Third Mate

Hometown: Virginia Beach
Joined: 09/15/2015
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About 757beachgirl


Ships: Carnival Splendor

Destinations: Caribbean


757beachgirl's Past Cruises

Carnival Sunshine

May 2016 - 5 Night Bahamas (Charleston Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Sunshine

Couple of Rough spots but overall good cruise

Background: This is my husband and I's second cruise, but first with our young kids.


BOOKING: Initially booked this cruise while on our last cruise to capture the on-board credits.  The booking agent led us to believe we would receive $50 credit per person, so we excepted $250 total for our family of five.  Nope, while onboard we were told it was just $100 for the whole cruise, not based on number of people.  Then, we also transferred our booking to Delta Skymiiles Cruises (who we also had used previously) to capture extra bonuses such as airline miles and more onboard credit.  Somehow, Delta Skymiles wriggled out of this promise and we only received the miles and there was nothing to be done while on board except to get over it. In the end, we ended up with much less credit then I had anticipated (and budgeted) for which was disappointing.


EMBARKATION: HORRIBLE!! Carnival's website says all cruise passengers enter through gate 2.  We arrived right at 12:30 as stated on our boarding passes. My MIL dropped us off so we could just grab our stuff and go plus avoid paying for parking.  About 25 to 30 other people stood outside gate 2.  The gates opened and only allowed cars to go through.  We stood at the gate for OVER AN HOUR with small children and all our luggage among several others who were also drop offs. Kept being told a shuttle was coming to get us, yet we could see all the shuttles about 50 feet away from us, through the gate filling up with people who had parked. It finally took someonefrom Carnival with a little bit of authority (and initiative) to drive up and see us all standing there and get on the phone to order we all be picked up immediately and taken around to the "right place".  A place apparently not described as the correct place for drop off on the website.


CABIN: Spacious, clean, everything in good working order.  Our three children loved the pullman bed and trundle bed set up. The grown ups got the king size bed. Didn't feel cramped at all.  Plenty of closet space and drawers for our things.  Loved having the window this time (we chose interior last time). Our steward Mohammed was fantastic! Always greeted our children and made them feel special.


FOOD: We did a repeat of the Chef's Table.  Loved the chef but was teensy bit disappointed, it was repeat of the same menu we had last fall.  Lido food was decent. Not blown away, but not bad.  Iguana burrito bar was yummy, husband loved the Guy's burgers. Food in MDR was hit or miss as it was last time, but overall everything was good (again not superb, but better then most chain restaurants I've been to). Staff was attentive and super friendly with our kids.


STAFF: This ship just got out of a two week dry dock.  Compared to our last cruise, we felt like the staff was not less friendly (in fact with our children, they were outgoing and accommodating), several just seemed "new", like most of the staff on our previous cruise were old pros and this staff were a lot of fresh on the job.  Didn't make the service bad necessarily, just not as streamlined as we had experienced before.  We wondered if they dry dock hiatus had anything to do with this.


CAMP CARNIVAL: SOOO nice. Two young ladies in particular went above and beyond to make our experience great. We have a 2, 3, and 9 year old and all had only good things to say about Camp. We were allowed to rent a double stroller from them which made rolling about Nassau and Freeport much easier. This staff is SO patient and accommodating.  I told my husband, I was super impressed that never once was I made to feel like I was annoying them, bothering them, they were so keen to make me and the children happy and comfortable.


ENTERTAINMENT: We didn't get to do as much this cruise since we had the little kids. We did a few of the "dive in" movies which the children loved.  We did the special Dr. Suess parade and story time on the second day and the Dr. Suess breakfast on the last day -- both major hits with the small children.  We hit the candy store.  We got some really great photos.  (NOTE TO CARNIVAL: WHY do you print EVERY single pic taken and then so much paper and ink is wasted on a daily basis!  Why not just have a kiosk where people can swipe their card, look up their photos, and check off the ones they want printed.  Here's a thought, the money saved in paper/ink would help reduce overhead and you can charge less for your pictures!!!!)


