This cruise was a 5 night cruise out of Tampa. We sailed to Cozumel, and Grand Cayman with 2 full days at sea. We departed Tampa on Saturday, August 2 and returned Thursday, August 7. It was myself and my 18 year old daughter. Accompanying us was my brother and his friend. We were booked in an interior room R9. Riviera deck forward. My brother and his friend were also on Riviera deck, but had a bunk type room just down the hall from us.
Arrival: We flew into Tampa and right away got a cab to the port. Cost $25 + tip for 2 of us. We arrived at 10:30 am..so therefore we had to wait a bit to go into the building. WE grabbed a cup of coffee from the coffee shop right next to the pier and browsed in some of the shops. Once inside, things went fairly fast...lines weren't long at this time. We did have to wait once thru all the hooplah as they hadn't started to board the ship yet. Once they opened the doors, it was quick and easy.
Once on board we looked around a bit. My daughter is an athlete and runs cross country so she NEEDED to find the gym right away and the outdoor track. We then went to the Lido deck for lunch, and waited for my brother and his friend to get on board. We did spend some time at the main bar in the atrium area while waiting for my brother. This bar had the worst bartenders of anywhere on board in my opinion. I did not spend lots of time in the bars, but did visit them for entertainment and people watching. The 2 bartenders that were usually there were not friendly, no conversation, just did their job and that was it. We did have 3 separate issues with mis-billing, giving our drinks to other people, not giving us the right things...etc. After about the 3rd time using that bar with problems each time..we didn't go back.
I'm gonna switch gears here, and just simply describe certain things and places rather than do a day-to-day review. It is hard for me to remember each thing in order.
Lido deck: Lots of chairs-although way too close together...you can smell the people to either side of you and quite often touched them as the chairs were literally side-by-side...no leg room in between! Pool: good, clean pool...but definitely not big enough for all the people using it. Once the kids woke up and got in...there was no enjoying it at all. The adults only serenity area was great except for no pool. They do have a hot tub in this area and nice chairs with comfy chair pads on them...and it did appear to stay adults only. The water works area was fun, but it took up way too much room. There was so much WASTED SPACE in this area. Yes the slide were fun for kids and a few adults I saw use it, but although there was tons of kids on this cruise...they didn't seem to use it much. I really felt that another pool was more needed than the water works. Another pool with 1 or 2 small slides would have been utilized much more. Having only the one pool was just not enough for the amount of people. This cruise having sailed in a summer month had quite a few kids on it and it made for a very crowded pool on the Lido deck. FOOD: Lido deck buffet style food was always decent a plentiful. The buffet maitre de guy was always visible as were his staff. They were continuously cleaning, re-filling, and again more cleaning. Pizza shop was good, nothing spectacular, but good. The sub/sandwich spot was also good. The rueben was great! The variety of food each day on the buffet was very good. Always something for everyone. They also always had a burger, hot dog place also. My daughter, being very health conscious was always eating from the fruit and salad bar. She also usually was able to find something from the buffet also. She also called ROOM SERVICE every morning and night to order 2 fruit plates. She was quite ecstatic about this..she loved getting fruit delivered to her room whenever she wanted it. She did say she would have liked more options though in the fruit department. They always had apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, and melons. They did have peaches one night..but that was it. She said they really need to have more variety available. She said she also felt that the salad bar needed to have something other than iceberg lettuce available. she was hoping to see spinach, or other green options. As I said, she is a health nut...but she was ok, and could always find something good to eat. AS for me...I am fairly easygoing with food choices. I tried most things...loved some..hated others.
Dining room: We had late seating in the Mardi Gras room. This dining room was closest to our room. We were at a table with 2 other families for a total of 11 people. We really enjoyed our table mates...everyone showed up every night for dinner which was nice. (I've been on a cruise before that a group of ladies only cam to dinner one night (formal night), so it made for quite an empty table as it was a 12 person table and the group of ladies were 8 of them, so myself and my friend, and two other young ladies were all that was at the table the other night.) Our dining staff was ok the first night...then our main waiter got sick, so the rest of the cruise we had the 2nd in charge person. She was AWESOME..we felt bad for the original waiter..but were delighted in the change. Her name was OLENA and was from the Ukraine...she was great! Then on the final night, our original waiter came back...we were all so upset, as they moved her somewhere else..well needless to say we had to find her as we all made sure to tip her extra and did not want it to go to the other guy that. Anyway...she was great and attentive and always had recommendations. The food itself was delicious!!!! What more can I say about other than that. Great items on the menu each night..all very good! And of course plenty of it! I myself am a shrimp and steak kind of girl...so I always had something to eat! I was happy. My daughter of course only ate the healthy stuff...fruit plates, fish, chicken, and yet again more fruit plates. It became a joke...because she always ordered a fruit plate for her starter, and then a fruit plate for dessert!
