With all the hurricane issues in the Caribbean, we found a timely alternative — a fall foliage/New England and Canada cruise — and couldn’t be more pleased with our choice.
Since most children are in school at this time of year, there were virtually no school-age children. It gave the cruise a different feel from some others we have taken, where the vibe was more family-oriented. The patter of little feet running up and down the hallway was nonexistent, bringing a more mature feel to the ship and adding to the aura of relaxation.
You never lack for entertainment on a Carnival ship. From morning until late at night, there is so much fun to be had on board. There is live music in multiple venues, dancing, trivia contests, karaoke, and high-energy productions with the music of Motown and “Latin Nights.”
One of our favorite spots is The Punchliner Comedy Club. The comedians we saw at the Punchliner were hilarious, and it is evident Carnival brings top talent to their cruises. The Hairy Chest Contest, the Love and Marriage Game, and the ever-popular bingo are consistently fun, too.
The Serenity area on the Sunshine is the upper three levels in the forward part of the ship. It is reserved for adults only, with its own pool, hot tub, and bar. Multiple clam shell loungers, hammocks, couches, and chaise lounges are scattered throughout. With a bar, a fantastic view, and a calm environment, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
The spa is an oasis for those who need a little pampering while at sea. Multiple services are available: hair styling, shaves, facials, massages, acupuncture, teeth whitening … the list goes on. Our adult daughters loved the “Ladies Pamper Party,” where they were able to have complimentary makeovers and try some of the newest products for eyes, lips, and skin.
The pools were never too crowded on our fall foliage tour. They were heated, which was delightful for that morning swim or evening dip. There are two main pools on the ship, the Beach Pool and the Serenity Pool, as well as two large mid-ship whirlpools and the Serenity whirlpool. The huge Carnival WaterWorks takes up a large footprint.
If you love sports and games, there is the SkyTrack, an elevated obstacle course, sure to bring up your heart rate as you navigate this safe, yet exhilarating, sky-high American Ninja Warrior-like adventure. There also is the Warehouse Arcade for the young and young at heart, the SkyCourt if you are into a game of hoops, the SkyCourse, putt-putt golf, shuffle board, and corn hole games, as well as ping-pong, foosball, and pool tables. Bridge tournaments and pub games can be played at the RedFrog Pub, and there also are trivia games, indoor shuffle board, foosball, and dominoes.
For the youngest kids, Dr. Seuss and Hasbro has all kinds of fun ready for them, including Trivia Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss Parade, Hasbro’s Sorry!, Phototime with Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, and Dr. Seuss Storytime. Camp Carnival, Circle “C,” and Club O2 are Carnival’s youth programs.
Every evening, there is a movie featured with a different theme. There is a family movie time, where the whole gang can watch a movie together on the huge outdoor movie screen, complete with popcorn. There also is Sci-Fi Night, Action and Adventure Night, Date Night concerts, and more.
The casino is always popular. Try your luck and maybe you will win big. There are many tournaments held during a cruise. Games range from slots to table games, with prizes that include a free cruise. Try your hand at a 100K slot, Texas Hold’em, or a black jack tournament.
Who wants to go shopping? There is everything under the sun from clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, art, candy, and photos from your cruise, to perfume and liquor, all at duty-free prices. There are some real bargains to be had, especially on the last days at sea, when you’ll typically find the lowest prices of the cruise.
Don’t forget the food
Food, glorious food! There is so much variety, many delicious treats, and so many venues to choose from, it is nearly impossible to try it all.
Don’t miss a chance to enjoy the specialty restaurants, well worth the minor upcharge. They include the Fahrenheit 555 Steak House, Cucina Capitano, and JiJi Oriental. Other dining options include Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint, Lido Buffet, SeaDay Brunch, Chocolate Extravaganza, Captain’s Pasta Bar, Carnival Deli, Cuban Bites (new), Mongolian Wok (fresh stir fry with ingredients of your choosing), Blue Iguana Cantina, Bonsai Sushi, Pizzeria del Capitano (amazing fresh pizza, open 24 hours), and more.
“Can anybody get me a cocktail?” So many bars, so little time: Havana Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, Sunshine Bar, Casino Bar, Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Pub, SkyBox Sports Bar, and JavaBlue Café. Enjoy daily drink specials and meet some really nice bartenders.
Nothing pairs with a cocktail like music. Every day there is a wide variety to enjoy for every kind of music lover: acoustic, country, Latin, string classics, classic rock, piano bar sing-alongs, and nightclub hits with a disc jockey in the Liquid Nightclub. Truly something for everyone.
Ports of call
Our cruise visited some great ports of call.
Starting or ending in New York offers a host of sightseeing, and there’s something special about gliding by the Statue of Liberty as she waves you goodbye and greets you on return. You’ll want to be on the lido deck and marvel as this massive ship barely fits under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Next up is Boston, another iconic and history-filled city. Try the hop-on-hop-off bus tours for a great low-cost tour of the city, spending more time at points that interest you.
Portland, Maine, is a classic New England seaport with a downtown that blends trendy urban chic with an old-world vibe. We loved taking the ferry across the harbor and bicycled around Peaks Island.
Onward to Canada, our first stop was Saint John, New Brunswick. Don’t miss the whopping 40-foot tide changes there, so dramatic they actually have a reversing waterfall that changes direction as the tide comes and goes.
Our final stop was Halifax, Nova Scotia, with the famous rocky coast, lighthouse, and crashing waves at Peggy’s Cove.
Check out the photos on our website, RecreationNews.com
Insider tip: Download the Carnival Hub App for just $5 and communicate with others in your group and have all the schedules, menus, show times, and more at your fingertips. Parking is available 50 feet from the ship, or you can save a few dollars and park across the river and take the ferry.