CN Trip Review Sept 10-17
First of all I want to thank everyone for all the great info I received here on this Message Board. I joined in October 2010 and booked this September trip in March 2011. You had such wonderful things to say that in April I booked September 2012 because of the early bird special. My friends & family thought I was silly booking a 2nd vacation at a resort I hadnít even been to once. Well they were wrong.
We left Toronto at 10am on Saturday September 10th on Air Canada. The 4 hour flight was uneventful except that half the plane was management from the Flight Centre, a popular travel agency here in Canada and now I hear also US, Australia & UK. Turns out they were going away for their annual meeting at Sandals grand Riviera. So glad it wasnít Couples. I would have been upset to book a resort for couples only and have almost 200 singles there on business.
I had heard horror stories about getting through the airport at MB but it was very simple and quite fast for a busy Saturday afternoon. We were at the Couples lounge in no time but had to wait about 30 minutes for our van to leave. We only had 3 couples all going to CN as first timers. One gentleman had been to Jamaica 20x and wanted the driver to stop for a beer along the road. We didnít but he stopped anyway. Lady opens 2 red stripes and then asks for $10US. They then get into an argument about the high price. He brought two beers on the van with him. Couldnít he have waited another 30 minutes to get one at the resort? For free too.
We arrived at CN just as another van with 3-4 more couples arrives right behind us. We were given a clipboard with my form already filled in. I guess Romance Rewards Express check-in was already in place. We verified the information and then gave them a credit card. So fast. We were given our room keys but instead of getting escorted there; we were shown the building and then the way to the Dive Centre. We were trying to get there before it closed so we could sign-up for the next dayís dives. Too late. Dive Shop closes at 3:30pm even though reception said 4:30pm.
We then went to our room and our luggage was there. We were in room 3301. I had asked for a top floor room (so we could work off our meals) as well as a room close to the dive shop. We got both. Loved the room. Exactly what I expected based on all the reviews here. Only complaint but not worth moving for...was the car noise from the street. Really bad Saturday night with cars racing by until about 3am. If we ran the fan on the A/C unit it kind of blocked it out.
I went back to the lobby wanting to book Otaheite for maybe Tuesday or Wednesday night and was actually surprised she offered it for that same night. We then went to the Beach Grill for a late lunch since we werenít fed on the flight down. At the recommendations of this MB we ordered the calamari and it was amazing. Hubby had the snapper sandwich and loved it. I had been holding off trying jerk chicken as I wanted the real thing...well even with the sauce on the side it was too hot for me. But at least I tried it.
We arrived at the dive shop bright & early Sunday morning and were signed-up up for that dayís two dives Ė 9am and 1:30pm. We had brought our own equipment and Jovane got us keys to the lockers where we could store our stuff. He was a pleasure to see every day for the rest of our week.
The next five days were pretty much the same. Early breakfast. Morning dive. Relax and have early lunch at grill. Couldnít go to the buffet as it didnít start until 12:30pm (kind of late in my opinion) and we had to be back at the dive shop by 1pm so we ate at the beach grill every day except the last one. We loved not having to change...just eating in our bathing suits and bare feet. The food was good. And enough variety even though we kept going back to the calamari, snapper sandwhich and for me the grilled chicken Caesar salad. After our last dive we would sit out by the beach or pool until about 6pm when it was time to get ready for dinner.
Diving: Really good but not great. We knew this as Jamaica is not known as a dive destination. The guys at the shop are great. Sugar was the instructor doing the resort and certification courses and everyone loved him. I also like that CN does these course dives between our dives so newbies and certified divers are not mixed. Our dives masters were also great. We had Alain the most and he showed us lots of stuff including a 6 ft nurse shark.
Food: Otaheite the first night was amazing. Beef tenderloin so tender you could cut it with a fork. We went to Lychee twice. Loved the appetizer for two and the sushi platter. Pad Thai was good like everyone said it would be. We also ate at the buffet one night and Heliconia twice. Knowing that Friday night was lobster night...I was the first one on Wednesday morning before diving to book Otaheite. It was fabulous. We then joined another couple we met and went to the Cassava Terrace for another lobster dinner. A few times after dining somewhere else we would end up at Cassava for dessert and coffee and enjoy the entertainment. Loved the Silverbirds steel band and a singer the last night that with a band went through the history of Reggae. Really entertaining.
We did not leave the resort except for the cat booze cruise which was not really our cup of tea since we donít drink but it was nice to go along the coast to see 7 mile beach. We were going to get a taxi to go to the Hi-Lo supermarket for coffee but just ended up buying it at the gift shop. Tip: It is 15% off on Mon-Wed-Fri-Sat mornings until 1pm. Regular price $34. Sale price $29. Turns out that is the same as it was at the airport but CN charges tax so next time weíll wait and buy it at the airport (or use our resort credits).
We were not going to dive on our 2nd last day because we wanted our equipment to dry. (It weighs more when wet and we were really watching the weight limits). But we ended up diving in the morning using CNís equipment. We then got to eat lunch at the buffet for the first time which was nice. We were then going to play bocce ball and go for a catamaran sail but it started to rain (like most days) but this time is poured and lasted for 4-5 hours. So our last afternoon was spent in the beach grill talking to a guy we were diving with all week.
Overall a great trip and we canít wait until we return next September. Even thought about going again in January but couldnít get flights using points. My husband also wonders what it would be like during high season. We never had any line-ups and there was always so many lounge chairs in the shade to choose from. So we are off to Cozumel in January for a dive trip but I know I will be comparing it to CN. Not really fair as it will be a dedicated dive resort whereas CN is a wonderful resort that offers diving.
Thanks again to everyone here for your great insight. Let me know if you have any particular questions.
Couples Negril - September 2011, 2012, 2013 and have just booked 2014
Scuba Club Cozumel - Jan, Apr & Nov 2012 and Jan & Nov 2013
Cobalt Coast, Grand Cayman - May 2013
Retiring & moving to Cozumel, Mexico in early 2014