Living in Florida we all drove down to the port on Sunday. Parking at Port Everglades is $12 per day.
Embarkation: We arrived at the port around 1:00 and boarded the ship by 2:00. This process was very simple. The line was very long when we got there; winding outside the terminal, but it went much faster than we anticipated.
The Ship: The ship was beautiful inside with many vibrant colored lights and dEcor. It was very clean all the time, and in excellent shape.
Cabin: We all had balcony rooms on the Verandah deck (8th). We had requested to be next to each other; however we ended up being on opposite ends of the ship. This ended up working out because we were on different sides, and could see both views of the ports from our rooms. The room is very spacious, with lots of storage space. The bathroom was rather quite adequate for a week at sea (much bigger than RCCL). The balcony had two chairs and had enough space for all five of us to hang out. I will never go on another cruise without a balcony room!!
Service: Our room steward (Hondo) was great! The first day we requested a monkey towel animal, and when we returned from dinner, the monkey was hanging in our room from the ceiling with sunglasses on. He cleaned our room twice a day, and was kind to respect that we were late sleepers.
Dining: We chose the late seating (8:00 p.m.) in the Silver Olympian Dining Room. The dining room has a two level seating layout, and is very open. The head waiter and assistant waiter (Suka) were great. Suka always made sure we had bread and desert every night. He went above and beyond to make sure we had a great "fun ship" experience. The food was great! The sweet and sour shrimp, lobster dinner, and the warm chocolate melting cake were favorites of the whole table. The only minor complaint we had was with the drink waiter. It seemed she was too busy to attend to our table every night. We were lucky if we had a drink by the main course. They have many other great food choices too. Fish and Chips on the 10th deck were fantastic. It is only open for a few hours each day, so be sure to check it out. The 24 hour pizza is awesome too. The Lido deck buffet was actually excellent most of the time too. Most of us do not eat breakfast, however the omelets were great.
Entertainment: The entertainment on this ship was great. The comedy shows were very funny. They had family shows and late adult shows. There was always something going on.
Spa and Fitness: We did not choose to use the spa services offered aboard. They seemed expensive. The fitness center was great. We never had a problem finding a cardio machine to use and the weights were okay too. The gym has a view overlooking the ocean which was very relaxing.
Freeport: The weather was a little cool to go in the water when we arrived in Freeport, so we didn't get off the boat. There is nothing to do when you get off the boat. Seems like a wasted spot to us.
Grand Cayman: We booked the Cayman Island Tour which consisted of the turtle farm, hell and stingray city. This was a great tour. The turtle farm is neat to look at and you can even hold some of the turtles. The hell rock is exactly that a rock. It is a little hole in the wall with a rock formation that looks like hell. They have a gift shop and a post office so you can mail friends and family postcards. The next stop was Stingray City. This is a surreal experience. You can swim and pet the stingrays in the middle of the ocean in Grand Cayman. I would highly recommend this excursion.
Costa Maya: This was our favorite port. When you get off the ship you walk down this long pier to the "tourist" part. They have a pool, bars and shops. We opted to take a taxi to the town of Mahahaul. It was $3 per person. This was great. We sat and drank beers (6 for $10) on the beach with our feet in the clear blue water. We also got a 30 minute massage for $10 on the beach. A much better deal than the massage's on the boat.
Disembarkation: Getting off the ship was a long process. We were the last color called so we finally got off the ship by 9:45 am. They started at 8:30 am. Once we got called we were off the ship through customs and had our entire luggage by 10:15. Getting off the ship was a very simple process. I would recommend carrying your entire luggage off through the self service option.
Summary: Overall this cruise was excellent. The crew was always friendly and willing to help anytime. The price of this cruise was the best value around. I would definitely go on Carnival again.