This was our 17th cruise, and 5th time on Carnival. A few days prior to departure we got the e-mail from Carnival that our itinerary was changed to the Eastern Caribbean, ports we had visited many times before. I tried to change to another cruise, but it was too late. It was very disappointing, but we decided to still go since this was a newer ship and I don't believe there is such a thing as a bad cruise! We stayed at the Sheraton Four Points in Cocoa Beach, which had a great cruise port shuttle and car park deal. Very nice hotel, and I would definitely stay here again!
Our cabin on the first floor (Riviera Deck) was clean, quiet, and comfortable. Our room stewards were great, like some sort of invisible cleaning ninjas. We rarely saw them, and our room was always neat and tidy!
We found the entertainment to be pretty good, like any other Carnival cruise with maybe a little more special effects. We thoroughly enjoyed the Comedy Club Comediennes (although the club needs to be a lot bigger). Jeff Jena and Tony Esposito were extremely funny and the best comediennes we have ever seen! The movies by the pool were popular and so we were the water slides. I played some slots in the casino and lost immediately. I tried the multi-player video poker tables for the first time and won a little.
As for the food, overall it was pretty good! The buffet at lunch was decent with lots of choices, at night, it was different story. Of course there was always pizza and sandwiches, but the dinner choices were very limited to a scaled down version of what was offered in the main dining room. Not very impressive! Also, they still have these annoyingly small cups at the buffet drink stations. I brought my own large plastic disposable cups since I like to make my own iced coffees using the always available coffee and ice cream machines. We had the 6 pm dining time in the Scarlett Dining room. We had the best servers ever, Anthony and Hardy were fantastic! Our table for two overlooked the water. I thought the food was great; my husband was disappointed in the steaks that were served.
The pools were small and crowded, and therefore not very appealing! The hot tubs were great on the Serenity Deck; we even had it to ourselves a few times. My favorite place on this ship was the adult only Serenity area. We found the most comfortable cushioned covered chair/bed overlooking the slides and the ocean and stayed there most of the day; armed with lots of books and drinks, it was great!
The Ports of Call:
Bahamas: We took the public bus #10 ($1.25 pp each way) from the straw market to the Wyndham Place Casino where I walked around the resort and my husband checked his internet at Starbucks. We hopped back on the bus and it was a really pretty ride along the water back to the ship.
St Thomas: We grabbed a cab from the cruise ship port to the ferry dock at Red Hook ($10 pp) and caught the ferry ($6 pp each way) to St John's and then a cab ($6 pp each way) to Trunk Bay. Beautiful beach and not too crowded. After returning on the ferry back to Red Hook, we asked a local where to catch the local $2 pp bus back to the cruise ship which turned out to be about a 2 minute walk from the ferry terminal. We were back with plenty of time to shop in the stores near the ship.
St Martin: We booked a tour with Bernard. This was one of the best island tours I ever had! Our guide was the very funny "Mailman". He drove us to many of the island's highlights, the Oyster ponds, Oriente Beach, Marigot, and Maho Beach! He offered free sodas, water, beer, and a wicked rum punch! I loved this tour and would do it again, if I ever return to St Martin!
Despite the disappointing itinerary change this cruise was turned out to be a nice relaxing vacation. Although I would definitely sail with Carnival again, I probably would not sail this particular ship since was just too big, and I am not a huge fan of the overall design.