This was my 3rd cruise. First with Carnival. My first 2 cruises were with Royal Caribbean. I am a 24yr old who traveled with my boyfriend (28), who had never been on a cruise.
First off I would just like to say I was slightly nervous booking a Carnival cruise after being only on Royal Caribbean. I just always heard mixed reviews about Carnival but let me tell you, I LOVED CARNIVAL AND WOULD 100% BOOK THEM AGAIN! The price was great and to me, there were not many differences in the two lines in my opinion.
Embarkment: Family member dropped us off at the pier. We live less than 2hrs away. Check in was a breeze and we were on the ship before noon. Easiest and quickest check in for me to date. Employees were all very nice and helpful.
The first night or two were VERY rocky. We did not get sick and found it fun having the ship moving all over the place. I felt bad for anyone who was not as fortunate as us.
Room: We were originally booked in a standard balcony but took an upgrade to an extended balcony for $60. We stayed in 7194 and the extended balcony room was great and worth the extra few $$. ( We met friends later in the cruise who had a standard balcony and compared.) Ours was almost double their size.
Our room steward was great and always friendly.
Food: Food in the dining room was always great, except for the prime rib. It tasted like ham and a few others at our table agreed. Other than that, I have no complaints about the dining room dinner. We had late seating and they sat us with two other couples around our age (29,29,30,40). We became fast and close friends and ended up hanging out the rest of the cruise with each other and even at some ports. :) We still talk to them and get together with them to this day even after the cruise has ended. We all live within 2hrs of each other so I applaud Carnival for seating us with table mates around our age. It made for an excellent cruise!
Late night pizza we had once. It was good. Buffet: only stopped by there maybe twice but it was good as well. Nothing amazing but good enough for us.
Breakfast: We always went to the brunch comedy show around 1pm. I loved the eggs Benedict with salmon the best. Everything else we also enjoyed.
Nick and Nora's: The staff was nice. The food was great! Def worth going there once.
Entertainment: The comedy brunch comedians had a short act that wasn't funny at all. (Probably because they had to keep it family friendly.) But we went to almost every comedy show for the late adult show and they were all fantastic and hilarious.
Saw "Ticket To Ride" which was good but if I did have any comparisons to Royal Caribbean, RC's shows are 100x better IMO. RC's were much more put together and professional. Again, IMO...BUT it was still a good show and something to do so I was happy!
We played trivia a few times which was fun and something to occupy our time on sea days.
Casino: Went there a few times. Won a little money. Overall a great experience.
Bars: All staff were very friendly and all my drinks were great. No complaints.
GRANK TURK: First time I was there. We had a snorkel and stingray excursion through Carnival. It was good but overpriced for the amount of time. Only complaint here was they almost left my boyfriend in the middle of the sea! They called us ONCE to get back on the boat. There were other tours out at the reef too.
To make it short, I went off to look at a part of the reef and my boyfriend went to another part not far away. There were people around us from our group as well as other groups. We were never alone. When they called I heard them and headed in. My boyfriend did not hear them. I was on the boat already and the captain was bringing up the ladder and getting ready to go until I told him my boyfriend was still out there. By this point my boyfriend noticed everyone was getting back on and was already swimming towards the boat. I thought this was very irresponsible on the captains part, who is contracted with Carnival. What if this had happened to a Solo cruiser? They never did a headcount or anything to make sure all of their passengers were on board. Other than that, the excursion was fun!
After the excursion we met up with our dinner friends and hung out at Jack's Shack for a few hours until boarding. The beach was very nice. A good place for a relaxing beach day, otherwise not much else going on.
SAN JUAN: This was my 2nd time at San Juan. One of my favorite places. It's just a beautiful city to walk around. Our new dinner friends and us all hung out at this port. We wanted to check out the Bacardi Distillery first. Cabs/ Vans when you first get out of port wanted to charge us $30 pp to go there. We said no way! There's got to be a cheaper way. We walked about a block or two away from the pier and found a ferry that took us very close to the distillery.
Round trip was only $1...yes $1! :) From there we had a $6 van ride to the distillery. $7 compared to $30...way worth the little extra work. ;) Distillery tour was good. Nothing too impressive but a nice little tour. The grounds are beautiful.
Eventually went back to Old San Juan and went to the fort, then walked around the rest of the evening/night. Had dinner, went to a few bars. All in all a great time and still one of my favorite places.
ST. THOMAS: We had an excursion booked for St. John's Trunk Bay Snorkel but it was canceled due to high surf. We decided we wanted to still go to St John so we got our own taxi to the Red Hook pier which then took us to Cruz Bay, St. John. We had a great time. We DID try going to Trunk Bay but once we got there the surf was too high =P It was worth a try! So they took us to Honeymoon Beach and there were all of 5 people there. They had nature trail hikes that could then take us back to Cruz Bay so we decided to do that instead of a cab. We like a little adventure! It was about an hour hike with great lookouts and views! You should be at least in decent shape for the hike.
We then took the ferry back to St. Thomas and took a cab to town. Had lunch in St. Thomas and walked around a little before heading back to the ship.
TORTOLA: We also had an excursion to Virgin Gorda through Carnival which was also canceled due to high surf. Our dinner friends and us all decided we still wanted to go there. We got off the ship and talked to a woman who worked at the info booth to see what she thought about going to Virgin Gorda for the day with the surf conditions. She said it was not bad there anymore and advised us that it was a beautiful place and we should go on our own, so we did! We took a 40 min ferry ride to the island Virgin Gorda for only $38. Our excursion was $86 so we saved so much money doing it on our own in the end! Will def book things privately from now on. Virgin Gorda was gorgeous! And since all the tours were canceled there, it was not busy or crowded at all! We got to hike, swim, and relax.
We came back to Tortola with about an hour before boarding so we all went to the Pussers Store and got a Painkiller there then headed back.
Disembarkment: We decided to do self assist. We were off the ship by 8am, got a taxi to port authority for $5 and got on a bus home by 9am. We were back home by 11am. Very fast and easy. No complaints!
SHIP: This was the smallest ship I had been on. Previous was the RC Explorer of the Seas and RC Liberty of the Seas. I loved this ship! It was small, cozy, and easy to navigate. It was sailing full capacity but it never seemed crowded. I enjoyed the decor. It was a little tacky but fun! I would def sail on her again. Too bad she went to California.
OVERALL: I had an amazing cruise and so did my boyfriend. We both loved Carnival. The staff were so friendly. Our room was great. Food was great. It was an enjoyable experience. I still would like to try NCL just to try something different and since I have never sailed with them yet. But I love Carnival and will def be cruising with them in the future! I think I even like them more than Royal Caribbean. :)