My wife and I traveled with our 5 kids on the extended Hurricane Dennis cruise. Embarkation was fairly easy..didn't really care for the standing in line to get our picture taken before boarding, but went with the flow.
We booked two interior cabins..one with porthole, other interior. Next time will spend the extra money for a balcony. With no porthole in the one cabin, and hence no light, it was difficult to get the kids up in the morning.
The shipboard experience to me exceeded my expectations. Some of the food at dinner was average, but most was quite good..with our waiters, Joey and Dwayne doing an exceptional job. Joey almost insisting that I try whatever I wanted from the menu..after my fourth lobster I actually had to refuse another!! I admire the service extended to so many passengers with it being so efficient.
Jamaica...I did the leg work myself on shore excursions...I read Cruise Critic's messages and contacted the shore excursion businesses myself. I like doing that and it pays off. Much more personalized service and cheaper too. Carolyn Barrett in Jamaica met us at the end of the pier for horseback riding and lunch at the most beautiful spot. The small compound she took us to for an authentic Jamaican lunch was owned by the heirs of the Sergeants flea and tick company. What a treat, and spectacular scenery from our grass hut jutting into the water. Carolyn took us horseback riding through the jungle and hills of Jamaica. Along the way we tasted fresh mangoes right off the trees and picked allspice along the paths. Carolyn is such an intelligent lady, and quite the host...born and raised in the U.S., but has lived in Jamaica for a number of years...and has she got the lingo down!! If you contact her, she will do anything you want to do. Her excursions are quite flexible, so just tell her what you want to do. She gave us quite the history lesson of Jamaica..very interesting.
Cozumel..Due to Hurricane Dennis, we blasted by Grand Cayman and spent the night in Cozumel. I was disappointed in Cozumel, just for the fact that I was expecting a sleepy smaller town...was I wrong!! We went scuba diving which was spectacular however. Aqua Sports was wonderful.
After spending an additional day at sea, we arrived in New Orleans and disembarked without any fanfare. Had several bottles of booze from the ship and Jamaica..(take advantage of the great prices onboard) Customs could care less what we brought back..as the lady eyed my several bottles of liquor, she said, "have fun" and we collected our luggage for our trip home.
Carnival is quite an active ship geared towards younger people. My kids had a blast..ages 21, 19, 17, 15, and 13. I can say that the service was exceptional, food was good, and the ship beautiful. Had a great time and will probably do it again.