This was our 4th cruise with Carnival and second leaving out of San Juan. We flew in the day before and stayed at the Embassy Suites by the airport. which was your basic Embassy Suites. Crowded and it seemed older. We left the bags at the front desk and explored San Juan a little before embarkation.
We arrived for Embarkation at about 3:45 and there was no line at all in the terminal- which was a relief as our prior embarkation we waited in line for about 2 hours. Upon boarding we went to the pool. My 9 year old nephew was excited about the waterslide but it wasnt going to be open until the at sea day. The pools are all salt water.
Our bags were delivered within about 2 hours. We met our steward, Lilie within 10 minutes of being in our room. I was taken back a little when she told me that there were to be no curling irons on board and that she would confiscate it if I were to use one. In 8 cruises I have never heard that- and I was thankful that I did not need one. But she warmed up after the first day (thankfully!) Muster drill is at 9:30 and it is performed in English and Spanish so be prepared for a 45 minute event. something new that we had not had before was when they released from muster they let one side of the ship go first then the other- so our side waited for another 5-10 minutes under the lifeboats. some people looked like they werent handling the humidity very well after standing still for an hour.
Dinner was in the buffet the first night- Chicken fingers and pizza are the best!
Dinner we did the your time dining option- where we met the our waiter Jean. Jean had a son around my nephews age so he was drawn to him immediately. His smile was infectious and every night we could not wait to see him and he wanted to know what we did and made sure my nephew had all he could for dinner. My nephew would get up and dance with him during their nightly performances. I thought it was cute that he couldnt wait to tell Jean about what he saw that day. It was hands down the best part of our cruise. on the last night Jean was so emotional he was choked up when we said goodbye. he had 4 weeks to go before he saw his son again after so many months and told us that we did more than we knew just having my nephew in his station that week. it was incredibly touching.
The food overall is average. We sailed the Spirit last October with the same exact menus on both cruises. I think this is where Carnival just needs to change it up a bit. The breakfast menu while the pancakes and waffles and french toast switched it seemed to be the same thing every morning.
the hot chocolate is superb. couldnt get enough of it. while quite the opposite for the ice cream- it seemed like they were always closed after dinner and the one that was open at the back pool was ransacked. Why does Carnival do a Mexican buffet at 11:30 at night? And we missed the fact that they had a midnight buffet every night- we did have the breakfast room service for the lox and bagels- which wasnt on the buffet. it was good, we laughed at the 4 capers on the plate for the entire bagel.
The ship is older but kept very clean. It is definitely a Caribbean theme. Every crew member we encountered was friendly. In reading about the hours that they work and the not so nice pasengers on the ship that they have to endure- we try and talk to everyone.
The shows were ok. the juggler was pretty good, funny. The dance party was so so- having a port almost every day we were pretty tired when we came back from swimming and walking and felt like we didnt get to see alot or do alot at night because we had to get up and do it all again the next morning.
The cruise director was lack luster and seemed bothered in the morning. Also the announcements seemed excessive. Movies under the stars was a joke- the night we went the movie stopped playing and never came back on. And then I think the movie was Casino Royale and all they had were older movies- Princess definitely does this better.
The rooms- we had a balcony room and an interior room with a window on the lido deck. the interior room had 2 air conditioner vents while the balcony room had 1- our room never seemed to get cool enough while the interior was blowing like crazy. our room the bed was shoved against the window so you had to crawl out from the bottom of it. there was plenty of storage space for all the luggage. the best thing about it was having the secret entrance to the top of the bridge- where you could have a birds eye view of the front of the ship.
Disembarkation- we opted to do the self assist- which was great on the Spirit but the problem we incurred was space in the select elevators that went to 0 deck to dissembark. Being on the lido deck 9 the elevator traffic was crammed with people trying to get to the buffet with their luggage- so we were trying to get all of our luggage down while others had carry on luggage and not disembarking- it was a mess. But not waiting for your group to be called is very nice indeed.
we stayed 2 additional days in Puerto Rico at the Hilton- which was very nice. great beach, and shower if youre in the Hilton Honors Tower.