Okay this will end up being a very long review with the opinions of the regular Joe or in my case Jane. I have read this board for the last 6 months if not 2 times a day to 15 times a day just to see what was new and see the great tips in which I got and used some. Now there will be things in this review that some may not agree with but my feeling is that each to their own.
Quick idea of who we are. There were 6 of us on this cruise 4 of us being previous cruisers. We are from a small town in Indiana and we are really not hard people to please. So here goes.
Okay for those of you thinking flying in the day before is a good idea well let me say this as first hand knowledge....Everyone should do this. We are from Indy area and of course when we left it was snowing not bad but when we got to the airport our plane was on a weather hold to fly into Tampa. Well they cleared us to go and then we sat at the terminal for 45 min to de-ice the plane. So we finally get to Tampa and we find out they have shut the FLL and MIA airports down due to bad weather. So we sat at the Tampa airport for about 2 hours (now this is around 2:00 p.m.) we also had people on this flight that were suppose to be on a ship that day. So once they finally said that they were allowing planes in to FLL and MIA we loaded the plane and guess what sat there at the gate for another hour. So we finally get in the air and get to FLL which if you don't know is only about a 40 min door to door flight from Tampa. Well what a shock to find out that we then ended up flying around FLL for 45 min to land. So what was suppose to only take 40 min. ended up being 2 1/2 hours. This wouldn't have been that bad but we were up at 4:00 a.m. to get to the airport and we were suppose to be into FLL at 1:20 p.m. which ended up being 4:30 5:00 before we got in. I won't go into all the details with the luggage because guess what we had to wait there for a very long time.
Now we are off to our hotel that we got in Miami. Now when we finally decided to book a hotel most of the nicer ones we wanted were either all booked up or to much money. So if you know you are going a couple days early get a hotel booked fast. We stayed at the Riande Contin. across from Bayside Market. Well as much as I would love to go into that horrible stay just believe me when I say "DON'T STAY THERE" The only nice thing was the Bayside Market a must see.
Okay now we are up to Cruise day. We got up and got us a taxi from the hotel to the port for well, we got lucky there the guy let us name our price he didn't even turn on his meter for us so I think we all gave him a $10 and he was thrilled. So anyway we had a little guy come and get our luggage and never said give me a tip but had that look on his face so for peace of mind we did. Oh I guess I should tell you that we arrived at the Carnival port and walked through the doors to go in at 10:55 a.m. we walked in went right through security and they did give us papers telling us of port changes and that we would not be able to get on the ship until 12:30 p.m. which we didn't think was bad. So anyway we went and did our sign and sail card then up the stairs to pick those up and then to a little waiting room where we waited maybe 10 minutes. They then came around and we were up the stairs and down the long hallway to get our picture taken and then we were on the boat. I looked at my watch as we walked onto the Lido deck and got our first of well many pretty drinks and it was 11:30 a.m. So 35 mins is all it took us from start to finish. Me well I was thrilled considering all I had read on this board.
The Lobby is well I loved it but I am a very patriotic person. I could however see how some might think its a bit much but I loved it. The Lincoln dining room is yes very pink. we had a wonderful wait staff loved them a lot. Rosies is yes very green but again you could get past it. As far as getting around the ship, it wasn't bad at all and there are maps at every elevator.
Okay this was awesome. This was mine and my DH first Carnival cruise but we booked an inside guar. and we were pleasantly surprised to find out we got an oceanview room. We were in cabin 2420. I truly have to say as far as location it was perfect. It is near the back of the boat but movement was not bad and there was absolutely no noise. Well except for the occasional neighbor flushing their toilet, which that is some sound. Anyway we had Edwardo as our room guy and he was awesome. He unlocked our fridge first thing and brought me extra pillows right away. My DH was sure he waited around the corner because every time we left we always came back to a clean and neat room. As far as size it was great and we had more room than you could ask for on a ship. Did the whole clip on the shower curtain and it worked great. I loved all the little free goodies they give you in the bathroom.
Okay cruise director. Good news for all of you getting ready to cruise they have a new one as of this past week and he was really good. His name is Steve Cassel. He was so corny you had to laugh at him. And he left announcements to just what needed to be said. He did some really fun talks. He also did some talent one night and he was GREAT!!!!! Now as far as activities he had a lot planned but we were busy with other things and never really did any of them. So no fear to anyone not looking forward to that Rebecca she is gone.
The crew was always friendly and always ready to have you give them your sign and sail card.
I did go to the spa one day to get my nails done and the girl that did them was friendly and I wouldn't say she was overly pushy on trying to get me to buy things because I didn't really resist like my DH would have wanted me to.
