Travel day & Embarkation: We traveled from Memphis to Fort Lauderdale on the day of our cruise. We had an early flight of 6:00 am which put us into FLL at 10:50 plenty of time to make it to the Port of Miami. Once we had arrived and rounded up our luggage we waited for Sun and Moon Express to pick us up and take us to the Cruise Terminal. After a short 45 min ride we arrived at the terminal. At almost 12:00 now I would have thought that most of the previous passengers would have been gone by now but apparently there was an issue with the debarkation. While feeling bad for the previous passengers little did I know of the huge crowd that was inside the terminal; waiting to get on the ship. We gave our bags to the porter and headed into the terminal. Once through security we headed upstairs and found what appeared to be controlled chaos. All the seats were taken and the floor was filling up. Even inside the VIP area there was no where to sit. After about a 45 minute wait we were finally allowed to board the ship to start our cruise.
Once a aboard we did our normal activities of getting some excursions taken care of, checking our seating arrangements at dinner, eating lunch and grabbing our first Carnival drink of the day. While I was having lunch and having a drink I recognized a waiter on the deck from a previous cruise I had been on. Mate is his name and he recognized me as well and we struck up a friendly conversation of how things had been since we had last seen each other. It was good to see Mate and it was now time to start getting ready for the Muster Drill. Muster drill was called and away we went to our muster station. Now during our muster drill the ship started to pull away from the port, this really is something I look forward to and hate it when the ship pulls out during the muster drill. By the time I had gotten back up on deck we had already sailed half way down the channel and missed half the fun. We made the best of it and went on to explore the ship. Since we had been several Conquest Class ship and one other Destiny Class ship we pretty much knew our way around. We had now started our Cruise and it was time to start relaxing.
First Day: Half Moon Cay, since this was our first day we decided to that we would relax. So we rented one of the Cabanas for the day. What a great decisions this was. I would highly recommend this to anyone that just wants to relax. They provided us with 2 bottles of water, 6 soft drinks, fruit and vegetable try, chips and salsa and 4 towels. Each Cabana comes with 4 float mats, 2 loungers, a table for four and your own shower to removed the sand and salt water when you come back to relax in the cabana. If you want bar service you will need to find a beer stand, go to the bar or wait for one wait staff to come to you. One word of warning since the staff has to bring over all the liquor, beer and other items, your selection of alcohol and beer is very limited. If I am not mistaken they only had 3 types of beer: Budweiser, Miller Lite and Heineken drinks are confined to Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada. We absolutely loved Half Moon Cay and can't wait to go back.
Second Day: Sea Day, Just another day of relaxing in the sun. This is the first formal night and the Captain's party. Which we did attend both and thoroughly enjoyed. The lobster was done to perfection. After dinner it was to the Oxford lounge for some Jazz and Cigars. The 2 waitress Lidija and Oleshia were there to great us with a smile and wonderful service. After a few hours here it was off to bed and our next port of call.
Third Day: St Thomas, since we had been here numerous times we decided that we would strike our on our own and not do any excursions and make our way to Trunk Bay on St. Johns Island. This proved to me a little more difficult than expected. The first hurdle we had to over come was getting a taxi to take us to Red Hook to catch the ferry. Not sure when it happened on St Thomas but the cab drivers have gotten to where they think they are more important than the customer. We were told to wait in the cab until they got more passengers. While I generally don't have problem with this but making some one wait for 20 minutes is a bit much. We finally told them that we had enough and went just outside the Havensight mall and found a taxi cab driver that was more than willing to take us right then and there. So the ride to Red Hook took about 15 minutes and then the wait for the ferry was another 30 minutes and we were off to St Johns. Once we got to St Johns there were plenty of cabs waiting to take you were ever you wanted to. What a beautiful place Trunk Bay is, the water was glass clear, soft sand and a view to die for. I can't really think of too many places that I would call paradise but this is one of them.
