This was mine and my husband's first cruise. We never really get the chance to travel that often so what better way to spend our Honeymoon than to sample a bunch of different places! We arrived in Miami the Friday night before we cruised and stayed at the Miami Hilton. It wasn't bad at all! There wasn't much to do around the hotel but since we arrived that night and had to board the cruise around 12:30p the next day it didn't matter:) Carnival had sent a bus for us (and about 15 other passengers who were staying at the hotel)around 12p and it took us directly to port. The embarkation process really wasn't that bad at all, it took about 35 minutes max from the time we got off the bus to the time we got on the ship. We left our luggage and it was ready for us in our room at around 2:30p. It was just enough time to walk around the ship, grab a quick bite to eat and a drink and then we were ready to unpack everything! It was our first time cruising so we really didn't know what to expect More
but we ended up loving everything about the ship! At times yes, it was a little crowded (especially around lunch and dinner at the buffet). But really, what do you expect when you take your vacation with 2,000 other people?:) If you just know that before going in and learn to have fun with it, you'll have a great time!
As far as the food goes, it wasn't anything to write home about but it was good! It was your typical buffet and we were totally fine with that:) Being able to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic while sipping a cup of coffee and munching on a piece of bacon is bliss. It didn't matter to us that we weren't in a 5 star restaurant, we were on a cruise for our Honeymoon and were just excited for all of the ports!:) As far as the seated dining went each night, that was great! We had lobster, steak, etc. And the amazing thing is...you don't have to order just one lobster, you can order like 15 if you want! (Ok, that might be a little excessive haha. We only ordered one entree per person per night but the point is...you can order it if you want to! Why not, you're on VACATION right?!) The other awesome part of this is that they sit you with people who have common interests. We sat next to a couple who were close to our age and on their one year anniversary and they were super friendly! Every night we would all talk about our experiences that day. It was great!
The shows and such on the ship...we didn't really go to any of them. Just not our cup of tea I guess. We went to a comedy show one night and it was kind of funny...we also went to a musical but walked out within 10 minutes. Really...well, not great haha:) We both like to get up early in the morning so we don't miss a thing so we spent a lot of the time in the casino, pool and just walking around with fun drinks! We didn't really stay out late at the on board clubs.
We had a balcony room and as I stated before...waking up to the sun rising over the Atlantic every morning is Heaven! I know they say that once you have a balcony, you never go back and it has to be true! This was one of my favorite parts of the cruise!
As far as the ports go, I'll cover all of those in the "port reviews." Overall, the cruise was great, we had a blast! We've actually already booked our next cruise for our One Year Anniversary on the Legend! Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We booked the Catamaran Sailaway, Beach & Snorkel tour through Carnival at Grand Turk. The tour itself was awesome! Grand Turk...not so much. (I was expecting something completely different, I guess). The boat ride out to the spot where we went snorkeling was about 15-20 minutes, not bad at all! The "captain" was this really funny guy who sang Jamaican Hymns the entire time:) Once we stopped the boat, we had a very quick safety briefing and then it was into the water! They have a couple of guides who get into the water with you. I am a total chicken when it comes to the ocean so I really appreciated knowing that an experienced person was swimming along side us the entire time. (Why go snorkeling if I'm afraid of the ocean? You have to face your fears right! I wouldn't trade it for anything, it was SO MUCH FUN!) We saw a ton of fish and the captain was throwing them food off the side of the boat. (At one point he threw food down (Which I didn't know he did) and then pointed in the water for me to look. I ducked my head down and there were like 10 fish about 1 inch in front of me!! (They were HUGE!) I seriously screamed underwater, scared them all away and my husband still cracks up about that to this day:)) On the way back from snorkeling, they bring you to a little beach that you have to swim about 50ft to. The water was freaking gorgeous! We laid out and swam around for about an hour. The guides from the boat swam around with a bottle of rum and poured it down everyone's throat hahaha. It sounds unsanitary but it really wasn't.) On the way back, we drank a little more (Yes...it turned into a full blown booze cruise!) and then came back to port. We had PLENTY of time to shop around when we got back to Grand Turk. Here's the thing though...there are a TON of commercialized shops where you can buy your Ron Jon T's, magnets, stickers, etc. But for the most part...the shops felt like you were simply in Cocoa Beach, FL...not Grand Turk. Overall though, the snorkeling tour was awesome and I definitely recommend it!
