This was my fifth cruise. I traveled with my wife and 17 year old son. Two other couples were with us as well.
We drove from NC on Tuesday before sailing on Saturday. We spent one night in Jacksonville and then 2 nights in Daytona Beach. We were hoping to work on our pre-cruise tan, but Tropical Storm Andrea had other ideas. We arrived in Port Canaveral on Friday and stayed at the La Quinta in Cocoa Beach. The hotel was fine for what we needed. Our party of 7 ate at Coconuts in Cocoa Beach that night. Everyone should try it. The food was good and the atmosphere was fun.
We took the free shuttle (Road Runner Shuttle) to the port. We had gotten an email from Carnival telling to arrive after 1:30. We paid no attention to that! The shuttle had us at the port around 11:15 am. We had no lines to stand in. Within 20 minutes we were on the ship! One couple with us had Faster to the Fun so we put our carryons in their room. (An aside -- we actually boarded 4 people ahead of them).
We had lunch on the Lido deck and explored the ship. At 1:30 we went to our cabin and our luggage was already there. We unpacked, explored some more, and then went to the muster drill. This was easy. We met in the Club O2 where there were chairs. We never had to go outside. All in all, the first day was very easy.
FOOD -- The food was better than I expected. The Lido deck food seemed better than our last Carnival cruise last year. The coffee in the buffet was not great, but it was better than the swill we had last year. We had breakfast a couple of times on the Lido deck and the rest of the time in the dining room. The comedy brunch was very good. We ate and were out before the comedy started so I can't comment on that.
We always have dinner in the dining room. The service was excellent and our wait staff was very attentive and friendly. Shane (Mr. Hellooooo) the Maitre d' was a lot of fun. The only entree I had that was not great was the meatloaf. How can you make meatloaf exciting?
SHOWS -- My wife and I did not go to any shows so I can't comment. One couple that was with us did go to a few comedy shows and said they were good.
CASINO -- I spent way too much money! But I did get rated by the players club. We got chocolates and strawberries delivered to our cabin and I did get some free drinks. I also got a 20% discount on my next cruise.
PORTS -- Cozumel -- We all spent the day at Mr. Sanchos. The cost was $45 plus taxi. It was well worth the cost. The food was very good and the drinks were free. They were a bit weak, but you could drink more, or, like we did, order doubles. The beach was clean and very nice. The swim up bar in the pool was fantastic. They also had free wifi there so I could use my phone for the internet.
Belize -- We had to tender to the port. Actually that was the best part of Belize. All we did was walk around in the cruise port. The chocolate store smelled great! We went back to the ship and decked the rest of the day.
Roatan -- Three of us went snorkeling. That was fun. We took the Carnival excursion. It was not the prettiest reef I've seen, but it was fun and the water was great. I went back to the ship afterward and decked the rest of the day.
Costa Maya -- DW and two others went to the ruins. I stayed on the ship and decked (see a pattern?). They enjoyed the excursion, especially the guide they had (Daniel).
SHIP -- The ship is typical Carnival glitzy. Our cabin (our first balcony)was fine for the 3 of us. The bathroom is typically small. I actually showered every afternoon in the Spa. The showers are as big as my entire bathroom in the cabin.
We had the same deck chairs every day. Deck 11 port side aft. We stayed away from the Lido deck pool and all the loud "music" and happenings. There seemed to be plenty of chairs so we never had to deal with chair hogs.
CREW -- The crew was always pleasant and friendly. They were always helpful.
FELLOW CRUISERS -- There were a few unruly children. I was walking down the hall toward my cabin when 2 early teens ran around the corner and knocked me into the wall. They laughed and kept going. I called them a few choice words. Also, a fellow cruiser who had met my wife on facebook before the cruise told her about this event. She and her husband had anytime dining. They waited their turn and were seated at a table. A lady behind her told the maitre d' she wanted that table and demanded to be seated there. They told her the others were in line first but they would seat her at another table. She began yelling and cursing. Others in line told her to be quiet that she was ruining others dinner. She told them to shut up (in not quite so nice words). Security had to be called and she was removed.
Overall it was a very nice cruise. We've planned next year's already.