Awesome, Awesome, Awesome.
I am a 25 year old female, who booked this cruise with big plans - to get married! My fiance and I wanted to get married on a beach in U.S. Territory in January, so we had to look south. This cruise itinerary seemed exciting and the first stop was St. Thomas, which was a major factor in deciding on this trip.
We can hardly find anything to complain about, and to be honest, my husband is quite the complainer :) We arrived a day early in San Juan and stayed at Hotel Milano in Old San Juan. The hotel was older, but it was very convenient to the cruise terminal, we were able to walk there in about 3 blocks. There was lots to do around the hotel and the staff were exceptional with customer service. They recommended things to do, and after we checked out Sunday they locked our luggage up and watched it while we explored the city.
We had an oceanview room on the first deck. It was larger than I had expected, and we enjoyed the window. There was very little noise in the More
hallways. The room was clean and our room steward did a wonderful job keeping us stocked with towels and making our bed, etc.
The food was excellent! We are pretty picky eaters, so we were scared about the menu. However, there was always something great to try, and we loved it. The only complaint is that after midnight, there is only pizza available. Since many shows didn't end til midnight, I wish there would have been more available for late nighters. We had early dining at 6:00 and sometimes we would just eat late breakfast and dinner, and then would be hungry late at night. The wait staff was SUPERB, our waiters Elpedio and Marco were incredibly friendly and hilarious. We looked forward to going to dinner just to interact with the staff. We also got to know several of the bartenders, which were also very friendly and nice.
The cruise director Karl was great, and there was always lots to do on the boat. We went to the piano bar, karaoke bar, dance club, cigar bar, the casino, revue shows, magicians, jugglers, comedians, and so on. We kept saying, "OK, we are going to relax tonight" but that never happened.
The ship was always impeccably clean.
We had no problems with other passengers on board. Maybe we went at a time when most children are in school? There were many different cultures, and none of them were particularly rude. We met so many nice people from all over. (And again, my fiance has a low tolerance for rudeness, so if he can't find anything to complain about, then it must have been a miracle.)
IN ALL, THE CRUISE WAS AWESOME!! I will definitely be cruising Carnival again. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We booked a Carnival excursion to do tours of a local brewery, Banks beer, and the Mount Gay rum distillery. The excursion went well, but it was kind of boring. Most of the people on the tour were older rum enthusiasts. We just thought it would be cool to tour these places. It was very hot in both locations... and I don't tolerate very hot well! But the tour guides were very knowledgeable and kind. We didn't get to see as much as I had anticipated, it was mostly a lot of history and then you got to peek in the bottling factory at both locations.
I probably wouldn't do this again, I would try to find a beach or do something more my style. My husband enjoyed this a little more than I did, but we both had expected something more.
We did not have anything planned for Dominica. In the morning, we got off the ship to do some shopping and then planned on going back and relaxing. I had heard Dominica was an eco island and there was a lot to see if you took a tour, but we didn't want to pay the money for the excursion. As soon as you get in the terminal, you are attacked by endless people giving tours. They harrassed us forever, barterting prices which were much cheaper than the Carnival tours, of course. We ignored them and kept shopping. Finally, before we were going to get back on the ship, my husband caved and wanted to take a tour. We found a cab driver who was taking other people from our ship, and we ended up doing a 3 hour tour of the island for $20 a piece. We felt safer with going with the 6 others from our cruise. The driver was named Sheppy and he was very knowledgeable, stopping continuously while driving and pointing out different plants and other points of interest. We visited Trafalgar Falls, which would have been beautiful but it was SOOO crowded I couldn't even hardly get a picture of the waterfalls.
We also went to the Botanical Gardens, which was pretty, and a look out point over the island which was awesome. The driver was entertaining and it was definitely worth the $20. If you want to do an island tour in Dominica, I would suggest saving your money and finding a tour once you get on the island with some other people.
Nothing scheduled for this port, but my mission was solely to find a beach. We asked at the carnival desk and they recommended catching a cab to Cockleshell beach. We arrived at the Port about 9:30 and tried to catch a cab. The ride was going to be $26 one way, but it would be half as much if we could find another couple to go. The people at the port told us to wait for others to show up. 30 minutes later we finally found another couple and they told us to wait for a cab. We stood off to the side and they found other people cabs, but not us. I was getting aggravated and felt like I was wasting half of the morning. My husband finally asked where our cab was and they found one. The cab driver was nice, and the beach was pretty! When we arrived it wasn't too crowded, but it got crowded by afternoon. We basically spent a few hours laying on the beach and watching the monkey they have in a cage. Then we rode back to the port and did some shopping. The island was beautiful but my husband said we "are never coming back, they people are rude."
In. St Lucia, we booked an excursion to do kayaking at Pigeon Island. It was raining in the morning, but the tour guides promised it would be clear where we were going, and it was. The guide was super nice and entertaining during the 30 minute ride to the location. We were briefed on kayaking, and off we went. We kayaked across the water to Pigeon Island, which was a lot of fun. Then you were able to hike up to a fort and snorkel. Once we kayaked over, we only had an hour left. We hiked up to the fort where you could take gorgeous pictures and overlook that portion of the island. Then, we returned to the water where we attempted to snorkel. We had never done it before, and they insisted we wait for a group. However, it was really rushed and I couldn't even hardly get my face in the water. I ended up getting frustrated and giving up, and my husband was too far behind to catch up with the others. I spent time on the beach, which was nice. In all, it was a nice excursion, but the time was limited.
In St. Maarten, we did an "Amazing Tiki Hut Snorkel." The weather was rainy, but it cleared up quickly. We took a water taxi to a dock that was floating in the ocean. They had a "pool" (it had a bottom, but it was ocean water), snorkeling, sun bathing, and a bar. We snorkeled (successfully this time) and saw some fish and some shipwrecks they had placed around. Then we floated on noodles in the water, and sunbathed on the deck. It was fun and unique and I would do it again. You get a bracelet for the water taxi and you can come and go as you please. We stayed until afternoon and then just returned to the terminal for our souvenir shopping. Everyone here was really nice, I would like to spend some more time in St. Maarten.
We got married here, so we really did not get to explore much of the island. Our ceremony took place on Lindquist Beach, which is a secluded beautiful beach. It is amazing. However, there are no facilities there and it is probably a pretty good cab ride away.
For lunch, we ate at Wicked, a restaurant recommended by our wedding officiant. It was good and reasonably priced. We hadn't booked any excursions because we didn't know if we would have time after the wedding, so walked down the strip and decided to go up to Paradise Point via a high rise gondola. It turns out it was cheaper to just walk up to the ride rather than to book it through Carnival. The view was amazing, and we had the famous Bailey's Bushwacker drink. After several pictures and souvenir shopping, we returned to the ship for a nap before dinner.