This was our fourth cruse, the second with Carnival. My husband and I went without our kids this time and we had a blast. We live in Kansas City, MO so we flew in the day before and stayed at the Howard Johnson Plaza. We were extremely disappointed with this hotel, as they forgot to pick us up from the airport and we eventually took a cab to the hotel. The reason we chose this hotel was because of the free shuttle to/from the airport, as well as to/from the port of Tampa. After a rough start, we made sure the shuttle dropped us off in plenty of time the next day at the port around 11:15.
Embarkation went smoothly. Compared to our other cruises, this seemed the quickest. We had to wait for about 30-45 minutes before we could board the ship, but there was plenty of seating at the terminal. When our number was called, we promptly boarded. We were not allowed to go to our rooms until 1:30, so we went to the Lido deck for lunch. This was really our only complaint. Everyone else was doing the same thing, so there really was no where to sit. Eventually, we found a table and ate lunch. When we arrived at our stateroom, we were pleasantly pleased. We had a free upgrade to an extended balcony, so we had lots of room for the two of us. The muster drill went quickly and painlessly. We then set sail at 4:00.
The next day was a fun day at sea and we laid by the pool, visited the casino, played bingo and had a great time.
Tuesday, Grand Cayman. I have been to this port before, but my husband had not. All of our shore excursions were through ShoreTrips.com. We had excellent service and we really enjoyed the smaller parties. We had booked the Stingray City/Turtle Farm/Hell tour. We loved it. I kissed the stingrays for seven years of good luck and my husband, who isn't an animal person, got in the water with them and fed them. We then went to the Turtle Farm, where we were able to hold the smaller turtles. Then we were off to Hell. Hell is impressive, but small. We only stayed for a short time, but I was glad that we saw it. We picked up t-shirts and other merchandise. Our excursion included lunch, so my husband and I were taken to a place off of Seven Mile Beach for Chicken, Rice and Beans. It was so delicious. We were then returned for some shopping.
Wednesday, Cozumel. I have also been to this port before. I was glad that we were at a different pier than International, as it is nicer. We had a shore excursion through ShoreTrips.com which was ATV Jungle and Beach Adventure. We were picked up at the mall and taken to the ATV's. After a short instruction, we rode for about 1/2 hour to an hour over the countryside. We were able to see caves and a cenote. We were taken back and then transported to a private beach where we were able to snorkel and swim. Our snorkel equipment was included. We then returned to the port where we did some more shopping. It was a blast.
Thursday, Belize. We had not been here before. I was a bit disappointed as we had to drive at least one hour to any shore excursion. There are no beaches. We had been through ShoreTrips.com and scheduled the Zip Line/Cave Tubing excursion. We had a terrific driver and he got us there quickly. We were the first ones in line for the zip line and that was incredible. We then went and met our guide, Rudi, for the cave tubing. After walking for about 30 minutes, we got to the point where you begin the cave tubing portion. The water was cool and it was a lot of fun. After the cave tubing, we were driven to a place for a lunch of chicken, rice and beans and coleslaw. It was delicious. We then returned to the port where we did some shopping. The shopping was limited.
Friday, Roatan Island. We had not been here before. We loved this place and we wished we could have stayed longer. We had booked a shore excursion again through ShoreTrips.com entitled Serenity on a Beach. They picked us up and drove us about 20 minutes to a private beach. The excursion included a beach chair, a drink and use of the beach. We rented snorkel equipment for $10.00 each and had a great time. When we were finished, our guide, who waited on us, called a driver and we were off to shop. The shopping was limited, but I fell in love with the mahogany wood carvings. They also had shell and coconut bracelets that were sold by the kids. We really enjoyed ourselves but we had to be back on the boat by 2:15 p.m.
Saturday,Fun Day at Sea. We were headed back to Tampa and we sad that it was almost over. My husband participated in a slots tournament and I laid by the pool. We also ate at the Golden Fleece dinner club. It was excellent. It is worth the $30.00 per person price.
We arrived back in Tampa before 8:00 a.m. We ate breakfast and shortly after they began calling zone numbers. We went to deck 2, down an escalator to get our luggage and through Customs in less than 10 minutes! It was so effortless. This was the first time I had ever gone through this process so quickly. We loved it.
Our flight didn't leave until 5:40 p.m., so we decided to spend the afternoon at the Florida Aquarium, which is right next to the port. There was a place at the port to store your luggage for $3.50 per person and they also had a shuttle to the airport for $9.00 per person. That worked out great.
To sum things up, we had a terrific time and are planning our next cruise immediately. I haven't commented on the dining room, as we never ate there. The same food was served on the buffet and we ate whenever we were hungry. The food quality was good. I loved their ceasar salads and ice tea. The pizza was awesome, especially De Chevre (mushrooms and goat cheese).