Embarkation: Arrived at 1130 am and were onboard by 1215. It was odd to us that as the "largest cruise ship terminal" they only had 5 people checking you in. When we were in New Orleans there were at least 15. I think we were lucky because the line behind became very long. The sail and sign card is used to get off and on the ship, room key and to make purchases on board.
Cabin: We were in cabin 8236 (balcony). Very spacious room. Plenty of storage, I did not even use the over the door thing. Place your luggage under the bed. The bathroom was very comfortable, again with plenty of counter space and a cabinet. The bathroom has shampoo and body wash, hair dryer and a bowl of sample soaps ETC.. There is a safe in the closet; you will need a credit card to lock your safe. Be sure to take a bungee cord if you have a balcony room to hold your door open. It was so relaxing listening to the ocean while going to sleep. Our room steward Pierre was great and quite accommodating. We gave a small cash tip the first day and again on our last day. We never encountered any strange smells or loud noises (except those cruisers who were a little rowdy). There is a pop machine and ice machine down the hall.
Staff: The entire staff was very friendly. Dana the cruise director was funny and helpful. His assistant Roland was a riot, he was not afraid to do stupid things to make us laugh. Our Wait staff in the Pacific dinning were great!!! Arnold and Felix are awesome. They shared with us many things about where they come from. Dino, the Maitre D was super, this was our 3rd cruise and this was the 1st time the Maitre D stopped by our table several times to see how we were and if there was anything he could do for us. He even gave us a free bottle of champagne when we told him how great everything was and how we appreciated him stopping by.
Food: The dinning room food was good and we enjoyed the variety. However, if you don't see a main course that you like you can always ask for a steak and I think chicken as well. DH is a picky eater and did this a couple of times. The Lido deck dinning was pretty good as well. We ate at the deli once and the Wok, both were excellent. Of course they have the traditional buffet as well. Oh and the pizza is great, even at 3 a.m.!!
Other: For being a big ship with 3100 passengers or so, I did not think the lines were to long. Longest wait was maybe 8-10 min. Lounge chairs were hard to find after 1100 at the main pool area. DH and I did not spend a lot of time out on the Lido deck, we enjoyed the privacy of our balcony. Formal night was Monday and Friday. The Captains Cocktail party was on Monday. The biggest complaint we had was the cocktail party and the midnight shows were in the Adriatic lounge and not the Caribbean lounge. The Adriatic lounge was too small for these big events. Interactive TV in the rooms are nice. You can view the menu for dinning, order excursions, view your account and order pay for view movies for $9.00. All of our luggage had arrived by 5:30 p.m..
Entertainment: The casino looked nice, we are not gamblers. The Vegas style shows were pretty good but have seen better. The magic shows were good and we enjoyed the comedians. They have the usual bingo games, dance lessons, talent shows and game show type events.
Ports of call: Cozumel- Docked at Puerto Maya Pier. Took a $12 taxi ride to Chankanaab Park where we did the Sea Trek helmet dive for $55 per person. They put a big white bubble helmet on your head and feed oxygen to you through this. Your hair stays dry; the water sits below your chin. They guide you down and walk around with you showing you different sea creatures. You are down in the ocean for about 30 min. They also take pictures and a video that you can purchase for about $50, the CD includes a lot of pictures of the entire park. We then went snorkeling. Our snorkel equipment was free with the purchase of the helmet dive. You have to ask for a life vest if you want one. The snorkeling was pretty good. We then walked around the park and enjoyed the gardens and statues. Be ware of the iguanas, they are everywhere!!! After about 3 hrs we decided to take a taxi to Paradise Beach. This was our 3rd time there. Excellent beach with great food, drinks and staff. We stayed there for about 2 hours then went back to the ship to clean up and change our clothes. We then headed back for some shopping and drinks at Fat Tuesdays before going on our Mayan Sunset Catamaran Cruise. I was expecting a quiet and romantic sail with DH. Instead we got a storm with a lot of rain, rough seas and a water spout. It never hit the water but came close, I did get a good picture of the thing…but coming from Kansas it was no big deal. However, the other guests were a bit worried. This is when the staff of the Fury whipped out the shots….from then on out it was quite the sailing party. We had a great time…was not the romantic night I was hoping for but still had a great time.
Grand Cayman: We booked a tour with Native Way for the stingrays, snorkeling and lunch at Rum Point. This is a 5 hour tour. What we did not account for was having to be back by 3:15 ship time. Our itinerary showed 4:30 so I thought we had plenty of time. I guess since we have to tender in and out Carnival gives 3:15 as the last tender. So of course we are freaking out thinking there is no way we are going to be back in time. DH spoke with Eldon the "boss man". He assured us he would have us back in plenty of time. So away we went for a spectacular day. Chris and Charlie were our tour guides. The boat ride to the sand bar was about 20 min. We spent about 45 min. with the stingrays. It was a great experience to hold, feed and even kiss the stingrays. We then went to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling. This is a great spot!!!! I could have spent hours there. We were there for about an hour. Chris then took our order for lunch, called it in and by the time we got to Rum Point our lunch was ready. The food was great and the scenery was even better. This was our paradise. The most beautiful white powder beach and crystal clear water we have ever seen. We hated to leave but it finally came time to try and make it back to the ship. We boarded the bus and Eldon headed back to town to find the traffic to be quite busy. He promised he would get us back at 3:15 and so he did. This man took the road over with his bus; nothing was going to stop him from keeping his promise. Native Way is a great tour group and we will use them again!!!!
Ocho Rios: We booked a tour with Phil Lafayette. He first took us to Dunns Falls. This was a wonderful experience!!! The water was cold but we loved it. They film your tour so you can purchase a video or DVD. The DVD was $40 and well worth it, what a hoot watching our group!!! The guides will take pics of you with your camera. They are great fun and will ask for a tip at the end. You can rent water shoes for $5 or buy your own before leaving home. Phil then picked us up and gave us a tour around town. He shared with us about his home, his culture and the everyday life of the Jamaican people. Phil is a proud Jamaican and enjoys sharing his heart and soul. He then took us for a river tubing excursion. This was a beautiful and peaceful way to experience some of the land of Jamaica. We then toured Fern Gully and stopped by a small restaurant for some Jamaican cuisine. After lunch he dropped us off for some shopping. If you are looking for a trust worthy tour guide full of heart and fun give him a call.
Debarkation: We decided to take a Miami excursion since our plane did not leave until after 5 p.m.. We went to the Miami Seaquarium for $35. We met on the ship at 8:45. Were off the ship by 9:45. We had a bit of a wait on the bus while we waited for some Valor cruisers. We were at the Seaquarium a little after 11 a.m.. They gave us until 1:10 pm to see the shows at the park. This was supposed to be a 4 hour tour but we only got 2. That was disappointing. However it was nice to have somewhere to go with our luggage in a safe place to waste some time. They then take you to the airport.
We had a great time on our cruise!!!!! Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you questions.