WOW. What a great week my family of five had on this cruise. We sailed the last week of June and had the time of our lives! We were a bit worried by some of the negative reviews of the ship being old, rude passengers, etc. We never experienced any of this. Yes the ship is 10 years old and the carpets are starting wear down, but the ship is so well taken care of. It is a beautiful, clean ship that was always being cleaned. You would not know the age of the ship if someone did not tell you before hand. We enjoyed all the other passengers and never experienced anyone who was rude. The population onboard was around 1/2 American and the other 1/2 was Puerto Rican and Spanish. They use many Spanish translators on board since there is a high number of those who do not speak English well. This didn't bother us in the slightest as everyone on board was there to have a great time.
We found the crew on this ship to be excellent compared to other Carnival cruises. We loved the Cruise Director Karl with K and the wait staff at dinner was simply fantastic. Food was great also. Watch out for the cupcakes on Lido deck...they were the only thing we ate that was always non-tasty. The spirit on board is lively and we would book this cruise again in heartbeat.
As far as the ports go, here are some of my recommendations:
St. Thomas- Take the Red Hook Ferry (get there by taxi) over to St. John. From there go to Trunk Bay and snorkel for the day. BEAUTIFUL water and beach. No locals hassling you on the beach.
St. Kitts- We booked the zip lining sky safari through Carnival. Great day!!!
Barbados- HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend Calabaza Sailing Cruises. You must book them separately off their website, but WOW what a GREAT day!! There are only 12 people on their beautiful catamaran and they take you snorkeling at different sights. Gina also is a great cook and you will not go hungry. Can not say enough good things about Calabaza.
Dominica- Did the Roseau Valley Treasures tour through Bumpiing Tours. You must also book this separately through their website. Very cool tour! The island is quite poor, but gosh is it beautiful! Bumpiing tour guides are quite knowledgeable about the island and we got to see a number of really neat things. Don't do this tour if you don't like water.
St. Maarten- We took a taxi over to Maho Beach to swim and watch the planes land right over your head. No locals hassling you on the beach and a great beach bar (Sunset Bar) located right on the beach with lunch and bathrooms. The water was breathtaking and the planes flying overhead was really neat!
*I suggest taking one day to just stay on the boat. We didn't get off at St. Lucia since we had been there before and we were SO glad we did. This is a great itinerary but don't overplan. Trust me.
Formal nights were Dominica and St. Lucia. People were more dressy on the first night than on the second. Also, if you want to take pictures on the first formal night, get an early start. Lines backed up. Go to the shows and participate in some of the activities. It is all a part of the fun!
This cruise was a very memorable one and we cannot wait for our next cruise next summer!! Carnival is truly a great cruise line.