Embarkation - what a pain! We did a park and ride and I am reminded that you get what you pay for. $8 a day turned into a long wait to get to the ship. We arrived semi-early, but it still took 2 hours to board. Unfortunately, my passport does not show my married name but has the addendum in the back of the passport. I was flagged by Carnival which means I had to go through another long line just to board the ship (which is weird because this has NEVER happened on any of my other cruises). Ugh but I need to get passed that.
Our first meal was at the Blue Iguana catina. My husband had tacos and I had a burrito. While I was sad that there was not a tandoor station on this boat, this place became my go to for breakfast and lunch. And love finally having some hot sauces on my cruise!
Because we boarded so late, our room was available and our luggage was already delivered. Love! Oh, and I love our room. The people we were traveling with purchased a similar room just above us on the 7th floor, but the design seemed much smaller. These rooms are billed as interior, but have windows that look out onto decks that are pretty much private. The only people I saw on our deck were our other neighbors, so it was very nice. This was our first cruise not in a balcony and not in the center of the ship. Other than really feeling the water, I would recommend this room highly. Our room steward Jose and his assistant were quick to know our names and were quick to learn our schedule so they were rarely in our room when we were around. Our waitstaff Augustus and Pirman were very nice as well. Food was good in MDR. I dont get all the complaints.
I missed the cruise critic meet and greet on this trip. We just ran out of time with getting on the ship so late.
Part of the updates with Carnival's VIFP program, my husband was downgraded in amenities, so he was not allowed to attend the welcome back party. We both were given coupons (however, we had to request them) for one free drink during brunch. The Punchliner's Brunch was fine. Had a hard time getting the waiters to bring coffee and juice. The steak and eggs, huevos rancheros, and breakfast burrito were great. Unfortunately, the meals our traveling companions ordered for both brunches were not to their likings. I loved the make your own Bloody Mary Bar. We tried the Fish and Chips place but I really only ate the ceviche. The food looked good but I really stuck to the build your own burrito thing. Guys burgers were okay. I dont know whose bright idea it is to put such a hearty burger with all those sauces on a bun that disintegrates within a minute, but they need a new job. The fries were fabulous. The Taste Bar was fun, but no replacement for the sushi bar. Tea time was another highlight of our trip. We bought the wine package which was nice to accompany the two bottles we brought on board.
We ended spending a lot of time at the Alchemy Bar. We took the Alchemy Bar class which was a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it. Ask for Gabor. We also spent some time in the piano bar. Unfortunately, the pianist was limited to the songs he knows (I'll blame it on his age), but he made up for it with a lot of audience participation. And of course Joanna the bartender was so sweet. I wanted to spend time in the karaoke bar, but the majority of the time it was in the cigar bar. I couldn't breathe so I could not participate. Very disappointed. The comedians were good. I really liked the cowboy guy. We saw almost all the comedy shows and missed the shows in the main theater. The cruise director did a fantastic job but I was a little disappointed in the fun crew. They were a little boring, a little shy, and most could only hold a conversation about hockey and Canada. However, there was a fun one (blonde guy) that hosted some of the trivia and karaoke.
We signed up for the Chef's Table. It was scheduled for the same night as the welcome back party. Urgh! I had attended the Chef's Table before and learned that I needed to skip lunch and beverages prior to the meal. The welcome back party was not near as fun because of that and also since my husband had been downgraded and not allowed to attend. Thankfully Joanna from the Piano Bar kept me company. However the Chef's Table was a fabulous meal, but unfortunately,for the first time ever in my life, I got sea sick that evening. Thankfully the staff was really attentive to my needs and refilled my water quickly. Also, the medicine on board works amazingly! If you have not done the Chef's Table yet, it is amazing. 7 courses with champagne and wine. I loved meeting the executive chef and his team.
Ports: Nassau - We planned this vacation on the cheap, so we created our own shore excursions. Our first stop, we did a walking tour to the Queens Staircase, visited two forts, met the lovely priest at the very gorgeous Anglican church, walked the city (met several very friendly locals), hit the grocery store for inexpensive essentials, then made it over to the fish fry area. We ate at the larger, purple building with the big patio. My husband and I split the conch fritters, a conch salad, and sky juice. We walked back to the boat along the very gorgeous beach. I cant wait to come back.
St. Thomas was the 2nd stop. Even though I got the memo that most of PP was closed, our group still took the tram to the top. Such gorgeous views. The mountainous island with the beach and all the homes reminded me of all the things I fell in love with in Isla Roatan. The bar was open so we tried a couple of the St.John's beers and our friends really enjoyed the fish sandwich and mac salad. We hit the Doghouse bar on the way back to the boat.Good prices, friendly service.
San Juan was my favorite stop. We set the alarm clock for extra early on this day. The island has two forts and a really cool fortress wall that is perfect for pics when you are coming in to port. We walked along the port side through a park to the first fort. There is a cat sanctuary along the way. The grounds were so cool to explore. We did a tour with a guide for $5 and got to go up in the lighthouse. The entry fee was for both forts. It was really cool to learn about the forts histories and Puerto Rico's history. We then walked around the cemetary and other then a few "There coming to get you Barbara" moments, it was very neat. Then we explored the other fort. Just as cool as the first, but we were getting tired and still needed to go shopping for some gasolina. This city is amazing and its really neat to see the modern buildings that are surrounded by the old fort walls. So many public areas with art and fountains. Just a lot of picture taking at this stop.
Grand Turk is the perfect stop to just spend the day on the beach. Our friends rented snorkeling equipment for really cheap and the guy recommended an area to snorkel at. While the area was totally deserted, the water was a bit too rough for snorkeling. But not a total loss, on our way back, we came across a lot of cows and horses. We read somewhere that the island is inhabited by wild, domesticated animals so that was cool to see. We walked over to the Nasa exhibit then walked to Governor's Beach. The beach was nice and our friends found some great snorkeling along some guy's huge boat that was washed ashore due to hurricane Sandi. We left them to snorkel and walked up to Jack's Shack for lunch and drinks. The jerk chicken was nice, but the drinks were too pricey for me so we skipped them. The beach was gorgeous.
Debarkation was a breeze.
Weather was gorgeous and stops were beautiful. I have decided that I will only cruise in Janaury from now on. All in all, another fantastic vacation on Carnival.