Intro & Boarding:
My boyfriend and I take a trip every year, sort of a couples get away, but this year we chose to go on our first cruise! This cruise left out of Miami (4pm) and went to Nassau (8am-12am), Coco Cay (8am-5pm) and Key ... Read More
Intro & Boarding:
My boyfriend and I take a trip every year, sort of a couples get away, but this year we chose to go on our first cruise! This cruise left out of Miami (4pm) and went to Nassau (8am-12am), Coco Cay (8am-5pm) and Key west (10am-6pm) in that order, May 16th-May 20th. We started our cruise vacation by driving to Miami a day before, as we live in South Carolina and have relatives in Miami. This was pretty cost effective, as the drive only cost about $120. On embarkation day we arrived around 1:00 (this was our boarding time) and check in was really quick! The line to get on the ship was not that long either, we waited for about 15 min. We were also able to carry on our snacks (chips & cookies), bottled water, and caprisans that I brought for our days at ports.
After we boarded we went straight to our cabin and were pleased with what we saw. We decided to get an inside cabin since we both love absolute darkness when we sleep and we wouldnt be in the cabin very much anyway. We had cabin 4579 which was good for us and we were only a couple of decks above the exit for ports. In the cabin was a desk and small chair, a king size bed, one closet and of course the bathroom. I felt there was not enough storage space to put our stuff, but other than that the room was ok sized. The bathroom had a shower with a curtain and a small sink with glass shelves on each side and the toilette.
Unfortunately we arrived at the end of lunch and they were beginning to close up, so we barely had any food left to grab from. I did not expect this at all, but next time we know to try and arrive a little earlier. The buffet had a pretty ok assortment of food. From what I remember there was paella (really good), fried rice, veggies, Indian foods, and some other things. We only ate at the buffet twice for lunch and did most of our lunch off the ship. We ate breakfast most of the time in the dining room, which we learned on the last day it is better to eat in the buffet for breakfast, as there was way more food. The dinning area had menus to order off with a small range of food that wasn't too great and a small portion. Dinner was great! We had late dining since we knew we wouldn't want to have to cut our day short to rush back to the ship to eat dinner. You could always eat in the buffet too for dinner or Jhonny Rockets, but we never did since we enjoyed the dining experience so much. The dinner wait staff was excellent, entertained pretty well and even remembered our names! we were seated with 2 girls from Washington state celebrating a graduation and we also had a window seat. First they give you a starters menu, ask for your drink of choice, and serve you a variety of bread of your choice(yummy). We didn't do the soda package as we are not big soda drinkers and we had a choice of water, tea (yuck), and lemonade. I chose either water or lemonade (pretty good, not too sweet or sour) different nights. I only say yuck to the tea cause I am from the south and we like are tea sweet, and it was nowhere near that lol. I am not going to go in to foods cause I enjoyed being surprised of what was on the menus, but the food was really good and if you did not care for something they gladly change it for something else. After starters, there were your entrees and dessert.
After we ate lunch and viewed the cabin we headed up to the deck to watch the ship sail out of port. There they had people selling drinks, which you'll see them all through your trip. I had a pina colada (my fav) which was delish and my BF had a long island ice tea. Now, RC does not allow you to bring alcohol on board so we enjoyed a few of these $7+ drinks and my boyfriend ordered a bottle of red wine at dinner the 1st night, which was maybe $27. This all stopped once we ported in Nassau and went on a little mission. Enough said lol.
Now on our first day we did most of our roaming of the ship (Casino, pool, jacuzzi, rock climbing, party areas and lounges), got in the pool, and spent a LITTLE time in the jacuzzi. I cant really tell too much about the ship's areas since we spent very little time on the ship but I can give small details. The pool was nice and was chlorine water, maybe 5 ft, but the JACUZZI was disgust! It was so dirty with build up on the walls from people's dirt that I didn't even sit back and was out in no less than 5 minutes. The only reason I was in there that long cause we were talking to a few other people who were in there and I didn't notice it sooner. We never got the time to go rock climbing as we were busy, busy, busy with other things and they had certain hours ( I think they closed at 7, but it did vary each night). I went in the casino for a little while and dropped a few quarters in some slots. I think this is the only place they allow smoking. The party areas were really deserted on the night we went looking for a party (2nd day) and I don't recall of any shows. We did hear an announcement for bingo every now and then, which you payed a fee for, I don't think it was too costly though.
