This was our eighth cruise, our seventh on Carnival. We selected this cruise because it goes to some different ports than we've seen before and we really wanted to go to Aruba because many friends have gone there.
I think because of the different itinerary and perhaps because it was 8 days it was not the first cruise for most people on board and also it was not their first Carnival Cruise. There were many Platinum Status customers on-board.
It was not a "wild" group but it wasn't totally "quiet" either.
This was our first time with an Extended Balcony. I liked the extra room but unless I got it as a free upgrade I would not go out of my way for it. We were on the 8th deck and I think I would have preferred the 6th or 7th (we could hear them moving chairs on the Lido deck above, it wasn't annoying but we could hear it). I think the housekeeping and dining room staff spoke better English than on previous cruises. Staff was very good but I felt a little sorry for the cruise director, Malcolm- he was from the Bronx and the group was largely from the mid-west and his "NYC shtick" didn't get the laughs,
This ship was a little smaller than others we have been on, It's been retrofitted to include some of Carnival's newer features, this is generally for the good but some items just didn't seem to fit -- for example Camp Carnival appeared to have venues on several different decks. The old adults only swim area has been turned into the "Serenity Deck". This is good because the different decor keeps the kids away.
My number one complaint is that you can't hear the ship-wide announcements in the cabins. I think this almost can be considered a safety hazard but at the very least it was annoying. It was hard to know when the ports were clear to disembark and especially the last day it was impossible to know when it was your turn to leave.
There was fair to good participation in trivia games, etc. The comics were good and most of the shows were filled to capacity and people were turned away. The shows were the same old same old -- I thought they were supposed to change them every two years but we have not seen a new show in ages.
Port Everglades can be crowded. On a typical Sat/Sun there can be 8 ships in port. Plan to arrive slightly before or after the masses but if you do have a line just be patient. We rented to and from the port from Hertz and had a good experience getting to and from their office at the nearby Crown Plaza.
I participated in the Cruise Critic Roll Call and we met Sunday morning. It was fun to put faces to the names and then to have people that we "met" before the cruise to socialize with on the cruise.
Typical cabin interior - fine for our needs. Extended balcony was nice but not necessarily worth extra cost to us.
I heard a fair amount of negative publicity about this port so we stuck to a sightseeing tour. We were driven though a tourist compound, we had a nice boat ride on the river. There was not a lot of wildlife to be seen and then we went to the Altos de Chavon art village. This appeared to be an artist village built for tourists. I wasn't impressed. I'd rather not come back to this port but if I do I think I'll try to go see the fishing village.
We had a pleasant time on this excursion but I felt it wasn't "the real Dominican Republic" -- I'm pretty sure we were on private property the whole trip. The boat ride was nice but there was not a lot of wildlife. We thought we were going to have about 1 Â½ hours at the village but the driver gave us 2 Â½ and most of us were bored. The art village had virtually no activity. Some in our group tried to get lunch and left without getting their food. We were there from about 11:30 to 2 -- one store closed for lunch about the time we got there and said he was reopening around 2?? If you want to sightsee this is fine but next time I would pick a different excursion.
There did not seem to be a lot to do here. We aren't "beach people". We selected the Kayaking and Eco Safari. We enjoyed it a lot and will do it again if we go back but we were annoyed that they picked us up late (we were in the second group 11:30-2:30) and we got back late (2:45 -- when we were supposed to be on-board at 2:30) -- it didn't matter because there was a long line getting back on board, but annoying all the same.
I would highly recommend this excursion, but if there is an early and late time, get the early time (the early time was sold out a month before our cruise). The kayaking was among the hardest I've done, it was in a salt water river and there was wind and currants. We were shown native vegetation and animals and most notably we were able to handle live conch's. Don't forget to put sunscreen on!!!View All 26 Kayaking Reviews
The staff rushed the tour and took us through the factory and into the store -- we were told that there were videos in the downstairs and if there was no production, it probably would have been more interesting to see the videos.View All 31 Aloe Balm Facility Reviews
We started at a butterfly farm. The people there were great! We've been to other butterfly farms but the staff here were great "storytellers" and kept the group entertainedView All 29 Butterfly Farm Reviews
We didn't quite know what to do, again we don't like beaches and we wanted to see the island. We selected the Natural Wonders tour. We started at a butterfly farm. The people there were great! We've been to other butterfly farms but the staff here were great "storytellers" and kept the group entertained. We went on to an aloe factory. The staff rushed the tour and took us through the factory and into the store -- we were told that there were videos in the downstairs and if there was no production, it probably would have been more interesting to see the videos. Finally we went to the side of an old stone bridge. It was pretty and it was amazing to see how much of a desert island Aruba is. After the excursion we walked around town for a while. We had a bit of a map but the sites were not well labeled. The stores near the port were typical.View All 248 Island Tour Reviews
This was mort of a shopping stop than a tour - it was interesting and if you want to purchase I suggest buying the liquor here.View All 73 Distillery Tour Reviews
The main sites I wanted to see were the Kura Hulanda museum and the synagogue. It wasn't easy but we did find a walking tour map prior to the cruise. We did decide to take the Curacao Highlight tour first. We went to the Curacao museum which was interesting, then we stopped at a liquor factory -- if you want to buy this liquor, but it here, it was half the price of other places on the island and then we drove to an overlook which was pretty but our tour guide really didn't tell us much about it. We did have plenty of time when we got back to town to see the museums and they were both worth it!!. We also saw the pontoon bridge open and close -- that was a unique site. I believe that there were books with the walking tour available when you first get off the ship.View All 8 Museum Reviews