Just a disclaimer, we had never gone on a cruise before and were on a budget. We booked 2 rooms, 1 with a balcony for the wife and I, and one interior across the hall for my mother and my daughter. Also of note, there was nothing for our under 2 year old child to do. We knew this going in.
The boarding process was very fast for us. We had a child under 2 in a stroller and a person from carnival told us we were allowed to board early. Otherwise we would have probably waited at least another hour to board the ship.
The staff we encountered were very friendly, expect for one person who is trying to get people up the elevator before our rooms were ready. This person was yelling at the cruisers to squeeze into the elevators as fast as possible. He was a little over the top with it. Not a good start for a first impression.
We had a balcony room and it was a little larger than i expected and it was a decent amount of space for 2 people. The interior room was just a bedroom and bathroom. If I had stayed in that room I would have only used for sleep. A few negatives about the room with the balcony. The TV didn't work and would randomly turn on and off. We called maintenance and our housekeeper played with the connections and then actually hit the tv a couple times and it seemed to work. It still randomly came on a time or 2. But it didn't matter too much as you get about 6 channels and about 20 carnival channels. I spent alot of time on board on my balcony, so much that I think I annoyed the cleaning crew as they seemed to want to clean the room 2 times a day. I don't really need service more than once a day to be honest.
I didn't do alot of activities on board as I spent most of my time either on my balcony or in the ports. The rest of the family enjoyed the pools and other activities. The shopping is pretty much overpriced except on the last day when the Cruise Shop discounted shirts and watches. Definately wait until the last day to make your onboard mechandise purchases if you can.
The wife did not want to do the formal dinners so we only ate from the buffets and various free dinner options. The buffett quickly gets old after a couple times, the other food options such as the hamburger grill, fish and chips, and sandwich stations were average. Not bad, but not great. The breakfast was ok, I reccommend the omelet station.
The first day at sea was rough for all of us. We felt sick the entire day, but we had overheard others complaining about it, and that this isn't normal.
Ports of Call
Nassau, Bahamas. Apparently the entire area was shut down for the day. I think it had to do with easter. We arrived on the Monday after Easter. The straw market was open but only a few vendors were open. There were maybe 20 or so vendors all with the same stuff. So with nothing to do we walked down to Junkanoo Beach. The beach was probably about a mile walk from the cruise ship. It is small, rocky and dirty and we came away not impressed. We debated on whether to take a cab to atlantis but decided we had enough of the bahamas and headed back to the ship.
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The ship docked at a large shopping area. So this is what a port is supposed to look like! The area was clean and alive. We spent most of the day shopping and conveniently a postal office was located right off the port and we could mail our post cards easily. We didn't venture to far off the port but we had fun and the area was beautiful.
San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was by far my favorite stop. We took a stroll through the plaza that is just a left turn from the port. It is full of history, statues, vendors and is a pleasant walk. I also noticed many police officers patrolling the area. There is also alot of "wild life" on this walkway. Iguanas, cats, and other small lizards were common. The cats are taken care of as we noticed litter boxes around the back areas of the path. The end of this plaza is supposed to lead up to one of the forts, however due to construction we had to exit at the red gate and find our way to the El Morro Fort. The fort was $3 a person and had some great views. Great for anyone like myself who likes history. We were going to take the free shuttle back to the port area to do some shopping, but after 40 minutes of waiting we decided to pay the $12 for a taxi ride.
Grand Turk. There really isn't a lot to do here. There is a very nice beach and a jimmy buffet's margaritaville. You know there isn't much to do when they have an exhibit about a shuttle pod landing there. We wanted to buy some merchandise but everything in the cruise center is very expensive. We had a nice time here at the beach and soaking up some sun.
Overall I would rate the entire cruise about a 2.5 of 5. We liked it enough to want to do another cruise but we will probably not do Bahamas and Grand Turk again.