Sorry - the service charge is 15% (as I look at a ticket and do the math).
No, you don't feel the crowds on this ship at all. I have not met anyone onboard who doesn't love her - except one malcontent. Hard to say why she was so grumpy. Not her style ofr ship.
Size is all about passenger to space ratio, and this has plenty of space - like QM2. Everything is scaled up - more tables, more room, more staff.
Anyway -- Day three
We are “steaming” towards San Juan this morning. We do not arrive until 2:00 pm so this morning they held a large brunch meal in the Grand Epernay dining room with eggs benedict, etc. I have to assume it was delicious but since we moved our clocks an hour forward and were up late we missed it.
While we are in sailing into San Juan there will be a deck party out by the pool, and there will be another one tonight at sailaway starting at 9:30 pm. This is a somewhat unusual itinerary, which I like. I rarely get cruises that go to San Juan and it is so nice to have an alternative to St Thomas, which I have been to oh so many times. (More than I can count). It is also VERY nice to be in two different ports past sundown. We leave San Juan at 10:00 pm and tomorrow we leave St Martin at 11:00! I have been to St Martin dozens of times, but never later than 6:00. I am not even sure what it is like after sundown there.
San Juan has the dramatic 16th Century Fort San Felipe del Morro and La Forteleza, the governor’s mansion. We moved our clocks forward last night so we lost an hour of sleep.
Yesterday we had our karaoake party. Lou Ann got the crowd rolling with her rendition of “Secret Agent Man,” which she did with a pair of old James-Bond style sunglasses and hat. I was surprised at how many people actually had the nerve to get up and sing. We went for over an hour.
Then we started our complimentary cocktail party, which was our real first opportunity to meet everyone in the group. By now I am sure you have figured out some people book our groups simply because they are great values. Not everyone participates in every activity we organize and we are perfectly fine with that. But the cocktail party means free pre-dinner drinks and who wouldn’t want to go along with that?
The point of CruiseMates is to allow cruisers to meet online first, and if they want to meet onboard they can do that, too. Obviously, we have a big “meet on board” area here in CruiseMates so people who are on the same sailing can communicate before hand. If you like each other and choose to meet up on board – great. But there are never any obligations to take it farther.
Last night was a formal night so most people came to our cocktail party in formal dress. Most of us have first seating although some have second. This ship holds its captains welcome aboard party AFTER dinner. OK, no one asked me but it seems like a way to get people to drink far less. It worked out better for us because our party was pre-dinner so it didn’t conflict, but under normal circumstances I would prefer a pre-dinner captain’s party.
But you know what? I never go to them anyway, so big whoop!
My biggest surprise was a new CruiseMates who flew all the way from Australia to meet up with us. She not only looks like Olivia Newton John, she sounds and even sings like her. What a beautiful singing voice. Gabriel is her name and what a lot she added to the karaoake party.
But even more importantly, we have the regular CruiseMates cruisers who have shown up for every little thing we do including HappyJan & Phil, Elaine & Steve, Steve & Kathy, Robert & Myra and others. There were all even at the Hotel pre-cruise. All nice people, all very savvy cruisers.
Dinner service was far better last night. Our sommelier was on the ball and did not fool around with us too much – far more professional. Our tablemate who was in the suite was a petite grand dame almost 90 years old. Although she only weighed about 90 pounds, when it came time to order dessert she said “bring them all!” No kidding. When the waiter did bring five different desserts she counted them out and said “something is missing,” so he counted them out again and said, “they are all there!” - No, she said, the ice cream was missing the pistachio nuts.
We are just now sailing into San Juan – what a beautiful December day in the tropics. Below 80 degrees, not too humid and not a single cloud in the sky. This trip has been a little rough so far, weather-wise, with rolling waves and intermittent rain. The lawn does not like that much.
Solstice rides well, but not as solid as the Royal Caribbean Freedom-class to me. She has a very unique design described in my inaugural article about her. (See “Celebrity Solstice Debuts” on our front page). You can feel her pitching and rolling, but in very limited motion. It seems to start and stop every few seconds, not a constant motion but rather limited, though. I doubt if many people will ever get seasick on her.
That’s all for now – just starting day three! See you again tomorrow, or maybe tonight.