My 18 year old daughter and I grabbed a deal on a Spa Balcony cabin for the 5 day Bahamas cruise. I was concerned when in the weeks leading up to it I read some horrible reviews. Either Carnival made some serious changes or the people writing to bad reviews are the kind of people that can find anything to complain about (and I saw some of those people on the ship...).
Although there were minor issues/inconveniences, we had an amazing time. Our cabin was the most spacious cabin (and definitely the most spacious bathroom and shower!) of the 3 balcony cabins I have had. The staff on this boat are incredibly attentive and friendly. If you go on this ship, insist on having Novi as your server in the Sunrise dining room. She is a very bright soul who will instantly put you in a good mood.
The Carnival Hub app is a must - you can look at any time of day to see what's going on, and mark the activities you want to do to plan your day and have the app remind you! A bonus was being able to book your dining table.
- Most hassle free check in ever. No waiting, no lineups answering all of the same questions you already answered at the online check in. Just showed our boarding passes and on to the ship we went. Had lunch and a beverage, relaxed on deck, and got into our cabin by 1:30, where both our suitcases were waiting.
- Cabin and bathroom very spacious.
- Having unlimited access to the Spa thermal suites with the cabin was amazing for this mother/daughter vacation. We used the suites every day to unwind.
- There were always available deck chairs in every area. On day at sea they were a bit more in demand, but they were still available.
- Serenity adults only area was lovely. Quiet, relaxing and comfortable. Admittedly on sea day it was quite in demand but we did get chairs after waiting just a few minutes.
- Your Time Dining was absolutely brilliant. We ate when we wanted to, and used the Carnival Hub app to book our dinner table. We would get ready for dinner, book our table on the app and by the time we got to the dining room (about a 5 min walk) the table would be ready. The scheduled seating takes place in a totally different dining room, so there are no line ups.
- If you don't like line ups and hoards of people, avoid the Lido buffet and eat breakfast in the dining room. Limited selection but you can have as much as you want and there is a little bit of each kind of breakfast food. Much more relaxing, never once had to wait for a table since most people are gorging at the buffet.
- Comedy club was great, but be sure to get there early to get a seat. Comedians were very funny and performed for only 30-40 minutes at a time to ensure you could get to other activities.
- We went 3 weeks before Christmas and the boat was decorated and had lots of Christmas type activities. There was a Christmas show on sea day in the afternoon where the camp kids performed, as well as a carol sing and the lighting of the tree. Lovely.
- We didn't use the pools (it was not super hot during our cruise and we prefer hot tub) but I can say they were never over crowded. And it looked like there was always something going on for entertainment.
- The movies on the deck were fun - especially at night when you could sign out a cozy blanket and get hot chocolate!
- There was a TON of variety for lunch - Lido (yuck if you ask me), Guy's Burgers (never a line up, they are super fast), Tacos/Burritos (always a small line up but it moves quickly), Guy's Pig and Anchor (never got there, sadly), the Noodle Bowl (often a line up), the Deli (line ups depended on time of day) and the Pizza places (always a line up but it also moved quickly). All of these places are included and the quality of the food was decent.
- And finally, the BEST part of this cruise was Chris the Flying Scotsman, who is the Cruise Director and the BEST entertainment on the ship. Quite honestly, his talent is wasted on a cruise ship, but he has been doing this for 9 years and he loves his job. He was friendly, engaging, energetic, hilarious and always got the crowds going. Carnival is lucky to have him. He has a FB and Instagram page- follow him, find out what boat he is on when you are ready to book and GO. He alone is worth it!
- The biggest complaint we had was the layout of the boat. There are only two levels which go all the way through from Aft to Forward and those are 9 and 5. On level 9 you have to go through the Lido buffet and then the pools to get to the other end - and these are the most congested areas. On level 5, you must go through the casino, which is smoke filled. All of the other levels come to dead ends because of restaurants, etc. Since our room as forward, we always had to go through either the crowds or the casino to get anywhere, which was frustrating.
- The hot tubs were often filled with children. Like young children wearing floaties. Firstly young children are not supposed to use hot tubs for health reasons, and they should be in the pool if they want to splash around. I'm 44 and have Rheumatoid Arthritis and love the hot tub as cooler pools flare my joint pain - and there were many other older and more disabled people on board who could really use the hot tubs for enjoyment. There are TONS of activities for children, so not sure why their parents thought that the hot tubs are the place for them. I was somewhat disappointed when the staff didn't encourage them to move along to more appropriate activities. Parents just don't use their common sense.
