This was our 12th cruise, 11th on Carnival. All of the others have been on either the Destiny, Triumph or Conquest Class. There is a huge difference in those classes and the Fantasy Class.
We had 63 VIFP days and have an 8 day cruise booked on the Horizon for 2019. That would have put us 4 days short of Platinum so we booked this cruise to become Platinum on the Horizon.
Embarkation was easy as we had FTTF. Your S&S cards are still being handed out when checking in at the terminal. It only takes a minute for the employee to get the cards so I don't see where it saves that much time by putting them in your mailbox on some of the ships.
We boarded the ship, went to our cabin then headed for the Lido Deck. Immediately upon entering the pool area we ran into Hong, the bar server. He went out of his way to find us every time we were up there. Always knew our names and folio number. I don't know how they do it but they always do.
In Cozumel, we went on the submarine excursion. I was a little leery of trying it but did it anyway. I kept concentrating on looking out the window instead of concentrating on being in a giant tube under water that was going down 100 feet to the bottom of the ocean.
The current was quite strong so we only got down to 64 feet instead of 100. We were offered the opportunity to stay back and if the currents got got smoother, we could go back down again. We decided to not take them up on the offer as the chances of it getting better were slim. We all got a certificate that states were did the dive.
We were in cabin M62. We found out that they had removed two cabins to make a debarkation station for Cuba right next door to our cabin. (M60 & M58) On the night before Cuba, we came out of our cabin to go to dinner and found that they had put the people and luggage scanners right outside our door and had blocked off the passageway to the elevators. We had to go all the way down to the front elevators from that point on.
To enter Cuba, you need a Cuban issued VISA ($75 per person charged to your S&S account) and a Passport. We left the ship and went into the terminal where we were greeting by a line that stretched on forever. When we finally got to Customs, they took our VISAs, entered out Passport numbers, then took our pictures. We were told ahead of time that they have infrared scanners that check your temperature. If you had a high temperature, you weren't allowed to enter.
After going through customs, you had to exchange your money for their money. Their money is called CUCs. For every $100 in American money, you got 87 CUCs. Dollar for dollar, it's the same but they charge you 13% for some fee. Exchanging CUCs back to American money, they charge you another 3%. We spent 35 CUCs leaving us with 52 CUCs. We got $40 back.
In Cuba, we had the old car excursion. They took us by bus to an area where all of the cars were parked. We got to choose the one we wanted to ride in. On the bus was a nice young lady tour guide who told us about the history of Havana. We picked a 56 Chevy and the tour guide rode with us to the first stop. After that, she rode with someone else and our driver didn't speak English. He would point to a building and say something is Spanish and we had no idea of what he was saying.
They then took us to a small theater where they did interpretative dancing for a half hour. All of us on the excursion made the same statement after it was over..."WHAT?"
They then took us to a marketplace that was suppose to close 15 minutes after we arrived. We all went in and immediately got bombarded by every seller in there. The line for Cuban cigars stretched for quite a ways. You can bring back 100 duty free cigars. Any over 100 you have to pay 33 cents duty for each one.
At that point, it started pouring rain. We were standing by the door trying to decide if we wanted to make a run for the bus. A Cuban young man was standing by the door and tapped me on the shoulder. He pointed to his shorts which were red and white striped with a blue field with stars. He said "I love America!"
I don't know what the rest of Cuba was like but Havana was sad to say the least. So many buildings just crumbling. There were a lot of three story buildings that had no roof or windows on the top floor but had people living in the first and second floors. I actually saw a woman throw garbage out of a second story window.
We were glad we got to see Cuba but we would never go back there again. Picture the worst slum you've ever seen, then double it. There was only one more cruise on the Paradise after ours for a while. There are more scheduled for 2018 if we are still allowed to go there by then.
The real surprise came on the morning of leaving Cuba. We were supposed to be back onboard by 5 am. Around 4 am people started coming back onboard after having a good night at the bars. All were talking very loud and banging into the walls. (Remember, we were right next door to the embarkation station.) That went on until 5 am when the crew then decided to tear down the scanning devices making all kinds of noise. We just laughed it off and got up a little earlier than planned.
This cruise was without a doubt, the most friendliest we have ever been on. We met so many people that we kept running in to and would sit and talk for hours with them. One of them was a Mother who's son was one of the dancers. She was spending the week with him. He got to be with her during the day, then performed at night. We went to one of his shows and he certainly had energy. I don't know how they remember all of those steps and can do it night after night. Ah youth!!
All in all, this was a great cruise, like all of the others we have been on with Carnival. Now the countdown begins for the 2019 cruise on the Horizon. Only 494 more days from today. UGH!
Cabin was OK until they set up the debarkation station right outside our door.
We were suppose to go down 100 feet but the current was too strong so we only made it down to 64 feet. It definitely was an experience I'll never forget.View All 97 Submarine Tour Reviews
Driver spoke no English. Havana is in horrible shape. Buildings crumbling down and people still living in them. It was sad to see people living like that. Buildings with no roofs but still had people living in them. Some buildings were half missing with piles of concrete next to them that use to be part of the building still being inhabited.View All undefined undefined Reviews