This was the first time I had been on a cruise and heard several horror stories and several raving reviews. Since we lived only a few hours away we left home Sunday the 28th at 7:00am. Traffic was ok until we arrived closer to the port. Then, traffic turned into a thrill ride. Both cars arrived and we used the porters to help with the luggage. Parking was easy, and embarkation was swift as we used Carnival's FunPass service to help speed up the process. We only sat in the lobby for four minutes, then it was off to be photographed. We arrived on the ship and were informed we could go to our cabins. Once I found my cabin I was amazed to see that some of the luggage had already arrived. The first day onboard was very relaxing and enjoyable.
St. Thomas is easy to do on your own, we took a taxi from the pier it was $20.00 pp for him to take us from the pier up the mountain, stopped to see the ship from the top and Drake's Seat, then he continued up the mountain to the top where they have a big tourist center and the view was AMAZING! He then took us down to Sapphire Beach and returned when we asked him to to bring us to the boat in plenty of time that we even shopped in the town near the pier before heading back. I did not think shopping here was as "cheap" as I thought it would be after all the hype. Of course I wasn't looking for diamonds either, but gold was about the same, just minus taxes. If anyone wants the Taxi drivers # email me... anyhow the trip was GREAT and Sapphire beach has great snorkeling up against the beach and it gets better the further out you go. Nice showers/bathrooms and a restaurant. Not too many people there either.
DR- Do not do on your own if your looking to really experience the island. We did take a taxi/bus to Casa Del Campo's La Marina, for $4.00 rt pp, which was fun. However note that no one speaks English here. We were lucky to find a nice man in the coffee shop who was willing to translate to the shop clerk for us. The groceries are really cheap in the supermarket here so if you need anything for the ship stock up here. Prices are in Pesos but they accept american money. We managed to buy two bottles of pepsi, candy, postcards and a large bag of chips for under $3.00 american. There were a few nice shops here with handmade items for sale and some name brand stores. We purchased some rum in a hand painted bottle and some clay dolls. OH the bus we took gave us a 1/2 hour tour on the way to shopping, past Sam Sosa's houses... it was pretty nice.
Nassau- Research, and it is easy to do on your own. We took a taxi from the pier to Paradise Island (dropped us off at the door of Atlantis)... it was $4.00 each way pp. We explored the resort, took photos and toured the dig, apparently before 10am or so in the morning there is no one there selling tickets, we just entered and looked around and then left. We then left the hotel and headed down to the beach about 2 blocks down to try to snorkel. Clear, beautiful beaches, but there were jet skis so we could not snorkel there. We found out later that just past the curve of the beach there is awesome snorkeling so next time we will know better. Otherwise this port reminded me a lot of Key West. Very tourist orientated. Lots of nice shops near the pier.
Sea Days: There was always something to do onboard on the sea days. We were never bored, in fact sometimes we had to pick what to do because there was so much going on. The ship had television (ABC, CBS, NBC) and they also have three movie channels (free of charge) showing newer movies and also the TravelLog channel with clips from your cruise. The stations come in from Tenn and NY. We loved the Newly Wed Game, the big shows, trivia was always fun. The pool was nice, but crowded. Although the ship never really felt crowded, except right after a show when people were trying to get to their rooms, etc. My group did not use the laundry but I did use the iron, it is located near U154 and E$ if I remember correctly. Lines for food were never really that bad either, never more than 10 or so people long.
Food/Dining: We ate in the Destiny Dining Room each night except the last. Our Asst. Waiter Eva and Carlos were wonderful. They remembered us and remembered how we liked everything. Our Head Waiter however needed improvement and we did let Carnival know. After hearing post about people's wonderful experiences with their waiters he really let us down. The food was great, only once did I try something I didn't care for. We always had two apps and sometimes two desserts to try. They were awesome. We had breakfast in the Elation once and the servers were wonderful and it was a nice change. Most times we either ordered room service (yeah BLT's) or ate on the Lido. If anyone needs an idea of the food or menus email me I wrote most down.
Overall I would have to say that was the best vacation ever and we had such a wonderful time. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me.