Well I live in Florida so we just drove in the day before for the fun of it. We stayed at the Best Western Busch Gardens. They're "All Suites" which is nice and close to Busch Gardens, MOSH, UCF and many other things if you are making a day of it. They served us breakfast Sunday morning and to the port we headed around 11:30AM.
We chose valet service for parking out of simplicity. We arrived to a crowd and everything still moved surprisingly quickly. The porter grabbed our bags (for all 6 of us), I went and paid for the valet, tipped both and we were headed inside. Once inside everything went really smooth and everyone was smiling and courteous. We were on the ship by 12:30PM.
We headed to the Lido deck for lunch. There was a wide variety of food (hamburgers, hot dogs, Italian, Asian, Deli, salads, etc.). We couldn't get in our cabins until 1:00PM so it was great to have lunch available. Kids were already in the pools and playing ping pong, adults were already More
sunbathing and relaxing.
At 1:30PM we headed to our cabins. We meet our room steward and were greeted by nice fruit and wine baskets sent by friends through the ships "Bon Voyage" service. We had a cabin with 2 uppers and a king size bed. The room was clean and comfortable. It was a little cramped with the uppers open but the room steward made sure they were closed when not in use. So that helped. The bathroom was clean and roomy. Lots of shelves for all our toiletries. A blow-dryer was supplied in the desk draw and shampoo and soap in the showers. Plenty of towels. Could have used more of the big blue pool towels since there were 4 of us in that room however.
After the lifeboat drill, we headed to the Lido deck again for some fun in the sun. I wanted to meet with my CC roll call group but couldn't manage it with a very active 8 year old that wanted to play ping pong and swim (sorry guys).
The Camp Carnival has registration at 7PM and family time to follow but since we had a late dinner we missed out on the family time. During family time they have Sundae Making and tours of the Noah's Ark area. The Club02 also had their icebreaker however my son along with a few other teens couldn't find the meeting area. They eventually found it on Day 2 and from then on had a great time making new friends and hanging out. Lots of activities and a Shore excursion in Belize. The Camp Carnival crew was very helpful and nice. My 8 year old really enjoyed his self and came home with all kinds of souvenirs (backpack, t-shirt, build-a-bear, bandana, etc.). The late night babysitting is slumber parties with movies, snacks, video games, dancing, etc., after 10:00PM it is an extra charge but reasonable and enjoyable.
Dinner in the Truffles Restaurant was nice. The food was good. Our service was fair. Their were really nice and the assistant was constantly making sure we had our drinks full and bread as well as taking our empty plates and running to get the food from the galley. The Head waiter however was always getting our orders mixed up or bringing stuff we didn't order. The assistant maitre d came by every night to say "Hello" and see if things were OK. He was very helpful. Dessert was WONDERFUL!
The casino didn't seem to have as many tables as other ships I have been on but there were a lot more slots and penny and nickel slots too, which was a nice "change". There were several tournaments (blackjack, slots, poker)
There are many activities on board: Hairy Man Contest, Many trivia games, Scavenger Hunts, Fear Factor, Survivor, etc. There was live music on the Lido deck, in Satchmo's, Billie's Bar, Atlantis Lounge, Odyssey Lounge, Firebird Lounge, Lobby, Medusa's Liar and even in the Casino sometimes. There was lots of shopping opportunities on Rodeo Drive. One night is a Bathrobe and Beer Party on Lido. The funny thing is everybody wears bathrobes that night whether or not they go to the party. It's hard to find someone when everyone has on white bathrobes!
The Cruise director was very involved in the evening entertainment and made all the intercom announcements, but I don't remember seeing him much our mingling with the masses.
The Foundation of Youth Spa was great. The staff was very friendly and pampering. The showers, sauna, Hot tubs, steam rooms are always available at no extra cost. Plus the fitness facilities and some of the exercise programs. A few do cost extra. The Helen of Troy Salon was nice. The crew works both the spa and the salon.
We did some shore excursions. They were good and I really liked the tour of the Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya. The history is rich and wonderful. My husband and the men in our group went Cave Tubing in Belize. They said it was great and they would love to do it again. In Grand Cayman, I loved the turtle farm!!! We chose to go with shore excursions through the ship because I didn't like the idea of going with a group in port and that slight chance of missing the boat and having to find my own way to the next port. In Mexico not a great idea to try to find your own way around in my opinion. In Cozumel we did shopping in the morning and then did the jeep tour to the lighthouse and beach for snorkeling. Beautiful fish and COLD water. BUrrrrrrrrrr!
There is 2 formal nights on a 7 day cruise. The first night is the Captain's Cocktail Party and the second night is just for fun.
Disembarkment was FAST! We did a general disembarkment which means we put our luggage out the night before and they took it down and had it in the customs area when we got off. It took all of about 3 minutes to find all 7 of our bags. Flew threw Customs and then had to walk across the street to the parking garage to get our car. Now remember we used "valet" service. We walked to the garage showed the valet person our ticket and then had to ride the elevator to the 4th floor where our car was waiting. OK, now tell me why I used valet if I had to walk with all my luggage across a busy street and take an elevator to a floor that my car was probably already parked on?
I really did enjoy my cruise! Everything in general was great and no matter was you vacation your going to have your ups and downs. But it's really nice when you have a lot of ups and not many downs. If I'm going to have a "wavy" vacation, I'd rather have it on the water, being pampered and sharing it with good friends and maybe even new ones. Less