DINING ROOM ENTERTAINMENT: the dining room is small compared to other ships I've been on, so therefore the entertainment from staff aspect was simply ok. The usual conga line, macarena dance, and songs. The maitre de was a handsome man, he sounded and and kind of looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
ENTERTAINMENT: WE went to the shows every night...they were all simply fabulous. My daughter couldn;t believe that you got all this for one price! She really loved the comedy shows, and the dancers. We had 2 late night comedy shows (different comedians)..they were AWESOME. My daughter having just turned 18, loved the fact that she got to see regular adult comedy and not the kiddie stuff. The magician/illusionist was just OK. The CruiseIdol show was ok..there were only 3 acts unfortunately...but they were all Great. God love 'em all for getting up there in front of everyone and performing.
BINGO: nope I didn't win..nothing more to say except that it always seemed to not run on time, and always ran into show time.
CASINO: nope didn't win here either, but didn;t spend alot. I only myself so much money, and then know when to quit. Once again, the DD being 18 got her first chance and blackjack and slots. She loved Blackjack now. She won a bit, but then lost it. But she had fun. She did always get ID'd whenever we went into the casino..they were almost like vultures whenever she walked in...she does look younger than her years though.
CAPPUCCINO AND SWEET SHOP: Great....good service, a little extra cost, but worth it. chocolate covered strawberries and sweets..very good. SUSHI BAR: my daughter had some every night. she said the guy that worked there was great, funny, and friendly. she also said the items on it were awesome. AS for me, I never tried it.
AFTERNOON TEA: I stopped here once. It was nice simply sitting, listening to the piano player, and having tea and finger snacks, and reading my book.
SHOPS: good shops. Bought the usual souvenir t-shirt (last night sale), and bought myself some perfume. I am one of those people that doesn't take her own perfume on the cruise due to the fact that I stop by the shop and spray myself with a new fragrance each night from the testers in the shop. Then I buy my new favorite on the final night. No sale this time, but still ok priced. My daughter bought a new purse...good deal on it! Jewelry seemed to be abundant as well as alcohol. I didn't buy any, but thought the prices weren't any different than here in Ohio, maybe even more.
QUIET PLACES: not enough in my opinion. Outside quiet spots were hard dot find, at least for me. They all seemed to be outside the Lido deck area where the music was always way too loud. After the first day, I tend to tire of the calypso type music, and would prefer to have a quiet place to sit and read and listen to the water. I unfortunately could not find such a place. I know it is possible, I just never found it.
ROOM: our room was great. We were in room R9 which is very far forward in the front corner. I had been worried as I have always heard that the noise level in this area is bad due to the anchor and other things. Other than hearing the anchor raise and drop, there were no noise issues. Very quite spot actually and never felt any movement at all. Will probably get in this area again. I love the interior staterooms aboard Carnival. They are quite roomy considering that are the cheapest rooms on board. I refer the darkness of them without the window, so I never feel the need to pay extra for an outside room. I would love to have a balcony sometime though...just can't afford the extra $ for it. Our room steward was Tony. he was awesome. He asked what my schedule was like, and asked if I had any needs or preferences on times for him to come by. The room was always very clean. The amenities basket contained, heartburn chewables, razors, and afew other items. FYI: these were not replaced once taken. Plenty of closet space, and underbed storage. We had brought the very large type of suitcases, and they slid perfectly under the beds. There were 3 closets doors, two were for hanging type stuff and storage in the bottom. the third contained shelves for clothes storage. The desk area had 2 chairs, one in front, and one next to it. It had 3 drawers for storage. More than enough space. My brother had a different experience with his room and steward. They only saw her once, and she never acknowledged them, nor seemed to go out of her way at all. They said the room was ok and clean. The bunks allowed for plenty of space, but the top bunk was SO close to the ceiling that if you turnover in your sleep, you may hit your head or arms and legs when rolling over. They also did not have robes in their rooms, and it took 3 days for them to get them after asking for them..they also had to ask for pool towels, as they weren't in the room either. My room was stocked with both pool towels and Carnival's wonderful robes when we arrived. Each time sailing Carnival, I have slept like a baby. The beds are so comfortable. I have even purchased the pillows for my home. Well worth the money. Before the cruise I had purchased the towel animal book, and a fruit basket for my daughter. They were in the cabin when we arrived, and she was delighted to see her name on them! I was given a Carnival Inspiration pin for my return guest gift, and of course the invite to the past guest reception.
SPORTS AREAS: My daughter said that the track definitely needed an enclosure. It was always way too windy to run around it. Other ships sometimes have it surrounded by a see thru enclosure...much better. The gym we loved. Smaller than other ships I've been on, but great equipment and good offered classes. My daughter fell in 'lust' with the Athletic Trainer from Brazil...so needless to say she signed up for a few classes. It was an additional cost of $10 for a couple of them...but it was worth it to her as she enjoyed them. Her and her uncle took a cycling class that they enjoyed also. We never went into the spa, but when walking by it to get to the gym, it always looked clean, and nice. We would have loved to get a couple of spa treatments, but they were way too costly...even when they had the specials going on. Oh well. Putt Putt was cute, but once again it is way too windy up there to do it.
PORTS: We went to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Getting on and off the boat at each port was easy enough, although the short amount of time in Grand Cayman makes for too many people trying to get off and back on the boat at the same time...a bit too congested at this stop. Cozumel was easy getting on and off.
