We flew into San Juan on Saturday 1/17/09 in case of bad weather. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott San Juan Miramar and really enjoyed the easy access to a couple local restaurants (1 - 2 blocks on right from hotel), Walgreen's (5 blocks to the left of the hotel), and Pueblo (2 blocks right). We had dinner at Lima. This is 2 blocks from the hotel on the right directly across the street from the Pueblo. The menu is all in Spanish and the food is Peruvian. I was a little intimidated at first, but the waiter was great and we told him we understood very little Spanish. He helped translate and explain the dishes. Everything he recommended was INCREDIBLE. In fact this would be our best meal on the trip and one of the best meals I have ever had while on vacation.
We checked out of the hotel at 11:00 pm and headed for the pier. We arrived around 11:30 AM and after dropping off our luggage, going through check in, and making a stop in the duty free liquor store we were on board and drinking a drink of the day by 12:30 pm. We had lunch on the LIDO deck and explored the ship until 2:45 when our rooms opened up. Most of the day we spent drinking in a lounge chair and enjoying the hot tubs. Sail away party looked fun as we watched on TV later in the cruise, but we chose to stay on our balcony enjoying some champagne and watching San Juan disappear into the dark night.
We booked with Henry's EEE tour and truly had a great time! Henry was a great tour guide and we loved our time in St. Thomas. Henry took us on a two hour tour of St. Thomas stopping by many great places to take pictures and giving him time to tell us of his island, history of the people, plants, etc. We then asked that we go to Sapphire Beach (you can pick any beach) and thought the beach was perfect. We didn't snorkel, but we were told it was great at this beach and the sand was so soft and white. They had food (although quite expensive) and drinks at the beach bar. I chose to try out the Carib beer while passing my time at this great beach. Henry should strongly be considered if you are looking for a great tour. He was suggested to me by Papa Bear of AirForce One tours as they are friends. He is a former law enforcement officer and we felt very safe taking our tour with him - all for $25 each. Thanks Henry!
Dominica has many things to offer, but we didn't have a pre-booked tour and went into town to do some shopping. The tour guides were very in your face trying to get you to book a tour. I wish we had lined something up before heading there. We simply tried a few of the local beers and headed back to the ship to enjoy the day.
Barbados we chose to do the 5 Star Catamaran Sail and Snorkel with Tiami through Carnival. It was $99 per person. This again was a great time. We boarded the catamaran and enjoyed tea, coffee, coke, fruit punch, pineapple juice, etc. We weren't allowed to drink alcohol until after snorkeling. This would happen around lunch time. I really enjoyed the snorkeling at the first stop (ship wreck) and coral reef. The giant sea turtles were incredible to see so close. I would suggest buying a waterproof camera at the photo shop on board the Carnival ship or before your trip as we didn't have one and purchased for $25 on the catamaran... a bit ripped off. After snorkeling we had a great lunch and we were able to drink everything from rum punch to the local Bank's beer on tap (great beer!!!). We stopped at the beach for an hour on the same beach as Sandy Lane where Tiger Woods was married. Tour was great and glad we were able to experience it.
St. Lucia was Cosol's tour. Not much to mention that hasn't been said on this site. Great value for the money and a fun way to see the island. Very informative tour guides. The water taxi is somewhat difficult to get into because of waves and a lady hurt herself while we were there. The beach was great and the food we were served was worth the price of the tour alone ?
We chose to go to an all inclusive in Antigua. The Jolly Beach Resort was a so much fun. We spent $60 each and had drinks from 10:15 am- 5 pm. We were able to use all facilities at the resort including non motorized sports. We played pool volleyball, learned to dance Caribbean style, had some awesome jerk chicken, and enjoyed both the pool and the excellent beach. There are vendors on the beach trying to sell you wave runner, jewelry, etc. so be prepared for that. I didn't want to leave the resort and hope to go back again sooner rather than later for a week long stay.
St. Kitts we had nothing planned, but found a local company to take us on a water taxi for $12 round trip to Frigate Beach. The beach was nice and had some snorkeling right by the pier. Many little beach bar type places to eat and drink. The beach was quite crowded, but easy to find chair and umbrella if you wanted one. My wife got a massage for $25 for 35 minutes... great value compared to the ship and she said is was good. Danny boy was masseuse.
Debarkation was LONG. We waited a long time in the theater and finally headed up to LIDO for lunch since it was taking so long. We found out it was because of US Customs doing a full investigation this week and not because of Carnival. We rolled with it and finally left the ship around 1:30 pm. We had a flight at 4:30 and went right to the airport. Very easy to get a taxi.
Overall we had a great cruise. I loved the food on both Lido and especially the dining room each night. I thought the ship was very clean, saw many hand sanitizer locations, and crew cleaning at all hours of the day. Loved our room - the L-shaped room is great and well worth the extra money for the balcony. I felt for the total amount of money we spent the value was great. I would book with Carnival again for sure.