May 23 – Day 1 – Port and leaving Carnival – The land of the Lines
First, I need to mention that this my third cruise. The first was on a Carnival ship 18 years ago on my honeymoon (just my wife, Jane, and I). The second was Feb of 2003 on the Disney Magic (entire family, me, Jane, Mary (now 13) and Will (now 12)). This was on the Carnival Inspiration out of Tampa. Our reservation was for an Outside View guarantee cabin. The first Carnival was okay but did not leave us thrilled so that was why there was not a repeat for 18 years. The Disney cruise was incredible and left us all definitely wanting more, thus this cruise. I tell you this so you will know that my comments are colored by my Disney cruise and the excellence there.
PORT and EMBARKATION – This was not good at all. The port seemed to handle the traffic okay in terms of getting cars in and letting them unload while porters were right there to take your bags to customs. The porter handled our guaranteed cabin status well and got our cabin number . Jane then went to park the van. She tells me the parking garage, across the street from the port, was a nightmare to navigate with plenty of dead ends. Payment for parking was paid at the time of driving in. It was $10 per day. We were not allowed out of the loading area and into the building until all those listed on our ticket (all 4 of us) were present. Understandable security. There was a mob of people.
Once we got into the building, we had to wait in a line to be allowed up the escalator to the security area. I can understand they wanted to limit the flow and it was not a long wait. When we got up the escalator, there was another cattle-line type waiting line for the security checkpoints. Okay, I could wait. We finally got through but I was surprised by how the personnel would seemingly open and close sections of the line with no apparent rhyme or reason (not based on flow) and start and stop the check points.
We got through that and rounded the corner for check-in and, no surprise now, another line. We figured we would not have a problem because we did the on-line registration (Funpass) so all we needed was to have our documentation checked and we would be on-board. Well, there were 2 cattle-line style lines, many many people deep, composed of nothing but people who had done Funpass. The people who had not registered seemed to have a much shorter line. I asked someone from Carnival about it and was told that “yeah, their line is shorter but we put the newest people there to handle them and the new people have to enter all of the information into the computer so it takes them a long time with each one.” The wisdom of putting the newest people with the most complex work is something that should have warned me for the entire process but still, we continued and waited through the long line.
Finally got to the desk and got checked in (pretty quick and simple so I don’t know why it took everyone else so long..) and were given a “boarding group” number. We were in group 17. We heard them call for boarding group 14 and it was taking quite a while because groups. You see, each group was another line that would have to go through another security checkpoint. Now you are beginning to see why I called this the Land of the Lines. I asked a worker (who worked for Carnival and not just the Tampa port) whether this was just Carnival, just the Tampa port or if today was an odd day. He smiled and said it was Carnival. He told me that the company that owns Carnival also owns Princess and several other cruise lines and each does boarding in a different way. He said he had been on several other cruise lines and he thought the Carnival method of infinite lines was about the worst he had seen and even asked me to complain about it since he thought it should change. Let that speak for itself.
ON-BOARD AND OUR CABIN – We got on board and worked out way to our cabin. Hard to describe. It was 100% better than our first Carnival cruise back 18 years ago (but everything was) and it was not as good as the Disney cruise. Decks and elevators are not as convenient or clear but neither are they that bad when judged on their own. The same is true of our cabin unfortunately. We had an outside view cabin on the Main Deck (well worth what we paid for it so I do recommend guarantee cabin – this ended up being a sold out ship so we were not upgraded). The cabin was like you see in the picture. We had twin beds with a bunk that came out of the wall and then they put a cot on the floor against one wall. Most of the cabin was taken up with beds. We asked our cabin steward about making a bigger bed with the twin beds for my wife and I but as he showed us the alternative arrangements, it was obvious we had more room sleeping in twins (and since the kids were in the same room, it was acceptable).
