EMBARKATION: The check-in process was pretty quick. Yes there were lines but with 2,000 people trying to board a ship we expected it. Even then, the lines flowed and the people behind the counter were very nice. You have to go through about 18 identity checkpoints but better safe than sorry, right? As soon as we got on the boat we were directed to the Lido deck to get some lunch. I had just ordered a beer when they said everyone had to go to their designated decks for muster. They wouldn't let me bring my beer! I was annoyed because I paid $6 for a beer and had to chuck it. The muster itself went pretty quick.
ROOMS: Our room was incredibly clean and nice. We were on deck 2 inside, so we didn't have a window, but with so much to do on the ship we weren't in our room that much anyway. Our room steward Kituk was very friendly and made some pretty interesting towel animals. He came around every night to supply fresh beach More
towels and see if we needed anything. All the stewards were super friendly and all smiles when you passed them in the halls. There was a little bit of shaking on dock days but I got used to it and ended up sleeping right through it. The TV had lots of channels that had information regarding the ship and excursions. Not much in the way of shows or movies or other channels, but again, we were usually pretty tired by the time we got back to our room and knocked out pretty easily. Plenty of closet space and even the bathroom was bigger than I expected. Always had plenty of hot water in the shower and lots of space in the bathroom. Also was nice to have a room safe for no charge.
FOOD: There are a multitude of choices. We breakfasted at the buffet some mornings: anything you could want for breakfast was there. Cold cereal, fruit, muffins, eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, oatmeal, etc. Even an omelet station. There are no garbage cans so you leave your tray and the dining staff come and take them. Twice we ate in the dining room. That can be a little awkward because they end up sitting you with strangers and you are forced to make conversation. For that reason alone I preferred eating at the buffet. The dining room breakfast was typical-eggs, waffles, etc. Lunch we usually grabbed at the buffet, where they had a hot selection going on, or you could do burgers at the grill, pizza, or the deli (my fav) where you can get yummy sandwiches. Dinner we ate every night but one in our dining room, the bottom floor of Posh. Lucky for us, we went with a group so we knew the other people at our table. Our server was Ivan and Mihaela, and they were amazing. Always super polite and willing to go the extra mile. The food was great too. Lots of stuff I wouldn't be able to afford at restaurants; lobster, steak, etc.... The portions seem small but when you add appetizers and deserts you are full when you leave. My friend ended up at the sushi bar nearly every night and said the sushi was very good. All the workers were very polite.
ENTERTAINMENT: Some great shows! The theater was nice. We only sat up top for a better view. Had to get there a bit early to get a seat that wasn't obstructed by railings of the support beams. There is drink service but only on the lower floor. I liked all the dancing/singing shows. Pay attention to Jane, she is the best dancer of them all. The comedians were okay, but they also did adult shows late at night in the International Lounge and were much better! My hubby donated a bit of money to the casino. I can admit that I got hooked on slot machines. It was all good fun- but unfortunately they allow smoking in there so no matter what time I got back to the room I had to shower or stink like an ashtray. Also, we spent some time in the arcade playing air hockey and Big Game Hunter. There were plenty of deck chairs and I spent a good deal of time outside catching some cancer-rays and crisping up.
EXCURSIONS: The first two days were fun days at sea, where mainly we vegged on the deck sunning ourselves and eating lots of ice cream from the self serve ice cream machine. In San Juan we jumped on a bus to go do the bioluminescent kayaking tour. The bus was old and rickety and we were scared it was going to split in two. The driver stopped halfway there at a McDonalds so everybody could use the restrooms. When they dropped us off at the park, I had to go again. There was only one bathroom facility for the whole huge park. The women's side was all closed up leaving only the men's side- my hubby checked to make sure I could go in. I walked in- 1 toilet and it was full of feces and urine and toilet paper. I turned around and walked back out. There was no where to go so I had to hold it. The tour itself was pretty amazing. We kayaked through mangroves up a channel that led to the lake. Our tour guide was very informative but a little hard to hear. The water, when disturbed, would glow. You could see fish swimming as they disturbed the water. It was very cool. We put our hands in and could see the organisms dripping off our hands. When we got back to the bus I asked the driver is she was going to stop again for a bathroom break and she said no. I had to wait until we got back to the port, nearly 3 ½ hours after we first got to the park. I was a hurting woman! I recommend this tour, but don't drink too much before you go!
