Quick info about us: couple, both 40, no kids, from Holland (Europe). Our 5th cruise with Carnival, our second visit to San Juan. We chose this cruise for the 6-port itinerary. Our interests are nature, history, photography and scuba diving.
We started this cruise on Sunday, August 29. From our hotel we took a cab to the port around 11:30AM and went through embarkation. There was a little wait before we were allowed to board at 12:45PM. After lunch on the Lido deck and a little relaxing, we headed to our cabin on deck 8. As with all our previous cruises, we had a balcony stateroom - no surprises there, except for a letter from the captain. We were aware of Hurricane Earl - we'd been following the weather updates all week and we knew it might get close. As it turned out, it would get REALLY close, affecting the US Virgin islands and Puerto Rico.
The captain's letter announced that the ship need to take a different itinerary. Instead of going to St.Thomas, the next day would be a sea day and we'd visit St.Thomas later that week, replacing St.Maarten. Also, St.Lucia and Dominica were swapped. Luckily, our shore excursions (all privately booked) could all be switched.
After a quick freshening up, we went off the ship again to see more of Old San Juan and to buy diet coke at the CVS opposite the pier.
The ship was in really good shape. All public areas were spotless. There were some worn carpets on the deck 2 corridors, but that was a minor issue. Food and service were on par or even slightly better than previous cruises. The entertainment certainly has gotten better, especially with the new production shows.
Hosts Gayve, Smithy, Shelly and Michelle were all a bit crazy (but good crazy) and fun to hang out with.
Cruise director Karl (with a K) was a nice English guy who made sure everyone was informed and entertained. He had a chat session scheduled on the last day, and as no one else showed up it was practically a 1-on-1 talk about ship life. It turned our that missing St.Thomas on the first day had caused some supply problems (we'd noticed they ran out of orange juice by day 5, but all departments ran out of several things at some point).
The Maitre D' in the Pacific dining room was a hoot. A very funny Italian guy who announced the wait staff entertainment between main course and dessert with a enthousiastic and frequent yelling of "who-hoo!". By the third day, he had the entire dining room "who-hoo-ing". Only downside: the two of us were seated at a 4-person table. There were several other twosomes in a similar situation. The Maitre D' should have come round the room the first night to ask if anyone wished to join other couples. We for one would have liked the conversation.
A weird thing on the ship were the elevators, which seemed to have a mind of their own. When we needed to go down, we saw them passing our floor (mostly deck 8) more often than not. Might they be full of people going from Lido deck to lower decks? You'd be inclined to think so. However, a couple of times we'd press 'up' just to get on. Imagine our surprise when the elevator didn't go up to higher floors, but immediately went down - leaving our fellow cruisers on deck 8 waiting for another elevator...