Despite some confusion in the departure port (first Miami, then Port Everglades and then back to Miami at the last minute) due to protests against a trade conference in Miami, the boarding process went very smoothly. We were traveling with a family group of about 25.
The Bad - One piece of luggage was not delivered to a member of our party by the morning after departure. In general, the cruise personnel were helpful and allowed a $100 credit against clothing purchases in the ship's store. On Thursday (after a Sunday sailing) the bag was delivered. It had been found in Miami and eventually flown to St. Thomas to meet the cruise. Nothing was missing. - There was some sort of utility room behind our cabin and on most nights, we heard noises through the wall. We like inside cabins because we seem to sleep better but the noise defeated the purpose. The noise didn't last all night but it did wake us on a couple nights. I spoke to the cruise staff but another cabin was not available. - As a general observation, the entertainment shows were inconsistent. One comedian was good, the other mediocre. One stage show was decent but the other was boring. - Maybe it was my imagination but the mixed cocktails seemed very weak to me.
The Good - NO SMOKE. It really was nice not to have to breath 2nd hand smoke. I wonder if other ships might go this way. - The food was better than we expected. We had taken another Carnival cruise in a ship of the same class last year and were disappointed in the food then so our expectations were not high but in general, I would rate the food a B to a B+ in both the dining room and in the Lido deck buffet. The pizza and Caesar salad station was great. The sushi bar was just average. - The service was very good both in the cabin and the dining room. - The gym was clean and had a good variety of machines.
Ports of Call We travel a lot on our own and generally don't go for cruise ship excursions. This trip was no exception.
In Nassau, we have been there several times and were looking for something different so we arranged for a private tour of the historic district with Vernita's Walking Tour. It was a bit low-key but we had a lot of fun.
In La Romana, we hired a driver and van and spent a couple hours at a local beach then drove through the Casa de Campo neighborhood to look at all the million dollar houses, including one owned by local sports hero Sammy Sosa. Then we made the obligatory shopping stop for some very cheap Dominican rum, cigars (which we had to turn over to the ship until we disembarked in Miami) and coffee.
In St. Thomas, we took a cab to Red Hook where we caught the ferry to St. John. Once there, we took another cab to Trunk Bay to snorkel. The snorkeling was good (but not great) but it is a beautiful setting. We had just enough time for a quick stop at the Havensight Mall before boarding the ship.
While we weren't involved in any way, on the night after we had departed St. Thomas for the 2-day sail back to Miami, a passenger had to be evacuated from the ship after suffering appendicitis. A helicopter hovered over the rear Lido Deck and lifted the passenger and a ship's nurse. It was my understanding that the passenger (a 17-year old boy) was taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for surgery and at last report was doing well.