This was our first cruise. I am 31 year old male with my wife (37) and our daughter (5). We live 15 to 20 minutes from Galveston so we gladly selected this as or starting point. We booked our cruise early through Carnival and had excellent service through the entire process.
On the day of the cruise we went early and walked around Galveston prior to starting the embarkation process. When it was time to go to the ship we arrived around 10:30 to 10:45 am. We found a porter rather quickly and our luggage was whisked away with no problems including sodas and alcohol. We ran into our first line all the way at the actual counter prior to getting onto the boat so it was very smooth sailing. We were able to proceed through that fairly easy when we were told to have a seat as there were 2 wedding parties that were going to be boarding before we were able to board the ship. It took about 20 to 30 minutes for that process and we were then allowed to board the ship. After reading several of the other reviews I was skeptical of the boarding process but I figure because we were so early it was a breeze.
From the first steps onto the ship it was a WONDERFUL experience. All the staff were polite and respectful and offered assistance at the drop of a hat. We swam in the pool, Lido Deck, shortly after arriving with my daughter not understanding the salt water being in the pool. It then started lightning and thundering so we vacated the pool and it started raining. We went to the Lido buffet and man I was impressed with the presentation and the food itself. I read several reviews from different sites prior to the cruise and with the mixed reviews I was eager to see how I would like to food. I can tell you from that first meal to the last I liked everything I ate.
We finally located our cabin on deck 6 at the aft portion of the boat. We were in an inside stateroom and it was perfect for our family of 3. We did decide that on our next cruise we will pay the extra for a balcony. Our room steward was CARLOS and he was exceptional. If we left the room he made it a point to come into the hallway to say hello and greet us. I asked for ice the first night and everyday after both room cleanings he had put fresh ice in the bucket. The towel animals were awesome and he made sure to put them on our daughters bed or in the case of the monkey it was hanging by her bed.
We had the early seating in the Monet restaurant. I was not real excited to have the early seating but it worked out great for us as most nights we were able to take our daughter to Camp Carnival for the dinner that they hosted and we were still able to make our table. The food was wonderful and you could order as much as you wanted. The shrimp cocktail only has 4 shrimp so make sure to order 2 of them. The entrees were varied and were presented well and most importantly they tasted excellent. I read several people talking about the food being sub par and after eating what I had they must have some far out tastes. We are simple people so maybe that is the problem but all the food was excellent.
As for the rest of the cruise it was outstanding from shows and things to do plus the Camp Carnival I was amazed and entertained the entire week. My favorite place to eat for lunch was the Lido Buffet at the Chinese restaurant. There was also a very fresh salad bar that had several options. I won one of the Blackjack Tournaments and put most of the $500.00 dollar winnings back into the Casino but had a wonderful time doing it. I loved the peace and flexibility to do what you wanted to do during the cruise. It seemed that there was something to do all day and night every day. If you run out of things to do on this cruise you are not looking hard enough.
We did an excursion at every stop and booked them through Carnival. They were only slightly more expensive and we didn't have to worry about being left behind if something happened. I didn't want to be stuck in a foreign place with my wife and child trying to find a way to the next port. We had plenty of time to shop while also doing the excursions. In Montego Bay Jamaica we went on the Wet and Wild Sail and Snorkel and it was beautiful. We had slightly overcast skies that I was thankful for as my daughter and I sunburn rather bad. After snorkeling they gave out Rum punch and it was great. We were then dropped off at Margaritaville. I liked the place but the food was sub par. We then returned to the port and shopped in the secure compound prior to getting back on the boat.
In Grand Cayman we did the Stingray City Tour and I had a wonderful time. My daughter touched a stingray and she instantly became a growth on the top of my head and she then remained on the boat for the rest of that trip. I had a great time and even kissed a stingray for the 7 years good luck promise. Upon returning to the port there are so many shopping places right there we shopped for a period of time then got into a long line for a tender that actually moved fairly smooth.
In Cozumel we got the Playa Mia beach resort deluxe excursion. It is a little more but it includes a buffet and open bar that includes bottled water, mixed rinks, sodas, beer, and virgin frozen drinks. We had an air conditioned ride over there in a nice bus driven by Jose Cuervo and we then stayed in the fresh water pool where my daughter swam as I drank Dos XX's draft. Our waiter was Gutie and he was excellent. We met people from our cruise lines who were also in port and it sounded as though our cruise was well worth it.
We made sure to hit every Margaritaville for a shirt, shot glass, and magnet. We also made a stop at the Harley Davidson store in Grand Cayman.
I know I mixed and matched information and I can't seem to portray the overwhelming fun I had on this cruise. This cruise was so relaxing and stimulating at the same time. I loved every minute of it from start to finish. We had some waves early on that caused some to get seasick and there were reports of a virus running around but we never had a problem. We are definitely going again and have started looking at next year for sure. I hope I have helped and again can't tell everyone enough how great a time we had.
I would stress that you check your bill nightly on the TV in your cabin as we had a charge that was not ours and it took 2 days to get it taken off. We saved every receipt and checked it every night and that helped greatly. If you have kids I will tell you that Camp Carnival was excellent. Anywhere we went on the ship if one of the Camp Carnival staff saw our daughter they knew her by name and she enjoyed it.
Hopefully I helped, if you go have a great time and relax.