First I will start by saying that this was an amazing cruise and we really enjoyed ourselves.
I went on this cruise with my husband and another couple. We have cruised with them before and like to book side balcony rooms to open up the divider. We really enjoy having an extra large balcony and being able to spend time all together.
We are from California and had quite a long journey to Puerto Rico. I will not be taking another cruise from PR for a couple reasons. 1- It was very expensive 2- it was long. However, this was the only way to get to the more southern islands.
Getting on the boat was easy and painless which I have heard before. We were all worried about how many waters/sodas we would be allowed to bring on. Everyone told us that it wasn't an issue and we were able to bring on a couple CASES of water and lots of soda/energy drinks.
Day 1- It was raining on and off in San Juan and we were very tired from traveling so we just got our drinks and got back on the boat. When we returned our bags had been delivered to our rooms, however, my bag was missing 1 of 4 wheels -- this was a bummer. Carnival said we could email someone and they would pay for repairs. I have not contacted them yet so I don't know how much of a hassle this will be. Dinner was anytime dining for the first night and that was good. The muster drill was easy and I think we had an early night
Day 2- St. Thomas. We got off the boat early to get as much time in as possible. None of the shops were open yet so we decided to pick up a taxi and see the island. We had been before but our friends had not. We got talked into going with this guy -- he was cheap so that was fine. He drove us to all the good look out points and then we wanted to go to Sapphire Beach. (We went to Megan's Bay last time and it was OK -- very hazy that day and we wanted to see a different beach) Sapphire was BEAUTIFUL! I loved it there but only wish you could rent an umbrella. There are food/ drinks and kayaking available. Our guide came back on time to pick us up and then took us into town to shop. I am a big planner so going with a random guy was a risk but I knew where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. The only issue is that he made a stop and disappeared leaving us in the car in a not so nice area -- I didn't appreciate that. $35/person for a private tour and transportation all day -- all in all, we were successful.
Day 3- Sea Day
We didn't do much -- we were still wiped out. We did get up early to make sure we got lounge chairs and ended up getting our fill of the sun before any of the activities even started! There is no need to save chairs and we could have slept in.
Day 4 -- Barbados
We pre booked with Calabaza since we read that they were the best. They picked us up on time and took us straight to the boat. Upon arriving we all noticed that it looked kind of small compared to the other boats in the area. We had such a blast even though it was raining on and off. We had a small group, hence the small boat. This boat had an inside area with a kitchen and bathrooms. When it rained we had somewhere to go. The huge boats had no covering at all. The crew was great and at the first stop we swam with turtles. The boat had their own camera and just snapped away. The next stop was for snorkeling and there was a beach you could swim to. Next they served us homemade lunch. It was delicious and fresh. It was a nice touch. We spent the next several hours sailing, listening to music and taking pictures. Before I even got home, Calabaza had sent me a link to all the pictures they took and they were all available for FREE. That was a bonus since our "waterproof" digital broke.
Day 5- St. Lucia
We pre booked again based on recommendations with ATV Paradise Tours. This was a good day for ATVing since it was pouring and grey the entire day. The driver was waiting for us and we had about an hour drive to the location. This was our best excursion the entire trip. We had such a good time despite the rain. I will note that it was a little cold (not the usual warm rain) and I am COVERED in bug bites.
Day 6- St. Kitts
We pre booked with Roosevelt Taylor for a group tour. We usually like to do our own thing and don't go with groups. I didn't have anything I was dying to do on St.Kitts so we just decided to see the island and then spend the rest of the day at the beach. We got off to a late start and we didn't enjoy a loud and obnoxious member of the tour. We ended up not having very much time at the beach like we wanted and heard a lot about the plant life. We really enjoyed the Fort and Batik Factory and ended up getting chicken and garlic bread from a guy on the side of the road -- it was delicious. We also really liked the beach we went to -- Carambola. We got a canopy thing for $40. It was worth it for the 4 of us; I just wish we weren't rushed.
Day 7 -- St. Maarten
We LOVED St. Maarten. We have now been to east, west and southern Caribbean and St. Maarten is my favorite. We booked a private tour and had such a wonderful day. There was WAY too much to see in one day. We had local food, took a ton of pics, shopped and swung by Orient Beach and spent about an hour at Maho. We really want to return and spend more time there. Bernard's tour was great and having a private tour was even better.
Overall this was an amazing trip. If you are like us, it can be exhausting. We tried to get off the boat everyday by 9am and usually stayed on the island til the last minute. We had a rude server in the dining room and stopped going after a couple days. That was disappointing to me since I didn't eat very much all day while we were out and looked forward to a complete meal at night. We ended up eating at the buffet the rest of the nights since it just wasn't working out to switch tables. Our room steward was GREAT and we have no complaints. Overall I would say the ports are amazing and the ship was just good, not great.