Because my wife is a teacher, and my daughter a student, we cruise based on time (school breaks only) and price (less expensive is better). We wound up getting an incredible deal on the price of this cruise (less than $90/person/day for an oceanview), and booked it without really worrying about itinerary, although we were excited to see two new-to-us ports, St. Martin (where my wife had gone on vacation as a teenager) and St. Kitts, and two that we had visited last year and loved, San Juan and Grand Turk. The itinerary was embark in Ft. Lauderdale, 2 sea days, St. Martin, St. Kitts, San Juan, Grand Turk, sea day, return to Ft. Lauderdale. However, about 3 weeks before the cruise, we were informed that instead of St. Kitts, we'd be going to Tortola as the 2nd port. No biggie, we thought, it's another new-to-us port.
Embarkation at Ft. Lauderdale was as smooth as we've ever experienced. We opted to park on-site, as the reviews of local off site parking were sketchy at best and downright unhappy at worst, so the difference between $10 off site and $15 on site a day was not worth it. We had an 11:30-12:00 arrival window, and parked the car at 11:30 exactly.
We were on the ship before noon. Let me repeat that -- from parking the car at 11:30, we were on board in under 30 minutes. That includes: off loading our luggage, walking to the elevators, walking about 1/4 mile to the porter stand to drop off our luggage, going through security, getting a photo, and going up the gangway. Under 30 minutes. We literally never stopped moving forward. It was the most efficient embarkation I've ever experienced, to the point where I'll seek out cruises from Ft. Lauderdale based solely on that experience. The fact that it's also the closest port to our house (by about 15 minutes -- it's 2 hours ish to Tampa, 1:45 to Lauderdale) is a bonus.
Standard 220 sq foot oceanview with a couch that converted into a bed for our daughter. Some wear to the carpet and an odd burn mark on the floor of the bathroom. Nothing terrible, nothing outstanding. Good location for going to dinner (just head aft and up the aft stairs to the Monet dining room for fixed-time dining, or fore and up the mid stairs to Renoir for your time dining), and for getting midnight pizza (aft again, up the elevator to the Lido, and you're right around the corner from Pizza Pirate).
Our cabin steward, Aldo, was excellent. He followed up extremely thoroughly on a slight laundry issue; there was a salsa incident with a new shirt on the first sea day, it took a little longer than usual to get the dry cleaning done but he kept touch with me every time he saw me -- "let me check with the cleaners, we'll get it right," "they have your shirt," "It's been cleaned, I'm picking it up this afternoon." He was also wonderful with our daughter, giving her high-fives every time he saw her.
The easiest and smoothest embarkation/disembarkation we've ever been through, hands-down. We're seeking out more cruises from this port for that reason. Parking on-site is a bit more than off-site, but the walk-on, walk-off ability is well worth the difference (and, seeing the off-site lots, they were sketchy at best).
This time in San Juan, we felt it was too short. There's a Walgreens just off the pier that opens at 8, but the rest of the city doesn't really get going until 9, which means we only had 4 and a half hours until we had to be back on board the ship. Saw a few sights, had some mofongo and pina coladas at Cafe Angel, picked up some sundries at Walgreens, and that was about it.