Thought I would share this review I found on another site re: Jubilee. She is an older ship, but sounds like if you have the right attitude things will be great. Plus you gotta love the ports of call.
A special thanks to all the staff on the Jubilee who helped make this a very enjoyable cruise for my parents and I. We had a very nice time on this trip. We met some wonderful people, and saw some awesome sights. The ship was very clean and well kept, and the staff was very friendly/helpful. The dining room service in the Bordeaux dining room was outstanding. Our waiter, Vanburn, from Grenada and asst. waiter, Ray, from Guyana were wonderful. One of the best dining room teams I have seen yet in 20 cruises. Our room stewardess, Mirjana did a superb job.
Non-stop flight from STL to SJU was due to arrive at 2:20p, but we got in early, at 1:45p. We caught a taxi to the pier, $19.50 for 3 of us, with 2 large suitcases, 2 wheeled carryons and a CPAP machine. Going forward, on cruises departing SJU, I will never pay Carnival’s $15pp each way transfer.
We made it to the pier by 2:15, but it took over an hour to get on board. The embarkation staff could be a little more organized here. Since we booked last minute, our docs never came in the mail, and we were told just to go to the Skippers Club at the pier to pick them up. So, the first line we encountered was checking passports/docs. We explained we had no docs that they were to be picked up at the pier, so we had to show the fax from the TA, along with passports (or photo id/BC) to get past this point. Next line was for luggage tags. We tried to bypass this line to find the Skippers Club to get our docs (I thought it was going to be lounge of some sort, as I have read it is like at other embarkation ports. NOPE, it was non-existent at the pier for the Jubilee). As it turns out, we had to double back to the end of the luggage tag line, since we were sans docs. We finally handed off the luggage, then to get inside the terminal building the officials were asking for the docs and photo id. We had to use the fax and passports again. We were then directed towards a table with a bunch of embarkation reps behind it. This is where we were to pick up the docs. They didn’t have them. Said they saw them earlier, but now they were currently MIA. So, we got a handwritten multi copy form with our Confirmation # to use at the check-in counter.
Next we had to go through the metal detectors and the photo people before hitting the check-in counter. Only here did the mention of the “Skipper’s Club” mean anything. The guy manning the line yelled to someone behind the counter, and pulled the retractable thing for the line back, and motioned us to the front of the line. After completing check-in we proceeded to pick up room keys and sign and sail card, then went outside to board the ship. The one thing I was surprised about when boarding, was that we boarded down on deck 3, not the usual area near the pursers desk on Main Deck (it was going to be a long way up to deck 11). It took awhile to get an elevator, as there were crowds, and only 4 elevators. The elevator held our carryon luggage and the 3 of us.
YAY!!! We finally made it to our home for the next 7 days – cabin V1. Shortly after walked in, there was a knock at the door and it was the guy delivering our luggage. This was the quickest delivery I have seen yet.
The cabin was very nice and spacious. The little walk in closet was an added bonus, as was the Jacuzzi tub. About the only draw back to this cabin was the location, which was right next to the observation deck above the bridge. The steps up from the Lido deck were right alongside the balcony, and we could hear everyone talking on the observation deck. By accident, we also caught some people fooling around out there a couple nights. When I would get back to the cabin late, I would always go out on the balcony to look around, and when the door would close, two heads would pop up from the observation deck. Sorry folks didn’t mean to disturb or be nosy.
We unpacked, then my dad and I went into old San Juan to walk around. We bought some distilled water for his CPAP machine at Walgreens then headed back to the ship. We missed the open seating early meal in the Bordeaux dining room, so we ate up in the Funnel Bar & Grill. After eating, we walked around the ship then it was time to head up to the cabin to pick up our life jackets for the drill. Our muster station was F, so we grabbed a table by the pool, sat down and waited. The drill went smoothly and lasted about 20 minutes. One thing though, no one checked our life jackets to make sure they were on properly, nor did I hear anyone explaining how to put one on. Towards the end of the drill, someone of some significance (gal with uniform with stripes) came over with a bullhorn and started talking. I was expecting her to direct us out to the lifeboats, but nope, we just sat there. She said, and I quote, “See those boats hanging over there (pointed to them)? In the event of a real emergency, we will go over there and get in them. Does anyone have questions?” Then that was it, the horn sounded and we were all dismissed.
