Sitting at my computer in Arizona, I still feel a little of the ship motion.LOL My husband and I were first time cruisers and decided to try this "cruise thing". We booked through Carnival and David could not be more helpful and started with our great experience. A few weeks after booking, another couple decided to go with us and a couple of weeks later another couple. So we had the six of us and we all got on the same level (Empress) and all had balcony rooms-a MUST! They linked us all together so we would be at the same seatings and table at dinner. We chose the late seating and had a great table-232-Song, our head waiter was the best. Embarkation was not bad. We had to wait on line for maybe half hr. to 40 minutes. I have done that in Disneyland for one ride-believe me this wait is worth every minute and it is the best E-ride. The minute we were aboard, I could not believe the decor, friendly people and how beautiful everything was. Reminded me of a large, lavish, Las Vegas hotel. More
We went to our room to check it out, and we were very surprised at the size and efficiency of the room. Met our steward right away and she was great at that moment and the rest of the cruise. Just ask, and it's there. Back up to the Lido deck aft to meet our friends for our Sail Away drink. Drink of the day being served along with anything else you could dream up. The DOD was always a mai tai type drink, sweet, rummy and good. Can only drink so many though. My husband now has a new set of glasses from his DOD's-he likes sweeter drinks more than me. Sailing away watching the Pilot Boat was very cool. A Pilot from Long Beach harbor sails you to a certain spot, jumps back on the Pilot Boat and our Captain takes over. We all went back to our room to unpack and found all our luggage to be there, except one. One of our lady friends luggage did not show up at the Long Beach Airport and now is not on the ship either. ( We hoped US Airways would find it and have it onboard before sailing-Not) Now down to the Purser's office to see what to do. To make a long story short, we had many visits to the Pursers Office and they got us in contact with US Airways trying to track down the luggage-never could tell us where it was. Finally was put onboard in Puerto Vallarta! In the mean time she had to do her best finding clothes to wear in a gift shop. (She was too small to share our clothes-wish I had that problem!) Back on deck after packing-buffets set up with some good looking food. Had to have a little snacky with our drinks and off to dinner at 8:15. Menued dinner everynight in the Normandie Room-great selections and great food! From soup to dessert, everything was the best! And yes, everything you hear about the Melting Chocolate Cake is true!! But I must say, there are other good desserts as well-try the souffle's and Orange Angel Food Cake. Basically there are two places to eat your main meals of the day. The Normandie Room and Mermaids. The difference is, one is sit down with a menu and the other is buffet style. Most of the time we ate at buffets during the day-they were wonderful. Lots of hot and cold entrees and great salads, fruits, etc. We ate dinner in the Normandie every night except one-we went to David's Supper Club. What a treat that was. The best Prime beef and veal, lobster and so on. The service and presentation of food was fabulous. This is a must at least one night. Wait until you see the meat and dessert selections up there!! Wait until you see David!! It just so happened, on formal night and one other night, the Captain had his table next to ours in Normandie-what a handsome, good looking crew we had! Very gracious Captain, from Italy. Also, room service was very good, limited menu, we had coffee and fruit every morning on the balcony and then met our friends for breakfast. Excursions: Puerto Vallarta-Los Veranos Canopy Tour. This is incredible! Zip lines through the rain forest and over rivers. Very safe and lots of fun-highly recommended! Matzalan-Stone Island Tour. More fun on a beautiful, clean sandy beach. Lots of activities (horses, kayaks, atv's, banana boat rides) and lunch and drinks included. Someone, get the whole grilled fish-very good! Cabo San Lucas-Santa Maria Cove snorkeling. A catamaran boat ride to a beautiful bay full of gorgeous fish and reefs. Take some bread in a plastic bag and take bits out for the fish-they will swarm you-take an underwater camera! **Note: I made our Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan excursions myself before the cruise online with Mazatlantours.org-same as ship and much cheaper. They were very helpful and all went well. I booked the snorkeling trip the same morning with Carnival because we were not sure what we were going to do in Cabo. The rooms are very efficient, and very comfortable. All our luggage fit under the bed and we had plenty of drawer and closet space. We had room 6222 on the Empress deck-good location for stability. Left door open at night to hear the ocean. (Bring bungee cords to hold door open and bungee towels and bathing suits on chairs so they won't blow away). Had a thunderstorm one night at sea-WOW, the lightning and thunder were awesome! Had the best seat in the house on our balcony. Had a couple of times with rough seas, you feel the boat rock more the lower you go-like in the Taj Mahal room. We all did okay with that, one guy got a little sea sick, nothing the Doc could not take care of. The shows in the Taj Mahal lounge were incredible! Vroom and Around the World were great. Big productions and sets. We played bingo, roulette in the casino and went to many other fun functions. Pool time and the entertainment at the pool was great. I cannot say enough about the staff. Cruise Director, Brooonsson, was a hoot! From top notch head waiters to maintenance-they were all friendly and wonderful. By the second night most of the wait and bar staff know your name and what you drink! The cocktail waiters at the pools, like Ernie and Oscar, are a riot! If someone was exceptional, tip them extra. Tips are included on the cruise, but we tipped our room steward and Normandie wait staff extra the last day. These people work very hard for their money and tips. All in all, we all had a great trip! Definitely exceeded all of our expectations! We are already planning one for next year at the same time-maybe Western Caribbean. If you can't have fun on a Carnival Fun Ship, it's your own fault or you are dead! Less
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