This was our first cruise and after reading some of these reviews, I became quite nervous. After the first day, I realized I had absolutely nothing to worry about.
Food: Gained five pounds! I never took an elevator and jogged on the track almost daily. We had your time dining, which I totally recommend. We had the same table and the same waiter each night. We never felt rushed to make it to dinner. Food quality was fantastic. My husband is a chef and thought food was superior. I also liked the fact that there are lots of healthy choices too, instead of the higher fat foods. The buffet was typical buffet food and line ups long at times but you're on vacation, what's the rush?
Entertainment: Kids enjoyed Camp Carnival, 2-5 and 6-8. They went there about 2 hours per day in the evening to allow the adults some fun time. They really enjoyed their activities and counsellors were very kind and patient. There were about 800 kids on our cruise that used Camp Carnival from all age groups. Our groups always seemed very well controlled when it was time to pick up our wee ones.
Facilities: Huge ship. We were still discovering new areas to explore on the last day. I didn't ever feel crowded, except for in the hot tubs. Lounge chairs were available in various areas. Everything was kept very clean. There's always someone cleaning something! Casino was busy at times but the more the merrier! People seemed to be dispersed evenly through out the ship. There was always something to do. A few more restrooms would have been nice. Sometimes, it seemed I was walking in circles to find the restroom.
Entertainment: Dancing in the Streets was good. Fun Force was awesome! X-Rated Comics were hilarious! Cruise Director Todd was great!
Rooms: Small but clean. Bunk bed pulled out from the ceiling, which the kids loved. I couldn't imagine 4 adults sharing an inside stateroom, but for us it was fine. For the amount of time spent in the room, we managed just fine.
Excursions: We didn't plan any excursion. We wanted to just park our butts on the beach and let the kids play. We brought sand toys and it was heaven.
Nassau-we walked to the public beach, about 20 minutes. It was like our own piece of heaven. Beer hut, bathrooms and hair braiding. What more can one ask for?
St. Thomas-My favourite of the ports. Taxi to Sapphire Beach, $40 one way. Seemed to be the going rate. It is recommended to use the taxi companies located in the gated area. Outside companies aren't insured and are independent drivers. With kids, we were a little hesitant. Goldie was our cabbie and was very reliable. He picked us up when he said he would. Amazing jewelry shopping!
St. Maarten- lots of peddlers that at times don't leave you alone. We walked to the beach, about 20 minutes. Not as clean as St. Thomas but there's a lot of water traffic. It's probably nicer if you take a taxi a little further from the pier but very busy. Cool island with amazing landscapes! Cheap drinks and tons of shopping. They're not as willing to negotiate prices all that much. We rented two lounge chairs for $15 including 4 beers and 2 waters. We had guys fighting for business! So you could bargain there a bit.
Staff: Amazing people! Hard working with a smile! I found some visitors to be extremely rude to staff so that must be hard for them sometimes. But like in the real world, treat others as you want to be treated. Please and thank you go a long way! Our waiter was Christian from Romania who was fantastic, especially with the kids. He always had a magic trick and noticed we weren't there the one formal dinner (I plumped up a little and my dress didn't fit, we had buffet instead! lol!!) and welcomed us back the last night.
Clemente was our room steward who always greeted us by name. He cleaned our room twice a day. The kids were so excited every night to find our which towel animal he made us!
I couldn't ask for anything more from a cruise and would definitely cruise again with Carnival! I can't imagine going to an all-inclusive again. We're already booking our trip for next May! Can't wait.