After the drill, we went back to the cabin and had drinks on our balcony and watched us sail from San Juan. We then proceeded to the Casino (the home away from the cabin ). Dad had his $450 letter from OPC to cash in. I had not received a letter for my last Carnival cruise on the Imagination, so I spoke to the Casino Manager and the Slot Host, and both assured me I would have my letter and cash back on this trip. I received the cash Sunday night. One note here, if you are planning on playing quite a bit in the casino, use your sign and sail card for the Ocean Players Club, to earn the merchandise and the cash back. This is well worth it, and costs you nothing. Also, if you have sailed Carnival previously, and used your card, call the OPC before your next cruise and let them know you are coming. This way the casino staff will be expecting you. It was nice to be greeted by name as soon as we arrived in the casino. The casino host (Laza – super nice guy, who kept us laughing all week!) had us fill out a card with our information (Name, address, birthday, anniversary, games of choice, drinks of choice, etc.). After tonight, we didn’t pay for one drink while in the casino – but we also didn’t take advantage of this offering either. I am the only one who really drinks out of the 3 of us. Mom and dad would have a coke though.
Sunday – St. Thomas
We had breakfast up in the Funnel then proceeded ashore to SHOP! We immediately went into town for shopping, as it was Sunday and the stores in town are only open ‘til around 1pm. I had to make it by Star Jewelers (my favorite jeweler on the island – they say hi to me by name when I walk in….hmmmm, have I bought too much there? ), and for my traditional daiquiri at what used to be Fat Tuesday’s. From there we went back to the ship, dropped off Mom and the purchases, had lunch, then ventured back out again. We did the Paradise Point ride up to the observation area. In all my visits to STT, I had never gone up there, so decided to do it this time around. The view was awesome, and now I have my very own photos of the ships, like the postcards that are sold in the stores. J From there, we went for more shopping at Havensight. I wound up buying a digital camera at Royal Caribbean, and have since found out that I got a great deal. I bought a Minolta with a 10x optical zoom, 3.2 megapixels, and came with a 16MB memory card and viewer software. They threw in the carrying case, disposable batteries, rechargeable batteries, the re-charger apparatus, a 128MB memory card, and the USB reader that you put the memory card in. All this for $399 – remember, no tax. Sounded pretty good to me, although I knew absolutely nothing about digital cameras. I have since found the camera (only the camera, none of the extra goodies), for $396 at Wal-Mart and $372 at Costco.
After dinner this evening, we didn’t move from the casino.
Monday – Antigua
Mom stayed on board. Dad and I shopped around by the ship, then took a taxi tour around the whole island for $70 for the two of us, it lasted almost 5 hours. I hate to admit it, but I started to get bored on the tour, and I noticed Dad nodding off about ½ way into it. I think it lasted entirely too long to hold our interest/attention. We did see some nice scenery though. Went through the so called “rainforest” over to Nelson’s Dockyard, to the high point on island for the scenic view, stopped for beer and fruit, then went through the middle of the island, and up near where the American’s and European’s are building houses, then to the beach, and finally back to the ship.
This evening, dad and I went to the production show “Hollywood” in the Atlantis Lounge, (which I thought was good) and then parked ourselves in the casino.
Tuesday – St. Lucia
Slept late, then just shopped at the shopping areas near the ship, since this was my 4th visit in 5 years. Got back on board in time for lunch, then got some sun out on deck.
This evening’s entertainment was a juggler and a comedian. Both were good. After the entertainment, guess where we went? The CASINO! (Do you sense a pattern developing here?)
Wednesday – Dominica
WOW! I absolutely loved this island! My parents and I got a cab at the pier along with 3 couples for $25pp. Booking basically the same tour through Carnival was $47pp. We went through the Botanical Gardens, by the President’s house, up to a scenic overlook of the town of Roseau, then to Trafalgar falls, stopped for fresh grapefruit and lemongrass and then finally went to the Emerald Pool. On the way back to town, we stopped at Mr. Nice’s for Breadfruit and Salt fish, but also had fresh sugarcane, coconut, pineapple, coconut candy and I forget what else. This island is just breathtaking – lush and green everywhere you look. The people had to be the friendliest of any Caribbean island I have been to yet. I highly recommend this little gem of an island, and please do not stay on board the ship here.
If I remember correctly, this evening was the past passenger’s party (held in the Atlantis Lounge from 7:15 – 8:00). We got there late, and wound up just talking and having drinks with our Maitre’d, Carmo and his boss, the Food and Beverage Manager, Bonifacio. As it turns out, Carmo remembered us from a cruise over 10 years earlier on the Ecstasy. We pretty much booked that cruise because of a particular waiter (a friend of mine) and had requested this waiter’s table. The first night we didn’t have him and had to go talk to Carmo and play the “dining room shuffle”. Subsequently, this waiter was promoted to Carmo’s assistant a couple weeks later. When my dad asked Carmo what ships he had been on previously, he mentioned the Ecstasy. My dad then asked him if he remembered the waiter. Carmo said, “Are you the family that we had to move around? I remember you.”
From the party we went back to the Casino.
Thursday – At Sea/La Romana
Today we slept late then had some breakfast. I got some sun time before heading to the casino for the slot tournament. Needless to say, I was unable to get my name on the leader board for the final round. However, my dad just barely squeaked by. He was the final qualifier, which meant he had no choice of machine to play in the final. All the other qualifiers got their pick of machines. Since he was last, he wound up with the remaining machine. Which as it turns out, was lucky for him, as he won the tournament. For winning, he received $500 cash, a ship on a stick, a piece of artwork from the art auction, and Ocean Players Club merchandise.
