This was my sixth cruise- first one with Carnival, the others were on Royal Caribbean. My boyfriend and I (we are 24, almost 25) arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day before the cruise departed (we had to fly from New Jersey).
Hotel in Fort Lauderdale: The Tranqulio
Pros: affordable, uber ride away from the airport and cruise port, walking distance to the downtown area and the beach, friendly staff
Cons: room was small and felt more like an Air BnB, no phone in the room to call down to the front desk, body wash and shampoo are all in one (no separate conditioner), have to turn in your room key or you’ll get charged $25
**If you’re just staying for one night, I’d recommend.
Embarkation Day: we arrived at the cruise terminal by 12pm. At first, it was frustrating figuring out where to take our luggage (we were directed to the front of the line) and had to basically walk through people to get to the right spot. However, once we found out where to drop our luggage and got in line, it was all good. The check in process went very smoothly- they scanned our boarding passes, we went through security and were on the ship by 1pm. We were supposed to leave at 3:30pm but didn't head out until 4:30pm. That night, it was very rocky and A LOT of people complained about being sea sick (probably because the captain had to travel faster so we could make it on time to the Bahamas the next day). **Take dramamine just in case- you never know if you'll have to use it.
Ship and service: the main areas are clean, certain staff were friendly (we loved Tuty at the Magic Lobby bar), and our stateroom attendant (Yusep) was nice. He wrote "Happy Birthday" on our one mirror for my boyfriends birthday. I didn't request this, so thought that was a sweet gesture. The bartenders at the Red Frog Pub were not friendly and somewhat rude on our second day at sea. A women complained her beer was warm because the glass had just come out of the dishwasher, and he told her there was nothing he could do about it and walked away. I'm not sure why he just didn't give her a new one? Our waiter- Tulus was just ok. He didn't do anything that stood out to me. The lines for the Lido Marketplace are long like other reviews say, but I didn't think it took up too much of our time. It was also very easy for us to find a spot to eat, and I liked how they had booths in the buffet area.
Food: I was disappointed with the food in the main dining room (MDR). The breakfast buffet food wasn't great either. However, I really enjoyed Guy's burgers, the Mexican stand, the pizza place and the deli section (all included). Ice cream was good but the dessert selection (specifically in the MDR) was sub par. I didn't like how our waiter had us order our appetizers, entree and dessert all at once (I'm used to ordering dessert after I finish my meal).
Nassau- the locals who sell things at the straw market and on the streets are very pushy which got annoying. They are big on selling cigars, giving girls braids and try to get you into their store. We walked to Junkanoo beach which was easy to find. Since this is the closest beach to the ship, it was PACKED. I would recommend checking out a more private beach if you want to relax. We spent the second half of the day at Senor Frogs which was a blast. The drinks are over priced but there’s a “hype man” who made it fun.
**I highly recommend taking a beach bag so you have a place to put beach towels, a wallet, sunscreen, etc.
Amber Cover- this is Carnival's island that’s a cab ride away from the city. It was clean and had a restaurant, zip line, a slide, a pool with a swim up bar and shops. We stayed by the swim up bar for the entire time (got two bucket's of Presidente’s for $20 each). It was pretty crowded but fortunately, we found a good spot where we could keep an eye on our things.
Grand Turk- we did the Junkanoo Party Bus excursion which I booked before the trip, on Carnival's website. We had an hour and a half to kill so we sat by the pool at Margaritaville. This was a highlight because it was really nice and relaxing. The party bus served us a rum punch that was pretty good, but lacked rum, I thought. Banks was good, and gave us a lot of info about the island as we made our way to each stop. The first was a souvenir spot (they weren't pushy at all), next was a light house (I thought we would climb it and see a cool view but it wasn’t like that). After that is the Cliff Hanger bar right next to the light house for rum tasting. This was the coolest part because you get to see where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. The last stop was the “private” beach (I thought we would have the entire beach to our group but there were other tourists there). It wasn’t as crowded as the beach in the Bahamas though, and they gave us chairs with umbrellas.
Debarkation Day: The night before we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, we had the option to carry off our own luggage or you could put it out by 11pm and have the crew take it off for you. We decided to take our own luggage off, and I was amazed with how smoothly it went. We left our room at 7:30am and were in an uber to the airport by 8am.
Entertainment: The shows were a welcome aboard show, 88 keys, America Rocks, and Flick. I thought the welcome show and 88 Keys was ok. America Rocks was good, and Flick was my favorite. They also did Love and Marriage, Quest, a mega deck party, an all white party and there were two comedians who were funny. The nightclub- Vibe was a lot of fun. I also thought they would do more at night on the decks.
**I would highly recommend this trip to people in your 20s who are on a budget looking to travel and have a good time. It wasn't overly priced, and I felt we got what we paid for. Carnival's tag line is "Choose Fun," and they definitely mean that.
I had originally booked an interior room to save some money, but when the travel agent asked if I wanted to upgrade to an ocean view room (Carnival was running a deal), I figured why not? I am SO happy I decided to upgrade. Our room was very spacious, and there was a lot of room for your clothes (three closets and three drawers). They also give you two fresh beach towels each day ($22 each if lost). I was VERY happy with our room. Our stateroom attendant (Yusep) was fine, but i wasn't overly impressed. The only negative comment is they do not provide you with conditioner- just shampoo and body wash, which are separate. I had to buy some at the store for $9.99.
**If you are able to pick a room, pick one of the corner. I think this is why our room was bigger.
My boyfriend and I didn't do much in Fort Lauderdale since we knew we had a lot of activity and drinking ahead of us. We walked to the downtown area, and had lunch and dinner and just watched a movie in the room.
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