Carnival Cruise Trip Review Breeze August 2-11th
I have gotten so many tips and advice from this forum that I felt I should do a review, along with general comments and thoughts.
Getting on the Ship
Early flight (7am) from Baltimore Washington International to FLL. Took everyone's advice that it be easier to fly into FLL and then shuttle to Port of Miami. It was!. Used QLS shuttle service (again based on forum suggestions). Cost was between $12-15 per person, which is typical of the shuttle services. Pickup was easy and we were on our way. About a 45 minute trip to the port. Got there about 10:15. Started to process at about 10:30 and on the ship by 11am. Had lunch and were in our rooms by 12.30.
General Comments about the Breeze:
Rooms: Balcony for my wife and I inside cabin across the hall for my daughter and son. Rooms were very comfortable and serviceable. Really did not spend as much time on the balcony as we normally do - used it mostly to dry clothes. I never thought I would say this but not sure I will spend the money next trip.
Food/Table seating: We booked 8 months prior to the trip and had confirmed for late seating. We like a scheduled time and having the same wait staff each night. We were given the anytime seating option. This is not what we wanted and frankly, I can't imagine ever doing it. The lines to get in were very long and there was always a wait. We complained and got a note to see the maitre de, Frenando, the next night. He admitted Carnival's mistake and arranged for us to seat in the lower Sapphire Restaurant, which is for the anytime dinners but we were given an 8:15 seating at the same table and staff for the rest of the cruise. Carnivals handle it well but there were a number of others in the same area that had the same problem and given set tables. This solved the problem but just exacerbated the anytime dining wait.
Food: ranged from good to very good. We tried all of the options in the Marketplace (comfort food, international, deli, etc.) Surprisingly, the Guy's burgers were excellent and a must try for burger lovers.
Cruise Life/Days at Sea: It was a very crowed. The ship was packed. The pool areas especially early in the cruise are very crowded. Again, people would just lay their towel on a lounge and leave it there. There is a 40 minute unattended towel removal policy but I never saw that happen.
Again a lot to do on the cruise. Something going on all the time. Trivia contests about 5 times a day, pool games all day, bingo, bingo bingo, etc.
Kids: There were 1400+ kids on board. Over 400 teenagers. There are parents who simply just let their kids roam the halls at all hours of the day or night. We have 2 teenagers who complained that their friends on board did not have any curfew. Generally, the teenagers are well behaved with minor annoying habits elevators as an amusement ride, stairs as seating and the loud running down the halls. But there were a couple of incidents that my kids talked about. A kid jumped up deliberately slamming his head into the ceiling, another punched a dent in the ceiling and a third punched a hole in the wall. Security was called and parents were involved. Not sure of outcome but was advised that parents had to pay for damage.
Excursions: This is the reason I go on a cruise. I love to do different activities at different ports. Except for Grand Turk we have been to all of the other islands so we wanted different experiences then before
Getting off the Ship: It is very crowed when everyone is rushing to get off. Since most of excursions are at about the same time its going to be a cattle call. If you don't have to get off right away take your time, let the crowd pass. We were told [and its on the Fun magazine] that you need picture ID with sail and sign card. But we were never asked for it. I guess safe then sorry especially if you miss the boat.
We only booked excursions outside of the cruise line. The quality and value is always better. I know there is the concern about getting back on time. But, do your homework, the reputable companies know that if they don't get you back the consequences [especially with forums like this] can be disastrous. ALL THE TOURS GOT US BACK IN TIME NO PROBLEMS
TIP: all of the excursions we did were way outside the terminal area. Make sure you know where you are going and exactly where the pickup is going to be. Most of them are just a 10-15 minute walk. The tours generally give a lesser walk time. Anticipate a longer walk.