After a few hours in Trunk Bay is was back to St Thomas to do some shopping and Paradise Point. We decided that we would try to take the ferry that goes back to Charlotte Amalie instead of Red Hook to see what the difference in cost and time was. The cost actually is cheaper, time is roughly the same and having to not wait for the taxis to fill is a plus I would highly recommend the route if you are trying to get to St Johns. After a bit of shopping and Paradise point it was time to get back on the ship and make way to our next port of call San Juan.
Fourth Day: San Juan, Not too sure why but Carnival had very little to offer in the form of excursions. So again we decided to strike out on our own and what better to see than the old town and the 2 forts. To get to the forts the National park service offers free tram rides to the forts. They pick up about a block down and across the street from where Carnival docks. They run about every 30 to 45 minutes and will take you either El Morros or San Cristobal. It costs $4 person for one fort or $5 for both. The tram will take you from one to the other or you can walk if you don't mind a bit of foot time. So after visiting the forts we went shopping in the old city. After a bit of shopping and seeing the sites of the old city it was time for some lunch. Being that we never been to San Juan before we decided to try some local dishes and made our way to Cafe Mofongos for what else but Mofongos. Not knowing what a Mofongos was I was a bit unsure but customers and the wait staff reassured me and I am glad they did. This is one of those dishes that I will look forward to when ever I happen upon a Puerto Rican restaurant in the future. Since this is such a short day it was time to board the ship and head to the next port. The people where always so pleasant and helpful I think I will have to come back here again in the future for a bit longer.
Fifth Day: Grand Turk, We arrived in Grand Turk a bit late due to some rough seas the night before but the Captain was nice enough to give some extra time in port. While my wife and I normally take our excursions together here we didn't. I wanted to get some snorkel time and she wanted some beach time. So this port worked out well for us. With Grand Turk having the third largest barrier reef it would have been a shame not to snorkel here. I took the ultimate snorkel tour offered by Carnival which took you 2 different snorkeling sites. The sites were absolutely some of the best site I have ever been to. The coral was so full of life; from pair of friendly barracuda to a whole host of fish and other sea life. I would highly recommend going on this excursion to anyone who remotely likes to snorkel. Well after the snorkeling was down it was time to meet back up with my wife and get something to eat. Since there wasn't much in way of eateries in the area of the cruise dock we decided to eat at Jimmy Buffet's place. The place was packed but after a few minutes of waiting we were seated. There really isn't much I can about Jimmy Buffet place that would be nice, I will just say that I won't be going there again ever. I truly enjoyed my visit to Grand Turk and look forward to my return one day. After lunch it was time to head back to ship and get ready for the last Formal Night.
Sixth Day: Sea Day, Well with the cruise coming close to an end it was time to get our last bit of sun and start packing. We didn't do much this other than do some last minute shopping and relax.
Seventh Day: Debarkation Day, I truly wish that Carnival would get its act together when it come to debarkation and setting a standard across the board on how they are going to debark the guest. This way everyone can be on the same page. The reason was an issue was due the fact of seeing all those previous passengers still waiting at the terminal when I arrived due to a snafu during previous debarkation I was a bit worried about my own flight. So after listening to Matt Ross's debarkation speech I was a bit confused about who would be let off first. Since I did have priority 1 debarkation for being VIP I could have gone either way. So I went and asked the purser and was told the self debark would be first off. So that is how I chose to debark. So when Matt Ross came on and called for priority 1 and no self assist, it messed up the plans to get to the airport. I finally just got up and headed to the gangway so as to not miss my flight.
The Ship: I thought the ship was in fantastic shape, I have heard that there was some issues with the pool.
The Crew: The service was top notch from Bar Waitress getting Mojitos from another bar for me; to my dinning room wait staff not ever letting my glass get half full.
The Summary: What a fantastic cruise I would take this cruise again in a heartbeat and probably will. I can't express what a wonderful time we had.
Other Observations: Purchasing Alcohol: Of all 3 island stops St Thomas is the most expensive while Grand Turk is the least.