This is my first cruise review, third cruise in two years. A little background: married, mid fifties, husband fairy new to cruising, I have been on several with kids and mother. DH was not keen on cruisin but agreed to go because I agreed to go to a NASCAR race and didn't complain once!!! All three cruises on Carnival, first two on Glory out of Norfolk, this last one out of Miami. it had been many many years since I had to travel to port so I did a lot of research on cruise critic to make the arrangements smooth. No pictures on this review, I don't know how to post them and can barley figure out how to use my phone to take them.
Any whoooooooooo, last cruise out of Norfolk was a blast, couldn't wait for another one so when I saw a great deal on a four day to Key West close to my birthday it was a done deal. We used SW points for airfare, last minute travel for hotel reservations and Alamo for transportation to hotel and airport, free shuttle to port. Sweet!!
Stayed at the EB Hotel very close to airport. Prices awesome, hotel even awesomer!!!(I made that word up). Hotel reminded me of the Encore in Las Vegas only larger, two large TVs, huge bathroom with vertical blind on glass wall that allows you to shower/double shower heads, while looking out the floor to ceiling window watching the planes. Top of the line bed and linens, floor lighting activated by movement. And the bar makes a heck of a drink. Happy start to our vacation. After checking out drove two blocks to a cafe/liquor store for wine to carry on and breakfast. I was able to get plantains with my eggs, which were excellent. It's very hard to get good plantains in Norfolk, usually overcooked.
Easy drive to Alamo, dropped off car, and shuttled to airport. Renting a car for transportation from FLL to Miami was cheaper than any transport I could find. $60 for 24 hours, and FREE parking at the EB. Yeah!!!
Arrived to port about 12 pm, on board Immagination in about 40 minutes. First stop always lobby bar for classic cocktail, didn't forget to keep receipt for $5 match on casino table game with classic cocktail. Ate at Mongolian wok,line moved very slow as each dish is individually prepared. The veggies overcooked but tasty, not worth a revisit. Then to the room to unpack. Had an ocean view, last two cruises went for balcony. Although we love the balcony decided the money saved with ocean view worth the savings. Room smaller, no couch, but we used it primarily to pile clothes. Bathroom vanity smaller but I was able to adjust. Loved our steward Trevor!!!
This was also our first time on anytime dining. Have done late and early, preferred early. I am not into the buffets much, love the sit down experience. I also don't try to stuff myself at every meal so when dinner time comes I am hungry!!! I have read about the pagers with AD, the first night was the only time we were given a pager and had to wait about 25 minutes. No probs, went shopping for my tax free liquor. I did notice that the lines for AD longer later in the evening. Also noticed that service not as fast, in fact fairly slow with AD. It's not that everyone is not working their butts off, just more difficult to accommodat guests in this format. Again, no probs, had time to converse with table next to ours.
Now for the food!!! As in any restaurant there are hits and misses, but this was mostly hits, all the way out of the park. The first night was the only night I ordered something I didn't care for, but with chocolate melting cake coming, who can complain!!! Highlights being prime rib, lobster, salmon, mahi mahi, tomatoe soup, and all the deserts. I was hesitant to order the fish because it is so easy to overcook, but no worries, they were perfect! Props to the chefs!!! I also tried the cheese platter for desert on two occasions along with my sweets. I would highly recommend this as something to share, the fruit and variety of cheeses was quite good and light. The pears are somehow marinated and cooked, yummy. Unfortunately the brunch was only on one day, the full day at sea; I loved the steak and eggs. Cooked perfectly, again, fries to die for. We did go to buffet for breakfast a few days. Loved the omelette station!! And the fresh fruit and muffins. Well done!!
The taste bar gets special mention. I wasn't able to try it on our last cruise because of early dinning, I chose to frequent the Martini bar prior to dinner instead. I LOVE the taste bar. Food was outstanding and unusual. One night Italian, another mexican, and Caribbean the last night. I like this much more than the sushi bar. As you can see I am crazy about food.
Now what I didnt like was the lido deck and set up for the buffets. Small space, a lot of people, lines unbelievably long. And it was cold and wet so everybody was inside, trying to get lunch at the same time due to the port schedules. Only one time did we try to get food at lunch, luckily the line for pizza was non existent so I scored three hot pieces of pepperoni pizza and DH a salad, grabbed a tray and went down one floor to the promenade where there were plenty of tables and QUIET! Pizza was great! Unfortunately didn't have time to try again, next time though! Another time I called room service as I love their sandwiches, Especially the shrimp! Room service line was busy so I put the phone on speaker and just chilled in the room. Once we ordered it took les than 15 minutes to get it.
Now about the entertainment. The piano player was Greg and he was quite good, funny and talented. I wish we had more time to enjoy, unfortunately didn't discover him till the last day. Acoustic music great with Justin Tyme, took requests, knew a lot of the music we enjoy. The rock group Love Souljas was also great, again only found out about theming the last say of the cruise. Note to self, check out musical entertainment early in cruise to see if it is something we might enjoy. The production show we saw was Epic Rock, in fact enjoyed it so much we saw it twice, not as good as the rock show on the Glory but still well done. Divas was cancelled due to rough seas and high heels, a deadly combination! My DH didn't like that show on the Glory so wouldn't have gone any way but I would have. We saw only one comedian, Rob Little, and he was pretty funny. I must say the entertainment lounges were large, comfortable, and every seat a good one. Enjoyed the setting more than Glory, harder to get a good seat for the comedy show on that cruise.
Okay now ports. Never been to Key West, DH was there when in the Navy. We just walked around, had a beer at Sloppy Joes at 10 am. Went to the Tervis store for Key West souvenirs. I love Tervis tumblers!!!! It was fairley cool/border line cold in Key West but comfortable and nice to walk around and enjoy the architecture. Returned to the ship and hit the hot tub on the serenity deck. That was really the only serenity experience due to the weather. next day pulled into Cozumel in the afternoon. This was the first time we scheduled an excursions, primarily due to the $100 onboard credit for excursions we received with this cruise. We did the ATV tour and it was a blast! The road thru the jungle was rough and wet! We were able to ride for over an hour, then took the bus to a beach for food and drinks, self pay. They were pouring free shots of taquilla in yor mouth but that was not for me!!! We got a few bears but didn't eat, saving myself and $ for dinner on the cruise, but the food did smell and look good. Will definitely look for more excursions on next cruise.
We did book one more tour at debarkation and I would highly recommend this if getting off the ship and going from Miami to FLL. For $50 per person we were able to get off the ship early with group, before any others it seemed, then took hop on hop off tour. Due to our departure time we couldn't hop off but did enjoy the tour of south beach and the art deco district. We sat on the top, open air so we could get a good view. We had never been to Miami so this was a great way to see the city. They then transported us to the airport.
Cruise director was Skip. He was ok, never put too much emphasis on cruise director until we had Matt on Glory. He was so funny and engaging. No complaints with Skip but no Matt! I did love his accent.
Things I learned on this cruise: 1). Will book anytime dining again. 2). Always go to taste bar. 3). Book ocean view if savings enough to cover an excursion or two. 4) check out all the entertainment, even if I don't think I will like it. 5) I didn't mention this in the review: previously we ordered liquor thru Bon voyage, but not this time. We really didnt miss it, it seems we often had a drink just because it was there. I preferred ordering a specialty drink when I wanted one, and our bill was not that high.
Well hope to have many more trip reports, already looking for another cruise, working toward platnum, only 47 cruise days to go! Happy sailing!