We decided to take the family on a last minute cruise over Thanksgiving, and I had narrowed my choices to NCL Epic and Glory. Given that we were taking four of my children, the Epic (while slightly cheaper) would cost us more due to specialty restaurants (which I look forward to trying sometime in the future with NCL). Plus I was eager to experience the Funship 2.0 upgrades for the first time….so I broke my own rule of not sailing the same ship. I considered Glory having Funship 2.0 a quasi new ship anyway.
Miami….ughhhh. Really missed Ft. Lauderdale after our experience in Miami this sailing. I choose Safe Parking to leave the car, and arrived at 10:15am so we could hopefully be at the port/waiting to board at 10:45am. Shuttle arrives at 10:30am…all good…except driver is dropping off passengers and won’t take newcomers. Ok…why? So we (and others) wait and wait. Finally the same shuttle bus shows up and drops off passengers…and again will NOT take on new customers. Tensions rise now that everyone has been waiting for 30-45+ minutes. Then a 15 passenger van shows up…and is asking who is sailing Carnival. Since we have been waiting the longest---we grab him. The fill the van – and we leave a lot of other folks sailing on different lines. It was exactly 1 hour after we arrived in the parking lot. Fortunately Miami terminal was moving quickly and we were onboard eating Guy Burgers around 12pm. We loved Guy burgers and their French fries.
We had sailed her before a few summers back for a quick Canada trip. This is our first cruise with the kids without extended family…and my son’s first (two of my girls were so young on our first cruise with RCCL that they don’t remember it at all). Ship was clean, the food was average to good in the MDR. We had a fabulous wait staff – got lucky to find them on the first night of anytime dining – Yudi/Hendro from Indonesia. They really made our week enjoyable and had a great time with our kids. Went way above the normal to satisfy us and take care of the kids – lots of fun dancing with them and joking around. I wish the Glory had changed their menus during our cruise…but we were a week early. Food was good – nothing spectacular. For breakfast I enjoyed the Blue Iguana burritos a few times….and we did enjoy the sea day brunch for the first time. This time they made it easier to redeem your free drink….it was awful during our last Carnival cruise (took an hour the last sea day!). We did not do the Emerald steakhouse this cruise….or the Taste Bar.
We only made it to one new 2.0 show – Divas. It was good – I was expecting a lot worse based on the last few years of 2.0 rollouts. We saw the family friendly comedian twice – he was good. They had a magician who went through the MDR and had a late night show in one of the lounges….Chris – he was GREAT!
The sea days were very windy and cloudy. We were able to find chairs no problem. MUTS were Iron Man 2/3, Bourne Legacy, and Monday Night football….maybe another movie or 2. We had sun in Cozumel and Grand Cayman, we missed Belize due to high winds and Roatan was rainy all day.
Past guest party decent – the drinks were dished out and strong – did get a few Twilight Zone’s brought to us in lieu of what was on the server trays. Cruise Director was good and funny…the staff seemed to be having fun and were enjoyable.
Cozumel – did taxi ride to Playa Palancar again. We were the first one’s there. There were 6 ships in Cozumel that day, and pretty soon even Palancar beach was getting crowded. I have never seen so many snorkel boats at Palancar/Columbia reef…there must have been 40 at one time. My kids have never been snorkeling, so we grabbed the local snorkel boat and went out around 1pm, when most of the ship excursions had left to return to their ships. Great sunny day – and while the reefs are relatively deep (25 to 45 feet), we could see and enjoy everything. Great food at Palancar too.
Roatan – since we missed Belize due to high winds (it was crazy watching NCL trying to tender – we saw one successful tender launch and those folks on the top deck got splashed by the waves/wind. We tried to anchor at least twice but threw in the towel. We had a nice private snorkeling/island tour Goff Caye booked, hated we missed it. Since the weather forecast a week out showed rain and more rain, I held off an early booking with SouthShore zip lining….because I wanted to do a combo package with the beach. We docked and it was a steady rain. We took our time and when it became a light drizzle we got off the ship and we made our way through the gates/outside Mahagony Bay. We found a SouthShore rep and they got us a driver to take us to the zipline. This was our first time and it was a great experience.
Grand Cayman – two of my girls are horse girls, so they and my wife did a great private excursion with Coral Stone Stables. This was a beach/swim with the horses – and they LOVED it. The photos are crazy – in how deep they were and how far out they were from the beach with the horses.
My other daughter dragged me and my son to Stingray City – with Stingway Sailing (Chip was our captain). Grand Cayman had 4 ships – and it was a major zoo at the terminal. It took us some time to hook up with Stingway Sailing. Due to waves/winds, the ship’s canceled the same excursion tours. Chip said he was out there at 7am and while the waves were high, he thought it was ok based on his experience. We all decided to go for it and we were glad we did. We were the only boat out there for awhile. I kinda freaked out when the stingrays were crawling all over me – but it was a great experience. Such beautiful water! The barrier reef was too wavy – so he took us to another snorkel spot – and it was actually pretty good – nice color and very nice fish. Plus we had a dolphin visit us and we were snorkeling with it for 5 minutes…pretty cool.
Miami – uuuggghhh again. We had luggage tag 29 since we drove (someone else in the hallway mentioned they had number 34). It was 10:15am and our number had not been called yet! Usually they are kicking us off the ship at 9:30am. We decided to go ahead and head down. The terminal was very busy—and it did not take us too long to get our luggage off the conveyor belt. However, the 5 or 6 lines to go through passport control were LONG. It was 1 hour from leaving the ship to being outside waiting for our Safe Cruise parking shuttle. How I miss Fort Lauderdale after that experience. Luckily the Safe Cruise Parking driver found us in the masses and we were promptly delivered to our car.
In the future, if just my wife and I and we drove, we would make sure we each had a carry-on and would do self-assist so we could be in our car on the road back to NC at a more reasonable time.