The plane ride (with Spirit Air) each way was uneventful with no turbulence.
Day 1: EMBARKATION was easy, though crowded the wait didn't seem overly long. For once, we were onboard so early that the rooms weren't ready yet. We had to roll our carry-on luggage around with us. We had lunch at the deli, getting a favourite-slow roasted turkey in a wrap. Another day we tried the hot turkey on a country roll - good, but both a little saltier than I remembered. Once we had access to our room, after 1:30PM, we checked out our balcony and were able to see them loading the luggage. My sister spotted our luggage on top of one container. That was cool. We were able to see them load it on the ship. Once it was loaded, we went up on deck briefly. We weren't gone 15 minutes, and when we returned our luggage was already at our cabin door. We unpacked, joined in the sail away party on the lido deck, played a famous faces trivia game, and participated in a country line dancing lesson in the huge theatre up on the stage.
Day 2: HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS. This was such a beautiful beach. By the time we went down to go ashore, we didn't need a tender ticket, but the tender was full. We had to stand, which was better because there was air flowing there. Once on the beach we walked for a few minutes, and pulled up a free lounge chair. Though we couldn't hear the music, it was a great spot. We swam and I practised my snorkelling. I got sunburned legs - was smart to wear a water shirt swimming, so no burn there. My sister pointed out a stingray - got a pic. We missed the barbecue lunch. It was about 2PM, and one of the girls of the family next to us came back and said they were putting the food away. When it was time to leave, we took the path back, instead of the beach and took some nice pictures. We had to wait a few minutes in the heat for the tender back. There were stalls set up with souvenirs to purchase, but we didn't look at them. At night, we went out to watch the movie, 'Yes, Man', on the big screen, under the stars. We sat in blue rubber - like rockers. There is nothing like watching a movie under the stars.
Day 3: AT SEA - Because of yesterday's sun, we decided to stay out of it today and found a quiet spot to sit on deck 3. This was the first formal night - formal photos were costing just over 20$ for 1 - 8x10 size. Luckily, I had a 15$ gift certificate to use. I had written Carnival a letter after the past cruise, telling of the enjoyment and they said, the next trip, to contact them and they would have a welcome aboard gift - well it was presented to me in the dining room. We bought a photo to give to our mother.
Day 4: ST. THOMAS - been to this Island before, so we walked the pathway into Charlotte Amalie from the ship, looked in some stores, then spent the afternoon on the lido deck - enjoying a lounge chair and the water slide. If we go back, I would like to visit St. John's Island, or do the kayaking and snorkelling excursion. Although it was nice, actually finding a spot to lounge on the lido deck.
Day 5: SAN JUAN - Segway tours - not through Carnival. So much fun!!! A little hesitant at first and leery at first practise run, but in short order we all were zipping around on them like pros. They only go 5m/hour, and if you are speeding there is a mechanism that lets you know you need to slow down. There are sensors under you feet to make you go or stop, and you can turn 360 on a dime. Our guide Natalie was fabulous - terrific personality and knows all about where she lives. Also scored on some great deals at Marshalls on Forteleza street. I would have liked to have had more time to explore other shops in San Juan. The time stop isn't very shopper friendly. We arrive at 7AM (shops don't open until 9AM) and leave at 3:30PM. We saw the smallest residence in the Northern Hemisphere, measuring 6 feet wide. I believe it sold for over 1 million$.
