January 9, 2005
The building at the port was very nice and roomy, we must have been lucky for the time we arrived because the lines were so short. The process is a maze, moving you from one room to the next and through hallways and up stairs, it was a little confusing but we were on the ship within 30 minutes.
We entered the ship on Deck 0, a crummy looking deck that is only used for the gangway, so don't judge the ship by first impressions.
When we received our Sail and Sign card, we saw we did not get our late seating for dinner, we instead got the earliest seating. We went to the Matier'd (sp) Babu and he quickly changed our arrangements so that we had the late seating we wanted. He was a wonderful Matier'd (sp?). We also wanted to manually tip at the end of the cruise instead of the automatic tipping. After standing in line for short time at the information desk, we asked them to take the automatic tip charge off our account so that we could tip on our own and they did, no questions asked.
No need to bring body wash, there is a dispenser of Lever 2000 Aloe Vera Body Wash in the shower as well as Shampoo, but I don't know what kind of shampoo it was. There was also a basket of other toiletries to use (I think it changes each cruise depending on which company's products are donated) but in our room, it included toothpaste (many different flavors), a toothpick, Pantene shampoo and conditioner, two nice shavers and some coupons.
The beds were very comfortable and each had two very fluffy pillows. One disadvantage to pushing the twins together to make a king size bed is that each bed has twin sized linens, so it is hard to get close and still stay warm with your loved one.
Luggage fits nicely under the beds, plenty of storage space but not enough hangars in the closets, about 10 total. There are nice reading lights above each side of the bed.
The electrical outlets in the rooms seem to cause a problem as well. There was one in the bathroom that said "Shavers Only," and two on the vanity that said "No Hairdryers or Irons" The hairdryer provided in the bathroom was terrible so I decided to ignore the warning and plug my hairdryer into the outlets on the vanity. It worked fine, my hairdryer is 1875 watts and the outlet said 110V. I honestly don't know how Carnival can expect guest to use the hairdryers provided, especially for women with thick hair.
Each deck has a laundry room complete with coin-operated washers and dryers ($2 a load) as well as an iron and ironing board. There is also a coin machine for detergent ($1).
We ate lunch at the Grille and the New York Deli. The Grille had hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers, steak sandwiches and grilled chicken - the veggie burger was especially good. The New York Deli was also excellent, with hot and cold sandwiches. I enjoyed the turkey and tuna sandwiches the most and my boyfriend had the smoked salmon/cream cheese on a bagel. We found the Grille and Deli to be healthier than the buffet.
Dessert had its standards like sherbets and a low fat option like poached pears. Also the best Key Lime Pie I ever had.
PORTS OF CALL
ROSEAU, DOMINICA This was our first time in Dominica. Though it is apparent the city of Roseau is very poor, the rest of the island is beautiful. Don't miss the opportunity to see the rest of the island if you port in Roseau and don't judge the island based on this city. This was one of the friendliest Caribbean islands I've visited. US dollars are accepted everywhere we went. The shopping is not very good from what we saw; we only bought generic souvenirs in the warehouse shops on the pier (every table had the same stuff).
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS This was also our first time in Barbados. I didn't like the city very much because I didn't find the people very friendly, most of them very pushy, and the city was very congested. The shopping was ok but I suggest going to the vendor stands near the Independence monument, more unique items. We only paid $1 to take the shuttle from the pier to town, but we walked back and it was a half hour walk. US dollars are accepted, but you will get change in Barbados dollars. I heard land outside the city is very beautiful.
ORANJESTAD, ARUBA This was also our first time in Aruba. We loved the island because it is so different than the other Caribbean islands; dry heat and cactus everywhere (outside the city). The ship docks right in Oranjestad and you do not need a taxi to go into town to shop.
DOMINICA (Ken Hinterland Tours) We booked a jungle hike with Ken Hinterland Tours at the recommendation of Cruise Critic members. We met two people through the message boards on Cruise Critic and booked the excursion with them so that we could all save money. The hike was $180 for 1 to 4 people, so with 4 people it cost us $45 a piece. We were picked up at the pier and taken up the mountains. We gathered at a small park with a bathroom and headed down the trail. DO NOT buy new hiking boots for this hike; just wear old comfortable running shoes with good tread because they will likely be ruined after the hike. You will walk through rivers, streams and fairly deep mud puddles. Always watch your step and don't be afraid to get dirty, you may need to use your hands to pull yourself up and hold onto roots of trees to balance yourself. This is a strenuous hike and it was more difficult than I expected. It is all worth it once you get to Middleham Falls, the tallest waterfall on the island. If you can handle it, it is worth climbing down and getting into the water. When we were there, the waterfall was running especially hard and it was like trying to battle a hurricane. Also, bring a waterproof camera! Once we got back to trail head, we were taken to Ti Tou Gorge, it's a 15 foot deep river flowing through a canyon to a waterfall. It is difficult to swim through since you are swimming upstream, but there are some rocks in the water that come up shallow enough to stand on. Out tour guide, who was a local, said he could not swim the entire gorge. Three men in our group tried and they could not get to the falls either. On the way back to the van, a woman was cracking open coconuts and selling the fruit along with sugarcane and bananas. For only $2, I got a half a coconut and 4 sugarcanes. I gave her $5 because she even went into the rainforest and got a leaf for me as a plate.
