We had a smooth seven day sailing, with perfect weather and we visited a total of 6 ports. This alone made this vacation dream-worthy. There is nothing more wonderful and calming than the smooth sands and calm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Onboard the ship, we enjoyed the Broadway style shows in the early evening and some downright vulgar comedy late at night. We thought the food options were good, albeit that dining on this cruise always came with a long line or a long wait. This was best described as a Latin Cruise, with so many of cruisers coming from Puerto Rico themselves. Most everybody on the cruise ship were fluent in Spanish and English and most of the entertainment and announcements were conducted in both languages. Music and dance parties were abundant and I have to give it to the Puerto Ricans for always keeping the dance party going strong! The Casino on this ship was practically dead throughout the cruise, but when I played, I had fun and even made a little bit of money. The service and the employees on this cruise were fantastic. They always make you feel like a special and valued guest. We met a lot of wonderful people on the ship and off the ship and we'll take these memories with us forever. With perfect weather, we had a smooth cruise and ideal weather for having fun on our excursions. This was a wonderful getaway at a great value and we're looking forward to booking our next Carnival vacation!!!
5 out of 5
Our cruise embarked on schedule. We arrived in the afternoon and enjoyed the onboard activities and food until we embarked late in the evening.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
Compared to other cruises we've been on, we would rate the food a 4 out of 5 stars for this ship. This was however the first cruise that we have been on that had long waits for dining. Whether we were in the Sensation (Your time dining) dining room or at the buffet, late night eats, etc., the lines were very long. In fact, we often waited 20-30 minutes with a pager after checking in for dinner in the dining room. Sometimes the dining experience took so long that we missed the prime-time shows and activities that we had planned to see each evening. We are not sure if it is because the ship is smaller and was possibly near full-capacity, but the dining experience on this ship was the most disappointing aspect of our cruise experience.
4 out of 5
This ship had a jogging track, fitness center, small miniature golf course, water slides, pool and hot tub. With so many passengers on board, we did not partake in any of the activities due to longer wait times and just too many people to enjoy them.
3 out of 5
We thought that the Broadway style shows were excellent and the performers were very talented. Having been on several cruises, we were not all that impressed with some of the comedians on board. We were so happy to see that they had hired a comedian with special needs, only to find out that his material was all about self-shaming and it just wasn't funny. One of the major acts was a juggling show, put on by a former Entertainment Director. It was not worthy of a prime-time show spot in the main theater. The Love and Marriage show that is always so funny was a bomb when a language barrier prevented a couple from answering more than half of the questions and a same sex couple who weren't married and only knew each other for several months were referred to as husband and wife. It just didn't jive! We popped in, without children, to Dr. Suess show and thought it was cute. The musicians in the atrium and near the casino were quite good. This cruise had a lot of Latin Entertainment (in Spanish and English) due to the Puerto Rican home port and majority of guests on board being from that port.
4 out of 5
We didn't bring children, but we did see a children's show and noticed that they had Kid's clubs on board. We only saw a handful of kids utilizing their services however when we passed by the Kid's Club room.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
All of the staff was wonderful. As always, everyone remembers your name and uses it to personalize your experience. We made friendly with some staff members who gave us warm hugs before we left. Our room steward was always a phone call away, did a great job keeping our room clean and he was happy to offer us advice on our excursions and always wish us a great day before we left the ship.
4 out of 5
The ship was kept very clean. Day and night, handrails, floors, tables, etc. were being cleaned. We would have loved to have seen more open space for chairs out in the sun. It was a crowded cruise and finding chairs was difficult on our Fun Day at Sea.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
This stateroom was the first that we had the bed on the left side of the room, instead of at the direct back of the room. We felt the room had more space to move around. The bathroom was ideal in size and structure. The only thing that would have made it better would be to have more than one outlet. I couldn't use my hair dryer and styling tools at the same time, but I made it work anyway.
If the ship is near capacity, be prepared for long waits for food. We heard from other guests that the scheduled dining in the Imagination Dining room was running on time. In the Sensation room, we would be given a pager and asked to wait - usually about 20 minutes for a table. Then, in the dining room, we often waited in between courses for long periods of time. We missed many of the shows that we wanted to see in the 7-9pm time frame due to the time that it took to complete dining in the dining room. I would suggest you eat early, before the crowds come or choose the scheduled dining time. Long lines and difficulty finding seats also occurred in the buffet area and other al carte dining areas, so be prepared and add extra time to your schedule so that you can make it to planned activities on time.