At night we had a huge party on deck. There was also a colours war-decks were divided into colours. We were white, so I donned a white t-shirt. Those who wanted to participate met up in the disco. Red and blue teams met elsewhere. We were given white 'war paint' on our faces. We were taught a simple cheer. 'go white team, go white team go.' Then we had to do things to gain points. This had been going on for the entire cruise. In the disco we had to twist, then the boys and girls were divided and we had to sing the song 'summer love' from Grease. When it came to the solo parts, our cruise director, Butch, told us if we didn't know the words to make something up. Wouldn't you know it, he put the mike in my face-luckily I knew the words. Next we moved to the Victoria lounge where we had to group karaoke, the boys sang, 'Old Time rock and roll', and the girls sang, 'Girls just want to have fun.' Two of the white team then got up to karaoke, "YMCA". Then we did a group song, 'Sweet Caroline'. Next we moved to the casino area where we had to learn a line dance. When we first arrived, chanting our cheer, the noise in that area was deafening. The entertainment staff, Kyle, was laughing - he had never experienced that before. Each time we passed another colour team, we would scream out our little cheer. Then we were marched to the lido deck, where we did some more dancing, electric slide, cupid shuffle, cha cha slide. The white team ended up winning. We don't get anything for it - just the fun we had and bragging rights. Day 6: GRAND TURK - rained. While I saw some using the beach and pool anyway, I couldn't bring myself to, especially when I heard some thunder. So, after finding souvenirs for family in the shops(everything is extremely close together-pool, beach, shops), and taking photos (far to the left-there is a sign that reads massage, keep walking on this path and you find a long dock - great photo-op with the ship in the background), we headed back onboard. Would like to go back to experience a sunny day there. Our dinner companion, Lisa, had taken the horse riding excursion, where you ride the horses into the water. She told us, they took her to the other side of the island. She enjoyed it.
Day 7: AT SEA- groove for St. Jude's hospital - we gave a $10 donation and received a t-shirt and rubber bracelet and did some dancing in the disco. A photographer also took a group picture. If this was available to purchase, we were never told. Earlier in the day, the captain came on over the emergency system - he had to speed the ship up, they need to get a fellow passenger to the hospital. So we arrived in Miami at aprox. 11:30PM, as opposed to 2:30 AM. Because of this, the shops and casino all had to close down early. I didn't mind. We went out on the lido deck, sat down in the rubberized rocking chairs, and were watching the Harry Potter movie on the outdoor screen, but my sister noticed I was falling asleep and made me go to bed. It had been so nice sitting under the stars.
PAST GUEST RECEPTION I will never miss this again. The lead Carnival singers were there and the Carnival Band performing. Free drinks and hordeurves were served. The Captain made a speech and we watched a video of the history of Carnival and cheered when we saw the ships we had previously sailed on.
ONBOARD FUN - we went to the disco a few times. There were theme slots, one night was 70's Motown fun, Michael Jackson tribute, 50/60s hour. We missed the 80's night because we were doing something else. We tried our hand at some of the trivia, unsuccessful but fun. The shows were all terrific. The lead singers were amazing. One night there was a hypnotist. He was very entertaining as were the fellow cruisers who volunteered. We played Bingo - these games should be free, and they should do Carnival logo giveaways. The final show consisted of fellow passengers. They would good - with one exception - the last singer, was AMAZING - he sang a Frank Sinatra song - and switched to Spanish during it. He had such a beautiful pure voice.
FOOD This trip there were so many fabulous desserts, I went a little crazy there. We tried the pizza - good as usual, the burgers and fries (also still good)-though they also now have chicken strips which were tasty. We ate upstairs at the fish and chips place - very good. All evenings but the first we enjoyed the dining room menu. We were going to try the dining room at breakfast but always ended up in the buffet- cereal, eggs, pancakes or French toast, sausage or bacon, yogurt, fruit, white and chocolate milk...all the standards. We didn't pay to eat at Harry's steakhouse. I am already paying for the food, why pay again! At the past guest reception, there was a draw to win dinner for two there.
DINING ROOM - SILVER. We didn't get a table for two in the dining room as requested, but our dinner companions were great people. We hung out with them a few times other than dinner. The dining room staff were (as were all staff onboard) fabulous and were entertaining after the meals.
DEBARKATION - SOUTH BEACH MIAMI TOUR WITH FORT LAUDERDALE AIRPORT TRANSFER - was fabulous. I want to go hang out there for longer. The beach was endless and wide. The lifeguard stations painted in pastel colours. I was bad. Just like in the movies - they had people playing volleyball (remember the seen from Top Gun with the guys playing a game). There were also some men working out. I made my sister sit down on the half wall and took her picture, with them conveniently in the background. The architecture was amazing too. Every building was very distinct. On our tour, the guide told us there were people who wanted to tear down the old Jackie Gleason theatre. It isn't protected by the historical foundation. We were told there is a petition you can sign online if interested to help preserve this piece of history.