This was our first cruise and one of our last family vacations before our oldest goes to college. We chose the week of President's day because NY has the week off for winter break. The itinerary was also a deciding factor for the cruise. It was the Eastern Caribbean with port stops in Amber Cove, St Thomas, San Juan-PR, and Grand Turk.
Weather was warm and sunny. There was always high winds on sea day so that prevented us from entirely enjoying the lido deck. There were A LOT of kids due to the break but that didn't impact our enjoyment at all.
Ship was very clean and at full capacity according to the CD. I never felt overcrowded but we didn't hang out on Lido all the time. Staff was cleaning and they even painted the hull (?) during our port days in Amber Cove and St. Thomas. Public bathrooms were clean and well stocked. Fun shops were okay. Casino was the only negative. So smoky!!! It drifted out of the casino into the atrium and ocean plaza. There were small ionizer within the casino and it actually was less smoky when you walked through the casino. I did not see any ionizers outside the casina and there should be because the stench was unbearable on sea days in the atrium.
Cabin was a Cove balcony on deck 2. We had connecting cabins for our family and two bathrooms and more room saved us from many arguments. Luggage can be stored under beds and there were three closets. two for hanging and one had open shelves. Steward's name is Carmina. She was so kind and friendly. Did a great job!!
Food was plentiful. We didn't reserve any specialty dinning. We had Any Time Dining and were assigned the Sapphire dinning room. On the Carnival Hub app you can reserve at your leisure but can't request a table or server. the wait was never more than 10 minutes. The MDR service was alway great. We never had the same servers but they were all excellent.
Buffet was okay. Mongolian Wok made to order was excellent. Guy's Burgers were very good. We ate pasta Cucina del Capitano for lunch and it was delicious (upcharge for dinner but not lunch), Pig and Anchor was very good. I had pulled pork and mac & cheese that was yummy.
Entertainment was good. Comedy was good. Went twice because the times were conflicting with Ovation theater productions and by the time you walked to Lime Light theater it was standing room only. Band in Ocean Plaza had a very good. The band called Quite My Tempo & Nice Brass was excellent and the female singer was fantastic.
The Piano Bar was the only major disappointment. We tried him twice and both times it was not good. Craig was the name. Nice guy but not gregarious. The violin trio in the atrium is another great act. There were others that we didn't see but overall music is very plentiful.
Cruise Director was Leigh. He is from Australia so the accent had me at "hello". Great with kids and had the type of humor that I like.
Port and Shore Excursion were the highlight of our trip:
Amber Cove, Dominican Republic - Very nice port and had our passport stamped here.
We did a non-Carnival excursion with Marysol Tours to Damajagua Falls. It was so much fun and I highly recommend both the tour company and tour. We also hired the paparazzi and it was well worth the $50+tip. We had over 150 pictures and 10 videos.
St Thomas - Beautiful and still recovery from the hurricanes. We did a non-Carnival tour with Godfrey Tours included open bus ride of the City and Beach Break at Sapphire Beach. Again, the tour was good and highly recommend the tour and Godrey.
San Juan PR - My favorite port. We walked to the visitors center (across from CVS) and they mapped a walk. So fun!! Went to Barrichina's for lunch and Pina Coladas, walked to the fort and Governor's mansion.
Grand Turk - Did a beach day. Elation was in port before us and the free area was too crowded. We walked to Shark Reef Bar and rented 4 loungers and two umbrella's for $30. We just swam in the clear water, had drinks (very expensive compared to even Carnival) and toured the port area. I stuck up a conversation with a guest from Elation that did a snorkel tour and really enjoyed it.
We splurged and booked two connecting cove balcony cabins. It was perfect. Easy to get to MDR and Ovation theater. Had to take an elevator to lido but never more than 3-5 minutes at peak times. So glad we chose this location because on day 6 the seas were rocking. It was so bad you could not walk without holding on to something. It started around 9:30 and lasted until 3 am the morning of debarking.
Awesome Beach day!!
Great walking city. Walk to Visitors center (across from CVS) and they will highlight the walk.
Get a Banana Daiquiri at Mountain Top!! Great tour guide.
Sapphire Beach is Gorgeous!
Excellent tour to Damajagua Falls with Marysol Tours! Port is nice!