There will probably be a lot of info that people who have cruised many times who will think a lot of this is irrelevant but it is all stuff that I was wondering about before we left.
I would also like to state that although I am a college graduate I can not spell and my punctuation is horrible.
The Players: Myself (Erica, 30) and my partner (Eleanor, 28)
Cruise: Picasa Web Albums - Erica Tunison - Cruise
Old San Juan: Picasa Web Albums - Erica Tunison - Old San Juan
Cruise: 8-15-10 Serenade of the Seas
8/15 San Juan
8/16 Sea Day
8/18 St. Lucia
8/20 St. Maarten
8/21 St. Croix
8/22 San Juan
We flew into San Juan on 8/15 at about noon. We went directly to baggage to collect our bags. On your way out of baggage there is a person checking your baggage slips to make sure it matches the bags you are taking (so make sure you have these slips in an easy to reach place).
After that we went out the doors to get a taxi to the boat. The taxi line was directly outside the doors to baggage and there was a person who gives you a sheet of paper to let you know how much the taxi fare should be from zone to zone with a map that shows the different zones (there is also a sticker on the window of the taxi that gives the same info).
Once at the cruise terminal the taxi will drop you off right in front of the terminal building where the line to get in is. If you have a suite like we did you give your bags to the people at the diamond sign and they will direct you where to go from there (it is a separate and much faster line than the other line)this was confusing because we didn't see a sign for suite guests so I hope we did this correctly. Make sure you have your paper work with you because they will check to make sure you are in the correct line. From there you go directly into the building and fill out a short form that basically states that you are not sick. Then you go up to the counter and they give you your sea pass card, I think if you were using a credit card for your onboard account you give it to them here but I'm not sure because we didn't use one. You then take this card to a person waiting to take your photo (it is not a normal camera so don't look for photo equipment) it is just a box that they stick your card into and then take your picture through a camera in the box. After this you go up the stairs to get on the boat. At the top of the stairs there will be the first of many photo opportunities you will have while onboard the ship. If this is your 1st cruise I suggest you get the photo taken (you don't have to buy it but you can go to the photo purchasing place on deck 5 later to see if you want to or not). After this you are home free! Explore the ship, get a drink, go to your room, set up your MTD, whatever you want, you are now officially on VACA!
We went to guest relations to put cash on our account. We did it this way because we only wanted to spend a certain amount on the ship and didn't want it to go on a credit card. We put $700 dollars on our account and by the end of the trip we still had about $100 left.
After taking care of that we went to our room Grand Suite 1050 it was awsome! After we looked around the room a bit we decided that we wanted to go explore! I decided that I didn't want the temptation of the soda and candy in the fridge so I left a note for the room attandant saying hello, asking if we could get the fridge cleared out, and asking if we could get the beds put together.
I then called the dinning room and asked if we could get a table for 2 with our My Time Dinning. They said that it shouldn't be a problem and that if we wanted to come down right then and commit to a dinning time each night we could pick out our own table. Note: there are no 2 person tables along the windows to the outside of the ship in my time dinning only along the balcony looking down on the dinning room (good for people watching, not so good for sea watching).
We picked a table and went to explore the ship.
After setting up our table for dinning each night we decided to go to the Windjammer (deck 11) to grab a quick bite before exploring anymore of the ship. Note on Windjammer: as you walk in directly infront of you will be the food, if you go to your right past the pizza station there will be a set of glass double doors, go through these and you will be in a covered outdoor seating section (with very comfortable chairs). While outside in this area you could contiue walking and there was seating that was not covered and if you kept walking you end up on the other side of the ship where there was a smoking section.
After lunch we went to check out the concierge lounge (with the white key cards that were in our room). There was no one there but it was great. It is on a hump and has one whole wall of windows to look out to the ocean. After this we just generally explored the ship.
At about 5 we went back to the concierge lounge and met our concierge Francois and both got a drink. I got a taqueray and tonic and my partner Eleanor got a diet coke (out of a can , the fountain soda tastes very strange). After this we went to dinner (casual).
At 8pm there was an Assembly Drill where everyone went to their designated area (meet on deck 5 or 6, the area will be printed on your seapass. They have a crew member at each station who will check you off a list so you do have to show up). Our location was on deck 5 so when it was all over we decided not to follow the herd back into the boat. Instead we walked toward the front of the boat climbed a set of stairs and came out on the helicopter pad to watch the sail away.
After watching from the helicopter pad for awhile (difinately worth while) we decided that the crowds were probably gone and went back in and up to our room. Once there we found that the beds had been moved together and that the fridge had been cleared out. for anyone who is interested they did change out the Tv in this room to flat screens, but they had to get an adapter for the dvd player cable to fit into the new tvs (this was completed on thursday in our room. I don't know if it has happened in all rooms that have dvd players yet).
At 9pm they had a "learn to play table games" in the casino which we had wanted to go to but never made it. The casino opened for real play at 9:30pm. We loved us some casino on our trip! As I stated above we had a cash account on our seapasses which allowed us to get up to $100 in cash a day at the cage in the casino free of charge. Anything more than that and we had to pay a 3% fee. I'm not sure how it works when you have a credit card account. We won a few times on the slots ($200 on a small progressive one cent machine playing all lines one cent per line, and $200 on a video poker quarter machine playing one quarter per hand). We played about $50 a night and if we won we just rolled the winnings over to the next night. We did not go expecting to win big and neither should you, we just used it as entertainment.
We just relaxed, walked around, ate, and ate some more! We also took advantage of thee $30 in chips for $20 which came with instructions on how to play craps, blackjack, and roulette. They give you $30 in marked chips which you can not cash in for cash. You use these to play and when you win they give you real chips as your payout. We would take the wins off the table and then kept playing with the marked chips until they were all gone. We ended up making about $40 dollars this is including the original $20.
We also decided to eat dinner on our balcony for the remainder of our cruise so we called MTD to cancel our reservation. We had a big enough table out there to fit all courses for 2 people. Note on Room Service: We brought about $60 in $2 bills. We gave a $2 tip for breakfast (the suite guest french toast was great), and then $4 for dinner because there were so many plates.
I thought it was great to have this sea day the first day of the cruise. It was great to have a chance to really look around the ship and relax before the action packed port days to come. One more note on the casino and then I will stop I promise. On the sea day the casino had a slot tounament which Eleanor signed up for. To sign up you just go to the cashier cage in the casino and pay $25 dollars, they will give you a special card with a number on it and tell you where to meet for the tournament. In order to move on to the next round you had 5 min to hit the spin button on the machine and accumulate as much money as you could. I forget how many people move on to the next round (because Eleanor got last place). But it was fun and I think she would do it again if we go on another cruise (which we will).