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.
We had dinner at Nick & Nora's the first night because of the free bottle of wine. Second time for us to try a Carnival steakhouse. Second time I've ordered the Lobster Bisque. Second time I've stressed that I like my soup very hot or I won't eat it. Second time it came lukewarm and was returned. Second time the chef came out and apologized. I don't know how to explain more clearly that I want it HOT. If I didn't ask ahead of time that would be my fault, but I did emphasize it ahead. Other than that we recommend the steakhouse.
The ship had to sail south and one mother of a snowstorm was going on to the south of New York so we were into it almost immediately after sailaway. The waves were hitting the ship broadside the first night, second day and into the 2nd night. Lots of barf bags around. The captain was very communicative about the bad weather but it certainly wasn't his fault and he tried to give some relief by turning the ship toward shore a few times to avoid the broadside waves. The dining room was turmoil with dishes crashing to the floor every few minutes. The waiter would come out with a tray full of our dinner dishes, the ship would tilt and over it would go!
We had, for the first time, an aft-extended balcony. On retrospect I would not book this again, especially for a cruise from New York in cold weather. There were several days it was too cold to sit on the balcony & several days in the Caribbean when we were docked and it was in the sun and too hot to sit on the balcony. But I'm probably in the minority on this. For sure, watching the wake and listening to the sound was very soothing.
We have joined cruise critic roll calls before but the one for this cruise was the best ever. First sea day we all met for a poker crawl/cabin crawl and I had volunteered our cabin for one of the stops. My husband was reluctant to participate but this activity turned out to be the greatest fun with the nicest people ever and he was so glad we had joined in. At dinner the 2nd night we found ourselves sitting at a table for 6 with no-one else even assigned to the table. Another cruise critic couple we had met on the poker crawl invited us to sit with them as they had extra seats and before we knew it two others we had met through cruise critic joined us as well and we had the best dinner times! We did two slot pulls with our cruise critic buddies as well and sat with a few of them on the Lido at lunch and breakfast. I highly recommend getting involved with your group ahead of time.
Second sea day I was playing a one cent machine, Cleopatra, in the casino when I hit the bonus and then a jackpot of over $2,000. Never won anything like this before and I was so excited. We paid for our cruise with this win. And, being Canadian, I didn't have to give a good portion of it to taxes! Because of the win we confirmed our participation in the Chef's table and I booked an appointment at the spa.
Chef's Table was awesome. $70pp seems like a lot but do it once if you can.
We visited Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Tortola. I'll put details under port reviews. Grand Turk: try renting a golf cart from Nathan and see the whole island. St. Thomas: a cruise critic member organized a trip to Sapphire Beach.
The entertainment on board was pretty good. Ticket to Ride was the best but we also enjoyed the Big Bands show, the juggler and the illusionist. I am a big bingo fan but do not recommend it on the ship. Too expensive for what they pay out.
An interesting thing to look for on your ship bill...We were docked in San Juan from noon to midnight. When I looked at my bill there was a charge of $1.93 for wine in the dining room that night. I asked Guest Services what that would be for, very curious because I bought the wine package from Bon Voyage before the cruise. They had no idea what it was for & told me the Bon Voyage rep would see me at dinner. No one showed so I asked in the dining room. Even the maitre'd had no idea what could be that price. They did finally nail it down to the fact that we had one of our bottles of wine at dinner and since we were still in port they charged us tax on wine we had paid for previously. I said "Take it off." and they did. I realize $1.93 on the whole bill is nothing but who gets that money? If $1.93 was added to every bill where a customer ordered a bottle of wine that was previously paid for, that adds up to a fair amount of money going somewhere.
Punchliner Brunch: Lots of complaints about this maybe because we had 5 sea days out of 10 days and the brunch has one menu. A comedian comes out and introduces himself on the hour and tells when his evening shows are and his time is up (5-6 minutes at best). It is not a fun time. We couldn't even see where he was standing. I ordered an item one day and my husband ordered the same item another day and on comparing they were nothing alike. There were enough complaints that they announced at dinner the night before our last sea day that the last sea day would be breakfast and lunch, not brunch. Everyone cheered. Hope Carnival listens to their customers but they probably have some kind of contract for this which goes for years to come.
We did go to the Serenity, adult only, deck a couple of times. Guess we were lucky because we did not find it busy either time. But although we tried all the different loungers/hammocks/chairs etc. we did not feel really comfortable in any so we didn't go back a third time.
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.
A cruise critic member booked a group of us an open-air taxi using Godfrey. He was at the pier on time, charged $20pp and took us on about a 25 minute drive to Sapphire Beach. Picked us up 4 hours later and brought us back to the pier. Reliable. Safe driver. Sapphire Beach: rent a lounge chair for $7. The area looks like it was once very nicely kept but showed signs of definitely having gone downhill. Washrooms were not nice. Only two for women and when you had to line up you could see directly into the men's urinals. Yuck! Canopy structure there with no canopy. We did have a nice day with a breeze and sitting and reading was great. I did not realize the strength of the sun and did get sunburn on my legs. Water shoes were advised and we had them on but even with them the water was so full of stones, pebbles, rocks, even boulders that it was not at all enjoyable. There was about a foot drop where the waves hit the shore. Not safe for little ones. And the undercurrent was very strong. I was in and out in no time. There is a reef to one side of the area but the current was so strong my husband did not want to attempt it with his snorkeling equipment. I would definitely go to a different beach another time. I am not a shopper but if you are then go shopping in St. Thomas.View All 269 Beach Reviews