- The prices of the Spa treatments were out of this world. I expect them to be more on a cruise ship than at home for sure, but double the price is excessive. No massage by an unregistered masseuse is worth $160 (for less than an hour!). I wanted to use the Spa services but it is NOT worth the price.
Ports of Call:
These were a bit disappointing.
Princess Cays was lovely - but the beach is rocky from the shore to several metres into the sea. Anywhere we touched was uncomfortable. But on a positive note there were a ton of beach chairs and only one boat in port at a time - so lots of space. The buffet lunch served was less than impressive - in hindsight we should have gone back to the ship for lunch.
Nassau was the most disappointing - we didn't initially book excursions as we wanted to just explore on our own, but at the last minute we booked a hop on/hop off which was fine, but quite limited.
They drop you off first at Atlantis - we didn't spend money on any formal activities there but we did enjoy the little shopping promenade on site. I bought a lovely locally made Sarong at the Ocean shop.
Next they drop you at Graycliffe - we didn't get off as we wanted to get back to the port in time to explore the market - but a couple that got back on at this spot said it was not worth it. They saw the chocolate factory and a cigar shop and then sat for 30 minutes waiting for the bus as there was little else to do (according to them).
Next was Fort Charlotte - a very interesting historical site (if you are into that) that we enjoyed - but were shocked to see how run down it is. We have a very similar Fort here in our hometown that the Canadian government looks after to preserve its heritage so it was a shock to see such a historical landmark not being looked after. The tour guide was excellent.
The final stop they call 'The Fish Fry" which is a street full of local Bahamian cuisine. We didn't stop here either as again we wanted to be sure to save time to see the world famous straw market, but in hindsight I would have loved to have sampled the local cuisine.
The world famous straw market was a HUGE disappointment. We entered and within seconds started enduring constant harassment of the vendors. There is no such thing as taking a look around. You can't even turn your head without someone barking at you that you should buy something. It was constant. My daughter, who suffers from some mild anxiety, had to get out of there as the closed in space and constant harassment was too much for her. And frankly, most of the merchandise looked to be nothing we were interested in, which was totally contrary to what we had been led to believe was there.
Even along the streets outside shops people stood and harassed you as you went by. Honestly we just headed back to the ship, we had no interest in exploring any more of Nassau.
Freeport was nice, what we saw of it. I considered booking a shore excursion the night before, a beach getaway, but thought better of it, thinking we could get a cab to the beach if we wanted. Good thing I didn't book anything as the day we were in port was cool and windy - definitely not beach weather. It was only 18 degrees and overcast, and felt even cooler with the wind. When we went out exploring the port, both locals and visitors were wearing long pants and sweaters or hoodies. I can't imagine that any beach was enjoyable. Instead we looked around and the vendors were very chill - no pressure, no harassment. My daughter bought herself a lovely ring at the jewelry shop (very professional) and also a hoodie at a local tent. The port is very industrial so not much of a view, but who knows what it was like before the hurricane just few months ago that obliterated this town.
We finished our cruise by taking an excursion in Fort Lauderdale as our flight home wasn't until 7:30 on debarkation day. We did the Everglades tour (you leave the boat by 8:30 am on a coach bus and you are dropped at the airport by 1 pm). This was a great excursion - bus tour guide was great, the ride on the air boat through the Everglades was fantastic, and the gator show was short but interesting and filled with facts I didn't know about these creatures. It was a great way to wrap up a great vacation.
I wasn't sure what I would think about a 5 day cruise but honestly we loved it. Being from rural Canada we had to take 2 days to get there (overnight in Toronto then overnight in Fort Lauderdale) and one to get home, so the 5 day cruise was actually 7 full days for us. The only drawback to the 5 days is that we didn't get to sample all of the food lol!
I recommend this boat for sure - don't listen to the negative reviews!!
Cabin was spacious, clean and the colours were lovely.
Loved having the robes and the spa towels and toiletries.
The bathroom was very spacious, the most spacious I've experienced.
There was also a fridge in the cabin - didn't even realise that until the last day!!