Off we headed again on another adventure… this time with some different travel companions (our friends Alice and Bill, as well as Deb and her mom Anna) and on a different cruise line… trying Princess for the first time (because we got a wicked deal and it had great ports)… but the start of the journey just about always starts out the same. Drove to Maine on Saturday, puttered around a bit, had a fairly undelicious supper at Longhorn, and played around on the ipad and read some while everyone else watched hockey playoffs in the hotel room. Headed across the pedway early in the morning to catch our 7am flight to Philadelphia. Philly’s airport is one of my least favorite ever (well, the section of Terminal F where we always seem to start out is)… had just enough time to get from F to A (via a long walk from C because that’s the only place the shuttle bus ran to – not sure if it’s because it was Easter Sunday or if that’s just the way it is). Had some expensive and not very tasty airport food, and boarded what looked to be a shiny new US Airways plane to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Flight was about 4 hours, they only sold junk food (which they call “snacks”), and the TVs either didn’t work or required a credit card to operate them. The stewards and stewardesses didn’t mention them. Flight was uneventful.
Brief visit to the San Juan airport was uneventful as well… there was thousands of cruise ship passengers there waiting to board flights, and there looked to be several great options for having breakfast on the day we left (we learned a lesson later on this one). All luggage arrived and getting a taxi was super easy ($19 to the Pan American Pier, plus $1 per bag). The porter system at the Pan American Pier isn’t as well oiled a machine as it would be in, say Miami or Fort Lauderdale, but it was fine. The check in line wasn’t very long, and I would say we were on the ship within 30 minutes of getting to the port. There is a duty free liquor store there after you pass through security, but we didn’t bother with buying anything. The picture for our key card was taken as we got on the ship and not in the terminal. There was a Royal Caribbean ship behind us at that pier, and the Carnival Victory was docked at the pier in Old San Juan.
It was about midafternoon when we got on the ship, so our cabin was already ready (C415 – a half-covered balcony on Caribe deck (deck 10). Since we’d only sailed Carnival ships up to this point, it was easy to notice the differences. First, the balcony was giant compared to the normal ones we get on Carnival. We had just booked guarantee balcony at the lowest level (BF I think) and we were upgraded to this one (BA). It was awesome – huge with 4 chairs and a table. The cabin itself was smaller than Carnival, but not so much so that we felt we were tripping over each other or anything. The closet area is set up different on Princess, and I actually prefer their setup… and I think the bathroom is a bit smaller on Princess (and it has one less shelf on the side of the mirror), but that doesn’t really matter much to me. Still had a fridge, desk, and that kind of thing… there was a chair (which was mostly just in the way), but no couch… and the hair dryer is horrible… more horrible even than the Carnival ones… but again, none of these are deal breakers. I’m just happy to be able to travel so much!
So after checking out our room and dropping off a few things there, we headed up to Lido (deck 15 on this ship) to check out the Horizon Court and grab a quick snack. We had early dinner, so we didn’t want too much, but we hadn’t really eaten all day. Greg and I both hate the buffets, so we avoided them pretty much the entire time we were on the ship. Had a quick bite… some fruit and some other random bits, and then it was off to explore the upper decks. Greg had some beers and I opted for ice cream, and we explored all the upper decks and took a quick peak in Skywalkers Lounge (at the back of the ship overlooking the water on deck 18). I found the food parts on Lido confusing, and was thankful we only ate up there twice. Only made it to Scoops once as well – the first day.
Shortly after we got back to our room, our steward Wilson delivered both peices of our luggages (it look less than 2 hours I would say). There was also a delicious treat waiting in the room from Greg – chocolate covered strawberries, as has become tradition. So we puttered around the room, showered up (after feeling all gross from air travel and that), and unpacked. That pretty much brought us to time for dinner.
We had early seating in the Palm Dining Room, with Victoria (from Ukraine) and Roland (never did catch where he was from – he zipped around too fast). Table 220 for 6 people. This blog is not going to be a run down of what we had for dinner every night – I didn’t take pictures of it, as I don’t like bringing my camera to dinner, and I don’t remember all of what we ate. For the most part, everything was fine every night – but Carnival takes the upper hand on dinner options in my opinion… and I did miss my Indian vegetarian dinner that I normally have the first night on Carnival, every sailing. On Princess, the wait staff also deal with beverages, which is different than how Carnival does it. Also cappuccino following dinner isn’t free on Princess like it is on Carnival, for anyone following along for comparison reasons. As our sailing left on Easter Sunday, the menu was a bit different than normal, and we were missing the page that outlined the prices of “after dinner” drinks. Basic coffee is a bit better on Princess, but I still wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s good, because it’s just not strong enough for me. The cappuccino was decent, but the cup of it they brought me was GIANT!
