i'LL START OFF WITH booking the excursions. Booking through shoretrips.com was at least 30% cheaper than had I done it through Carnival, but, I was unprepared for how much BETTER the excursions actually were.
Our buses were at the very least, on par, and OFTEN superior to Carnival's;
In Rhotan, the tubes we used were FAR superior to those others (WE had high back tubes for comfort, and netting on the bottom in case anything fell out o our pockets - NOT so with the other companies. (lol, you could SEE the jealousy in the other excursion's members)
The GUIDES were just...INCREDIBLE; they took us to private beaches where Carnival took them to crowded ones.
A few quick notes on the ship itself:
I found it, at best, mediocre - this was agreed-to, time and again by the seasoned cruisers I spoke to.
The sample menu online had my favorites, duck and lamb on almost every night; but, Lamb was served only once, and upon complaints to the staff that on day 5 I'd yet to see duck, I was told that it was no longer on the menu. ALL vegetables were overcooked. On "off" hours, the choice was pizza, or deli. The taco/burrito bar was almost never open. The new Guy Savoy's hamburger bar was proudly displayed on the staff's t-shirt as "you CANT have it your way, you must have it Guy's Savoy's way" - and they were right; I had to get aggressive if I didn't want cheese on my burger. The patties were overcooked and mal-formed.
Lastly, but, to ME, very important, I took exception to 24-hour coffee only being available Emirle's, toward the back of the ship...a lot of walking whenever I wanted coffee.
The NICEST staff ever - only praise for them all across the board.
The service was first rate across the board.
I hadn't been cruising for a long time, but I DID take exception to having to pay for soda and water...I guess everything changes, but, it still irked me; I expected to pay for alcohol.
I had a basic room - yet, the room was HUGE compared to my other cruises, they had all the accompanyments, clean, nice and the bed was the MOST comfortable I'd ever been on in travels (and that includes some 5-star resorts.)
The ship itself was clean and very stable (no rocking)
Hellaciosly expensive and slow. They "say" that it's because it's via satellite, but, I doubt that, as there are many satellite ISP's that are quicker - were I suspicious, I'd say they CHOOSE a slower connection so you need to purchase more time.
The comedians were VERY good.
The singing duet in front of the ship were great; the Guitar players (both) at the Lido were not so great (saying it as nicely as I can) and the band at the casino was "so-so".)
The addition of the big screen was FABULOUS... the nightly theater Movies played there under the warm clear skies was incredible.
One thing that bothered the HECK out of me was that NO ONE on board knew the local times of the island - they were wrong every time. even though the clocks were set back an hour on most isles, they should have known - they were ALWAYS saying that island time was the same as ship time - it wasn't- leading us to be an hour early on 2 the excursions.
Also, you could get NO info in the ship itself - things that the crew should have been asked, and have known ; like, "how much did the ship cost to build ?" "How fast does she go"? things of that nature - they should have known.I am told that there was supposed to be a screen that had all that, but that it was not operating on the cruise.
There you have it - not perfect, but a GREAT cruise nonetheless.