My teenage daughter and I took this cruise out of Tampa during the tropical storm. We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express Rocky Point. They offer a cruise package that includes a shuttle from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the port, and when you return from the cruise from the port back to the airport or hotel. Shuttle service was easy to use and worth it. The hotel was comfortable and nice, would definitely stay here again. They offer a free "hot" breakfast which was mediocre, hot being waffles, mostly cold cereal, toast, etc. but that is what I expected from a hotel breakfast with no restaurant on site. They did have an extensive room service menu which I wished we had used because the only restaurant we saw within walking distance was the Bahama Breeze. We waited for a table for 75 minutes! Food was good but not worth the wait. It was storming so we didn't use the pool. The only thing I have a concern with was because of the storm we had to sign a paper stating the hotel was in an evacuation zone and if evacuated we had to leave. That was scary, not being from Florida and not having any experience with hurricanes, it felt like we were just out of luck. They could have had directions to a place we could evacuate to or something to make us feel better about the circumstances.
Check in with Carnival was smooth, couple of lines to wait in, nothing to complain about. The buffet on the other hand was a mob scene. Yes, this is to be expected on a cruise ship but there was no place to sit, way too many people, food just OK, breakfast terrible. I avoided the buffet like the plague the rest of the trip. Pizza was the only thing worth going to the buffet for, excellent.
First night was a night to remember. We were leaving the tropical storm and it was a windy downpour. The boat was rocking more than any other cruise I've been on. I give credit to the captain for issuing a letter to each cabin the first night stating we were leaving the storm and basically he had it under control. Made me feel a little better.
We had an extended balcony. The balcony was way bigger than I imagined. It had 2 lounge chairs, 4 regular chairs, and two tables. About 3 times the size of a regular balcony. Totally worth it. We were on the 8th floor right under the buffet. Early every morning carts rolling across the floor woke me up. Other than that we didn't hear any noise. Plenty of storage space, even in the bathroom. Bed was pretty comfortable. Our housekeeping guy did a great job and was friendly. Had a towel animal every night.
We had the dine at your own time dinner. Worked out good. Some nights there was a long line but it moved fast. Service was good. We had a different waiter most nights but you could ask for the same one. They ask you if you would like a table with others and one time I didn't realize this and we ended up eating breakfast with four others who didn't even acknowledge us. We felt really uncomfortable and made sure to say we wanted a table to ourselves. Breakfast in the dining room was good, unlike the buffet.
We ordered room service a couple of times. Service was good but the menu limited.
First day at sea it poured. The top decks were closed, no pool. We went to karaoke and the "show" that night. Karaoke was pretty good and they had it about every day of the cruise. The show the first night according to their description I expected it to be a review of what was coming up for the week. It wasn't. We were disappointed. Just an intro to some of the crew and an audience game. We went to 2 of the big shows that week and didn't think they were that great.
My daughter didn't want to do the teen program so I can't comment on that. I was disappointed there was quite a few things that were for 18 or older that I thought she might like but we couldn't go to. We were limited in things we could attend.
Weather from here on out was excellent. First stop was Cozumel. I've been here many times. My daughter wanted to do the dolphin experience at Chankanaab. I booked it myself. I know if you are on Carnival you have to book through them but there was no way I was paying twice as much! So yes, I lied and said I was not on a cruise ship. We took a cab and had no problems. The dolphins were great. I was really impressed at the amount of time we spent with the dolphins. They took pictures throughout and offered them on a CD at the end. Outrageously priced, of course. I bought the CD for my daughter and the pictures looked great, professional, although expensive. We checked out the beach at Chankanaab. The beach was great but you had to walk down steps into the water and looked pretty rocky so we passed. We did a little shopping afterward and the vendors didn't really bother us which I was expecting from past experience. That was nice.
Second stop Belize. We had nothing planned. Took the tender into port, shopped around for about half hour, got pestered by tour people the entire time and got back on the ship. If you don't do an excursion here I don't think it's worth it to get off the ship. We had the pool to ourselves on the ship so it turned out to be a good day.
Third stop Roatan. First time I have been here and loved it. Beautiful. Beach, jungle, blue, blue water. We took the Carnival excursion on a short ferry ride to Maya Key, a small island with a beach and a wildlife refuge. Loved it. The beach was nice, had a pier, snorkeling off the pier. You could also pay extra to snorkel with sharks and rays. They brought out a monkey and a baby alligator for people to hold and you could take your own pictures, no charge. Awesome. We took the tour of the island, free, our guide, originally from the US, showed us all the animals and talked about how they were rescued and brought to the island. So glad we took the tour because there were some animals we would have missed. Lots of big cats, monkeys, birds, alligators. Also a replica of a Mayan ruin site which was neat. At the end we discovered people getting their picture taken with a big sea lion. So cool but found out you had to arrange it ahead of time.
Stop four Grand Cayman. We took the Carnival excursion to the turtle farm. Lots of turtles. You get a tour of the property and get to hold the turtles and take your own pictures. There is a lagoon to swim with the turtles and also a pool area. Bar with food. Bird sanctuary and a pool with sharks and other fish.
Last day at sea I didn't feel like there was much going on. Seemed like all we did was eat all day! Pool was jam packed. Thank goodness for our extended balcony.
We played mini golf a couple times, free. Not very challenging but fun.
Disembarkation was pretty easy. We set out our luggage the night before and had no trouble finding it. Called the Holiday Inn for the shuttle back to airport with no problems.
One problem I had was I used my credit card for my on-board account knowing they put a hold on it and paid with my debit card at the end of the cruise. When I got home I discovered a hold on my debit card. I called Carnival and they fixed it same day. So I give them credit for fixing it right away.
I was happy with the staff and the room but disappointed in the food and entertainment.
This was my second cruise with Carnival and I'm on the fence about booking with Carnival again. I've also been on Norwegian twice, not too pleased with them but entertainment was way, way better than Carnival. Also Holland America. Plan to try another cruise line or back to Holland America.