To stay clear(ish) of Hurricane Sandy Carnival rescheduled us to leave New York a day early and swap out San Juan and St Thomas for Port Canaveral and nassau. This extra day would be free of charge but came at the expense of the previous itinerary who lost 2 of 3 ports and a day of cruising.
Departed NYC at 5pm (an hour earlier than scheduled), the last minute schedule changes had us a bit concerned but we were confident Carnival would keep our safety their priority.
The seas started getting bumpy a couple of hours into the trip. By 8pm our closet doors were opening and slamming shut on their own. We stayed in our cabin for the rest of the night and by 2-3am our drawers had all slid open, all our clothes had slid out of the closets and we were forced to relocate all breakables from anywhere they could fall and break. Walking to the bathroom took a bit of time/skill.
This was the first time we'd experienced rough waters and while we wouldn't want to do it often at least it was while were sleeping for the msot part and neither of us was sick.
The first couple of days were fairly boring as we were not allowed access to most outdoor areas. They took our chairs off of our balconies and stored them in our cabin so space was tight. Space on the ship on the otherhand was plentiful as we heard 1400 passengers cancelled when offered the chance and we were sailing with approx 1100 onboard.
On to my thoughts:
Food-MDR was very good to excellent. Steak house was great as always, room service was equally poor (as always).
This was our 5th cruise and the buffet was the worst we have experinced. The deli was very good and some buffet dishes were good but overall we were very disappointed with the buffet.
While we normally lunch at the buffet we instead went to the MDR brunches. Limited menu at brunch but food was quite good.
Entertainment: We normally take in the comedy shows, piano bar, karaoke and don't usually attend the singing/dancing shows. It seemed that many of the big shows were being cancelled because of weather or the talent missed a plan etc.
I was a bit surprised that they didn't schedule "something" in its place. If on a sea day and you can't have a show then you really should schedule a big trivia or bingo or something? It didn't effect us as we don't take in the dancing type shows but we ran into several people looking for something to do when the shows were cancelled.
Piano bar wasn't as entertaining as we expected, comedy shows (we saw 2) were very good and good, karaoke was fun, trivia was fun but I still find it funny how far people will go to win a silly prize.
The Ship: Nice and clean. The third Spirit Class ship weve been on and although they were darker we liked the Legend and Pride's decor better. No complaints though we still loved the ship.
This was our first aft-balcony and we never gave any thought to the fact that the balcony of the cabin above you is located directly above your bed. At times it was like being below the Lido deck. No more afts for us but we wanted to try one for ourselves and will still to mid-ship from now on.
Our opinion might be a tad influenced by having neighbours who constanly slammed balcony door, smoked, dragged chairs around and were often heard loudly talking into their cell phones. Anyone within 3 decks on the aft of the ship heard all of their conversations. When they weren't around the balcony was nice and peacful, a great escape.
The Crew: While everyone was nice and polite and did a good job they seemed less enthusiastic than past crews. We assume that with only 1100 passengers onboard they were losing a ton of tip money or possibly the weather etc was the cause of many seeming somber.
Our cabin steward Francis was a very nice man, extremely polite and kept the cabin spotless. He was great at doing the routine stuff but not so great at requests (extra towel, ice bucket replenished, insuring 2 glasses in cabin etc).
Our anytime dining server was great. She was very personable and had a good sense of humour. We made sure we tipped her the last night as well as Francis because he was such a good guy and he still did a good job.
There was a Junior MaitreD who really seemed like she was not happy in her job. Our dining mates were a couple of minutes late and she initially wouldn't seat anyone until the entire group was present despite the MDR being almost empty. When we promised her that they were on their way she relented with a snide remark about saving seats and had someone see us to our table.
Still, a good crew and as always only a couple out of a thousand that stood out as in need of a hug or career change.
The Ports: Port Canaveral-Our third time here and always because we missed another port. We had 11 hours here so we rented a car and went to find some gators and do some shopping, lunch by the beach etc. People don't seem to like FLA stops but we don't mind it and usually rent a car and go explore something we haven't seen.
Nassau-Again, been here a few times and had hoped to see San Juan and St Thomas but were still happy to be someplace warm and sunny.
We did some shopping downtown then took a cab to Junkanoo Beach and had some drinks while we soaked up some sun. The Beach was very rocky, difficult to walk in spots. Apparently the rocks and seaweed were washed up by Sandy and they hadnt cleaned it up yet. Still found some sand to lie in.
Walked over to Senor Frogs for some really big drinks and then back to the ship. Turned out to be an early night as we may have had one or two too many big drinks!
Grand Turk-Finally get to GT after 2 previous tries! We did the dune buggy excursion through Carnival and it was fun. We drove all over the island on road and off, made a stop at the lighthouse and dropped off at the ship after 3 hours or so.
We did a bit of shopping at the pier then walked down the beach to Jack's Shack. If you want a quieter piece of beach then head to Jack's. Great people and the best jerk chicken we've had. Jack's seems to be popular with ship's crew as well as we recognized a few of them there.
The beach by the ship was packed 4 or 5 chairs deep and Margaritaville is a little loud for us and we'd prefer the beach to a pool. Jack's Shack was the perfect way to spend the day.
Embarkation/debarkation in NYC was super easy. Since only 1100 passengers I guess that's to be expected and with no electricity when we returned customs was not even open.
All in all a great time and quite an adventure! Our friends all think we're nuts for cruising through a hurricane but at least we've got a few new stories to tell. Love to cruise the Miracle again but hopefully get to San Juan and St Thomas next time.