I booked a cruise for 10 couples more than a year ago by calling Carnival's toll-free number and talked to someone that was assigned as our group's PVP. He advised me what to do and kept in touch with me from time to time. Anytime I had any questions, I would call him. Sometimes he was hard to reach, but any Carnival cruise PVP could help me with my questions.
Our group is from northwestern Pennsylvania. Six couples chose to fly from Pittsburgh to Orlando the day before the cruise. The rest drove for various reasons. We all met at the Fairfield Inn (Orlando airport) where we stayed Friday evening - very nice hotel, close to airport (about a five minute drive by hotel shuttle), reasonably priced and included a nice breakfast buffet.
The couples who flew to Orlando took a hotel shuttle back to the Orlando airport where a bus from Mears Transportation picked us up and drove us to Port Canaveral. Bus transportation was arranged by our Carnival PVP. Round trip from airport to ship/from ship back to airport (after the cruise) was $58 pp. Trip was 50-60 minutes from airport.
Embarkation: Arrived at the ship at noon and by 12:40 p.m. was on the top deck eating in the Red Sail restaurant on deck 9. Kudos to Carnival for their smooth operation for embarkation. Beautiful terminal and a very helpful staff. One person in our group needed a wheel chair and the minute we got off the bus someone was there to take her and her roommate on board.
Arrived in Nassau, Bahamas. We decided not to take a tour since we only had five hours in Nassau. At the end of the pier, there were several islanders who had mini-vans and offered to take us on a tour of the island for $23 pp (round trip). He gave us a very informative tour (explained the history of the island, showed us the hospital where Anna Nicole Smith had her baby and even stopped at the Atlantis Casino on Paradise Island for an hour so we could gamble). We were back to the ship by 12:30 p.m. Ship left at 2 p.m.
Day at Sea. Deck chairs were at a premium around the pool, however,if you aren't going to do much swimming and just want to sun bathe, there were plenty of lounge chairs available on the jogging deck.
Plenty of other activities if you don't want to swim/sun bathe.
Captain's cocktail party (formal) was very nice. Free drinks and finger food was great!
Each evening Carnival's bulletin (Carnival Capers) is placed in your cabin so you can plan the next day's activities.
St. Thomas. Some in our group went on tours (Bluebeard's Castle, swimming with dolphins, island tour, etc.), however husband and I went shopping.
St. Maarten. Most beautiful island of all. Took a water taxi ($5 round trip) at the end of the pier to the shopping district. Did some sunbathing for two hours and shopped for another two hours. Best deals on jewelry, cigarettes, liquor are on St. Maarten. Husband bought six cartons of cigarettes for a total of $60. WOW!
Day at Sea (repeat of Monday) except dinner was another formal night.
Day at Sea (repeat of Monday).
Food: Our seating was at 6:15 p.m. in the Golden Dining Room. Nice menu to choose from. On lobster night, husband had three lobster tails. Prime rib melted in your mouth. Chicken was very good. If your a chocaholic, don't miss the chocolate melting cake for dessert. OUT OF THIS WORLD!
Pizza on deck 9 (aft) was great! Available 24 hours a day.
Hamburgers, french fries, steak sandwiches on deck 9 aft (near the aft swimming pool) was our preference for lunch each day, however, breakfast and lunch were also available in the Red Sail Restaurant on deck 9 and the Platinum dining room on deck 3 aft.
Beverages: If you like pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris, you must try a drink called "Miami Vice." It's a combination of the two (YUM). If your not a drinker, you can buy a beverage card for soft drinks, which is good all week for around $40. Iced tea, coffee lemonade and water are included with meals.
Rooms: We had a balcony room on deck 8 (mid-ship). It's worth the extra money for a balcony room. Would never do anything else!
Staff: Excellent cabin steward. Dining staff was top notch. Besides our $10 a day tip pp, we left our cabin steward and dining staff an extra tip for a "job well done."
Entertainment: Some good shows (Marcus Anthony) were great! Others just average:
Casino: Machines were very tight, however hubby did hit one jackpot, but put half of that back in.
Went to the conveyor belt to get luggage. Stood there 45 minutes and still couldn't find one of my suitcases. Finally, my husband and one of the porters went to a holding area and found my suitcase. While unloading the luggage, somehow the tag was torn off. Outside of that, disembarkation went smooth.
Mears Transportation has several busses running all day to pick up passengers to take them back to the airport.