We had a fabulous cruise. Only a couple of issues. We generally like RCL ship better but chose Carnival because the ports are better.
embarkation: Flew in the day before. They have lost a bag flying before so if we hadn't flew the day before I wouldn't have received my bag until the first port. We also always fly into Ft Lauderdale because Miami is always a nightmare. Got to the port around 1:00p.m, and missed the crowd. First of all I have to have a small fan when I sleep. After carefully checking the website and calling, I found they allow them. I put it in my carry-on only to get stopped my security that claims they "do NOT allow them, period". The "however" on the website allows them to say this. We got it taken and told it would be delivered last day of the cruise. I cried for 3 hours, ruined my cruise. Also, saw bottle after bottle of alcohol get taken. When I took my sheet of paper to guest services to try to retrieve my fan he first thought my form was for alcohol. He told me I never should have put alcohol in my carry-on, always put it in my checked bag I leave at the dock and it wouldn't have been taken. This was also true with the fan. I will not go into the result of the fan as I am taking this up with Carnival corporate. Note, please put all items in your checked bags at the port. Security will take everything.
oSoda package is well worth it. The alcohol pass was not worth it to us. My husband drinks alot and would work for him however; everyone in the same stateroom has to purchase it and I am not a big drinker so we did not do it. You can only sign up for the alcohol pass the first day and you have to purchase it the entire cruise, not just certain days. We also took a 12 pack of water to our room.
Room: we had a suite and have 3 electrical plugs. We did take extenders and extension cords due to my husbands c-pap machine. The plugs don't reach anywhere and in odd locations. The soap they provide it the worst thing I have ever tried, please bring a bar of soap. A/c worked great and in fact got cold at night. as great and no issues. Also, no alarm clock. I hear people say your don't need one but I don't turn my phone on so yes you do to get to dinner, activities and ports. Alot of people say they leave the balcony door open to hear the waves at night....the a/c cuts off the minute you open the balcony door and it gets hot and humid. I would love to know the trick to keeping the a/c on..... Also keep your "snoozing" sign on the door when you are in your room to avoid the steward walking in or knocking. Our steward told us that trick several yrs ago, works great. don't forget to bring a trash bag for dirty clothes and plastic bags for wallet if you go to the beach. Fridge never seemed to get real cold.
Laundry: there is a laundry room on the ship (most floors). They also have soap for purchase. Free ironing board in the laundry room as well.
Ship: It came out of dry dock 2 weeks prior. Great job. They say the ship is older but except for the layout I couldn't tell. Ladies, some areas of the ship were very cold, I would suggest bringing a sweater if you stay cold.
Tip: do not use a debit card on board. Use an actual credit card. Your money will be all tied up for over a week once you return home.
Pool: Pool was completely filled the first 2 sea days by 9:00a.m. you could find a few chairs but no view to see the activities after 9. The contests were great/funny. Music was very loud but also great music. Please remember to put your sunscreen on at least 15 minutes prior to going out in the sun. Alot of people applied it when they got out in the sun and were burned. The 2 bars by the pool were also a great added feature. Really enjoyed that. Smokers can only smoke upper deck on the starboard side. Please buy the pool towel clips to hold the towel at the top of the chair.I think Bed,bath and beyond sells them. The ship is extremely windy on deck and the towel keeps falling. Also, the kids slide was closed 2 out of 3 sea days for wind. This happens on almost every cruise I have been on and kids are upset.
Adult only pool was a lot of older people, I did see a baby get in the "adult only" pool and no one said anything. Pool was nice but boring.
Casino: Yes there is smoking on one end of the bar and half the casino. I get upset that smokers are treated second class and people are always complaining about it and I don't even smoke myself. Hubby does. Won money playing blackjack. And there is no free drinks when you gamble. Casino band was awesome. The bartenders were very slow and you felt you had to tackle someone for a drink. Hit or miss
Kids: this cruise did not have a lot of kids. The ones we did have were not out of control and very respectful. No running and screaming down the halls or anything. Although when the kids are out of school I am sure that will change. Seemed to have a great time in Camp Carnival.
Food: The food has changed over the past 13 cruises we have done. They really push the specialty places to eat. The Steakhouse was exceptional!!! The food in the dining room is good but certainly not 5 star dining. We never had bad food. Although, it has changed I would never not cruise because of the food. Guys burgers, blue iguana, pizza and buffet were all good. Also please call and make reservations for the Steakhouse the minute you get on the ship, they fill up very quickly. The place is always half empty so not sure why. They do enforce the dress code there just not in the main dining room. It's vacation and time is too short to worry about other people not following the rules, just blow it off. Nothing you can do.
People that I saw were dressed appropriate. A few men and woman wore shorts but "dress" shorts. We do the anytime dining which works out better for us.
St Maarten: took a cab to Maho Beach to watch the planes land and take off. That was the highlight of my trip. Sunset Beach is the place to eat and they have a bar and chair rental. I could have stayed their a week. Great shopping port. I like this one the best, more unique jewelry and better prices. Ate a late lunch at the Greenhouse.
St Thomas: rented a car at the pier. Went to the fort and 99 steps. We have also taken the skyride up the mountain and ate, drank and took amazing pictures. Shopping, driving around. Jen's cafe is good and the Greenhouse is also great place to eat.
San Juan: we visited both forts and loved it. Got great pictures and was awesome to see. Then went shopping (wasn't good) and ate lunch at the recommended Barrachina (home of the pina colada). Great local food, shrimp creole.
Bahamas: private island. I had booked a massage on the beach thru the ships spa only to find they never showed up. When I returned to the ship I was told they don't go on the beach....funny how the 2 rooms had tables set up and the a/c blasting with signs saying massage area. I was not happy to say the least.
It rained the entire time so we had a drink at the bar and went back to the ship. Not a fan of private islands, I like actual ports better.
Disembarkation: we had group 1. You can exit the ship anytime during or anytime after your group is called. We left our stateroom at 8:15 and had breakfast and then got off the ship. No wait and super easy.
Customs did not look at anything we claimed.
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