My fiance and I (both 26) left on Sunday 11/8/09 for our cruise on the Victory. I had researched quite a bit before we left since this itinerary is quite busy - I wanted to make sure we were somewhat prepared!
Flying into San Juan from Baltimore was a piece of cake (yay for direct flights!), we arrived at the airport around 1:00pm. We had purchased the airport transfer through Carnival, so we collected our bags and met with them. Getting to the port was quick and easy, the transfer company took our luggage directly to the ship for us. Inside the terminal was much easier then we had expected! I was execting long lines, but we probably spent 30-40 mins. total in the cruise terminal between the front entrance and the screening area. We didn't buy alcohol like most people do in the terminal (we read tons of reviews that said you could buy bottles of liquor in the terminal, stick it in your bag, and have no problems going through security with it). We don't drink much, so we opted out of trying that. We got right on the ship and tried going to our room - a Lido Deck Balcony Room (we LOVED it!). Rooms opened at 2:30pm, and it was about 2:15pm, so we hung out in the hallway for a few mins so we could drop off our carry-ons and go get some lunch.
The ship was pretty identical to the Triumph which I'd been on twice. I don't think the decor was all that bad like some people say, but that stuff also isn't a big deal to us either. We're there for the food, ports and experience, not the decor of the ship!! The ship was clean and easy to navigate (at least we thought so!) And I must add since so many people complain about the Puerto Ricans being rude - I REALLY didn't feel this was about them at all. There are always going to be rude people on cruises, take them with a grain of salt and don't let them ruin your trip - plain and simple! All in all, embarkation was pretty painless and we were happy with the amount of time it all took!! The muester (sp?) drill was awful! It seemed to take forever (we also got there right when they called it so that's probably why - take you're time going to it or you'll feel like you've been standing there for hours!!) Not to mention it was so hot and we were in the back row of about 4 or 5 rows - talk about claustrophobic! Dinner that night was after the drill and it was open seating, we got lucky and got to sit alone that night, which was a nice start to the trip!
For the rest of the cruise we got to sit with 3 other couples for dinner - all on their honeymoons!! The cruise line did an awesome job sitting us with a fun table of people all around our age! We got engaged in St. Thomas (the 1st port) on this cruise, so our table was pretty special that week! Our room steward was fantastic, and so were our head waiter and his assistant!
The shows were "ok" - nothing that impressive. We had the late seating dinner (we usually didn't finish until around 10pm) so a few of the nights we didn't even go to shows. We just walked around, possibly hit the casino, and went to bed early - especially if we had excursions the next day. This cruise is port heavy, so we enjoyed getting the extra sleep most nights and skipping the shows! We did see the comedian (pretty funny), magician (not very good), and one of the dancing shows (pretty similar to how they usually are).
Debarkation from the ship wasn't all that bad either. We waited a little longer then what our number was to get off the ship because our flight wasn't until 3:30pm. The room steward had to kick us out eventually, haha, but we just hung out in the lobby for a few mins. before we finally got off. We met the airport transfer outside and got right to the airport. Now this is where it turned ugly!! AirTran will not be getting our business for a LONG time because of our experience in the San Juan airport! First, PLEASE make sure you get your bags scanned and tagged at the USDA station near the front door before you get in line for your flight. We saw no signs anywhere telling us this and were already in line when we found out this needed to be done before they'd take your bags! Luckily, we held our spot in line while we took turns scanning our bags - make sure the sticker is put on them (ALL bags including carry-ons)!! We then proceeded to stand in line for almost THREE hours!!!! It was a nightmare! We got to the airport around 10:30am, and didn't even get to the ticket counter until almost 1:30! Apparently AirTran doesn't arrive to start checking people in until 2 or 3 hours before their earliest flight, which the earliest was around 2:30/3:00. So instead of getting there early and getting people checked in so we could go have lunch and SIT DOWN to wait for our flight, they let the line wrap around a good many times and loop almost out the front door of the airport! It was ridiculous how many people had to stand in line that long. And then we had to deal with some people who were trying to cut in the line and we thought a fist fight was about to break out right then and there between them and the people they were cutting in front of. I wrote AirTran a letter telling them how appalled I was with the way they ran their ticket counter in San Juan, it was disorganized and not well planned. They obviously know the cruise ships in port let passengers off at the same time every Sunday, so I'm not sure why they wouldn't organize the situation better! Of course, I have not heard back from AirTran and probably never will! I know I was not the only person to write them a letter after that day, most of the people in line said they were going to complain as well.
Now onto my reviews of each island! =)