-- Background Information
I am 23, this trip was with 9 other people who are a combination of friends and family. For half of the group, this was the first cruise. For me, this was my third cruise, the previous two were on RCCL Enchantment of the Seas.
Whew... Drove to Miami from North Carolina - mistake. This trip is to relax and have a good time, next year we will be flying. We left North Carolina at 10pm and rolled into Miami around 10am. Grabbed breakfast at a local joint and headed over to the ship around 1.
Typical embarkation. Nothing exceptional here, nothing to complain about. I'd say it took around 90 minutes to get on the ship from the time we got in line.
The ship was great. Very roomy, never felt crowded. The Conquest Class ships have a strange layout that sometimes requires you to go up and down a few times to get from place to place. You'll have it figured out within a day and you'll love it. The pools are another story. The pools are covered with kids like white on rice on paper plate in a snowstorm. We'll be cruising in May next year to avoid the unsupervised children.
A word of mention for the blackjack players. All of the blackjack tables use those atrocious constant shuffle machines ... no good. Still fun, just something good to know in advance.
I'm by no means a food connoisseur, so the food on the more so budget cruise lines (Carnival, RCCL) is exceptional to me. I enjoyed my meal every night (formal dining room every night). Portions were large enough to keep a growing 23 year old full. Lobster was delicious and they brought us two tails. Our waitstaff lacked in personality, however they were very efficient and they stayed on the ball. Lastly, if you ever happen to run into a bar waiter named Slavko ... he is the man.
The 10 of us hit up the Eagle's Lounge pretty much every night after dinner for some karaoke. The host of the show was lacking, however, it was a lot of fun every night. The comedy shows were decent, I'd rate them a 7 on a scale of 10. The deck party was outstanding. We had a great time. I don't understand however, why they only had one deck party on a 7 night cruise, I don't know?! I did not go to any of the Vegas style shows, I heard however that the break dancing is not to be missed (next time maybe). Something else worth mentioning ... if you want a ship that never sleeps, you've found it. You can have a drink and play some blackjack straight through 4am.
- Grand Cayman
This place is beautiful. We opened up a bar with a beer and some burgers at 9am and headed straight down to the beach. Upon entering the beautiful water, the only time I got out was to get another drink. Great day very enjoyable. One thing worth mentioning ... this port is much more expensive than typical Western ports in terms of cost of food, drinks, souvenirs, etc.
- Roatan, Honduras
Another beautiful place. We did the zip line tour. I would recommend doing this tour, I would however try to get there early as you may have to wait a while to go on the tour.
Do I like this port? You better Belize it. We went cave tubing in Belize which was pretty cool. Nice walk through the jungle upstream and then its nothing but floating down the river for about an hour. If your worried about physical exertion I'll say this, my mother of 57 years of age accompanied us on this trip and had no problems. I travelled to Belize last year as well and we wound up using the same tour guides from www.ecotoursbelize.com. I would HIGHLY recommend these guys. They are wonderful. One more thing ... find the Belikin beer while your here.
- Costa Maya
We spent the day down at Tequila Beach. Drinkin Dos Equis, Sol, and Don Julio while eating nachos, pico de gallo, guacamole, quesadillas, and tacos. The beach itself wasn't the nicest I've been to, but it was a lot of fun with some shops for the ladies and a nice atmosphere conducive to having a good time.
The crew was great. Bar staff knew my name and tendencies by the end of the second day. Our stateroom attendant Steve was super nice and always on the ball. It seems everyone on the ship wanted the late dinner seating and got stuck with the first seating. Go figure? Maitre d' was busy trying to fix things. I never used any of the other service desks.
The thing heard most often on the 12 hour drive home ... "next year." Everyone was thoroughly impressed with cruising and they can now join me in counting the days until the next cruise as they are now infected with the cruisebug. We will be cruising again on Carnival in May of 2008 on a Conquest Class ship. Now it's just time to figure out the ports of call and departure date. Thanks to all the others out there taking the time to write these reviews that helped us pick such a wonderful cruise. I hope my review helps someone as much as the others have helped me.