Embarkation: Maybe if we ran we could have made it quicker but it was lightning fast.
Ship style and cleanliness: A bit cheesier than some of the past cruises (particularly the bright pastels sponge painting throughout the ship, but overall attractive. Except for table linens showing their age (a couple occasions), ship was clean and tidy.
Activity/entertainment: Our first day was at sea and we lounged all day. The lido deck was energizing and full of activity. Andy and Mike, the live musicians playing a nice selection of alternative, current and some Caribbean style cruising music, were awesome. In the large theater, we saw the international music review (staff) and the Legends show (guests performing). Both were great shows. The large theater was really warm on the upper level. The entertainment staff on this ship were perfect - energized and happy but not over the top, except for maybe Karl the cruise director.
Customer care: First day we found two amazing waiters More
from the Red Frog pub (Scentosa and Anderson). Our last cruise we couldn't find a waiter that would be attentive ~ even with good tips. They followed us the whole trip even the last day while at sea while we were under cover in the back of the ship. Our main dining room waiter wasn't overly friendly at first. He warmed up to us by night 3. His help seemed to be trying really hard. But gone are the days of the staff making you feel really special. Also, miss the days of having a Sommelier assist with wine selection. (BTW - the wine packages are a joke now. The first and second tier wines are typical "sale" wines and nothing to feel special about purchasing and drinking). What was also shocking was how reduced the service in the room is. Gone are the days of your room being mysteriously picked up while you are away. We often had dirty towels into the middle of the day (we were out of our room every morning by 7:15 a.m. and typically returning around 9 to shower after our workout in the fitness center). Room service tray was also hanging out all day. Anything out on balcony was ours to fetch and deal with. Sad but this is one reason we are thinking of investigating other cruise lines. We like to be pampered. One other matter to point out is that we were woke up a half hour early every morning with cold Room Service (except the one day it was an hour and 15 minutes late). When you are already getting up at 7 a.m. every morning to workout on vacation, making it 6:30 a.m. is quite frustrating.
Food: Love the newer smaller portions in the dining room. Food was generally good. Food outside main dining was also pretty good. Loved the Tasting Bar (note: you have to look at the schedule). Guys Burger was so good but could only have one of those on a week long trip. Taco Bar was delicious. Fish and Ships and associated seafood items was great. Always a long line though. Pizza was good but same line issue. Desserts outside main dining as always look better than they taste. Punchliner breakfast is awesome. Don't miss it. Room service food super sub par.
Drinks: Red Frog beer is tasty. Alchemy bar was fun for $9 a drink.
Fitness Center: Classes were awesome. Did abs every morning at 7:30 a.m. with Priscila or Leo. Yoga at 8 with Priscilla or Leo and Spinning at 9 with Leo. Used a few of the machines. Equipment was in great shape. One issue is the smell in the fitness area. There is a stair well leading up to the fitness center and a terrible smell comes from it.
Ports and Tendering: Tendering is always slow so if you don't need to be get off asap for an excursion, plan a more leisurely morning. No sense sitting in the Promenade waiting to be called when you could be having breakfast. Ports were all clean and absolutely gorgeous. Never took long to get off the boat.
Couple tips: 1) make sure your zone for getting back off the ship will really work with your flight schedule. Carnival tells you that they have considered all your travel info (reason you enter it all online before sailing) but when we approached guest services to question our schedule for getting off at the end of the trip, they made it quite clear that this process had failed. We were able to switch our zone for getting off the ship. 2) don't get a room anywhere near the atrium (any level of it) or the elevators. Sixth cruise and we definitely messed up on this this time. Less
Cabin is too close to the atrium. You get all the noise coming up from the atrium (opens up to the elevator bank right outside room). The elevators ding day and night. We didn't notice people noise as much from the elevators.
The port is a bit scary (this was our second time so it couldn't be that bad). We chose to go to Caye Caulker on a private water taxi with our friends last time (45 minutes). Snorkeled on the way and then they water taxi company had a lunch setup for us on Caulker. We had time to wander around Caulker (there is no shopping). The taxi got us back in time to catch one beverage in the port before heading back to the ship. Second trip (this trip) we water taxi'd to San Pedro (1 hour 30 minutes). San Pedro (public) water taxi entrance is outside the "gated" area for the port. Bit rough. We did fine. We were amongst locals on the taxi and I did worry about our safety. We made it okay going to/from. San Pedro isn't worth visiting again. Not much to really do unless you are out on the water in Belize. The shopping is definitely sub par in San Pedro.
Cozumel is always a great port to shop in and there is so much to do. We usually do a day pass at the Park Royal (walking distance from the port). Cost is $60 for none timeshare owners. The diving is amazing there as is the snorkeling.
Grand Cayman don't miss Seven Mile Beach (unless you want to take in Stingray City ~ great active excursion). Typically if you walk out to the main street and a bit to the left you can find a van driver (calmly) to take you to the beach for about $4 per person. They typically bring you to a resort where you can buy a chairs, umbrella, etc. Chairs about $5 each, umbrellas $10 each (bucket of beers about $25). Margaritaville in town has some great perched 2 person tables on the second floor if you want to grab a bird's eye view before grabbing the tender.
We stayed at the beach. You can ride the gondola down if you would like. The beach is gorgeous. You can snorkel (equipment is available to rent). There is food, drink, showers, bathrooms, etc. There is some shopping but not a lot.