We were traveling with two children, ages 10 and 14 and this was our 3rd cruise and 2nd with the whole family. We had already explored the Eastern Caribbean, and choose this particular cruise for the exotic ports of Belize and Honduras. Overall, we had a great time and would recommend to others.
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around 11:30 am and took the Carnival bus transportation to Miami that we had arranged ahead of time. All went smoothly and the bus ride was about 30 minutes. We were greeted with long lines for embarkation, but the line kept moving and we were on board by 2:30. We headed straight for Rosie's for lunch and enjoyed the fish and chips upstairs - very good! We spent the day learning our way around the ship, had the buffet dinner and went to bed early, as we had been up since 3am that morning. The water was very rough that night and there were many people getting sick the next day. We didn't bring any motion sickness medicine with us, as we hadn't had any problem on our last cruise (Carnival Destiny), but all four of us had to take the medicine we bought at the gift shop. After the first day, the water was much calmer.
A little general advice: if you drink sodas, buy a soda card the first day - will probably save you money in the long run. Also, the excursion desk has snorkels for sale for $5. If you think you may want one, buy early! We tried to buy some Tuesday morning and they already were sold out. Also, wait until Saturday to buy souvenirs in the gift shop, as they put many items on sale. If you are a sucker for the professional photos, like I am, again they have a sale on reprints later in the week.
GRAND CAYMAN: We had booked the reef and wreck snorkel tour through the ship. The ship didn't dock at Georgetown like it was suppose to because the sea was too rough. We got our tender ticket and took the short boat ride to the shore. When we got off, we couldn't find our tour, so we asked at the information booth and were told our tour had been canceled due to the rough water. We ended up taking a taxi to the beach, then another taxi to Georgetown to do some shopping, then back to the dock. What we saw of Grand Cayman was unimpressive and there was alot of construction going on. We were told that the last tender boat would leave at 3:15. We made it back to the dock at 1:45 and waited in line for about 45 minutes in the hot sun to board the tender boat back to the ship. But we heard stories of people waiting over 2 hours in line to board the boats! Many people were understandably unhappy.
ROATAN: We booked the Jolly Roger catamaran/Gumbalimba tour through Carnival. We enjoyed the park - were able to hold birds and had monkeys sitting on our heads (bring antibacterial lotion). The snorkeling was OK, but didn't see much marine life. Had time to do a little shopping at the market close to the ship (good prices here!)
BELIZE: This is a tender port, and get your tickets early! They said tickets would be available at 8:30, but by 8:15, they were already passing out ticket #9. We booked with cave-tubing.com and had a great time! Booking with them was cheaper than Carnival. However, due to time constraints, we were only able to go through 1 cave (same as the Carnival tour). The water was cool, but refreshing. They even made the hour bus ride fun, passing around samples of their local beverage. George was great! We felt safe leaving our belongings on the bus while we were tubing. Bring water shoes, and it's about a 30 minute walk to the water.
COSTA MAYA: We had a great experience here, but it didn't start off that way. We booked the Kohunlich Mayan ruins tour through chacchobenruins.com (thenativechoice.com), as we had heard great things about Ivan and Dave. We were confirmed before we left on our trip - they say if there aren't enough people, they will let us know 1 week in advance. Well, when we found the place we were supposed to meet, we were told that there weren't enough people for the tour, and would we like to do the chacchoben tour instead, since it was closer. The guide also said that it would there wouldn't be enough time to get there and back, anyway (although we had plenty of time). He just really didn't want to take us there that day. We really wanted to do the other tour, so we said "no thanks," and looked for someone else who could take us there. We soon found someone offering transportation to the site, but we would have no guide. We said OK. Soon after, our original guide said that the 2 other people who had signed up for the original tour showed up, but it was too late. If he had just told us that we were waiting on someone else, we would've gladly waited, but I don't know why he didn't say that in the first place. So the other couple decided to go with us. We had a nice air conditioned van for the 2 hour ride to the site. When we got there, our driver arranged for a private tour guide who works at the site for $10 per person. It was great having such a small group - we learned alot of history. On the way back, our driver took us to a beautiful restaurant on a lake - it was gorgeous! Great to have authentic Mexican food. We had a very enjoyable day!
Our last day at sea was spent sleeping late and packing.
General comments about the cruise: The cruise director, Chris was great - we saw him everywhere. Food was good, for mass-produced food. The chocolate melting cake was delicious! The karaoke was weak - mostly kids singing (but it was spring break). We enjoyed the shows, especially the comedians (during the family friendly shows). The kids wanted to go every night. Our kids also liked the arcade called the "caboose." We would give them $20 and then head to the casino. I had a massage and facial at the spa, but my biggest complaint was that the spa is directly under "Camp Carnival," and it was very noisy. I thought the kids were going to come through the ceiling! Who's idea was that?! Service in general was good, although they seemed to have only 1 person working at the excursion desk during the busiest time!
Debarkation wasn't too bad. We didn't do the self check-out, so we left the room with our carry-on luggage and headed to breakfast to wait for our deck to be called. We couldn't locate one suitcase, and after searching every section, finally found it sitting by itself near a table in the back. Took the Carnival provided bus back to Ft. Lauderdale and were on our way home.
Had a great time, and can't wait to do another cruise!