We flew from Jacksonville to Boston on JetBlue on a flight that was delayed, and nearly cancelled the night before the cruise due to bad weather in Boston. However, our delay was greatly mitigated by the fact that the airline gave us a free movie and free alcoholic drinks while onboard. We spent the night in the Boston Logan Hilton that was a nice freebie with Hilton HHonors points. Saturday morning we walked from the hotel to Terminal E and took the Silverline (S1) bus to the first stop at Silverline Way, crossed the street, and took the outbound Silverline (S2) bus to the Design Center Stop which is literally right outside the door of the cruise port. The cost was only $1.70 per person with a Charlie Card that we obtained and loaded at the Massport desk at the baggage claim area of the airport. If you don't have a Charlie Card you can pay onboard for only a slightly higher fee. (The transit rates are also having a small More
increase on July 1.)
We received an email from Carnival the day before the cruise telling us not to arrive before 1:30pm for check in and we were glad we chose to ignore it after going online early in the morning and seeing the ship was in port at 6am. We arrived at the terminal at 11am and easily and quickly checked in with friendly and helpful Massport and Carnival employees. We were given a Zone 4 number and after a short wait were on the ship by 11:20am. I went to the Purser's desk (deck 3, lobby) and they gave us a couple of decks of Carnival playing cards and I had them punch a hole in my Sign and Sail card. I also picked up a free lanyard at the Casino later to put my Sign and Sail card key on. Our rooms were available to enter by noon, which was a nice surprise. We had ordered a bottle of whiskey from Bon Voyage and it was ready and waiting for us to enjoy along with the 2 bottles of wine we were allowed to bring on. There was room in the minifridge for the 2 bottles of wine without having to take stuff out.
After boarding we walked a bit around the ship (this ship is difficult to navigate as you cannot walk through from one end to the other on decks 3 or 4) and went to the spa. You have to go through the spa and lockers to get to the gym. The lockers are nice and there are indoor whirlpools that look inviting. I guess we were the first ones to the spa and we were fortunate to be asked to be "models" for the 1:30pm spa tour. I was delighted to have a free oil conditioning treatment, shampoo, style, and blow dry. So, I would say if you get on the ship early, go to the spa and ask if they need any volunteers for their tour!
Before going to be the "model", we had lunch in the Red Sail restaurant upstairs in the back at the Fish and Chips area. The bouillabaisse was as delicious as mentioned in previous reviews and there were only a couple of other folks upstairs enjoying that fine cuisine and sea views. By day 2 it was packed, so it didn't take cruisers long to find it.
We had a late (8:15pm) seating for dinner, so the free sushi was delightful as a hearty appetizer. Our dining venue was the Platinum Dining room on the lower level at a huge circular table. Fortunately, everyone at the table is of an agreeable nature. Unfortunately, the table service was extremely slow. The food was good, but not excellent, but I was pleased that Carnival still offers a free cappuccino in the dining room to enjoy with dessert.
We were tired and not really interested in the shows, so we turned in early to our balcony 8B stateroom 7211. One reason I choose this cabin was the close proximity to the forward "secret deck", so was disappointed when those doors were locked all yesterday. However, by late morning on day 2, it was open and it is a nice view. Day 2 we were up at 6am and off to the gym to burn calories so we can eat more. Then our room service arrived at 7:15am with our coffee and tea to enjoy on our balcony. The weather for this sea day could not have been more perfect. It was just slightly cool, and around 9am (when it opened) we went to the Serenity Deck adults only whirlpools that were not crowded and afforded the most fantastic view of the sea on the whole ship. We attended the talk about what to expect in the ports and tried to stay for the shopping talk, but it would have probably been more interesting to watch paint dry, so we left and played miniature golf and walked a mile around the track on the Sun Deck. When we got back to the room we found our invitations to the past guest party under the door for 5pm tomorrow.
Yesterday we purchased the least expensive Internet package plan for $29. for 50 minutes. The Carnival staff member assured me that I would be able to use Skype to make phone calls, and he proved correct as I was able to call my Mom's landline today and we could have a quick chat with no problems. The wifi signal is much better in the public lobby than in the stateroom, though. If you have a pc or tablet, this is probably the least expensive way to make calls from the ship. If you make calls from your room to the land it is $1.99 per minute, which is still probably cheaper than calling on most cell phones. Note, however, if someone calls the ship from land they will pay over $9.00 per minute. If your family has an emergency at home, Carnival told me that they should call the regular Carnival toll free customer service number and ask that the ship be contacted. The ship will give the ship guests the message that they should call that party and the phone number (although they will not deliver any personal messages). The guest can then return the call. We attended the afternoon tea at 3:30pm in the Platinum dining room where we were served choices of cake, pastries, scones, tarts, and cucumber sandwiches. The highlight, though, was when I looked out the window and saw 4 dolphins jumping and swimming in the wake of the ship. Then, out of the blue later in the afternoon, we were sitting on our balcony and spotted a couple of whales blowing in the distance. We're glad we have our binoculars with us and feel very lucky. This experience was even better than the lobster I had for dinner at "Formal Night" this night.
