This was our (wife and I) fifth cruise with Carnival, 2nd time out of FLD. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express approximately 2 mile from the port would recommend. Embarkation was a breeze, once on board the crew was friendly, we went straight to the "Fish House" that we've both read about being a "great" place to eat lunch while waiting for our rooms. I would say using the term "great" was misleading, while the food was hot, it was also very greasy, so we decided to grab lunch at the buffet, food was much better.
After lunch we walked around the ship and decided to visit the "Serenity" deck, if I'm not mistaken this was the only time we ventured up there. The area was clean and inviting, the reason for this only visit was we found numerous other events going on around ship that we participated in.(Trivia) we are not people who just lay in the sun all day, we enjoy the various other events offered aboard ship.
Ports of Call:
1. Grand Turk, we have been there before, so this time my wife book a beach messege for the both of us. 90 minutes of pure bliss, I wish I could remember the web site my wife used. We refrain from booking our excursions through Carnival (way too expensive). Overall good destination.
2. La' Romana Dominican Republic, could have done without it. The "park" area where the local vendors set up was terrible. They would grab you and try to drag you to their booths, I had to tell several to keep their hands off. We did however venture onto several side streets to look for local art, which we luckily found a young painter who at work in a small room off the side of his house. We happily purchased a wonderful country setting art work from him. Carnival should reconsider this port, as in NOT going. The one possitive I can say about this port was the local police and the junior police cadets on almost every corner to assist in crossing the busy streets. Thank you.
3. Curacao, beautiful island, the times were a bit odd 2pm-till11pm, we found that most shops closed at sunset. We took an island tour, which we decided at the last minute and scheduled the tour from one of the "walk up" kiosks. It would have been nice if Carnival found a way to switch this port of call with Aruba.
Very safe and people very friendly.
4. Aruba, our favorite port of call, 8am till 4pm., this was the only disappointment of the island. While my wife and I are in our late 40's we still like to party a little and we felt the Aruba would have been a much better port for the late hours. Aruba was clean, people very friendly and safe to walk around in. Again my wife did the research and found a great excursion not through Carnival, she found a touring company that uses 3 wheeled motorcycles (TRIKES ARUBA), would highly recommend, must be able to drive a stick shift. Our tour guides where wonderful, took us to all the "tourist" locations as well as where the local hangout. We were scheduled to go with another group but they failed to show so we had a private tour of the island. Our next visit t Aruba will be one where we can stay longer.
The Ship experience:
1. Our room was large enough to move around in comfortably, we had an extended balcony. The room was very clean and our steward Jon was polite and eager to assist.
2. We had breakfast in the aft dinning room each morning, met some wonderful people and the staff was very friendly, would recommend this over the buffet if time permits.
3. We had anytime dinner, this works better for us as we don't like to be tied down to a specific time. We had different wait staff all of which were super, the food was good, like others have mentioned the Chocolate Lava Melting cake is high on the dessert recommendations.
4. Captains Dinner, 7 course meal, cost extra but worth it. The food and wait staff were great. The chef outstanding.
5. Steak House night, again the food and wait staff outstanding. I've read where some have complained about the price, in my home town you would pay much much for a meal like that. Highly recommended!!
6. Entertainment, we made it to a couple of the shows, decent entertainment.
The Majician, seen him before, some ole routine.
7. Comedy Show's, most were pretty entertaining, only went to the adult shows. The club fills up very quickly, so get there early.
8. Casino, well what can you say about that, won some, lost a lot.
While not everything can be perfect, a cruise is what you make it, just like anything else. My wife and I had a great time, met some wonderful and interesting people. We will definately travel on another Carnival cruise. The ship was very clean and all the staff we met were friendly and went out of their way to make our cruise pleasant. My wife did find a new favorite drink " Twilight Zone".
Did not use the spa or recreation facilities.
NONE of our excursions were booked through Carnival, pricing of course.