by Patrick Seely
February 13, 2005
I cruised with my wife and 13 year old daughter. This is the 5th cruise for my wife and I and the 4th for my daughter. All have been on Carnival. As a family we have sailed the Triumph (2002), Victory (2003), Glory (2004) and Valor. My wife and I were able to ditch junior for a 4-day cruise on the Sensation in 2003.
OK, on to the review....
Day 1 (Sunday Embarkation)
We gathered our S&S cards and were on the ship by 12:15. First, a quick trip to our cabin to check out the digs for the next week. The upgrade fairy was kind as we booked an inside guarantee on the Riviera and were upgraded to an inside on the Verandah deck (cabin #8328). The cabin was in excellent shape having only been used a dozen or so times previously. The room did not seem crowded even when all 3 of us were there. My daughter slept in a bunk that pulled down from the ceiling.
Day 2 (Monday, Valentine's Day-Nassau)
We caught a cab to Cable Beach. It was about a 15-20 minute ride. The driver dropped us off at Wyndahm Hotel & Casino. We just walked right through the lobby and casino to the beach. I walked down to the Radisson which is right next door (the beach was a little bigger) and set up shop and was soon chased off by a Radisson employee asking my room number. I told him I didn't have one but planned on buying some drinks and lunch. It did not matter. No biggie! Back to the Wyndham we went. It was very nice. The pool was big and warm. My daughter especially appreciated this because the Atlantic Ocean was really cold. It must have been because she is not a kid that is bothered by cold water. We shopped at the pier on the way back.
Day 3 (Tuesday, Fun Day at Sea)
Day 4 (Wednesday St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.)
We caught a cab to downtown Charlotte Amalie for a couple of hours of shopping. I would recommend skipping the Havensight Mall at the dock if you're shopping for jewelry. The competition downtown makes for better prices. Our favorite place is Imperial Jewelers.
With the shopping done our next destination was Trunk Bay on St. John. Since we were downtown already we caught the ferry ride there instead of at Red Hook. The ride took 45 minutes and was pretty smooth. A 20 minute cab ride later and we were at Trunk Bay. Fine white sand, warm water, and a gentle breeze made it as beautiful as I had heard and seen on TV. It was not very crowded as there were only 3 ships in port that day. Trunk Bay is part of the National Park Service so it costs $4 per person. Kids under 16 get in free. There is a snack shop, lockers and showers. A word of caution. All of these close at 4:30 p.m. (ship time). We stayed until 5:00 p.m. and found the rest rooms locked up tight. The shower stalls were open but the water had been shut off.
Day 5 (Thursday, St. Maarten N.A.)
We were looking for something that was family appropriate and decided on Dawn Beach. The cab ride was about 20 minutes. The driver dropped us off at a place called Mr. Busby's Beach Bar & Restaurant. We rented two lounge chairs and an umbrella for $10. It was really warm so I decided to get a cold one. I noticed everyone was drinking a beer called Carib so I decided to order a bottle. The bartender says that will be 75 cents and my first thought was "What kind of swill am I about to drink?" I was pleasantly surprised...it was delicious. Tasted like Corona. So I decided to have 5 or 6 more. The lunch menu was pretty pricy at Mr. Busby's so we walked down the beach and had lunch at a place called Beau Beau's. The food was good and not too expensive. All three of us got out the door for around $35 including tip.
The beach was white sand and the water was warm with a lot of fish that would come right up to you in the shallow water. The peddlers were a bit annoying but moved on with a polite but firm "no thank you". There were a couple of topless women on the beach but no male nudity. Saw quite a few people from the Valor. Not much in the way of water activities though (i.e., water trampoline, banana boats, parasailing, etc..). All in all I would give it a big thumbs up!
Did I mention the 75 cent beers?
Day 6 (Friday) / Day 7 (Saturday) Fun Days at Sea
Rosie's Restaurant on the Lido deck had the usual fare: burgers, fries, pizza, chicken breast sandwiches etc.. My favorite is the roasted turkey sandwiches on a baguette at the deli. I think my total for the week was 9 sandwiches. They also had an Asian corner called the "The Oriental", also very good. I did not try the fish and chips restaurant (it would have interfered with my record setting turkey sandwich consumption) but my daughter said it was very good.
Every day on the Lido deck for lunch they had something called the "Taste of Nations". A selection from a different nation's cuisine was featured each day. Examples include; French, American, Caribbean, Indian, Japanese, and Chocolate (yes, I know Chocolate is not a country). It was an incredible spread of all things chocolate. Not to be missed.
Supper Club - Didn't try it.
Vegas Style Shows
The 2nd show should not be missed. It is called "Far From Over" and is a tribute to the music of the 1980's. You will hear hits form the various artists that dominated the charts in the 80's. It also includes a performance by a couple of break dancers that will bring you to your feet. Take my word for it and do not miss this show. By far the best Vegas-style show we have ever seen on a cruise.
A singer named Yolanda Barber (from Pittsburgh, PA) also performed and was quite good. A word of warning here. She likes to choose people from the audience to perform with her. So if you don't want to be part of the show, I would advise not sitting near the stage. The woman will not take "no" for an answer if she picks you.
There was hypnotist named Glenn Miller who also performed. He put 15-20 people on stage and tried to hypnotize them. My daughter was one of the volunteers but she was not hypnotized. I think kids are harder to hypnotize. There were probably 4 or 5 people that were truly hypnotized out of the lot. His show was probably the weakest of the cruise, IMHO.
They also had an Elvis impersonator named Eddie Miles. He was pretty good. He had the King's on stage mannerisms down pat and his voice was really good. I only caught the 2nd half of his show and regretted not seeing the whole show. He only performed 1 show.
There also was a band called "Music Society that performed in the Eagles Lounge. They are 4 guys from the Philippines that play all kinds of music. One night they played all country music, another night it was 70's music and another it was all Beatles music. Every night it was something different. Don't miss these guys!
Camp Carnival/Kids' Activities
That about covers it. Sorry to be so brief..LOL. If anyone has any questions - fire away and I will try to answer them.