December 22-29,. 2013
We arrived in New Orleans one day early and stayed at the Riverside Hilton right on the Mississippi. We had a lovely river front room. Loved this hotel and it's location.. By the way the taxi fare from the airport to New Orleans is $30.
I was surprised by the number of people that walked from their hotels to the ship, bags and all. We did this also. I was glad to save the taxi fare to the cruise port.
We didn't get to the pier until 1pm. It was the usual mad house of people but it didn't take long to get on the ship. By the time we got on board the staterooms were ready. We found our cabin, dropped our carry ons and went to lunch in the buffet.
We really liked the buffet and ate all our meals here except two. The service and food in the dining room was the poorest of any ship I have been on and I have been on lots of cruises and cruise lines. We went to the dining room on the first night thinking that was lobster night, however, they changed the menus around because of Christmas. The service was awful. We were virtually ignored. I could not get my water refilled so I had to drink my husbands water. I don't know what the problem was because the dining room was deserted. I had the Mahimahi which was tasteless and dry. My husband had prime rib which he really enjoyed. We didn't stay for desert as we couldn't get desert menus. We finally got up and walked out. We also went to the dining room on Christmas eve as that was lobster night. The lobster was small but tasty. The steak on the other hand was terrible. It was ¼ thick and I am sure it must have been pork as it was so greasy. Being from Kansas I know my beef. Service was better this night but again we left early as the food was so bad. We went straight from the dining room to the buffet where the food was better. We never went back to the dining room and are glad we didn't.
We had a lovely balcony cabin on deck 10. We had an excellent room steward. When we didn't get service because we had our do not disturb sign out he was so upset. As if it was his fault. I think this had to be the best room steward we ever had. Friendly but not intrusive. Our trouble was our balcony neighbors ahead of us. They smoked. It made our balcony unusable as they smoked non stop. Not only did they smoke cigarettes but cigars also and if that isn't bad enough they also smoked weed. Not only did they smoke but when they were out on their balcony they talked loudly. Whenever me and my husband were on our balcony we whispered as to not disturb anyone. Unfortunate to pay all that money for a balcony and not be able to use it, however, we had no recourse.
I was sure I was not going to like the cruise director Jamie. At first she really got on my nerves but I must admit she grew on me. Now the assistant cruise director (Sin) was the annoying one. He continually acted like a ADHD 6 year old that needed medication. If he thinks this is funny, he needs to grow up.
The shows on this ship were quite good. I am usually really tough on the singers being a singer myself, however, the male lead singer on this ship was exceptional. The other two lady singers were also quite good. The production show I really liked as I like watching all the dancing. We had a magician one night. I personally don't like magicians as I can't figure out how they do the things they do. However, he was quite entertaining as he integrated comedy into his show. We did have one comedian who was funny. At least he made us laugh. The singers and dancers put on a show especially for Christmas. It was lovely. Some Christmas carols and also secular Christmas songs. They did a great job. The ship had caroling in the atrium. It was very crowded. Perhaps they should have had it in the theater where more people could have come. Only problem was the piano player. He played all the carols so fast we could hardly spit the words out. It was like he couldn't wait to be done so he did all the carols in triple time. I went to all the game shows like newly wed game, quest and dancing with the stars. They were fun as usual with a lot of laughs to be had.
I am sorry to say my fellow passengers on this ship were not into following rules of any kind. The no kids in the front row of the show room rule was a joke as every night the front row had kids in it. One night two parents had their child sitting with them in the front row when the announcer stated no children in the front row. The child heard this and said to her mother. “Mom we have to move” To which her mother replied. “They don't mean you, dear”. Unbelievable!!! Why have the rule if you are not going to enforce it. Also the no seat saving fell on mute ears. There was the usual seat saving. Then not all the people in their group would come and there would be empty seats in a full theater. I can understand saving a seat for your spouse but this saving 6 seats for family and just sending the kids early is ridiculous. I must say they did have lots of reserved disabled seating in the buffet and in the show room.
As this was a Christmas cruise there were a lot families. There were 800 kids on this cruise, however, we really didn't have a problem with them. I think the Children's program must of taken care of them. There were quite a few times kids would run full speed down our hallway like a heard of wild elephants but we endured it. There is really nothing you can do.
We never went to the pool or hot tubs. They were just too crowded. The entire pool area was too crowded.
The ports of call on this itinerary were exceptional. Cozumel, Belize city, Roatan and Costa Maya. In Cozumel we took at taxi to the Money bar for $10 each way. The beach is wonderful here and the snorkeling is very good. In Belize we went cave tubing with Island marketing. This was a poor excursion. The tubing was very good but I would go with a different company for sure. In Roatan we purchased a beach/transfer package thru Bananarama resort to Tabyana Beach. This was also very poor. The beach was so crowded you could hardly move. You couldn't snorkel because of all the dive boats parked in shore. It was too dangerous to snorkel in among those boats as they can't see you. We had been to this beach previously last year and thought it was beautiful, however, it has now been ruined by overcrowding of people and boats. In Costa Maya we went to Maya Chan beach. This was an fully inclusive beach day and it was fantastic. Food, drinks, beach, kayaking, snorkeling and personalized service. I can't recommend them high enough.
We had a good cruise despite the bad dining room food, bad dining room service and horrible balcony neighbors. We paid quite a bit for this cruise and for the money I think I will book Celebrity next time or just do an all inclusive resort. I think we are getting to the age where we prefer being with adults with mature adult behavior.
While we loved cave tubing and love this port I can not recommend booking with Island Marketing. It was a day of constant waiting while other companies went ahead of us. Island Marketing does not pay their river guides as high as other companies and as a result customers of Island marketing are left waiting while guides go with customers with higher paying companies. I recommend cave tubing but not with Island Marketing.
We can't recommend this excursion enough. It included transportation, lunch, drinks, Kayaking, snorkeling and of course beach chairs. Upon arrival and through out the day you are waited on hand and foot. Beautiful beach. We didn't want to leave.
We love Cozumel even after being here so often. We went to the money bar. The taxi was $10 each way. Lovely beach with great service and pretty good snorkeling. Come very early if you want to get a beach lounger. We got there at 9am and got two of the few remaining chairs.
We booked an beach day with Bananarama resort. It included transfer to Tabyana Beach, a beach chair and one glass of punch. We were not treated like guests at all but like second class citizens. Our beach chairs were stacked in like sardines and the staying guests got umbrellas and chairs in front of ours. Bartenders rude. Can't snorkel here because of all the dive boats. We went to Tabyana beach last year thought it paradise. This year over crowding by people and dive boats have ruined it.