This was a different experience and a new boat for us. I certainly learned the hard way about using gift cards to fund my sign and sail pass. Bare with me through the rant. I was short on cash this trip-and unlike the previous sailing on the liberty of the seas, I had always just used a credit card attached to my sail pass. I was on a budget this year-and needed to use gift cards.
1. you cannot load cash into your sign and sail with giftcards from the carnival website-you must go to the guest services desk and have them load them onto your account. This is where all the trouble began. I literally had SEVEN $100 gift cards. So the gentleman loaded them all and then he said to me 'better keep them on hand just in case'. Literally by the next day my sign and sail card was declined and I had to go to the desk again. None of the mastercards went through-ONLY the american expresses took without issue. The girl behind the desk let me use their satellite phone to call the credit card company. I was told there was a 7% fee for using the card, so when the gent first loaded them-none of them took.
The girl then had to reload ALL of the mastercards for a lesser amount. When I got home I checked all the balances leftover and they were crazy all over the place. Moral of the story? Don't save your gift cards, just use cash or one credit card if you can help it.
2. the purchasing of water was cheaper this time, about $4.50 a case, and is easily delivered to your state room on the first day. The drink restrictions have changed-but you can still carry on 1 bottle per adult, and a 12 pack of whatever beverage [cans] you want to haul around. No more coolers though.
3. We hit 4 ports this round, Amber cove [went atv'ing it was boring but a nice breeze made it worth while]. Also in Amber cove is a really nice pharmacy-take advantage of it! I purchased prednisone and wished I got more.
St. Thomas [I highly recommend china king [next door to hooters], they have the best mongolean beef ive ever eaten. The jewelry shops there are a joke. Don't bother thinking you're getting a good deal any more-I spoke to several jewelers about random diamond pieces they had in their shops [and we're talking 1-2cttw rings of melee diamonds] and they were OUTRAGEOUSLY priced.
Then we hit up San Juan and took an ATV excursion there to a 2200 acre working farm. READ the instructions on your tickets! You need your drivers license and a credit card for damages to the ATV [of which you get back your full receipt if there was no damage] and it was WELL worth it. Not for the light of heart, you will get banged up and bruised if you're afraid of the machines. It is some serious hard core riding. Two hours worth to be exact. I came home muddy from head to toe.
Another GREAT surprise in San Juan are the street vendors!!! Every accessory you could ever hope to own ladies [and I DO mean every-especially hand bags.. wink wink, and WALLETS!] just gorgeous.
Our last port was Turks and Caicos. The entire island is one big white sand beach. But this is not for the faint of heart. I hope you have an umbrella of your own-because fighting an entire cruise ship for a spot on the beach outside the dock was more than we could handle. There is not a lot of shade..plan on bringing the strong block and melting, the heat and humidity on the 4th excursion day did us in.
Let's talk about the boat, the staff and the amenities for a moment. This is my 3rd or 4th cruise with carnival now and until this point we never wanted to pay extra or feel the need to seek dining experiences outside of our designated dining time. But we were flexible this trip and ventured out. Guys pig and anchor was only open for about 2.5 hours during lunch, and if you didn't get there early you were forced to stand in line that sometimes went to the back of the boat [even though it is located in the middle of the boat]. To experience it once was well worth it. Guy also has his burger joint open for most of the afternoon and we made SURE we got one of those daily! It was delicious.
Dinner one night was at Cucino del capitano, the Italian restaurant. For $15 a person, you received a hearty appetizer, a large entree and a delicious dessert. I know the main dining room is awesome but don't miss out on this experience, the food was wonderful. The only thing we did not try, was the steakhouse, because we could have gotten a $20 uptick steak at dinner in the regular dining room, vs paying $40 each in the steakhouse.
Let's talk about the buffet....it was cold and nasty, every time we tried to eat there at breakfast-so we stuck to the sea day brunch and breakfast in the dining rooms. They were great. This was the first cruise on carnival where we avoided the buffet [except for the mongolean wok for lunch]. Big praise to our head waiter Sheldon and his partner Lehron on the Magic. They were OUTSTANDING.
We had the 2nd largest suite on the ship, room 7372. The beds are SO small.. but the room itself was enormous. The closets are disjointed and in 2 different places. The balcony is oversized [really nice]. There was a deep jet tub to soak your bones if you wished, and the cabin steward was awesome.
The bad and the ugly
The casino was nothing more than a giant ashtray. The air quality in it was poor, and my $50 casino credit [promised to me 2 cruises ago but was never delivered] was once again not on file. This is the 2nd cruise in 2 years they have ignored my credit, but promised it would be on the next one. For this reason [and because im tired of looking like an idiot going to the cage and asking for it when they deny me] I didn't gamble at all. But you can smell the casino clear across the hall down to the end of the shops on level 5. It's really kind of gross.
The comedy club was entertaining [not as funny as the 4 women in the front row were] but it was good enough for the evening.
Bingo has gotten more expensive im afraid.
There are *AUTO* gratuities on all your drink tickets now, that was something we had not experienced before. So look out for those.
I found out that I can remove the auto gratuity at the end of the cruise [I didn't know I could before] because I tip daily, all of the staff I encounter that provide service, and one big tip to the waiters in the dining room on the last night.
I have never seen the inside of the red frog pub until this cruise. I must have been CRAZY not to go in there. SO much fun during the day, all kinds of great drinks, snacks, games.. GREAT way to fill some time on your sea days.
We played a lot of trivia this go around as well, just a good time to be had by ALL..THANK YOU CARNIVAL!
The cabin was clean, large, and always above par.
It was too hot to fight for a shade spot on the beach-we gave up and got back on board.
This was THE BEST part of the entire trip. Kind and friendly staff, well worth the cost. The *ONLY* negative here was our bus driver taking us to and from the location. He insisted on talking about US politics on the bus. I finally just asked him to stop-because we were on vacation. Don't talk about religion or politics when people are paying for transportation. But he was NOT affiliated with the actual employees of the working farm-they were AMAZING. Good kids, all of them!View All 16 ATV Adventure Reviews
We were very disappointed with the shops there, and the heat almost did us in.
What a gorgeous new port. There was a pool as well in case you just wanted to get off the ship but not worry about the cost of an external activity.
Trying to get onto the ship was a bigger hassle than anticipated. They made us stand outside in the hot sun in the preferred line-but let others just cut in at will. We were given water though-and once inside it was mayhem. We were pulled out of the preferred line to a woman that didn't even have our sign and sail cards. Whoever our checkin agent was-she was an idiot.