One of the things we wondered about when we booked Princess was the dress code, in terms of how different it would be from Carnival. Honestly, I didn’t find it any different. I don’t know if it’s just that they don’t enforce it as much on this ship, or what, but it was fine. I don’t care to dress up fancy just to eat dinner, but I don’t want to just eat in the buffet instead, so I came prepared to play along with their dress code… but jeans and a nice shirts or anything along those lines was fine for the “smart casual” nights – and we did see shorts, sandals, ball caps, not “nice” jeans etc in the dining room. On formal nights, the guys didn’t wear jackets and no one batted an eye at them. They wore shirts and ties with nice pants. I’m not down with bedazzling it up, so I had a simple cotton black dress and a nice pair of sandals (my formal Birkenstocks). On the Princess cruise boards, people tend to exhibit shock and awe, and rant and rave about how their vacation is ruined when people don’t wear ugly sequined pants suits and tuxedos… if you are one of those people, I don’t value your opinion and this blog is likely not something you are going to enjoy… so you might as well move along. I believe in live and let live… and you could come to dinner in a trash bag if you want and it wouldn’t bother me in the least.
Muster drill was at 8:00pm in Explorers Lounge. We had to bring out life jacket, and it was a lot longer than Carnival’s, but it was fine. They spent a decent chunk of time warning parents that they are completely responsible for their children, which was interesting. I know there were some kids on this ship, but I didn’t find them to be an issue at all. After muster, we wandered around the ship a bit more to check out the night life. We came on the ship expecting their to be very little (why else would they have $2.99 drink specials aftr 8pm), and we were right. There was a lot listed in the daily events schedule (Dear Princess, calling your schedule the Patter is a stupid name… just sayin’), but it was almost exclusively geared to an age group much higher than ours. Greg and I watched Juan Carlos, a latin performer who was actually quite good, and Alice and Bill showed up a bit later. He was entertaining, but his dancers, especially the one who had been, shall we say, amplified in the upper body area, were more foolish than anything. Wandered around a bit more after that and called it a day.
Day 2 – St. Thomas – We were in St Thomas in January and I wasn’t crazy about it as a port. We don’t shop. We planned on getting off and walking around a bit at some point in St Thomas, but I wasn’t really feeling well that day so we stayed on the ship. We had breakfast in the dining room (they have Carnival beat here), and watched them onload part of the contents of about 6 trailor loads of food. We ate room service on our balcony (again, Princess beats Carnival in terms of variety, and there is a small delivery charge – I had chili with nachos and Greg had a club sandwich). The waiter brought it right out to the balcony for us – pretty awesome service. By dinner I really felt horrible, so we skipped the first formal night (including the champagne waterfall, which likely we would have found foolish) and had supper and a treat from the International Cafe in our room. Greg tried the pizza, and for cruise ship pizza, it wasn’t bad at all. I had some lasagne – also tasty. Watched some tv and went to sleep.
Day 3 – Dominica – We had booked a private tour with Woody (Off the Beaten Trail) for Dominica, but found out on Facebook before we left that he was in the hospital. So I ended up having to check email on Tuesday just in case to see if anything was sent (I hate checking email on vacation)… nothing in the inbox, so off we went to find our tour. Woody wasn’t there, but another fellow (whose name I don’t recall I’m afraid) was there with a sign with my name on it… we just said we were looking for Woody when we saw all the private guides and he came popping out. So he walked us down to meet our new tour guide for the day – Lesley. Lesley was a great guide, and there was nothing wrong with the tour we did, but I’m not entirely sure it was worth $95PP, and I’m not entirely sure it was the tour we signed up for. Lesley showed us a map and let us pick the places we wanted to go… and not really knowing anything about Dominica, and having assumed Woody would take us off the beaten trail, we just picked what sounded ok. So first we were off to the Emerald Pool (and associated falls)… it’s not a long walk to get down to the pool, but everything was wet and I wished I had worn sneakers for that part for sure). There was a couple of people down there when we got down there, but we had the whole place to ourselves for a while after that which was nice. It started to rain on our way back up – which was a trend throughout the day. We weren’t on any real timeline. Lesley didn’t come with us anywhere we went, but just said to come back when we felt like it.
