We have sailed with Carnival several times, but this will probably be the last time for us. The service just isn't what it used to be when we first started cruising about 13 years ago. The food in the dining room was almost the same as what was being served in the buffet line, with only a few "special" items such as some of the appetizers. If you want a filet or lobster in the dining room, you now have to pay an extra $20 for it. The staff in the dining room was friendly and worked hard to create a pleasant dining experience in spite of the ordinary meals that were being served.
The staff in the buffet dining room was mostly indifferent. The buffet was suppose to be open for dining until 9:30 p.m. We found it annoying that on more than one occasion staff was running a vacuum in the same area where we were eating. Also, they were intent on clearing dishes off the table before we were finished, and even had the nerve to interrupt our meal and ask us to hand them any empty dishes from soup or salad, or worse, just reach right over us. Less attention was paid to cleaning sticky surfaces.
When did Carnival start closing the buffet line right when people are returning to the ship after being in port all day? We were disappointed to find out that when we came back on the ship hot, tired, and hungry after an excursion, that our choices were limited to standing in long lines for either a hamburger, pizza, or deli sandwiches because the buffet lines were closed. What happened to keeping at least one line open during the changeover from lunch to dinner? They were just completely shut down from 3:30 to 6 p.m. We couldn't believe it.
Our cabin was clean, but the bed was not comfortable and the room smelled like someone was cooking cabbage. This lasted all week. The air-conditioning was poor and I had to complain about it. It was addressed and only got slightly better the next day.
We took a cab to one of the beaches close to the larger hotels. The beach chairs and umbrellas were terrible. Our umbrella was broken. Locals bothered us constantly to buy from them. By 3 p.m. the beach workers were sitting on the beach smoking weed just waiting for us to leave. Not a great place to take your grandkids.
We love St. Kitts, but Carnival decided to detour us to Dominica. They said it was due to high winds so all excursions were cancelled. We liked Dominica and went shopping for gifts to take home. The locals were very nice there. I would take an island tour next time.
We love St. Maarten. The new shopping area at the port is beautiful. We took a water taxi ($7 round trip) to the beach and also did some shopping. The beach area is lined with restaurants and bars with outdoor seating and good food. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas and stay right there or take a taxi to any of the numerous beaches on the island. Taxi service is very reliable and will return to pick you up if you go to another part of the island.
We have been to San Juan several times and have always enjoyed it. Old San Juan is beautiful and a must see if you are there. There is a free trolley that circles the area and there are many fine restaurants and shops as you wander up and down the beautiful cobblestone streets.