We were 8 adults and two children occupying 3 rooms on the 1st floor and 1 on the 8th floor. We are blessed to have celebrated Christmas together in this manner when so many in the world are much less fortunate.
We had rented a car two days earlier. Upon returning the car to the rental company, they provided free shuttle to the terminal. Some hotels charge a per-person rate to transport so this is good information to have.
Check-in was quite fast compared to the Costa cruise that we had recently taken. We all had inside cabins and there were no complaints from our travelers regarding lack of space. It seems that confiscated items were hit and miss, as others had flat irons and clothes irons taken from their luggage; I had one of each and they weren't removed, had a hairdryer too which would have come in handy when the in-cabin one died but the maintenance crew were so quick to replace it I probably won't bother packing one next time. Never thought of stowing the luggage under the bed; that would definitely free up long garment space in the closet (with 4 drawers, 2 bedside table drawers, two hanging closets and one with multiple shelves there was lots of storage).
The cruise was full. If you don't like crowds, you won't like this one much. I chose it on the basis of the younger adults with us (20-40 + kids). There were lots of activities going on at any given time and there's a bar at seemingly every turn. The Punchlines comedy club was good. The nightly Encore theatre productions were great ~ Dancin' in the Streets was my favorite; first night's production was hokey though with their inflated Carnival cruiseship prop. Separately, Cruise director Jamie has lots of spunk and enjoys her job! Her marriage show was a hoot. Fun Force breakdancers were fantastic.
The Serenity adult area on Deck 15 provided a peaceful area to get away from all the noise and kids, and we spent lots of time up there on comfy padded loungers. There's even a hammock for two! Used the gym a couple of times ~ Life Fitness equipment was familiar to us. Place was busy at certain times of the day. Waterslides were busy with lots of happy squeals!
Scarlet dining room had some decent food but Christmas dinner, so anticipated, was an extreme disappointment of all the meals. I am not a fussy nor big eater, but the ham was 3 cubes 1.5" square. Those of us that ordered turkey dinner were dismayed as well. Everywhere there is so much wastage it is disheartening. I asked to try a piece of walnut cake at the Gathering restaurant and the server started to slice me a piece 4" wide; when I stopped him and said just a sliver he said it would crumble. I told him I didn't care about how it looked, I was all about "just a taste" -- not to waste. My sliver was plenty (and good too). 1 order of Tiramisu in the Scarlet was enough for two people -- I'm sure it measured 3"x5". Vegetarian choices were tasty. The Tandoor, Pizza, Deli, and Mongolian areas on the Lido deck were the most popular. My dh waiting in line for an hour (no lie) at the Mongolian; his food was fresh and hot, but seriously??? I had long finished my yummy Tandoori and figured he'd got lost looking for me... He said, "never again".
Every turn on-board had some photographer offering to take your picture; we found this annoying.
Ports of call: Cozumel -- make sure you know where you're docking if you're traveling with others and making plans. With Costa, we docked closer to town so by telling everyone (some going ashore earlier than others) we'd meet them at Starbucks I was a bit panicked when we disembarked at a different dock 3 miles away, lol.
So many people I talked to expressed the same sentiment: they'd never buy diamonds at these stores. I don't know why all the cruise ships figure that's all everyone is after ~ it's all they keep pushing because they get kickbacks: Diamonds International, Tanzanite, Columbian Emeralds as if there's nothing else out there worth shopping for.
We had a very enjoyable walk to town and took a taxi back. Had $1 cold beers and lunch in the town square.
Roatan -- On-shore deal: 4 of our crew visited the Monkey park which was fun for the little kids and very reasonable. The rest of us hung out at the Mahogany Bay beach, swimming, sunbathing and having more beer. People we met on the Costa had done an excursion to Tabyana Beach and said it wasn't worth it; that Mahogany Bay was better ~ to this end I cannot verify.
Costa Maya -- the rain soaked us but I'd take that warm rain over snow most days. Took a van cab for $16 to town (for 10). Mahahual is quaint; in good weather it would be great to have a seaside lunch there; I would go back. We started out a bit late so had to forego that experience. Garbage all along water's edge, but we found the same in Costa Rica, & Nicaragua on another cruise too so it's not just Mexico.
Belize -- two of our crew got a good price on shore for just ziplining as the cave tubing wasn't their interest and they were very pleased they went. A few of us left the "compound" and walked the streets of Belize City. It was mostly deserted as it was Christmas Day, but we never had any problems, had friendly encounters and grabbed some good pictures. It isn't a beautiful area, as I and many others had envisioned. There is poverty, and it was a great eye-opener to the younger ones to show them how seriously lucky they are.
In all, the ship is beautiful, and confusing; even by day 6 we had trouble sometimes finding the dining rooms. Haven't been on all the cruise lines but was surprised that the life drill was not held outside like it is on other ships, and you didn't have to bring your life jacket for it either. I wondered what chaos would ensue in a real emergency. I was also surprised that for the first 24-48 hrs. people were not restricted from self-serving food. Other lines do this in their cafeterias to curtail illness spreading, opening food service up once overall evaluation says things are ok. Good idea to carry a small squeeze bottle of hand sanitizer as some dispensers ran out more than once.
In closing, I'd go again; I'd save money and book an inside room again ~ it was quiet and no need for black-out curtains, lol, plus the point is to explore not hole up in a room! I'd book excursions on shore to get exactly what I want without filler, and I'd carry on some wine. Sail on!