Beds were great - firm, though, but that's how I like them. Do request feather pillows (your TA has to do this) if you prefer feather to foam. Nice new bedding with the duvets - throw pillows that coordinate with the new '1/2 bedspread' - looks like a turned down bedspread but actually only covers the bottom 1/3 of the bed. Same colors/patterns as the usual and customary Princess bedding, but a more updated look. A new touch that I really liked was a vinyl (heavy - more 'naugahide-ish') luggage cover that was on the bed when we arrived, then reappeared on 'packing night' - I always worry about soiling or snagging the bedding and usually did my packing chores with one of the beach towels under my suitcases, but this is more substantial.
For excursions we did a mix of private and ship's -
Princess Cay - you don't have much choice here - it is ship's stuff or nothing - we did rent one of the tent things that go over the beach chairs - however, I didn't remember to bring any change and felt bad when I couldn't tip the guy there - the beach guys aren't ship personnel - they are locals, so take a few dollar bills with you. We'd never done Princess Cay before and I didn't know.
Ocho Rios - we did the ship's Mystic Mountain Jamaica Bobsled and chairlift - this was a hoot even in the pouring, drenching, raining -by -buckets- full, rain. We started out okay (and transport was by smallish vans so the place didn't get overwhelmed) but halfway up the 700 ft chairlift the heavens opened up and the remainder of the ride it just simply poured. I have never been that wet without being 'in' the water. Fortunately, we'd planned to try out the pool so had bathing suits on under our shorts, and had our beach towels with us. We wrung out our clothes, wrapped our towels around us, and hung out at the shelter (there's a gift shop with blessedly hot, free and very good coffee samples, and a small display/museum area about the history of Jamaica, etc.) waiting for the bobsled to open up, which it eventually did when the rain slacked off a little bit. They won't run it when the rain is too heavy as it goes too fast. It was great fun, although my DH was pretty conservative about the speed - you can go either two hooked together and only the first person gets to control the speed -which makes sense - or individually. The course is winding and downhill, with some good curves and you could go really fast if you wanted - up to around 50 MPH when it is wet, less if it is dry, though. They return you with a motorized pull, back to the start area.
The pool, which is an infinity type, is right at the edge of the drop off, behind the starting area for the bobsled, and you can see parts of the course and also the chair lift route, from the pool. There's a special deal where you can buy three more rides for $20, after you do the first one at the regular price.
Our friends said they thought the zipline, which is also offered, was overpriced for the length that they had open. It was so wet and rainy that we only did the one run each, and didn't do the pool or zip line, but it was still great fun and I'd go back in a New York minute and do the extra three rides (by myself!) and go faster than we did on the first run.
Grand Cayman - private excursion with a party of 8 in a limo with champagne, juice (we made mimosas) sodas and water. We really enjoyed this - as much for the big white limo and all the attention we got pulling up, as for anything we saw - but we went to Pedro St. James (and were the only ones there even though it was on several of the ship's tours) the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Gardens - our driver knew one of the guys who worked in the medicinal herb and plant garden so we got a special tour in that area, which was very interesting, and we also got to see a couple of the rare (or so they told us) blue iguanas - not large on lizards, myself but many photos were taken! Then we went to the Butterfly Garden - more pictures, and through Georgetown with a short shopping stop. It was a very nice tour and our driver also works independently of the booking agency I used, so if you want to get in touch with him directly, I do have his card in my stuff somewhere.
Cozumel - another roll call member arranged this one, but we had a private excursion from Playa del Carmen out to Tulum, then a beach/snorkel stop. As the ship docked in Puerto Maya, not in town, we had to take a cab to the ferry and back and since we were worried about getting back on time, we skipped the planned lunch in Playa del Carmen. We took the 9 AM ferry (only buy one way tickets, BTW, as there are two different ferry companies) were met by our driver in a nice airconditioned mini-van. We drove out to Tulum, hired a guide (recommended by our driver) and walked the Tulum ruins with him, then spent about another 45 minutes on our own, then back to Playa del Carmen and caught the 3 PM return ferry. If you dock where the ferry comes in, though, you could probably take the 4 PM return ferry as the ship is just a few yards from the ferry landing.
Special stuff on board:
The Goat Cheese souffle appetizer - this is just simply to die for!
Sandwich and quiche time at the International Cafe - great for late lunch when you are coming back from shore excursions.
Italian night at the Cafe Caribe
If they are still on board - in the Piazza - Vitalli & Daniel - acrobats who do a strength and balance routine - amazing, Hodman and Sally - sort of Muppetish - hard to explain, but they do great improv with anyone hanging around, Stanglings - The Explorers - again - hard to explain, but they climb up the outsides of the staircases - have to see to believe...In addition there was a lady with hula hoops and a guy doing tricks on a BMX bike - not as memorable though.
Great head waiter - Roger from Portugal - tell him 'Hi" from the Browns and Cooks Table 226 in Bottecelli if you look him up. He was extraordinary to us.
Two new production shows - one was pretty usual - a Broadway thing with lots of dancing, nice costumes, good dancers, but nothing that special, but the other one was a total departure in terms of the staging and production - multi-media sort of weird in spots, but very good called Once Upon a Dream - SEE IT!!
We also had Abbacadabra - an ABBA tribute band - in concert and they were fantastic, but I think they were a 'one up' situtation as they departed the ship in the next port. If you happen to have them, though, again - go, as they were really really good. If you happen to be an ABBA fan, Mama Mia will be playing as well on MUTS and in room.
Probably TMI...I do get carried away...
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