There was both good and less than good about this cruise. First the good. The staff - on this cruise was exceptional - always friendly and attentive. Our cabin steward knew us by the end of the first day. The crew was primarily from Eastern Europe and the South Pacific but all spoke English very well. Some accents were harder to understand, but it was never an impediment. The ship - I believe it was renovated about five years ago. My wife loved the way it was decorated. Cabin - spacious, though we did have a balcony on deck 7 which probably made a difference, but I never felt cramped. Even the bathroom had plenty of room.
Excursions - we booked one through Carnival, two on our own and one port we made use of Carnival's Mahogany Bay. We were very happy with all of our excursions.
Food - this is where it fell a little short. Lunch was so-so. We weren't on board for many lunches but once we tried the Chinese buffet. The last thing I picked up was some vegetable meatballs that the chef was still preparing when I was on line. By the time I got to my seat they were ice-cold. I imagine that that they started out nearly frozen and were only cooked on the outside. We tried the deli for the first lunch on embarkation day. We each had a reuben and it tasted burnt. Breakfast was over all terrible. They alternated eggs benedict and salmon benedict everyday. I tried the eggs benedict at the buffet. The yolks were hard and the sauce was browned and hard. The next day we figured we'd try it in the main dining room. Same thing - hard yolks and burnt bernaise. I tried scrambled eggs once, they had a mealy texture. One day I even tried a real continental breakfast - a selection of breads, meats and cheeses. Underwhelming. Dinner was hit or miss, though mostly good. The first night we tried the Steakhouse. I had a cowboy bone-in rib eye. It was completely unseasoned and somewhat tough and grizzly. Very disappointing. But the Caesar salad, was good. My wife had the lobster bisque which was phenomenal. The chocolate sampler for dessert was great. The last night at sea we went back to the Steakhouse. I had the lamb chops my wife had lobster ravioli. Everything was great that night. The main dining room was also hit or miss. For the captains formal night they served lobster tail and tiger shrimp. Everything was overdone and not very appealing. Another night I had jerk pork loin that was tried out. But on two other nights the beef wellington and the braised short ribs were both good.
This was our third cruise - Royal Caribbean and NCL previously. This was the least expensive and in some areas it showed. You get what you pay for. But overall it was OK. I can't give it a rousing recommendation but I can't pan it either. If you're not a foodie you'll probably be fine.
We had a great tour guide - Byron, aka Avatar. He went out of his way to assure us that we would be back in time and he didn't disappoint though with only 15 minutes to spare. He told us so much about Belize and Belize City. Going with an independent who was trying to make a business had it's perks. Others had to carry their tubes on the hike through the jungle. Ours were waiting for us. We went further upstream to an additional cave and further downstream than the cruise line booked tours. We were able to sample some culhone nuts ( tasted like mild coconut ). The lunch that they served was better than anything we had had on board up until then. Though a simple meal of stewed chicken with rice and beans and coleslaw, it was really good. Our group seemed a little larger than normal for them, but everyone had a great time.
We loved the Dancing Chefs. I love to cook so making the salsas was a lot of fun and oh so good. The Margaritas kept flowing which sort of helped when it came to trying to dance salsa. My hips just don't move like that!
Sharon, thank you! We were with a large group of people that booked a tour with Native Way, but we were the only ones to book Reefs, Rays and Rum Point. But even though they probably took a loss with our tour, they didn't try to squeeze us on with another tour, they honored their commitment. So we had our own boat and captain taking us around. Swimming with the rays was fun, especially when you got to feed them. When we went snorkeling, Chris took us to a place called Little Reef. We were the only ones there. His attitude was take as long or as short as you like. Let me know when you want to move on. Beautiful coral and a pretty good variety and number of fish. We called in lunch on our way to Rum Point and it was ready when we got there. Great lunch! Stayed for a while then told Chris we were ready to return. Had our own little dance party on board on the way back. I can't praise them enough.
It was nice to take a break from spending a lot of money on excursions, especially since there were warnings about recent problems on the island. Carnival's Mahogany Bay was just the ticket. A nice beach with plenty of lounge chairs, many out of the sun. Places to eat and drink. We wandered down to a place called the Hideaway at the far end of the beach and they had live music, ceviche and local beer. It was great.