OVERALL: Nice ship.  I liked somethings about our previous ship better (Splendor) but there were several things the Sunshine had that were nice too. I think the Sunshine could use another pool or two.  Perhaps a two foot wading pool for the younger children.  We took ours in the hot tubs a few times just because it was chiller and there weren't big kids flailing about.  

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Carnival Splendor

October 2015 - 6 Night Bahamas (Norfolk Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Splendor

Great First Cruise!!

This was my husband and I's first cruise. We had researched quite a bit before we left, but we still learned a lot on this first time of what we like and don't like.  In previous reviews, other posters had commented on the decor of the Splendor. When one poster mentioned the "pink everywhere" I had mentally prepared for the hot pink garishness of teen girls' bedroom pink. In contrast, the decor is actually "old Hollywood meets Art Deco". The pink is a muted pink that is mixed with accents of black, gold and silver. I liked the decor. It was different but I thought it was interesting.  Here are the positives of cruising in general (and the Splendor in particular):  -We chose an interior room and it suited us fine. We were barely in the room except to sleep. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the amount of closet and drawer space. The bathroom was not claustrophobic small either.  -Lots to do: it took a few days for husband and I to accept that we just weren't going to have time to do everything we wanted to do. We got our Fun Times every night and just spent about 10 minutes narrowing down what the "must-dos" for the next day were. It was nice to have so many choices. We did various trivias, BINGO, 3 comedy shows, karaoke, played in the casino, relaxed in the hot tubs, and lots of other really enjoyable stuff.  -Cleanliness: I have never been to a public venue with such a great sense of cleanliness. It was refreshing. Hand sanitizer stations everywhere. Crew cleaning everywhere. I mean, literally everywhere we went you could see a crew member wiping something down, wiping the floors, clearing plates and cups. I rarely saw anything out of place the whole time.  -Being "off season" there were few families on this cruise. I'd say 80-85% were couples. Not that I don't love kids, but I left mine at home for a reason. We did not experience any ill behaved children or overcrowding in the pools and hot tubs.  -We met REALLY great people. From the couples we sat with at dinner nearly every night to the groups we ate breakfast with or hung out in the hot tub with, we didn't meet one unpleasant person.  -The cruise director Kevin was great! We even had coffee with him one early morning near the beginning of the cruise and he was just personable and cheerful and seems to LOVE his job. We attended his Q&A about the ship and he provided such interesting and sometimes funny information.  -Our room steward (Sanjaya) and waiters (Joe, Paul) were phenomenal. Some people have probably gotten used to how attentive and great cruise staff usually are but both my husband and I work in the service industry in the "real world" so we were truly impressed by the customer service and efficiency of the staff. One night in particular, we were rushing to get through dinner in the MDR so we could get to another activity and our waiter (without us asking) quickly packed up our desserts "to-go" and helped us make our quick exit.  -Comedy shows: hilarious  -Food: Lido deck buffet was generally good. Step above most on land buffets I've been too. MDR food was hit or miss. Some dishes we liked, others not so much. But that's typical of most land restaurants I have been too. We had a lobster night and that was good. I am a pescatarian (I don't eat meat except seafood) and there was always plenty of options for me. But even a true vegetarian had several options available. On the Lido, I particularly enjoyed the Indian food station.  -CHEFS TABLE! My husband knowing me all too well, booked this for us the first day. It is an extra $75/person but it was worth every penny. This is a private dinner (only 12 people allowed) in a private dining room with the head chef of the whole ship. Chef Rakesh is the most down to earth, interesting pro chef I have ever met. He took us on a tour of the galley which was super interesting to my husband and I (husband works in restaurant) and explained lots of how the food service on the ship works. He had prepared four different "bites" of food for us to try. Each one was more amazing then the last. Interesting enough, the staff had asked before hand if anyone had food allergies or dietary restrictions. I mentioned that I am a pescatarian. (Usually when I say this at picnics and BBQs everyone gives me a confused look and gets this panicked expression like "what is she going to eat???!!!") Not to worry, Chef Rakesh explained that he is originally from India, where several people are different forms of vegetarian and he was very used to cooking in that style. All that said, each dish including all the apps and entrees to follow were made specially for me without meat!! We ate the apps, entrees, and all the champagne and wine we cared to drink in the special dining room with the Chef explaining each course as it was served. He even paused to explain how he modified my dish to make it meatless. He answered several more questions about his job specifically and the food service in general on Carnival. Very fascinating! We will definitely being doing this again. Highlight on the whole trip.  -Excursions: Fortunately, none of our excursions were cancelled although several other people's were. We did Snuba in Nassau. The people at Stuart's Cove are fantastic. So patient and helpful. Snuba seems easy in theory but certainly has a learning curve. I would love to do this again now that I feel like I know what I am doing. In Freeport, we did the "jeep adventure". Another fantastic tour company. Our tour guide Joanne "Jojo" was witty, interesting and patient. She guided us through Freeport and showed us pretty much all there was to see. The gorgeous beaches and serene "Garden of the Groves" was worth the trip.  Here are some of the negatives (or things we know for next time):  - Embarkation/Debarkation: Since Norfolk is still a relatively new and smaller port to the cruise game, you can tell they are still working out the kinks. We are locals to the area so getting to the port was nothing. We are elated that Carnival has come back to Norfolk because it makes it super convenient for us. We took an Uber to the port which saved us money rather then parking and paying. The lines were long, probably due to the comparably small terminal and the fact we just don't have a ship coming and going very often.  -The BED, oh the bed. Now my husband and I can't decide what it is. Is it Carnival's beds in general, is it the bed in our "cheap" stateroom, or is it just us spoiled by our own sleep number mattress at home. Neither my husband nor I slept well at all. We both felt like we could have slept on a park bench and been more comfortable. In fact, it became our running joke as we sat or lounged in other parts of the ship that every other chair/lounger on the ship was more comfortable then our bed.  -Weather: Not Carnival's fault but the winds were really rough the end of Nassau day and then all the next day. So much so, the captain cancelled our stop in Half Moon Cay which was supposed to be our beach day. This gave us an extra "sea day" which was still fun but I was really looking forward to just a laid back day on the beach.  -Motion sickness: I took Bonine almost every day and was able to keep the sea sickness at bay for most of the trip. The last two nights however, I felt rough. I think it was a combo of the motion, being tired from all the activities and some of the rich food I wasn't used to eating all the time.  Ship Layout: I read the comments beforehand and was a little confused until I actually got on the ship what the big deal was. Yes, the ship layout is WEIRD. We were assigned the Gold Pearl dining room. To get to this room, you cannot travel straight across the ship. You have to either go up or down a deck in either a "U" or "N" patter to get where you need to go. It threw lots of people for a loop and I was easily lost a few times just getting from a simple point A to point B.

