ONE DAY EARLY -- This was our 5th cruise. The cruise began a day earlier, arriving in Miami around 1:00 PM. Taking a pre-arranged transfer to the hotel, our biggest delay was receiving our luggage. Otherwise everything went with out a hitch. Our destination from the airport would end at the Hyatt Regency of Miami. Beautiful hotel to say the least! We were excited to be there, and couldn't wait to get out and see Miami. We grabbed a cab to take us 6 blocks to Bay Shore. (We're mall people, and we love to shop)... So Bay Shore offered our fix, along with Bubba Gump Shrimp, we were happy to be there. In the evening we made our way over to Miami Beach to reminisce at Joe's Stone Crabs... Unfortunately, do to the season we were in, the crabs weren't. But the place was packed, and delightful to be there among the many.
FIRST DAY -- Sunday morning arrives, and with little sleep, in anticipation of the cruise, we couldn't wait to get to the pier. So much so, we gave up our transfer tickets, and took a taxi over. The traffic at the port was horrendous, along with the crowd of people awaiting to get on board. If we only would have relaxed, maybe grab a lunch at the hotel, and then go to the pier, we might have saved as much time? From 11:00 AM to 1:00PM, through check in, we finally boarded ship. The line was long, and not very organized... (If the receiving room had been larger, it might not have been so claustrophobic?)(Which made the two hour wait seem like 3 hours).. So, now we're on board! Of course we had to find our rooms. (Family of four with two rooms). The rooms were not ready (understandably for the size of the ship and number of previous cruisers?) The rooms being balcony and the inside room for myself and son... I loved the closet space, (plenty of room).. The Bathroom too was spacious compared to other ships. We made our way to the top of the ship to have lunch, and enjoy the crowds of people that were arriving. The New York in me kept me on edge until my luggage would make it to the cabin. The luggage would arrive at the room about 8PM.. (Again, not bad, all considering how many people would board) The cruise was action packed, with lots of exciting things to do. Never a shortage of activities, onboard or shore side. My teenager daughter enjoyed the group activities, my wife and son too would find things to do about the ship. Myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the casino, along with reminiscing at the Yankee bar, watching TV or just talking about Americas team! (GO YANKEES!!!)
SHORE EXCURSIONS -- We pre-booked our shore excursions, only to change about 1/4th of them to other things after listening to the talk up... So, my suggestion is that everyone should definitely go to the talk up's before booking. Disembarkation was simple, the tenders carried many people.. We chose to do the tubing through the caves in Belize, and did the beach thing at Roatan (snorkeling of course!) WOW! THE CORAL AND THE FISH!!! Grand Cayman was the tour to HELL, the turtle farm, and then snorkeling with the stingrays. (That is one great tour, and highly recommended!).. Cozumel was great for my wife and daughter since they went to Tulum. My son and I were beached because of a canceled tour. I ended up with heat exhaustion... IT WAS HOT! The margaritas are STRONG, so stay away!
FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT -- Throughout the cruise, I enjoyed the entertainment and evening activities. The food is excellent. I like Norwegian's "Free Style" best, but this was nice. The waiter and helper were fantastic!... The food choices were very good. Wine selection was also good. ISSUES I did notice a couple things that bothered me. The room stewards would leave bags of dirty linen all through the halls, (in laundry bags). The room stewards would leave rooms open, and un-attended, during the cleaning of a block of rooms. They also would get snotty if confronted. Carnival had a counter that would sell time share plans to none suspecting people. (I feel bad for those that would buy in) (or maybe I'm wrong?)We did the talk up, and saw through immediately.. They make it sound like you'll receive all these cruises, but in reality, would make you take older vessels, and at short notice reservations only. Otherwise, you get nothing more than a hotel room someplace else? You would buy in, with the idea of receiving 4 cruises, in reality, you might have enough points to send two people on the likes of the Valor?... (This was my interpretation of what was offered).. I spent a lot to take a family on board such a beautiful ship, and am always looking for a hook, on how we could return at a reduced rate. It was my decision for this year, we would not book on Carnival, but opt to try RCL (their sister company) Disembarkation was another two hours.. Recap: Great ship, great ports of call, great staff! We will return in the future. Thank you