We chose the port of Charleston because we did not want to fly to Florida, the cost of the flight for 2 adults and 2 children would have been almost as much as the price of the cruise.
So we drove 8 hours to the port. Easy approach to the port, fast parking, great service at the port of Charleston.
Getting on the boat, was a breeze. We had purchased "faster to the fun" and it got us on the boat quickly. This was the only time "faster to the fun" was of any help.
First night on the boat, it became apparent that Carnival had packed as many people on-board as possible. It was very VERY crowded. We soon learned that there was going to be long lines for everything. The pool was overfilled with children, the hot tubs on the lido deck were full of children splashing and being loud. Parents let their children run wild with little to no supervision. Many children were darting through the crowds and on the interior walkways of the ship bumping into people and being very loud late into the night.
There was a constant sewer smell around deck 4 the entire time we were on the ship. Anytime you went that direction, you caught the smell and was kinda gross.
Camp Ocean was OK for the kids, they did complain that one of the staff were rude to them while there and it took some convincing for them to want to go back.
Room Steward was amazing gentleman that took very good care of us our entire cruise. He cleaned the room twice a day, made towel animals for the kids, kept our ice bucket full at all times and took the time to learn our names and spoke to us at every opportunity. We tipped him in cash very well. $20/ $30/ $40 at a time.
Tipping- We opted to tip in cash and NOT pre-pay or gratuity. So we took a large stack of $5 and $1 bills for tipping (more than a few hundred dollars). We passed out tips to almost every employee we had any encounter with. We were very generous with our tipping. On the third morning of the cruise, I used the Carnival Hub app to check our account activity and found that we had been charged $280 for gratuity. I immediately went to guest services and had them remove the charge and explained that there was no mention prior to booking of an automatic gratuity, only the option to pre-pay gratuity. Which we opted to tip cash (anyone that has been in the service industry knows that cash in hand is better than a charged tip).
Faster to the fun- NOT WORTH IT. Only helps when initially getting onto the boat on the first day at port.
Excursions- Stingray adventure at Half Moon Cay was enjoyable. Instructions on where to be at what time, were horrible. We had no indication on where to check in. We walked almost all the way to the building with the stingrays only to be told that we need to sign in at the front of the island and ride the tram to the stingray adventure location. My wife and two girls had a 12:30 appointment, and got bumped back because it was overbooked. Then they got left at the stingray adventure with no tram available and were forced with about 20 others to walk all the way back. The empty tram passed them along the route and did not even stop to offer a ride.
Balmoral Island Dolphin swim- 9:30 meeting time at the Nassau port, got off the boat nice and early and were basically first in line. Once the excursion workers arrived, it was apparent their attitude towards us was poor at best. Not helpful, not caring. It seemed like since they already had our money, that we were stuck and along for the ride. We were escorted to a small boat, asked a few questions to the un-attentive worker that was on her phone from the moment I first saw her. She acted very bothered that we spoke to her. They counted out 110 passengers for the ferry to Balmoral Island. Then walked us to the boat, then a second group joined our group which made us over capacity. We missed the first boat by 5 people and were left on the dock with no instruction, to wait and bake in the heat for an hour before another boat arrived. Its now 10:30 and we have been off the ship to two hours waiting in the sun and just now getting onto a ferry. Arrived at the island and had to wait in another line to sign a waiver for the dolphin swim. Was given a time slot of 12:45. So our 9:30 turned into 12:45. Very misleading. Waited around on the island, swam in ocean, at lunch ($22 for 1 serving of chicken tenders that came in a styrofoam "to-go" box similar to fast food). We split it among the 4 of us to hold us over till we got back to the ship. THE DOLPHINS WERE AWESOME! The two trainers, not sure of their names were great! They had obviously paid attention to their previous customers needs and were very attentive and made the dolphin swim a complete blast. Cannot say enough about those two guys, they were professional and courteous and did their jobs well. Lockers were provided at the building for the dolphin swim, but there were only 18 available for around 45 people. We had to leave all of our belongings out in the open (passports, cash, phones etc.) Thankfully, everything was left untouched.
We finally made it back to the docks around 3:15pm, and needed to be back on the ship by 4:30. We were left with very little time to experience Nassau, but it honestly only took a few moments to realize what a trash hole this place was.
There were multiple instances of police sirens that should have been an indicator before we ever left the cruise boat. Nearly every person was rude, pushy and aggressive towards us. The streets are dirty, not maintained at all and there are abandoned buildings and boats littered about. For a port that almost 100% is reliant upon tourism, they really do nothing to keep the place maintained. One man photo-bombed a picture I took of my daughter and then tried to demand I give him money.
We were very disappointed that our 9:30am excursion was so misleading and took up the entire day. Carnival really needs to work on their crowd control and better organization with these excursions to increase everyone's enjoyment.
We went back to the ship, at at Guy Fieri burger joint, which we were starving and the burgers were absolutely amazing!
If you have read this far, I hope this review gives an accurate portrayal of what you can expect. I should have been more prepared for the crowds and the money gouging and the rudeness of the Nassau citizens.
In summary, the cruize staff were absolutely amazing we were very well taken care of. The food was awesome. The drinks were weak, but we were not there to get drunk, so it was ok. Nassau citizens and excursion staff were absolutely horrible. Cruise director Adam was incredible. Every show we went to was excellent, just be prepared to wait in long lines for everything. Be prepared to pay 18% gratuity on every purchase, and then be charged $70 per person gratuity on top of that with no warning.
Think of it like going to the shopping mall on black friday, once everyone is jammed inside, they lock the doors, triple the price on everything, crank up the heat and start serving alcohol for $15 a drink while everyone lets their kids run absolutely wild. If you can handle that, you will have fun.
Cabin was what we expected. Small, but we did not spend a lot of time in it so it was suitable for a place to establish a base and sleep.
The actual dolphins and the trainers were EXCELLENT!!
The experience getting to the island, the overpriced food and the fact that it was very misleading to make an appointment at 9:30am and not get done till 3:30 left us with almost no time to explore Nassau. Which was not much of a loss. This place was trashy at best.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Overbooked and was left to walk almost a mile in the hot sun after.
Easy access off the freeway, quick onto and off the boat. Easy parking and luggage handling.