Embarkation we got to the port at around 2pm and took less than 40 minutes to get on board. The staff were extremely helpful. We were able to go straight to our cabin and our bags arrived in the afternoon. This was one of the only days that the famous slide was available (because it was only open for limited hours and shut during high winds - which we had plenty of) so we were glad our son could use it that day.
Music is everywhere on this ship. The fun ship ethos means that if you like peace and quiet from time to time there is nowhere to go. We noticed that at 9am the music volume on the public system is turned up so they can be sure you are having fun. The outside lido deck area is very noisy.
Fitness the gym is well equipped and the instructors are knowledgeable. However the pools are all far too small to have a proper swim. The hot tubs were luke warm at best but were almost always busy with large groups.
Cabin steward we were a bit confused as one steward introduced himself on the first day and then he never appeared again but then 2 other stewards seemed to service our cabin, so it was all a bit disjointed. We wondered maybe if the first guy got ill and the others were covering for him.
Room service - they NEVER got this right. You would order tea and it would come in a carafe previously used for coffee so tasted like stale coffee tea mix. Order 3 yoghurts and get 2 spoons. Order a cake and get no cutlery. A bit disappointing. Our son ordered a late night sandwich and that was good but we gave up ordering room service breakfast in the end as they never got it quite right.
Dining room - we were on the 8pm seating in the Upper level of the Washington dining room - our waiters Ionut and Rodel were fantastic and they exceeded our expectations. The food quality was excellent for a mass dining experience and the waiters made a big fuss of our son when he dined with us. Our table on the upper level at the balcony was lovely.
Scarletts Supper Club don't waste your money. Some of the food items are the same or very similar to those on the main menu throughout the week. The supper club offers dining until 930pm so we booked to reserve a 9pm table. They tried to persuade us to take an 8pm table but we were involved in a family halloween activity at that time so insisted on 9pm. When we got there we were the last couple eating that night. The staff were clearly in one heck of a rush to get us out of there. When you reserve at Scarletts they recommend you will take at least 2 hours - they had us out of there in less than an hour and a half. I took my last bite and the plate was gone. I guess maybe the staff had a halloween party to get to but we were less than impressed. They also kept having different servers and seating hostesses ask us every 5 minutes whether everything was ok with the food. it is supposed to be an intimate dining experience and it was a big disappointment.
We missed a port of call (Costa Maya) because of the weather so were credited $25 each to make up for it which is a nice gesture but we were extremely disappointed. This meant 2 consecutive fun days at sea. During that time we couldn't wait to get off the ship. I was extremely sick and didn't eat at all on one day. The high winds and driving rain made it impossible to sit on the balcony to escape the noise and unpleasant groups on board the ship.
The groups there were apparently 3 groups of singles on this cruise. They made their presence felt. We would NEVER AGAIN cruise on a ship if we knew there were large singles groups on board. I had an incident occur in an elevator where a guy made personal comments in foul language in an apparent effort to pick me up - and he was wearing his singles beads so I know he was from that group. I wasn't comfortable wandering the ship on my own after that. There were a lot of people who were drunk the entire cruise and had no consideration for the effect their behavior had on others. My family witnessed lots of pushing and shoving in public areas and foul language in front of my son. Also some of the lounges were closed at times because of special events for the singles groups which meant that everyone else was forced into the areas where the loud music was playing.
Camp carnival was very very good. However there were very few kids on the ship so they cancelled the slumber party at short notice which was disappointing. However our son really enjoyed the activities. I have never seen so much candy as the kids got at halloween - it was a bit over the top. Our son won his age group halloween contest and loved all the attention he got in his costume. Our son mainly elected to eat with Camp Carnival which concerned us a little as his diet consisted of pizza and hot dogs etc very few vegetables.
Rosie's restaurant smelled of cooking. The fish and chips place was good but the octopus salad and tuna portions were starters so you were forced to eat something fried for a main at the fish and chips. The buffet on the day I went there mainly had fried food which is not my personal favorite and the salads which looked appetizing were full of oil so again not a very good option for anyone wanting to eat healthy unless you wanted fruit. Also sometimes the silverware and cups were not very clean. The floor was slippery. Tables were kept cleared.
Entertainment the two shows (far from over and nightclub express) we went to see were very good and the dancers in particular were superb. We didn't go to the other shows. The decor in the Ivanhoe is a bit cheesy - we come from the UK where there are real suits of armour on the walls in such places not plastic ones and lots of glitter and glitz.
I never came across the cruise director personally but did meet his assistant Kelly - she was running a pumpkin carving activity but didn't seem to know what she was doing. The emphasis was very much on SHOPPING. If I hear anyone recommend Diamonds International again I will scream.
I asked Super Shopper Andrew for advice on where to purchase woven basketry in Belize and he gave me the details of 2 stores. So I made the effort to find these stores - guess what - no basketry for sale. So I visited the Super Shopper desk and told Andrew as feedback so he could alter his information sheets and he wasn't interested and didn't even look up from his laptop. I guess he wasn't paying the extortionate fees we were to be on the wireless connection.
Photos and DVDs we had some nice photos taken on the ship we chose to have a lot taken so we could choose the best ones but did feel that $20 a print was rather expensive also a lot of the prints were just too big and to order a smaller print you had to buy the big one. The DVDs were constantly shown on funvision. We didn't buy one.
Cave tubing in Belize was excellent we booked as a group through someone else on our roll call - thanks Cindee - and we were glad we didn't take the excursion through the ship as ours was better structured and a safer approach.
In Grand Cayman we took a minibus tour around the island in the heavy rain. It was OK but nothing special but I am glad we didn't pay a lot to go and sit on a wet beach!
Overall we probably wouldn't go with Carnival again unless it was a European cruise. We would avoid cruise ships with large groups of singles.