The Carnival Breeze is a beautiful ship. Unlike some of the other Carnival ships, this one was decorated tastefully. This review examines our recent trip.
Miami - We had read so many mixed things about parking near the port of Miami, we decided to drive to the port and park ($20 per day) in the lot. Everything was fine....about a minute or so from the terminal. Our car spent the week safely, no problems here.
We arrived about 10:45 and check in was easy. They let us on the ship about 11:30, which is a bit earlier than some of our other cruise experiences. We explored the ship for a bit, and they let us into our room at 12:30. Again this was earlier than most of our other cruises. Nice to get unpacked.
Our room was 7254, and interior cabin. We've had balcony and ocean view rooms in the past, but we decided to save the money on the room and spend it on other things. The room was adequate for two people, nothing special good or bad here. Being on deck 7 put us 2 floors above the main dining room, and 3 below the buffet...a nice floor.
The Buffet. We had breakfast and lunch here, the food was good, well stocked, and the area was clean. Again, nothing really outstanding, but very adequate. The themes of the day were nice, a good variation. Be sure to check out lunch the final day...chocolate day! Many great treats.
We were in one of the two main dining rooms - The Sapphire, for early dining. We were at a table for 6, 2 other couples were our dining companions for the week. This dining experience was a bit of a disappointment. First, the staff was excellent. They were friendly, and did their best. However, I believe that Carnival has made some staff reductions in this area and the staff was handling too many tables. 3 out of eight dinners were served cold. However, that really didn't matter. Because they NEVER were able to deliver all of the meals at the same time for our table of 6, and we were all polite and waited for all of the meals to be delivered. This means that I never had a hot dinner in the Sapphire Dining Room. The food was good, nothing special. We had the same delivery problem with desert.
Entertainment - Butch, the cruise director was great, a true entertainer. We had seen all of the main shows on previous cruises, so we did not attend any of them. The Piano Bar was excellent, Ben is young but did a great job. Comedy, juggling, and magic shows were excellent. We also watched several movies during the evening, it was pleasant to watch them from the pool on the Lido deck. We did not gamble, or play bingo.
Grand Turk - We made arrangements for a private snorkeling trip, four of us used Captain Tim of Crystal Seas Adventures. We had a shallow water stop and petted a nurse shark. We then went to the "wall". It was beautiful, well worth the $50.00 fee (each). Whale watching is a big event from February to April in Grand Turk, last year Tim said that he found whales on 58 out of 60 trips. Tim is a former attorney from the East Coast of the US. The cruise lines have created a shopping area, and a big pool (much like Costa Maya), nice but contrived. We felt safe the entire time we were in this port.
Dominican Republic - We had heard bad things about the DR, so we booked a Carnival Excursion to snorkel off of Catalina Island. Coral was beautiful, fish were plentiful, it was great. Except for all of the trash floating around. Disgusting. Plastic bags floating in the water. Also the excursion folks insisted that we wear the big orange life jackets. One can't really snorkel with one of these vests, so we through them back on the boat after we got into the water. The DR could be so beautiful, but the trash coupled with the life jackets, made this Excursion less than enjoyable. Also, the DR looks like it has been hit with a baseball bat, one can't move 10 feet with out being accosted by various vendors selling things. Carnival should skip this port. We did not feel safe.
Aruba - The Happy Island. Absolutely beautiful. Clean, people were nice, and we felt safe. We took a cab ride to Mangel Halto beach, ($10.00 per person each way), and found a beautiful local beach. No tourists, no facilities, no chairs, but absolutely terrific snorkeling. We shared the beach with a family on vacation from Venezuela, they were the only ones on the beach. The best snorkeling is about 200 yards from the beach where a reef come up to 5 feet from the surface...spectacular. One needs to be pretty comfortable. Don't wear shiny things, as a beautiful barracuda seemed to think that he owned the area. He followed us, but didn't give us any problems. Very, very nice place.
Curacao. We took a cab ($5.00) to the Seaquarium. There are a group of man made beaches did by side. We went to the beach controlled by Wet and Wild (a bar), and paid a $3.00 per person entrance fee. We then paid $3.50 each for lounge chairs. This beach was created about 15 years ago, but creating an artificial reef about 50 yards from shore. Inside of this reef is mostly sand. On the outside, coral has taken hold, and we had the best snorkeling of the entire trip. Very beautiful. On the way back to the boat, a local told us to take a cab to "Punda". This cab ride was $4.00 each. There were tons of shops, and then we walked across a floating bridge back to the boat.
Aruba and Curacao are both very nice places, not sore which was our favorite...perhaps it is too close to call. Both were very enjoyable, and we felt safe.
Leaving the ship. We carried our bags off the ship, and were off by 7:20. No lines, Carnival has done a fantastic job of managing this process.
Value: Overall, except for the cold meals in the dining room, the trip was fun, we met lots of nice people, and was an excellent value. While on board, we booked our next trip, the Carnival Valor next fall.