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Doris

Age: 45

Occupation:Self Empl

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Splendor

Sailing Date: 01-10-2009

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

We cruised over New Year's to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Dominican Republic (La Romana), and the Bahamas. This was our first cruise and we loved it. I traveled with two daughters, 17 and 15, and son, 12. My sister-in-law and her two girls, 15 and 13 were with us. We didn't want the cruise to end. The weather on our days in port was great. We did have some rain and lots of wind while cruising. It was pretty rough a couple of nights in the dining room but we used Motion Ease and no one got sick. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido Buffet areas. We only missed one night in the dining hall because we were shopping in Puerto Rico. The food was good considering they are cooking for 2500 - 3000 people. Some items I wasn't sure what it was and didn't try it. The Lido area offers quite a variety. It takes a while to figure all the areas out. The pizza and hot dogs and hamburgers are in the main pool area. There are wraps and warm sandwiches made to order up by the aft pool (adults only pool). There is roasted chicken on the next floor up that was very good. It's hard to keep with your group with everyone going to different stations. Sometimes our food got cold before we found everyone and sat down. The best thing to do is find a table and leave a bag or towel there, then get your food and come back to it. We never had any trouble with anyone taking our items we left lay around. Of course, we made good use of the 24 hour soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt! We did not buy any soda cards, as we do not drink much soda. Lemonade, tea, water, and hot chocolate were available 24 hours in the Lido area. The main dining room in the evening was a treat. The seven of us sat at our own table in the Gold Pearl at the late seating. You were allowed to choose from 5-6 starter items and 5-6 main course items, plus dessert choices. We often each chose two starters as the portions were small. Ex: shrimp cocktail was four shrimp. Dinner started at 8:15 and we were often still there at 10:00. Our waiter was a very pleasant man who did tricks and entertained us at the end of the meal. Unfortunately, we barely understood a word he said. The food was good but almost too fancy at times. Steak on the first night was exceptional. Lobster was a choice on the second evening. Other choices were baby back ribs, crusted shrimp, pork chop, and pasta dishes. The warm chocolate melting cake was a popular dessert. My son is a very picky eater and lived on pepperoni pizza and french fries. There is a kids menu in the dining room. Our room was very satisfactory - larger than I expected with four people in it. My son's bed folded out from the ceiling into a bunk (with a ladder). He loved that. We were able to unpack all four suitcases into the drawers and closets. There is room under the beds to store the empty suitcases. We did not feel like were were stepping on each other. There was plenty of mirrors for the three of us to do our hair and makeup. The only complaint was only ONE OUTLET. Thank goodness I read other reviews that said to bring an extension cord or power strip. With hairdryers, flat irons, cell phones, and my son's PSP charging, we kept the power flowing! We were supplied with ice each evening. The room was cleaned in the morning. Sometimes we interrupted them when we would go back to our room for stuff. Every evening while we were eating, they would turn down the beds, leave chocolates, and fold the towels into an animal to leave on the bed. Most of our time on the ship was spent laying in the sun. This is what most everyone does, so chairs can become hot commodities. We figured out quickly that people mark their chairs around 8 or 9 am with a towel, shirt, or swim bag. We never had anyone disrupt the chairs we marked. The weather was in the mid to high 70s for most of our trip. My son thought the pools were too cold to swim. We did see some people in the pools, but not a lot. There are numerous hot tubs but they were not very hot, mostly lukewarm. I guess it was too rough the first couple of days for the slide to be open, but eventually it did open and we went down a few times. Also, later in the week when the wind was better, we played a couple rounds of mini golf. My son would have liked to play basketball, but there was always a crowd there and he was too shy to join in. I was disappointed with his age group's club, Circle C. The biggest reason was the lack of video game time they offered. He went once when they offered it for an hour and a half and it was crowded so he didn't try to go back. The girls loved Club 02 and went every night. They met some great friends that they spent every evening with and are still texting! We went to a couple of the comedy shows late at night and they were good. My sister-in-law went to one of the dance shows and said it was okay. We went the last night to the show featuring fellow cruisers dressing up and singing like Elvis, Madonna, etc. It was pretty lame. I don't regret missing any of the other shows on board. We often went in the evening to the photo gallery to look at the pictures that had been taken that day. We didn't do an excursion in Puerto Rico. We only wanted to shop. The streets were very crowded with others shopping. There weren't a lot of food choices and what we found was expensive ($16.00 for a grilled chicken sandwich). FYI, there is a restroom available in the lobby of the Sheraton right by the dock. I was amazed at how dirty everything was in old San Juan. When we were finished shopping we sat in an open plaza and let the kids talk on their cell phones since Puerto Rico is included in our nationwide plan with AT & T. St. Thomas was the only other place on our itinerary that they could use their cell phones. In St. Thomas we got a cab on our own and went to Sapphire Beach. Since we were considered a group, it was only $10.00 pp one way. Otherwise, fare was $13.00 pp one way. Our driver asked us when we wanted to be picked up and had a cab there for us at that time. We rode in open air cabs. It was quite a trip over the hills on narrow, winding roads! The trip took about 20 minutes. We were glad we went there. We got there early and got a good spot on the beach and got pictures before it became very crowded. The water was beautiful. The view of St. John and surrounding islands was awesome. We brought our own snorkel equipment, but it is available there along with some other water toys and lounge chairs. We saw some fish by the reef and a sea turtle. There was a restroom but it was not kept up or very clean. A little bit down the beach was a grill serving sandwiches. It took longer to go back to the dock because of traffic so leave plenty of time. When we got back to the dock we walked through the many shops that are right there. In the Dominican Republic (La Romana) we booked an excursion because of the warnings in other reviews about the cab drivers taking advantage of people and really lack of things to do. We chose to go to Catalina Island and it was probably our favorite place of the whole trip. The boat ride to the island took about 40 minutes. When we arrived we were handed a punch drink and offered rum to add. The beach was very long and covered with lounge chairs for our use. he place was immaculately clean. The sand was powder-white with crystal clear water. It was very quiet and relaxing there. There are palm trees just off the water if you don't want any more sun. Food and restrooms were available. There was also many stands selling touristy items. The people on the island were very friendly and tried to get us to come to their stands or braid our hair. We felt very secure and safe here. We were able to bargain for items in the stands. We bought things just because we liked the place so much and wanted to support them. There was a boy walking on the beach with fresh coconuts. He would cut one open for three dollars and put a straw in it. When you drank the coconut milk, he would open it up and scoop the coconut for you! The only problem with this excursion was that it didn't last long enough! In the Bahamas we were only there from 12 to 6:00. Some of our group went on a snorkeling excursion and the others walked to Lighthouse Beach. I snorkeled. We took a 15 minute boat ride to the reef. It was very cold in the water but we saw a lot of cool stuff. One man even pulled up a huge lobster to show everyone. I think we had bout 45 minutes to snorkel and that was plenty in the frigid water. The pictures from Lighthouse Beach made it look like a common urban beach. They enjoyed their time spent there. We all went to the Straw Market when we first arrived. Most of the stands were selling knock off purses, beach towels, sweatshirts, and trinket stuff. If you go there I hope you are not claustrophobic because there is very little room to move. This was our first cruise and we all enjoyed it. I am glad that I read other reviews online before we went so I knew what to expect. There are so many tips I could give if I could remember them all - like you can exchange your wet beach towels for dry ones at any time. We made good use of the free playing cards at the Purser's desk. If you don't have little ones and your group is active, take the late seating times.

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