A little history on us, I am 36, My DH, is 33, My Brother is 29, and his DW is 31. This is my 12th cruise with carnival. First review on cruise critic, in thanks to the many great tips I have received in the past.
Check in went well, on the ship and enjoying lunch before 12:30 p.m. Nothing new to report for Miami cruise terminal, except that they did have a shore excursion desk set up in the terminal area where you could book excursions. Since they were not boarding yet, I was able to go ahead and book a cabana for half-moon cay before we boarded. I am glad that I did this because 1/2 of the cabanas were already sold and it was still before noon, and noone was on the ship yet.
Got into our cabin at 1:30 p.m. This was the biggest disappointment of the entire cruise. I have always booked a Balcony Cabin on a seven day cruise and have always been pleased. I am sorry I cannot say the same for this trip. First, there was a weak spot in the bathroom floor that always made me feel like I was close to falling through. Second, the couch was falling apart, it was annoying to look at or sit on because it always moved. Third, the molding was falling off the vanity which made it difficult to open and close the drawer. Forth, the balcony door did not always seal shut properly when it was closed, the whistling noise was very annoying. Fifth, was our cabin steward himself. He never introduced himself by name. In fact, I am not sure if I ever saw him, I think I only encountered his assistant on a couple of occasions. Overall, the cabin was just shabby, and it made me feel like I was at a Motel 8. Not the usual experience that I have had with Carnival.
Half Moon Cay was wonderful. Perfect Beach Day! We rented Cabana #9 and loved it. Bar Service was great! They came and checked on us every hour or so. The BBQ was so-so but we really didn't care.......
Fun Days At Sea: checked the ship out, enjoyed the decor, won some money in the casino, lost a lot more money in the casino ;) but at least the Ocean Players Club gave me and the DH a photo coupon and a free drink for our efforts. The Piano Bar was fun, but I could not be in there too long because of the smoke (and I am kinda of use to it due to DH's nasty habit). My DH spent a good amount of time in sports bar. We did do the Putt-Putt course thing, the Michael Jackson trivia, one game of Bingo, made some masks for the Madi Gras Party. My Brother won for best mask....go figure... Only caught the first show and one magic show, both were good. I wish Carnival would do away with guest show or at least up date the artist that the include in show, seriously Ricky Martin, Garth Brooks, Brittany Spears. In the words of my niece, that is soooooo last century... Plenty to do on the ship, not enough time for napping!!
Saint Thomas: Another Beautiful Day! Took a cab to the Aquarium, entry was $19.00 with coupon that the taxi driver gave us. We rented a locker for an additional $3.00. Checked out all the exhibits, including the sea lion show. We then locked up all are gear and walked down to Coki Beach to do some snorkeling . TAKE SOME DOG BISCUITS WITH YOU!!. The fish were every where, best snorkeling I have done in a long time. On a side note, I felt safe at Coki Beach, and it look pretty clean to me. I also noticed a police presences on the main street leading to the beach. After snorkeling we stopped by the gift shop and then headed back to the ship, changed and had a quick lunch, then we went up to paradise point. (Bought this through ship, because I heard it was cheaper on cruise-critic-great tip!) Very much enjoyed the view and some alone time with my DH. Then we headed back down and did a little shopping before time to board. Lots of shops, but I am not a big shopper, we only allowed about 30 mins for this.
Puerto Rico: Another Gorgeous Day! We took a taxi to Fort Morreo, super cheap only $4.00 a person. Cab driver friendly, offered us a tour, but we already had a plan for the day. We toured the fort, which is breathtaking, in more ways that one. Ladies those stairs are something else!! Afterwards, we walked though the old streets of San Juan. Loved it. Hit up the Coach Outlet. We ended up at Senor Frogs stopped in for a drink that was way, way, over priced, but alas, we were tourist after all. Got some great deals on Rum here, and came back with more that we can ever drink.
GRAND TURK: Great Weather Again! We booked a snorkeling excursions here through Carnival. Disappointed with excursion. After briefing, we headed out to the reef and bailed off the boat, every time I would try to submerged, water would leak in my mask. My DH tightened it, still leaks. My DH and I switch gear, it leaks with him too, finally 10 mins into this, the guide comes over and tries to help, has to switch out equipment, by then 1/2 of snorkeling time had past. By the time we had the situation, resolved, the group was already headed towards beach. Carnival did credit me fo 20% of the excursion for both me and my DH but still very disappointing morning, I was looking forward to the drop. After snorkeling we headed back to the pier, my DH and I hung out around the Margaritaville Pool. The others went shopping. Two Pina Coladas later, I had forgotten about the snorkel disaster.
ANY TIME DINING: I really like the flexibility of having dinner when it suited are schedule. However I learned two things (1) never go when either the main or late seating dining starts, you will have a long wait. My tip-- try to go either 30 minutes before of after those times, (2) Be patient. It seems, as compared to a set dining time I have had in the past, that the any time dining staff is stretched a little thin. Often had to wait between courses, for water to be refilled, etc. We used the Dining room four of seven nights. The food was average, nothing horrible, nothing great, except for the warm chocolate melting cake. I did notice, that I ate a lot less this cruise than usually, didn't gain a single pound, in fact I lost four, not that is a bad thing. The food just didn't have that Yum-O factor I have experienced in the past.
COMEDY CLUBS: Great New Addition. I enjoyed every show that I saw.
DEBARKATION: A Breeze!
Overall, a great cruise, great value for your money..just didn't rate as high as other carnival cruises in the past.