We were very glad we went on this hike; it was the highlight of our trip and quite a work out! Be sure to wear your swimming suit under your clothes.
BARBADOS (Jolly Roger) We booked this excursion through the cruise for $47 a piece. Free rum punch (50% rum, 50% punch). The schooner takes you out to a beach for 45 minutes of swimming and then you are allotted time to jump off the plank, swing from the rope and dive off any other part of the ship. It was great fun but I thought the crew were fake and didn't seem to like their job. It was obvious they do, and say, the same thing all day every day. Get in line for the rope swing right away, otherwise you might not get a chance to do it, I didn't.
ARUBA (George's Scooter Rental) Since Aruba is so small, we thought we could get the most out of our visit by renting scooters. About a 15 minute walk north of the pier was George's Rentals. For $40, we rented a two person scooter. The scooter was in pretty good condition, although the tire was low on air and we did not find this out until we were left in the middle nowhere with a flat tire. Be sure to have a map on hand, but also keep in mind that the roads are not marked and you will probably get lost, just keep going because the island is small and you will eventually find your way. Check the tires and gauges of your rental before you leave - there are no gas stations once you leave Oranjestad. We took the scooter up the north coast and saw the California Lighthouse (stop in at the restaurant up there - it's gorgeous), went to Alto Vista Chapel and to the Natural Bridge. The flat tire set us back so we did not get to see the Windmill or the Natural Pool. Although we had a lot of fun on the scooter, I highly suggest renting a jeep so you can see the places that are only accessible by dirt road. We had a very hard time driving the scooter to the Natural Bridge because the road to it was meant for jeeps and ATV's.
Since we had a flat tire, we had to walk to find a phone to call the rental store. Luckily we were within walking distance of a local bar called Bambu's. The owner happened to know George from the rental store, called him, and he brought us a new scooter with full tires. The owner made local food for us, it was good, but some of the local food is very bland. The chicken was excellent.
I highly recommend renting a jeep on this island, it is a great way to see everything on the island and still have time to get back to the ship for dinner.
All the bars had a special theme such as a piano bar and a really neat dance club. Even if you don't go to the dance club at night, it's worth checking out the laser floor and hundreds of TV screens. We thought the mixed drinks in the dance club and most of the other bars were awful, such as rum and coke and 7&7. But the daily specials and other tropical fruit drinks were always good, especially at the bars near the pools. Try the "Kiss of the Lips," if you like fruity drinks, it's great.
We had a 6:30pm flight out of San Juan, so we had time to explore. When you walk out to the street, cross it, turn left and head for the corner, there is a place to store your luggage for the day while you tour the city. For 6 bags, we paid $9. We explored on our own and walked to Fort El Morro (only $3 admission fee) with a map provided by the luggage storage place. The walk goes up steep streets but it is worth it and the fort is great for pictures, it's a must see if you have time in Old San Juan. We stopped at Senor Frogs for a margarita and I thought it was awful; the service was terrible and the margarita tasted like salt water. We stopped at the Brick House for a snack and a drink - the drinks were great and the steak fajita was very good too - wonderful service and a cozy little sports bar.
We picked up our luggage at 4:30pm (they closed at 5) and they called a cab for us. It was $20 to get to the airport. San Juan's airport is a little crazy and loud, the gates have very few seats and there were many people sitting on the floor; not an airport I'd like to spend much time in.
Besides that, the costumes were beautiful and it was obvious that a lot of money was put into the props and outfits. The choreography of the dancers was great and they were all very talented. I suggest going to the Newly Wed Show, the Destiny Idol show, Talent Show and the two formal night shows. There was a guest singer from The Platters and we left the show early because he spent most of his time on stage flirting with women and talking to the audience instead of singing.
It seemed the average age was late 30s to early 40s, not as many families as groups of friends and couples.
If you have any other questions about my experience, please email me at email@example.com.