This is my husband and my fourth cruise and our two daughters (ages 12 & 10) third....all with Carnival. We decided to leave the evening before the cruise to avoid the hassle the day of. Our flight left Milwaukee around 5:15pm and with a layover in Atlanta, we arrived in Orlando at 11:00pm. We rented a car and drove less than 10 minutes to stay at the Quality Inn Airport Hotel. It was nice and convenient seeing we arriving so late. The hotel offered a large contential breakfast. We left around 9:00am to head to the port. We made a stop to purchase two 12 packs of soda and for gas before arriving at the car rental return. Avis shuttled us over to the port. We were in line to check in by 10:45am. There were a lot of people ahead of us already checked in. Check in went smooth and by 11:15am we were sitting waiting for our number to be called. By 11:45am we were on the Lido deck eating lunch.
Our other cruises were on the Fascination (2 times) and the Imagination. So this was the biggest ship we have been on. We also decided to upgrade to a balcony room. What a treat! My husband loves to read and really enjoyed sitting on the balcony with a good book! We had a king bed, the couch that converts to a bed and an upper bunk. The room has lots of storage but with four in the room, it can be a little cramped. ...but who spends a lot of time in their room! The bathroom had a lot of shelving which came in handy. Our room was on the Panorama deck (deck 10), room 1060. It was perfect! We just had to walk four rooms down, go out the door and we were on the upper part of the Lido deck. Close to everything. We were two levels below Camp Carnival and one deck below the Spa and fitness center. Very handy. We made the comment many times how we LOVED the location of our room! Our room stuart was okay. He never asked our names, but always greeted us with a "hello" and a smile. Our room was always clean and we had a towel animal waiting for us every night. The day we arrived we asked him to take everything out of the refrigerator. He refused to empty it out. He said that everything must stay in or we would get charged. We brought some of our own soda along and there wasn't even enough room for one can. So we took everything out and put it in the cabinet next to the fridge. On Friday afternoon, we put everything back in before we would get charged. It would have been nice having an extra cabinet for our things....but we obviously did not let this ruin any of our vacation!
CAMP CARNIVAL / CIRCLE C Our youngest daughter (10 yrs) enjoyed going to Camp Carnival. It was nice that she could check herself in and out. They had many activities to keep her busy. Our oldest daughter (12 yrs) LOVED Circle C. She was with her friends most of the day. We made her check in with us every couple of hours and eat dinner with us each night. Most of the nights, they had activities until 12:30/1:30am.
BAHAMAS Found a tour once we were off the ship. We toured the countryside, the ocean and the Atlantis Hotel. We made a stop to do some shopping too. The whole tour was almost 2-1/2 hours and we got it for $20.00 each.
ST. THOMAS We went snuba diving. This was our second time doing this and absolutely loved it! For those who don't know what snuba is, it is like scuba diving, but you don't have your own tank. You have an air hose that is connected to a tank that is on a raft. Four to six people go at the same time and share the tank. When you swim, you pull the raft along. You can go down approximately 20 feet. They fed the fish, so there were fish everywhere!
ST. MAARTEN We did the helmet dive. This was really cool. You just breathed normally. You can even talk, but no one can hear you but yourself. My husband liked this because he wears prescription glasses and could keep them on.
FOOD We ate breakfast on the Lido deck/Red Sail Restaurant every morning. Pretty much the same things....scrambled eggs, some kind of a potato, sausages, bacon, toast, bagels, pancakes, omelets, cereal, etc. Lunch we would eat in the Red Sail. My husband really enjoyed the salads and the themed buffets each day. The lines were never long. My only complaint was the food was usually just warm, not hot. It was good though overall. We ate in the dining room every night. Our head waiter Iwayan and assistant waiter Rai were awesome! The best we have ever had! The service was excellent along with their personalities. One night, they both showed my daughter how to make things out of the napkins. She loved it. The food was very good every night.
SHOWS / COMEDY SHOWS We went to all the shows. They were all good especially the magic show. He was excellent! We went to one of the early comedy shows. I don't remember his name but he was excellent! My 10 year old was laughing so hard, she was crying! We enjoyed it so much, we went another night. What a disappointment! He was not funny at all. Seeing we were sitting right next to the door, we got up and left early. SPA We went to check out the fitness center the first day on the ship. It was awesome! We registered to win some spa treatments. We had to be present to win. I won a 25 minute Hot Stone Massage! I never win anything so I was extremely surprised! I had my massage on Monday morning (1st day at sea) and loved it so much that I booked a 75 minute massage for Thursday morning. It was the best I've ever had!
POOLS The pools were nice and were never packed. As far as children go, it honestly felt like there was none on board. One lady who sat beside me during a show said that one of the crew members told her that there were over 400 children on board. She asked them "where are they all?" I never saw any children misbehaving, jumping or splashing in the pool, etc. Great manners by all.
DISEMBARKMENT We chose to carry off our luggage. The schedule had the Spa deck departing at 7:30am and then our deck, the Panorama deck at 7:40am. We were instructed to stay until they announced our deck. When they announced the Spa deck, we headed to the elevators and planned on waiting for them to call ours. We noticed that the elevators kept stopping at lower decks (obviously people were not following directions). So at 7:50am we headed down. The whole time in line, we never heard them announce any decks at all. The line moved along and we were through customs, off the ship, shuttled by Budget to the car rental and in our car by 8:45am. I was impressed. It went extremely smooth.
Overall, this was our favorite cruise. Part of it I'm sure has to do with our girls being a little older and having more freedom. The service and entertainment were great! We will definitely be cruising with Carnival again!