This was my 8th cruise and my 5th with Carnival. I had been on the Victory (x2), Legend, and the Triumph. I travelled with my b/f (his 1st) and 10 other family members (to include 4 kids). This was by far the best Carnival experience I have had (overall). There were a few areas/things that I think can be improved, however, I had a great time overall. I will break it down by category, as I am horrible with going on and on..lol.
EMBARKATION: This was organized, but we had to wait quite a while to get to the attendants. It was the longest I have ever waited and we got there fairly early (1145 am). We had our sail and sign cards and were eating up on the lido by 100 pm.
CABIN: AWESOME!!! I love the balcony cabins, plenty of space and storage. The beds are SO comfortable..especially the comforter. I do agree with someone else's review that it is probably time to change up the color scheme in the room. The orangish/brown is a little outdated. Our room steward was Felix. He introduced himself the first day and we actually saw him the entire 8 days! He was very friendly and efficient. Just a side note, my mom had a Cat 11 suite and I have had one in the past..if you can afford it, do it!! The room is beautiful!
PORTS: SAN JUAN: We always just go out and do our own thing, as Carnival always charges more for excursions than what you would pay on your own. We had tour guides bombard us, most saying 20 pp to see the island. But then Hector offered us $10 pp and the kids could ride free if they sat on our laps. We did the 2 ½ hour tour. It was very good and well worth it (Hector even got us free Pina Coladas and Cigars)!! Then we walked through town which had a festival going on, with great music, drink and food. We did shopping and stopped at Senor Frogs to take pictures and visit the retail store (we had my niece and nephew with us, so we didn't go in). On the way back, right at the entrance of the pier was three parrots that you could take a picture with for $10.00, sounds like a lot, however, the guy takes your camera and takes several more pics for you! We ended up with about 15 pics of us with the parrots. Not bad for 10.00.
ST. THOMAS: I have been here before and did the same thing again. We went to Coral World and Coki Beach. It was 9 pp to get there by cab and he gave us reduced admission tickets to get in to the park. We paid $83.00 for 5 adults and 1 child, once again, not bad for an all day experience! If you like seeing fish and iguanas..this is the place to go...BUT, I got freaked out after a huge iguana (like 3 ft long) fell from the tree and landed like 2 inches in front of me...I was out of there! Lol...off to the beach where we acquired 2 beach chairs and snorkeling equipment (5.00 each for the entire day). Not bad, 20.00 for the whole day! I had never snorkeled before and this was amazing!! They gave us dog bones and the fish came up and ate right out of our hands!!! Real cool! Then unfortunately, on the way out, my mom didn't see that there was a rounded curb, stepped off and hurt herself very badly! (sprained ankle and severe cut on her knee) They treated her very well here, but told her to go to the infirmary on the ship when she returned (that is a story that I will put below!)
TORTOLA: Did not like this place at all!!! We decided to just go out and walk and shop a little, however, this ended fairly quickly. They have tents set up right outside the pier with locals. They were very rude and not really willing to barter. We walked about 15 minutes in to town and it began looking like the worst part of NYC you could enter, so we turned around and went back to the ship...PLUS, it was about 95 degrees and miserably humid! My brother and his family did the dolphin adventure (on the other side of the island) It was well over $1,000 for 8 of them! (pictures, gifts, admission, taxi) However, they saved A LOT of money going over there by themselves and not with Carnival. $79 pp versus $129 pp on Carnival. They said it was very much worth it!!
