Our ship embarkation was very smooth. We took a taxi from the airport and shared with another family for $23 total. Carnival charged $15 each person. The taxi is not metered and they have to charge only $23. No problems and no long lines. We did not spend anytime in San Juan before sailing. We have been there before and found it dumpy. The ship did not seem to be in bad shape at all. They are constantly cleaning it and painting it. Our cabin was on the main deck towards the back. The only complaint I would have about it was the creaking sound it made in our room while we were trying to sleep. It sounded like water trickling down the wall in the corner of our room. A few nights we kept hearing a whipping sound along the side of the ship. Our cabin steward was O.k. He kept our room fairly clean. He was not as friendly as the other cabin stewards seem to be and never referred to us by name as they are instructed to do. His name was Ronald. I found every crew member on the ship was friendly and said "hello".
I was disappointed in the activities after dinner. We seem to wander about aimlessly after our early dinner until a show started. I wish they had more organized things to do. The musical revues seem directed towards older people or the Puerto Ricans. They were pretty outdated. The comedians were the best! The magician did very simple tricks and almost seemed drunk. We heard at the second show he messed up. We enjoyed the juggler. He was very entertaining. We went to the karaoke lounge a lot and it was hosted by a funny lady named Anna.
The food was average. Dessert was wonderful everynight in the dining room. The bread pudding, fig cake, and warm chocolate cake were the best. Only one night was inedible and that was a chocolate raspberry cake that was frozen solid. Our servers were great. Their names were Valentina and Iryna. They worked very hard. Another good waiter at breakfast was Sutin. He was always cheerful and eager to please. Some outstanding dinners were the short braised teriyaki ribs and grilled pork chops. The appetizers were usually much better than the dinners. The buffets were average. We enjoyed the Indian buffet they had one day. We ate at the chinese lunch thing every day and that was good. The grill always had at least 15 people lined up and took too long. After dinner we went by the coffee shop that is extra money. The desserts were only $2 and were great. The white chocolate forest cake was spectacular! It was worth it and three of us could not finish it. The cookies were only $l.00 and we bought some to take on the plane going home.
Shore excursions: St. Thomas- Went to Magen's Bay by way of taxi. It was $8 dollars per person each way. It was very pretty. We also went to the Butterfly Farm that was within walking distance of the ship. It was $15 per person and was not worth it.
Barbados- Have something prebooked either with Carnival or another tour company before you go. Our Harrison's Cave trip with Carnival was canceled at the last minute. There were no tour companies lined up there to take your business so we had to go by taxi. We negotiated a price with a taxi driver up front of $20 a person to tour the island. He agreed. Lo and behold he told us the last hour of the trip that he wanted $5 more per person. We were out in the middle of no where so we got taken! He was crooked and we couldn't understand a thing he said. Shopping in the terminals was o.k.
Dominica- This was a beautiful island. We took the river tubing trip with Carnival. It was worth every penny. On the way back we stopped for refreshments and a local lady was selling meat pies and fish cakes. They were probably the best thing we ate the whole trip. We shopped at tents that lined the streets right outside where the boat was docked. The locals were ready to bargain.
St.Lucia-We did the Pirate Ship excursion. It was pretty fun. The crew was not dressed like pirates and when we stopped at a private island the ship hands(locals) obviously smoked some reefer. It was so strong smelling when we passed them. We did a little shopping at St. Lucia. The locals in the shops were not friendly.
Antigua We took two excursion with Carnival. One was the kayak and snorkeling excursion and was highly recommended. It was fun. The other was a beach excursion and was four hours at the beach. The beach was wonderful. We love this island. There was very nice shopping right outside the boat and several tent shops set up outside. They are ready to bargain. We picked up a lot of good souvenirs. The locals were very friendly! Prices very reasonable.
St. Kitts- We docked at 7:00 or 7:30 in the morning. We wish we had gotten an earlier start. We got off the boat at 10:00 and had no excursions planned. When you get off the boat there is a little roofed area full of tour companies ready to book an island tour. They are very competitive with each other. We ended up getting a good rate for $100 for 6 of us and a four hour tour. We went with Calypso tours. His vehicle was air conditioned. The others were not. He stopped and showed us things that I noticed the other companies did not. He let us take our time at each stop and gave us free water, beer and coke along the way. The island is beautiful. At the end of the tour he would leave you at Frigate Beach and come get you after an hour or so. We had to be back on the boat by 3:30 that day. So my advice to you would be get an early start so you can enjoy this beautiful island. Nice shops near the boat.