Background: this is my 3rd and my dh 2 cruise (all with Carnival); both in our early fifties, just the 2 of us travelling. We booked our hotel, transfers, and excursions through Carnival to make life easier and insure connections. This is our first trip to the Caribbean.
Hotel/Embarkation: We stayed at Miami Hilton night before sailing; nice hotel, especially the grounds, expensive breakfast($10 for oatmeal?) Getting on the shuttle to leave for the terminal was the only negative, what a cattle call. I think we had to wait on a late passenger. Taking a taxi might have been the way to go. Once at the terminal the huge line went quickly and we were on board by 1:45.
Ship/Room: We had an OV room with a large window, very nice and roomy. Plenty of storage, the hairdryer worked great(no need to pack your own), the robes are very nice touch. We slept good, felt very little rocking(although I kind of like that!) and it was quiet even though the crew's pantry was across the hall. I thought the ship's decor was a little too much, didn't quite get some of it, but I'm on vacation so it's all fun.
Activities/Dining: The activities were all fun, kudos to Matt and Amy for keeping the energy going, I don't know how they do it every week. Matt(Yea Baby!) especially seemed to truly care about making everyone's vacation a success. Chris, the CD, was also very personable and high energy. We ate in the dining room 3 times; loved all the food except for the eggplant parmesan; I sent it back, something I very rarely do(the eggplant was to tough to cut), and the waiter seemed a little put out. Also, the beverage service was very slow-ice tea never did show up, and my glass of wine took a long time. Overall, though, we enjoyed it. The seafood was great and we had very nice tablemates. Also, the Thai Station and Rosie's were always good.
Excursions:Nassau-we did our own thing, went shopping and took the water taxi to Atlantis. The highlight was the horse and buggy tour of the city. Our guide, Omar, was knowledgeable and friendly.
St. Thomas-We took the tram up to Paradise Point and got some great pictures, nice little gift shop there. We were there by 9:30 and there were no crowds. In the afternoon, we did the Kayak/Hike/Snorkel trip through the Mangroves. It was very interesting and worth the price. Unfortunately, our underwater camera broke and we didn't get any pictures :( but it was a great day.
St. Martin: We booked the Land and Sea tour and felt the description in the ship's tour book was misleading. There was no time to shop in Marigot especially if you had to use the one and only bathroom(the line was a mile long). The stop at Orient beach was nice-absolutely beautiful there, had lunch at Kakao's and enjoyed the atmosphere; didn't go for a swim,though, not enough time.
Service/Debarkation: The service was great all week. Our room steward, Osbel, was very helpful and friendly and the staff throughout the ship was always smiling and helpful with our questions. The ship never felt crowded until Saturday. Up to that point, we didn't have to wait in lines and service was very fast. We booked the Sea Aquarium tour in Miami so were off the ship by 8:30. No problems with Immigrations/Customs, lines moved very fast. Carnival has the procedures down to a science and there is very little confusion. It was a great trip, we loved the service and the ship and can't wait to go again.