First let me state, as others have, this is a port intensive itinerary! We (a group of 26 people) enjoyed every minute of this cruise. Beautiful islands! I’ll give you a review of the ship and itinerary in just a minute, but I want to start by clearing up some questions that continue to be asked.
1- The hair dryer in the bathroom is an Elite Wall-mount hairdryer IPX3 made in Italy. I have very fine hair and is thing was better as a noise maker (you could hear every time the one in the cabins on either side were turned on) and my husband used what little heat there was to get the wrinkles out of his sport coat. If you truly need a hair dryer I suggest you take your own!
2- Are they really checking the checked and carry on suitcases? YES. Security was backed up at embarkation and it is the only thing that held up the embarkation process. Of course it did not help that one machine was down. Our oldest daughter did not read all the info that was sent to her and locked her suitcases. They called her down to deck zero to unlock the suitcase so they could check to see what condition the power strip was in. As it was new, it was allowed on the ship!
3- Beverages – We ordered all of our booze through Carnivals Bon Voyage Department, 2 weeks before we departed, and it was waiting in our cabins when we got on board. After embarkation our son-in-law went off the ship and returned with two 6 packs of cola. We all were able to embark with a bottle of wine per adult, purchased after we received our Sign and Sail cards right in the Pier building! We also bought two more 6 packs of cola and a couple bottles of water, in St. Thomas
4- Elegant Nights – There are two on this cruise. The first is held on Tuesday night, the evening of the visit to Dominica and the second is Thursday, the night of the visit to St. Lucia!
Now to the ports and ship:
The ship is very well taken care of! We had balcony cabins on the port side of the Lido deck and they are just like every other Carnival ship’s balcony, as were the inside cabins. Yes, there were lines at the buffet, especially if you went between 7 and 9 AM. If you could wait, the line was less. They have set up a quick breakfast line, where they have the desserts at lunch time. YES, people do try to cut in line. How you handle this is up to you! We had 2 wonderful breakfasts in the dining room and it took less time than the buffet line. I must say, the aft pool adult only is GREAT! They do chase the children out and request the parents take them to the other pool!
There is a shopping talk the first afternoon, and Rick and Hector, the shopping experts are GREAT! Be sure to attend this talk. You will see them both, everyday as you get off the ship and they are truly the first, in 7+ cruises, to ever help us as we shopped in port. If you are taking this cruise in the summer, the only port you will have another ship there also, is St. Thomas. Every other port the Carnival Victory is the only ship in town all week and they want you to buy and the deals are excellent. Can you say jewelry? Every lady in this group got one or more very nice pieces while on this cruise!
San Juan is always fun. Their free trolley will take you all over the old city. Part of our group flew in early and stayed at the Old San Juan Sheraton, right at the port! The rest of the group flew in early afternoon on the day the ship departed. Our group had the first people to get on the ship – 10:30 AM and the last to get on – 9 PM (She forgot her passport and had to wait until someone could send her a copy. She did not follow directions and make extra copies of her passport, birth certificate and driver license to bring with you, in case you lose your passport)! Our cabins were ready at 11:30 AM., so when most of got on board we went right to them.
There is a wonderful gentleman who sets up in Old San Juan town square, down by cruise Pier 2, who does great caricatures. He is only there in the last afternoon and evening. If you want this done be sure to go back off the ship and find him. We tried to find him after debarkation, at the end of the cruise and our flight times would not allow us to wait for him!
St. Thomas is the one port on this cruise that we had been to 2 other times. We still enjoyed it. As we had port side cabins we had a great view of the port when we arrived. We enjoyed this in every port, as we were able to watch the “pilot” leave the ship after we left port and observe the captain moving us out of port. Shopping in St. Thomas is always great. This is the only port that another ship was also docked at the same time. Shopping in town is great, as well at the Havensight Mall right at the dock. We have always purchased our liquor at A.H.Riise Liquor, but as we could not get it through airport security in San Juan, upon the return flight home, we did not purchase any here.
Our next port was Dominica. We took the Very Best of Dominica’s Favorites with Fun/Sun Ventures, which we booked through Portpromotions.com. Onboard an air conditioned motor coach we visited Trafalgar Falls and Emerald Pool, Morne Bruse, the city of Rosaeau, the Bontanical Gardens, Springfield Valley Plantation and the Trois Ptions National Park. It was excellent! This was a five hour tour and well worth the price! A very poor country, with road construction everywhere! This road work is being done by the Republic of China and not employing any of the locals. Not sure why! That evening was the first Elegant Night.
Our next stop was Barbados. What a great port! Here we were welcomed by a wonderful steel drum band (3 musicians). Excellent group! While we were here we made a trip to the Mount Gay Rum Factory. Great Tour! We grabbed a taxi at the port and they came back and got us after the tour.
St. Lucia was the next stop. Great port, with wonderful shopping! We enjoyed some great beer here. Piton brand and we enjoyed it. This was the evening of the second Elegant Night.
St. Kitts is my favorite island. Here we took another excursion through PortPromotions.com. It was the St Kitts Island Highlights & Brimstone Hill through Best of Caribbean. The young guide was excellent and knowledgeable about his island. He was very willing to answer all our questions. We saw more of this island than the tour stated, as we were a group willing to move along and not linger. He gave us an extra 1 hour of his time for no additional cost. This tour included the Romney Manor, home of Caribelle Batik and Brimstone Hill Fortress as well as a visit to the new resort areas.
Our last night was spent packing and getting ready to disembark in San Juan. They pulled into port at 6 am and begin the disembarkation process at 8:30 am. We were off the ship by 9:30 am. We had planned to use Luggage Express, but found out mid-cruise that that was not available and had not been for over a month. We put Plan B into action. We walked/wheeled our suitcases down to Pier 2 and left them at a Luggage Check location. Cost $5.00 for a big bag and $3.00 for the carry-ons. They open at 9 am and close at 5 pm. We took the free Trolley to the Fort San Cristobal and walked back to Senor Frogs. Then off to the airport.
At the airport, be careful that you are really standing in the USDA line and that EVERY bag, including your purse, gets tagged. The line for one of the airlines and the USDA seemed to be one in the same and they are not. This does not take long. They are just scanning your bags to look for things. Upon arriving at our gate, we were able to purchase Duty Free Liquor, if we wanted. So you can get that liquor you want at a less good price!
All in all it was a great cruise. We would do this cruise again, but give us time to rest! Some of the group wished for a day at Sea and thus took one day and stayed on the ship. During the day the ship is empty as most people get off for shopping or excursions. Lunch time at the buffet never seemed to have a line! Sure hope this helps to answer some question concerning this cruise and ship.