Dropped car at Hertz and took shuttle to ship. Arrived at Hertz at 10:30 and even though it's only a 10 min ride, it took us over an hour to get to check-in. Hertz says it's because Carnival's process for rental cars is very unorganized (unlike Disney, which has no shuttle van lines). We waited on line at the port for over 1/2 hour before we could finally unload. Whole process took so long that by the time we checked in, they were already calling all zones! Squashed my idea of getting onboard early, but check-in process itself at that point was a breeze. Was onboard probably within 15 minutes of walking into terminal.
Our room was not ready when we checked, but steward let us drop our carry-ons anyway. Room ready by 1:00. Lunch on Lido - burrito was the best deal on lunch line. Never tried Mongolian Wok the whole week (and I love stir-fry!) because just could not deal with the lines. The thing wouldn't even be open yet and people were lining up. No food is worth that. Sailaway on our balcony, woman from pier nice enough to take pictures of our ship and post them to CC!
First, our cabin, because that was the best part of the whole cruise. Not the cabin itself (standard), but where it was. People say the top deck is no good because it's not private? May be the case with some because the sun deck looks right down, but our cabin was spectacular! Walkways were blocked above us, so no one could peer down except for maybe 5 or 6 cabins down. So no one was "throwing stuff on our balconies" or "being loud" or any of that. And it did not rain the whole week - plus, we love the sun, so enjoyed the solitude of sunning on our deck! Top this all off with being on the opposite side of hall of WaterWorks (entrance to that is down hall - which worked out so great bc when my kids wanted to go on waterslide, it was super convenient access, but we did not get the noise). Cannot imagine what it'd be like to have those 1 or 2 cabins next to waterworks - aside from kids, the door going to deck constantly slamming. On the contrary, our cabin was on opposite end, next to spa! PLUS - there was a "secret" entrance to spa, which allowed us to utilize their showers. It was so close we'd open our door, take 2 steps and go into their bathrooms. Super convenient when there's 4 people in your room - my teenage daughter loved taking a shower there - it's huge! Spa facilities are only for first two adults in room, so daughter bought day package ($40) and loved it so much ended up doing it 2 more times. She'd spend hours in the thermal suites. 3 of us worked out in the gym as well - people who say this gym is small are either oblivious or gym rats (and should take a different kind of cruise if that's their goal). This gym, for any average gym goer (or non-goer but wants to try it out), was more than adequate. In fact, it was pretty great - never had to wait for equipment, and view was phenomenal. Pool was great, and the thermal rooms were a stroke of genius (thought they could get a few more heated beds in some of them, though). Daughter loved the light up showers in the spa as well. Only needed to clean out drinkware in the Meditation room a lot more. Got an adequate massage and was already prepared for the hard product sell at end, but still wish they wouldn't do it.
Food overall - mediocre - nothing different to say that hasn't been said before. Dining room hit or miss, staff attentive and accommodating. Pasta bar great, but staff there not as attentive. Good thing was it was never crowded. Deli, staff willing to make you whatever you wanted, always good. Should have a server in buffet area serving sodas to people with drink cards, though. NCL had that and it was very convenient. You have to go all the way to the pool bar to get a soda for dinner. Breakfasts - completely uneventful. Even in the dining room - very small selection. Steakhouse - incredible experience, everyone needs to do this.
Pool - way too small for amount of people. Chairs - could always, always, find chairs. Fine - maybe not by the pool, but could never understand why anyone would want to sit there, anyway. Sardines? No, thank you. If we wanted to cool off, we'd take a walk to the pool - oh - WEAR SHOES! Burned my feet walking on deck and on stairs. Water slides - kids (and us!), loved them, especially the Twister. Very fast, very fun. Never, ever big lines. Go late in day, especially before they close. Mini-golf - great course for a ship! Watch kids from Sun Deck above using that for driving practice - almost broke my husband's thumb (enough said).
Ports - didn't get off in Nassau. Walked around San Juan, kids eventually went back to ship and husband and I took free trolley around town just to see the sites we may have missed. Very nice to be able to do that. St. Thomas - Castaway Girl snorkel, loads of fun. Then took cab back to town, had lunch and shopped. Don't grab a cab in town - end up going back to where all cabs are, anyway, and big waste of time. Grand Turk - booked cabana, ended up being worth it, I think...check to see if there are other ships in port that day. If not, you can risk it - we were standing on line downstairs 1/2 hour before they let us off, and there were no other ships, and we had our pick of chairs in Margaritaville. However, if you don't want to risk it or there are other ships, cabana definitely worth it. Kids loved it for a/c, anyway.
Misc - 13 year old son bored - but, nature of the beast. Not sure what would've kept him occupied. He loved the water slide, but only when we went with him. Said arcade didn't have that much. Although extremely friendly kid, kind of shy so wouldn't go to kids club and didn't meet any others. If he had a friend with him, I never would've seen him, they would've had a blast. Comedy clubs - great for something to do every night. I liked it bc they were short - maybe an hour. Took too long to find our favorite place at night, at the bar in the Grand Atrium, listening to the house band (which we really enjoyed). Hit the Song Bar one night, but no one really there (too hidden), and once we were there felt bad to leave! Could actually not even listen to piano bar guy, he was so bad.
All in all - if you think about spa cabins, make sure they're on opposite sides of Waterworks, and try to get 12th floor. Next Carnival cruise I book will definitely be on a ship with spa cabins. Will do Carnival again, but next time maybe will try RC to compare.