After that, we headed to Jaco Falls… I definitely wouldn’t call this spot off the beaten trail, as there were several buses full of organized tours from the ship there. I didn’t even bother to climb down to the falls for this one… I watched a lady weaving a basket for a while, and waited for the others. Bill busted his toe up pretty good at this spot, and it started to rain yet again. After that, It was back into the jeep for a drive around more of the island and through the rain forest. Dominica is definitely a beautiful lush island, and I love that they haven’t geared the whole place towards tourism. Lesley pointed stuff out here and there as we drove around, and we stopped on the side of the road to visit Mr. Nice’s fruit stand (aka Mr. Crazy). This fellow was a bit bonkers, and seemed to be quite taken with Alice… thinking she was 12, and wanting to test his limited knowledge of Chinese dialects on her. It was nice stopping for fresh fruit though, considering how not nearly as delicious ours is by the time it gets to us. We tried bananas,
grapefruits, coconut and coconut water, and a candy made of lots of spices I now forget that they eat on banana. That was very tasty, but Google is failing to help me recall what it was… so I’ll have to see if I can track it down.
Then, off to Mero beach… that wasn’t really off the beaten trail either, since there were restaurants and people there on the beach following you around trying to peddle stuff. We had something to eat at Connie’s Bar, and it was good (though the menu was very limited with it being the day after a holiday), but had we known there was snacks (meat pies and sweet potato pudding thingers) in the jeep for us, we obviously wouldn’t have eaten there. There was a cooler full of drinks for us in the jeep as well, and Greg and Bill likely got through the bulk of the beers that were in there. I drank water all day, and Al and Bill tried some of the rum related drinks that were there. We hung out at Mero beach for a while, and then it was back to the ship. I think we were actually earlier getting back than the tour normally would have been (shortly after 4, when we didn’t sail until 6), but we were bored of the beach. Back near the pier, we stood around and had a drink with Lesley and then back to the ship. So, all in all, it was a nice tour in a beautiful country (a country I specifically wanted to visit because they haven’t caved to tourism and have kept their island lush and beautiful)… and I can’t really offer an opinion on what a tour with Woody would have been like (via email, correspondence was always smooth, and he did write to thank for me the t-shirt we had brought him – he went to school in the city where we live), but if offered a chance to do this exact tour again, I wouldn’t.
I think we checked out Skywalkers Lounge after dinner this night – and I’ve dubbed it Onesie Bar as there were numerous people, including a man, “rocking” them that evening. The concept of the bar is great – at the back of deck 18, high up in the air, and overlooking the water on all sides. It even has a moving sidewalk, which I’ve heard many a cruiser whine about the lack of over the years. Not crazy about the music, but we hung out and chatted there for a while before it “opened” and then stayed for a while after that.
Day 4 – Grenada – Today was one of our shortest times in port. I was really looking forward to this island, since Greg and I are such foodies, and it didn’t disappoint. We were a bit slow meeting up with our tour guide, as we actually made it out of the building and were waiting in the wrong spot, before he was in there to meet us. I eventually tracked him down with the help of a local taxi driver who let me use his mobile. Our tour was with Stan (JNJ Tours). He had emailed me a few days before we left and asked if we minded if a couple more people join in on our tour… I’m a people person, so I didn’t really mind, with the restrictions that our tour couldn’t change in any way to accommodate them (since we had some specific stuff we wanted to see). So letting those people come with us proved to be a bit of a mistake, in that they were a bit rude. As we loaded into the van, they didn’t hesitate to take the very front seat with 6 other people (including someone in their 80s) still to get in. They proceeded to ask Stan a bunch of personal and inappropriate questions, which kind of made the rest of us feel awkward… including some questions about whether people from Grenada don’t like the Chinese coming there to build roads and stuff when Alice was present and is Chinese. Oh well, we decided to ignore them and it was fine after that. Stan pulled me aside at the first stop and checked with me what we want to do and see, and assured me we would stick to that.