We visited the fortresses and dined at Barrachina, the home of the Pina Colada. We highly recommend Barrachina and the Pina Colada! Shopping was just okay. The streets are in various states of disrepair (watch out for open holes on the sidewalks) and the incline is treacherous, but there are some beautiful views from the fortresses.
We got off the ship and walked the shopping area of the port and just beyond the port. We were approached by several people about taking a tour, once we left the actual port area, but they were not overly pushy. We opted just to shop and return to the ship on this day. The area surrounding the port was comfortable, felt safe, and offered some food, drink and souvenir shopping. The cable cars were very close in walking distance from the port, but we did not ride them.
We booked a Barbados excursion to swim with Sea Turtles, snorkel and spend the day at the beach through a non-Carnival excursion group that offered a lower price. We saw two shipwrecks, two turtles, several large stingrays, fish and enjoyed a free Rum-punch drink on our excursion. We were provided with beach chairs and an umbrella and enjoyed a beautiful day in a safe, roped off area of gorgeous blue-green, calm water by the beach. The people of Barbados were really nice. The people selling goods on the beach explained that they were required to be licensed and they were not overly pushy. Drinks were served on the beach by servers. Restrooms and a shower were available.
We took a non-Carnival excursion to see all of the highlights of St. Lucia. We spent 6 hours in a van, touring St. Lucia. They stopped at several look-out points for photos, visited the Drive-in Volcano, mud baths, hot springs, and a waterfall. We enjoyed Rum-Punch, water and soft drinks, and were also given free fresh baked goods, such as Banana bread and hot Cheese bread. We sampled a local banana. We were given many opportunities to shop at various stops. The tour was along many long and windy mountains and some people complained of feeling a little car-sick. The views were incredible!
We booked a non-Carnival tour to Pinney's Beach. We spent almost an hour on a speed boat ride to Nevis, followed by a couple of hours on a very private area of Pinney's Beach, near the Four Seasons, where we were allowed to use the restroom and WIFI. The water was calm and roped off for our swimming safety. An employee checked on us to offer drinks/food menu every 30 minutes until our boat picked us back up for the ride back to the port. We had excellent weather and loved this quiet beach day on a secluded area of the beach with chairs and an umbrella. One guy came by with his Monkey, for my Monkey fix. The animal lover I am enjoyed holding a monkey, three live starfish, meeting a (well cared for) beach dog named Carib, lots of cute little sand crabs and we saw lots of fish. It was a wonderful day with nature on a nice clean beach with nearby amenities and not too many people.
Having been here before, we tried something new. We took a non-Carnival excursion to Topper's Rhum Distillery, followed by lunch at Topper's Restaurant, followed by a 1.5 hour visit to Maho Beach. Kristy gave us the tour at Topper's, which was really interesting. We were given several samples of rum and a Rum-Punch with our tour. We purchased a bottle of rum to bring home and got a recipe for a delicious rum cake. Our lunch at Topper's was very good and the owners were present and taking part of their business. I was terrified when we were being dropped off at Maho Beach, not having realized that it's a tiny beach with far too many people. It was packed like a can of sardines. Our tour guide volunteered to take us somewhere less crowded, but we decided we'd make the best of Maho. I'm glad that I did. It was a neat experience to watch the planes come and go. I stayed far out in the very calm, tranquil blue-green waters four our 1.5 hours there, while my partner purchased a $10 chair on the crowded beach. We didn't feel safe leaving our valuables unattended, so I stayed in the water while he stayed on the beach. We did not visit the two bars that were right there, but they had great music, drinking contests and looked like loads of fun. We also stayed on the side of the beach that was unaffected by plane activity, but were able to watch those that wanted to be in the jet-stream, as they were pummeled with sand and jet fumes and often blown back a few steps. I would visit again!
5 out of 5
We had breakfast in the main dining room and spent as much time on the ship as we were allowed. We easily disembarked without any hassle and our luggage was waiting for us right where it was supposed to be. We hopped on a Carnival transport van to the airport and started our travels back to Illinois.
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