There was a small vanity/desk with 4 drawers that were about 5 inches deep each. There was a wardrobe type closet that had good hanger space and about 5 shelves evenly spaced on the other side. Most of our clothes did fit into nooks and crannies throughout the cabin once we unpacked but any space-saver ideas are useful. There are reading lights over each bed area. Our cabin steward (Joachim) was terrific and kept wanting to make things better. There was water and soft drinks on the desk but thanks to notes I read on the boards, I knew to stop the kids before they drank the $2.50 sodas. The beds were comfortable. We had a problem in that our cabin was very hot but they did address the problem and tried to increase the cooling so I cannot complain about that. The bathroom was big enough and had a shower. There was the usual assortment of “goodies” like soap, shampoo, etc. as well as some other freebies like toothbrushes and razors. The bathroom was surprisingly large, all things considered. Pleased with the bathroom but did like Disney’s separate toilet and shower.
We were toward the rear (aft) of the ship. That was good in that we were near the elevators to the dining room and the Lido deck casual dining area (Brasserie). It was bad in that the main showroom (Paris Lounge) was in the front of the ship and the debarkation areas were in the front, or occasionally when things were crowded, the mid-ship. Overall, I would select either mid-ship or the rear.
DINING ROOM (late seating – Carnivale Dining Room)
We had a table for 8 by the window. We had another couple and their children with us for dinner and they were quite nice. If Carnival puts any effort into selecting dinner companions, then they did pretty good. Our tablemates had a boy and a girl, although they were younger than our children. Quite compatible and dinner conversation was fun and interesting.
The first time we cruised, each night had a different theme and the waiters dressed differently each night to match the theme. Disney had us changing dining rooms each night. Now, Carnival apparently uses the same dining room and each night the wait staff wears more formal suit or vest attire although the menu does change (but not to a theme). The Waiter and Assistant waiter were excellent for the most part and did a very good job of accommodating special requests and questions. They delivered the food quickly and were very pleasant. After the first night, the Wait staff did a little “show” each night, either singing to everyone in Italian to dancing through the dining room at the time of dessert. Very entertaining. The food overall was rather bland and portions were average or smaller. Portion size was no problem since we could always order another one if we were still hungry but more spice or flavor would have been a plus. However, my DW prefers less spicy food and thought everything was good so it is probably a matter of taste (pardon the pun).
In comparison, our first Carnival cruise 18 years ago had less choices but better tasting food and fun themes. The Disney cruise had better tasting food. Disney pizza and the buffet dining room were far better. As for the wait staff, on every cruise it was clear they did their very best and worked as hard as possible so I can never complain about that.
CRUISE CRITIC MEET AND GREET –
As mentioned on the board, at 5:00 in front of the pizzeria, some of the people on the Cruise Critic message board Roll Call thread met. There was me and my kids, FloridaJourneyGirl, Canadian-Cruises and NittanyLion. It was nice to meet the others and I am sorry that more people who signed the roll call did not chose to meet. We all saw each other many other times throughout the cruise, especially on excursions, and it is always nice to have someone to speak to. I encourage everyone to have or attend a meet and greet.
TUESDAY – Grand Cayman – Sting Ray City Excursion with Soto’s –
On Monday we anchored at the Grand Caymans. We were to meet Soto’s at 8:45-9:15 and we boarded at tender at 8:15. We sat in the tender waiting as it slowly loaded. Although we were far from the first on the tender, they kept taking in people and we did not make it to the shore until about 8:45. Finding the meeting spot was easy and we saw our Cruise Critic friends there while we all waited (apparently Soto’s is the excursion of choice, for good reason). The van arrived and took us to the Soto’s office located on a canal and behind which the boats were located. We paid our balances, got our fins and masks and got on board the boat.
There were 2 boats but the one we were on was most like a pontoon boat. That means it was an open deck with a railing around it and a partial roof and a driving console in the center. There was a bathroom/changing room on board. There was a cooler with water and one with lemonade along with cups. The coolers were like the ones you see on the sidelines at football games and they kept the water and lemonade very cool. Our “Captain” was Willie and his mate was Earl (or Errol, I was not sure how to spell it). Willie told us a lot about the island and the real estate values (and we saw where Michael Jordan used to have a house) as we went out to the first dive spot, called the Aquarium. It was incredible! There were fish everywhere. The water was crystal clear and although the water was cool at first, it quickly felt fine and we got the hang of how to snorkel after only swallowing 20-30 gallons of seawater. Thank heavens for the lemonade to help but the taste.