Embarkation...this was the worst part of the cruise. We were in no hurry as our flight home was later in he afternoon, so we chose to let them take our bags, and wait until our number was called. My brother and his friend chose to carry their own bags and were off the boat in no time first thing in the morning. After having opened the doors there was some sort of issue with customs, and they had to stop disembarking. (From my understanding, they had to bring their sniff dogs on board the lower level or something like that)...anyway..things were ok and they started back up. When our number was called we were in line with what seemed like 50 thousand people, and then they started calling other numbers, and then stopped disembarking again, so needless to say , this became a cluster!!! And quite frustrating, as there always seem to be the people, that like to push, cut in line, get rude, complain, etc. They are probably the type of people that when driving, they ride your tail, cut your off, etc. Oh well, cest la vie! Before our number got called we sat in the Lido deck deck buffet area, and head a great breakfast while waiting..so waiting around was just fine with us.
Well, this is where I cam complain: While trying to find our bags, I noticed my large duffel type suitcase was gone!!!! After looking all over, and getting help from the port authorities I wound up flying home without my suitcase. I filled out paperwork while at the pier and simply hoped they found it. A couple of days after arriving at home I received aphone call form a man in Florida that had my bag! He said that the porters simply just started grabbing bags and threw them on their carts with out checking anything. So when the family got home, and started unpacking, they realized that they had my bag. Well, Carnival said that I had to pay to ship my bag home, and that they will reimburse me for the cost of shipping...we'll see. I am still waiting for the invoice from UPS to send to Carnival. That has been an issue in itself...frustrating to be exact. I had noticed that the porters are in such a hurry to move people, and make more money in tips, that they don't allow for people to even verify that the stuff they are grabbing is their stuff. This needs to be changed! They just grab and go...no checks and balances in this area at all! Luckily for me, my bag went home with an honest person, and he returned it all in tact to me. Thank you Don!
OVERALL: Nice boat! Nothing fancy, but decent. Clean. Simple decor (although the purple things in the Lido buffet dining room are terrible and ugly!) Atrium is small...wish it was bigger and prettier. Staff, decent...some much better than others. Food, delicious! Great shows! Bars...music...ok...too much smoke though..we don't smoke and tended to have to avoid the bars due to many people smoking. Wish the air in the bars was better, so that we could have enjoyed it more. I had hoped that my daughter would meet someone her age that she could go to the clubs with or hang out with...but unfortunately that didn't happen. She was at a disadvantage age wise..as there were many 15-17 somethings, but not many 18-21s. The 12-17 year olds aboard this ship were quite appalling in my opinion. The groups we saw were quite often drunk! and being quite childish and doing things they should not have been doing. A few were seen on the decks into the very wee hours of the morning. I understand that people feel safe allowing their kids to wander the boat, but the behavior we saw all over the boat from a large majority of these kids was awful. We also saw many younger kids ranging in ages 4-10 that were unsupervised and running thru the halls, up and down stairs, loud, obnoxious, etc. I normally cruise while schools are in session, and after being on this summer cruise, I will never go during school breaks again. My brother, and daughter agreed with me on this one. My daughter was hoping to find someone to hang out with, but she said after seeing the way most were acting, she chose to hang out with me. Lucky me...I was afraid I would never see her! She did say that she wants to cruise again (this was her first) and she will bring a friend next time, someone like her, with her same Christian beliefs, and therefore she could enjoy not having to hang out with her old mom the whole time, and would be able to enjoy other activated on the boat, without feeling offended by the unruly behavior that was seen by the other kids her age. As for me, I will stick to cruising while the kids are in school! Just my opinion: people..watch your kids! Just because you are on a boat doesn't mean it is ok the let them have a free for all, and wander all over! And as for the kids that were respectful, and behaving...thank you! I know I saw a few and told them they were being good kids....I hope they remember that. And they were still having fun! So it is possible to be good and have fun all at the same time! Oh yeah, there also was THE rudest woman in the lounge area for one of the late night comedy shows. The room was packed and she refused to sit down or move. She stood in front of the people who were sitting down, and her being a rather large woman she blocked their view of the stage, and when they asked her to please move, she ignored them...this continued for quite some time. The people went and got staff, the cruise director, and others. They all asked her to move also, and she simply stood there as though no one was talking to her. At one point she threatened to kick someones A** if they continued to bother her. Carnival should have removed her from the room, but did not. Security even came and told her to move, but that was it. Ugh!!!! Oh well, we could still hear the comedian. Someone after the show went up to the lady and told her she was the problem with this country, and that she was a disgrace to human kind! Although this may seem harsh, you really needed to have been there to understand this. She was probably THE rudest person I have come across!, and I used to work for the police department, and came across some of the worst people around.
Well I want to end this on a good note. I absolutely love Carnival cruise lines, and am already looking to book my next cruise for next spring. I think cruising is such a great way to spend my vacations. For the amount of money you spend, you get so much for your money. I couldn't ask for a better way to spend my money, and a better way to spend time with my family! Carnival cruises have something for everyone....the perfect vacation!