We sailed out of Port Canaveral on May 9th and was the first cruise to Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk. This was an 8 day cruise with 4 sea days. I have always traveled Royal Carribean but because of the great prices my kids and I decided to go Carnival for Mother's Day. We did not book it until the Sunday before we left and got excellent prices for us.
Even though the cost of the cruise was very very reasonable we did incur expenses I did not think about. If you drive yourself and need to park your car, the parking fees are $135 at Port Canaveral. They collect the money as you are leaving from dropping off your luggage. I did notice there are other cruise parking locations outside of Port Canaveral that are much cheaper after we left. You may want to look into these before arriving to save some money. I also did take my own sodas. You can take 12 20 oz. bottles of soda per person. We just put them in our suit case and then I kept them in the fridge on the ship. You can buy a soda card but it is around 60.00 I believe. Drinks are usually around 8.50 each and a soda from the bar is 1.97 for a regular class plus they are going to automically add gratuities on top of that.
Also, they automatically put on your Sail and Sign Card a fee of $92.00 for gratuities. We did have some issues with some of the staff and I actually went to the Guest Services and had a small portion of these fees removed. If you choose to pay the gratuities to the staff yourself you can just let Guest Services know and they will remove them from you Sail and Sign card. If you receive poor service in any area you can change the gratuity amount.
I was very impressed with the quality of the ship. My favorite place to hang was the Serenity Deck for those 21 and over. The chairs were so comfortable and they had huge round chairs with pillows for more than one person and also hammocks. I loved being there and usually did not have any trouble finding a place to relax.
The food I thought was very very good. We actually ate in the dining room every night because we enjoy the quality of the service there and the food was always good and we enjoyed the variety. Over the course of the week we ate rabbit, alligator, snail, shark, frog legs, salmon, beef wellington, crab legs and much more. My boys did order more than one appetizer and more than one entrée every night. Whatever you do not like they can change or recook. Our wait staff always remembered what we liked to drink and had it ready time we sat down. I highly recommend every one to enjoy the dining room because it to me was the best part of the food on the ship.
The Guys burgers were wonderful and I really enjoyed the burrito bar and the taco bar. They also have a Wok bar and regular buffet on the Lido deck. I was not as impressed with the Lido deck food and found the fruit there many times was not very cold. We did use the room service several times and were very surprised and how quickly the food arrived.
Aruba was nice and we did not book the tour on the ship. As you are getting off the ship you will find tons of people offering tours. We found a guy doing them for $15 a person and we were gone for 4 hours. We went to the lighthouse, the "Stonehenge" area on the island, the Aloe factory all through the higher end of the island and got to go to Palm beach for two hours. A tour similar on the ship would have been 70.00. My kids were very surprised at how desolate the island was. You will see tons of cactus and dirt. Very little grass is on the island and there is only one cow on the entire island. The beaches are beautiful but do not expect a plush, tropical flowered island or you will be disappointed.
Curacao was awesome and we just walked to the town and toured the town and shops. They are so colorful and vibrant and we enjoyed just walking around. I heard several passengers on the ship talk about going to a beach snorkeling and that it was so clear and so amazing.
Grand Turk is where we did the power snorkeling over the area of the ocean where it drops from 200 to 7000 feet. I thought you could see more of the drop off but it just goes from where you can see the bottom to black. It was very pretty but I was a little disappointed we did not see more sea life. They take you out in a small boat about 200-300 feet out from shore and then you swim back and that is it. We had yellow tail snapper follow us and we did see one sting ray and one lion fish and coral. I was hoping to see more of variety of fish. I had thought we would get to snorkel about 2 hours but ended up being only about an hour. We did see a lot of the historical area of the island on the way back.
The shows in the ship were absolutely awesome and I was very impressed with the dancers and singers. They had comedians as well that tons of people went to see.
We did use the spa and it became quite expensive. They automatically add a 20% gratuity onto your bill so whatever you book know that they will add that and increase your fees. I only had one treatment and was disappointed that the lady that did the treatment had a cold and sniffed and coughed the whole time and I could not relax or enjoy it for fear of becoming sick with her cold. When I complained about it they did not even care. They did give her the next two days off sick but she had already treated me. I was very disappointed with the way the spa handled that.
Overall, I highly recommend this ship. The cabins were what you expect on a ship, but the beds were very comfortable and I enjoyed and used the robes in the room. The cruise director was good. For the money, you could have gotten a better vacation for your money including all the food we thoroughly enjoyed.