The next stop was close to the drop off. As close as I can remember it (in other words, please don’t flame me if I misstate some small fact or type of formation), Grand Cayman is a horseshoe shaped island and the middle portion is like a bay about 15 feet deep mostly. Where that “bay” ends, there is a reef all along the edge and then it drops to about 6000 feet in an almost sheer wall. There are some gaps in the reef where current “sucks” water through the reef and out into the big ocean and our guides were kind enough to warn us that if we got in such a current, the sharks and such would be waiting for us on the other side. We stayed close to the boat! This was also an incredible area. All types of other fish were present and Earl was able to coax a moray eel out of the rocks and let everyone see it while he made sure it did not bother us. Here, the bottom was very shallow and often the coral rose to the surface or within a foot of the surface so it was an excellent place to snorkel. We were all really thrilled and could not wait for the grand finale.
We went to Stingray City. This is so hard to explain until you have seen it. It is a very sandy bottomed “sandbar” close to the bottom ocean end of the horseshoe and there are lots of stingrays. There are also lots of other tour boats but it causes NO problems. This is a big enough area and the boats basically park in a circle. Here is where Willie and Earl really shined. They were wonderful throughout but they were out of the boat and in the water making sure everyone got to hold a stingray (yes, hold), pet a stingray and feed a stingray.
First, they gave a wonderful lecture about the stingrays and how to touch, pet and hold them. They demonstrated that the stingrays are safe. The spike starts about the last 2/3 of the tail and points back to the body so for one to sting, it has to sting back over its body. They cannot accidentally bump you and sting you or things like that. The stingrays seems very used to people and showed no fear or reluctance to the presence of all the people. They also did not appear to mind being held or touched. I have no idea whether they liked it or not, but they sure never tried to avoid it or rush away. Feeding the rays was impossible to describe so I will just say that it was very fun. Willie and Earl would sneak up behind people and brush them with the rays or hold the stingray up and have it spit at people. Again, although it may sound rough with the rays, there was no sign the rays disliked it. I never realized the rays had bulbous eyes on the top like an alligator and holding a ray in your arms as you stare it in the eye is just a neat experience.
I cannot say enough good things about the Soto tour. This was as good as it could have been. There were life jackets for those who needed them. The crew was very attentive and great with kids. We saw some other tour boats, and especially the ship tours in their giant boats (who did not stop but twice whereas we got an extra stop) and I know they did not get the special attention we got even though they paid twice as much or more.
If you only do one excursion, do this one! I could not believe how great it was and how much all of my family liked it. I am not a big spender (my wife says I am cheap) but this was a terrific bang for the buck that went unmatched on the cruise. I would love to do this one again some time.
Biggest regret about the Grand Caymans was that as soon as we got back from the tour, it was time to re-board the ship so we never got to shop in Grand Cayman. The few Grand Cayman people we saw were very nice and I would love to have had more time here. Overall, this started our cruise on a wonderful note and we could not wait for the other stops in Costa Maya, counsel and Belize.
WEDNESDAY - COSTA MAYA – Golf Carts and Majahual
Next we went to Costa Maya. Apparently this is a created port where a dock and a shopping village was built especially for cruise ships. About 2 miles away is a small fishing village named Majahual. The placement of the new port so near the fishing village was a missed blessing. From reading other posts and talking to the people, it appears that the village had changed it tone and is becoming much more tourist oriented than fishing now. The shopping village at the end of the pier is quite nice and modern looking. Big pool and good place but obviously created.
From reading posts, we heard about the needs of the schools in Majahual and so we had purchased and packed a lot of school supplies to take to the children. We were looking forward to that. We originally planned to catch a taxi to the village (no desire to walk that far carrying the supplies) but we saw that there was gasoline powered golf carts available for rent for $15 per hour (including fuel). The carts held four people and we thought it would be more fun but we had no idea how right that decision would be. We had a blast driving the paved road then turning off onto the dirt road that lead to Majahual. Until we got back to the main highway, we saw no more pavement and the roads, though well used, were in poor condition. Still, that was part of the fun.
