- Book with a seasoned cruise expert. I booked with a travel agent who had never cruised, so she wasn't able to advise me on my cabin selection. As a result, I picked a cabin right at the bow which was the worst spot to be when it got rough at sea (unless you LIKE it when all the doors in your cabin are swinging!) - If you are at all sensitive to motion sickness (or worried about it) pick a mid ship cabin on a lower deck. My next cabin will be on Deck 3 :) - Carnival has a very lenient smoking policy. All cabins are smoking unless you're in a 'spa' section which costs more and isn't available on some ships. So you could end up in a cabin that smells like an ashtray if the person before you was smoked like a chimney. RCI (and others) have strict 'no smoking' in cabins policy. - I found 'obstructed ocean view' perfectly fine. I didn't 'need' a balcony because I was cruising solo and basically used my cabin to sleep, shower and get ready for the next event! But I did like being able to tell what the weather was and what time of day it was. I've heard once you get a balcony there's no going back, so I'm holding off as long as possible!
Likes: - I really love the southern Caribbean. The islands were all quite different from each other which kept it interesting. My favourites were St. Thomas USVI and St. Kitts, mainly because of the excursions I did there. - Doing a different port each day was interesting and we only sailed at night which was good. My dining table was at the center of the stern, so I would see our wake and the island we were leaving every night at dinner. Loved it! - The ship didn't seem crowded at all - there were so many different things to do, both in port and when we were sailing that I kept meeting new people throughout the trip. Being a single traveler was great! Couples and families were very social and there were enough other single travelers that I didn't feel out of place at all. - I did 2 different Carnival excursions and one on my own with a local taxi driver in St. Kitts. 2 out of 3 were well worth while, the 3rd one being the St. Lucia pirate cruise which was a bit too silly and noisy for my liking. It was great to have a mixture. - The ship itself, Carnival Victory was deluxe and very clean. The seating in the different areas of the ship was very comfortable and had a fun ambiance.
Dislikes: - My cabin was right over the line winch, so whenever we docked, usually at 4-5am, I was wide awake until the winch stopped. Combined with 4 hours jet lag, meant I didn't feel rested at all. They changed my cabin after 5 nights, which helped me catch up on sleep but it was a handicapped cabin so I just had a single bed, which I didn't like. - The sea was much rougher than I expected and having a cabin in the bow didn't help. Luckily I took lots of Gravol with me and used it a few nights. I am a light sleeper so between the thudding of the waves and the winch, I didn't sleep great. I would have been better off mid-ship although I hear the passageways can be noisy. - I wasn't expecting there to be so much smoking on the ship. Luckily there was a list of the interior smoking areas so you knew where not to go. But on deck, people smoked even where they weren't supposed to. There is no such thing as a non-smoking stateroom - I was lucky mine didn't smell! - After getting home, I had 3-4 days of 'mal de debarquement' - feeling dizzy and 'land sick'. I never knew you could feel sick after getting off the ship! But it passed and I'm ready to go again!
- the tendering was done unanchored so the ship was moving as people were boarding/unboarding - Between tenders, the gangway was left often while the ship motored - it was windy and being unanchored we would have drifted into other boats. The crew allowed small children to stand in front of the open gangway while motoring. If the ship had lurched, they could have been easily fallen overboard off a moving ship. - On the return trip, the crew allowed the sails to luff with big wooden blocks whipping around the heads of passengers on deck. Someone could have been easily injured or even knocked overboard (unconscious). Any seasoned sailor knows those blocks are 'widow makers'. The crew eventually got the lines under control, but it took them a few minutes and by that time, passengers were holding the lines with the blocks to avoid getting hit by them.
Seems like pretty basic stuff to me and I don't think my safety expectation are set too high, even considering this is not the US/Canada.