Must admit, after reading the reviews here, I was quite nervous about my second sailing with Carnival. My first was a three night cruise from Port Canaveral that left me with a "never again" mentality. However, my 14 year old daughter convinced me that a Christmas cruise would be just the perfect thing for us to do. And given that we spent 7 nights in a small cabin not fighting was enough to make this a worthwhile trip. Reading the online reviews made me nervous, but as it turns out, I've learned in two cruises, that it's not the ship that makes the trip, but the vacationers and their expectations.
If you live to eat and not eat to live Carnival is not for you. The food was not good at all. The MDR meals were cold and except for a few good appetizers, not worth ever eating again. Buffets were gross and room service options limited. However, my daughter and I eat healthy and normally and in no way looked for this vacation to be one in which to eat into oblivion. Therefore, I would say fairly decent healthy options are there to be found, but not in huge quantities. Would it really be that difficult to stock a salad bar with lettuce other than iceberg? And could the entrees not be served hot and with less fat? But again, we were not among the many obese looking to cram as much food as possible in a week, so I am not sure we were truly that affected by the limited healthy options.
The ports were great and we booked some terrific excursions. Truly the most disappointing was Stingray City and the Dolphin swim in Grand Cayman. Too many people and not as natural as I expected. Isla Maya in Roatan surpassed expectations though. The snorkeling was great, as a first time snorkeler and the atmosphere perfect. If you do the Top Ten in Cozumel and don't get Carlos as your tour guide/philosopher you are missing out on a great experience. Given that most of the US was blanketed in freezing temps and snow, being where we were was a dream.
Finally, Carnival is for the middle American who saves to go on such a trip. No pretentiousness, not snobbery, we just met wonderful folks who added to our experience. Not all was perfect, but for sure if you wanted to escape the craziness and stress and commercialism that Christmas has become, this was the place to do so. This is a ship for real people, and I would recommend this particular cruise for those who look for a fun and value without have over the top expectations.