We are a family of 4(kids are 13 & 11) from NC. First I will say that Carnival charges $16 p/p each way for shuttle service from the airport to the port of Miami(that's $64 plus tip each way for us). Well, I did some checking and came across pctsdrives.com car service and for $75 each way, we requested a car(sedan) with meet & greet service. Well, we received a Ford Expedition Limo(each way) for the same price!!! I highly recommend them. Our cruise was fantastic! We got the Faster to the Fun ticket and it was worth it....no long lines checking in for the cruise, no long lines at the guest services desk, and quick disembarkation. My husband and I purchased the "Cheers" program and we got our money's worth. Mind you neither one of us got trashed, but we were able to enjoy numerous drinks without having to worry about it.
Our first lunch was at Guy's Burger Joint and it was great! The breakfast & lunch burritos were fantastic at the Blue Iguana Burrito Bar. Late night pizza was delicious! Out kids enjoyed the deli(open from 11am to 11pm) and the 24 hour soft serve ice cream and yogurt. We ate dinner in the Golden dining room every evening except the last night when we ate at the Emerald Room Steakhouse. The food in the dining room was average to good every night. I tried to have something new or different to eat each night. The food in the steakhouse was very good and expensive. Glad we saved that for the last night. We went to some shows, some comedy routines and heard some great music. We gambled a bit in the casino and danced in the night club. We never had lunch or dinner at the buffet, just breakfast.
Our 13 year old thoroughly enjoyed the kids club and she has made some great new friends. Our 11 year old was in a different kids club and he did not like it because he has a hard time making new friends. But he did enjoy wandering all around the ship and getting turkey wraps from the deli whenever he wanted. :-) Sorry this is one big long smushed together paragraph. We did not sign up for any short excursions, but we did partake in some. At Half Moon Cay(our favorite beach of all time) we did nothing but relax in the calm(no waves), clear, beautiful water. I brought a collapsible float which was very nice! Next was St. Thomas....Senor Frogs is right there when you get off the ship, but we never made it there. We rode the sky ride to the top and that was really neat. It costs about $20 each but you can ride as many times as you want during the day. We also walked to the Magic Ice museum in town. At Magic Ice we were able to put the charge onto our Carnival sign & sail cards, which was nice. We really enjoyed all the ice sculptures, ice slide and free rum shot(and get to keep the shot glass). Next stop was San Juan. After we got off the ship we walked along the waterfront and were approached by several different tour guides. San Juan tours started at $25 each and we kept walking until they were $10 each. The tour was on a shuttle bus with air conditioning and we got to see places we never would have seen on our own(Anthony Go Happy Tours). He dropped us off right by the old San Juan fort, which we toured. The fort was very interesting and hot! After that we had lunch at Moreno's Spot Bar & Grill(very convenient but DO NOT eat there!). The food was awful(frozen then fried). Next stop was Grand Turk where once again we just relaxed on the beach. The beach is right at Margaritaville restaurant, bar, pool and gift shop. Food, drinks and gift shop items were very, very pricey!!!! Go cheap and stop by the deli on the ship and take something with you to the beach. Also, the beach is very rocky, so I highly recommend water shoes and a float. Our room stewards(Elmer & Ari) were the BEST! I left a note the first day to remove items from mini fridge and put ice in our cooler and he did and he put ice in our cooler every day! The room stewards work so very hard and they are very friendly, as is everyone else that works for Carnival.