Wednesday, December 11 – St Maarten
We docked in St Maarten around 7am, and up to the Lido Deck we went for another breakfast burrito from Blue Iguana Cantina – officially my favourite spot on the ship for breakfast.
Since our original excursion booking – for the Power Rafting Snorkel Adventure – was cancelled because not enough people booked it (despite getting a really high rating by reviewers; go figure…), we ended up selecting the Golden Eagle Catamaran Sail and Snorkel instead. But since that didn’t leave until later in the day, we decided to take the water taxi into downtown Philipsburg.
We explored the shops for a bit, then rented a couple of beach chairs and umbrella. The guy initially said $20 but that he’d only charge us $15 since we were the first customers of the day. I countered with $10 since we’d be heading back to the ship in just over an hour.
After an hour of floating and splashing, we started to make our way back to the ship. But first, a stop at the Guavaberry Emporium. The guavaberry liquor and rum were way too strong for me, but we bought a guavaberry colada to share on our walk – tasty!
Once back on board the Breeze, we had a quick lunch (hot dog from the buffet grill and a to-die-for tiramisu cheesecake), then headed back down to the dock to meet up with our excursion.
The Golden Eagle catamaran was quite nice, slightly crowded but not too bad. As the catamaran headed out to our snorkel/beach destination, we passed Maho Bay and saw one plane take off. (Last time we were in St Maarten, we took a cab to Maho and had several planes, including the 747, land overhead – loved it.)
We anchored at Mullet Bay – beautiful place, but the snorkeling wasn’t so good. The coral was in really rough shape, and few fish. We did see our first squid, and followed him around for a bit. At one point, it started to pour down rain, but hey, we’re already in the water, so no biggie… and the sun was soon shining again.
The ride back was pretty bouncy, splashy and fun. I always try to claim a spot right at the front of the catamaran so I can hang my legs off and get splashed by the waves.
Overall, I’d say I liked the catamaran itself, as it was well-maintained, but not the snorkeling. Wouldn’t book this excursion again.
Back on board, we headed straight to the hot tubs on the Promenade Deck. This was my least favourite hot tub location on board – lots of people smoking on their balconies right above you.
We skipped the Main Dining Room again in favour of grabbing a couple of Guy’s Burgers just before they closed. And a slice of Kahlua cheesecake from the buffet. The cheesecakes were one of my surprise highlights of the dessert options, with lots of variety in flavours.
We spent a few bucks in the casino on slots, then went up to the Lido Deck again to watch Iron Man 2 on the big screen. Had some problems hearing due to audio issues, plus a lot of loud background chatter from people passing by the pool.
Thursday, December 12 – St Thomas
The ship was already docked in St Thomas when I woke up at 7am. I headed up to the Lido Deck for breakfast, and decided that today was omelette day. There were two omelette stations – one with a crazy-long line, and the other with a super-short line. Guess which one I picked?
Apparently my husband did a lap of the buffet looking for me, but my nose was buried in a book and I didn’t see him. We met back up at the room and got ready to head out. As we reached the gate that exits the port, we realized that St Thomas being a US island, we’d need our passports to get back in. Oops – Byron made the quick dash back to the room to grab our passports out of the safe, and then we continued on our way.
We walked about 10 minutes up the road to the Skyride. I’d avoided it on past visits to St Thomas, thinking it ‘too touristy’ but this time around we wanted something easy and close to the ship. We didn’t have to wait too long for one of the tram cars – but by the time we were getting on, the line behind us had gotten quite long. It’s a pretty ride up the hill – reminded me of the Skyride up Grouse Mountain here in Vancouver, but with more palm trees.
At Paradise Point, we browsed the shops for a few minutes, looked at the parrots, and enjoyed the vista overlooking Charlotte Amalie. Despite it being about 9am, we headed into the bar and ordered a couple of drinks – one of the famous Bushwackers for me and a hibiscus something-or-other for Byron. That Bushwacker was strong, but delicious – five minutes later, it was all gone.
We took the tram back down and walked back to the ship. It wasn’t until we went through the ship’s security and Byron took off his hat that I realized that my hat was missing! I’d taken it off at the restaurant, and in my post-Bushwacker tipsiness must have left it there. Not enough time to head back to recover it – so we were now down two hats for the trip.
Quick change into swimsuits and back to the pier to meet up with our excursion group. We had booked the “St John Champagne Catamaran Sailaway” tour. After a bit of confusion as they organized the group into two open-air buses, we took off for a 20-min drive over some winding roads to the catamaran dock. This catamaran wasn’t in quite as good shape as the one in St Maarten – the netting at the front of the catamaran was getting frayed and ripping in a few spots, so we weren’t allowed to put our weight on it or lay across it. Bummer.
It’s a beautiful sail to St John, and the crew pointed out interesting trivia about the homes and islands we were passing. Once anchored at St John, we had about an hour for snorkeling. Again, the coral wasn’t in great shape, but better than St Maarten had been the previous day. Definitely saw more fish, as well as a stingray (and a cleaner fish who was catching a ride on his back) and two turtles munching on grass.