Grand Turk: Very small Island. We had never been there and wanted to do a tour of the island. Based on some cruise critic suggestions did the golf cart rental from Nathan (firstname.lastname@example.org). It was $80. He is located completely outside the terminal on the side of the road. There is a charge for gas but you can fill up at a local station or pay $20. Gas is expensive but the golf cart does not use a lot of fuel. We drove to the other end of the island where the lighthouse is located. Beautiful views. Went through town the first time and if you blink you missed it. On the way back paid more attention but not really anything to see. Apparently Mondays are very slow days on the island. Golf cart was fun to drive and I let the kids do it for awhile there is very little traffic. Then spend a couple hours at Governor's beach - lounge chairs are $10 a piece. The beach is small but not crowded with a large sunken tank next the beach. Again beautiful views. Returned the cart but no one was there. Waited for about 10 minutes then left. A nice day but nothing special.
La Romana: Based on reviews and suggestions did the Pro excursion Saona speed boat trip. This is geared for Carnival cruisers but not associated with the cruise line. $65 for excursion, $15 for transport to marina all handled by pro excursions.
We really enjoyed the excursion lots of fun. WARNING: The speed boat is very fast and can be very bumpy. If you have a bad back or hip, this is not the trip for you. Go to the website for description of the trip: http://www.proexcursionsbayahibe.com/snorkling-tours/tours/la-romana-sea-excursions-for-cruise-ships.aspx The tour guide was excellent, they ran 2 boats that day and only about 20 people on the boar. I have done better snorkeling but the fish are ready for the bread crumbs and will surround you. Also, the starfish stop was neat. Kids loved handling and taking pictures of them
There is a section of the beach just for your group, with lounge chairs, bar and lunch buffet. Beach time was more then adequate to do some swimming and relaxing. Some locals selling stuff can be very persistent but just keep saying no. Eventually, they stop bothering you.
The lunch was fine nothing special chicken, sausage and fish. Lobster is extra. Beer and rum with limited soft drinks [coke and sprite].
Curacao: Did the Irie bus tour. http://www.irietours.com/tours.html It was an open air bus lots of information and interesting facts that toured east side of the island. There is a stop at the liquor factory and a short beach stop. Plenty of beer, soda and water. The cost is currently only $20 per person. Money is collected at the end of the tour. Stores close at 6 so there is little time for shopping after the tour but you can go over the floating bridge and catch a few of them
Aruba: Did the Tanquilo tour: http://www.tranquiloaruba.com/ Lots of fun. Limited number of guests less the 20 on this sailboat. Again plenty of beer, sum and soda [even had diet coke!]. TIP: get on early and get one of the bean bag chairs in the front. The snorkeling was done in a relatively protected area, with a dock out in the middle. So you can snorkel and then sit on the dock. There is a drift snorkeling also included. WARNING: There is very little actual drift to push you along. You need to be in decent shape to swim it and also to get into the small rubber dingy.
The claim to fame is the pea soup. I thought was good but the rest of the family did not care for. The chicken curry sandwiches and not spicy and everyone really liked. Watermelon for dessert. On the trip back my son worked the fishing line but there we no bites.
Note: this is at least a 15 minute walk from the ship. Not difficult but not easy to find - look for red sailboat
Days at Sea:
Entertainment: Only watched the opening show. Not really into the music production type of show. Saw a couple of the comedy shows. Enjoyed all of them. WARNING: The adult shows are pretty racy be prepared. If you do not like that type of humor, do not go .
Standouts: Edge - a comic juggler was the highlight of the trip. Absolute must see! Do not miss this show if he is on the schedule. Also, magician/comedian was very entertaining. Another show not to miss
Hasbro game show is lots of fun. My wife became one of the contestant and made it to the final. Did not win grand prize but got a $20 Hasbro gift certificate.
Love Game: typical Newlywed type game. A bit on the racy side. Not for young kids. Butch, the cruise director, did an excellent job. He has an amazing memory for names. He was very entertaining the whole trip.
Grovin for St. Jude: Carnival charity. BEST souvenir you can get. For $10 you get a T-shirt and a wrist band. All profits go to St. Jude Hospital. You just can't go wrong on this one.
Casino: Don't play but saw some winners mostly losers. WARNING: smoking is allowed and the area does smell. Some people do not handle this well.