I posted the following on another thread, but will include it here as well, to complete the review.
Thursday evening in La Romana we stayed on the ship. Most of the passengers took the trip to see the Kandela show at the Altos de Chavon Amphitheater. We wound up accidentally finding our way to the crew party and had more drinks with Carmo, the Maitre’d and Bonifacio, the Food and Beverage manager.
Wednesday evening, we received a letter in our cabin from Carnival, suggesting that if we weren’t on tour Thursday evening, we stay aboard the ship. The letter said the following:
Dear Carnival Guest,
Our Representative in La Romana has advised us that there is a general strike scheduled in the Dominican Republic beginning today, and ending Thursday.
Historically, La Romana is a peaceful town that does not fully endorse national strikes. However, to ensure your safety, we may need to cancel some excursions operating outside of Casa de Campo. This strike is not expected to have any impact on the operation in the Casa de Campo area.
Due to our concern with your safety ashore, we strongly advise all guests not to venture out on your own Thursday night (between arrival in La Romana until Friday morning) to areas out side of the Casa de Campo area.
We apologize for this inconvenience and will keep you updated with any additional information that is brought to our attention.
Meanwhile, we wish you a very pleasant cruise on board the M/S Jubilee.
After dinner Thursday (all dining times were changed this evening, ours was changed from 5:45 to 5:00, to accommodate those going to the Kandela show), we were sitting up on the promenade area having a drink when the cruise director came on the loud speaker to make an announcement that they (captain and himself) had a meeting with the local officials and that due to the strike, they (local officials) would not allow us to leave the port area unless we were on tour. So we stayed on board and went to the Atlantis lounge to participate in “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, “The Game Show”, and “Survivor”. The Mexican buffet was also served this night up in the Funnel Grill.
No casino! It was closed since we were in port. Oh well, got to save some money.
Friday – La Romana
We went to the purser’s desk Thursday evening to try to book an excursion for Friday in La Romana. The excursion we chose (Tale of Two Cities) was cancelled. Come to find out, most of the other excursions were cancelled as well (I’m assuming all of those that were operating out of the Casa de Campo area). So we finally settled on the Altos de Chavon Village & Riverboat Tour. It departed at 1:00p and lasted roughly 3.5 hours, and included a scenic cruise on a classic paddle wheeler river boat for about an hour, then we drove up to Altos de Chavon for about 1.5 hours of free time to wander around. The guide took us on a quick walking tour of the village first, to get us acquainted. The replica 17th century Mediterranean village is quaint, and very clean. We took some photos and browsed a couple of the shops. From there, we went back to the ship.
I had heard mixed reviews about Altos de Chavon here on the boards before we left, but since we were left with very little excursion choices, we went with it. It was a peaceful and relaxing afternoon. The scenery on the river was very nice, and the boat operators come around and serve you a choice of local rum and Pepsi, or just Pepsi, or local beer, and provide music for dancing. I did take quite a few photos on the river and up at Altos de Chavon. All in all it was a pleasant afternoon.
Note: The Casa de Campo resort area is huge – 7,000 acres. According to our guide, it is the largest resort complex in the Caribbean. There are basic rooms, villas, and private homes. The resort has it’s own International airport, and equestrian center, and helipad. Driving through the area, it looked very nice, so if you opt to spend a day at the resort/beach, I think that would probably be just as enjoyable.
After dinner we packed, then went to say bye to all of our new friends (both passengers and staff) in the casino and the not so friendly machines. Well, the video poker machine I had been playing all week finally redeemed itself (somewhat). In the span of a ½ hour, it gave me 4 A’s for $200, then 4 3’s with the kicker for $200, then 4 4’s for $100. Unfortunately it took more than that from me throughout the week. But, I had fun anyway, especially talking to the lady who sat at the machine next to me all week. She was a hoot. Angela from North Carolina, if you are out there, a big hello from Christine.
Saturday – Disembarkation
We had to be up early to proceed through Immigration by 6:30. We went back to the cabin to gather our things then had to wait in the Atlantis Lounge for our colored tags to be called. We had orange tags, so we were the first group off the ship. This group also included early flights and tours. We were in the terminal searching for our luggage by 8:30. This was sort of a bummer, as it was the end of the cruise, and we didn’t have anything planned for San Juan. We wound up just going to the airport to wait for our 3:30 departure back to St. Louis.
If anyone is cruising the Jubilee soon, and Laza the Casino Host is still on board (he is supposed to be going on vacation sometime soon), please tell him that Joe, Stephanie and Christine all say Hi. Also, if you happen to have Vanburn or Ray, or see Carmo, please say hello to them for us as well.