We booked our excursion through Carnival prior to arriving. We pulled into San Juan pretty early and immediately got in line for our Canopy Tour. (Zip Line). We loaded a bus to the La Marquesa Forestry Reserve and were on our way. It took about 45 minutes to get there...once we got out of the city, the scenery was really pretty! It started to rain a little once we arrived but we were totally fine with it since it was SO HOT!! Everyone on the tour (about 20 of us) got into their harnesses, hats, etc. and we started the uphill hike to the first line. Once we were about halfway up the instructor gave us a safety briefing which only took about 5-10 minutes. On the first zip line the wait was about 15 minutes but once everyone got the hang of it, the next lines were only about a 5-10 minute wait. You could hear the birds chirping and just the overall atmosphere was really nice so the wait didn't seem that bad. The actual zip lining itself probably only took about 40 minutes. (There were about 8 zip lines...a couple of them short and about 15ft off the ground. A couple of them were a bit longer and around 70ft off the ground.) Once we got back to port (The entire trip took about 5 hours) we walked around Old San Juan which is really beautiful! (The streets, the shops, etc). We didn't have much time so we felt a little rushed once we got back. Plus, we were STARVING and every restaurant was really busy. We ended up eating at Senor Frogs which was fun because there was a conga line and they literally poured rum down your throat. However, we're still a little bummed that we didn't have enough time to really get the whole San Juan experience. We definitely want to take a trip back and stay for a week!:)
We pulled into St. Thomas and immediately had to meet up with our tour group. (We booked the Dolphin Adventure excursion through Carnival). There were about 10-15 people in our group and we all boarded a smaller boat that took us on a 45 minute ride to Tortola B.V.I. From there, we loaded onto a taxi/bus that took us to the Dolphin Discovery in Tortola. (The ride was about 30 minutes long). The Dolphin Discovery was really something! I've always wanted the chance to swim with a dolphin and you definitely get to have that experience on this excursion! (It's pricey, if I remember correctly it was around $150-$200 per person but it was definitely worth it!!) The dolphin discovery property is a little depressing to be quite honest...maybe it's just me but I felt bad that the dolphins were kept in somewhat of a small space:/ Also, when you're walking down into the tank, you have to walk on this really rusty platform...I swear to you I felt like fungus was going to sprout on my toes afterwards! So yes, while it's definitely worth it...wear swim shoes!!:) We were only in the water with the dolphins for about 45 minutes (Watching them do tricks, petting them, taking pics, swimming, etc). One important thing to keep in mind...BRING A WATER CAMERA! BRING A WATER CAMERA!! I can't stress this enough...the photos they take are like $50 each and the DVD, forget about it!! We ended up buying a photo each because we wanted something to remember the trip by but knowing what I know now...I would definitely bring an underwater camera!!! Also, make sure you have your credit card on you because you can't purchase anything here without it!! (Some people only brought their sale and sign cards). Once we were done with the dolphins it took us about an hour before we actually left. Why? Well, the taxi driver LOST THE KEYS!!! It's funny looking back on it but at the time...everyone was about to lose it. (It was really really hot). We stopped in Tortola for about an hour on the way back. Everyone ate lunch, did a little shopping and my husband took a shot of "Pussers Rum." (It had some funny name, I can't remember). I got some great photos of his face afterward so if you're looking for a great photo op...have someone in your group take a shot of this hahaha:) By the time we got back to St. Thomas we didn't have ANY TIME to see the island so we're a little bummed about that. (Just an excuse to make another trip there I guess;)) But overall, it was definitely worth it. We got to swim with dolphins and visit Tortola which we weren't even planning on!:)