Our vacation actually started when we dropped the kids off at my sisters house at 4:00 Saturday May 3, 2003. We then we out to dinner and then spent the night at a hotel near BWI airport. We parked our car there for the week and took a shuttle to and from the airport.
Sunday – My husband surprised me by giving me a silver necklace with a heart shaped pendant on it to start our vacation. Our flight left on time, 7:15am, and landed in San Juan 20 minutes early. We were meeting Jodi and Ron (fellow Cruise Critics) at the baggage claim (their flight came in 10 minutes after us). After checking in with Carnival at the airport, my husband went searching for Jodi and Ron. Unfortunately we could not find them. We got a taxi without any problems and were off to the ship. There was a small line outside; we were inside within 10 minutes. That is when we saw the larger lines to get your picture taken after you pick up the sign and sail card. However, it still went pretty quick. We were in our cabin within 45 minutes. We dropped off our carryon and went to get lunch. Then we went off the boat to tour Old San Juan. Very nice place, with old cobble stone roads. We walked to El Morro Castle. Not a short walk like we were told, it took us about 50 minutes in the 90 degree heat up steep hills!! It was a great view from the top of the fort. Got back to the ship in time for dinner. Talked to the Matre De’ and asked to change our dinnertime with no problems. At 9:00pm we met some people from message boards in the All Star Sports Bar and had a drink before the muster drill. We then met up with the same people after the muster drill and went up to the Spa deck for the sail away party. Then we went to the Casino. I quickly lost $20.00 in the slots, my husband was playing blackjack. About 12:00, left my husband playing blackjack and went to bed.
Monday – St. Thomas
We booked a tour with Godfrey Tours (http://www.godfreytoursvi.com
). We highly recommend this tour. Godfrey picked us up outside the cruise terminal. He had a sign with our names on it welcoming us. At first we were the only ones on his tour. He dropped us off in Charlotte Amelia to go shopping, bought some souvenirs for the kids and some Tanzanite earrings for my self. We went back to meet Godfrey and the tour bus was filled with people; however, Godfrey made sure he had reserved space for us. The tour bus did not seem crowded at all. The bus was actually open on the sides with flaps in case it rained. The only rain we had was a 5-minute downpour. We then started our tour of the Island. Godfrey takes you to the highest point on the Island, called the Mountain Top. Along the way he stops at certain points to show you the sights and to take pictures. At the Mountain Top is where you see gorgeous Megans Bay. The sight just takes your breath away!!! You can also enjoy some shopping and drinks at the Mountain Top (Great Banana Daiquiri’s). After this, we head back down to the beaches. Godfrey, again, stops along the way to show you sights and to take pictures. At this point, it is off to the beaches. Godfrey will take you to either Megan’s Bay or Coki Beach. We chose Coki Beach. This is a lovely beach with, spectacular snorkeling. You can buy “fish food” (dog biscuits) on the beach and the fish eat it right out of you hand. We spent 2 hours at Coki beach. Godfrey came to pick us up right on time. We had a half hour to get back to the ship, which should be plenty of time, however; there was an accident on the road we were taking. Godfrey took a short cut and got us to the boat with maybe 2 minutes to spare (you need to be back at the ship a half hour before ship depart, so we actually still had about a half hour)!! Met our dinner companions for the week. We had a great table. All the dinners were fantastic!!! I would love to go back to St. Thomas for a week!!!
Tuesday – Martinique
We took the ferry over to a beach. It was nothing special. Just remember that this is a French Island, there are plenty of topless women on the beach. Also, people were trying on bathing suits right on the beach. So if you have children, you may want to try an excursion through Carnival. If I ever go back to Martinique I will do an excursion. The beach was not that great. Actually have better beaches in Maryland. This night was the Captains Gala, first formal night. Dinner was exceptional!! They served lobster and prime rib. Very good, my husband ordered three dinners that night. Went to the show tonight. It was a Las Vegas style show. I did not enjoy it but many people did. I just do not like Las Vegas style shows.
Wednesday – Barbados
This was probably my favorite island (this or St. Thomas). We booked a tour on line with Glory Tours (http://www.glorytours.org
). We were supposed to have Sarah as our tour guide, but she had a doctor’s appointment, so we had Vernon instead. It was an excellent tour. We started off at Harrison’s Caves, which is awesome. Then we drove to Bathsheba stopping to take pictures and walk around (beautiful). We then drove along the east cost and again stopped to take pictures and walk around. We had lunch at a little café, had flying fish – you definitely must try. After lunch we went to the Wild Life Reserve. This was awesome. There were turtles, bunnies, deer, and something’s I have know idea what, just walking round. Then there was a Bird Aviary that you could walk into and see all the Toucan’s, Peacocks, Pelicans, Pink Flamingos, etc. Then there was a house that had Iguanas, Lizards, and more bunnies. There was a pond that had crocodiles in it and the staff was feeding them, so we got a good look at them. Unfortunately, we did not see any of the famous green monkey’s, they return to the Reserve at feeding time around 2:00 – 3:00. After the Wild Life Reserve it was off to the beach to go snorkeling and to swim with the sea turtle. There were many fish to see, however, only one sea turtle. It was still an awesome experience. I would love to go back to Barbados for a week.
