This was our first cruise aboard a Carnival ship. The cruise from beginning to end was GREAT!! Although my husband and I have cruised before this was the first for our 11y/o son.
We booked our cruise directly with a Carnival Cruise Planner. He was fabulous. He sent me follow up emails prior to our sailing date and answered any crazy question that I had.
Our sailing date (5/19) arrived and we got to the port at 12pm for a 4pm sailing. Embarkment was a little crazy and could have been organized better, but it was a small price to pay for a fabulous vacation. It took us (me, husband & son) about an hour and 15 minutes to get onto the ship.
Upon entering we were completely amazed at the dEcor of the ship. We were directed to our room by various crewmembers. When we arrived at our door, we were greeted by our room steward, who wrote down our names, dinner time and asked if there was anything special that we would like in our room. He then excused himself to meet other guests.
Our room: When I booked originally with our vacation planner, I booked and inside guarantee. When we got on the ship we had been upgraded to an outside-obstructed view with French doors. Be aware that this type of room does not have a balcony but it has French doors that open inward and a railing just on the other side of the doors so that you can get fresh air but you have a view of a life boat. Personally, I didn't mind because I had originally booked an inside stateroom so any outside sunshine was a huge bonus. The size of the stateroom was good. It was roomy enough for the 3 of us, and really the only thing that you do is sleep in the room so how much more could you possibly need. There were 3 decent size closets for hanging and shelves in one of them for folded items. The vanity/desk had 5 draws as well and the sofa/extra bed had an additional 2 drawers under it. Just to give you an idea about storage, we had 5 suitcases, 2 duffel bags, 1 garment bag and 2 carry on bags and there was plenty of storage for everything, including the luggage. Just a tip, the hairdryer is in the top drawer of the vanity and it's just as powerful as the one at home, so there is no need to pack one.
After we checked out our room we were directed up to the Lido deck for lunch and cocktails. We all found plenty to eat. I can't complain at all about the food. After filling our bellies we began exploring the ship, we soon realized that the dEcor was larger than life. Some people thought that it was tacky but I don't think that those people realized that each room was a story, which, is the theme of the ship. The woman on the elevator doors is the storyteller.The decor:
I could go on and tell you about each room and how awe inspiring it was, all I will say is that each room is unique and beautiful in its own way. Don't expect to find the ship decorated like your house. Enjoy eating under the grape vines in the Bacchus Room, take a short walk thru Gatsby's Garden, or sip (FREE) champagne in the Mad Hatter while bidding on great works of art. You're on vacation, enjoy the unusual!
We only ate breakfast in the Bacchus room once, the rest of the time we had the breakfast buffet. Breakfast on the lido deck was standard, toast, scrambled eggs, pancakes, grits, bacon, sausage and omelets. Lunch was also always eaten on the Lido deck. My son LOVED the burgers and the 24-hour pizza. Each day the lunch buffet had a different theme. One day it was Greek, then Indian, then American, and Mexican. They even did a chocolate fondue fountain! Dinner in the Bacchus Dining room was amazing. We tried foods that we had never had before. I'm not a beef eater but you must try the beef Wellington. It was truly phenomenal. We had no complaints about the food there was plenty to choose from for adults, children, vegetarians and weight watchers. The menu offers a "spa" food choice. The spa choice is low calorie and low fat. The service in the dining room as well as on the Lido deck was great. All servers and waiters were very attentive to your needs. Our waiter Miguel and his assistant Heri were excellent. They always knew what we were going to like on the menu
We skipped most of the evening shows because we found Buster Freese in Sam's Piano Bar. If you are the type of person who can enjoy an off color, politically in-correct entertainer then I highly recommend pulling up a chair at the piano bar. This guy is so entertaining and addicting that you will want to go see him every night! There were plenty of organized activities during the day to keep even the pickiest person occupied. There is no way that you won't find something to do.
All I have to say is, our son woke up every morning looked at the kid's daily activities and was off doing his thing until dinner. After dinner he was back out with his new friends again. His review of this vacation was…."I'm ready to go again tomorrow!"
We have always found that we have a better time and see more when we didn't do an excursion. If you do an excursion be prepared to go to the touristy spots. If you do it on your own we have found that you get to see areas that the excursions would never take you to.San Juan- We could have done without this stop. We found it to be dirty and uninviting. You get into port at 3pm and by 5pm all of the shops are closed. We saw Fort Morro. Be prepared to wear your walking shoes. This is probably the only port that I would recommend an excursion.
St. Thomas- This port is GORGEOUS! While most people went to Coki Beach (tourist trap) we went to Meagans Bay. Taxi ride was $8.00/pp and it’s a $1.00 admission fee into the beach but well worth it. This beach is actually rated as 1 of the top 10 beaches in the world. It was not over crowded and you can rent beach chairs and snorkels. I opted to do my shopping at the port side shops. They had really good prices on everything from knick-knacks to jewelry.
Tortola- This port was just as beautiful. The views from the mountains are absolutely breath taking. This was a short port day so plan wisely. Again, we opted not to take an excursion. We found a cab driver and asked him to take us to a “locals” beach and that’s exactly what he did. He took us to Brewers Bay/Beach. We got to the beach at 8:30am and stayed until 11am we were literally the only people on the beach aside from the man who owns the beach rental/beverage stand. The taxi ride was $9.00/pp. Because you are literally in the middle of nowhere, if you choose to go to this beach arrange with the taxi driver to pick you up at a specific time and tell him that you will pay him for both rides when he picks you up. Most of them will be happy to do this because it guarantees him a fare and then you can rest assured that you will be picked up. The snorkeling at this beach was unbelievable. On the way back to the port is a small “flea market” this is a good place to buy the “Touristy souvenirs” They all sell basically the same thing so this is a good place to bargain.
All in all this was a fabulous vacation for the entire family. Disregarding any negative feedback or reviews that you may have heard or read, this cruise was an excellent value for the cost.
Enjoy your cruise, you’re gonna love it!