SIDE NOTES: While at sea, I actually saw a dolphin and a whale!!! Even got a pic of the whale..kinda cool! The doctor in the infirmary was VERY RUDE AND OBNOXIOUS!!!! Hopefully, you or your family member will not have to deal with him. My mom's ankle ended up being severely sprained and he applied a splint with 3 ace bandages. She told him twice that it didn't feel comfortable and while applying it the 3rd time stated "and you better not ask me to wrap it again". A couple of hours later (after the pain shot wore off) my mom again felt very uncomfortable and asked us to take off the bandages/splint. We did and she had BLISTERS...all up and down the backside of her leg and the top of her foot, where the splint had been pinching her. We went back to the doctor and he said to her "how do I know that you didn't tighten it yourself" I was FLABBERGASTED!!!! He asked her what she wanted and she said well, I wanted to show you what you did to me so that you don't do it to someone else and he said "look lady, I do these all the time, do you know how many sprains we get on this ship and besides, I didn't cause your injury, I just fix them! " She said well I am writing a letter to Carnival about this and he said oh yeah, and I will write one about you too!! Your threats don't scare me!! My Bf and I helped my mom back to the wheelchair and he patted my bf on the back and said good luck with her and he slammed the door!!! I was in a state of shock..I couldn't believe that an officer would speak such a way to a passenger!! Needless to say, we reported the incident to the Pursers and Carnival..we will see what happens..probably nothing. JERK!
DEBARKATION: WOW!!! THREE WORDS...CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY!! WELCOME BACK TO NY AND REALITY!!!! EVERYONE WAS RUDE..TO INCLUDE CARNIVAL PERSONNEL!!!! There was a woman behind me that requested a wheelchair and saw a staff and asked again...and she looked at here, tapped on her temples and said....what do you expect me to do?? Read your mind??!!! I turned around, looked at the Carnival staff and gave her a few words of my own that I will not repeat, and I also pointed it out how rude that they had gotten that the cruise was over, they had gotten our money and now wanted us off the ship!!! NOT PROFESSIONAL AT ALL!!! NYC was VERY HECTIC...they yelled at our Limo drive at least five times while he was loading all 23 bags of ours (12 people)
HAD A GREAT TIME THOUGH!!! I will not let the few ignorant staff/incidents ruin which was by far, my best Carnival experience!!!! I would sail them again!!
PUBLIC AREAS: Well, my bf and I went in every public area on the ship. I loved the decor throughout the ship. It was really cool coming home to the "Phantom of the Opera" every night..lol..his pic was on the wall next to our room. We visited the arcade (which ate 2.00 of our money, but we got it back plus some from the pursers desk ?), the Gatsby Garden, all of the lounges/bars (the Mad Hatter was my fav), the waterslide, pools (which were not ever full), hot tub, mini golf course (which I will never figure out why they put it up on the windiest deck on the ship), and last but definitely not least, the Casino. It was a good size, but my only and BIGGEST complaint is the smoking!!!! There is nothing worse than someone puffing away and blowing it right in your face. YUCK!!!! They have designated "non smoking" areas, but they are literally right next to the smoking areas!! Go figure. We played in there EVERY day and on Saturday night I hit for $250 (not bad considering I only played pennies, two cent and nickels) So, we pretty much broke even for the week.
DINING: OMG…best food ever. The lido, deli, and the formal dining all exceeded my expectations! The food on the lido was actually still warm when we got to our seats. The omelet's were the best! Percy makes a killer one! The coffeehouse shop was DEF not dunkin donuts or starbucks, but was pretty good. It was reported in someone's review as "Starbucks".it is not..so don't get your hopes up. The chocolate warming cake is to die for and is available every night on the menu. We also did the Gala Buffet, which the desserts are awesome! Our waitstaff was Ida and Chandra and they were tremendous!!
ENTERTAINMENT: Well, everything was entertaining, especially karaoke, which my whole family got up and did. We went to all the shows and really enjoyed the "Ticket to Ride". They definitely need to work on the activities during the day, which seem to be all the same on every ship. Creativity is very much needed here. Also, the CD (Brent) was not nearly as good as Josh aka "Big Sexy"!! He needs a promotion, like ASAP! I also am very disappointed in the deception of Carnival, who announced that a "special guest" would perform at the end of the Motown Review. They made an announcement to get your cameras out because they had picked up a superstar in St Thomas. This person is a grammy award winning artist, legend, blah blah blah….they even went as far as putting up security ropes and brought "guards" out. It turned out to be "Stevie Wonder"! The place went crazy, he did one song and left…it was the talk of the night…HOWEVER, we later found out that it was the entertainer that did the Motown review. This put a bad taste in my mouth. They should have let it out at the end…MANY passengers truly believed that they had just seen the legendary artist (which I must say was identical to the real artist) If you saw the pics, you would believe it yourself!