This review is a thank you for all the reviews I read on this site that helped me prepare for my cruise. My wife and I booked an air and cruise package all through carnival. We flew in the same day as our cruise and because of late flights barely made it to the ship by 4 PM send off time. Thanks to quick carnival workers at the airport and driving the bus we made it on the ship just in time for the muster drill. (obviously no problem with lines, due to our lateness) As we sailed out of Tampa it was neat to watch as we just cleared the bridge leaving the harbor.
The ship itself was very nice, someone always cleaning or polishing something. Our cruise director (Tory) was informative, but reminded me a little of supernanny on TV. My wife liked her. I used the health club almost everyday, the hot tub generally was not as busy as the other hot tubs on the ship. The steam room and shower were great! I never did use the shower in our cabin. You must try the shower in the gym at least once, I liken it to a carwash for people. The Beatles show was great and we only saw one comic, but he was funny. I did not really like the generations show, maybe it was because we did not have really talented karaoke singers on board. The band in the bar was excellent, don't remember their name but they sang mostly 70s & 80s rock. I recommend the deli, pizza, cheeseburgers, fries and the ice cream. My wife and I bought a piece of the chocolate cake for $2 and shared it. The cake was rich and very good, worth the $2 easily. The poker on board was a disappointment, no tournaments, only 3/6 limit holdem. From what I understand the ship takes a large rake also. I played craps a few times and won $100 the first night! I did not think the craps dealers were all that pleasant, but they seemed knowledgeable and for the most part helpful.
The first port Grand Cayman: We took a taxi to 7 mile beach and walked the beach until we found a nice spot and payed $18 per person for a lounge chair and (free drink). The white sand was beautiful and even though the sun was beating down, the sand was not hot to walk on?? I rented some snorkel gear and went swimming, best beach of the bunch. Shopping was expensive, so we waited for Cozumel to shop. Cozumel: If you like to barter then you will love Cozumel. I bought a cuban cigar from a guy for $15 (started at $25), next day in Belize I could have bought 6 of same cigar for $25. My wife and I did the adventure park/tower climb excursion in Cozumel. Flower was our guide, and she is great. This was my favorite excursion, great beach and swimming pool, not too crowded. Belize: Do your shopping in Belize if at all possible!!! We did not book an excursion in Belize, but the shopping was great! I bought a nice loud cruise shirt for $10 ! and a bottle of Belize rum for $7 no bartering! Pharmacy items are also very reasonable. Long tender here, but nice boat ride, not as crowded as Cozumel. Shopping in Cozumel is for the birds IMO. Costa Maya: We went to Tequila beach. Nice place, but water was not very deep, and I swam out quite a ways. Ivan was our waiter and he was very good. I got a massage on the beach for $35 1/2 hour it was good, but when we walked into town, (about 3 blocks) I found the massages were cheaper, so I would have waited had I known this. My wife bought a few items, but again with the bartering and aggressive salespeople. I just told them no dinero and they pretty much left me alone.
Debarkation was not bad as we had a late flight and just waited on Lido deck, till about 9 am and stood in line for about 5 minutes.