We just got back from what was MY 1st time on a "real" cruise ship. I'm 46. My girlfriend had been on one other cruise about 20 years ago - so you can classify us as "newbies".
We talked about this short cruise for a while about 2 weeks leading up to departure. We booked it just about a week before the departure date of July 12th. We locked in our Interior room 1402 on Deck 1 for just over $300pp - we felt that was a very good price on such short notice.
This cruise was a "no brainer" for us once we got our schedules together for it. We come from NH. No airfare or hotel needed. We're just an hour drive to the terminal, dropped off our checked bags, parked the car, hopped the shuttle and we were boarding in no time. We got there at about noon. We were on board by 12:30.
Once on board, it was time for a drink and exploring the ship. Our room was ready at 1:30 as promised. Here's some good info....that 1st afternoon when the crew is busy delivering all those bags around the ship, don't count on using the ship's elevators for a while. And that was a little exhausting as we were on Deck 1. But you roll with it - they have a job to do.
We took the ship tour and the spa tour. Both very informative for the newbie. You really need to understand how to get around the ship - especially on a short cruise of 4-5 days. The Promenade, Deck 5 was the key to accessing everything on the ship it seems.
We departed Boston around 5:30. Even living in the area, I hadn't really ever seen all of Boston Harbor - especially at dusk. It was beautiful. The weather was great. We hung out on deck for a while then headed down to the room again. By then, our bags had shown up.
Our dinner was set for 8:15, the late seating, in the Platinum Room in the aft. We were seated at a table for 4 and met a very nice couple from Alabama. They were veteran cruisers and just about the nicest people you could meet, so dinners were an especially enjoyable time for us. The wait staff was very nice, professional and entertaining. When one of them found out it was my first cruise, they would ask me each night how things were going, what I was doing during the days, etc. Now, they may be trained to pay closer attention to 1st timers to "get us back"....but let me tell you, from my point of view, they seemed genuinely interested in how my cruise was going. And I appreciated that. Our wait staff team leader was Tony "The Tiger". And Carnival, if you're listening, give that boy a raise ASAP! He was TERRIFIC! He was the best table dancer, he sang one hell of an Italian ballad and he had us all laughing. An amazingly talented kid. But also a great TEAM guy. Whenever we would ask him about his talent...he would dovetail his answer to promote the night's show in the Amber Palace or the Comedy Club. VERY professional. Don't let him go!
The food in the Platinum room was equal to a 4-5 star restaurant in Boston. And when they tell you that you can eat ALL of it...well, they mean you can actually eat ALL of it. On the 1st night our dinner companions ordered a couple of appetizers each and also 2 or 3 of the entrees. No, they weren't the size of a house! They told us that if you didn't like something, you could try any and all of it. So the next few nights we did! And now WE are the sizes of houses! And all the comments about that warm liquid chocolate cake desert?? Yeah, get it. Get 2. They're that good.
Our room was located about 3/4 of the way towards the ship's aft. We had a few concerns about this. Of course, this being our 1st time, we were concerned about the size of the room. We had also heard info about engine noise in the lower decks. Neither of these issues turned out to be problems. We had them configure the cabin for a King bed vs the 2 double beds. The cabin had a very adequate bathroom with a shower and plenty of vanity space for our stuff. It had a mini bar with soda, beer and the requisite liquors. It had plenty of counter area at the desk and 1 night tables. A flat screen TV. And plenty of lighting.
As for the noise? A very low and consistent hum. Just perfect to fall asleep to.
Our room steward was awesome! We were typically up and out of the room by 8:00AM and each time we had to go back to the room, it seemed, that they came by to freshen up the place by straightening out the bed, refilling the ice canister (which was very nice). And, of course, each night we got a turn down service with a couple of chocolates and a funny towel creature on the bed. Except for the last night when we found the towel monkey hanging down on the outside of our closet! Very funny!
Our days at sea were spent mostly up in the Serenity Adult area lounging on the deck chairs. Waiters would periodically ask if you needed anything. Nights were spent seeking out an out of the way hot tub, watching one of thir big shows in the palace or catching a movie on the big outdoor screen outdoors. You can do everything or nothing at all - a great vacation choice!
St. John is a sleepy town. Not much going on. We took the 90 minute trolley tour. It was good to get out and stretch the legs and throw some lunch money to the local economy there but we were back on board by 2:30.
Debarkation was well planned and well executed. We were off the ship and back in my car by 8:45 AM.
Ok...one bit of advice, Carnival?? If you publish that the adult hot tubs will be open until midnight, make that happen. Closing them at 10:00 isn't cool. If I had one beef, that was it. And given that that's my only beef...we considered this to be a Top Tier, A-1, Premium experience for our 1st cruise. We will definitely cruise again!
Thanks for a great vacation! We will be back!