I read a lot of reviews and recommendations before our cruise as we were traveling with our 13 month old daughter so I would like to give back to others what they gave to me. If my experience can help someone else then that is great! Overall we had a great time but I will include the challenges to be aware of.
Family: My husband, our daughter, my parents ( in the cabin next door!), his parents, his sisters, brother in law and our two nephews. Total of 12 including our little one.
Arrival: From airport to ship was smooth...even with our large party the transfer seemed easy.
Once we arrived we checked in very quickly and made our way to the Lido deck. We were actually allowed to our cabins earlier than expected. This was a small mistake as they were not really ready for us; still cleaning. Thus the stewards rushed to get the rooms done and when we entered our room was still dusty and had Bobbie pins on the floor from the previous guests. The rest of the week the cleaning was great.
Condition of the ship: I expected it to be dated which it is but not in a way that bothered me. The only complaint that we all agreed on was that Carnival really needs to update some of the tiling and toilets that are starting to show true wear and tear. Showering for me wasn't the most ideal. Again I was not expecting The Ritz but still.
Dining: The food on the cruise was very good. Breakfast and Lunch were the best out of the three. The dinners were a bit disappointing compared to our last trip on the Destiny. Not bad just not great. The sushi is just not good. We especially enjoyed the Deli and the Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Sandwich with Pesto Mayo!!!!
We had a slight confrontation with the Hostess Ivana at the Atlantic room the first night. Since the first night was not a formal dining experience we were sat at two round tables next to each other but not really close enough to talk to each other. We also learned that this was going to be our arrangement for the entire trip. A big disappointment. We kindly asked the hostess if this could be changed before the "real" dining experience started. She replied with a very smug and rude NO. There was NOHTING SHE COULD DO. Well I thought this was the FUN SHIP! Well to summarize Kavian the maitre d came in and took care of the situation. He apologized and arranged for us to have a long table so we could all be together. It was not the most ideal but they do not have round tables larger than 10. In addition with a 13 month old I was never sitting anyway :)
Gym: Took a spinning class which was good. Different that what I am used to at home but nevertheless felt good to sweat and burn some calories!
Entertainment: I can't comment: We were in bed by 9pm every night!
However you should know that if you stay towards the back of the ship you will hear the music and karaoke late into the night.
The Ports: All fabulous!!! Full reviews on Trip advisor.
St. Thomas- Magens Bay Beach
Barbados- I am reluctant to tell cause I don't want the secret to get out but we went to a hotel for the day and had a wonderful time. Amaryllis Hotel.
St. Lucia- Asked to go to Reduit Beach but was taken to Rodney Bay. To summarize beautiful setting overrun by vendors!
St. Kitts- Fantastic!!! And get the sushi here! YUM! Carambola Beach Club
St. Martin- Even more fantastic....Divi Little Resort. Spent the day here and will return.
Traveling with a little one:
Our daughter is a great eater and sleeper. She ate great...sleeping was a bit of a challenge. The crib is much smaller than she is used to and most nights woke up crying and ended up in bed with us and for the trip it was fine! Sleep is sleep for everyone :) Bathing was also a challenge but we managed in the sink. Just know the cabin will be cramped with the crib. We had the balcony and most evenings let her run around on one of the top decks to get some energy out before bed.
Since my parents were in the cabin next door we packed our baby video monitor. We knew she would never fall asleep with us in the room. We did a little bedtime routine and packed some of the toys/stuffed animals she loves plus her music starfish. We would put her to sleep sneak out with the snoozin sign on the door and go to my parents room and watch on the monitor till she was asleep. Then we would quietly sneek back in and go to sleep ourselves.
Car Seat: I did a lot of research on this before we left. We got the Combi Coccoro Convertible Car Seat and used it forward facing which was fantastic. It is very light and easy to install on the airplane. We also got a travel cart and people were staring and commenting like I had invented it! It worked out great....as a place for napping. For those that tell you there are seat belts we did not find any. One minivan in St. Thomas was the only place that had a seat belt and to be honest I don't even know if the seat itself was still attached to the floor of the car. The return trip in St. Thomas was the first time she sat on my lap; I was not happy but again there was little I could do. By the end of the trip this was just the way it was and luckily nothing happened. These are things good to know ahead of time especially for a new mom!
Also she was not allowed in the pool which we knew ahead of time. However there are benches around the pool and a good landing area with shallow water that she was able to walk in and around with us w/o going into the water fully and no one seemed to care or bothered us. Again this was only one day at sea!
Leaving the ship was easy and smooth and we changed our exit time so we could arrive at the airport without a rush. No problems at all! There was also a Starbucks in the San Juan airport which was a nice treat of ice coffee!
All and all we had a great time with lots of wonderful memories.
My daughter first learned to walk in the sand in St. Lucia, learned to dip french fries in ketchup, and loved those ice cream cones and swimming with us in the ocean. My husband and I sleep later at home as does my daughter but we got to watch the sunrise as a family each morning!
I can't speak for everyone but I know my husband and I had a great time as did my parents. The ports of call are great but the trade off is you have to leave each island really before you want to! We will return:)