This is my first review, and I will try to keep it brief and helpful. Cruising was my girlfriend (GF)and I.
San Juan taxis are rather expensive. $24 for two to the Holiday Inn Condado, and then another $20 from hotel to port. From what I could tell $45 was pretty much same fare from any hotel between airport and port. Return taxi was $25 direct from port to airport for 2 people and 4 bags. No haggle on fares, they are standard for all taxis. The Holiday Inn Express Condado was a basic hotel that felt safe. Perfect for a late night checkin. Rate was $133 with tax. Nothing fancy, a bit dated but rather clean.
Embarkation was smooth, even though we accidentally checked our boarding passes in luggage (woops!). No need to smuggle booze on this cruise. After checking in and receiving Sail & Sign card there is a station (sponsored by CCL) to purchase mini bottles ($20 for 6) and soda ($4 12pk). The only kicker is that you must carry mini-bottles in your pockets, not in carry-ons. This was the first time of my 3 cruises that I experienced this. Huge money saver!
We got on board about 2:00, ate lunch, and dropped our carry-ons in room at about 2:45. Everything was fine until we discovered a filthy room (mildew in shower, stained shower curtain, hair on bathroom counter, rust in medicine cabinet, footprints on balcony glass, toilet flush problems, NO REFRIDGERATOR, etc). We did not complain at this point in hopes that room would later be cleaned. Dropped bags off and headed to San Juan for remainder of day.
The condition of this ship was a bit dated. The staff was unfriendliest of my three CCL cruises. Anytime dining was perfect and wait for a table was never more than 10 minutes. However, dining service was SLOW after that (sometimes the dining experience was nearly 1 1/2 hours). The most crowded areas on this ship were the elevators and buffet lines. We avoided both! Passengers on this cruise were mostly Spanish speaking, rude, crude, and crass. Visit any Walmart and you will get a general consensus of the passengers on you will find on this cruise. The ship was an absolute disappointment. The islands were awesome!!
We returned to stateroom in same filthy condition. Complained to Guest Services via phone with a cold reception. This was common at the Guest Service desk as well. The room was later cleaned better, but still mildew in shower and toilet flush problems were NEVER resolved. This is the first time that I have adjusted the $10 day tip policy. On the final eve, I subtracted $20 from both my GF and my tip total.
Shows were the same as the last two cruises I took so we skipped them. We went to one comedy show (cuban guy) and he was hilarious. I played some blackjack in casino twice and came out slightly ahead. Casino was very smoky and dealers were rather stoic. Twas the least fun I have ever had at Blackjack tables.
The lido deck was always crowded and on our one Fun Day at sea we found secluded decks at the very front of the ship. "Serenity Decks" were a joke! Very crowded and overrun with obnoxious passengers.
Food was fine for the most part. GF and me both became sick after eating some type of seafood medley (cannot remember name) in dining room. That only lasted the eve of.
Major peeves also included being woke up several times by noisy kids running up and down halls. Also, idiots throwing food off balcony's to disgusting loud seagulls. Why would this EVER be OK??!
Debarkation at each port was rather smooth. I would recommend Self Assist on the last night since you get to keep your luggage with you overnight and you are first called to leave in the a.m.