Background: 5th Cruise for both wife and I, we are 31 and 33 respectively. We have 2 boys, and left them home. We have cruised Renaissance in Tahiti, Norwegian in Caribbean and Hawaii, and Princess in Alaska. Overall, we both rated this cruise as our 2nd best (behind the Tahiti cruise). Overall Great value. Thanks for all the reviews on cruise critic, as always, they helped very much. This cruise was very enjoyable. Biggest ship we have been on.
embarkation: Worst part of the cruise.. We waited for 3 Hours to get on the ship.. We got in line @ 2PM, and got on the ship just after 5 PM. We heard the causeway to get onto Galveston island was up to let ships go through, lack of customs agents, ship getting in late as the problems. We have never waited this long to board a ship. Luckily the line outside is shaded, and porters came by to take our large bags from us. People who were working the peer said this was not normal either. Not Fun.. We parked at EZCruise parking lot, booked on-line for $50. Shuttle took us to the peer and picked us up, no problem and would recommend. FunPass does not help. Muster drill, no problem. We finally left port around 6:30 PM.
Ship: Ship was clean, and crew were constantly cleaning the ship. Decks 2, 5, and 9 go all the way from front to back, remember this. This was a big help. All public areas, dinning, buffets, bathrooms were clean and in good condition. All 7 days of cruising were very smooth, no rough water getting out of the bay or Gulf of Mexico. Pools were all cold the first 2 days of cruising, but as we got into the Caribbean the water warmed up. Hot tubs were usually luke warm to warm. We stayed pretty much at the Sun Pool deck area, adults only. Security did a good job keeping kids out of the hot tubs and pools. No drinks allowed in hot tubs, which sucked.. The back pool area was the most quite, but windy. The mid pool area was the loudest and had a mix of kids and adults. Forward pool area was for the kids.
Room: We stayed in Room 2268 (4b class).. We paid for the inside guarantee, and were upgraded to this room. Very nice room, plenty of storage. We did bring close pins for the shower curtain and would recommend them. The shower curtain is thin and airy, and your shower water will leak out into bathroom if the curtain is not waiting down. There are instructions for a wake up call, but we did not use it. We brought an alarm clock and used it once (disembarkation). Did not bring power strip and didn't need it. (Only had cell phone and hair dryer). Cabin Steward was VERY good.. Remembered our names and room was always clean, plenty of towels, ice, etc. Animal towels, cool. We were worried that we would hear noise being under the main show room, but room was quite, dark, and cold, which made for some good sleeping.. Room is in great location for getting on/off the ship, main show room, and the Renoir dinning room.. I would recommend Main Deck forward for your rooms. Great location.
Food: We ate in the Monet. This is in the back of the ship and you could feel more wave action and the vibration of the engines. Not a huge problem, but the Renoir is forward and seemed to be smoother. Overall, food was very good. We ate 4 dinners and 1 breakfast in the Monet. All food was very good. Lido buffet has good. Breakfast was the same everyday, but each morning I would get a few different things. omelette's were very good. Paul's Deli, Pizza, Ice Cream, Sur Mer, all very good. Did not try PC Wok. Did not try the Point, but spoke with several people who LOVED it.. Overall, we think the food and food service was the best of all 5 cruises. We did sign up for the 6:15 dinning, but found out that we got pushed into the 8:00 PM seating.. Still no problem, gave us plenty of time for pre-dinner drinks and listening to nice piano and classical music in lobby. I gained 6 pounds, my wife 4. Chocolate buffet was Saturday 12 - 2:30. Very good, and since we were at sea, everyone could enjoy. Monday and Thursday were the formal nights. We ate prime rib (twice) filet mignon, lobster, and red snapper. Chocolate melting cake every night.. Awesome.
Service: Most staff were from the Philippines and Indonesia.. All staff were very friendly, and helpful. Overall service as VERY good, no problems. Last day of sailing, while wife and I were in the hot tub, cleaning people took her drink.. I went to the bar, told them what happened, and they gave us another one, free of charge. Staff was constantly cleaning the ship or cleaning up after us. Very good. No complaints.
Entertainment: Not very good here. The few shows and events we did go to, were not that good. Also, most all the main shows were too late for us (After 10 PM). Never made it to the R Rated comedy show, but we heard it was pretty good. Mark Price the cruise director is very good, and helped what otherwise would have been pretty mediocre entertainment. Dancers did have thongs on, which was the best part. Otherwise not very good at dancing. Camp Carnival did a good job keeping the kids out of the way and entertained. Camp Carnival would reserve the dance rooms around 7-9 PM to let them dance and have fun. They all looked like they enjoyed their time on the boat.
Excursions: We did our own stuff in Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and a ship excursion on Cozumel. We did Sunset Beach Resort in Jamaica ($40 per person) for all you can eat and drink.. Highly recommend. You can see the resort from the ship, and is a 3 minute cab ride.. ($5 cab ride for the two of us). Nice beach areas, clean, and several pools, lazy river, and kids water park. They take your sign and sail cards when you arrive, give you an arm band, then give them back to you when you leave. We docked at in Jamaica, got off the ship about 10 AM, walked right off. Got back to the ship around 4:30, and walked right on. Be prepared if you are a male to get your "package" fully handled by security. We did Native Ways Rays, Reef, and Rum Point. Very nice. Feeding sting rays was awesome, and Rum Point Beach area was one of the top beaches we have been to.. (Bora Bora in Tahiti #1).. Native Ways is a great operation, picked us up from the peer and took care of us. VERY good lunch included in the price ($60 per person).. Sting Ray city, snorkel at Reef, and then a few hours on the beach.. Perfect. Tendering to and back from the ship no problem again. Cozumel we did the Passion Island excursion with the ship.. VERY good again.. Island is beautiful, food is awesome.. Only about 3.5 hours on the beach, but it's wort it.. One of the Corona commercials was filmed here 4 years ago.. Plenty of white sand, chairs, shade, etc. We docked at Cozumel. Getting off the boat was easy, getting back on took about a 40 minute wait.
disembarkation: Again, problems here. For some reason the Carnival Ectasy did not leave the night before, so they and the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody were in port. So we had to maneuver to the end of the port. Instead of the 7 AM disembark, we had a 9 AM disembark.. Not too much of a problem though, cuz it gave us plenty of time to eat breakfast and get ready. We did the self assist, and it literally took us 20 minutes to get off the ship and pass customs. Again, our cabin location was a very nice bonus getting off.