The Birthday bash 2013 was nothing short of awesome for me and my crew which included myself, my wife and my three kids aged 12, 10 and 7. It was a birthday bash as i celebrated my 45th on the 27th of February followed by by my wife on the 28th and my first born on the 29th (or in this case, the 1st of March).
It starts out with gaining Delta Silver status which I lost due to lack of recent travel but for this trip, it got me 5 checked bags for free. Don't know why but sure as hell am not going to question it.
Arriving in West Palm Beach, we check in to the airport Hilton and the Captain/Shuttle driver is nothing short of spectacular. Night #2 in North Beach Miami at the Doubletree was unreal as the room was larger than the first floor of my house and it had a wrap around balcony!!!!! I/We are spoiled.
Now to the cruise.
Check in was seamless. Security was fast and as expected. Low key compared to airports but thorough none the less.
We were on the ship in less than an hour from the time the taxi dropped us off to the point of ordering a drink int the lobby bar.
Upon trying to order myself the "Cheers" program from said lobby bar proved to be an minor event as the gal tending bar tried to insist that I had to purchase the program for husband and wife despite being booked into separate rooms (the program assumes all adults in room must purchase the program) and after I complained that this was not listed online "quite loudly", she conveniently corrected herself and allowed me to purchase the program for one. Please note that my ideal cruise is to be pampered, eat like royalty and drink like it is going out of style. That being said, $49.xx tip included for the cheers program for up to 15 drinks in a day is a steal considering I would normally order 3 or more buckets of beer at 23.xx bucks per four pints/bucket. Do the math.
In hindsight, next cruise with a friend who can challenge me to the drinkfest, it is worth it. In this case, I need to compare my receipts but I am doubting that I made the right choice as I did not drink as much as I used to. This is in large part due to the lack of floor staff on this ship. Bar staff are awesome but previous cruises have taught me that i would be pestered non stop for drink purchases which did not happen on this ship. Cutbacks.... Moving along.
The ship decor is unlike any other Carnival ship and it is marvelous. Not as flashy as before but still enough to make you feel like your on vacation.
Our deluxe Ocean view rooms (2432 and 2436) were low and sucked when elevators were needed bu they were also the largest rooms they had only overshadowed by the suites. The rooms are however oversized (lack of balcony gives to the room) and you have two bathrooms in the suite which makes getting ready a little easier.
As a smoker, it was a little unclear where the appropriate areas where to smoke as I like to respect to the rules but I soon figured that out. Deck 11 starboard side and deck 5 same side. Casino was hit and miss except at bar.
Miss Gordanna out room attendant was AMAZING. She treated us great and our kids even better. I plan to write Carnival on her. Best room attendant I have had to date.
Almost all floor staff, from room attendants to wait staff and marketplace folks were friendly and welcoming at all times. Speaking of staff, I did notice that it was the same staff at the same place such as each bar, throughout the cruise which made for getting to know them so much easier.
The ship was clean. Always.
The food was bland to awesome. marketplace buffet was okay to good to great depending on what you ate.
Restaurant was awesome as per usual and I found a better variety this time and the food was by far more fresh in the dining lounge than in previous cruises.
Indian = awesome.
BBQ = Awesome.
Guy's Burger = Awesome.
Mexican at Blue Iguana was great. Not awesome but....
Mongolian was great.
Pizza was good.
Deli sandwich was good.
Cuisine de Capitain was amazing and way too much food.
Did not do the steakhouse but wanted too.
Shows good, comedy great but short and Hasbro game time was awesome. Usual Lido deck fun times and noise.
Never had a problem finding a chair or bench or other somewhere on the ship where the sun was shining. Pools are small but i don't care as I don't use them and the kids were not bothered. Hot tubs are people soup but again, not for me.
Fun times NOT at sea where far too short for me and that is about the only real complaint I have. I know it costs them to dock etc and they make far more $$ while at sea but 5 hours on dry land from docking to departure is by far too little.
Grand Turk: Really nice place and I am happy to add it to my list of "been there, done that". People are nice, not pushy and the water was great. BRING WATERSHOES if you plan to go into the ocean as the coral floor bed is hard to navigate barefoot. As for Coral btw, we brought home some amazing conk shells as the beaches is littered with them. Grand Turk is the third largest coral reef apparently.. I didnt know that but do now.. :)
Ocho Rios: still the same pushy people and I don't care to walk around at the pier as it can be annoying even with small children. We did the Gondola ride and Bobsled and it was a blast! Worth every penny for the ride, the view and the pool at the top with the water-slide...
Nassau: Been there so many times. Ugh. We did the local jitney bus ($1.25pp)to Cable beach, visited the new and improved Daiquiri stand (a must visit) and then spent some time at the Sheraton which has a beautiful beach. You can also pay the hotel a small day pass fee as a cruiser and get a room for the afternoon if desired. While we were there, 5 other ships pulled in so you can imagine how adding 15k to 20k more bodies made downtown a little congested....
ALL IN ALL:
Best non themed cruise I have had to date. Since I worked the Tim McGraw one and was a guest on the KISS Kruise 1, i cant compare this one or other regular cruises to those two. Staff always greeted me, other guests were friendly, the food was as expected to better and the weather could not have been more awesome.
2013 Birthday Bash for this group is a year to remember!