We just returned from our first cruise ever on Carnival Breeze, which went to St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, and Grand Turk. This was such an amazing vacation! We could have stayed another 8 days! The ship was very clean and organized. Embarking in Miami was smooth. Two days at sea allowed us to get acquainted with the ship. There was plenty to do onboard from the casino, to the comedy club, to nightclubs, to live music, to the water park with 2 waterslides and a splash zone, to the 2 outdoor pools and numerous hot tubs. Jimmy's BBQ was available for lunch on sea days only, which was very tasty. Our head waitress, Toshi, in the Sapphire dining room was fabulous! She's so friendly and we looked forward to her excellent service every night! The food onboard was great! We had so many choices. Breakfast was always great with many selections to choose from. The omlets were made to order. Lunch was also great with Guys burgers, burritos, Mongolian, or the buffet. Dinner was amazing every night and the service was excellent. Our cruise director, Matt Mitcham was excellent! He always kept us laughing and was so energetic. Just an all around nice guy! The entire crew onboard went 'overboard' on their service. (pun intended!) Beware when you disembark on St. Kitts! You will be approached by locals with their monkeys! They're so cute, but when you take pictures of them, you will owe money to the owners! (they don't tell you until after you have taken pictures! 3 pics for $10!) But it is a beautiful place. Hiring a taxi is the best way to tour the island. St. Maarten/St. Martin is by far the most beautiful place ever! The people are extremely friendly. We did not book an excursion through Carnival for this island. Instead, we got into a taxi and toured the entire island for a lot less money and a much greater tour than you would get if you were on a big bus. In San Juan, we opted for the Carnival excursion tour of the Bacardi factory, since we were only in port from 7am til 2pm. and wanted to be guaranteed to see at least some of the island. It was a nice tour, but over priced and didn't allow for enough time to visit the town for shopping or sightseeing. Grand Turk was exquisite! We stayed on the beach at the port and visited Margaritaville and swam in the ocean nearly all day, which is something I don't like to do since you get sticky from the salt water, but this was an exception. The water was refreshing all day and no sticky feeling! Both sides of this port are Carnival owned so they provide free chairs on the beach. The only complaint I have is that the announcements are hard to hear over the loudspeakers and the cruise line doesn't tell you anything about where you are, what you are looking at, or where you're going. So it's up to you to do your homework ahead of time or watch the TV station in your cabin to let you know the course you're on. All in all, this was a fantastic first cruise!
Grand Turk was exquisite! We stayed on the beach at the port and visited Margaritaville and swam in the ocean nearly all day, which is something I don't like to do since you get sticky from the salt water, but this was an exception. The water was refreshing all day and no sticky feeling! The white, sandy beach feels cool on your feet! Both sides of this port are Carnival owned so they provide free chairs on the beach right under the coconut trees! Make sure you locate the 'beached whale' on the west side of the port. There you'll find some NASA artifacts as well as a wedding chapel and is an excellent place to find huge conk shells! Also, be sure to visit Margaritaville and swim to the pool bar for a refreshing drink!
We booked this excursion through Carnival simply because we were only in port from 7am til 2pm and we wanted to be sure to have enough time to see some of the city as well as make it back to the ship on time. When booking excursions through the cruise line, they guarantee not to leave you behind! We rode a 50 passenger bus through Old San Juan and were given a small amount of history. The Bicardi Rum distillery tour was ok. Our tour guide there was in such a hurry to pass people through that he made us leave some of the rooms before we got to see the artifacts and smell all the different rums. The two drinks they give you at the end of the tour were amazing! We also got to see some bearded dragons walking in the parking lot. We had limited time to see or shop at any of the local stores, which was a huge disappointment. This port was one I was really looking forward to visiting. Hindsight says I wouldn't book this tour again! Way overpriced, since the Bicardi tour is free and the bus ride was not that interesting. Looks like I'll have to book another cruise there!
Beware when you disembark on St. Kitts! You will be approached by locals with their monkeys! They're so cute, but when you take pictures of them, you will owe money to the owners! (they don't tell you until after you have taken pictures! 3 pics for $10!) But it is a beautiful place. Hiring a taxi is the best way to tour the island. We took an island tour through Jim and Rose Tours in an air conditioned van. Rose was very knowledgeable about the history and took us to the rain forest, the Batik factory, an old fort, and many abandoned sugar plantations. We fell in love with her English accent! Any by the way, they drive on the wrong (left) side of the road as they do in Europe! The steering wheel was on the right side of the van and the passenger doors were on the left. There weren't many traffic signs or lights but somehow collisions are rare. Rose took us to buy a cold, fresh coconut to drink/eat. We stopped at Black Rock beach for some fun in the sun. Our adult children got to accidentally swim with a shark (a small sand shark) and it didn't cost extra! A very fun and enlightening tour!
We chose to hire a taxi for a tour around the island. It was much cheaper than booking through the cruise line and according to what we've been told, a much better value since you get to see a lot more of the island in a van versus a big bus. Our tour guide was very friendly, knowledgeable and funny. He took us to all the points of interest on both the Dutch and French sides. He initially bypassed the 'fun beach' which is clothing optional, since a child was on this tour, but after we stopped at Bikini Beach, he took only the grown-ups over to the 'fun beach' and we later rejoined the child and his parents and resumed our tour. This is truly an amazingly beautiful place and the native people are extremely friendly.