This was my 5th cruise, and the 4th with Carnival. I have always had a great time with Carnival and while the only other line I have been on is NCL, it seems to me that Carnival has the best value for price out of any cruise line. As I mentioned in the title, there was one problem that took much hassle to straighten out, but in the end everything worked out. Also of note, I couldn't find anyone to come on this trip, so I was by myself. And believe it or not, I kinda liked being by myself on this trip.
I had originally booked the October 27th sailing on the Valor, and used the $100 deposit that I purchased on my last cruise to get $100 in on-board credit. However, on the week that I was to leave, my mother suddenly passed away. When I called Carnival to cancel, I asked about the deposit and on-board credit. The lady told me (after speaking to a supervisor) that I would get the obc for the next cruise that I booked. So when I rebooked and was on board for this sailing in November, I saw that I had not been given any obc. I asked guest services to look into this and kept getting the run around. Well after the vacation I had to make several calls to get this straightened out, with some Carnival employee's doing everything they could to help me, and others would blow me off. The last time I called, I was told that I would not get the obc at all because I cancelled the October cruise. At this point, my frustration had built up to a level that was unacceptable and I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told they were all busy, but they would call me when they could. The next day I received a call from Carnival saying that as a "one time" courtesy, they would give me the $100 of obc in the form of a credit being sent to my credit card. So like I said, in the end, it turned out good, otherwise I would not have sailed on Carnival again. Now, on the the cruise itself!!!!!
I flew in the day before from Wisconsin to Miami. I had booked a room at the Rodeway Inn because of the price and because of the free and flexible shuttle service. When I called for a ride, the van driver had just left the airport so it took a long time (about 45-50 minutes) for them to pick me up. The room was ok, no fridge, microwave, or coffee maker, but I was only staying for one night. Ate at the attached restaurant, and that was good. I also asked if I had to sign up for shuttle service to the port and was told that the van left every hour from 8-2 to the port. Talk about convenient. But on a sad note, no continental breakfast.
Embarkation was easy. FYI, they don't have the self check-in kiosks anymore. After boarding, I went to the buffet and ate. Standard buffet stuff, nothing special, but nothing bad either. Spent much of the afternoon walking around the ship and watching football. At my time dinner that night, I met some really fun women at my table, and we decided to eat together for the rest of the trip, although I did eat at the speciality restaurant the next night as a co-worker had given me some money, insisting I go to the steakhouse. That was one of the best meals I ever had!!!!
Day 2, Nassau: I didn't like waking up in a port right after embarkation day, but it wasn't a huge deal. Watched the other ships come into port before getting off the ship. I decided to go to Atlantis to see the aquarium. It was very nice, but expensive. Afterwards, I walked to Junkaroo beach and checked out a bunch of shops before returning to the ship. The one compliant about this port was that we barely had any time as we were scheduled to leave at 2pm. I got back with plenty of time, but we left several people behind...we even saw them running up the dock as the ship pulled away. Some people need to watch their time better.
The next port was La Romana, Dominican Republic. This was the port we spent the most time in and it should have been the shortest. There is very little to do unless you buy an excursion.
Next was San Juan. I walked around town, and ended up going to both forts as I am a history lover. Wow, they were amazing!!! The views were great and it was a hot sunny day. After the forts, I walked around town looking for cigars, hot sauces, and liquor. Couldn't find any good liquor stores, but i did find an excellent cigar shop and bought some local hot sauces. And I ate mofongo at a small restaurant, and made my way back to the ship.
The final port of call was Grand Turk. This was another port I wanted to spend more time in, but couldn't. Did a deep sea fishing tour booked on the ship. Two people cancelled this excursion, and so 3 of us were on a boat that could have had 10 guests. That was good for us as the Barracuda were really biting. After fishing, I wanted time to eat, have a few drinks, and swim at the free beaches that are right off the dock and stretch for a long ways. I barely had enough time to find a beach restaurant that had less than a 1/2 hour wait, have a drink or two, and check out the shops.
Debarkation day was not as good. They delayed some of the groups and let others out early. It was about 45-50 past my zone's scheduled time before they let the zone debark. I later found out shortly after that, they told everyone to debark immediately which made picking up luggage very crowded. Then for another bad note, one of my bags was on the wrong luggage carousel and it took me long time to find it. From customs, found the bus I had booked to go to the airport, and returned to cold Wisconsin.
Some other points on the cruise...The food was good, I don't see why so many people complain. Guiermo, our waiter was EXCELLENT, ask for him if you can. I was disappointed with the piano bar...on my previous cruise the sing-along at the piano bar was excellent, the guy they had on this cruise was so-so, not many people stayed to listen to him. On a positive note, I got to be a judge in the Master Mixologist competition, I can't complain about getting free drinks!!!
Finally, I wish Carnival would bring back the program to put down a $100 deposit to get obc on one's next cruise. Because they don't offer that anymore, it may be awhile before I cruise again, but when I do, it will be on Carnival.