This was a 1st time cruise for my wife and I. Overall it was fantastic and we will definitely come back.
Getting on the boat, I suppose this time was an exception due to the medical emergency. The ship was 2hrs late and therefore the line was 2hrs + long. Having the fun pass meant nothing. Though not being from the US paid off for us as we had just seen the last HUGE line, after going through several others, a Carnival employee directed all non-US residents to another line which had about 6 people in it! Awesome break for us!
Our bags arrived much quicker than I thought. The emergency drill was hot and sweaty and I already had three drinks in me, so this part sucked but hey it had to be done!
The dinning room was very nice, Monet I think? The seats in the booths are not comfy on the back though. Both me and my wife had sore backs from it? The food in there was good and the coffee in there is better than everywhere else on board. Oh, the coffee at the bar in the lobby by the purser is really good too but it costs $1.50. The breakfast buffet was always good, standard food types there. We had breakfast in the dining room once and it was very good, better coffee. Lunch buffet I don't recall ever having as the deli and the hamburger grill were sooo good. We had lunch at either every day. The pizza I only had once, was not really fussy on that, no pizza sauce on it.
Room service, we had it twice and I never saw menu but I never asked either. We could never reach them on the phone. Pre-ordering on the breakfast room service was good but you have to specify if you want cream, sugar, etc. They will not bring it otherwise.
Our room steward was awesome and I tipped extra at the end. Oh, don't pre-pay tips as you cannot slide the scale later. Otherwise they will automatically add it to your sail and sign account and you can change the amounts as you see fit. We only had three meals in the dinning room so I was not about to tip $75 for that. Your in room book shows you the norm per day per person.
Entertainment was great. The adult shows were funny but the magician stank. I've read this more than once, I don't know how they manage to keep getting her back? The comics were great and the music fantastic. Support big band music! They were spectacular and they did not get the crowds they deserve. There was a couple married 60yrs there dancing though every song and they had the moves too! Played bingo a few times, hold out for the last days games, way bigger jackpots. I played the slots tournament and made it to final round. You still get a t-shirt for this so the $20 to enter was worth it. I played slots for the most part when I was in the casino and I did well in the end. My sail and sign bill final day was $1500 and I won $1200, yeah me! The casino is closed when in port so gamblers find a shore excursion!
We took the stingray tour which was awesome! I think the boat we were on was slow because it had a bar, hint hint!! Go on this tour early if you're gonna do it. The stingrays go from boat to boat as they know more food is coming, once the food is gone, so are they. Go early when they are hungry, plus it's a little cooler then.
Montego Bay, fine if you do an excursion. DO NOT GO TO THE FREEPORT SHOPPING AREA!!!! This is full of harassing cut throat cabbies and dealers following you everywhere! I could not wait to get out of there!
Grand Cayman shopping is nothing but jewelry so wait for Cozumel as they haggle there. Go to the tequila store there on the map they give you, I had about 6 free tastes of different types. The Di Diamond jewelers we went to had a ring my wife fell in love with. The one that changes color, I cannot remember the name but it was $1000 and by the time I was walking out the door the sales guy was shouting $150!!!! I don't know how they do it? When you meet guys on the street giving you invites to lunch cheap and throw in bottles of booze and blankets just for going, these are time share presentations which is ok if you have 2hrs to kill and the will to say no at the end. I had 4 beers, lunch, and got two 40 ounce bottles, a blanket and hammock for the cost of the cab fare which was $10 USD!! Go on shore excursions as there are no activities when in port unless you want pool time to yourself, it's wide open then!
Go to the aft pool deck, it's way less busy close to the buffet and is adults only! Brad the piano man, go see him!! Very entertaining we saw him' every night for at least an hour. Note: Brad drinks double vodka and Redbull until midnight then switches to Stoleys. He doesn't get tips automatically like others do!
My only complaint is that unless the drink has booze in it or is pop, wait staff don't bring it. They only bring drinks which get the 15% gratuity on it. My wife does not drink pop or alcohol so having to get up in the middle of a show to go up five floors to get a juice or coffee sucked. So I went for her!
Getting off I recommend self assist, no problems but being a non-US resident bites you back in the bum when leaving the boat! The line is short but slow and they ask more questions! If you travel from Canada and go through Toronto do not go home on Sunday!!! All cruise ship people go home and customs is HELL!!! Wait the extra day in a hotel and go through with ease.