A couple of weeks before our departure we made reservations by phone to park at Premier Cruise Parking (NE 2nd Ave). The price was very reasonable and it is covered parking (they don't have the best looking vans but the service was very quick dropping us off & picking us up). Boarding was super easy and quick (even though there were long lines). We boarded about 11:30 and went straight on to eat lunch. We were told our rooms would be ready by 1:30 and they were. We had 2 balcony rooms side by side. As soon as we saw our steward we asked for him to open the divider and he did very quickly for us. Main complaint on day of boarding was the mandatory safety meeting. We were not planning to attend (we have cruised before)and the stewards knocked on our door and made us go to it. The employees handling the meeting were not very nice at all!!! They took their job very serious.
We did not book any excursions through the ship and were very glad that we did not.
Half Moon Cay: Carnival's private island.....it was absolutely beautiful. Make sure you are one of the first ones off....we waited about an hour and had to hunt for chairs. Make sure to eat lunch on the island....it was VERY good. Only complaint on this day was the photograhers (they were every where...even in the water!!!).
1st Day at Sea: Take advantage of the Shopping classes....got a lot of useful information from them. Do NOT buy the $25 book of coupons....it is NOT worth it!!!
Food: We did the any time dining. This was the best thing!! We went about 6:00/6:15 on the evenings that they had a family friendly comedian. After having 3 different servers we decided we loved Ketut and requested him the rest of the week. Everything we ate was very delicious!!! Definitely try the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.
Other places that you have to eat at is the Blue Iguana. Best breakfast burritos ever!! Also, burgers from Guy's Burger Shack. Lastly, the ice cream is available 24 hours a day and is wonderful!!!
The shows were very good. Get there about 15 - 30 minutes early to get a good seats. Comedians on board were great for the family friendly shows. Would not recommend the adult shows. The language was HORRIBLE (actually walked out)!!!!!!!
Overall we had a wonderful experience. The cruse director, Karl with a K was great. They had plenty of stuff to do for everyone of every age. The worst part was our room location. We were located on the 8th floor under Emile's Lido Buffet and was waken up early every morning when they were rolling the carts around getting set up for breakfast.
We took the taxi service to the downtown shopping area ($5 a person) and talked to a local who sent us on down the beach to Pillory Beach. Only about 30 people on the beach. They had beach chairs available and we rented snorkeling gear. They also had a bar/restaurant, horses and paddle boats. My husband actually saw a huge sting ray.
Walked off the ship and found a driver to take us to the rain forest. It was Martin at PR Paradise Transportation & Tours (prtransporation.com). He was SO nice. Had a very clean van. It was a little cheaper then the excursion that you could book on the ship (you can talk them down). The best thing was that it was only the 6 of us in our party. He drove us through the rain forest (stopping several times), back to Old San Juan and through the shopping district while giving us history lessons. I would highly recommend him.
The absolute best shopping. You can take a taxi (safari type van) to the shopping area (I think it was $4 a person). We then took a taxi to Secret Harbour (taxi's lined the streets & we talked to several & found the best deal). Absolutely the most beautiful place to go. There were about 20 people on the beach. We ate lunch at the restaurant overlooking the ocean while watching the iguanas walking around us. We then rented snorkeling gear. We told our taxi driver what time we wanted to leave and he was there when we walked out.