I had always had an interest in cruising, but something or another had always prevented my from trying one. Until last month, when things aligned just right and I was able to sample this one. I'm very glad I did, for many reasons.
EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION - No real problems. The shuttle (prepaid through Carnival) was a little slow, and the lines and walking seemed to go on and on, but there was nothing here that I didn't prepare for. Everyone did their jobs efficiently.
Getting off the ship went well - almost too well. I took my own bags off, caught the shuttle (again prepaid through Carnival) and was at the airport before 8:30. My flight didn't leave until 3.
PUBLIC ROOMS - Everything seemed shiny to my untrained, inexperienced eye. There were more than ample hand sanitizers which I occasionally used and saw others used.
CABIN - Seemed shiny and almost new. More than adequate space for this single. Could have used a little more breathing space in the bathroom, but that's a quibble.
RATES - Thank you Carnival for eliminating the single supplement tax!
DINING - With My Time Dining, my main dining room (MDR) was the lower level of Lincoln. I got to dine here four times. The first time was open seating. I was placed with two couples at a table that seated eight. Both couples were interesting and mildly interested in me, so that worked out well. One of the couples I met other times on the ship.
The other three times I requested, and got, a table for two occupied by me, myself, and I. Of course, there were other tables nearby where I could hear them and we could converse easily enough if we were so inclined (we never were).
In Lincoln, the food was excellent, but the portions were a little small. No problem; more room for extra starters, bread, and/or dessert.
Most of the rest of the time I ate in and around Rosie's on the Lido deck. There was sometimes more traffic here than I wanted here. The food was very good here. I especially recommend the jerk chicken and spicy beef.
SERVICE - What can I say? I was blown away by how well I was treated by everyone on the Carnival staff. It's something I could really get used to, without hopefully taking it all for granted.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: I took a lot of island tours through Carnival, which I'm sure they appreciate (insert sound of cash register here). There are more details in the individual port reviews, but suffice it to say I was very happy with Carnival's subcontractors and the services they offered.
VALUE FOR MONEY: See comment above under "Rates".
OVERALL: I had a great time. I think I learned a lot. I met some nice people. What more could I possibly ask for?
This was on a large bus that seated about 30. Clovis was the driver and Lisette was the tour guide. Both were excellent in their roles. We went around most of the island and there were several stops for photos, souvenir buying, bathroom breaks and such. There were also some free samples of local cuisine.
Since I flew in the day of my cruise and the day of my return, I didn't spend much time here. I took
This was another tour with at least three large buses. I got the one with Tyrone, "Mr. T" as driver/tour guide. He was more than capable in both roles. Particularly impressive was his work in getting in and out of the gate to Brimstone Hill. There couldn't have been more than six inches of space when we squeezed through. In addition to Brimstone, we stopped at Romney Manor and on a hill overlooking Frigate Bay.
This tour must have been popular, because we had at least three large buses on this tour. We occasionally bumped into the other groups at our stops. Tantou was our driver. He was great and really got the opportunity to show his stuff through some challenging conditions (rain, elevation, rough roads). He also provided some supplementary knowledge about the island. Denver was our tour guide. We made things a lot more interesting for him than your average tour group. He knew his stuff, but we also taught him a few things. We went all over the island, soaking in the wonderful sights that make up St. Lucia. There were several opportunities for photos, bathroom breaks, souvenir shopping, and dining (not all at every stop). This was a long guided tour but worth every minute.
We got a full interstate-style bus for this tour. King was the driver and Dahlia the tour guide. Curiously, both of them were from St. Kitts, but that didn't stop them from doing an excellent job. We wound our way to the French side, took an extended stop in Marigot, the French side's capital, then drifted our way back to Philipsburg. We were offered the option of getting off downtown instead of heading back to the pier. Instructions were given on how to get back to the ship from there. St. Maarten/Martin has a lot to recommend it and this tour certainly showed a lot of it.
P.S. I took an excursion after this that was not, and will not ever be, offered by a commercial cruise line. All I will say is I enjoyed it very much. :)
This was on a medium-sized bus. Ian was our driver/tour guide. He knew his island and was an excellent driver. There were a few stops for photos, bathroom breaks, and souvenirs. We were offered the chance to get off the tour early in downtown Charlotte Amalie (near the port).