My husband and I really enjoyed this itinerary. Carnival made our air arrangements and we arrived in San Juan about 3:40 on the same day the ship departed. We are platinum so there was a special room in the terminal to check in and it couldn't have been easier. In the room were complimentary sandwiches, pastries, and non-alcoholic beverages. This process went very quickly. We turned right around and walked about 4-5 blocks away to the CVS to buy some diet coke and water. (They also had what looked like a complete array of wine as well).
After checking out our balcony room we had our first dinner onboard (anytime) and were on our way. We didn't do any shows or welcome aboard shows. I just set up my internet time while aboard. (240 minutes for $89). We also went to the shore excursion desk to reconfirm our tours that we had pre-booked. Since we had $800 OBC this cruise, we had booked lots of shore excursions. Usually, we research the ports ahead and plan our own.
It was really nice that due to May being off season, we were the only big ship in all of our ports. This made the excursions a lot less crowded and the tour operators seemed to appreciate the business during their slower time.
First stop was St. Thomas. I did the beginners scuba diving. The drive over to the other coast for this (Coki Beach) really surprised me. I thought that since St. Thomas was "American" that there wouldn't be as much poverty visible but this was not the case. I was not able to complete the scuba dive (my ears were killing me at around 8-10 feet down) but I was happy that I tried it and I was able to snorkel the rest of the time. After I got back my husband and I walked into area surrounding the ship that had lots of touristy shops. I'm not a shopping type person and the only thing I bought was some sunscreen that I had forgotten to pack. I did enjoy walking through the local grocery though. On each one of the islands, I was told how expensive food is for them because almost everything has to be imported. And the prices I saw in the grocery certainly reflected this. We walked in the Wendy's nearby to use the restrooms and we were shocked at the high cost of just a simple single burger.
The next day (Tuesday) was a sea day (the only one of the cruise). We just did ordinary things like the brunch (much better than the daily breakfast selection) and the serenity deck.
On Wednesday, we were in Barbados. This shore excursion was our favorite. The company running it is called Tiami and they were a first class crew and gave great value for the money. We were on a catamaran and I think the name of the tour has turtles in the name. (too lazy to look it up). They put the sails up and we stopped in two places to snorkel. Unfortunately, most of the coral seems to be dead but I still saw lots of tropical fish, sea turtles, and some living coral. They served a substantial buffet meal of jerk chicken, fried fish, mac and cheese, rice, salad, and lemon and chocolate cake for dessert. After everyone was done snorkeling, the bar was open and you could add additional rum to the punch if it wasn't strong enough. One of our favorite parts was that the sails were up headed back and it was exhilarating to stand on the top deck with the wind blowing and the sails out.
On Thursday, we were in St. Lucia and we did the Ultimate zip lining adventure (with hiking and tram ride). They started with the tram ride up and down through the rain forest. The guide was very knowledgeable and even knew the Latin names for all the plants and trees. Got to see a mongoose which was cool. The mongoose is one of the few animals on the island that are not protected. They have become a pest (they like chickens too) and they would like to see them disappear as they were artificially introduced to the island. Next we did the zip lining. I think there were 9 different stations and some were a bit challenging (rapelling down a rope was one) but it was all fun. They had a fruit punch drink at the end for everyone.
On Friday we were in St. Kitts. We didn't have a shore excursion planned but at the end of the dock there was a taxi station and we booked an around the island tour that was 2 1/2 hours guided tour. Our guide was Mr. Barry and he was a good guide. Our tour ended up being an hour longer because some in the van wanted to go to a certain beach (they had to pay more) but because we didn't ask for it, we just paid the $20. On this unplanned detour we got to see Timothy (point? beach?) which was the prettiest viewpoint on their entire cruise. Drop dead gorgeous!
On Saturday, we were in St. Maartens. Because my husband used to sail a long time ago, I talked him into doing the racing sailboats (America's cup style) and he loved every minute of it. His job was as a grinder (changing the position of the sails). I didn't go because I easily get seasick. I had booked a kayaking tour but only five people signed up for it so they canceled it. At the last minute, I booked another catamaran snorkel tour and this one was not nearly as good as the one in Barbados. The rum punch didn't even taste good and there was a very small sub they gave every one at the end that didn't even seem as if it had been chilled for the entire trip. The snorkeling though was similar to what we saw in Barbados. Lots of dead coral. We did see tropical fish and a few live coral. They moored near a beach and people had the option to swim to the beach and sun themselves.
In all except one port our balcony (portside) we were able to watch the "runners" come in late. It is so irritating to see how people just amble in to the ship and don't care if they are causing worry to the crew that people might have to be left behind.
One new thing that we had never had before was the Tasting Bar. It was pretty good and I like that they have added these. On the Valor, they did it every other day.
We didn't eat in Rosie's (Lido buffet) any more than we had to because it feels like such a cattle call but the lines were never too long. I wish Carnival hadn't done away with the sit-down lunch every day. I also wish they would add some new foods to their breakfast menu (dining room). I'm getting bored with the same ole, same ole. I ate once in the Mongolian grill--it was good as always but the long time to wait in line is a bummer.
The customer service from guest services was good as always and being Platinum is a huge bonus because we have our own line and they were very attentive to us.