IMO, cruise reviews are not all that enlightening, but they help pass the time between cruises, and you find the occasional nugget of information that turns out to be useful. I love cruising and generally give the 5 star rating unless someone has really done something to peave me off.
This review will not include:
1. Mind numbing detail. My goal is that you can read it without feeling the need to skim over anything.
2. Testimonials about our servers and cabin boys- you are highly unlikely to get the same people.
3. Late night entertainment. I do little after 10pm other than get up to urinate.
4. Attempts to influence you to do or not do anything- to each his own. Unless you are just like me (God have mercy on you) my opinions are just that.
5. Anything I forget to say before hitting the submit button.
This review will include:
1. Things I can still remember.
2. Things we liked.
3. Opinions I feel like unburdening myself of.
We always go the day before for peace of mind, sightseeing, rest and early boarding. This time, in my infinite wisdom, I booked our cruise such that our arrival was on Super Bowl Sunday. We had a heck of a time finding a room, and finally used Marriott points to book the FLL airport Springhill Suites. It turned out to be a nice place with complimentary shuttles from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the cruiseport. We toured Fort Lauderdale by water taxi on Sunday.
We like the layout of the Spirit class ships, which are long and narrow and carry about 2200 passengers. There is a bit of movement on the ship- just enough that you don't forget you are at sea. The decor of the ship is bizarre with no discernible theme, but hey, this is Carnival. Were you really expecting teak and white gloved attendants? The ship does not feel crowded after embarkation day.
To the surprise of some, Carnival has better than average food offerings. We ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck. Breakfast is standard buffet, but I enjoyed made to order fried eggs at the omelet station. Why anyone would choose the self serve scrambled eggs is a mystery to me. There is a good variety at lunch, including an international station with a different theme each day, an Asian station and a burger and hot dog grill among other choices. Soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt as well as pizza are available at all hours. We enjoyed early seating dinners in the dining room- anytime dining is also available. We went to Nick and Nora's, the specialty restaurant, on the last night of the cruise. The food was excellent and worth the additional $30 per person charge.
We only chose to go to two shows and enjoyed both. One was a physical comic, did some fairly amazing balancing acts, involved the audience and had a running funny commentary. The other was the Beatles inspired Ticket to Ride show. Get there early because they show Beatle film footage as pre show entertainment.
Karaoke (not necessarily entertainment):
There were opportunities to participate in this nearly every day in a non-smoking environment, but much of the schedule was late night and involved auditions for the Legends show, which took place from 11pm to midnight on the last night of the cruise. Even though I do a passable Elvis and Sinatra, I chose not to audition. Besides the late night aspect, the winners tend to be people who bring along their own entourage to applaud them, plus, who wants the stress of doing something competitive while relaxing on vacation?
Carnival has gone quite informal for better or worse. You can now wear shorts and jeans at dinner, and formal night has been replaced with elegant casual. Of course you are free to dress up as much as you like, but it is hard to get used to seeing people dressed so informally at dinner. On the other hand, it is now possible to forgo the garment bag and save $70 in round trip airline baggage charges, so we may come around yet.
No matter how cold it may have been in the USA, (I heard 49 States got snow), St. Maarten, St. Lucia and St. Kitts were reliably warm and sunny. We didn't venture far on St. Maarten, having been there before. Water taxi to the port, a little shopping downtown and an hour or so on the downtown area beach. We took the Carnival Land and Sea combo tour on St. Lucia, which was scenic and fun. Our favorite stop was St. Kitts. We took a $10 taxi to the Marriott on the Atlantic side and rented a day room for $65, that gave our party of four access to the beach and pools, towels and "noodles" with our own room for changing and showering. The Atlantic was warm and clear and wavy enough for body surfing. Deck chairs and umbrellas were plentiful and no local vendors trying to sell you things for a change.
Used express baggage service and were back in the cold in no time.