Wow – what a trip.
Our group of 12 occupied 5 cabins and we had a great time. All ages from 10 months to 61 years. Every one of us had a great time. Ashley from Vacationstogo.com did the booking for us and was quite helpful. Ship had lots of people on it and I understand there were several cabins vacant on this cruise. A full ship could be daunting. Still – our experience was great!
The cabin steward(s) were excellent and took care of everything. We never had to ask about anything or make a request – they anticipated it and took care of things. This level of service was above expectation and well deserved an additional gratuity from us.
The dining room team of Ayo and Edgardo were also excellent and made is feel right at home. Service was prompt, friendly and they remembered our names and preferences throughout as we moved around in different seats at our table. We had 4 young children (10 months through 7 years) and they were treated with respect and dignity throughout. I will always remember Ayo and Edgardo as part of our cruising family – they went the extra mile and deserved their gratuities many times over.
One of the interesting items – my son-in-law was invited to take part in a feedback session on the dining experience. Ours was great with the only exceptions being the cuts of meat weren’t particularly great, and selections were less than I remember from my last Carnival cruise. There were some others that complained about cold food, delayed delivery of side dishes, and other things that we did not experience at all – ever. It sounded like two different cruises! I think the dining staff and menu need some attention to bring them up to consistent quality. An experience like that can ruin a cruise!
Now for the Ports – Cozumel was excellent. After you get off the dock, you get the normal sales people. This place was built so you have to run the gauntlet of shops to get to the real Cozumel. We rented a Taxi (full size van) for the day and all of us fit in there. The driver was a great guide and took us to places of interest and provided some background. He spoke enough English to be understood. He worked hard at his trade and did well by us. He was rewarded appropriately. We all loved Cozumel and could spend plenty of time there – perhaps a week or more.
Belize City was a waste of time. We looked at museums and history most of the time (2 old farts) which was very nice, but the younger ones wanted a beach – which cost a taxi ride and an admittance fee – it got very expensive). We saw a lot of begging and it seemed the locals wanted to rip us off at every opportunity. Much poverty and desperation. This is not a place that I want to visit again on a cruise or otherwise. I don’t understand why Carnival stops here – it is not a nice place (unless you are studying poverty in 3rd world countries).
Roatan Honduras – well this has good points and bad points. You are not really visiting another country – just a very isolated segment of an island that belongs to another country. The entire location is based on going to the beach or shopping at the well regulated stores. There is no way to leave the sheltered area and no way to visit local villages to see the “real” Honduras. Not real bargaining – just shopping at stores with merchandise from China and other places – nothing much local. The Honduras Coffee was $17/lb. for instance. Now, the beach was very welcome after Belize. It wasn’t all clear water – sometimes a little cloudy water, but nice temp and still a relief after Belize. I won’t be going back.
Grand Cayman – this is a very nice place with a British overtone. Lots to see and do, the beach is beautiful and the excursions are very good. Lots of excursions available at the pier including Swimming with the Stingrays (we did that) and snorkeling, SCUBA diving, the turtle farm, the beach, etc. You can get a good deal on the pier for the excursions and can make a deal with a group. We did Stingray City and Reef Snorkel for $32/pp. Had a blast and would have liked to stay longer. The port stay was 10AM to 6PM, but everyone was tired after three previous ports and the activities at Cayman Island, and back on the ship by 4PM or so.
Grand Cayman and Cozumel were tops in our trip. Roatan and Belize City were the pits – never to be seen again. I think Carnival should re-think these two ports and possibly find better choices – or stay longer in Cozumel and let us experience the night life?
Overall good value and great trip. Carnival can use some work on the menu and consistency of service in the dining room. I would take the same cruise again, but stay on ship in Belize and Roatan.