We are a married couple in our mid 40's. This was our 4th cruise and second with Carnival.
We had such a great time on the Sensation a couple years ago that we decided to try an even longer Carnival cruise this time.
Friday - Flew in a day early via Delta from ORD for a pre-cruise day of rest.
Instead we walked about 2 miles to the port shopping center, ate and goofed around. Stayed at a Ramada Inn. My advice is pick another hotel closer to the port. It was ok but nothing more than that. For $138.00 there has to be something better.
The really F-U-N part was that I was just getting over a cold so my ears didn't clear up until sometime Saturday morning.
I could hear myself but not much else.
DAY 1 Saturday.
Headed to the ship at 10:30 Saturday morning. There were maybe 150 people or so in front of us. Once again I have to ask how much easier a passport could be when they looked at our B/C's and D/L's for about 2 seconds before handing them back. Until passports become mandatory I'll just keep that $170.00 in my pocket, thank you.
We walked on the ship with the first group at 12:15.
Next stop was the information desk because we were putting up cash for our S&S account. After a snaffu using a debit card last cruise we opted for cash this time. No one in line and 30 seconds later we headed to the Lido deck for lunch and frozen thingies. (very STRONG frozen thingies!)
By now it was nearly 1:00PM and time to find our room. Due to the fact that I studied the ships deck plans we ended up with a double length balcony! I had noticed that they appeared that way so I booked one to see if it was true. Same price as the rest but due to an emergency stairwell the room is L-shaped and the balcony is twice as long as the others!
Score one for me!
Next it was a trip to the dining room to change our dinner time. We had asked for early seating when we booked this cruise a year earlier but we got late anyway. 10 minutes later that was changed and we are so happy that we did. We got the best possible dinnermates you could ask for! So good that we made every dining room dinner!
Then it was muster drill, sailaway party and time for our first dinner.
Because I ate a burger and dog with a pile of grilled onions the size of a mountain for lunch, I ate only a salad the first night. What a waste, I know.....LOSER.
After dinner we walked around, checking out the ship and listening to the music everywhere!
DAY 2 Sunday.
Slept in, ordered room service learned a lesson. Order butter and you get 1 butter! Always write down a number if you want more than 1 of anything. Also we had booked 2 shore excursions via Carnival from the website. This was the first cruise that you could do that and I have to say that out worked perfectly. Our shore excursion rickets were under our door when we woke!
Score 1 for Carnival!
I don't think that we left our room until nearly 10AM. Screwed around all day on the ship and finally got dressed for our first formal dinner.
Somewhat interesting side note.....We were hosting 2 traveling cruise mascots from 2 different cruise message boards on our trip. The mascots are shipped from person to person.
Both cruise mascots, Jacque and Jessica, also were there and took many photos with us. Before dinner was the Captains Cocktail Party for free drinks and food. We met WEEEE JIMMY and many of the crew were very interestred in the mascots story. They acually stopped all the people so we could take their photos with the bears!
After dinner we did the photo thing for a couple hours and hit the room for some quality balcony time.
DAY 3 Monday.
First port San Juan was not until 5PM so we slept in again and ordered room service.
Nothing like breakfast on your own balcony!
We did make it to lunch in the dining room but we are not big fans of joining a group of people already eating. The rest of the cruise we just ate breakfast & lunch on the Lido deck or on our balcony.
We arrived in San Juan to rain. Lots of rain. Because we were booked for horseback riding we were a bit concerned. However after a 1 & 1/2 hour bus ride to the ranch it had quit raining and become quite nice. The ride in the dark was great and if you enjoy horses I highly recommend it.
(free beer also helps)
We arrived back at the ship at 11:25PM. (5 minutes to spare before leaving port)
Day 4 Tuesday.
St. Thomas was an exploring day for us. No excursion booked at this port as we wanted to walk around and see the sights. Looking back we should have booked an excursion here. We're really not interested in 200 jewelry stores. Still a very nice port but town is a pretty good walk if you so desire as we did.
Day 5 Wednesday.
The entire reason I booked an eastern cruise was for St. Maarten and the Americas Cup Sailing Regatta. Absolutely perfect! It was all that we hoped for and then some. They did a great job of making it fun and informative at the same time. Although we lost our race by 2 feet it was still something that we will not forget. Lots of free drinks were flowing and plenty of rum on shore afterward. Probably the best 3 hours of our cruise!
After sailing we walked around downtown for a few hours. We found it much more fun than St. Thomas. Smaller streets and a better variety of shops. More of a rustic feeling.
Lots of $1.00 beer vendors also. (beer is cheaper than water)
We will be going back as I really don't remember a lot about St. Maarten due to our support of the local economy...........those $1.00 beer vendors.
My wife was able to walk me back to the ship and we did make diner in the dining room.
I was told later that most of the conversation that evening was me complaining about our sailing crew and blaming them for our loss.
The rest of the evening was kind of a blurrrrrrr...........
DAY 6 Thursday.
A sea day, and well deserved. After a day in St. Maarten I needed a day of rest.
We did a lot of nothing and enjoyed it.
Food, sun and relaxing. Another formal night for dinner and even more photos.
DAY 7 Friday.
Another day at sea. Great weather again and more goofing around. Shows, food, music.
Took a few naps on the balcony.
We did hit a few more shows this evening and said goodbye to our dinnermates.
DAY 8 Saturday.
The dreaded debarkation day. Because we booked a late flight back to Chicago, we decided to take advantage of Carnivals Miami excursion to the everglades. Carnival takes you there and keeps all of your luggage in the bus. After your excursion they take you to the airport.
A taxi just to the airport is about $25.00 and for only $45.00 more we did the everglades and an airboat tour! This makes the last day much more enjoyable than rushing to get off the ship and to the airport for an early flight.
The ship was great! Clean and never too crowded. Our double balcony was huge and the room layour worked well.
The staff was very good and always helped when asked.
The food was generally very good but it is so subjective we'll just leave it at that.
We had little problem with it other than portions in the dining room are small.
I solved this by ordering 2 dinners most nights.
Also if there is nothing on the menu that you like you can always order a steak.
If you are a first time cruiser or are a little nervous about wandering off in strange ports on your own use Carnivals excursions and order them online before you go. They are a little more money but sometimes well worth it.
Study the deck plans before you book your room. Because we did we got a double length balcony for the same money.
Ask questions! There are many great cruise message boards with plenty of answers free, just for the asking.
Most important..........ALWAYS arrive in port at least a day ahead of time. The piece of mind that you get from knowing that you are ready to board the next morning is well worth the money spent on a hotel room. Book your flights on your own. It is less money and you have control of your flight times. The savings will pay for the taxi and your hotel stay.
There is so much to see and do on Carnival cruises you can be as busy as you want.
We had people and families of all ages on our ship. The few kids that we saw were always in the camp and very well behaved.
If there was any stained carpet I did not see it..........but then again I did not walk around looking down for it either, nor should you.
FREEBIE ALERT......at the information desk they have free big postcards of the ship.
The biggest problem was the deck chair saving. A simple solution is to just pick up the towels and move them. Deck chair saving is not 'allowed' according to Carnival so the best thing to do is to relocate the stuff. We saw lots of people doing it.
Also there were a few annoying 'ladies' saving chairs in the show room.
Not a big deal but if your lazy freinds cannot drag themselves to the room in time to get their own seats please let them stand in the back.
All in all we had a great time. Carnival and thier staff were fine.
You just cannot get a better cruise value for the money.
We will be back!
If you have any questions ask away!