This was a cruise with two of my best friends. One had cruised a
long time ago with NCL, the other not at all.
Embarkation The Miami cruise terminal is pretty disgusting.
Dirty carpets, bad mildew smell, confusing lines. We waited for
several hours, going thru a number of lines, including a long one
once we had checked in. We heard a new terminal was being built.
Finally, we were onboard. Of course the staterooms weren't ready,
so we headed to the buffet -- one of only two times we'd make that
The Food The food was quite good. No surprises on the menu since
I've sailed, but it was all cooked to perfection. I am not a red
meat eater on the whole, but made a couple of exceptions. They were
both excellent. Desserts were fabulous.
The buffet is still just the buffet, so we opted to eat there
only twice -- once upon boarding (no other choices) and once after
an active day in Nassau (we missed the dining room service for
lunch.) We were in the dining room the whole cruise and never
regretted the decision.
exceptionally good this time around and we never missed a day.
The one exception to the delicious food was the grand buffet.
Everything looked wonderful (neither of my friends had seen this
presentation, so we opted to stand in line), but afterwards
(another long wait) the food itself was disgusting. One of my
friends thought the food was meant for looking, not actual
Service The service was hands down the best I've experienced.
Our table waiters were friendly, sharp and efficient. We ended up
at a table with 6 other people and the chemistry was right. We
became "the" table in the dining room that laughed the loudest and
had the most fun. Our room steward kept our cooler full the entire
cruise and was quick with extra requests.
The Entertainment The entertainment was quite good -- piano bar,
shows in the main lounge, bars. "Flashy" -- the guitar player
outside the casino had us (and lots of others) coming back every
night. The only exception was the comedian. He was absolutely
hilarious the first night, but his R rated show at midnight was
offensive and just plain not funny. I am far from a prude, but his
humor consisted ONLY of explicit sex. We walked out.
Grand Turk: Grand Turk was our first stop and what a surprise!
We walked right by the Margaritaville, Carnival-built shopping/pool
bar and headed straight for an 8:30 snorkel excursion. We snorkeled
at 2 different reefs (one at Round Cay -- the other I can't
remember). The tour operators were very helpful and seemed to
understand I was pretty nervous. I am not the strongest swimmer and
the waters were a little rough. I saw stingrays, huge barracuda and
lots of other fish. My friends were braver and snorkeled further
away. They saw many more fish, turtles, sharks, etc. On the way
back, we went over the 4,000 foot ocean wall (or was it 7,000?)
where the divers were enjoying this amazing site. The ocean
literally drops straight down (hence the term wall) and apparently
has every marine animal imaginable.
After snorkeling, we headed to Cockburn Town. Tiny little town
with, so far, no tourist development (and NO tourists that we saw
until the end.) We went thru the museum (fascinating), strolled
around town, took pics, talked to some locals and ended up at a bar
on the beach (Sand Bar? Sand something) that reportedly had the
best rum punch in the universe. My friends verified this and also
ordered some conch fritters. Two young divers that were on our ship
were there and we decided to share a taxi back. With me and the
taxi driver cracking the whip, we arrived on the pier as the horn
blew its last "goodbye." We made it by the skin of our teeth and
were next to last getting aboard. Scary, but in retrospect,
exciting. Grand Turk is not for everyone. If you want a sanitized
experience with lots of shopping and tours, this isn't the place
for you. It is EXACTLY what I want in a port, but fear the
development for the cruise tourists will ruin it before long.
Half Moon Cay: Was fine, but not near as good as RCI's Coco Cay.
Lots of little paths that wind thru the foliage without a view of
the beach. You had to walk a long way to get a chair in the shade.
Once we were there, we had chairs and hammocks -- lovely. The noise
and view of the "kiddie area" with squirting fountains, slides and
screaming children put a damper on the secluded beach feeling most
of us wanted. No employees hawking drinks, which meant trips to the
not so easily located bars. Our horseback riding excursion in the
surf was not to happen (waters too rough) but we didn't find out
until after we had taken the tram to the stables. Most of the group
elected to get our money refunded, which Carnival did promptly and
Nassau: Been so many times it's hard to work up enthusiasm, but
my friends enjoyed the Queen's Staircase and the straw market.
Funny, they both felt an "edgy" atmosphere when walking around
Nassau (not near the shops, but further in) that I didn't share. I
don't know if that is something that has developed recently that I
don't see, or I'm just immune since I've been so much before.
The Ship Sadly, the ship was noticeably in need of an upgrade. I
know she is going into dry-dock in October and those folks cruising
afterwards will enjoy the change. Our room had a big chunk cracked
out of the sink, dirty tiles in the shower, worn carpet and walls
in need of painting with scratches.
Nonetheless, the common areas of the ship were fine, with a
little of that mildew smell. I'm sure the dry-dock will fix
Art Auction I always attend the art auctions, but this time
actually bought something! In fact, all three of us made a
purchase. The auctioneer (David) was charming and knowledgeable. I
was not unaware of the "salesman" side of his job, but after doing
a lot of research after I got home, found that he knew his stuff.
My husband had mooned over a Zamy Steynovitz painting on our last
cruise together, so I swallowed hard and made the purchase. My
friend purchased a beautiful piece by Alfred Gockel. Because of my
purchase, we became known as the "Zamy Girls" for the rest of the
Other Details I spent less in drinks, less in the shops (only
one pair of earrings in the gift shop,) zero in the casino, zero at
bingo, etc., etc. I had no desire to spend any more than I spent,
so it made the cost of the painting a little easier to swallow.
We had a wonderful cruise and I would not (as usual) hesitate to
go on another Carnival cruise. It continues to live up to the "Fun