This was my First cruise with Carnival. I have cruised with Holland America three times, Admiral and Bermuda Star Lines...a long time ago! I booked this vacation for myself and my 17 year old daughter. We found the itinerary to be exciting as I had never been to any of the ports of call listed. They included Costa Maya Mexico, Limon Costa Rica and Colon Panama.
We flew in from Vancouver B.C. via Toronto on Air Canada the day before. All flights, Hotel and Transfers were included in our Carnival booking. We were picked up by Carnival staff at Ft. Lauderdale Airport and bussed by Gray Hound to the Hotel. We stayed at the Sheraton Ft. Lauderdale Airport Hotel, a 5 minute ride away. Very nice hotel. When we arrived we dropped off our stuff in the room and caught a taxi to a shopping area one exit away ($6 each way). It had a K Mart, Old Navy, Ross, McDonalds, Home Depot ETC. The hotel did have a restaurant but it was quite pricey.
The morning of the cruise we were picked up by Carnival Staff and bussed to Port Everglades, about 10 minutes away. We arrived at about 12:30, our luggage was off loaded at the pier and loaded directly on the ship, embarkation went very quickly and we were on the ship in minutes. The ship was beautiful, the dEcor is a garden theme with floral and black "Iron" looks throughout. Our Cabin was an inside on deck 8. We had two lower beds. The room had lots of closet space. It also had a safe that was free to use all you needed was a card with a magnetic stripe on the back to open and close the safe. There was also a fridge in the cabin...stocked...we took our own case of soda on board, so we emptied the stock into an empty drawer and filled it up with our own stuff. The fridge was not very cold but it served us well. The beds were comfy, the TV had loads of channels, two movie, NBC, ABC...and probably 6 ship channels. If you have an inside cabin, do yourself a favor and bring, a night light, and a battery powered alarm clock. The rooms are so dark you'll sleep until dinner.
The Lido was one deck up from our cabin. The food was great. Breakfast was just OK but the selection for lunch was amazing. Fish and chips, Deli, Pizza, Buffet...It's all there baby! We had dinner every night in the dining room. We had early (5:45) seating, our server Edwin was fantastic. The Turkey dinner was SO good and the Chocolate Melting Cake....DIVINE!!
Shopping on the ship was crazy...sales everyday. They sold everything including the bed and sheets you slept on! I'm not kidding. If you are going to go to the spa, it gets cheaper every day so wait until the end. Art Auctions, gold and silver by the inch, photos galore! I did find that having my digital prints developed was very reasonable, 24 hour service for 19 cents a print.
The entertainment was FANTASTIC! The dancers were high energy and the stage shows were well done. The movies on the deck at night were so fun. There were 3500 people on the ship and 900 were kids. They did a great job keeping the kids busy and I'm not sure where all the people were. Loads of empty deck chairs all over the ship.
Costa Maya, was so beautiful. We took a private tour with David and Ivan to the Mayan Ruins, our guide Eliou was so knowledgeable and we had a wonderful time. He dropped us off at the fishing village and we got a massage on the beach for $20 for an hour. It was so GREAT! We shopped at the pier for all of our souvenirs and the free salt water pool was a welcome sight!
Limon Costa Rica, we booked with Charlie Soto tours. They were also wonderful, we went zip lining, (best day of my life) Jungle river cruise, saw a little boy holding a baby crocodile. Then we stopped for a quick lunch and grocery store.
Colon Panama, We booked our tour with My Friend Mario. Our guide was Rey. This is a very poor and dirty city. We went to the canal, fort and beach. It was a rainy day but still a very interesting time.
Booking privately was a good thing, we saved so much money doing it this way!
Disembarkation went smoothly and home we went!