This was the best port of all and a great way to start off our trip. We woke up around 8:30 am, had breakfast at 9 am and left the ship around 9:30 am. Gettin off the ship was pretty easy and we only stood in line for maybe 10 min. After we got off there were RC pictures and a very colorful welcoming center. Once inside the welcoming center we stopped at the 1st desk to purchase ferry tickets since we wanted to get to Atlantis, which was on paradise island (about 10 min away). These tickets were & $4 p/p and you had to purchase a to and from ticket, so $12 total for me and my BF. We later sold these tickets for $10 and glad we did! Don't get me wrong the ferry would be great for families but as we walked on there were moped rentals that we rented for $60 for the whole day. You do have to bargain with them though cause they started off at $120! Geez. With these we got to go EVERYWHERE and really experience the island, definitely get a map though. We traveled across a huge bridge to Atlantis and stayed there for about 30 min since a lot of the grounds are forbidden unless you have tickets. I wanted to go to Aquaventure, which is their water park but those tickets are $110 + depending on where you get them. I did some research before we left and they are $110 for adults if you purchase straight from Atlantis at the beginning of the day (they go fast) and more expensive with the cruise (but you get lunch and transportation). There is another option that I looked in to, where you rent a room at Comfort Suites. This option would only save you about $10 in may because they slap on nonsense service (electricity ?) and huge tax fees at the end. Maybe in other seasons you can actually get a deal, so it may be worth looking into. Needless to say we took a few photos and left Atlantis to head to a public beach maybe 5 minutes away (Sunset beach?). Here we enjoyed the water and went Jet Skiing. Again we had to bargain with them they started off with $130 for an hour and $70 for 30 min. We talked them down to $40 for 30 min for both of us on one. This was more than enough time, I think we even came back early. Me and my BF also swapped out in the water so we both were able to drive, a lot of fun. Watch out for you head though cause we went over a wave and my head jerked back and hit my BF in the nose (Ouch : ( ). On the beach they were selling drinks in coconuts, but we didn't buy one, they looked nice though. One drawback from Nassau is they try to get you to purchase everything on the beaches. From beach chairs to umbrellas. Watch out though cause some of the chairs belong to hotels and hotel security will stop you if you try to use them. After the beach we traveled to another part of the island called Love Beach( about a 20 min ride), which was a private beach. To use the beach though you have to purchase food from this reastuarant (dont remember the name), but I didn't mind because the food was good and not expensive. We shared conch fritters and cracked conch, which was just fried conch (really good). On our ride we notice a lot of resorts including Blue Green which my parents have. We also saw a wedding which was really pretty. After the private beach we rode back cause we had to have our mopeds back by 6 and returned them. Now when we rented the mopeds we had to let them keep a $20 deposit fee which we later just gave them as a tip since we enjoyed the mopeds so much. After that we went to an alcohol shop about a minute walk from the port since my BF wanted to find white rum and a little something for the rest of the trip. After this we went to get on the ship which we waited in line for a good 20 min because everyone was trying to get back on their ships (other ships were there) and it was dinner time (around 6:30). Once on the ship we got ready for dinner, ate, and went back out to go to Senor Frogs around 10 pm. We ended up not going in cause it was $20/ person minus drinks, so we just took a walk around the water which was nice. They had lights around the water so you were able to see all the fish and even turtles! We went back to the ship, got a blanket, an ice bucket, and some glasses and enjoyed our alcohol that we mixed in the room and brought out in another bottle. It was some kind of rum and cream coffee mixture (really good) and a great way to end our day as we sailed away. My BF and I have booked a cruise with Carnival to come back in May 2012. This time we're going to spend the day in Atlantis Auquaventure and do the deep water dolphin swim (package with carnival for $240 p/p, not too bad when you compare prices). Extremely excited! (we chose Carnival b/c I wanted more of a party ship this time, RC is more of a relaxing cruise, which is exactly what we did : ))
This was also a good port that we really enjoyed. We left the ship around 10 am after breakfast and took a short ride on a tender boat to the island. It was rainy and a little cold once we first got there so we tried to find somewhere dry. At first we were going to sit in the private area with the clamshells but my BF didn't want to be secluded away from the beach, then we were going to sit in the beach chairs but there was rarely any shade, so I spotted the cabanas made of wood with orange hotel style lounge chairs. For some reason there was no charge for these, maybe because it was raining or the fact that they were new, but Ive seen they are $100 now. I would purchase them though because we enjoyed them very much. They were away from the crowd, but still close to the beach. The chairs were also comfy and it was convenient for eating lunch. After about an hour it stopped raining and just like that it was sunny and HOT! After convincing my BF to finally wake up we went snorkeling for $15 p/p. You wait in line and get your snorkel equipment and they charge it to your account, the you get a brief overview of snorkel spots and a spraying your goggles to keep them from fogging. The spots included a fake sunken ship and airplane, cannons, and rest spots in the water. You also had the choice of going to deep water where you could see more fish and sea life but the ride was kind of rough so we turned around. They also had hobie cats, and kayaks that you could rent. After snorkeling we enjoyed the BBQ lunch provided which included hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, chips, drinks, potatoe salad, cookies and some other things. It was pretty good. After that we just enjoyed the beach and went back on the ship around 4:30 pm.
This is the port I did not like AT ALL. It was extremely hot and we could not find any water to get in to since there were nothing but docks everywhere. I notice there were some train tours that you could do, but that's pretty much it. This is more of a shopping port, but to get some AC and shade we went into Ripley's Believe it or Not for maybe $26. I didn't enjoy this either since I've been to the one in Myrtle Beach, SC and it was basically the same. Also I have a BF who I swear read every inch of wording in that place, where as I just like to look and move it a long lol. After this we just took some pics around the dock and headed back. Again it was extremely HOT. I think if we had planned ahead for this trip we may have found some more exciting things to do.
Closing and Departure:
Since this was our last night we packed up most of everything, went to dinner, and went to sleep. By the end of the trip we were extremely exhausted and didn't realize it. The last night they put surveys at you door and if you havent tipped ask you to fill out your tippings. Since we fell asleep we forgot to put our bags outside the door and had to depart first at 8:30 am and carry all of our stuff off. It wasn't too bad cause we didn't have too muchbut, it would have been nice to leave a little later and get to eat breakfast. Departure was pretty smooth and did't take but at most 15 min. After you leave the ship and before you exit the building you have to fill out a form that tells everything you purchased that you didn't pay taxes on. After that we waited for our ride, spent the day in Miami, and headed home the next day. Overall it was a GREAT trip and May is a good time to sail. The weather was nice and warm (minus Key West), there werent a lot of kids, and it wasn't too crowded. I'm not sure how crowded Atlantis Aquaventure was, but in the morning when we first got there Atlantis wasn't crowded. I hope this review helps and look for my review of the Carnival Destiny soon!