This was my second cruise, my first with Carnival. I was on a trip with my daughters 11, 17 and their dance teams and families. Our girls participated in a program called "Dancin' At Sea." They performed in the Mikado Lounge on the Sunday. Overall, we had a great time. During my review I will make comparisons with my first cruise which was on the RCI Majesty of the Seas.
EMBARKATION: We traveled to Galveston on chartered busses from Louisiana. We were dropped off right in the front of the entrance where the porters picked up our checked luggage. I tipped a guy $5 for 4 pieces of luggage. From there went went in with our carry-ons, zipped through the check-in lines and on to the picture taking. This all flowed pretty fast. No complaints.
THE SHIP: The ship was in good condition. The layout was confusing in the beginning (but aren't they all!) but by the middle of the the cruise I pretty much had it down. My girls had NO problem maneuvering the ship. We bought cheap walkie talkies from Wal-Mart to keep in contact and they worked fine.
CABIN: I was in cabin E141, mid-ship. I liked where my room was very much. Easy to get to as it was near the Photo Gallery. This location also played a key part in our cruise enjoyment (I'll explain this later!)
FOOD: Okay, I can only compare it to Royal Caribbean. I'm not a negative person. When I'm on vacation I'm not that hard to please. But I have to admit I wasn't very impressed with Carnival's food. There was plenty of it, I think they had more offerings than my RCI cruise, but it just wasn't that great. RCI's quality was better I think. But honestly, I didn't expect that much. I'm from Louisiana and food plays a big part of our culture. We like seasoning and gravies...what more can I say. I did enjoy the ice cream!
ENTERTAINMENT: Lots of it! We saw both shows put on by the dancers and really enjoyed them. My girls got to work with them for about an hour one day and they really liked them. There was a band that would play in the Romeo & Juliet Lounge and they were awesome. We danced til 1:30 one night to 80's music. They sang so well. That was a blast. We all enjoyed the Karaoke bar. The girls were allowed in there so let me tell you, we took that place over (in a good way). They sang and danced and really entertained everyone. I think that's why their show was filled, people on the ship were so curious about these girls. They really had a lot of attention. Some of the other parents saw the rated R comedy show and they said it was pretty good.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN: We took the bus to Xcaret. Booked it through the ship. Went in the underground river (freezing) and took the snorkel excursion to the reef (again water was freezing cold, but you get used to it). Had a good time and saw lots of fish and a stingray. Then we headed out of the park and grabbed cabs to go to Carlos & Charlie's. Had a few drinks then it was time to go back the ship. Just not enough time here to do everything. I suggest you pick one or the other. Don't do both like we did. Our cabs had to race us back in time. We felt like we were in The Amazing Race!!!
OTHER: Okay, I've been on these boards for the past 3 months almost every day. I've read comments and took the negatives with a grain of salt because I believe that a cruise is what YOU make of it. And we had a great time on ours. BUT, please listen up if you are easily car or sea sick. It is not an exaggeration when you hear that this ship rocks. THIS SHIP ROCKS!!! We were rockin' and rollin' most of the cruise. On that last night it looked as if everyone was DRUNK because no one could walk a straight line. Some people were really scared! I'm not saying this is what it is like all of the time, but our waiter said that from Sept. through March-April the seas are rough. So, just make sure you have something to help you. My mom who gets car sick used tose sea bands and she never got sick the entire cruise. But I've been off the ship for about 27 hours now and I'm still rocking...Since my cabin was mid-ship the rocking was not as bad as other parts of the ship so my cabin placement was great!
DEBARKATION: Took a while but once you start the process it went smoothly. We were off the ship with our luggage and on our bus by 10:30 a.m. It was later than normal because we got into Galveston late because the seas were so bad the night before.
I hope I've answered some of your questions. If you think of anything feel free to email me or visit the message boards. There is almost always an answer.