Thursday –Day at Sea
We were up about 8:30am and went to get a chair up on deck. I thought it was going to be difficult to find a chair, but the deck was empty. It stared to fill up quickly though. Pretty much stayed on deck most of the day. Left to get breakfast and lunch, but that is about it. This was our second formal night and our 10th Anniversary. My husband surprised me with diamond earrings! They have photographers all over the ship with different backgrounds to choose from. Take advantage of this. We only did a couple pictures and they did not turn out like we hoped. Went to the early show tonight. This one was better than the first show. Then went to the Apollo Bar for piano sing-a-long. Stayed up for the adult comedian, which was pretty good.
Friday – Aruba
We rented a jeep with another couple (hey Jodi and Ron). We first went to the California Lighthouse, then to find the Natural Bridge. Along the way to the Natural Bridge we stopped at some rock formation. This is were people were stacking rocks. Supposedly, if you stack three to five rocks it is suppose to bring you good luck. Off to the Natural Bridge – very pretty sight. Then we went looking for the Natural Pool. You could have taken a road to it but we decided to go 4 wheeling to get there. We went up and over the mountains to find the Natural Pool. It got pretty hairy at some points wondering if we were going to make it up or down some of these hills. Even went into a restricted area where no vehicles were allowed. We did not see the sign until we were exiting from the area. No sign on the other side. After about 2 hours we finally found the Natural Pool. It was a pretty sight; however, not worth the two hours getting there. Then we went to Baby Beach for snorkeling. Awesome snorkeling! Again, the fish will eat right out of your hand. Someone brought bread with them and the fish loved it. We returned the Jeep about 5:30 and then we shopping right at the pier. Went back to the ship to shower and then headed over to Carlos and Charlie’s for dinner. After eating, Carlos and Charlie’s was the place to party. The place was packed with just about most of the bar being filled by people from the ship.
Saturday – Day at Sea
Up about 8:30am and went to get a chair up on deck. Again, no problem got a deck chair right in front of the stage. My husband entered the hairy chest contest; however did not win. Started packing. Watched the Newlywed and Not so Newlywed game. It was pretty funny; however, you know the cruise director staged some of the answers to make it funny. Went to dinner, finished packing and then went to see the Magician. He was alright.
Sunday – Disembarkation and San Juan
Needed to get in line for customs at 6:00am. Went up to deck 3 about 5:55am and there was total chaos. No one was directing anyone, everyone was lined up everywhere. You had no idea were the line began or ended. Once the line started moving, it did get better and once you got into the Palladium Lounge you could tell it was organized. We were done with customs about 7:00am. Went to get breakfast and then our carryon and then to deck 4 to wait to leave the ship. We went on the Rain Forest excursion, since we had a 5:45 flight. This was an OK excursion. We still ended up waiting at the airport for about 3-4 hours.
We never at breakfast or lunch in the dining room, always at the buffet. Breakfast was its usual fanfare, cereal, yogurt, eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, breads, pancakes, French toast and made to order omelets. Lunch you had a choice from the Deli, Chinese, grill, pizza and a hot lunch buffet. We ate every dinner in the dining room expect for Friday. All dinners were excellent!! Some of the dishes included several types of shrimp, prime rib, lobster, pasta, lamb, jerk pork, fresh fish and several different types of steaks. The appetizers and soups were tasty. Possibly, the best part was the desserts. Numerous types of chocolate cakes, mousses and Baked Alaska. Remember, you can order as many meals as you want. We had no complaints about the food for dinner. Our waiter, Ivca and assistant waiter, Geraldo, were superb! Ivca gave his recommendations along with telling us things to do on the different islands on the night before. If you are near table #178 in the Galaxy dining room, please say hello to them.
The ship was kept very clean. We were always seeing someone cleaning!! The staff was very friendly and attentive. I think only once a crewmember did not smile or say hello for the entire week. Our cabin was kept very clean; however, I never meet our room steward! This was fine with me, he did everything without bothering me. I just left notes for what was needed and he took care of them. Did not have hot water the first day; called the pursers desk and it was fixed immediately and the next day we had a letter of apology under our door. We were a little worried after reading so many negative reviews before we left. Afterwards, all I can say is that it was an incredible trip! Some people just want to complain about anything or cannot be pleased no matter what. We met some wonderful people. Hello to Ron and Jodi, SuEllen and Terry, Joni and Ken (Ken, enjoy your honorary membership), Kelly and Dan, Amy and Jeff and Butch (AKA Buck) and Lisa. Jodi, believe it or not, Howard only wrote a tiny bit of this review J
If anyone has any questions, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org