We flew from Richmond, VA to Orlando the day before the cruise left. We rented a car from Budget at Orlando Int'l Airport, and drove to Port Canaveral, where we spent the night at the Radisson Resort at the Port. The hotel is very nice, and we had a nice relaxing evening on Friday night before the cruise.
Saturday, April 17, we had a nice leisurely breakfast, and returned the car to Budget, which is about a block away from the hotel. Budget's shuttle took us to the port, which was very busy, as the cruise before us was a little late in releasing its passengers. We had booked our cruise through the internet, and had a wonderful experience. We also booked a balcony guarantee this time around. Once we got our baggage out of the shuttle, we told the porter that we had a guarantee, and what our last name was. He looked on the manifest to give us our cabin number. We were thrilled to be upgraded 2 categories from the minimum we asked for! The hitch was that there was another family with the same last name as ours, so he gave us the wrong cabin number. Luckily, their cabin was 3 doors down from ours, so we could grab our luggage when it came to their cabin.
The "Fun Pass" lines were long, but moved quickly. The only advantage, it seems, to filling out your "Fun Pass" info ahead of time is that it saves time once you get to the desk. Total time to embark (from shuttle drop off to getting on the ship) was 25 minutes. Not bad!
We loved our balcony room! We'll never go back to any other kind of cabin after having the balcony. It was so nice to sit out and relax, and to order room service to have a nice, quiet meal on the balcony.
The seas were pretty rough the first 2-3 days of the cruise, but this is not the ship's fault. My husband and I normally do not have problems with seasickness, but we felt pretty woozy.
Nassau, Bahamas was very nice. We took a Carnival excursion to Blue Lagoon, and just relaxed on the beach. We had our first formal night later that day, and the seas were pretty rough again, so I could not eat my lovely-looking prime rib. My husband had no problem eating, but I noticed others were looking a little "green around the gills" too.
We enjoyed St. Thomas. We arranged for a "Non-Carnival" excursion with Godfrey's Tours. Godfrey was prompt, courteous, informative and accommodating. I would recommend his island tour highly.....it gives you a good overview of St. Thomas. He'll even drop you off at one of the beaches to swim for a couple of hours, and then pick you up, and return you to the ship in plenty of time for departure. He charges $20 per person for the whole trip. Can't beat that!
We liked St. Martin/Sint Maarten the best. It has a little more of a European flair since it's half Dutch, half French. We took the Carnival excursion "St. Martin Island Tour". It is a bus tour that takes you around the entire island, and allows 45 minutes for shopping in Marigot, on the French side. Joselin, our guide, was WONDERFUL!! We left around 9am and got back by noon, so we went aboard the ship, ate lunch, changed into our swimsuits, and took the water taxi to one of the nearby beaches. We spent a couple of hours just relaxing and looking at the beautiful water. It was a very enjoyable day.
The last 2 days were at sea, and by that time the seas were calm. We enjoyed our second formal night (I was able to eat this time!), and really enjoyed the shows. It allowed us to wind down a little bit before returning to port. We were sad to see the trip end.
The staff was wonderful, and the food delicious! The cruise director Mark was a hoot!
Getting off the ship took longer than getting on. All in all, it took about an hour. We took Budget's shuttle to rent another car, and drove back to Orlando International. We had a 3:20pm flight, so we weren't rushed at all. We even had time to visit my grandmother on the way to the airport.
All in all, we had a great time. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!