, sound proof glass. You would need this as the promenade is often full.
I did make use of the gym several times and its full service with a good number of aerobic machines, weight machines and free weights. In addition there is a measured walking track up top for exercise.
Food: Now this is always a personal area so here is my opinion only. I was impressed with the service and the quality of food in the gorgeous, three level main dining area. Considering the number of passengers I thought all was very good. Our friends requested Indian ahead of time per the RCI website which has such a feature. Our first night main seating proved to be the only glitch in our trip. We tols our waiter about this and he acted as if this was more than what they could do even though again RCI features this on their web site. So I spoke to the head waiter who gave some mumbo-jumbo through a bing smile about not having adequate spices on the ship for such a request. So we then spoke to the asst. restaurant manager, a great fellow named Jojo John who saved the day. He promised they would do all they could to make Indian food and we had it that night and every night. I must say that last yr. on the Star Princess the Indian food they made had more variety but the AOS had better taste. All in all we were pleased. The lunches at the Windjammer were good, not great and could be improved with more variey and more flavor. The paella was pretty bland and it seemed they had much of the same foods over and over. For me this was fine as I ate salads very day for lunch anyway so its not a deal breaker by any means.
Entertainment: The shows were saw were quite good really. There was some fellow who sang imitating famous peoples vices and he was FUNNY!! He gave a great show and had a great sense of humor. The best show for us was the Drifters. Yes the "Under the Boardwalk" crew with some new faces of course put on the best show of the cruise and ended it with calling the audience up to dance on stage. Well then my trick knee acted up so I zoomed some moves in my seat but it was fun. Also do see the ice show. This again is another great feature on the AOS. There is a group of professional ice skaters who put on a great show. Tickets are free and there were two shows for this 7 night cruise so do get then ahead of time and enjoy this. You won't regret it.
The cabins: Well what can I say. Its jr. suite from now on. Actually our cabin as spacious, always clean, fresh and it was neat to see the towel animals again. We missed them last yr. on the Star.
Overall this ship quickly became our favorite. I love the size and innovative features but what makes the cruise really is the crrew and I must say overall I give them an A+ for effort and attitude.
What could be improved: Well as mentioned above the lunch selections in the Windjammer could be bettered. Also and most importantly we saw few if any hand sanitizers. last yr. on the Star they were everywhere and often there were crew at the entrance to the eating venues with them just ot make sure you cleaned your hands first. I think this is a major area for improvement.
When RCI calls for mandatory life boat drills they mean it! We had to vacate our cabin as they insisted on this and you have to agree with this even though you may be tired.
Do not expect cold running water in you cabin. Oddly and to my astonishmnet the ship simply doesn't have chillers for tap H2O. I finally had this confiremed with guest relations as they tried to correct this issue. The water will reflect the temperature of the sea water so get used to brushing your teeth with luke warm water of get some ice.
Any questions please ask. The port stops were Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas.
jacketwatch is online now  
Jun 7th, 2008, 06:20 AM
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OOPS! I meant famous peoples VOICES!!
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Jun 7th, 2008, 07:31 PM
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Thanks jacketwatch - how were the ports? Which was your favorite? Of the ports at which you stopped, I've only seen St. Thomas (and neighboring island St. John)... would love to hear about the other ports in particular.

Thanks!

Carole
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Jun 8th, 2008, 03:58 AM
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The ports were all nice and unique in some ways. Barbados we found to be clean and as the roads are straight and the terrain fairly flat easy to traverse. Also and much to my surprise the liquor, at least the ones I was lookinf for were cheaper there than St. Thomas. For example a 1 L bottle of Johnny blue ws about $119.00 vs. $155.00 in St. Thomas. Here a 750 cc bottle is about $180.00. We hired a driver from the docks here and he gave us a great tour including stops at his mothers house and his sisters restaurant. He also got us into the exclusive Sandy Lane golf course for a look-see. Got a nice polo there too.
St. Lucia is beautiful and we had prearranged a tour with a great fellow named Spencer Ambrose who provided a great tour for us. However the roads there are winding and twisting and my wife got pretty sick from all this motion so we had to go back early. Spencer called his brother who gave us a ride back while he went on with the tour. Our son continued on and told me someone else also tossed their cookies later due to motion sickness so if you are prone to that be very careful about touring St. Lucia.
Antigua was next and it too is clean and beautiful. There are shops but fewer and the roads are not nearly as bad as St. Lucia. We again prearrainged a tour with Gordon who was terrific. His first stop is to the local market to get fresh fruits for the group, all at his cost, then its off to the tours in his Mercedes mini-bus. The highlight was Shirley heights and a tour of Nelsons dockyard.
St. Maarten was next and this was my favorite islands. Its super clean and has tons of shopping. We had a gal named Berneice for our tour there and she too was terrific. St. Maarten has some really bad traffic too so be wary, esp. if you are there in the winter which is high season for cruises. In port that day was another hsip, the Crown Princess and even with just two ships traffic was pretty bad. I can't imagine what its like in high season when at times there are 5-6 ships in port.
All the private tours I prearranged cost about $30.00-$40.00 pp, all are in mini-buses which were clean and had A/C. In addition they all provide refreshments such as local beer, H2O and sodas as well as fresh fruit.
In St. Thomas, out last stop we decided to chill so we just got off whenever and hit the shops. And there are alot of them. Any other questions please ask. Larry
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Jun 8th, 2008, 06:54 AM
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Great review!
Thanks for taking the time to post. We have been looking into that itineary and it was good to see your impressions of the islands.
katybird is online now  
Jun 8th, 2008, 07:30 AM
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Typo alert...that's itinerary.
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Jun 8th, 2008, 09:03 AM
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You're welcome. Personally I think tjhe so. Carib. rte. is the best. Larry
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Jun 9th, 2008, 09:59 PM
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Thanks for the port details! I would really love to see St. Lucia one day. I'll remember what you said about the winding roads, however. I know I've seen you post before on the US / Hawaii board... would you say the roads are more winding than the road to Hana (if you've been there)? My family is fine with that road... but has had problems on other winding roads.

Thanks again!

Carole
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Jun 10th, 2008, 02:11 AM
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We have never been on the Hana rd. I will say the St. Lucian rds. are the most winding I have ever seen by far. In fact someone else in the tour group also goy sick and tossed his cookies too. Cheers, Larry
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Jun 13th, 2008, 09:12 AM
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We did AOS 2 years ago on the other ports of call they do (Aruba, Curacao, St Maarten, St Thomas) and we loved it. A great ship with great crew, good food, and a nice mix of passengers).
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