Day 3, Saint John
We ordered a couple of sandwiches from room service last night, and put them in some plastic baggies we bought, and stored them in the fridge overnight to take with us today along with some fruit and bottled water that we put in a small hot/cold bag we brought. There didn't seem to be any prohibitions about taking food off the ship like I have seen in some ports. An Avis rental car was reserved and waiting for us as soon as we got off the ship. Avis is the best rental agency to use in Saint John if you are cruising because it is only a block or two from the ship. We found a discount code on Google and the rental only cost a total of $48.00 total. The gas only ended up being an additional $16.00, so this was much less expensive for the two of us than the excursions people were purchasing on the ship. It was a beautiful and sunny day here, and we felt quite lucky. We drove first to the Reversing Falls that are ok, but not spectacular, and then up to the sea caves of St. Martin, a quaint and pretty area with a lighthouse and two covered bridges. We had to take our shoes off and wade a little bit to the caves, and I'm not sure it was worth walking on the stones just to get a little closer. Tide schedules can be checked online ahead of time and we were there only 15 minutes after low tide and it was already coming in quickly. If you continue on past St. Martin you get to the Fundy Trail in a National Park that is an absolutely gorgeous area to drive through along the coast. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular and there are places to stop and picnic overlooking the sea and also places to hike all along the trail. We spotted a bald eagle flying by the sea. There is also an Interpretive Center you can stop at for some quick refreshments. The paved road trail is an out and back for about 11 miles, but if you rent a car you'll be glad you came here. Attended the past guest party this evening and the servers did seem very generous in the amount of drinks that they had and served them the entire 45 minutes.
Day 4, Halifax
We did not book any excursions here and were glad, as it has been raining, foggy, and windy off and on all day. Some of the tours were cancelled and others went in the rain (kayaking and Peggy's cove) whether the guests wanted to go in the rain or not. This is probably another reason to consider reserving a car because you can always cancel the reservation without penalty and do something else. If you come on this cruise you should definitely bring rain gear for windy and rainy weather. In the morning we walked about a block from the cruise port to a nearby Internet cafe, the Java Factory that allows you to surf and check email for free for 45 minutes with a password they give you if you buy a cup of coffee or tea. I was able to phone home on Skype and ask my neighbor to empty our overflowing pool due to Tropical Storm Debby being right over our Florida home for a couple of days. We later saw a sign at the Farmer's Market, just past the Java Factory for free public wifi. We did a little souvenir shopping at the indoor terminal right beside the ship. There are lots of nice shops right there and you can also pick up a map of Halifax. The Pier 21 shop in the terminal sells postcards and Canadian stamps (the purser's desk had U.S, but no Canadian stamps), and there is a red mailbox right across from the terminal. After a quick lunch onboard, we donned our Gortex jackets, rain pants, boots, and umbrellas and took a long walk up the hill to the free Public Garden and enjoyed a rain walk among the wild ducks, ponds, and flowers. We thought about going to the nearby Maritime Museum, but will put it on our agenda for next time. Then back to the ship to a do a load of laundry and a long warm shower before sushi and dinner. The laundry rooms are located across from the following staterooms: 7339, 6387, 8351, and 9270. There is an iron and ironing board in all the laundry rooms. The washing now costs $3.00 and is 26 minutes on the permanent press cycle and the dryer $3.00 and lasts a generous 80 minutes. Detergent costs $1.00 and you can get quarters at the purser's desk. The Captain informed us that our departure from Halifax would be delayed 2 hours due to unsafe windy conditions at sea. The ship was yawing a bit even while docked, but not too badly.
Day 5- last day at sea
Enjoyed using the fitness facility this morning and then tried getting in the whirlpool at the spa. The jets weren't working in the larger pool, so I went up one flight to go to the whirlpools on the Serenity Deck. Due to "high winds" the whirlpool area there was roped off, but about 15 minutes later reopened and I went back. There are 2 whirlpools up there. The one on the port side was warm, but the one on the starboard side was not. It was 59 degrees outside and windy, so those that weren't in a whirlpool, as I was were all bundled up on the loungers. The showers in the spa are much larger than in the staterooms, so if you have several people in a cabin all wanting to shower you could consider using these. There are towels available to use, too, but no hairdryers are available there. After lunch (open seating in the Platinum) we enjoyed the sea from our balcony and then off to our last afternoon tea. We did also enjoy a couple of shows in the Comedy Club this evening before and after dinner.
I would recommend this cruise recommend it, with the caveat that one prepares for all kinds of weather. Our disembarkation was self-assist with the SL2 bus back to the airport. We were off the cruise ship by 8am with no problems at all. The Hilton kindly agreed to hold our luggage for the day pre-flight since our plane wasn't until the night and we had a wonderful visit to the Sam Adam's brewery and JFK Library before returning to Boston Logan and catching our flight back to Florida. Less