PRECRUISE: We drove from NC the day before. Port Everglades charges $15 a day for parking so I found a hotel online, Candlewood Suites, that offers free parking for 7 days and a free shuttle to the port. The total w/tax was $89. That's less then parking alone would have cost at the port!
EMBARKATION: We arrived at the port at 11:30. The porter who took our bags at the dock actually put his hand out and asked for a tip! I'm not sure if they work for the port or for Carnival. I don't think Carnival would allow such a tactless act. Embarkation was a breeze! We were having a DOD (Drink-of-the-Day) on the Lido by noon!
ACTIVITIES: When I saw on the first Carnival Caper that couples-dancing lessons were at 8:30 I was bummed because we had dinner @ 8:15. I would continue to be disappointed every time I looked at the Caper throughout the week. Instead of being filled with fun activities it was mostly filled with advertisements for the casino, shops, & More
photo gallery. Because of our dinner time we would also miss Battle of the Sexes, Liar's Club, Sea Feud and the Game Show. Why aren't these activities offered twice so both dinner groups can enjoy them?!?!? I was looking forward to watching a movie @ the Seaside Theater but their selections were terrible. Who really wants to watch High School Musical 3? The lack of and disorganization of the activities was by far the worst thing about the cruise. Funship? NO! We spent most of our time watching movies in the room because there wasn't anything else to do!
OUTSIDE DECKS: They have a putt-putt course, basketball court,& volleyball court but you have to walk 2 decks down and halfway across the ship to rent the equipment. How much sense does that make? There were 3 pools and they were all filled during the day, like elbow to elbow. At least 6 jacuzzis but who can sit in a jacuzzi when it's 95 degrees? Plenty of deck chairs, though, and the waiters were there to offer you a drink faster than you could drink them.
SPA: I got a pedicure in the spa just as we left Ft Lauderdale. The chair faced a floor-to-ceiling window and I watched the sunset over the Miami skyline. It was $65 + tip. I was satisfied.
FOOD: The first day we had breakfast in the dining room. I thought they would have a special menu but this was just basic al a carte. Our pancakes and eggs were cold. My husband said he's had better food at the Golden Corral. The Lido breakfast was better, faster and had more variety.
I never got to try the Mongolian Grille because the lines were always so long and didn't seem to move. The line for the hotdogs & burgers was always long, too. I decided to try it on the second-to-last day and I realized why! Best hot dogs I've had in my life. HUGE!
Dinner portions were very small. My mac n cheese came in the same size cup you put ketchup in at Arby's! Everyone at my table ordered more than one appetizer and more than one entree. You had to if you wanted to fill up. The desserts weren't that great. I would have liked a plain piece of cake or brownie but they had all this fancy stuff like creme broulee and baked alaska. Maybe we should've gone up to the Lido deck for dessert instead. All in all the food was not fantastic but I thought it was equal to the price we paid. The waitstaff did two dance numbers and one song. Good times! They didn't have a midnight buffet with all the fancy designs on this cruise.
DRINKS: They now sell DOD cards for $25+tip. It includes 5 DODs so you save about $10. Soda cards were $30 ($5 per days of cruise). On our last day they had a Goodbye Party with free drinks for one hour, anything you wanted except shots. I bought one iced mocha from the coffee shop. It was $4 just like anywhere else. The coffee shop is also a bakery. They have huge pieces of cake and chocolate covered strawberries and the prices were decent. I had 5 strawberries for $3 but I wish I had gotten a piece of cake, too. They looked fantastic.
CREW: I can't say enough good things about the crew. They were always smiling, very patient, went out of their way to make you happy. Most of our pics were taken by crew members. Our waiter, Rodel, was so sweet I actually cried when I said bye to him. I wished I had some extra money to add to his tip but my husband donated it all to the casino.
TIPS FOR FUTURE CRUISERS: BRING A WATCH! Cell phones have the wrong times and there are hardly any clocks on the ship.
WAIT TIL THE LAST NIGHT TO BUY PICS: That way you can look at them all and buy the best ones. They don't throw any away until the cruise ends. I messed up by buying our first formal night pic for $22 and our second formal night pics were way better and I had no more money. I'll probably regret that for years.
FLY BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS: Don't book shore excursions ahead of time. When you get off the ship there will be people fighting over you to get you on a tour. We booked ours in advance and it was a mistake. Don't worry about anything selling out. There are way more tours than tourists.
BYO-DRINKS: You are allowed to bring sodas on board. Bring a 6 pack. It's better than paying $2.25 per can and the room steward brings a new ice bucket everyday.
DECK ZERO HAS FREE PILLS: I was seasick 2 nights. I didn't know until after that there are free pills and a bunch of other medical stuff at the infirmary.
GET INVOLVED: I know there aren't very many activities so get involved in the ones they do have. Even if it means losing a few hours of sleep.
DO THE EARLY DINNER: The most fun activities were all going on while we were eating dinner and we were still stuffed when it was time for the midnight bites.
CHECK OUT THE LIBRARY: I knew the library was there but didn't go in. On our last day I saw people playing Clue on the deck. You can rent board games from the library! If Carnival won't plan activities you can make your own!
DON'T BE OVERDRESSED: Formal nights aren't really formal nights anymore. I wore a long formal gown and felt way overdressed and embarrassed. Go ahead and bring your formals but take a peak before you dress and see what others are wearing. Less
Having been to Montego Bay and Negril on past cruises, I was most looking forward to Ocho Rios. I ended up disappointed. We booked a river-tubing trip online through Yardie Tours. The river-tubing was fun but short, didn't last more than 30 minutes. Our river guide, Shawn, was excellent! He would let go of my tube during the calm parts and guide my tube through the rapids to make sure I didn't get hurt or bump into anything. We didn't jump off the cliff because the water was very cold and shallow. Shawn sang Bob Marley songs to us, showed us different kinds of trees and fruits. He was truly wonderful and I wish we had more money to give him. Our tour guide from Yardie, however, wasn't very personable. He dropped us off in a parking lot after the tubing and didn't tell us where to go from there. We were followed and offered drugs and rides from 5 different guys before we found our way into the Island Village. We walked through Jimmy Buffet's to the beach where a security guard carrying one of those metal sticks you beat people with told us it's $3 to use the beach or $5 if you want a chair. It was also $5 extra to use the trampoline. The 2 security guards kept the pushy peddlers off the beach and there were 2 lifeguards offering to fetch drinks. Doesn't seem so bad, they were all friendly. Except the beach was dirty. I saw a candy bar wrapper floating in the water and a beer cap in the sand. There were also a lot of leaves on the beach and seaweed in the water. There was another beach on the other side of the port and I wish we'd gone there instead. I doubt I'll return to Ocho Rios. It can't hold a candle to Negril.