Our long awaited cruise did not have the best of weather but we had a wonderful time despite Mother Nature!
Our daily adventures on the Jewel
Day 1 We flew into Miami from Washington, DC, took transfers to ship , on ship by 11:00 am - pack swimsuits and suncreen in carry ons as lunch is provided and pools are open. Explored ship. Into stateroom by 1pm Luggage arrives by 4pm Our room was 9024 with balcony
Day 2 Sea day windy- 40 mph and rainy & cool
Day 3 Labradee stop cancelled to 40 mph and rainy & cool Husband in bed all day with stomach bug - either from rich food/ rocking ship
Day 4 Sea day windy- 40 mph and rainy & cool
Day 5 Cartagena - did not intend to explore much due to reports that area unsafe but we were ready to be off ship. There is small shopping area at pier. We rented a cab & guide and did tour of the city ($20 per person for 2 hour tour) saw Old & New city , Fort, and did shopping. Pleasantly pleased with tour. Crazy motorcycles & drivers!!!! Sun and hot - rain and wind in afternoon
Day 6 Panama Canal and Cristobal Pier Going thru the Panama Canal was a early morning event but you will see the same thing later in the afternoon (less crowded due to the excursions off the ship) We stayed on the ship and enjoyed the sights of Gatun Lake and returning thru the locks during the daylight. Met the excursion groups at Cristobal Pier - where there is a shopping area with dancers, restaurants, open air market. BEWARE there are semi naked indian women- breasts tattooed or painted -selling their wares on the walls along side the ship if you or your children are senstive to that but is part of their culture you are there to experience.
Day 7 Costa Rica - private tour with Okeydokeee tours - $60 per person Toured Delmonte Banana plantation very interesting process- rcl excursion cancelled due to weather - Canal boat ride -saw howler monkeys, sloths, butterflies, iguanas, Jesus christ lizards, herons, etc - rcl excursion cancelled due to weather Tropical fruit buffet with panoramic view of city and cruise ship and Lunch at beach front restaurant - waves 12-15 feet high, high winds and heavy rains. Returned to ship with stop at local grocery to buy Costa Rican coffee that was $3 for 10 lb bag. There is a open air market at pier with crafts, t-shirts etc. same bag of coffee at market @$12. There is a garbage handlers strike so many piles of garbage everywhere and lots of stray dogs roaming. Area around pier - outside fenced - appeared was very unsafe. some sun and clouds cooler temps VERY HEAVY RAINS AND WINDS at end of day This is port where some tours had trouble with weather conditions. We were the only ones at our dinner table to tour due to cancellations Overheard several people try to cancel thier tours thru rcl as they were uncomfortable with the weather conditions before tour and were not offered refunds so they went - thinking that rcl would not put them in danger and tours were ones delayed by flooded roads, etc Thankfully everybody returned safely with stories to share and much needed refreshments to calm their nerves
Day 8 Sea Day more rain and wind with no water in pools due to rough seas
Day 9 Grand Cayman stingray trips cancelled so shopping in AM and husband did snuba tour. Enjoyed the SUN and warmer temps !! Reef, Ray, and Rum Tour with Nativeway cancelled but highly recommend
Day 10 Sea day sunny and temps in the 70's but winds of 60 mph so difficult to sun bathe or even be on decks! The childrens swimming area with waterslide is protected from winds so perfect area to be outside
Pack up suitcase and leave outside doorways by midnight
Day 11 Return to Miami Our departure meeting place was 7am We were thru customs w/ luggage on bus to airport by 7:45am, airport by 8am. Flight was not until 12:30 so long day at airport. Home to DC by 7pm
A few tips that might help
* There are larger showers in the gym that can be used to avoid the bathroom traffic jam getting ready for dinner or longer bathroom visits
*Watershoes - purchased at Walmart- are useful at Labradee because it is rocky beach and ship's pool deck gets hot in the sun during daytime- which we did not encounter
*Large suction cups with hooks to hang all the swimsuits, etc in showers as there is only 1 short retractable clothesline.
*Just outside the medical facility there was a coin operated medicine cabinet with various supplies - bandaids, antacids, aspirin, cough drops, etc.
*Soap is provided in bathroom but shampoo/conditioner is in dispenser on shower wall - not kind to all hair!
* Bugspray for Costa Rica if you are going on rainforest tour
* Mini refrig in room is stocked with waters, soda, candies (at a cost)
*Laundry service - $20 for a bag of items to be washed & folded but no laundry facilities. We did not use this sevice but some did so they did not have to pack 11 pairs of undies, etc
* Soda package was offered -69.00 per person Coke products but we drank the free water, ice tea, lemonade
** South American sun is very strong so make sure you have new sunscreen and hats
Cruiseship excursions are one area that I learned thru cruisemates can be found less expensive with private tours. We have had great luck with tours but also know that if you are delayed or have a problem the ship will not wait on you. In Puerto Limon, 2 rcl tours were delayed due to road flooding and the ship waited for 2 hours to depart port for their return. Had they been on private tours - they would have been left behind. Both tours were to orginally arrive back to ship 1 hours before departure so I make sure that tours we book are back to ship 3 hours or more before departure.
Tour Rays, Reef, and Rum tour. Fantastic highlight of our Grand Cayman trip with or without kids! You are in smaller group - around 12 compared to the 100 on Rccl excursion. First you snorkel on a reef, then visit the stingrays, and the final stop is Rum point Beach. Looks just like a postcard - great lunch, beautiful water & white sandy beach with shallow water for the children to explore, hammocks for a nap. When you get to stingray city you are not among the cruiseship excursions crowds (you will see them about 200 yards away) Not as intimidating for the children. Take your time getting into the water and the tour guides were wonderful allowing for the jitters to disappear. My daughter sayed on the ship for 20 minutes until she was ready and then loved it. The water is so clear and only waist deep. Make sure you have a underwater camera or two (buy at home- much more expensive on ship)With the smaller group you can spread out and not be in a crowded area like the ship tour's
Great guided tour with clean air conditioned van. Water, beer, soda provided. Excellent island lunch at beachfront restaurant Small group of 7 people. [/b]