Article by Pierre Zarokian of Hotel Traveler Reviews
Couple of weeks ago me and my family took the Eastern Caribbean cruise with Carnival Liberty. I wanted to write this article to voice my anger with Carnival Cruise. The main problem where several hidden charges and slowness of the internet. However, the choice of the islands were also not that interesting.
First let me begin with the hidden charges. There is a $70 per person gratuity charge, so for 3 of us, we were hit with $210 unforeseen charge added to our final departure bill.
Second the on-board photo services were way too expensive. While it is a great service, which you do not have to use, most people will probably end up taking a few pics. They encourage you to take as many pics as possible, as you don’t have to buy them. At the end, you may end up buying many pics, because they look good at $22 a pop. My complaint is that they should at least offer a discount for those buying multiple pictures. We ended up spending $700 on pictures.
Third, the internet connection was way too slow. Even tough when you sign up they have disclaimer stating it will be slow, my exception was not that it will be slower than a 14K modem (pre 1995 levels). We used approximately 50% of the $100 I paid upfront and then decided it was way too slow to do any work and was not worth continuing. When I asked for a refund or even a partial refund, I was denied and instead given a 30 minute credit, which was worthless, since I was not going to use it and only one day was remaining in the trip.
Fourth, the selection of the islands the cruise went to was not that exciting. 2 our of 4 islands were OK and then other two were pretty boring. The good ones were San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. the bad ones were Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. The last 2 islands were very small and did not offer too many activities, besides relaxing at the beach and a few tours. But since both islands are small there is not really much to see on them. In fact, Half Moon Cay is an island that Carnival owns and was primarily purchased so they can offer their own tours to this island. This was a lesson to myself to do better research next time and pick a cruise that offers a better selection of islands.
Although, the overall cruise experience for me and my family was fun and relaxing, the few issues above, really left me upset. I tried to get refund for the internet and gratuity and was denied both. Due to this I would never ever go on a Carnival Cruise again. I consider myself a VIP traveler. We ended up spending $2400 in extra services, such as photos, spa and food on the boat and I cannot believe the way Carnival treats their VIP customers.
Article by Robert Petrossian of Travel E Zone
San Juan, Puerto Rico is a great travel destination. It offers centuries of history, dating back to the island’s discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and the massive 16th-century Spanish forts overlooking the sea. The Old San Juan has great old architecture, many great restaurants shopping offerings. The National Rainforest of San Juan is an amazing place to visit. There are also numerous historical places to visit such as the El Morro.
I visited San Juan recently with my family as part of a cruise and was there only for a day. I think it was a bit too short, so probably a 2-3 day visit would have been better to visit most scenarios and tourist attractions in San Juan. We took a 5-hour day tour that took us through parts of the city, the National Rainforest and the El Moro.
The National Rainforest itself has a lot to offer, with its beautiful exotic trees, birds and water falls. This alone probably needs a full day to enjoy. The main water fall that we visited on the side of the road was full of tourists and did not offer good picture opportunities. I would suggest for anyone visiting San Juan National Forest, to rent a car and try to visit the water fall in early morning hours were there would be less tourists. Be advised that in some parts of the rainforest it rains everyday, so dress appropriately or bring an umbrella.
El Morro, AKA Fort San Felipe del Morro, or Morro Castle is a 16th-century citadel located on the ocean front of San Juan on the most Northwestern point. Named in honor of King Philip II of Spain, the fort was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, and defend the city of Old San Juan from seaborne enemies. The structure which started in 1595 has very tick walls probably around 6-10 feet to protect it against enemies. It took many years to built and over next 400 years has had many additions.
Finally the Old San Juan is a beautiful place to visit. You can walk from one end of Old San Juan to the other in about 15 minutes, passing buildings in every pastel hue imaginable. Many balconies have vines. Trees have vibrant colors and you can see the turquoise sea from some places. Make your way to Calle Tetuan and you’ll see a house reputed to be among the world’s narrowest at about 5 feet wide.
The shopping ares offer many brand name shops such as Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, but also many mom and pop souvenir and gift shops. The restaurants are plenty and sea food is recommended, being on island were you can get fresh sea food. A good recommendation is Toro Salao, 367 Calle Tetuan, a Spanish-Puerto Rican fusion restaurant with (rare) outdoor seating on a plaza at the southern edge of the old city.
There is a good French restaurant called Trois Cent Onze. There is a waterfront restaurant near e southern entrance to the old city called Melao, which is also a good choice, with outdoor seating. Verde Mesa, 216 Calle Tetuan, a tiny vegetarian restaurant, only serves lunch but is known for fantastic fruit shakes .
Puerto Rico, being a US Commonwealth, uses US Dollar as currency and you can visit with a US Passport, without a Visa.