Background- This was our sixth cruise with Carnival so we pretty much know what to expect. We don't have any children are in our late 20's. We go on a cruise every December and this is our second time we left from San Juan. We stayed the night before in a a hotel called Hotel Milano in Old San Juan. This hotel has a great location for seeing the city and we didn't need a cab to the port. We just dragged our bags down the street. Hotel Milano is a nice hotel for one night. It is a very basic hotel but perfect for what we needed for. The rates are very reasonable considering the prices for other hotels around that area. We ate at this great restaurant around the corner called Raizes. They have some of the best spanish food I have ever had. We walked around the city and had a great time.
The Day of Embarkation:Embarkation was supposed to start at 2:30 but when we got there we received a letter stating that to do a rise in stomach flu's they had to do some additional cleaning of the ship and it didn't start till 4. They encouraged everyone to go back into San Juan and come back later. They took our luggage so we didn't have to drag it around. If you didn't want to do that you could stay in the lobby. Well everyone decided to stay in the lobby and it was kind of crowded. They served free drinks and about an hour later we were able to board. Besides the waiting it was a very easy process. Unlike other posters statements, the muster drill seemed fine to me. It was very quick and painless. Yes it was hot but it is San Juan and thats the climate of that area. Everything went fine.
About the ship/activities etc: My only disappointment about this boat was that there were not a lot of games/activities. Maybe it was because we were hitting a different port everyday and there were no days to see. But we had the late dinner and most of the ports we were done around 4. From 4 to 7 there was really nothing to do unless you wanted to gamble. We made the best out of it and hit the pools and golf etc but I had never been on a ship where there wasn't a lot of activities/games. They did do the hairy chest contest which was very funny as usual. There was no newlywed game and or nothing similar. The cruise director Malcom was hilarious even though we only seen him to open the show and embarkation meetings. The shows were great. We went to them all but the magic show and christmas show. It was the usual carnival shows. There show Vroom was really nice.
Dining- The other reviews really complained about the lines for food. It wasn't that bad for us. What made the difference was that usually there is lunch served in the dining room and the lido deck. Lunch was only served on the lido deck so SOMETIMES not the whole time it did it a lot of crowded. The food was pretty good. I must say that the food was no where near as good as we have on other ships. I don't know if Carnival is scaling down the food but it was good but no exceptional like it used to be. We had a great waiter and great company for dinner. On other boats the waiters would sing and dance every night. They did not do that on this boat. I think they sang 2 of the 7 nights. It was a small disappointment but we had a good time anyway.
Camp Carnival- We didn't utilize this service because we don't have any kids. There were however a lot of children aboard.
Stateroom- Are stateroom was very nice. We had a balcony and we loved sitting out there most nights. The seas were a little rough rough for a few days. Our stewart was great.
Shore Excursions/ Ports-
St. Thomas - We took a taxi to Magens Bay. It cost about $6.00 per person each way. It cost $2.00 per person to get into the beach. We had been to St Thomas before but went to Morningstar Beach before. Magens Bay was beautiful! Had a nice relaxing time. We took a cab back at the end of the day and went back on board.
Dominica- We did a whale watching tour through the cruise ship. We didn't see any whales but we were out on a beautiful Catamaran and had a great time. Afterwards we got right back on the ship.
Barbados - We took a taxi to The Boatyard beach. Very nice and very clean. They have a blowup trampoline and climbing wall in the water but we didn't use it because it was kinda deep and we are not strong swimmers. For $15 , it included chair, umbrella, one free drink and shuttle back to the ship. Besides the local guys trying to get people to ride the Jet ski's and people trying to sell you stuff it was nice. Make sure you tell the Jet Ski guys and the other peddlers no from the beginning or they will keep asking you.
St. Lucia - We spent the day with Cosol. This was one of the best tours we have ever been on. This is not through the cruise ship. You must book it on your own through there website. We got to see the entire island and sample some great foods. We had Yellow bird as our driver. He was great. So passionate about what he does and his island.
Antigua - We went took a beach excursion with the boat. The beach was nice. A lot peddlers selling stuff which was a little annoying. Than it started to rain and we wanted to leave early. We were told we couldn't leave until at least another 2 hours. We were annoyed but made the best of it. The water was also very very rough at that beach. Next time I would just caught a taxi on our own to another beach. After we left the beach we did a little shopping by the port and got back on the boat.
St. Kitts - We were going to do a tour with Thenford Grey but decided not too. By this point we were exhausted. So we shopped for a couple hours and got back on the boat early. We were not impressed by St Kitts at all. The city was not as pretty as the other ports. But other people took taxi cabs to the beach. Just a warning for anyone going...a few people we know got taken by taxi drivers saying one price and than charging another price once they go to there destination.
Summary- Great Cruise..wish the food was a little better and there were more activities on the boat. Overall we had a great time.