I realize that Mother Nature had a hand in changing our original itinerary, however, the alternate ports, with the exception of Bonaire, were disappointing choices by Carnival. We went from 5 ports (St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Tortola, San Juan, & Amber Cove) in our original itinerary to actually visiting only 3 ports on a 10 day cruise!!! Why wasn't Curacao chosen as well as Aruba & Bonaire, or even San Juan or Amber Cove from our original itinerary? They were open! There was an 8 day cruise out of Miami that included all ABC islands during the itinerary changes. Other itinerary changes included St. Kitts & Antigua. Barbados could have been another option. This was a 10 day Journeys cruise described on the website as, "Board a Carnival Journeys cruise and you’re on course for enriching experiences aboard, amazing destinations ashore, classic cruising flair and more." The destinations of Princess Cays and Grand Turk were extremely poor choices as these are ports that you can regularly get to out of Charleston on any old weekend, so they certainly weren't "...amazing destinations." I could have flown directly to Bonaire and spent an amazing vacation with my family there rather than be on this cruise and spend SIX full rainy days at sea and I would likely have spent a lot less money! The whole point of cruising is to visit several destinations while only unpacking once. We visited 3 ports, and spent SIX days at sea. Overall, Carnival really let me & my family down on this cruise. It is very unlikely that myself or my extended family will ever choose to cruise again.
Princess Cays (Cruise Line Private Island) - Since we were a smaller ship, this port was not too crowded. We went to the less crowded right side of the area to snorkel and have more space. I enjoyed it more than I expected, but after the disappointment of missing Grand Turk, it was only a small consolation. The privately owned ports seem to me to be just another way for Carnival to make more money off of their guests. There were very few excursions offered at this port.
Oranjestad, Aruba - I did not appreciate the line of tour salesman as we exited the port. I felt overwhelmed and uncomfortable with their verbal crowding of us & our daughter as we left the port area. The area near the port was extremely touristy, rundown, and very much a letdown. We rented a car and had to walk several blocks to check in, then be shuttled to another area to pick up our car. Why are there no car rental agencies available in the port terminal as there were signs indicating that there had been at one time? In hindsight, we might have enjoyed the Natural Bridge, Butterflies, & Beach excursion on this trip and avoided the hassle of the car rental process.
Charleston, South Carolina - We live in Charleston, so the convenience was appreciated. However, after the disappointments of this itinerary, I'm not sure that I support cruise ships in Charleston anymore. It seems Carnival is only concerned about squeezing as much money as possible out of their customers with this cruise. Choosing only 4 ports to replace 5 ports, and keeping us at sea for 6 days without proper elevators was completely unacceptable. Carnival's business practices are a poor reflection on our beautiful city.
Grand Turk Island - We were not able to dock due to high winds. This was extremely disappointing as this was the only port we had scheduled an excursion. There seemed to be a problem with our excursion (Rays, Conch, & Snorkel) on the website, so I called Carnival twice to confirm that everything was OK. Both times, I was told everything was fine. We then received a note under our door that our excursion was no longer available. I was extremely annoyed by this as I had tried to avoid any issues prior to sailing. I felt that Carnival essentially lied to me twice when I contacted them before sailing. The shore excursions desk did make an exception to get our 4 year old daughter onto another similar excursion that was limited to >5 years, but since we didn't get to go to this port, it was just a small win for the panic it caused me in the meantime to have to quickly make other arrangements.
Bonaire, Netherlands Special Municipality - This port was amazing! We took the water taxi to Klein Bonaire to snorkel. Walking around the city after snorkeling was great. The tour vendors in their line of tents was well organized, and our travel companions made use of them. I wish Aruba had been set up more like these tents.
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