My DW and I flew in separately. She flew to Ft. Lauderdale, and I flew to Miami 2 days before embarking. We stayed at the Doral Resort. Absolutely beautiful. Played the Blue Monster in 5:30 hours. No marshal until I finally called someone. Had dinner at the champions restaurant. Took 1:30 hours to get our meal, they lost our ticket and our waiter was lost for a while. Otherwise, a good experience.
Took a cab to the port via liquor store to pick up our 2 bottles of wine. Embarkation was a breeze and nobody would take the bottles of wine from me, so I took them to the lido deck and then to the room. Had a blast from the great service to the wonderful weather. The room was a little warm for my taste, but I love cold rooms. It was bigger than I expected, since it was my first cruise. We decided not to book any excursions, as they are too expensive and structured for our taste. We decided to walk around Key West and shop. Our son got a henna tattoo that he thought was too cool. I woke up at 4 am before porting in Key West, I wanted to watch the process. I was fascinated, no pun intended. Enjoyed coffee and conversation with a gentleman from Kentucky while waiting for port.
After leaving Key West, I went to the pool with wife and kid in tow. We had a good time. I went down the slide and made the kids laugh at the big splash that I made. We had formal night that night and our son went to Camp Carnival. He was not thrilled, but he is 10. We had a wonderful experience with our waiter Shetty. He was as good a waiter as I have ever had. I brought one of the bottles of wine from the stateroom. We enjoyed the atmosphere and the food, although not the quality I was expecting.
The next day as we approached Cozumel, I enjoyed the breeze on deck looking at the beautiful blue water. Saw flying fish as they were getting away from the ship as it came through. The water is so clear that I could not believe it. We decided to go to Playa del Mia for the day mainly for our son to play with the various activities that they had. I spent most of the time snorkeling and getting burnt to a crisp. I highly recommend a good WATER PROOF sunscreen or a shirt when snorkeling. I know that there are nicer places to snorkel, and I plan on visiting those next time, but I was elated at the fish and water. I even got pretty close to a foot and a half barracuda.
When I was done, I decided to take advantage of the free beverages, which were ok. Generic alcohol was available for free, but the good stuff was at the cash bar. If I were to go there again, I would not pay for the all inclusive, just go and pay for drinks. Incidentally, Carnival was charging $65/adult and $60/kids including transportation. We got a cab $30 round trip and paid $49/adult and $15/our son. We also arrived 45 minutes before the cruise crowd and left whenever we wanted to.
I was a little upset that the cruise line was overcharging on some of the things. I asked the information deck about a shuttle from port to Ft. Lauderdale airport. They wanted to charge me $30/pp. I ended up getting a real nice shuttle for $15/pp. We were the only ones in the van and the polite gentleman even stopped so we could get a drink.
Overall, the experience was good. I know a little more about what to bring and what to do next time. We are actually preparing for our next cruise.
Disappointments: price gouging No wonder people bring alcohol onboard. $6-7 for a drink. WOW Take advantage of you if you let them ie shuttle and excursions.
I also was a little disappointed with the food. I expected a little more from the formal dining rooms.
Exceeded my expectations: service. Everyone was polite and helpful.
Deli, great sandwiches
Rooms, kept clean, larger and had ice when I wanted it.
Cruise, not as much movement as I expected. I barely had sea legs at all the day we got back.
Going through customs. It was a breeze. The officer did ask me when I bought my Rolex, not realizing he was wondering if I bought it abroad. He was polite though and we all got through pretty quickly.