We arrived at Port Everglades at around 10:30 am and were quickly processed and allowed to board the ship. We were told they were having an early embarkation day. By 11 am we were sitting on the Lido Deck eating lunch! We enjoyed sitting around watching people board and took the early embarkation time to walk around and get acquainted with the ship. We weren't permitted to go to our cabins until after 1 pm. No problem, there was plenty to see.
We booked an 8A balcony cabin and were given #6485, a nice aft cabin. We were very pleased with the size of the room and balcony. Aft balconies are about 4 ft. longer than the side balconies. The only negative thing I can say about aft balconies is that there is not a lot of airflow and it tends to get very hot! We didn't spend nearly as much time as I hoped on it due to the extreme heat and lack of a breeze.
Our cabin steward, Carlos, was great. He kept everything nice and neat. My husband and I thoroughly loved the bed and linens and looked forward to going to bed as much as we looked forward to the shows. These beds are incredible! There were several large and noisy groups on our ship this time which made going to bed early nearly impossible, but once we did fall asleep, it was heaven!!!
At our first port, San Juan, we chose not to book a tour and just walk around the port area and shop, sightsee, etc. I can't say we were too impressed with this area. Once you see one shop, you've seen them all in my opinion. We did find a small park area where a man had about 200 pigeons around him. He had rice in his hand and the pigeons flocked on and around him. When I took a picture of him, he came up to me and put a little of the rice in my hand and, sure enough, the pigeons flocked to me!!! It was freaky at first because I didn't want bird poop all over me, but after a while it was just fun and a great photo opportunity...no poop in sight. We passed him a buck and he was very grateful.
In St. Thomas we took a pre-arranged tour with Godfrey Tours. Since I used his services before I knew it was going to be a nice tour and I wasn't disappointed. He took us on a tour of the island, shopping, andto Sapphire Beach. Beautiful! We were back in plenty of time to hit the shops nearby the ship. I highly recommend Godfrey Tours.
In Antigua we took a pre-arranged tour with Gordon - Premier Tours. He was very knowledgeable and took pride in his service. The sights were breathtaking; loved Devil's Bridge and the scenery all around. It was interesting to see goats roaming freely and cows tethered in fields. Gordon provided us with delicious homemade snacks/sodas and even provided a local soda - coconut water - for us to try. Again, highly recommend.
In Tortola we didn't have any plans. Instead we chose to get off the ship and take a taxi to see the island. I'm sure we could have negotiated a cheaper price, but we didn't bother. For $20 pp we basically did the same as the other islands...tour, shopping, and a beach stop. We chose not to go to the beach and returned to the ship. If we had wanted to the driver would have dropped us off at the beach and returned to pick us up at no additional cost.
In Nassau we took a pre-arranged tour with Barefoot Sailing Charters. It was a very nice trip on a sailboat. The sailboat was equipped with 2 bathrooms. We had an amazing snorkeling experience where we witnessed not only beautiful coral and fish but also a nurse shark and small stingray! We were served non-alcoholic beverages on the way to the reef (Rose Island) and cheese/crackers and rum punch on the way back to port. Very nice guys and recommended. I would also highly recommend Stuart Cove's Snorkel Bahamas. They are not available for afternoon tours, unfortunately. I highly recommend them for snorkeling and diving!!!
We chose to do self-debarkation and were off the ship by 8 am. I believe the ship has all their passengers cleared by no later than 10 am. It took us only about 10 minutes to get to the airport.
This was a very nice cruise despite it being a sold-out cruise and it being overrun by groups that had no respect for other people. Not everyone in those groups acted selfishly. Unfortunately, the ones that did caused a lot of frustration to guests and Carnival workers alike.
Our next cruise will, most likely, be with Carnival since we enjoy the itineraries, activities, and value. We will, however, research the number of groups traveling and the number of teens. I saw no issues with younger children, only the teens that were mostly unsupervised.