This was our first cruise with RC. We chose this ship for the itinerary: ABC islands. Unfortunately, we could not dock in Aruba due to high winds, but hey, it's Mother Nature. No one really wanted to go to Nassau AGAIN....but at least the captain found us another port...HA!
We arrived at the Miami port around noon. We were in our cabin by 1:30! Luggage did not come to our room until about 5:30 though. No worries, my daughter and I were having a Swedish massage in the spa. We both had an excellent experience and were not pressured to buy spa products. Make sure you book online before the cruise to get one of the better deals offered. The Spa staff was very nice.
Our cabin steward, Peter, was VERY efficient. He brought ice every day and was able to secure an extra chair for our balcony. The bed was quite comfy, and the cabin was clean, but I did notice a musty odor from time to time so when my husband wasn't there to be the energy police, I opened the balcony door and let the sea breeze in for a few minutes.
We ate on the 4th deck in MDR several nights. We had excellent service from our waiter, Hemanshu, and his assistant, Jaya. Overall, the food was hot but was not memorable for dinner. We enjoyed the Galley Tour/Bottomless Champagne Brunch in the MDR with our guide, Chef Scion Frame. He was great and everyone seemed to respect him. The food was delicious and we enjoyed talking to our table guests. We also enjoyed the MDR for lunch on sea days. We enjoyed the food in Windjammer for dinner more than eating in the MDR, even though we missed seeing Hemanshu and Jaya. While dining in the Windjammer, we were impressed that several "managers" came by to ask if our service and experience was good. We tried to go when they were not as crowded. I was not that impressed with Promenade Cafe and pizza. I ordered continental breakfast twice and room service was prompt and polite.
We traveled April 13-22 and there were NOT many children and basically all college students were finishing up classes and getting ready for exams. My husband and I are retired school teachers, and our daughter is a pediatric dentist, so we were thrilled that there was only a small herd of tweens running around from time to time. The "older" crowd was very polite and well mannered ...except for, as mentioned by others, those selfish solarium slugs who stored their towels on the lounge chairs 24/7. My daughter said that the Solarium was where old people went to die...HA! Glad we had a balcony.
As far as entertainment, we enjoyed the World Champion Ballroom dancers (husband and wife) who also taught people how to salsa; the comic; the comedian juggler was hilarious; young Elvis impersonator; and Las Vegas tenors. The NOS orchestra was fantastic, but the singers and dancers were average. The ice show was also impressive; be sure to get there early (people were lined up 45 minutes before). I was disappointed that there wasn't more line dancing and fun by the pool ...but I guess Carnival is the FUN ship---LOL! Indoor movies in Metropolis and outdoor movies were good....but NO POPCORN:( Overall, I thought the cruise director, Simona, did a nice job.
Other info: Gym facilities were clean, but the staff were not very friendly the couple of times we were there...always talking on the phone or to each other. I wasn't super impressed with guest services or shore excursion staff. Photographers were not pushy and intrusive but their services were poor---kiosks/computers half worked and people lined up while staff "acted" like they were doing something. Kudos to the cabin stewards and food service folks---who despite their long work days, were always smiling and greeting us . Overall, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the ship considering the thousands on board. Based on previous reviews, I thought the ship would be in much worse shape. It is obvious that refurbishing is in process. I saw people painting and carpeting looked new. I saw "officers" walking around discussing renovations, too.
We enjoyed a nice relaxing beach day on Labadee. We were off the ship and sitting under a palm tree on the bay side by 8:30. We quickly walked through the shopping area. And yes, don't go if you don't want to be harrassed a bit, but I certainly didn't encounter any "thugs" as someone else posted. In fact, the fellows we talked to were quite nice after we told them we weren't going to buy anything because we were trying to get rid of things in our house. They did manage a small purchase from our daughter though. We decided to return to the ship about 1:00 and eat in the Windjammer. If you want to avoid crowds and sunburn, getting up early is the way to go in Labadee.
In Willemstad we just toured with one of the groups that you can't miss right when you get off the ship. For about $20 a person we had a three hour tour in a small bus with AC. The tour included a stop at the distillery. My only regret is that I didn't buy a bottle of Blue Curacao liqueur. We had very personable tour guides on both the bus and at the distillery. After the bus tour, we toured the Kura Hulanda Museum on our own. It was quite an experience. We paid a few dollars extra for a personal guide. OMG! We were there for about three hours ...and the museum is not that big. The guide was very detailed, and he kept saying that most people do not know the history of slavery, but we hung in there until the very end. I don't know if he spent that much time with us because we were the only people there or what, but his lecture was INTENSE. No need to tell him that my husband and I both taught history, but we respected his passionate perspective. After touring the museum, we walked across the Queen Emma Bridge and spent about 45 minutes window shopping before heading back to the ship.
Our favorite port was Kralendijk. We liked the laid back atmosphere, friendly people, and less commercialized feeling there compared to Willemstad. We went on the Double Dip Snorkel excursion on the Sea Cow. I had tried to book this myself but was informed they were full. Then something miraculously was arranged through RC shore excursions and we snagged it. Although the day was cloudy, we had a delightful experience with Henk, Gea, and the gang. When we got back to the ship about 10:30 many people were just getting off. We showered, ate lunch, and then walked around town. We would definitely go back to Bonaire.
We had no problem with debarkation because we were one of the many who carried off our own luggage. We left our room at 7:30 ---yes, the biggest problem was getting on the crowded elevator so we finally rode up to ride down to deck 4 for the mass exodus. We were off the ship by 8:30. The early bird gets the worm.
Overall very clean (a slight musty smell), with more than adequate storage for two people. Comfy bed and the most important part-- our neighbors were very quiet! The balcony was very enjoyable for this 9 day itinerary.
We enjoyed a very relaxing beach day. Excellent facilities and very nice staff.
I highly recommend Double Dip Snorkeling on Sea Cow. Read the reviews on TripAdvisor!View All 171 Snorkeling Reviews
Don't miss this tour!View All 73 Distillery Tour Reviews
If you are a history buff and have the time, you may find Kura Hulanda worth your time.View All 8 Museum Reviews