This was our second Carnival Cruise. The 5 hour Drive down from N. Central FL on a Sunday Morning to Port Everglades was a breeze. The port was under a bit of construction but the flow was pretty well marked. Getting unloaded, parked and embarkation / debarkation went very smooth considering the number of people boarding. From our balcony room on the 8th deck we were afforded some great views of Port Everglades and all points in between for 6 days.
But while the cabin had great optics, that is pretty much where the "Fun" ended. Carnival makes no mention of the horrors that await you after midnight and they offer no special deals for cabin 8430 and those surrounding it (balcony 8424/36/38 and interior 8428/32/36/40). All of these cabins share the dubious honor of being position directly under the rear pool deck and Aft Bar ... but unlike any other cabin that may be under a public deck, these rooms are under the only all night eating on the ship - the pizza bar. The Teen More
activities on board boast events until 3am, so imagine the noise of kids, teens and late night dancers on un-carpeted deck floors and the constant all night long scraping of deck chairs back and forth as large groups of passengers visit the only food source all night long. While I cannot speak directly for the other cabins I mentioned above (except for 8434 - I spoke to them), I lump them in the problem area because these are the cabins that are positioned directly under the tables. The ones just in front and behind these are either under the pizza workers area or are under the bar tenders feet ... so they may be less noisy.
The only night we got any kind of relief from this was mid cruise when we complained 3 times in the same night to 3 different departments, finally getting a bit of resolve by tracking down the head person for that area. Calls to the front desk and house keep went nowhere. But finally they closed that section (there are tables and chairs available across the whole back of the ship that mostly go unused late night). Two days later we were called to see if things were better, but that night and again for the rest of the cruise the noise kept us up all night.
If you are an all night "party person" who will spend most of your night life out on the ship until the early hours of the morning returning to your cabin only to pass out ... this will probably be little to no problem. But for us ... the whole reason we purchase a balcony room is because we spend a good bit of time in the room and on the balcony enjoying the sights and sea. But the noise coupled with a substandard very hard bed (we sailed the Carnival Legend and loved the bed) pretty much was a large negative to an overall decent cruise.
The ports of call (Key West, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios) were great fun. The spa and gym were OK. But for a bow facing gym, Carnival's design really "shipwrecked" the view from the treadmills because the windows were all at knee height, and you left staring into mirrors at face level. Shows had no appeal to us, the pools are very small and as mentioned in the cruise critic pro review - the ship had very poor flow. As mentioned by other reviewers, the mid ship "Chic" restaurant on floors 3 and 4 totally blocks off all possibility of easily getting around the ship. There was also no main deck walk. The 3rd floor main deck has very limited access and you cannot walk around the ship via the main deck. There is no outside aft view except from the 9th level Lido deck.
Over all the cruise was OK. The staff and especially our cabin Steward - Gede - was an absolute gem. But SHAME on Carnival for those noisy rooms and not even mentioning such issues ... AND charging the same price as you would pay for a quite balcony room. Less
Cabin 8430 has to be the noisiest cabin on ship. All night long you hear the "comings and goings" of other passengers visiting the only all night eatery on ship. SHAME on Carnival for charging the same for this balcony cabin as any other.
All we wanted to do was Snorkel. And Snorkel we did ... the entire time on shore. No need for a excursion for this if you have basic gear. Take the tender boat to the port piers, walk out the gate. Turn left toward 7 mile beach and within 4 minutes you will come to a beach area and can walk right off the beach to the wreck of the Gamma sticking up out of the water.
Walk half way back and you are at Burger King. Go off right there and this is Cheese Burger Reef. Another nice spot.
But the high light is found at the Eden Rock Dive shop ... just a 4 minute walk in the other direction from the pier. There just 30 yard or so off shore in about 30 foot and less of water is both Edens Rock and the Devils Grotto reef. Great spots.
Note that all beaches in Grand Cayman are public, so as long as there is a public access you can be there. There is much snorkeling just about anywhere, but from what I understand, the best is right there around Georgetown and the closer you get to 7 mile beach the less pleasing the "right-off-the-beach" snorkeling gets.
Walked the few blocks and rented hybrid road bikes from Eaton Bikes shop. Spent the day doing a 12 mile road bike tour around the total key. Had a great day just riding Key West. Wish I could have had my road bike. May go back just for a riding vacation.
Met local Friends and did a food and driving tour around Ocho. If you get a chance to eat, Scotchies is an absolute must for Jamaican Jerk. Great place.
Also, wanna see falls but dont like the idea of wet body to body climbs up Dunns River Falls? Try out Turtle River Gardens and Falls (formerly Enchanted Gardens) Just upstream from Dunns River Falls (and actually closer to town). This is a true Jamaican Gem that the tours have yet to find because it has recently reopened. Google it ... what a beautiful place, and we had it all to our selves. No one else there but the 4 of us and the tour guide. Cost was $20 US per person.