Riding into Majahual, we passed beautiful beach areas. We went straight there and did not stop in the shopping village so we were one of the first from our ship to go. Majahual had not gotten going really good yet but the day was already very hot and the people were setting up booths and tables on the side of the dirt path kindly called a road. There were taxi stands, horse rentals, 4 wheeler rentals, $20 massages, jewelry and all types of souvenirs. We got onto the block behind the waterfront road onto a much rougher road and kept looking for the school. Passed a police station and some of the police were outside so we asked one who spoke English and were able to get our question across enough for him to give us directions (just got down the beach road to almost the end of the town and it is across from the beach and impossible to miss).
The children were outside in the fenced area playing. They were wearing uniforms. When we walked up, we asked for the teacher and she came over quickly. She did not speak English but called over a little girl named Bebe who spoke English very well and Bebe translated. We told her we had some supplies for the children and started to hand them to the teacher but she asked (through Bebe) that we come inside and give them to the children. So we went in as she gathered the children. The classroom was very clean and the children were very well-behaved. We gave them each item and then told them where we were from. They were appreciative and it made us feel very special to see how happy it made them (as well as remind us how well we have it living in America although our schools are not nearly so well-behaved). Feeling happy for having done something nice, we proceeded back through the town to shop.
We bought a few things from the roadside booths and shops. Be aware that the vendors call out to passersby and if you touch anything, they take it as an invitation to start trying to sell it to you. Barter is a key term to know and if you do not like to barter, do not expect any good deal. It was not unusual for a vendor to say something costs $17 and then end up selling it to us for $3. This was true in Majahual and back in the shopping village. According to the ship, it is not a good idea to buy jewelry from Costa Maya and it is better to wait for counsel.
Those who did excursions on Costa Maya had fun but I don’t know any specifics and I had a fun time just renting our golf cart and visiting the fishing village. YMMV (Your mileage may vary).
THURSDAY – Cozumel– Paradise Beach and Shopping
From the boards, we planned to go to Paradise Beach. I took Twizzlers hoping to see Paradise Beach Tom and give him some. I was also looking forward to the $30 massage and all of the good things we had read about PB. The walk from the ship to the taxis is quite long. First, you walk down the pier. At the end of the pier, you go into a long corridor of duty free shopping that has lots of things and seems to never end. When you emerge, you are in a shopping village that you have to go through to get to the outside and taxis. We intended to take a taxi but checking out prices for taxi to and from PB, to and from downtown, etc., we decided it would be about as cheap, and probably more fun, to rent a car. It was $44 to rent an OLD VW bug convertible with unlimited mileage. The bug was manual transmission, had turn signals and that is about it. But, it was another source of fun. There was no radio, AC or any other accessory. The truck did have an outside lock on it so it made a pretty safe place to leave things while shopping. We bought the $0 deductible insurance for $25 which may or may not have been a good thing but it was a risk I felt worth doing and I don’t regret.
We got to PB and it was beautiful. There were about 15-20 other people there other than staff and the pictures of it are accurate. Very peaceful and tranquil. I headed straight for the massage table while the wife and kids headed for the water. That is where my good time went astray. After standing at the massage tent for a minute or so, and noticing that the girl sitting in the neighboring hair braid booth was notably ignoring me, I finally did the “ahem” thing and got her attention to ask about a massage. She finally said that the person who does the massages would be there in about 10 minutes. No problemo I figured so I went back to the shade to wait. About 10 minutes later, no massage person so I asked the female bartender about it. She said the message person was getting ready and would be out in about 10 minutes. Okay, I could wait.
About 10 minutes later, I asked again and someone who appeared to be a manager or the boss, said that she should be ready in about 10 more minutes so I told him where I would be standing and asked him to let me know. He was nice and said he would. About 15 minutes later, I went to find him again and he said, oh, she just got here and should be out within 10 minutes. Aha, I thought, now we are cooking. More than 10 more minutes later, he said he would go and check on her. More time passed and finally out comes a woman who heads to the massage tent. I headed over there and she said she needed to get some towels and things set up so please come back in about (you guessed it) 10 minutes. I was angry at this time since had I known it was going to be more than an hour of waiting, I would have gone swimming with my family, put on my suntan lotion (which I had deliberately not done in order to avoid interfering with the massage) or done something else. My family was having a good time with the kayaks, iceberg, trampoline, etc. while I stood on the shore waiting for my 10 minutes to end.
