This was the first cruise for my fiance and I. We weren't really sure what to expect, but had heard a lot of good and bad from others. Friends of ours had recommended the Eastern Caribbean cruise with Carnival, so we decided to book just after the new year for a break from the cold in the Northeast US. I travel frequently via plane, so I am definitely comfortable with travel.
Port of Miami / Embarkation - Airport transfer was a snap, quick and efficient. We arrived at the terminal about 4 hours before the scheduled departure. The terminal wasn't terribly busy at this point to our surprise, and we got onto the boat and up to the Lido deck quickly. After a bit of exploring, we were off to our cabin a couple hours before departure.
Cabin - Level 1, Oceanview - the cabin was surprisingly roomy and we had a great, attentive steward. Unfortunately we had some of the loudest people in the cabin next to ours who felt like shouting about at 4 AM. If we are to cruise again, we're splurging for a balcony. The oceanview was okay, but I'd like the fresh air and faster access to the upper decks.
Food - The buffet on the lido deck was hit or miss. I'm not sure if it's the cooking oil that's used or what but I was feeling kind of "meh" the whole week. We chose "any time" dining - Atlantic deck 3. Great meals, good service, would not go with anytime dining again. It seemed kind of disorganized and there was usually a long line of people waiting at the door. A lot of people clearly didn't get the memo about the dress code, either. We purchased the "bubbles" cards and barely used them. Lines were relatively short for us, but we usually got to breakfast pretty early.
Entertainment - Punchliner comedy was one of our favorites. Our other favorite that we didn't discover until the last night was the sing-along in the Irish Seas piano bar. GREAT time and highly recommended. We did watch some of the contests on the lido deck on the day at sea, but it was pretty crowded (as expected). I wasn't really into the big crowds on the lido deck - hard to find a spot to sit, crowded, not really my thing. It was relaxing to sit back in the evening and watch movies on the big screen on the lido deck, to be honest.
Spa/gym - We each got treatments in the salon - a pedicure for me, a haircut for my fiance. The ladies in the spa were all friendly. Definitely wait until the last couple days to book spa appointments because the prices are reduced. We were able to work out nearly every day in the gym, which was great. The gym is pretty well stocked and spacious, too.
Other - Serenity Deck - probably the best thing about the cruise was the adults-only deck - front, deck 12 and 13. We enjoyed the hot tub and cozy chairs here. Because of timing, the cruise was mostly adults anyway, but it was nice to have a peaceful retreat.
Overall - I would rather fly to a destination in the Caribbean and stay in a resort. It felt like the days were cut short and running on a tight schedule. I didn't like that about the cruise - too scheduled, too structured. Overall, a decent starter cruise, and would like to experience Alaska next on a more luxurious cruise line.
My initial impression was that it was pretty touristy right off the port. The shops were cheesy, but it was kind of expected. We booked the catamaran sail & snorkel, which was AWESOME. 1 hour of snorkeling and then you sailed over to a private part of the beach (past the shipwreck) to enjoy the sand and some rum punch. I enjoyed the rum punch a little too much and didn't realize it was a little higher proof than what I'm used to. So uh, lightweights beware! If you are in Grand Turk - scuba or snorkel, definitely, and book ahead of time because they filled up fast.
The best beach of them all. We really loved the desolate feeling of the island, considering there's only a handful of full-time residents here. Rent a clamshell at the beach and enjoy the white sands and lovely water. Snorkel isn't as good here, though. We went on the tropical kayak excursion. It seemed kind of short, but was worthwhile. You are able to kayak in a protected lagoon and see the wildlife - mostly stingrays, jellyfish, a few lemon sharks.
We booked a tour of South Beach for convenience as we had a late flight and a late incoming flight to Miami (delayed 24 hours) and were not able to enjoy SB/downtown Miami before the cruise. The excursion was convenient and an easy way to walk around SB without worrying about luggage. I've been to SB a handful of times but wanted my fiance to get the experience, as well. Enjoyable. Long, too - time for lunch and a 1.5 hour walk.
Meh. Wasn't impressed. We didn't book anything here as the cruise excursions were mostly centered around Atlantis (not interested) and the pirate tour was booked up. The city center was cleaning up from festivities the night before from a local holiday and the shops didn't open until late. A bunch of goofball 20-somethings on our ship decided to rent mopeds so the majority of our entertainment in Nassau was watching them stupidly realize they were on the wrong side of the street (British roadways) and getting yelled at by the traffic police.