Let me start by saying this is my first cruise. I read many reviews before going and I feel that it made me even more excited to go. We had a group of 10 people and 5 flew and 5 drove. Those who drove went from Charlotte, NC to Miami the night before we left and I strongly recommend anyone to fly rather than drive 12 hours. We arrived at the port and paid $105.00 to park our vehicle in their parking deck. There were plenty of staff available to get our luggage out of the vehicle so we started towards the line for embarkation.
Embarkation was a bit more painful than I thought it would be. It was a swift moving line through metal detectors and checking passports. I will give it to Carnival's staff for keeping the line constantly moving. Being and impatient person, waiting two hours before we were on the ship was a bit nervewracking. From what I now understand, this is acceptable and I will be mindful of that next time. We quickly realized that out of the 10 of us, we were seated at the same dinner time in the Washington Dining Room, but at 4 different tables. This was corrected the second night so again, kudos to Carnival.
I would like to take a moment to complain about the unsupervised children on board. I saw many parents just leaving their children to run wild and do whatever they wanted. It was nothing to see 10-16 year old kids still up and hanging out in groups of 10-15 people at 3:00 in the morning.
Let's talk about the food on the ship. On a scale of 1-10, I would give it a solid 9. Everything I had was wonderful, I can only complain that some of the food at dinner never changed, especially the chocolate melting cake, which I believe I was the only person on the ship who was a fan. We had two VERY professional waiters, what they lacked in personality they made up for in their service. I never ate at Scarlett's restaurant so no reviews on that. I was a huge fan of the 24 pizza and ice cream. We did purchase the $46 fountain card on the first day which paid plenty of dividends. For those who don't know, like myself, you get charged for all cokes and juices, but if you purchase the card, you can have as many as you want.
Ports of call...Grand Cayman was our first stop and being tendered to the island was not a bad wait in line. We enjoyed opening a bar on the beach and having some great bar food for breakfast. We then decided to go to 7 mile beach and enjoy a few drinks while relaxing in the ocean. We made a stop in Margaritaville for some souvenirs and were then out of money. Grand Cayman was an expensive but beautiful port. As for the tender back to the ship, it took an hour waiting in line. This was the worst experience of the cruise, but it will not stop me from going back.
Roatan Island, Honduras was a very beautiful place when looking down at it from the ship. It had a very different feel once you actually set foot on land. It was nice to not be tendered in and be able to walk right off the boat. We did the Jungle Zip Lining Tour which I highly recommend if you have the physical strength and endurance. We did not have a reservation so we had to wait 2 and a half hours at the top of the mountain for the first groups to finish. This was actually a blessing in disguise because we were one of the last people to go and we were not rushed at all.
Belize City, Belize was a beautiful port. The tender to the mainland was a rather lengthy one but relaxing none-the-less. We booked our own cave-tubing tour and there were 9 of us and we met 5 members from a very nice family from California. We packed into a comfortable van and drove about an hour to the spot where we walked about 3 miles into the jungle with a fantastic tour guide. We were only accompanied by at least another 500 people. I strongly recommend that if anyone chooses this tour, get up early and book early so you don't have to rush with everyone else and your group can stay together while tubing. We hopped back in our van for a nice drive to a restaurant called Amigos for food but were sidetracked when we were t-boned by another van on the road. Being in a car wreck in a foreign country is not a good feeling to have. We knew it wasn't our drivers fault, but it put us behind enough that we had to get our food to go from the restaurant.
Costa Maya, Mexico was my least favorite of all the places but it was cheap! The bad experience was watching human feces wash up on shore. That tends to ruin any desire of going swimming in the ocean. I feel confident that it was an unsupervised child, again. We went parasailing for $50pp which I thought was the best deal of any of the ports we went to.
Disembarkation was a total breeze. We were off the boat, had our bags, and were packed in the car to go home in less than 45 minutes. My final thought is that I was most impressed with Carnival and everything they did. I would strongly recommend Carnival to any person 18-55.