This would be my 2nd time cruising. My first time was also with Carnival, and a few friends of mine and I went to the Mexican Riviera Cruise out of Long Beach, CA. I live in Los Angeles so we decided to change things up and choose a different location. We were a group of 15 that decided to take this cruise. We chose it due to the ports of call, scheduling with some of those taking summer classes and overall easy to get to location for all the families involved.
We flew into Tampa, FL on Saturday and stayed at the Hampton Inn Rocky Pointe. They have this cruise special which includes room, transportation to and from the airport and transportation to and from the Port. Also, their shuttle runs to anywhere within a 5 mile radius for dinner or what not. The hotel was very accommodating and for $149 it was a steal, considering how many times we took the shuttle. Also, breakfast was included.
Embarkation was a breeze. When the shuttle dropped us off, all 15 of our bags were already off to the ship. It was soooo easy. We got our number and it was called in 20 mins. I believe we were #12. Our stateroom was a balcony, and since we were a big group all of our rooms were in a row. So we had the purser's desk open up our balcony's and we had one long balcony to party on every night! That was key. The group was all my dad's buddies from Chicago and LA...and all of us kids which range from 16-26 grew up together!
Once on the ship we headed up to the lido deck and had lunch. I must say, the salad bar always had fresh and crispy veggies. I loved it. I've been on a Carnival ship and knew what I was in for. The Pizza was excellent. The highlight was the sandwich bar. I loved the Panini's. Dinner was awesome! Our servers were the best ever! Marketa and Sutana.....rocked. They were very very accommodating to our every need. Every night we had Indian food ....and we could still order from the menu. They just knew some of the parents couldn't live without Indian food for dinner and automatically had it. It was great. And our parents loved it. We appreciated it. One night us kids loved the Chicken tenders that were on the menu as an appetizer. We raved about it to Marketa and Sutana. Two days later...it was there for us in this huge tray.....as our appetizer. We didn't even ask for it. THey just did it. We were sooo happy. The only thing I do not recommend is having breakfast in the dining room.....its boring food. and portions are small. I would go to the omelette guy on the lido deck and just go all out up there. My favorite dessert which I loved on my last cruise and was waiting for this time was the BREAD Pudding. Soooooooo delicious. The seafood dishes were always cooked great. The chicken is sometimes dry so be careful. Stick to the steaks (according to those that ate the steaks) and seafood. And hey if there is something that you want to eat...ask! They are so great about accommodating your needs.
Ports of Call: Grand Cayman: We signed up for the Kayak Safari through Carnival. Fabulous. It even included snorkeling....the water was so baby blue it was amazing. I recommend a excursion on this island because the area near the port is all commercial and there is not much to do besides walk around and eat at like Senor Frogs or Fred's. Can't remember. The one thing that the description for the Kayak Safari didn't mention was that it was a lot of Kayaking and the description made it seem like it was not that far. But in actuality it was. My dad had to kayak back with my brother because he couldn't handle it. I felt bad. But he just hung out with the locals and had some beers. No biggie. We are a easy going group.
Cozumel- I can't say anything about Cozumel because we spent all our time in Playa Del Carmen at the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. Let me warn you.....it is not all that its made out to be. We dock, and walk over to this UltraMar boat/catamaran. The ride to Playa Del Carmen is like 30 mins I believe. It was the worst 30 mins of mine and my families life. The boat rocked like you were on a roller coaster. There was sooo many people throwing up on the way there and back. It was torturous. I never get sick in the car or boat. But even I started feeling sick. Once we get there we have to walk over to a bus....from there its like 40 mins..but wait...they make a pit stop at this store...so we can buy souvenirs which are marked up.....lame. Pissed us off. I mean we paid to see the Ruins not make stops at a store. I'm all about Shopping but this was just horrible. We finally get to the ruins.....beautiful site...but you can't even touch or walk on them. We used to be able to according to my cousin who has visited those before. So we walked around and took great pics. We ate a a restaurant there...it was really good. Do not eat at the place the tour guide recommends. Its sooo dirty. Pick your own spot. All and all we were very disappointed in this excursion. It takes a lot to make us feel like this on vacation. We are not a very picky family. We made sure to talk to Carnival about this and how displeased we were.
Belize- FABULOUS. I want to visit the city. We booked the Goff's Caye Snorkel with Carnival. They tender you to this small island called Goff's Caye. It was amazing. The crew was soooo helpful. They gave you flippers and snorkel gear...they gave you a choice of if you wanted to snorkel off the boat or off the island. I chose the island...big mistake..haha because I had to swim all the way out to the coral! But it was all in good fun. Saw some amazing sites. Being it was only my 2nd time. We had to come back to the island because it started to rain..but only for about 5 mins. Then we just relaxed and had some Belikin Beer! Great stuff. OVerall great time. Highly recommend this excursion. Beautiful waters!
Isla Roatan, Honduras. Amazing port. We were sooo tired from all the partying and excursion we just went over to Coral Cay Beach. It was soo early that we just laid there and had drinks....I mean we were on vacation and it was the last port. ha! Watch out for the sand bugs. Spray bug spray with Deet all over when you are on the beach. Otherwise you will get some funny looking bites. We sprayed our feet...but didn't think that they would get on my back ...not sure how it happened since we were on chairs. But just be careful.
Last day at sea was relaxing..actually made tea time with a couple of the girls. Didn't go to any shows...although my brother and some of the boys did...said one of the comedians was funny and the hypnosis thing was silly but fun. The Grand Gala Buffet was beautiful as always. We also took the tour of the Kitchen. Kinda made me quesy...i mean its clean but I just didn't like the way it smelled down there. Ha!
So overall great trip....the service was fabulous..food was good....great ports of call. I also did work out in the fitness center and take daily walks after dinner. The gym gets hot...so be careful and stay hydrated.
Debarkation was easy.....put the bags out the night before and saw them when we got into the terminal. Had Hampton ready to pick us up and we were back to the hotel. Since our flight wasn't until 5pm the hotel shuttle was more than happy to drive us to the mall to hang out for a couple hours. Well worth it to stay at Hampton Inn Rocky Pointe in Tampa.
Ok...so if you have any questions you can email me. Sorry for the bad grammar and spelling. I have been wanting to write my review forever, but just have been busy.