This was our first cruise and it by far exceeded our expectations. We've been back less than a week and are already planning our next one. Traveling was myself, my fiance, my mom and my aunt. We had inside cabins right next to each other. My aunt decided to go with us a couple months after we already had it booked and the carnival travel agents were more than helpful with getting things changed around for us, it ended up costing less per person. We flew into Orlando on Thursday and spent Friday at Universal Studios. We had rented a car from Thrifty and then drove down to Cocoa Beach Friday afternoon. We stayed at the Doubletree Oceanfront there, the hotel was very clean and the room was nice and it was only about 15 minutes from the port. Thrifty was right in between the two and we dropped the car off there and they transported us to the port in a shuttle. Very quick, very easy, and very reasonable.
Embarkation: This was nothing like I had expected it to be. We basically walked right on the ship, we arrived at port and they had just opened a second door so we went right in through security, there wasn't any line to set up our sign and sail accounts and then we waited behind one family for our embarkation photo and then we were on the lido deck enjoying lunch.
Stateroom: Like I said before, we had an inside stateroom and it was wonderful. The rooms were more spacious then I thought and we had plenty of closet space. The bathroom was bigger than I expected but the shower was kind of a pain. There was a thin plastic shower curtain that didn't cover the whole entry so water ran on the floor each time we took a shower. Our room steward was Putra, he was AMAZING, he and his assistant cleaned our room every day twice and day and left the cutest towel animals. Rarely did we ever leave our room and not see them in the hallway or cleaning a nearby room. The ship was very clean, housekeeping crews were continuously picking things up, vacuuming, and wiping things down. The maintenance crew was painting something every day.
Food: I was a little nervous after reading some reviews about the food, but not to worry it for the most part was delicious. We only ate in the dining room one night because we're not ones to be on a time schedule. Our dining time was 5:45 and most days we were just coming back from port and wanted to chill out for awhile before dinner. Also the one night we went, although the food and presentation was beautiful, it took an hour and a half and that's just not our style. Not to fear, the buffet was just as good and had a wonderful selection of something new each night.
Entertainment: Again for the most part we were pleased, most of the shows were good, I didn't care too much for the featured female singer but she was OK, the music and dancing was good. The comedians were all hilarious, but WARNING: when they have the late night shows and they say adult material, they are NOT kidding. We saw many people bring their young teens and get up and leave in the middle because it was sometimes raunchy, but they warn you ahead of time that is an adult only show. The magicians were OK.
We first ported in Cozumel and there we went swimming with dolphins and then just shopping in port. Swimming with dolphins was amazing, one of my favorite things about the trip. Cozumel has a cute little outdoor shopping center right across the road from the pier that has alot of great deals. We also went to Carlos & Charlies for drinks which was very fun and entertaining. In Belize we did the River Wallace and Altun Ha mayan ruin tour. A couple of words of caution, if the locals tell you to buy a poncho, DO IT, we didn't and it was a torrential downpour while we were in the middle of the river for about 40 minutes. Also, I would definitely suggest doing some type of excursion here. There is a small shopping area but other than that there isn't much else to do. The tour we took was very informative and our tour guide Melanie was great. Belize was very humbling. If you have a chance to get away from the pier and see how the locals live it is an eye opening experience. In Costa Maya, at the end of the pier is a shopping plaza for cruisers only, I'm not much of a shopper so we rented a golf cart for $35 dollars and took a 10 minute ride into a little beach town which was so much fun. The beach is very clean and full of little food and drink huts. I was even serenaded by an older hispanic man. Stuff is much cheaper out here as well. Finally in Nassau we just got off the boat and shopped a little while. I honestly wasn't crazy about it and would either not get off the ship or do an excursion if I were there again. It is very dirty and crowded and the locals are very, very grabby and pressing you to buy. Don't be afraid to negotiate with them and definitely don't be afraid to just WALK AWAY.
Disembarkation: My expectations weren't very high because I had heard so many horror stories but it was very painless. We were one of the last ones off the ship so we sat around for about two hours, but even though that was kind of boring, it was very easy and painless. We just grabbed a cab back to the airport and unfortunately had to come home =(.