This was our first cruise. I'm definitely hooked now. We had a wonderful time, only next time we are going to bring friends with us. We met some wonderful people, but we think it may be even more fun with friends.
We flew into Tampa the day before via Southwest. Just a note, if flying by Southwest, log on the night before and get your boarding pass. You will end up in the A line and board first, you do not have designated seating and it is a free for all.
We stayed with friends that moved down to Florida a few years back. Had a good time with them that night. He drove us back to Tampa the next day, got there around 1pm. Terminal 2 was quite the cluster. Before we got out of his truck the porters had our bags out of the back and was taking them back to be scanned. Don't forget to lock the luggage.
We showed our Carnival book and ID, got into line. We moved through the line very fast. When you get upstairs, you'll need to scan all your belongings on your person. I guess the cameras can go through the scan without getting ruined. We upgraded our room after we rec'd all our paperwork. I failed to put the correct room number on our luggage but they found the correct room by about 6pm.
We moved through the sign in and got the sail & sign cards, got into line and had our first of many pictures taken just before we boarded the ship. As we came on board we were met by some of the "cast" with a deck plan, then we found our way around the ship. Got some lunch on the lido deck, then searched for our room. The decor of the ship was kind of like, European literature. Jack the Ripper, Don Kiote(spelling?) type of stuff. The dining room was different but "Who Cares?" All that matters is the people you have with you and the fun you have together. We originally had the early sitting and decided to change it to the late seating. We figured let the families on board take the early one and those of us that were "childless" for the week to have fun at night. I asked the Maitre'd to seat us with a fun couple, boy did he. We had a blast with Sam & Heidi. I actually miss them. Hope to hear from them soon.
Grand Cayman - We tendered here so we got down to the boat as soon as we could. We signed up for the Island Tour through the ship. That was pretty much a disappointment. We saw the turtle farm, that was the best part. Saw Hell, Grand Cayman. This is a little stop in the middle of the island, not really too sure why it's there because we rec'd no info on the background. We didn't get to see the Rum factory, even though it was on the list. Then stopped in front of a couple houses and then went back to the port. We shopped a little, Harley shirt shop, Hard Rock Cafe and had lunch at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. That lunch was probably the most expensive lunch we had the entire trip. My husband had the Mahi sandwich, I had the Mahi lunch and we shared a drink that came with a tall "hurricane" glass, total was $62.00 and they charged you the tip too. I don't suggest going there. The couple we sat with at dinner did a diving trip to the corral, they said that was great. We heard from a few people that said the snorkeling and the StingRay trip was really neat. With all the hype around the Steve Irwin death and the man in Florida, my hubby just didn't want to get in the water with those StingRays.
Cozumel - We pulled into port here, no tendering. We had a snorkel trip scheduled here but while speaking with a gentleman in McGuire's Bar, we changed our trip to the Mexican Cooking class. This was a good change, we had a great!!! time. We went along with another couple that we met on the ship. They take you to a place called Playa Mia, which when they are finished building will be the place to go. You have access to the entire place while your there. There was about 20 of us in the class and there was people from 2 other ships with us. To start out, as soon as you get there you have an open bar, with a very eager bartender. We had a couple young girls sharing our grill, one called my hubby a woosy when he ordered a couple bottles of water. It was funny because she was the one that her friend found in the bathroom getting sick, they wheeled her out in a wheelchair with her face in a bag. My hubby yelled to her..."Heather! How about that bottle of water now?" We all had a good laugh. We made a dessert, appetizer and entree'. The cook was a pretty funny guy. The bathrooms were very clean, the beach was beautiful and it had tons of stuff to do besides cook.
Belize - We tendered here and it was quite a way out. It was a good 15 minute boat ride to shore. First of all, before you do anything go to cave-tubing.com and schedule your cave tubing through Yohi. What a great group of guys. They are definitely the group to go with, don't waste your time scheduling through the ship. Yohi & his band of merry men, will take you through 2 cave and are far more skilled than the people from the boat. When you get to shore you will need to go to terminal 1, well there was a huge line to get through, I actually just walked past everyone squeezed my way out the door and there stood Yohi, I yelled to him and he guided us to their bus. Nice bus too. My husband made friends with Timm, Yohi's right hand man. All trip, Timm kept asking "Big Bob" if he was having a good time. Once you get on the bus, as they go down the road, they will keep you entertained. They will give everyone a small cup of the famous Cashew Wine, I thought it tasted more like whiskey. Try to get a water camera with a flash cause it gets really dark in those caves, you will have flashlights too. Afterwards, we went to lunch at Amigo's, great food. Everyone in our group cleaned their plates. That was definitely the most fun on our trip.
Costa Maya - This is a beautiful new pier, from what we heard the cruise lines just started going there about 2 years ago. It looks like the country built this area just for the cruise ships. It has tons of little shops and there is a salt water pool in the middle of all the shops with 2 bars/restaurants around it. The Pool has the seats in the pool too. We didn't do any excursion here but it was pretty cheap to just walk out to the cabs and get a ride to the fishing village. $2 cab ride, cheap at the beach. The water here was unbelievable, I could not get over how crystal blue the water was. You could see the colorful fish just looking over the side of the pier. It was absolutely beautiful. We went ashore bought some jewelry, went back and hubby took a nap, I laid out. Went back to shore and ate lunch, which was very good. Lobster burrito at Bandito's burritos, those people really wanted to get the crowd loaded. Kept giving away shots, for guessing the name of the song.
Shows - We missed most of the excitement on the boat, didn't know it was actually going on. We did make it to "Ticket to Ride", which was a really awesome show. We had lots of fun at McGuire's Bar & Frankie & Johnnies. The band at F&J's was really good, lots of good dance music, Earth, Wind & Fire, etc.
Dining Room - Ivan and Paula our wait staff, was absolutely wonderful. Ivan was so full of information and was so friendly. If we saw him outside the dining room, he would guide us to the fun things to do. The food was really good, it was not spectacular but it was very good. I am still trying to figure out how to make the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.
Room - We upgraded to a balcony room and that was definitely worth the extra cash. We loved it. Also, our room steward Bogdan, was wonderful. I didn't feel too well, motion sickness, he wanted so bad to make me feel better. I just slept it off, felt better in the morning and also used the patch.
Debarkation - We did the self assist. We got up and got everything ready, ate breakfast then got into the line to get off the ship, we were probably about 20 people back. We had some people that failed to go to immigration so we waited till about 10am before we were cleared to exit. We were out of the ship and in a taxi on our way to the airport in about 10 minutes after that.
Overall, we had a really relaxing and great time. Most of the people we met up with were really fun to be with; Sam & Heidi, Butch & Janelle. Miss them all. We will definitely cruise again, just not sure when. Booked our trip through Carnival and spoke with Jason, he did us well.