We traveled from Pensacola, FL to New Orleans Sunday morning with daughter, her husband and another couple, all 40 somethings. Arrived in N.O. before 10a.m. Purchased parking online at Fulton Street garage. Great location, easy to find and the $8 price is almost half of cruise ship parking. Very friendly porter helped with the ton of bags and the shuttle driver was amazing. Tipped her and the porter very generously (both coming in and going out). Upon arriving at the port we were greeted by another porter who would take our bags to be loaded on the ship. I always tip the $1 - $2 per bag.
Embarkation - was fast. Since we are platinum we were escorted immediately to that check-in area. Priority was good, but daughter and friends made it to the Lido Deck only about 20 minutes later. Only difference I could see was our bags were in our stateroom when we got there.
Lunch on Lido was very good. The Cezanne (inside buffet area), Blue Iguana Cantina (burrito bar), Guy's Burger Joint were all open, plus Fish & Chips on deck 10 were all open. I went upstairs to the Fish & Chips and was surprised to find Ceviche! It was outstanding. The fish was to greasy for me. By the time we were done with lunch our stateroom was ready. The "Carnival Hotel Captain?" was immediately at our door wanting to know if everything was well in our cabin. Then our cabin attendant Asu came and introduced herself. Both she and the staff always greeted us by name from that point on. They were very pleasant and kept the room spotless, so we gave them a little extra on the last night. We were able to unpack and relax prior to the mandatory safety drill. Drill goes fast. No longer have to lug and put on life vest.
Sail away party is always fun. Got a chance to Cupid, ChaCha slide and other usual line dances with Mardi Gras beads given to participants.
Dining - We had early dining in the Monet. Our servers, Made, Clara and Nolie was a great team. What they lacked in expierence, they made up for in personality. Seems to me servers are not as polished as in past years. We had a table for 6 and all of us ate in the Monet every night. There was always something to please each of us. Our daughter is a Vegan - no meat, poulty, or dairy. Upon informing Made of this, the restaurant manager, Corrina came to the table and had a conversion with her that resulted in special meals from the chief each night. These were lovely elaborate meals from starters thru deserts. She was pleased all nights except one, when the food was too spicy for her.
Gym - The spa area was excellent. Did not use any special services, but did use the gym. Plenty of treadmills, bikes and other equipment.
Shows - I thought they were very entertaining. Loved the graphics and animation. Several people complained about the vocalists, but for the most part they did a great job. "Latin Nights" was really good (especially "Maria, Maria) and "Brits" and "Divas" very entertaining as well. Previous posts also complained about the absence of a live band, but the animation and graphics were so cool that I did not miss the band at all and these young people were great.
Sea Days - Love these. Yes, people do hog chairs. Yes the addition of the 2 new bars take up valuable space, but have fun and make do. Improvise - We moved deck chairs the end of the pool area and had a wonderful time. Yes I did miss the Serenity area. LOTS of kids, but it's June and I expected this.
The 40 somethings are beer drinkers and had a ball with the buckets. They also said the Bloody Mary's were great. I did have a Bellini for the first time - loved it! Much better than Mimosa's.
We also did the Punchliner Comedy Brunch... don't miss this, the food was terrific. The comedy is just a 5 or 10 minute spill from the comedian.
Shore Excursions - We had never been to Mahogany Bay, Roatan, so we decided to take taxi and tour the city. We've always done this in the pas and had great outtings... Not this time ... our driver spoke very little english, so this was nothing like past tours we've yaken on our own. But did enjoy getting up in the highlands and seeing how the people live. The children selling bracelets and wares were very mannerable, but it's always good to be aware of where you are and be safe.
We were tendered into Belize, and though I could have gotten priority for myself and family we chose to have a leisurely breakfast and take our time getting to Belize. The tender process was fun and an excursion in itself. We shopped at the port venders bought a few gifts and returned to the ship to get ready for the 2nd elegant night.
We've been to Cozumel several times so just stayed in Puerta Maya and shopped and the guys drank beer at Fat Tuesday's and got "torn up" onTequila.
Debarkation - We always do check-in for luggage. We got priority tags for all in our party to put on their luggage the night before. The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast before going to the Renoir Dining Room to await debarkation. Located our luggage, got a porter, went to shuttle area. The porter took us to where we would catch our shuttle, we tipped him a couple of bucks for each bag. Shuttle was there in minutes and though several people were ahead of us, we were all able to catch this first shuttle. The guys helped her load the bags, but this little lady was amazing. At the garage we were greeted by the same guy that helped us coming. Again we tipped her and him. I mention this because I saw so many people not tipping these people. They all work hard and it makes my trip a lot easier having them around!
Just a note - Carnival is a lot of fun and a Cruise is what you make of it. There will always be rude people, but this is your vacation, just smile and don't let them ruin your vacation. As hubby says, "there is no such thing as a bad cruise" and he was in the ship hospital for 2 days last December on Princess!