This was my 3rd cruise, my 2nd with Carnival. Overall, it was a great time, and I'd do it again in a minute.
I travelled with my wife Denise, in celebration of our 10th anniversary. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale a day early, and met the Carnival greeters back at the airport Sunday morning. From there, we were taken to Miami on a comfortable air conditioned bus for our cruise.
Embarkation was pretty bad. I knew it would be -- I had read many previous online reviews of this cruise -- but it was still bad. I'm not able to stand for long periods of time. We started with a line outside the building, which moved pretty quickly inside the terminal, snaked around for a little, then took us through the metal detector. At this point, I thought we had done pretty well, only to find that this just takes you your next line. The staff tried to be helpful, but the process had me totally exhausted before I ever got on the ship.
We had an inner handicapped cabin. It wasn't anything special, but it gave us what we needed.
From the first dinner onward, the food was consistently excellent. We had late seating in the Pacific Dining Room, and our waitress and assistant waitress, Adriana and Vanessa, were lovely people, polite and very funny. They made our meals throughout the trip a pleasure.
The entertainment varied. The cruise director, Dana, is a very funny fellow, and this also added to the fun of our trip. The song-dance productions were OK, not exceptional -- the dancers were a little out of sync, and I liked the male singer's voice much better than the female singer's. There were several excellent comedians throughout the voyage, and an entertaining magician. The Caribbean Lounge itself is beautiful, and very high-tech.
The entertainment throughout the rest of the ship was mostly very good. There was a first-rate rock band, Music Network, that played all forms of classic rock really well (their Queen medley was particularly impressive). There was also an excellent classical trio, The Prelude Trio, who entertained at cocktail hours, afternoon teas, etc. The reggae band was pretty good, and Vince from the Irish piano bar was also decent.
The casino was larger than expected, and even had a craps table. We got into a schedule when at sea of eating dinner, going to the show, then playing at the casino for an hour or so before retiring for the night. I actually came out a little ahead playing mostly video poker.
I really liked the itinerary. We had 2 sea days, followed by 3 days in port, followed by 2 sea days again. It gave me a chance to relax and unwind on the boat, then go do things for a few days, then relax again on the way home.
Unlike some of my fellow member reviewers, I really enjoyed San Juan. The view as we sailed in (a few hours ahead of schedule, thanks to Captain Rocco) was breathtaking. We didn't have a lot of time there, so rather than book an excursion, we just crossed the street to the Sheraton Hotel and Casino, where we played for a few hours, then had a drink in their nicely decorated lounge.
St. Maarten was my favorite stop. We took an excursion that combined a bus tour of the island with an hour long boat ride around the cove. I particularly liked the Dutch side of the island -- many interesting restaurants and casinos. I hope to come back and spend a week there some time.
In St. Thomas, my wife and I split up for the day. She went on a snorkeling excursion that she enjoyed very much, while I took a bus tour. The sights from the mountain top were certainly beautiful. I'm not really a beach person, but if you are, chances are you'd love this island.
The cruise back to Miami was wonderful. Throughout the cruise, we never encountered a staff person who was less than polite, and most were extremely pleasant and went out of their way to be helpful.
Disembarkation was very quick and easy.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this cruise to anyone. My wife and I felt we had gotten way more than our money's worth.