Our first stop was a waterfall where there are some people that jump from the cliffs and want you to pay them to do it… not really my thing, but whatever works. After that the tour was great… we next stopped at a local spice stand, where we were able to buy wonderful fresh spices… I mostly bought cacao and vanilla, and then split a set of baskets with an assortment of spices with Alice and Deb. Stan even gave me a few extra cacao pods, which was great. After that, we went up and through the rainforest, stopping at plantations where nutmeg, cinnamon, bananas, cloves and a lot more grows. Stan pulled over here and there and showed us how everything is harvested and that kind of thing. I really liked seeing that part. Then, since we were doing fine for time, Stan took us to a nutmeg processing plant. That was really neat to see, and everything is still done by hand. I bought some nutmeg there of course, and then chatted with Stan and a local police officer while we were waiting for everyone who has was having a pee break. We drove around the island some more, stopping at various scenic spots for pictures, and then headed back to the port. One of the things we like to do is to eat some local food, so Stan took us to a great spot near the port where we could try some of the foods he had been pointing out as we drove around, including “alldone” which is made with breadfruit and an assortment of veg. I had stewed conch, which was delicious, and some fresh fruit juice. Greg had stewed mutton. They even let us try a bunch of stuff before we picked out what we wanted to eat. Stan sat and ate with us too, which was nice. I think the restaurant was called Dana’s, but I didn’t remember to take a picture of it.
Stan had beer, water, and soda in the van for us throughout the day as well. After lunch, it was time to head back to the ship pretty much – we were leaving from Grenada around 2. There’s a shopping mall type area you have to walk through to get pack to the ship, so I stopped and picked up a couple of things for people and some nutmeg flavoured coffee and called it a day. It had rained a bit that day, but by the time we were back to the ship, the weather was gorgeous. So, I loved Grenada and would definitely go back… I’d love to try some more local food and maybe learn to cook some of it. Stan was a great guide, and I would definitely recommend his tour. It was $40PP and then the cost of our own lunches, which were also very reasonably priced.
We didn’t do too much the rest of Grenada day… we likely went to the International Café for some coffee/cookies/beer) and hung out on our balcony for a while. Dinner was uneventful, and I think by this point in the week, we mostly hung out in the Wheelhouse Lounge at night… the location of the only musical highlight of the week, which was the cent, five cent, ten cent, dollar song that Sugar Cane performed in there.
Day 5 – Bonaire – Bonaire was an amazing island. I knew it was going to be an island with a dry climate, and I knew it was known for diving, but I had no idea how picturesque it would be. We booked a tour with Hans from Outdoor Bonaire and it was amazing – we had to walk to a dive store to meet up with him, but it was only a few minutes away (once a local helped us figure out what pier we were at). It was about 5 hours and cost us $60 something a person, not including our lunch. Hans has a pick-up truck, so we were able to get well off the beaten path. We drove all over the island, exploring the salt flats where the flamingos are, the former slave huts, all around the shore, stopping whenever we wanted to pictures or whatever. Hans really loves his island and provided us with lots of details. Words can’t even begin to describe how beautiful Bonaire is. Anyways, we stopped at the Kontiki Beach Club for lunch, and there was only one other table with people there… and the food was amazing. I had a vegetarian sandwich with local goat cheese and pine nuts… really delicious (and Hans later drove us by the place where the goat cheese was made). Greg had a burger, which looked really great… Alice and Bill ordered them as well, but apparently there wasn’t enough for everyone, so they ended up having Dutch Kibbeling… very tasty as well.
We went offroading in Bonaire’s version of the bush to see wildlife and lots and lots of cactuses and agave plants. Goats and donkies roam all over Bonaire eating everything green in site, which definitely appears to be a problem there. We saw the ingenius (well, until goats realized they could eat cactuses) use of cactuses for fencing. Hans showed us an area of mangroves, and explained how shrimp farming affects them. He told us about his eco-lodge, and took us to see a cave, some swanky houses that are just being built on top of a hill, and to a couple of amazing lookout spots. We saw where the South American oil tankers come in, the flamingo reserves, and so much more. We stopped at the 1000 Steps dive site to go down to the beach. The beaches are amazing there because there’s no sand (at least, not at the ones we visited) – it’s just coral. The water is so clear you can see fish in the water from the shore. Hans is very opinionated and committed to the environment, which I love… and I wouldn’t hesitate to use him as a tour guide again. I’ll definitely be back to Bonaire for sure as well – it’s a photographers dream.
Back to the ship pretty much just in time to get ready for dinner, which was fine as usual. After supper, we checked out a comedy show – Darrell Joyce. He was pretty funny, but there were quite a few stalls in his delivery. But that’s fine – it was only an hour and it was something to do. I think we went back to the Wheelhouse after that… the nights kind of all blurred together.
