Arrived Orlando International (MCO) one day prior to cruise, since we came from Colorado. Drove to Cocoa Beach, and since we are Retired Air Force, stayed on Patrick AFB the night prior. Rented Car in Orlando, dropped off on day of cruise, about 5 miles from Port Canaveral. Car Rental (Thrifty) provided transportation to ship (no charge).
Embarkation process very smooth, once you determined which line to get into, for security. Arrived 11:00 am., but once through security, went upstairs to check-in. One individual "barking" orders at lots of people to ensure they have all paperwork completed including the Bahamas Landing Card. We had all but the Bahamas Landing Card, pre-completed on-line, (recommend that this be included in Carnivals Package) or get it somehow early, as there is only one desk in the middle of checking line, and "NO" pens and several people trying to use this desk). We were on the ship in approx 45 minutes.
Once on ship, told that Staterooms would not be ready until 3:00 pm... When for Lunch in the Red Sail, then walked around ship trying to get use to Floor Plan.
Stateroom ready at 3:00 pm, room was very clean and very good size! Lots of storage, free room safe, telephone, television, private bath, lots of Soap and Shampoo available (Recommend, that if you don't require special soap or shampoo, this will work for you, no need to bring any). We were very happy with Room Stewart and room, especially the towel animals every night with the chocolate!
Evacuation Drill, pretty straight forward. They give you enough heads up that the drill is coming, by telling guest they should make their way to their rooms to get life jackets, and be prepared to find assigned Muster Station. Once the drill started, it lasted about 1 hour, due so some people trying to avoid the drill and hide on balconies or in rooms. Once drill was over, we were already on sail...(too bad, we couldn't be on deck for our departure like the movies)
First day at sea; Weather wasn't very good. Cloudy, with a cool wind, but nothing like Colorado. Several events to keep you busy throughout the day, since it was not a sunny day. Briefing for Shopping and Excursion, but nothing for the "New" Cruiser. Would have like to seen a First time Cruiser Briefing, telling guests what to expect getting on or off the ship. First Captains Dinner; We didn't attend. Lots of people dressed up and lot of places blocked for Photo's... Hard to get around the decks and very crowded.
Excursion Desk: Poor Customer Service. We went to book a few Excursions at about 7:15 pm. Desk Clerk was very rude to say the least! I wanted to know some information on the offered excursions, and she told me that it's all in the description. When I tried to ask a question, she stated that "If you would let me finish" even though she wasn't saying anything. I asked her to speak up, because I was a little hard of hearing, she stated that she was not feeling well and was talking as loud as she could... All this time, she was stapling papers which just made it that much harder to hear. Anyway, she threw the stapler down and then just asked me "What I wanted to book".
First Port of Call: Cozumel arrival 10:00 am. Since we hadn't been off the ship yet, didn't know what to expect. Long lines up and down the stairwells to deck "0". Once the lines started to move, took about 15 mins to get off... Booked the Cozumel Sight-see and shopping excursion. Even through is was only $35 each, I wouldn't recommend it unless you want a quick, and I mean quick road tour of Cozumel as you ride out to one alleged Mayan Village, and short walk on a rock beach. Then back to Cozumel Shopping area, which is right by the Ship. Still allowed a lot of time for shopping.
Second Port of Call: Belize City arrival 8:00 am. This is a tender port, which means you have to take a boat from the ship to Belize City. Lot of confusion on how the Tender works... We had booked a private excursion with Cavetubing.com. Therefore, we did not have a tender number as required...(since if you book with Carnival, they give you a pre-assigned tender ticket) At no time during the excursion or shopping briefing did they mention how we were to get a "tender ticket" to get off the ship that day. If I had not been closely reading the nightly "Carnival Capers" I would not have known that we had to go to the Ebony Lounge to get our Tender Numbers. When we arrived to the Ebony, there were about 100 people trying to get numbers... No plan seemed to be in place to control the line and only one staff member to try to control several people that were un-happy about not knowing about tender number requirements. As I stated we used Cavetubing.com, and booked the ATV tour in addition to the cave tubing. Both were very enjoyable, but if I were to do it again, I would only book one of them, because you don't really have time for both. The ATV tour was only about one hour long, before we had to get to the river to tube down through two caves. Very good tour, but had to walk for about 30~45 minutes before getting into the water. Recommend Cavetubing.com! Very Safe way of doing things. Not much time for shopping when you return to Belize City, due to long bus ride to and from ATV/Tubing Locations.
Isla Roatan was our third stop: By far our favorite stop. Arrived: 8:00 am. Enjoyed the trees and people that we met. For this stop, we booked through Carnival, the Dolphin Swim, at Anthony's Resort. The handlers, keep telling us that we would only be in the water with the dolphins for 25 minutes, but I'm sure we were in there with them for closer to 45 minutes. Outstanding, I didn't think I would really like it, but it's amazing how these animals are so social and smart! After the dolphins, we went to a beach which was about 30 minutes away (Mr. Todd's wild ride). We had about 3 hours on the beach before having to head back to the ship. This trip wasn't so wild, because 9 people in a mini-van doesn't go up hill very quickly. Only small shopping area outside the port, but good enough to get some T-Shirts, and other gifts. Lots of Wood items, but just don't know how you would get them home!
Day 5: Day at Sea... Needed this rest, really! Sun was out, very warm, able to get a sun burn in about 3 hours. We just took it easy this day, with a sleep in to start, then slept on the sun deck, had a few drinks.
Freeport. Booked a Snorkel excursion with Carnival. Got off the ship, went to the assigned meeting location. No one in line! No one to ask questions ... Since we had some time, decided to look at a few local shops outside the port. Seen some people that we when ATV/Cave Tubing with, asked what they were doing. Stated that since their excursion was cancelled due to weather, they were just going shopping. They asked us what we were doing, when we told them, they stated they "heard" that was cancelled too. I went back over, still no one in line, so I asked other tour operator, who told me that all the trips to reefs were cancelled due to the weather. So we had to run back on-board to ask questions about this cancellation and refunds etc... Couldn't get too much information, as the excursion desk was closed. We did get a refund, but it would have been nice to be told in advance or had someone out there to tell guests. So, we changed out of bathing suits and went shopping. Nothing great, most stalls in the Straw Market had exactly the same things, and if they didn't have your size, they would just see their partner next to them and bring it over to you...
Debarkation: Well, all I can say! Started out smooth, until we found out that they were only allowing American's off the ship. Something with Immigration Computer System being down, and only US Passport could be processed. I had a US Passport, but my wife is British and has a Green Card. We couldn't depart! So Carnivals, response, send everyone, including luggage to the Amber Palace. Very stupid move!!! Then don't tell anyone what is really happening, except give reason, such as "They don't tell us, what's wrong, or that only US Passports can get off the ship... They would have been better to tell guest to stay in their Staterooms, until we were able to Disembark the ship. Once we were released, it only took about 15 minutes to get through immigrations and customs!
Rented a car, drove to Orlando. Spent the night in Orlando, since to arrive home at a good time, we had to take the first flight in the morning. December 23th, really wasn't a bad day to fly. No delays, everything departed on time and arrived early.
My wife and I are already talking about another Cruise, but we don't know where to yet... I'm sure it will be a winter break again, since we are RV'ers in the Summer!
Thanks to Cruise Critic, as we received so much information from your site and from other Cruisers... I'm glad that we were very happy with our cruise and didn't have some of the problem that I have read in other reviews.