Traveling with Family...My husband and I, our four girls 18,16,13,6, and my parents in their 60's both in great health.
Flew into Fort Lauderdale, stayed there two nights in the Dania Beach area at the Hyatt Cruise port (liked it the best) and at Hilton Homewood suites (liked this also, but it seemed a little beat up on walls and things.. like almost realy nice, but rough around the edges. Plenty shopping and restaurants around the area. Enjoyed Dania Beach on the day in Fort Lauderdale. Costs about 12.00 per car, but we loved the beach. We stayed in Fort Lauderdale because the hotels were cheaper. We rented a car from Dollar the second and third (one rental day total) days to get to Mimai. We returned the car to Miami airport where there is a shuttle to the cruise terminal. Arrived about 1:30 PM at cruise terminal and were on the boat in about 20 min. Fast, easy
I would call myself a seasoned cruiser as the this is my 13th cruise. I was unwilling to try a Carnival Cruise before now because their business was driven mainly to young party crowds. They have turned a corner to appeal to families...not that there wasn't plenty of ways to drink and party on board, but there was room for family fun.
The layout of the ship has its ups and downs. I liked it for the most part although on the public space decks it is difficult to get from one side of the ship to the next and the shopping area was often crowded. It was crowded near the Golden dining room entrance due to photographers on level three. These areas were clean and had a nice feel to them. I was really grateful I did not have to walk throught the casino. It had a walkway to the side. The variety of rooms was nice and gave the ship a comfy feel. The libray was a little small and was almost literally never open to check out books. It was open for use, but do not depend on getting books to read. There were a variety of games that we played as a family. The internet cafe is tucked in an odd corner behind a lounge. I only used it once to check in our flight. The decor was tasteful and not gawdy as I kind of expected.
Please read about my cabin on the cabin reviews room 2121 category 6B
Food was good. I loved the dining room and Kadek Buddi was our favorit on table 201 for any time dining deck 3. He was so great with my 6 year old and made oragami frogs, robots, airplanes etc. We find a great waiter on any time dining and stick with them. The main dishes are smaller, but that worked great since there are courses before this. My prime rib, lobster, and shrimp were good. The shrimp aren't large, but cooked just right. The food was good for the most part... a few dishes not amazing, but always could find something we liked. My 6 yearold had the fruit, pizza, and french fries every night pretty much and they cut up her pizza for her. loved it!The chocolate melting cake is divine and is available every night. Most other deserts were not impressive except the tirimisu, but that is true on any ship. The soups were amazaing particularly the mushroom soup. My kids tried frog legs, and escargot. Seemed to like it. Emilee buffet is good..you can always find something, not amazing... but I loved Guy's burger joint and got the ringer 3 times. The fries are amazing. I enjoyed the fish and chips on the second level of emilee's. They had a lot of weird raw and cold dishes also that looked a little more then I could handle. I ate at the Blue cantina for breakfast 4 different mornings with a breakfast burrito. Yummy. I never tried the mongolian grill the line was too long and I never had a made to order omelet also because of the line. We ate breakfast in the dining room a few mornings. Mostly same fare as Emilee's but in a relaxed atmosphere. didn't try Diamonds. The pizza was quite good. I liked it thin and expecially liked the mushroom pizza. taster bar was somewhat hidden and I didn't find it until the last night and was too full to try. The pastry bar for a few on a lower floor I didn't try. Didn't try room service. Felt the hours were odd for eating sometimes and when the venues were open for eating... particularly emilee's.. like a snack mid afternoon besides pizza or burger. Hot chocolate in the dining room was excellent.
Pools too small and a bit cold although my kids used them nearly ever day. Waterslide was slow not amazing. The pool areas too small and too crowded.
Kids club was great. My 6 year old loved it, but I was not impressed with the "family hours" that included buying things to do with your kids. It took away from prime time in the kids club for play time. Lots of activities during regular hours and my 6 year old loved it. She came with us to each port except in San Juan. She was able to stay in the kids club without a fee during the port time which usually costs on other ships. So that was very appreciated. We did not use any late night or babysitting services.
Comedy club excellent and loved the family friendly shows. Did not attend adult shows. Enjoyed by all in our group. All four of the comedians. Loved the cruise director Karl with a K. The main shows were good, but they didn't have one every night which my kids missed. They really missed having a magician.
All staff always tried to learn our names and call us by our names particularly the dining staff. Our room steward Benedicto was excellent. Kind, fun, towel animals, clean room, seemed to anticipate needs.
Disembarkation was simple and fast. We were grateful not to get disembarkation info 2 days into our cruise. It was the second to last night so we weren't thinking about getting off the ship all week. We carried off our luggage. Off and out in 20 mins. Best embarakation and disembarakation we ever experienced.
I would cruise Carnival again, but still always read carefully about the ship as there is big diversity amongst Carnival ships. There was more drinking I noticed then other ships, but it didn't annoy except when they took their beer bottles in the pool. Didn't use the adult area. Used the golf on a very windy and it is very windy, but amusing to golf in the wind. Didn't use basketball area always in use. Ship was very clean.
I reviewed all the ports in depth in the seperate spaces provided and hope they show up on the main review. This is my first review.