This was my second cruise and the first being a 4 day sailing from Miami on Carnival Imagination in 2012. My group consisted of myself and my partner and 5 members of his family. I am 24 and he is 31- the family ranged from 44-65 for the rest. We sailed from Port Canaveral and stayed at the Radisson Resort at the Port the night before after driving from Virginia for us & North Carolina for the rest. The Radisson was nice hotel and very close to the port. We did the park and cruise package and had no problems. There was a bit of a longer wait to get on the shuttle that takes you to the port from the hotel but with that many people you just need to have patience and expect delays.
We booked 3 balcony cabins (cabins 7215, 7223 & 7227) on deck 7 which was next to all the suite cabins as well. Room steward was great- always smiling and greeting us in the halls. Rooms were kept clean and never had any issues. Good size cabins with plenty of space for 2 and a lot of storage. My partner and I were in 7215 and the only problem is the stateroom is meant to connect to the cabin next to us by having a door in the room I guess in case families booked side by side wanted to have complete access (yikes!) and we were able to hear everything going in that cabin and one night they seemed to be having a late night party and all we could hear was the balcony and cabin doors slamming and their conversations. Thankfully that lasted only an hour and we finally got some sleep. Other then that one night it was a very quiet section of the ship with access to the front of the ship only steps away since we were all the way forward.
If you went hungry on this ship then shame on you and dont blame anyone else! I hate seeing reviews on here complaining about the food. This is a cruise ship with thousands of people eating all day long- you cannot expect excellence 100% of the time. Have some patience and appreciation for all the you are getting and the unlimited amounts you are getting. I was so embarrassed several times to hear fellow diners complaining about speed and quality and portion sizes!! (and yes only the americans seemed to be complaining- we didnt represent very well!) I was always happy eating in the main dining room. Great selection of rotating items each night and if there was something I didn't like there was a consistent menu for the typical burger or steak which I had both and they were good. All other dining areas on the ship were typical cruise food but all was fresh and hot.
Saw only a few shows and agree with most others- hit or miss and never consistent. We watched the b-boys do their break dance routine and that was pretty good. The rest was average and a few things we walked out on. But I didn't book this cruise for the entertainment shows.
Room steward was great along with the dining room staff. They all like to joke and have fun which kept everyone smiling and laughing. Bar staff was friendly and always smiling. No matter where you are on the ship it seems the staff are cleaning something or clearing tables and trying to offer assistance with whatever you need. Only staff I did not like were the majority of the hostess in the main dining room. They took their jobs way too serious and never smilied or looked happy. I wore a tank top to dinner the first night with decent shorts and shoes with no problem yet a few days later on a non-formal night I was forced to go change after waiting 40 minutes for a table with my party of 7 yet I saw 2 other guys wearing tank tops in the dining room when I met my family at our table. WTF??
Pretty much everything was great. Things that stood out would def be the water slides. They were amazing and kept me going over and over again. Adult serenity area was nice and less crowded and had several waiters taking our drink orders. Alcohol prices really were not bad. I am a beer drinker and spent less then what I would at a restaurant. I ordered one mixed drink and tried several my family got and have to say they were the strongest I had ever tasted. I love blue moon beer and that was $5.50/glass which was not too bad. On this ship Carnival had their own brand beer on draft for around $5 and a lot larger glass size. I though it was pretty good- would compare to blue moon. Also for this sailing there were hardly any kids which was perfect. End of April and early May are the best times to go since spring break is over and school is not out yet.
The ports of call were all great. Snorkeling in Cozumel was amaing and then took a taxi to a local restaurant for some real Mexican food that we all loved! Did the ultimate zipline, rappel & and cave tubing in Belize. That was the best part of the whole cruise and I highly suggest all try it who can. Honduras was very pretty with a beautiful beach right next to the ship that is free. We took an independent tour operator in Honduras and negotiated down to $25 a person for an taxi van to take us all over the island which was amazing. Costa Maya seemed like it was built just for the cruise ship passengers. There didn't seem to be any local culture to explore close to the port. We took a taxi to the local beach and just ate and swam. Beer was very cheap there and thats about it.
Nothing against Carnival but the dream class ships might be too big for my taste. We sailed the Imagination last year which held 1/2 the amount of passengers as the dream. The Imagination seemed to have most of the same things to do with more space to do it in. The Dream is bigger because Carnival added more decks with cabins full of people and not more public space. I think from here on we will do a smaller class ship with Carnival.
Overall everyone in our group really enjoyed the cruise. We did not want to leave that last morning! A cruise vacation is what you make of it and your experience depends on your attitude and those you are traveling with. You need to have patience and not such high expectations when you are with 4000 other people. Smile and enjoy your vacation and don't complain about every little detail or before you know it your cruise is over.