As I prefaced, my wife and I don't typically take cruises for our vacations. The one's we've been on before have typically been with the "guys" or "girls" on 3-4 day party trips to Mexico or something of the like. I was looking for a nice trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary and found this trip interesting because of its itinerary (no sea days) and stops at a lot of great Southern Caribbean islands that we had otherwise not been to nor wouldn't go to for a full 7 day vacation.
We flew in the day before the cruise was set to sail from Los Angeles. We connected through Houston and got into town around 9PM local time. We cabbed it to Hotel Cervantes ($19 + tip), a quaint boutique hotel in Old San Juan about 2-3 blocks and an easy walk to the Carnival cruise terminal. We got up on Sunday, had breakfast and walked with our bags down the street to start the embarkation process. It went smoothly and we were on board and in our balcony room by 12:30P. The tip to pick up liquor at the duty free shop inside the San Juan terminal was a good one. We picked up a liter of Bacardi and Stoli for like $22 total and put them in our carry on. Where they get you is for the soda, $3.95 per 6 pack, but its still cheaper than the boat. Our bags were brought to our room by 3P and we unpacked and went to check out the boat.
The layout of the boat has much to be desired, but its styled nicely enough. We didn't really take this trip to play with Wee Jimmy (Cruise Director) and the rest of the Carnival gang. It was all about using the ship to eat, sleep and take us to our next destination. We got a lot of really neat pictures from our balcony and at the front of the boat at sunset. Overall, we spent like $325 on our sign and sail cards, including the mandatory $140 tip for the steward, so you can see how little money we actually spent on board. Paying top dollar for half ass cocktails in an over crowded casino, bar or pool deck wasn't really our thing.
There was a "sports" bar on board that only showed ESPN Desportes, which was fine, but don't label the place as a sports bar with no actual sports on. We wanted to watch the Laker game, but none of the channels had it nor did the sports bar. When we got off in Dominica one of the locals told us the score from the night before and said it was on TNT (which the boat has, but the game wasn't on).
Getting off the boat for the debarkation went ridiculously smooth. Being a US citizen made it easier I'm sure. Our group number 9 was called around 9A and we grabbed our bags down in the terminal, handed our customs form to the officer and walked out. No questions, no passport check, no nothing. Not even a "what did you buy?" or anything like that. We only had about $200 worth of souvenirs from the different islands and weren't over on the 1 liter of liquor per person allotment, but no one checked our stuff or even asked. We laughed with some other passengers that we could have packed our suitcase with ALL booze. We then walked down the street to the Old San Juan Sheraton where we were staying for the night. It was nice to not to have to hassle the commotion at the cruise terminal nor deal with the daffiness of the Airport with 3000 cruisers trying to leave at the same time. By 9:30A we were hanging at the Sheraton pool enjoying an unwind day before flying out on Monday morning.