After only cruising with Princess, we decided we couldn't pass up the great itinerary that the Carnival Miracle was doing. We apparently should have. The embarkation was easy - we arrived early (around 10:30 am) as we could see the ship in port from our hotel room. We flew in the day before to avoid the rush from the airport to the ship. This was the best thing we've ever done! Our room was ready, so we set down our carry-ons and decided to explore the ship. We found it very compartmentalized with VERY low ceilings - it gave the impression that everything was smaller than it actually was. It also has a terrible layout - the pools are segmented and small, and the water slide is in an awkward spot (in my opinion). Some of the other Carnival ships have nicer layouts, so check that out before booking. Once we had explored the ship, we headed up to the Lido deck for some sun and a drink - and WOW! We were not expecting to pay $18 for 2 simple mixed drinks! The prices for drinks we found to be outrageous, especially once a 15% gratuity was tacked on. Not to mention the horrifying music that played at the Orpheus bar ALL WEEK LONG. Not only was it not upbeat, but it was country - not "new" country, but old, suffering, crooning country. And SLOW. Not exactly the kind of music that gets you pumped up - pumped up enough to keep paying $20 for 2 drinks! If it wasn't country, it was something from the 1930s - note to Carnival - splurge on something from at least the 1990s. We found the nightlife was dull - although the piano bar was hopping a couple of nights, and the casino seemed to always have quite a few people in it (we aren't gamblers). We hit the "nightclub" a couple of times but I had better, more current music on my BlackBerry! We did feel nickel-and-dimed by Carnival, and the quality of the food in the buffet was lacklustre. We couldn't believe that not only did we pay per minute for the internet, but there was a "one time access charge"??? We were not impressed. I was also not impressed that I had to PAY for pineapple juice. And the coffee on the ship was the worst I have EVER tasted - who knew you could screw up coffee this well?? We ended up paying (yet again!) for the specialty coffees - at least some steamed milk covered up the awful taste. However, the service was good, Nick & Nora's (the steakhouse) was superb, and although they are still working out the kinks with "Anytime dining", we really enjoyed it and it is the only way to dine! We also purchased the "wine package" of 5 bottles and it was great. This is something I hope they continue to offer. For such a big ship with so many passengers, nothing was ever very busy, which was nice The ports were great, the excursions we took we loved and in general we had a good time. Are we in a hurry to book another Carnival cruise? Not really - but that doesn't mean we won't. We won't let one vacation be the generalization for an entire cruise line. But we will check the ship layout a little better, and perhaps sail at a different time of year...
We have been to this port before, and it is one of our favorites. There is lots of great shopping, the beaches are excellent, and if you choose any excursion, they all seem to get good reviews. We did the America's Cup excursion, and it was great! If you like to sail, I highly recommend this - and even if you don't it's a load of fun!
St. Lucia is a stunningly beautiful island. We did the Caribbean Pirate Extravaganza on the Brig Unicorn - the "Black Pearl" from Pirates of the Caribbean. It was a great time - we sailed out to Pigeon island, took in the ruins, checked out a bar in a cellar, and hit the beach!
This island was very beautiful. We did a local tour - he took us around the island, stopping frequently to tell us about interesting spots, and stopping for pictures along the way. We visited Brimstone Hill Fortress, and then off to Cockleshell beach to hit the Reggae Beach Bar. It was a fun location, although not the nicest beach I've ever been to. We didn't check out any shopping so I can't comment, but a great island visit no less!