Very very very last minute (booked 2 days ahead) and the only room left was an Aqua Class Balcony room on 11th floor. Great room, location was terrific and near everything (directly above the buffet). As an Aqua Class, one of the benefits I thought was the highest value proved to be of nearly no value to me, and that was access to the Thermal Suite in the Spa. My reasoning was first, the room was in the back of the ship, and to get to the front of the ship, we had to go out on deck, walk all the way to the front and then down a level. When wanting a quick warm up in the thermal suite or a relaxing sit in the steam rooms, all of that was lost as soon as you had to trek back to your room. We have done this on other ships (this is our 25th+ cruise), and you can put on your spa slippers and a robe and buzz down the hall to use the spa. This was so inconvenient that it "harshed my mellow". The thermal suite was not great anyhow. They had a eucalyptus steam room that theoretically could fit 4 people if you like facing two strangers touching knees. The heated loungers were actually more like heated chairs and none of the relaxation you get from laying back and having your legs and feet elevated. They also had a "sahara" room that was also dry heat tiles, but too hot to even sit with a towel underneath you -- skin was burning within seconds. So overall we went once, tried a second time and left within minutes. The Thassolatherapy pool was public and out of the spa area so that was not part of a relaxing experience either.
The real value of Aqua Class was dining in Blu. The restaurant was exclusive to that class, and was personal, quiet, easy to get a two person window seat. I enjoy meeting other people while dining, and although we were mostly at two person tables, they were configured so you could talk to the people next to you easily. The staff was top notch, the food excellent, and all a cut above on sophistication over the other "big box" cruise lines out there.
Canyon Ranch Spa despite the thermal suite was amazing. I had no intention of having spa treatments but ended up with two massages and one conditioner/blow dry treatment that all were amazing. The staff were delightful, well trained and really good. The hot stone massage was the best I have ever had (ask for Nipa...her hands are out of this world).
As for the rest of the ship, the rooms were great, nice and quiet and well tended to. Carnival has started the one-with-an-optional-twice cleaning policy that I hate. I dont even like being asked if I only want one cleaning a day... it makes me feel like I am overworking the staff, however I really like having my cabin cleaned and put to rights twice a day. These folks never even asked or made any efforts to cut my cleanings down... I appreciate that they still keep the standards of cruising that we became accustomed to over the last 30 years.
The ship was always being maintained, painted, cleaned etc. That was super important. The food was always fairly well staffed, not too long of lines or too many times fighting for tables... not enough to mention, so that indicates a good flow of traffic. We always got to the shows a little late but never had a problem finding a good seat even though the ship was booked to capacity. If you have not cruised before or only a few times, these will be the things that make all the difference from one cruise line/ship to another.
Sea days always have a hard time getting deck chairs unless you are an early riser. With that in mind, I did not find it too difficult. Around the main pool they were gone early, however there were many other locations convenient to a quick tip in the pool that make it not too inconvenient. Hot tubs were never packed either and were easily able to join.
So, in summary, Aqua Class was worth it just for the room location and for dining at Blu.
All in all one of the nicest and most complete cruise experiences ever.
Excellent. Steward was friendly and quick. Cabin was as expected in size, balcony as well. Location was fantastic. Very quiet, easy to get to. Although technically right in front of elevator, it was spaced by a 1/2 hallway, and no one getting on elevator except for the few on the floor with us. Very very quiet.
I always love San Juan, and had the best Segway tour ever, but not this time. We just made it from the airport to the ship.
St Thomas was fine. We did not get out of town, but did go downtown and it is looking pretty good since Irmageddon... Any cruises going forward should be not too worried about damage other than diving/snorkeling where the reef took a beating.
St Maarten is still reeling from the aftereffects of the hurricane. Many stores, buildings, hotels, and pretty much everywhere is still devastated. You can get around fine, and still have things to do, but it looks very war torn.
My favorite island in all the world. It is neat and tidy with the friendliest people ever. This time we went to Hamilton as we missed it last time. Although an ordinary capital town, going to Fort Hamilton was a highlight as we explored all the gardens especially the moat gardens were not to be missed.
Just took an Uber to the airport which was super easy and not too expensive (much better than a taxi.)