My husband and I went on our cruise with another couple. It was our first cruise and their second. Overall we had an amazing time and would absolutely cruise with Carnival again.
Embarkation: This went smoothly and quickly. We arrived around 2:30 p.m. or so. The line seemed like it would take forever but it wasn't bad. We were on the ship by 3:00 in time to catch the lunch buffet.
Food: Overall the food was great. We all thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast buffet. The lunch buffet was okay... it was probably everyone's least favorite meal. The salad bar was good but the entrees were a little too fancy. We mostly stuck to the grill options, pizza and fish and chips. The Sur Mer restaurant (above the buffet) served great fish and chips but were very slow. Dinner was fabulous. Every night our meals were great. No one had a single complaint about dinner. We typically ordered two entrees each. Usually a steak and baked potato plus something more interesting to try. Our waiter was awesome. His name was Ruelito. Our assistant waiter was Widjarsa (I'm sure that's spelled wrong). Both were very helpful, friendly and proactive about meeting our needs.
Entertainment: The entertainment in general was good. The comedian we saw, Allyn Balls, was hilarious. His adult show was even better but isn't for the easily offended. The first dance show was great. I can't remember the name, though. The dancing was very impressive. Overall the show was quite entertaining. The magician was supposedly good. We missed it but our friends said they enjoyed it. Don't miss the juggler... he is absolutely amazing. The ventriloquist, however, is terrible. We actually left in the middle of his show. Find something else to do that night because his show is painfully boring. Also, the "Point & Click" dance show was awful. The story is not at all interesting. The costumes and dancing are good but not worth sitting through the slow and boring story.
Service: Our Cruise Director, James Smith was okay. I had heard such amazing things about Mark Price, the previous CD that I was a little disappointed that we was gone. The assistant CD was great. His name is Pete. He's from South Africa and is hilarious. Our friend participated in one of the game shows with him. Two days later I saw him at the bar and said hi. He totally remember me from my friend and we'd hadn't even actually met before. I was really impressed. Our Maitre D was pretty good. His name is Hatem (in the Monet Restaurant). He put on some pretty good shows and was very friendly. He helped me arrange a surprise cake and song for our friends on their anniversary. Our room steward, Ana, was great. She was always around but not in the way. We could always find her if we needed something and our room was always perfect when we returned to it. I wish that happened at home! We really like the towel animals, too.
The Ship: In general the ship was great. We found it odd that a "fun ship" would have an impressionist theme. There were lots of paintings sick and/or depressed looking people often sitting around drinking. We were all thoroughly impressed with how clean it was... ALL the time. There were lots of fun things to do. The water slide while a little chilly was very fun. We got a balcony room which was worth every penny we paid for it. We loved to sleep with the door open at night.
Excursions: We did not book any of our excursions through Carnival and I'm glad we didn't. I found all of the excursions we did on the internet. We paid about half the price than we would have through Carnival. The service we got was great and our excursions were far less crowded than those we saw through Carnival. It was definitely worth doing some extra research.
Jamaica: In Jamaica we went on a catamaran snorkel trip and went to Margaritaville. We booked this excursion through www.shoretrips.com. They were great. The crew on the catamaran was very friendly and helpful for those of us that had not snorkeled before. It cost us $67 per person if I remember correctly and our excursion was about 4.5 hours. We all had a fabulous time and would recommend this company and excursion to those that are looking for a fun snorkeling trip.
Grand Cayman: We booked our excursions through Captain Marvin's thanks to other recommendations on this website. Thank you! We went to Stingray City and snorkeled for the first part of our trip, which cost $25 I believe. The stingrays are amazing creatures. We all really enjoyed this experience. Afterwards we had a second excursion, also through Captain Marvin's, to tour the island. We went to Hell and Turtle Farm (very cool) for an additional $35 per person, which was totally worth it.
Cozumel: In Cozumel we spent the day at an all inclusive resort. We booked this online as well through www.cozumelcruiseexcursions.com. The resort was about 10 away from the main tourist area. It was truly breathtaking and absolutely beautiful. It cost $40 per person which included their buffet and grill, unlimited drinks (including alcoholic drinks), and the use of all non-motorized water sports. Unfortunately, it was extremely windy the day we were there, so we didn't get to do any of the water activities, but we still hung out on the beach and at the pool. Even without all the amenities it was still worth it.
Disembarkation: This was very smooth. We did the traditional disembarkation as we were in no hurry to leave. Getting though Customs was surprisingly easy. We used a porter who apparently knew the Customs worker very well. We're pretty convinced that this helped us get through a lot quicker. We made sure to tip our porter extra for our good fortune.