Day 6 – Aruba – In Aruba, we booked a tour with Green Zebra Adventures. They picked us up at a store just a few minutes from the port gates and drove us out to an ostridge farm. Once there, we had to fill out some waivers and stuff, and then we headed out with our own personal guide (Eugeney, or something like that… I didn’t quite catch it)… and not with the giant group that was already there when we got there… which was great. So no amount of sunblock saved me from how hot it was in Aruba, but you didn’t really notice it until later in the day. We drove our little dune buggy type thinger through Arikok National Park, which is really nice… would love to spend more time there, and along the coast, which was beautiful. We stopped for a half hour or so at Fontein Cave and Rodnay gave us a bit of a tour. There are Arawak cave paintings there that are now being protected because people were vandalizing the site and taking pieces of the cave with them… really interesting. Rodnay took us further into the cave than groups normally go (or so he said) because there were only four of us, and showed us the place where he banged his coconut and had to get a bunch of stitches.
Back to our dune buggy thing, we kept on trucking to see a small natural bridge along the coast. Even though we have ocean here, it’s always neat to see waves crashing I find. We stayed there for a bit, took some pictures, and then headed on to Baby Beach. That’s a beautiful spot and it wasn’t really all that busy when we got there. We played in the water for a bit, drank our water, and watched some jumping crabs. We had a bit of a bathroom adventure there before we left… in that we had to pay to go to the bathroom (not a big deal), but had to pee with the doors open because there was no room for knees … oh well, if you have to go, you have to go. After that, back to the dune buggy and our guide stopped to point out the white beaches of Venezuela across the water. We had time for a beer at the bar at the start out point, and then a driver took us back to the port. We asked him to let us know a good place to eat that isn’t too touristy, so we got dropped off at the Old Fisherman. We had some really great seafood for lunch there… pricey, but worth every penny. Once we came out of the restaurant, we were into the super hot afternoon sun and we could feel our skin on fire. Bill and I had some super sexy left side burns from the vehicle, and Greg had one on the right… Alice seemed to come out unscathed… though we were all filthy! Took about 2 minutes to look at a couple of vendor stalls and then headed back to the ship. Greg and I watched sailway – there were a few runners that day – and then we had to get ready for dinner. Aruba was the second formal night, and also lobster night. Dinner was fine. After supper, likely to the same old lounge. They did have an event later in the evening in the piazza where they had a cake and balloon drop, to celebrate the 100th ship in the Carnival fleet (the Carnival Magic, which is currently on its first sailing in Europe).
Day 7 – Sea Day – I love sea days! This itinerary had some amazing ports, but not nearly enough sea days. We had breakfast in the dining room, and then wandered around the ship taking some pictures as I hadn’t done that yet. We checked out a cooking show in the theatre (the first time we went in there all week)… it was pretty entertaining and they had a pretty high tech set up, but we opted to skip the galley tour portion of it as there was a ton of people wanting to go. We had lunch in the Crown Grill, which converted to a free pub lunch place on the sea day. Spent some time reading around the ship and on our balcony, had a rest, and did a bit of packing. Had our final dinner in the dining room with Victoria and Roland, including the parade of the baked alaskas. Finished packing, and met in the lounge for a few drinks. I’m pretty sure we likely had milk and cookies this day as well – something Greg really liked about the ship. They requested that “most” of your luggage be out by supper, and then the rest of it be out by 11pm. We put one out and kept the other, just to make life easier in the morning.
