We flew into New York City, only arriving at noon so we booked the Carnival shuttle to the ship as we were worried about our flight arriving late or getting stuck in traffic in a taxi and the shuttle seemed the safest bet. I really recommend arriving at the embarkation port a day ahead. This was stressful! It took about 40 minutes from LGA to the pier and since we were not early we had no difficulties with embarkation plus our room was ready. We had some panic though when we discovered I had set down my husband's camera case along with our carry-on bags when the porter was taking our large bags. Someone gestured to us that the elevator to the next level was waiting for us and we grabbed our bags, got in the elevator and went through security before I realized we did not have the camera. I backtracked a bit but did not know at that time where I had lost it. Carnival employees were very helpful, taking our name and cabin number but we did not expect to see the camera again. What a wonderful surprise to find the camera bag attached to my husband's large suitcase. outside our cabin door later that day! You see, there are honest people out there and it astounded us that they actually matched it up to our luggage because the camera bag did not have our name on it.
We really recommend the deli on Lido where they make the greatest sandwiches.
Muster drill at 3:30. We were all dressed in our winter coats luckily as it was very cold.
Cabin 6264 aft-extended balcony. The cabin is the same as any other balcony cabin but definitely in a quiet area with little traffic. The view leaving New York of the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Verrazanno Bridge was awesome. And having the aft-balcony meant we could see everything really well. The sound and sight of the wake is soothing. Leaving from New York in March meant it was too cold to enjoy sitting on the balcony at the beginning and end of the cruise. We were asked a lot if there was more 'ship' noises in the aft section but we did not find that there was. One surprise was finding that one of the deck chairs on the balcony could be put back like a lounge chair although it did not have the part for the feet a lounger has. But you could put your feet on the little table.
This island is SO flat. Last hurricane they had demolished 85% of the buildings and you'll see why that would happen.
We rented a golf cart ahead of time for $80 from Nathan's golf carts. We had to walk through Carnival's Margaritaville to the gates where the golf carts were waiting. Be sure to have your driver's license with you. One thing they didn't tell us was that the golf cart comes with 1/2 tank of gas and you have to return it with 1/2 tank of gas. We put in $5 in gas and that put it over 1/2 tank so no problems there except being sure to find a gas station. The island is only 7 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide with the ship docked at one end. We were looking for Cockburn Town and ended up driving right through it without realizing it as there are no tall buildings and nothing that really looks like a store. Before we knew it we were at the other end of the island at the Lighthouse. There are large reefs off this end of the island and have been many shipwrecks. Coming back we found the museum. That was well worth the $5 to explore it. One room was about Molasses Reef where they have found one of the oldest ships so far off any island in the area. They believe it to be one of Christopher Columbus' ships but no way to prove it. Another area was about John Glenn landing his shuttle in the waters off Grand Turk. Another area displayed visits by Queen Elizabeth, Princes Phillip, Charles and Andrew to the island. It was a very interesting museum with a neat little gift shop. We bought some salts. Salt used to be mined on the island. We continued on toward the ship and found Jack's Shack where we stopped and had our free rum drink which we had registered for on his website. We tried the jerk chicken and the conch. The jerk chicken was very good but the conch was rubbery. After that we returned the golf cart and went aboard the ship. Glad to have missed having drinks at Margaritaville because a lot of people got very ill from some of the drinks (and I don't mean from how many they drank). Rumour was it was the mixes. Really enjoyable day. The sun was shining but there was a lovely breeze. Be careful though. I was sitting on the right side of the cart and my right arm and leg did get sunburn while my husband, who was driving, got sun on his left side.
I don't give San Juan a high rating because it is so busy. Very difficult to even cross the street at the pier. There were 3 ships in though and this is the busiest I've ever seen it. Also my rating may be due to being here before several times. It was impossible to get on the free trolley near the pier but once we walked a few blocks we got on to one a little further away and enjoyed the ride around to the fort and back. It was a lovely, breezy day and it was a Sunday so there were a lot of locals around as well making it even busier. There were many, many locals flying amazing kites on the fort lawn. Neat. We went into the Butterfly People where we have bought many times before. But their prices are getting too high for us now. Spicy Caribbee near trolley stop 8 was an interesting shop. I bought a ginger sauce and one called Island Thyme Delight. Near the pier is a coffee shop called Cafe Cola'O and it has the best coffees. We also bought some coffee beans to take home. Vendors set up tables near the ships and it made for a nice atmosphere, even though it was very busy.
Complete opposite to Grand Turk which is flat, Tortola is mountainous. We had not booked an excursion and just walked into town. It is about a 10-12 minute walk. There was one other ship in port but there was lots of room to walk around. We went to the spice shop at the main intersection. My husband loved the mango tea they were sampling and bought some for home. I bought their Island Fish Spice and a pepper blend. There didn't seem to be much else to see in town so we started walking back. A fellow was filling up an open-air taxi with people for $15pp for a 2 1/2 hour island tour. Seemed reasonable so we hopped on. We had a wonderful time. The view from higher areas is amazing. He made one stop at Cane Bay beach for 30 minutes and we had ice cream. I saw rum punch advertised at 2/$7. The beach looked very nice and there were a lot of people in the water. The driver pointed out how what looks like eaves-troughs to us on the houses does actually funnel water down to the lower level of the house where there is a cistern for their water. The roads were narrow and you seem to be looking right down from the edge of the road at times. The driver went fairly quickly on the downhill but we really enjoyed the whole trip. He dropped a lot of people off in town but took us and others right back to the ship. Well worth the money.