Let's see what else about the ship oh the shows....we only went to one of the vegas shows and it was from what I could tell from everyone else they were really good. I personally am not one to sit and watch those so I can't give a good opinion. Now for the comedy shows they were top notch. I laughed so hard I cried every night.
Okay onto the food.....Rosies had a different menu every day some good some bad. Now when I say bad I mean I wouldn't eat it if I were at a local place. Now my DH would like to have seen a little more change on the breakfast buffet. But like he said really what can you do to change breakfast. Now we never did go to the dining room for breakfast so can't help there. Dinner in the dining room was for the most part good now again some things I didn't like I wouldn't have liked off the ship. The pizza was very good. Most times if you wanted pizza you might have to wait for maybe 5 minutes. To me my thought on the whole having to wait is well you have a lot of people on this ship and last I checked no where did I sign up for a sticker that said "okay I'm here so I get to go to the front of the line." I guess those I have heard complain on this board about the lines should maybe try a land based vacation where you have a waiter or waitress. Now for temp. of the food, I can say that 99% of the food was always hot and fresh when I got it. A couple of times it wasn't but it was my fault for taking so long at the buffet walking around and then the long walk to the back of the Lido deck. Fish and chips were good and this is coming from someone that doesn't normally eat fish. Deli was also very good.
The Casino...very nice and we didn't break them but we did okay. As for the smoke....I did notice that between the hours of about 10 p.m. to about 11:30 the place was packed but come around midnight it really thinned out and with that so did the smoke.
Okay now the internet cafe...I did the purchase 100 min for $55. Well the first night in there my DH was looking around and saw a sign that said if you have a spa receipt you would receive a 20% on your purchase. Okay pay attention there is a catch....they don't refund you the money they just add more minutes to your account. Also a side note about the internet cafe it is in the back of the Winston Cigar Bar.
Now for the islands....
Grand Cayman: It was raining which our group made the best of it and found the what we thought was the best place there. Senor Frogs.....that was by far the neatest place we went. Well for us women it was the guys were worried they were going to have to carry the wives back to the boat. That place is a very fun place a must see.
Roatan: This is a stop I will never figure out why Carnival goes to. We didn't book an excursion which we prob should have. We did however hire one of the hundred taxi drivers and had a 12 year old as our tour guide. This island should really be taken off their list of places to go.
Belize: It was a little better than Roatan if you stayed on the port side but it you go outside the gates it's just like going into Roatan. Again no excursion planned. We were going to do Cave tubing but decided not to. Kinda wish we had. But one of the people in our group thought that shopping was way more important. So to keep the peace we all went shopping.
Costa Maya: Okay this one rates with Grand Cayman. We got there and found a taxi company and they took us to Tequila Beach for $25 a person. When we got there we found out it was all you could eat and drink. Which some (like my DH thought he had to get his monies worth)loved. The beach was pretty and so was the water away from the beach. Needless to say EVERYONE in our group got our monies worth along with prob 6 other people. Shopping was okay not a lot of bargains to be found and trust me the professional shopper we had with us tried her best. Some would come down a couple dollars and some wouldn't come down at all.
Now we are to leaving the ship...pretty simple got up went to the Lido deck waited for our color to be called (about 30 minutes) the rest of the process only took about 20 minutes but you are moving the whole time just a lot of walking.
With all that I have to tell you our experience we had pulling out of Miami. As we were on deck saying good bye to the main land myself and the rest of our group were standing there and a few people down from us a woman goes down. Now 3 of the six of us are 1st Responders and myself an EMT so we did what we have been trained to do. Along with a couple Paramedics on vacation. Well what was amazing was how well we all worked together. Now this is the ONLY bad thing I am going to say about this ship. The medical staff have A LOT to learn about patient care. When they FINALLY arrived we were trying to turn patient care over to them and they looked at us and said you just need to leave we will take care of this get off this deck now. And as we stood to watch them I noticed one guy was having issues with the O2 tank got mad and looked at security and demanded that all people were to be removed from the deck. Now that is the clean version of what he actually said. I just felt like they could have dealt with the situation better. I know that every scene I go on we have never treated bystanders or helpers like that ever. It not only makes us look bad but it also is bad PR for a department. So needless to say we had to stop the ship just outside the channel and wait on the Coast Guard. No big deal to our group really didn't even notice it and my guess is that people not knowing what was going didn't even realize it.
So I hope this helps even one person. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Being this was our first Carnival I have to say I would go on this ship any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Now that I have first hand knowledge of this ship I can only conclude that the bad reviews of this ship are people that are very hard to please even on the main land. Our group that went on this cruise is a group that is not hard to please and as there could be things we could complain about we didn't we just made the best of all situations. We are the type of people that have fun just about anywhere we go.