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757beachgirl's Tips

Nassau, Bahamas - We didn't book anything through a formal tour group or the ship. Instead we got off and found a taxi driver (Denzel) who took us in his large air conditioned van around the island. He told us so much stuff only a local would know that was really interesting, patiently answered our million questions, took us to several points of interest where we took pics, walked around and hopped back on. Our last stop was the beach. He left for a few hours and arrived back exactly at the arranged time we asked him to and took us directly back to the ship. No fuss, no stress. It was perfect, and only cost us about $80.

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received a helpful vote on their Carnival Sunshine cruise review - Couple of Rough spots but overall good cruise

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Sunshine cruise review - Couple of Rough spots but overall good cruise

added Carnival Splendor to their favorites on their profile.

added May 21, 2016 cruise on Carnival Sunshine to their profile.

commented on a Carnival Sunshine cruise review. - "tony, I think she means that the choice is limited to buying one drink at a time (expensive) or buying a drink package (up to 15 drinks).  In other..." read more

checked into May 21, 2016 cruise on Carnival Sunshine roll call and is traveling with 4 other guests. Interested in meeting:- Other families with young children

checked in for the roll call for May 21, 2016 cruise on Carnival Sunshine!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Great First Cruise!!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Great First Cruise!!

added Oct 17, 2015 cruise on Carnival Splendor to their profile.