In St. Thomas we hopped in a cab and asked to go to Coki Beach where the snorkeling was supposed to be good. The snorkeling WAS beautiful...the beach was a bit sketchy. The toilets didn't flush so they were all backed up. The beach was pretty crowded so we walked all the way over to the left by the cliffs. There were some St. Thomasinians smoking some not-tobacco on the pavilion behind us. That blended in with the smell of dog poo from the poor dog that was tied to a tree behind us as well. (We covered that with sand). There was also a crack pipe in the sand next to our towel. Nice. But the snorkeling was amazing. So many different things to see...Our friend got a little too close to some fire coral and came out of the water with a nice bleeding chest...something to remember St Thomas...If we ever went again I would like to see Magens Bay..Ive heard that's amazing! The rest of the Island was a bit rundown and sad. Next we went to Antigua. The hubby and I had booked a canopy tour. We took a bus to our destination in the rainforest. They hooked us up to harnesses and made us wear hard hats. The zip lining itself was really really cool!! To get back to the main house you have to go over all these Indiana Jones-type rope bridges and things....pretty physical stuff so I wouldn't recommend it to everybody. Our friends went off on their own to go snorkeling on a deserted beach and somehow while they were in the water their bags and clothes grew legs and walked off. Ironically, their shoes were left. Thank god they had their money and ID's in a swimsuit pocket! The people there are very poor and the houses are very rundown. There are goats and chickens running all over the place.
Tortola was by far the most beautiful of all the islands. The houses weren't as run down as the other islands and the water was so blue and clear. We decided to take a cab to Brewers Bay where the snorkeling was good. We got into the back of a jeep and headed up the mountain. It was straight uphill and then straight downhill, but the views of the bay and island were amazing! Brewers Bay beach was spectacular- there was a little bar/cafe area with a bathroom that actually flushed (big points!) and it seemed like a very clean beach. We all went snorkeling together and didn't worry about anybody stealing our stuff because there was plenty of people around so we thought it would be safe. It was. The snorkeling was great! Tons of fish to see, even a hermit crab in a hug conch shell that my hubby went down and brought up. I went back to lie on the beach with my girlfriend while our boys continued snorkeling. They were pretty far out and got to see a sea turtle on the ocean floor. That was the highlight of their day. One thing I will say if you decided to snorkel at any of the ports is to make sure you drink lots of water. The sun combined with the salt in the ocean water can dehydrate you very quickly. That was one problem I had whenever we went snorkeling.
In Nassau we had booked a catamaran/snorkel tour. I get sea sick but I had a prescription patch on for the whole trip and didn't get sick once. However, I did get nauseous on this trip, but I don't blame the catamaran. I think once again it was from the sun/salt water. The snorkeling was nice but they made you wear life jackets which we of course didn't enjoy. We let all the air out of ours so we could dive easier. I did end up swimming through a whole school of tiny jelly fish. I never swam so fast in my life! On board there was rum punch to drink and my hubby and friends indulged in many glasses. My friend Mel went to the aquarium at Atlantis but she said it was incredibly expensive and not really worth it. Every time you come back on board the ship you have to put your bags thru a scanner just like at the airport. The fool in front of us tried bringing a water bottle full of vodka on the ship, but the security guys can tell the difference by the bubbles. They took it and chucked it, so don't even waste your money trying to doing that.
DEBARKATION: We chose to do the self-debarkation early in the morning because we had an early flight. It was a piece of cake and in no time we were in a cab on the way to the airport. Customs didn't even check our bags, just took our declarations paper. It was quick and easy. All in all it the cruise exceeded our expectations and we would definitely cruise again with Carnival! Less