Since it had been 5 years since our last cruise, I was extremely excited about embarking on our Christmas trip. We had never cruised Carnival, and I was also somewhat nervous about what to expect.
My husband, 14 year-old-son, and I flew into West Palm, rented a car, and drove to Miami on December 22, the day before sailing. We stayed at the Port of Miami Holiday Inn, which was a great choice! The hotel is an older one but has a great deal of character, a nice restaurant, and very clean. The Bayside Marketplace directly across the street from the hotel is a wonderful place to shop, wander around, and enjoy dinner with the many eateries from which to choose.
After dropping off our rental car, the three of us headed to the Port around noon on December 23. We immediately dropped off our bags and headed to embarkation. Embarkation was very fast and we were on the ship by 12:30. The ship was sparkling clean and a lovely sight as we first entered and were handed glasses of champagne from greeters with welcoming smiles. The day continued as we explored the ship and waited to set sail.
Finally, as the sun was setting, we set sail for the Western Caribbean. Shortly after, we headed to our Balcony cabin and then to the first seating in the Paris Dining Room. Dinners were very fun and quite good. I wouldn't consider them excellent but they were definitely above average and are servers were simply marvelous. After dinner, we signed our son up for the 12-14 year-old group activities. I think Camp Carnival in this age group could be improved. I would probably put the 14-17's together and have a disco the second night with more meet and greet activities the first night.
Christmas Eve, the first day at sea, was a beautiful day, and as we were looking for chairs, we quickly learned that the no seat-saving rule does not apply. Eventually, we found a spot and spent the afternoon on the deck above the main pool. We had a relaxing day and then prepared for our formal dinner. My husband and son also had a father-son massage, which they thoroughly enjoyed.
Christmas Day, Cozumel Day, began cloudy and ended with steady rain. We had fun though, and took the Punta Sur Snorkeling Tour. The snorkeling exceeded my expectations because the water was crystal clear even in the rain and clouds. The tour was extremely organized and the group was easy to find at the end of the pier. After snorkeling we went back to the ship with the intentions of going back into town, but with the steady rain, we decided to have dinner on the ship. I had seabass for dinner and it was outstanding.
The next day was at sea a cloudy day, but we enjoyed it on the boat and sat on the deck for most of the day. My son and I enjoyed the bingo and I had an outstanding facial.
Grand Cayman day was next; however, it became a sea day due to the inability to tender caused by rough waters. I was extremely disappointed but we still had a fun day at sea. We each were credited $25, and our shore excursions were automatically removed from our account. My son had a great fruity facial.
Everyone was excited to see the sun shining and tour Jamaica. We did the Dunn's River Falls and Dolphin Cove Snorkeling Tour. Climbing the falls was fantastic! The tour was extremely organized, and we began 30 minutes early. Dolphin Cove was nice to see but we decided to have lunch and go to a beach instead of snorkeling. We found a great Jamaican jerk restaurant as recommended on our shopping map, went to the new Hard Rock Café so my son could by a t-shirt, and then went to the beach by Margaritaville. We had a fabulous day and then headed back to the ship for our second formal dinner.
The last day was a sea day. We completely relaxed, played bingo, and did some final shopping. The sun was shining and the day was perfect.
All in all, we had a wonderful cruise. Our cabin was roomy and had plenty of storage space. We enjoyed the shows, the game room, and the variety of food throughout the day. The pizza place and deli were two of our favorite places to eat. We also enjoyed the spa and made use of the excellent services offered. Debarkation was simple and quickly done. Although disappointed about Grand Cayman, this cruise exceeded our expectations, and we will definitely choose Carnival again.
After the cruise, we spend two days in South Beach. What a fun place!!