We are a family of 5(41,41, 14,11,8) who have chosen Carnival for the last 3 years in a row (Dream, Magic, Breeze) mainly because of 1) The ocean view cabins for five which is hard to find on most ships 2) more exotic itineraries 3) New Ships 4) VALUE
This year we had had a hard time choosing between the Carnival Breeze and Norwegian Breakaway which also offers family ocean view cabins for 5. We decided on the Breeze because for about the same cost of the Norwegian Breakaway (7-Day to Bermuda from NY - no airfare required for us) we were able to book the Breeze (8 days - 4 islands) and flights. Turning it into a 12 day vacation adding Orlando and Miami Beach to the plans.
Overall: We had a great vacation and found the Breeze to be more beautiful and have more improvements than on the Dream and Magic just 1 and 2 years apart. This cruise was a great value and we received a lot for our money. The staff was always pleasant and room stewardess and dining staff greeted us by name every day. There were many past cruisers who were a bit demanding but it did not ruin our fun.
Embarkation: Will not go into details of our pre-cruise activities but one thing we found extremely useful was renting a car from Miami airport and returning it to a location near the port with free shuttle service to the ship. This allowed us the freedom to pick up some bottled water, 12 pk. of soda, beach toys to bring on board for the trip. We got to the port around 12:45PM and were on the ship by 1:20PM. Make sure to register and fill out as much as you can online prior to departure. Once at the port have your cruise-docs and Passports/Birth certificates readily available and you will breeze thru the line.
First Impressions: The Breeze is easily carnival's most beautiful ship. The decor and color scheme is much more modern and luxurious than even on the Dream or Magic. The restaurants, lobbies, hallways all are breathtaking. We were really impressed. The ship layout is the same as the Dream and Magic so it is very familiar to us. Even though the family ocean view cabins are on 1 aft, it is very convenient to get up to any floor/location as the aft elevators will take you to the rear lido and sports deck and the mid will take you to most of the action. Never had any issues after 3 cruises in this cabin cat with noise, movement, rowdy kids or anything. On this particular sailings there appeared to be mostly experienced groups of past carnival cruisers and not an overwhelming amount of children.
The Food: We had my time dining and it was a pleasure. We would usually be at the restaurant at 5:45 to be seated first to ensure we made the 7:15-7:30 shows. Never had to wait. After the 2nd night we were seated at the same table with the same staff who remembered our names and our preferences. We had our own table and with this early dining time there was not many other guests around so it was quiet. The food in the Main dining was very good every night. Lobster night, Jumbo Shrimp night, Filet Mingon night with a variety of selections available. The Lido deck buffet selection was average. But with Guys burgers and the Iguana cantina around the corner we did not select from the Lido deck buffet much. The dessert bars at the Lido deck always had a great selection every day. There were lines for the omelets stations in the morning and Mongolian buffet at lunch but this is to be expected as these are made to order and take time( Get there early or late).
Sea Days: We kept ourselves busy during the 4 days at sea. Never any lines in the water slides, rope course or min-golf course. The 11 and 14 year old made friends quickly and were about the ship (Not always in camp carnival but checking in frequently with us). The 8 year old stayed with us most of time joining us in the frequent trivia and dance classes. We found ourselves entertained for the most part. The main lido deck pool was crowded and busy especially during the typical events such as hairy chest, Ms. Breeze contest, ice sculpting etc., so we stayed away from these events (no big deal).
We went to Palms beach by Taxi ($14 for carload) but did not book an excursion which we regretted. The beach was nice but very crowded, The water was a bit murky and there was no fish for snorkeling. We hung out by the beach for a couple of ours then took a bus ride back to the ship for $2.00/person with the tour guide pointing some sites along the way. Maybe because this was our 4th beach day in a row or the fact that we like to be active when we are at the beach (snorkeling, boating, sight-seeing, etc) but we were not impressed to much by Palms beach in Aruba.
We booked the irie bus tour prior to the cruise online independently and it was great. Bus toured us around the city, with a stop at the rum factory for free samples. We stopped a couple of stops for pictures before heading to seaquarim beach. The beach was a little crowed but it was great for snorkeling. There were tons of fish and with the awesome rock formation swim able from shore it was surreal. Wish we had more time here. The bus driver was enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. Highly recommend this tour.
Grand Turk was great as a first stop. Hung out at the beach right off the ship. It was clean, not over crowded and it was awesome snorkeling up to the rope and seeing the deep drop off allowing the ship to dock so close. Also lot of fish and great scenery. The pool and flow rider at Margarita-vile behind the beach was nice and very busy with drinkers, music and partiers. Preferred the beach but the pool took some of crowed away.
We booked the seavis tour prior to the cruise online independently and it was great. They took us on a boat tour of the beautiful bahibeye and Saona Isand, Mangroves and and Island beach break with a BBQ. There was amazing snorkeling on the Island around the posts of an old pier. The guide was enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. Highly recommend this tour.