We arrived in San Juan at 4:00PM after flying all day. We had pre-purchased transfers and while the pace was slow we eventually were shepherded to our bus/chariot. I was a bit nervous that our luggage was staying at the curb as we pulled away but was reassured that it would be sent later. (It Was!) Check-in was the smoothest I have experienced in five cruises. This was our first from San Juan but it went quickly. We checked in, dropped off our carry-ons in our stateroom, and met a few of our companions for a quick run to the CVS near Senor Frog's to stock up on wine and coca cola. Carnival allows each guest to carry on a bottle of wine and a 12 pack of Coke. They also allow guests to purchase a 1.1 litre bottle of Bacardi (I chose Limon) for $42 before the trip through the Bon Voyage Dept and it is waiting for you in the stateroom when you arrive. At $6.85 a drink that had to save me a couple of hundred dollars during the week LOL! The ship left port at 10PM and we attended the Bon Votage Party on the Lido Deck but we were beat from travelling so we went to bed shortly after we passed the Fort.
Monday in St Thomas: We booked a snorkeling trip on the "Fury" a 46 foot sailing boat online. The crew took great care of us and we snorkled, saw turtles and stingrays, fish and even found a large conch shell we brought up to pose for pictures with before catch-and-releasing it! Rum Punch and Beer on the way back to the dock. Then a cab to Magen's Bay. Its $8 per person each way plus $4 to get in the beach area. I negotiated the driver down to $6 per person on the way over but they were not budging for the trip back.
Tuesday in Dominica- Bumpiing Tours to the Falls, the cave/river swim and Hot Springs as well as a lot of driving around sightseeing. A wonderful tour we booked onliine as well. Our driver "Sexy" and our guide (her name escapes me) were excellent and friendly.
Wednesday- Barbados-Were planning on taking the 5 Star Catamaran Tour but the weather looked ominous. We cancelled and good thing. It was raining and blowing from noon all afternoon. It looked like a Tropical Storm at times. So we sat onbord and played cards in the Sports Bar. A Note here: When in port, the ship becomes like a ghost town. Few activities. A friend went to the ping pong tournament and no one from Carnival even showed up. Sad Guys, come on!
Thursday- St Lucia- Pre-booked tour around the island. Stopped pretty much where we wanted when we wanted. The driver, Reginald, was the best. My wife got motion sickness from the winding roads and he stopped and when the bar we were at had no Sprite, he went alone to another place and bought her a Sprite with his own money. He also stopped at a casava mill so we could sample and buy casava bread, we stopped at a scenic overlook or five to shop. I bought some spiced rum at one. It was $20 a bottle but OH SO TASTY! Of course it rained most of the day off and on but we still had a blast and Reginald bought us hot bread and cheese to snack upon as well as some local bread called Bambi Bread or something like that. It was good too if a little hard to break off.
Friday- St Kitts. Took Tangerine Tours with a wonderful guide with rainbow dyed beard and hair. He was a blast and drove us all the way around the island stopping at Romney manor, a few scenic places and up the hill above the Marriott. 3 PM...More Rain. It was a wonderful laid back tour though.
Saturday- St Maartens- Went by cab to the French side to the beach. It poured again most of the day but the guys just swam in the surf with drinks and figured we were already wet so what was the big deal? My wife lost her money and ID and we thought she had had her pocket picked on the beach but when the cabbie came back he handed her everything including the money. We tipped well as we thought her sail and sign card, drivcers license and about $75 were goners. Nice to see an honest man and we appreciated it very much. My wife went shopping with some frineds in Phillipsburg and bought a lot of jewelry at reasonable prices. She had a wonderful time as did most of us.
Sunday-Back to San Juan where we debarked almost dead last. We had a late flight so it was no big deal. Again we went off the ship quickly although the porters misread the luggage tags of two of us and we had to go no a scavenger hunt to find our luggage in the wrong areas. The San Juan airport was not too bad although the people at the AirTran counter were not in much of a hurry. Too bad they were not on commission they may have moved a little quicker.
The Ship- I have taken five Carnival Cruises, once on Victory in the Western Caribbean in 2005. The Old Girl is in need of a drydock period. We stayed on the seconfd deck port side aft and the carpets were worn in many spots down to the deck. The staff was very friendly in most cases but service was not as good as in the past. Our cabin steward Gilbert was very frinedly, but I had to run down my own ice frequently and he forgot to fill it at night on one occasion. The dining room wait staff were very frinedly but they had some trouble remembering who had ordered what. There were fifteen of us at adjacent tables near the aft windows so we switched who sat at what table depending upon who arrived first so it was paobably confusing for him but all in all he did a good job. The food arrived lukewarm frequently and my filet was not very tender at all. Don't get me wrong, the food was good usually, but not as impressive as in the past. And they eliminated the Chicken Satay appetizers which was a huge bummer! The pools were not too crowded the few times we went although being hurricane season the ship was supposedly underbooked which likely helped. There were many rude guests onboard though. I hate to sound prejudiced because I am really not. But it was usually groups of Latinos standing three wide in the passageways yelling and refusing to move. We had to listen to the incessant shrieking of a group three doors down who screamed the word "Puta" about every thirty seconds. Nice. They also seemed to enjoy cutting in line at the lunch and breakfast buffets and running up and down the halls at the wee hours screaming to each other at the top of their lungs. All in all we loved the cruise but agreed that service and cleanliness has slipped a bit since our last cruise. Would I go again? Of course I would. Was there room to improve? Absolutely.