I was very nervous about leaving out of San Juan after reading the reviews about the ship. We did not experience any of the problems of other members. We flew into San Juan on the day before the cruise. Our hotel was the Conrad. Even though I booked it on price line, we were granted a request for an ocean view room. We had a relaxing night at the hotel and headed over to the cruise port at 11 the next day.
We were all checked in by 11:30 and had to only wait an hour to board the ship. We had lunch after boarding up on the Lido deck and the rooms were ready about 2:30. The bags were delivered in a timely manner. We had a wonderful vacation. The ship was crowded, but we didn't encounter any rude passengers as mentioned in previous reviews. Of course, to manage the crowds, you do need to be a little aggressive or people will step in front of you. There were lots of kids but not any more than on Splendor in January. If you get up a little earlier for breakfast (before 9), there is more chance not to have to wait in line and to get a nice table with a view. Our stateroom was an ocean view on the 1st floor. This was convenient for leaving the ship. I thought it would be difficult getting up the elevators to the other decks, but it really wasn't. I did notice a few opportunities for cleanliness throughout the ship.(Carpet stains in the corridors, dusting, etc) This ship wasn't quite as clean as the Splendor. Then again, the Splendor was a newer ship.
We had the first seating in the Atlantic Dining Room. Our servers were Brijesh and Septa. Both were awesome and we had a great time with them. Our bar server was Nikola and she learned my wine choice after the first night and offered it to me each night after that. Fernando was our maitre'd. He was very professional and came over to greet our table each evening. On our last cruise, we never personally met the maitre'd, so we didn't feel obligated to tip him. We did give a gratuity to Fernando at the end of the cruise. On the last cruise, it seemed like our food always came out luke warm, but the food was served hot at every dinner on this cruise. Our steward was James. He was very polite and greeted us by name. He wasn't as outgoing as our steward on the last cruise, but he did a great job. My husband requested a towel turtle for me on the last night and he made one for me. We've been on Carnival before, so we were familiar with the layout of the ship. We visited 6 ports in 7 days. It was an amazing trip, but very exhausting. One thing that helped us was the earlier seating for dinner because we were able to attend the early shows. The shows were entertaining and very similar to our last Carnival cruise.
We prepaid for the Carnival transportation back to the airport. One thing they don't tell you is that the last run to the airport is around 12 noon. After that, they don't take anyone to the airport, only bring people from the airport to board the ship. We had a 5 pm flight, so we were in no hurry to get off the ship and weren't aware the last bus was leaving. We were planning to go into Old San Juan for a while before heading to the airport. We were tired anyway so it didn't matter too much. We paid for the express luggage service which I would highly recommend. We gave our flight info to Carnival and they printed our boarding passes for us and our luggage tags. When we got off the ship, we took our luggage through customs and handed it over to the port people. They transported it to the airport and to our final destination. When we got to the airport, we just had to go through the USDA inspection with our carry on bags which wasn't bad at all. There were just a few people in front of us. We didn't have to stand in line to get boarding passes and check luggage. The security line was long but we had 5 hours until our flight, so we weren't in any hurry.
This cruise was amazing. We loved every port and will always remember this vacation. We are planning another Carnival vacation in a couple of years. Can't wait to go again!