Returned from this cruise this morning. I sailed with my mother, one of my girlfriends and my 20 month old daughter.
We chose this itinerary specifically because we live in MA and the NYC departure appealed to us. It was SUPER easy to get to, but even with the three hour drive, we opted to stay in a hotel the night before just to make the morning we boarded much easier. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Yonkers and it was the perfect pre-cruise hotel. Nice, safe area. Less than 30 minutes to the port with little to no traffic - and we avoided dealing with Manhattan parking and prices. We even went through Yonkers on the way home and avoided a ton of traffic that would have been on 95. We did park at the cruise port though, that was $320 for the week. But again, not dealing with airfare and flying made that well worth it for us.
We were in Cabin 7317. It was a suite with a balcony, which we spent most of our time on. For a suite, it seemed small. I've been on 6 cruises More
now, and this was the smallest suite I've seen. The balcony was a good size, but we found mold under our deck chair cushions - along with a pacifier that was NOT my daughters. Thank goodness SHE didn't find it or that thing would have gone straight into her mouth, ha.
Our housekeeping staff was top notch. Always so nice and helpful and very quick with any request.
We had two at sea days before we reached our first stop. This was when I realized Carnival probably wasn't my bag. The ship is PACKED. The Lido deck is a nightmare. Getting anything quick to eat is next to impossible. The pools are overflowing with people, every deck chair is taken. Trying to maneuver anywhere with my daughter in a public place was incredibly stressful.
I also felt like there just wasn't much to do during sea days. I typically love the spa, but I got a mani/pedi the first day and it was such a put off the way the woman doing my nails just kept trying to sell me products and more and more services. I just wanted to relax, not feel like I was dealing with a pushy car salesperson. I went to work out in the gym, all the treadmills were usually taken, (but good for people being fitness minded!) We seriously ended up on our balcony reading almost every day.
The ports were what you make of them. San Juan was a blast. So much history and I love just walking around Old Town. We went up to the fort, had a great dinner after, then took in some shopping. St Thomas, we opted to grab a cab to Lindbergh Beach. Trust me - head there. It's less crowded, there is shade, beach chairs, beautiful water and hardly any PEOPLE. Magen's is stunning, but EVERYONE is there.
Grand Turk, we went for the cabana rental at Margaritaville. If my daughter wasn't with us, I probably would have been a little more adventurous. The $129 for the rental is well worth it if you're a group of four like us - and especially if you're super irish and don't want to get charred on your vacation. It's a party spot and super cheesy, so just be ready for that. I had thought it was closer to the beach, so that was kind of a bummer, but I'll remember it for next time.
We had early dining on the ship. The waitstaff was amazing and the food was delicious. I'd heard bad things so had some reservations about this, but truly, the dinners were all more than adequate. And if you don't like something, they're happy to bring you something else. We did the steakhouse one night and it was some of the best food I'd had anywhere - let alone on a cruise ship.
Overall, I had a lovely time on this trip. We got a great deal and knew full well the week would be what ever we made of it. I think, ultimately, I need something a little more sophisticated than what Carnival offers, so will probably try a new cruise line next. I've had great luck with Royal Caribbean in the past, but for the price point and proximity to our home, I thought I'd give this a try. Less
Carnival Splendor Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean