Did research and this was the best cruise I found for the money. Researched the Valor and she got good reviews. Seven day Western Caribbean cruise, out of Miami, for $499/double occupancy, with $100 shipboard credit. This was my third cruise. I had previously been on a 3 day cruise with Disney, great but pricey. Also experienced Royal Caribbean on a 5 day cruise, which was nice, but nothing exceptional.
Stayed in Miami on April 12,2008 and the cruise departed the next day, Sunday at 4PM. Got at the Port of Miami a little before 3PM and cruised through the boarding process. Bags to room timely.
Disembarking involved some waiting in line for Customs, but it wasn't too bad.
Gratuities of $70 per guest for formal dining room waiters, etc. are included in your final bill. I like this, as opposed to dealing with the envelopes, etc. at cruise end.
Our inside stateroom was quiet and just fine, but bring a small clock. Beach towels, hair dryer are provided in your room. TV in room provides that days menu, ongoing bill itemization, etc.
Medical staff was great. All and all, this was a great cruise and ship for the money. Carnival is as good as Royal Caribbean and in some ways better, at a cheaper price. I would definitely sail Carnival again. Just choose the right ship, like the Valor. First time cruisers, you probably should start out on a shorter cruise, to see if cruising is for you.
Main dining room dinners and breakfasts were great.I never tried there for lunch. Dinner menus included one lobster night and I got three helpings:) During formal dinners, I also had great prime rib, filet mignon, veal parm,, ribs, pork chops. The warm chocolate cake,with vanilla ice cream, was the best dessert that I ever had in my life :) Staff always provided seconds of anything you wanted. Nice staff, with only a one time exception. I probably put on 10lbs, but who cares. Great danish and yummy strawberries :)
Lido Deck dining was above average on most occasions. Burgers and pizza were just OK. Deli had real good sandwiches. Unfortunately, I never tried the Chinese or Fish n Chips, since they were only available during the afternoon. Great TexMex buffet for the cruise end party. Twenty-four hour room service was above average and always fast. Ice cream was great from inside Rosie's but just OK at the outside machines. Generally, I would recommend getting your meals in the formal dining room, when possible. You pay a reasonable price for soda but lemonade, punch, coffee, iced tea and hot chocolate are free.
I never tried the Supper Club, but I wish I had. All and all, really good food and plenty of it.
Entertainment on board was very good. Lobby singers were great. Adult comedy show was great. Variety shows were above average. Huge TV on Lido Deck, with elevated seating in front for music videos, movies, etc. GREAT IDEA !! Great cruise finale party, with great food, dancing, etc. Nice bars, but wish they had normal ESPN on board. Basketball, volleyball, miniature golf, golf net, great workout room/spa, running track on board. Nice pool with big slide for everyone and a quiet/adult only pool in the rear of the Lido deck. No supervision at any at the pools, kids sometimes were out of control at the main pool. Real nice casino, with what seemed like a high number of winners at the slots. Quite a few activities, but not as many as on my prior cruises. On ship shops had nice merchandise but they are a little pricey.
Just toured and shopped on Caymans, Roatan Island and Belize. We did rent a jeep on Cozumel, at one of the rental agencies just off the pier. Only $66 for the day, plus gas. Rode around the entire island, with certain sight seeing, souvenir stops. One road goes around the entire island and is easy to travel. Most beautiful coastline that I have ever seen, including Hawaii. They also have dune buggies for rent. I would recommend doing this for the price, freedom, views and fun.