We booked our trip through a local travel agent. Our group included three couples in our late 20s. This is the second cruise my husband and I have taken.
Day 1- We flew US Air to Orlando, and used Mears for the transfer to the port. Embarkation was easy and fairly quick. Staff at the pier was friendly and the lines moved quickly. We had no problems bringing beverages on board. We used a variety of strategies for this- we brought 8 bottles of wine aboard, both in carry on luggage and in checked baggage. We also brought three bottles of liquor on board, all in checked baggage. Some were in glass original containers, some were in plastic original containers, some were in water bottles. We also brought soda and water on board. No problems with any of our strategies. Once we got on board, we had lunch on the Lido deck, and tried to familiarize ourselves with the confusing layout of the ship. We got on board around 2:00, but people had been on board as early as 11:30. Our bags arrived around 5:00 to our rooms. We had an interior cabin on deck 8. We didn't hear any noise in our rooms, except when there was a deck party above us on the Lido Deck and it was very very loud, and occasionally we heard them hosing down the deck. We met our steward Jose from Nicaragua, and he was happy to rearrange the beds into a King for us. He also unlocked the fridge for the week, and told us it was okay for us to empty it out, put our items in, and put the items back in at the end of the week. We gave him a tip in advance and he kept our ice bucket filled and took very good care of our room. We dined in the Platinum dining room. We had a private table for our party of 6. Our waiter Rudy and assistant waiter Djoko were both from Indonesia. They were excellent! We were charged a 10 dollar corkage fee the first night for them to open our wine, but the rest of the week we brought our wine already corked and no longer had to pay the charge for the rest of the week. We spent the first night enjoying each other's company, and exploring the decks of the ship.
Day 2 At Sea - One of our group members was an early riser. He awoke early and grabbed some great seats on the Lido Deck. The clothespins came in handy to keep our towels in place! We spent the day enjoying the sunshine and drinks on the deck. The waterslide is tons of fun! The aft and main pools were refreshing. The pool near the waterslide wasn't open until after noon. The hot tubs in the middle of the ship were always crowded with mostly children. They weren't as warm as we would have liked. This was the first formal night of the ship. Irons are available in the self service laundry room, but go early to avoid the line. We found the cruise director Wee Jimmy to be a bit on the annoying side. We also didn't see him around as much, except for when he was MC'ing an event. On our last Carnival Cruise the director made himself much more visible.
Day 3 Cozumel- We arrived in Cozumel at 10:00. We had no trouble getting off the ship quickly. Half of our group went on an excursion through Carnival to Tulum. The other half (including me) went to Paradise Beach. Paradise Beach was fantastic. The cab ride was about 12 dollars, and we each bought a bracelet for 10 dollars. The bracelet included use of the floating loungers, bungee trampoline, coconut rock climbing wall, water trampoline, iceberg, snorkeling, kayaks, and more. We enjoyed a bucket of 5 beers for 15 dollars. We also had a Mexican platter of delicious food. Paradise Beach wasn't too crowded, even though there were 4 ships in port. The bathrooms were clean and the lockers and showers were nice. There is free internet at the bar! We shopped for a bit before heading back on board. We bought a 2 liter of soda to bring back on board. We found the secret decks and watched the ship depart Cozumel. This evening we did a bit of Karaoke, and explored the bars and clubs on the ship. We spent time in the sports bar, and enjoyed dinner in the dining room. We tried to see a show in the Amber Palace, but it was standing room only, as we arrived too late! Go early to get a good seat, especially if there's only one show for the evening.
Day 4 Belize- We got on the second tender boat, and met Vitalino Reyes from www.cavetubing.bz We had the experience of a lifetime with Vitalino. We didn't book this excursion through the cruise line because Carnival's cave tubing tour is twice as expensive, and is half the trip. Vitalino is the pioneer of cave tubing. He trained the rest of the guides, and all the equipment the other guides use is his! He knows the river and rainforests better than anyone else. We learned all about the culture of Belize in the van ride there. It was nice to have such a personal experience. It was just the six of us, him, the driver and his two young sons in the van. He got us to the river first, before any of the other tours. He took us through the rainforest, stopping to explain interesting information about the vegetation. The hike was entertaining, and informative. It was about a 30-40 minute hike. Most was flat, but there were a few hills and stairs. He showed us the areas where the other tours started and finished, and it was easy to see that we were getting twice, if not triple the experience of the others. We jumped off a cliff into the refreshing water. We paddled backwards into a cave that nobody else was going into, and Vitalino showed us his "secret room". Then, we floated down the river, and experience of a lifetime! We then had a delicious lunch before returning to the pier. We did a little shopping, and then took the tender back to the ship. This was New Year's Eve, and we were surprised that it wasn't a formal night. Many people did dress up, and there were some extra activities planned. We enjoyed counting down the seconds in the lobby, and there was a nice balloon drop. We spent time in the Cinnabar, requesting songs from the Piano man.
Day 5 and 6 At Sea- A cold front came in and made the seas VERY ROUGH and it was quite windy and chilly. We tried to sit out and enjoy the Lido Deck, but it became uncomfortable. There didn't seem to be much planned in case of bad weather. Perhaps board games could be checked out or additional indoor activities planned in case of days at sea like this. For anyone who wasn't a gambler, or a family with small children, there wasn't much to do. Many people became sick on the boat these few days, including two in our party. The ship ran out of Ginger-ale! We were also disappointed that more information wasn't given to the passengers about the weather conditions. A couple announcements were made, but anxiety was high due to the stormy conditions and the unknown reasons and potential duration of the rough seas. We also enjoyed the R rated comedy of Al Jackson on night and attended the Justin Illusion magic and dance show the next night, which was quite enjoyable and impressive! Day 7 Nassau We had no trouble getting off the ship in Nassau. We took the 10 bus to Cable Beach. The bus is only one dollar a person, and is quick and much cheaper than a Taxi. We entered the Wyndham hotel, and paid 15 dollars a person to use the facilities of three properties. We enjoyed the hot tub, water slide, and beach loungers. When showers came, we explored the hotel, but headed right back out to the beach when the sun returned. We spent the afternoon watching the boat set sail from the front balconies. These are easy to get to from unmarked doors at the front sides of pretty much all of the decks. They were very private, and had a great view! We packed, and spent the evening enjoying our last dinner. We generously tipped our waiter for his excellent attention and service, and headed to the Legends Show in the Amber Palace. Some performers were excellent, others were awful. Our Aretha and Garth were stellar!
Disembarking was a bit chaotic. There was confusion about what time we were docking. Some information indicated 7 am, others indicated 8 am. Many, many, many, announcements were made throughout the morning about who was to get off the ship when. The Lido deck breakfast was packed, and the staff seemed to rush us out of there. We used Mears transportation to get back to the airport.
Overall, we loved the service of our room steward and dining room servers. We loved our three days at port. We loved watching the ships depart from port from the semi secret front balconies. We saved money by bringing beverages on board. We loved our private excursion with Vitalino Reyes at Cavetubing.bz
We saw room for improvement with the cruise director, and activities for days at sea especially during rough weather. Some of the food was terrific, some left something to be desired. The ship was a bit hard to navigate, but had a lot of different bars and places to spend time with friends.