We live in Northwest Florida and chose to drive to Ft Lauderdale, arriving the day before the cruise. We stayed in the Hampton Inn - Ft Lauderdale City Center where we left our car during the cruise for just $7 per night. The hotel was lovely - we had a nice breakfast in the hotel and then took the free shuttle to the Port. We (husband 67, wife 59) arrived at the Port around 10:45, went through the VIP check in line, and boarded the ship around 11:30. Cookies, lemonade, and water were available to us during our short wait. Our cabin was ready at about 1:30 and we anxiously checked it out since this was our first time reserving a suite. It was lovely - we were spoiled with all the space and with our cabin steward, Noli - he was the best one we've ever had.
We met two couples in 2008 on the Carnival Liberty - all six of us joined up for this cruise as well and we had a fabulous time.
All six of us had early seating in the dining room and we had a good location. Our server, Maria, was excellent. The food was wonderful - the first night I ordered the barbecued ribs and was off to a great start. The salmon was delicious, the prime rib cooked to perfection, and the lobster was great. The deserts were divine - chocolate melting cake (yummy!), and the white chocolate bread pudding were exceptional. One night there was an appetizer of corn chowder, which was so delicious I could have ordered another bowl and been completely satisfied. We loved getting to try new dishes - if someone at the table was not completely satisfied, Maria was right there offering another choice. Never went away hungry.
On night five, husband and I went to Nick and Nora's. The service and food were beyond comparison. My filet mignon was one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. Hubby's cheesecake was huge!! We cracked up laughing when we saw the size of it - and it was very good. I had the chocolate sampler and it was good as well.
We took part in a number of the ship board activities - played bingo (never won), went to the art auction, made donations to the casino, and attended the shows. The entertainment was great - the Generations show, Ticket to Ride, and the comic juggler were all really, really good. A couple of the other shows were not quite as good, but still fun.
Our only disappointment on the cruise was the lack of timeliness on some of the activities. For instance, if Bingo was scheduled for 10:00, you would expect at 10:00 they would begin to sell the cards; however, sometimes it was 15 and even 20 minutes after the hour before they started selling the cards, which would run us over for the next activity. Not a huge problem in the whole realm of things, but would have been more considerate of the passengers.
All in all, we were very pleased. Our next cruise will be on Carnival as we purchased the future cruise certificate.
Cabin 5293 was a great cabin. It had a large balcony, which comfortably accommodated two chairs, a table, and a chaise lounge. The cabin is located in the aft section and is pretty quite. We were just steps away from the laundry area and that was very convenient for pressing our clothes. Sometimes, in port, there was quite a bit of noise at the rear of the ship, but all in all, it was great. It has a whirlpool tub!! After some of the shore excursions, it was great to come back and just soak.
We did the See and Sea excursion through Carnival and it was great fun. The bus ride to the French side was very scenic and informative - Jimmy was our driver and he was impressive with his knowledge of the area. St Martin is a beautiful island. The Sea portion of the excursion was a semi-submersible boat and we saw lots of fish, coral, a grouper, a snapper, a sting ray, and a turtle. A diver fed the fish and that made for some great photos.
We always choose to book our excursions through the cruise line as it provides a little extra piece of mind.
We took the Dolphin and Whale watching safari. Unfortunately, we did not see and whales on this outing, but we did see lots of dolphins and two huge sea turtles. It was still a fun-filled day even though seeing a whale was the big attraction of this excursion. There were a number of children on this excursion and hearing one little boy's excitement over seeing the dolphins (as he said - "a whole colony of dolphins!") made our day.
We took the Scenic Rail excursion in St Kitts and had a good time. A lovely island tour from the train, followed by a bus ride back to the ship. Best way to see the island. Our bus driver, Teddy, was fun and we had a good ride back. We enjoyed the complimentary beverages on the train - nice pina coladas!