Day 8 – Debarkation Day / San Juan – Debarkation was a breeze on this one. We had breakfast in the dining room, and then went back to finish packing up our stuff. We had to meet in Club Fusion by 8, and we started to debark (we were zone 2) pretty much right away (though, they did make sure they had Princess advertising for other itineraries on the tvs while you were there). Finding our suitcase was simple, and customs was a breeze. The customs guy was super friendly, and wanted to know if we had anything to do with the Fuller company that must have production or something in PR (we assumed it was Fuller brush). We waited about an hour for Deb and Anna to get out (they were supposed to get off 15 minutes after us) in the rain, and then shared a cab to our hotel. We stayed at the Radisson Ambassador in Condado (aka the hotel with the giant doors). It was $22 for 6 of us with our bags from Pan American Pier to the hotel. Rooms weren’t ready yet, but we were able to check all of our bags. Then we took the bus to Old San Juan – there was a triathlon or something going on that day and the taxi drivers refused to go. The bus was 75 cents and you had to have exact change, so we got some change from the casino at the hotel before we left. Once we got off the bus, we hopped on a trolley (free) to the fort. We paid the $2 and explored all through Castillo san Cristobal, while it rained off and on. On an unrelated note, they have a really clean bathroom. We got some water, and started walking towards the other fort. We stopped to check out the graveyard (I loved that graveyard when we saw it previously at night), and at some point I’m going to explore it more thoroughly), and watched the locals flying kites in the fields. We didn’t go in the other fort (Fort San Felipe del Morro) but explored around it for a bit. It started raining again while we were leaving there, so we hid in an archway for a bit and decided where to go next. We ended up at El Patio de Sam for lunch, on Calle San Sebastien. Food was good there, and then we grabbed a cab back out to the hotel. I napped, and I think Bill dozed as well… Greg and Alice wandered off to explore the casino and find the Starbucks. I read for a bit while they watched some hockey, and then we all went to the restaurant in the hotel for supper. Food there was pretty good as well, and we all got a free drink with our hotel reservation. There was another trip to Starbucks after that, and we sat around fixing our luggage and watching tv and chatting after that.
Day 9 – Back home… we had at 8:45 am flight home, so we headed to the airport around 6:30. Went through the agricultural screening, checked in, and tried to find something to eat. There was only one place open in the section of the airport that we were in, and they must have known they had the breakfast market because their food was shitty and expensive (2 buns with a scoop of tuna-like substance, a cookie, and 2 bottle of water – $25). I managed to find some trail mix in a gift shop, so we had that for the plane. The plane we had coming back home was definitely not as shiny and new as the one we had going, so that was a fairly uncomfortable flight. We had 45 minutes to connect in Philly, and we needed about 40 minutes of it to get from terminal B to terminal F. We basically just had time to go to the bathroom. Flight from Philly to Bangor was uneventful, but we ended up waiting for some people and their luggage, and they had oversold the flight, so one person had to get off (and fortunately it wasn’t Deb, who didn’t have a seat when we left San Juan). Back in Bangor, we grabbed a bite to eat and made the drive home. All of that was uneventful.
So now the odds and ends… I liked Princess well enough, and for the right price/itinerary, I wouldn’t hesitate to sail them again. It didn’t bother me at all that there was a lot of Spanish speaking guests on the ship, and it always amazes me when people complain about something so stupid. I’ve had nothing but good experiences travelling with Latin people, and they are always super fun. I prefer the décor of Carnival ships, their evening entertainment (though sometimes that is lacking as well), and the dinner menu. Princess does better for options in the dining room at breakfast, and our giant balcony was awesome! I found service (both room stewards and dining room servers) comparable on both lines. I’ve read complaints about the beds on Princess, but they didn’t bother me. It’s not as comfortable as our bed at home, but it was fine. Carnival cabins are a bit bigger, but no issues there. I was tired of all the wood paneling by the end of the first day… it doesn’t look elegant to me, it just looks bland. I liked how Lido was layed out (not the food sections, but the outdoor sections)… there always seemed to be places to get a deck chair if you want them, and it’s likely because there’s no water slides and that which gives them more space. I like the idea of Serenity, and like that it’s free on Carnival… I wouldn’t pay for it. The Movies Under the Stars concept looked nice, but we never did try it. Carnival has it as well. Princess does a better job of keeping the annoying picture taking stations of the main hallways, but when glancing at some of the shots on the walls, they did a worse job of actually taking the pictures. We didn’t have any taken the whole time, as per usual.
I didn’t find smoking to be an issue anywhere on this ship, and even though I don’t gamble, I did like that every second night in the casino is smokefree. I don’t shop, so I didn’t really use the shops either, but they appeared to have more than Carnival. I didn’t use the spa, pools, or gym on this sailing either… too port intensive, and likely I wouldn’t have used them anyway. I didn’t ever find the ship too crowded, even the first night, except that this ship was full of people that loved to randomly stop walking for no reason. We sat one day and watched a bit of an art auction, just because I’ve also wondered why they do them, and they were definitely better attended than I expect they are on Carnival… they made about $6000 in 15 minutes. The hallway outside Explorers Lounge also smelled like, for the lack of a better description, fart. So I called it fart pocket for the rest of the cruise.
I took some pictures of the ship which can be viewed here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150231646085379.356940.625475378&l=3f008dc2a8
Next up is Boston and Seattle this year… and then we’re hoping to be on the inaugural sailing of the Carnival Breeze in Europe next June.