The rum punch was flowing freely on the ride back to the dock. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
Back on the ship, it was naptime until we had to get ready for the Chef’s Table. We met the group at the Atrium Lobby Bar, but had to wait 15 minutes for the last couple to arrive. Finally, they showed up and we were escorted into the galley to meet Chef Porvin Gama.
Many other folks with more skill in food writing and photography have already thoroughly documented the Chef’s Table experience, so I won’t get into the details except to note a few things.
Although the letter delivered to our room with the instructions for the evening said “no closed-toe shoes and no heels”, about half of the ladies at the table didn’t bring any closed-toe shoes on the cruise; we were fine in open-toed dressy sandals, but I can see how heels would have been difficult on the galley tour portion.
The couple who had arrived late actually ended up leaving midway through the meal – guess it wasn’t their cup of tea.
It was an interesting experience, provided great insight into the process of feeding so many people each day, and of course the meal was lovely – but I don’t think I’d sign up for the Chef’s Table on Carnival again… at least until there’s a new menu. I’m actually going to be doing the Chef’s Table at the Napa Rose in Disneyland in a couple of weeks, and will be curious to see how the experience compares.
Friday, December 13 – Sea Day #2
Oh no, Friday the 13th on a ship?! What might go wrong?
As it turns out, nothing. It was a gloriously lazy day – as evidenced by the fact that I barely took any photos. I woke up super-early (6am-ish) and thought about going down the hall to do some laundry – but figured it was too early and might disturb other passengers. Of course, when I finally got out of bed at 7am and went to check the laundry room, all of the machines were in use.
Breakfast and coffee on the cove balcony, laundry, watching Pitch Perfect on TV… that was my morning. We eventually headed up to the Future Cruise Presentation, but didn’t learn anything new – if they hadn’t done away with the Future Cruise Certificates, I probably would have bought one of those, but just wasn’t ready to book a specific cruise quite yet.
We spent most of the afternoon lounging by the aft pool, enjoying more of the Tandoori for lunch, though sadly missing out on the last slice of key lime cheesecake by seconds. Headed up to the Serenity for a while, but left when some people decided that playing music on their iPhones was a good idea. Isn’t that what headphones are for?
It was the last elegant night, so we got prettied up and headed for the Sapphire Dining Room. I had the shrimp, but immediately regretted it because Byron’s chateaubriand was so good; he’s ranked it as perhaps the best meal he’s ever had on a cruise ship. I finished up my meal with a tropical espresso – and wished I’d been ordering that every night, because wow was that yummy.
Now, I didn’t realize it until a week after we were home, when I finally looked at the photos from the trip, but it turns out our room steward or one of her assistants had a little fun with a towel animal and my camera while making up our room that evening:
Saturday, December 14 – Sea Day #3
Last full day on the ship = sad face.
After reading for a hour on the balcony, it was time for brunch, where we finally used our past guest free drink coupons. I ordered a Kiss on the Lips because it seemed the most brunch-y of the drinks.
Byron headed up for volleyball, but for once so many people showed up and they didn’t have room for everyone, so he joined me for a run instead. It was hot out! I’m sure my face was beet-red by the time we were done.
We hung out near the aft pool for a while, and I went to the Mongolian Grill for lunch. The line for the Chocolate Extravaganza was really long – in my opinion, disproportionately long compared to the quality of the desserts.
In the afternoon, we went to the 7-Game Bingo in the Ovation Theatre – and Byron won *twice* on the same card. Lucky bugger – although I bought the card, so maybe I’m the lucky one? In total he walked away with $300, which covered half of our final on-board bill. Woohoo!
Time for mini-golf! It was fun, even if we were sort of adopted by a precocious child who felt it his duty to explain the putting strategy for each hole and then proceeded to get a hole-in-one almost every time. Showoff.
More pool time. Byron tried both of the waterslides, but I wussed out. I love scary rollercoasters but even the tamest waterslides freak me out.
Last dinner, last chance for Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. Service was particularly slow that night.
Afterwards, we headed to the Ocean Plaza and ordered the Martini Tasting sampler. Even though they’re smaller portions, I don’t know how one person could finish all four drinks.
In the casino, Byron played roulette and judging by the cheers of the people around him, did well. I was sleepy from all those martinis, so headed back to the room and finished packing up.
Sunday, December 15 – Heading Home
Was definitely sad to have this trip end. We woke up back in Miami, had breakfast, grabbed our bags and left the ship around 9am after they announced the self-disembark. Grabbed a cab to the airport, and made it there with plenty of time to spare for our 12:30pm flight.
We loved the Breeze – I thought the design was far-and-away better than the past Carnival ships I’ve sailed on. Likewise, the food was better than I remember from past trips. The cove balcony was perfect for us – being so close to the water was fabulous, and I loved being able to hear the waves and have the salt spray hit me.
That said, I think this will be our last cruise on Carnival for a while. Byron’s expressed interest in trying other cruise lines for comparison, and I’m starting to get bored with what feels like the same-old itineraries.
Thanks for reading! Happy to answer any questions as best as I can…