Finally I did get the massage and it was not a very good one. She was very rough and it hurt more than it relaxed. She talked to many other staff or patrons who passed by rather than pay attention to the massage and I was completely unsatisfied. Still, I paid as agreed and figured there was no need to say anything about it because I did not think she would give a whit. It was lunch time so we had decided we would eat off of the ship and eat at Paradise Beach since we had been able to see the menu on-line and the reviews of the food had been so good.
It was okay, and that is the best I can say. Soft drinks for $2 served in small styrofoam cups with full charge for refills (and with kids, you end up having to buy a lot of those). I ordered a Margarita and it was changed by the waiter into a frozen version (which cost more) without my knowledge but it was very good. When paying $6.50 for a drink, one of PB Tom’s 2-for-1 coupons would have been really nice. The salsa was different from what we are used to in the states since it was not a liquid. It was chunks of tomatoes, onions, etc. and there was almost no liquid to it. It was okay, just very different than what we thought it would be. The portions were also average to less than average. My son had chicken quesadillas and those were terrific. I had tacos and they were small and did not have a lot of flavor. After getting the bill, it was still going to be about 15 minutes before they said PB Tom was to arrive but I had learned that apparently Cozumel time and my time do not match. It was a pretty place and my kids enjoyed swimming there but I will not be back. I did leave the Twizzlers for PB Tom though because I appreciate all of his comments on the boards and wish I had gotten to see him.
Then we started touring Cozumel island in our Bug. We had a blast driving down little side roads and seeing what we could find. Finally decided to go back into the city to shop. That was a fun experience as we tried to find our way around and find a parking place. There is a lot of street construction going on but we found a good spot. There are TONS of places to shop in Cozumel. Just as in Costa Maya, the price quoted is seldom the real price so bargain, bargain, bargain. We bought some good things, bargained a lot and walked a lot. I was thankful when we found a McDonalds and got to order something from the 10 Peso menu! Although Cozumel was okay and we spent far too much money there, the family agreed it was probably the least enjoyable port of call and we were anxious to get back on board and rest.
FRIDAY – BELIZE – Coral Breezes Cave Tubing
Belize is an awesome place. Without going through a long description of the people, culture and history, it is neat that they are a stable democracy in Central America, have only 1 prison in the country and that hold only about 850 (most common crime is drugs) and are a blend of at least 6 different cultures. They have Mayans, Spanish, English, African, Chinese, Middle Easterners and Mennonites (yes, those Mennonites, the ones similar to the Amish). They speak many different languages but the official language is English. They speak Creole (not New Orleans Creole) to each other but everyone knows English and they have above a 90% literacy rate with everyone having access to electricity and potable water. Lots of great things to say about the country and the culture but I will move on.
We had to tender in since it is so shallow around Belize. Tender was by fast tender boats and was entertaining. There is not much at the Belize port but we had booked a tour with Coral Breezes prior to the cruise. Our guide, and the owner of the tour company since apparently Coral Breezes is just a booking agent and not the name of the tour (tour is Wet N Wild), was Marvin. He was a native Belizean and very nice. There was another family of 4 on the tour and we all loaded into his 13 passenger van for a trip to the park and a lot of very interesting history and facts. I could go on and on about that but I will spare you except to say that I was fascinated and really enjoyed learning all about it.
This is important. ALL of the cave tubing tours go to the same park to start. This is not a park like you think of in the US. First we turned off a paved road and only a dirt road (covered with loose rock and calling it a road is again, being kind). Quite a bumpy trip for about 10 minutes (maybe more in American minutes but I was still on Cozumel time ). We passed cashew trees and I learned that they grow on a tree (not a bush like peanuts) and are poisonous until roasted. We got to the park and there were a lot of other people there. Remember, all tours, even the ones from the ship, have to come to this same place to park and pick up their tubes. Beside the start of the trail, there is an outdoor snack stand that serves meals. This is where any tour that includes food will be getting their lunch (more later about that). So all of the tours are about the same except price and except that ship tours and a few others start at a lower cave rather than taking you to the higher caves (we passed through the lower caves on our way back but the ship cruises never get to float through the higher cave). Think price and find the best value.
There were life vests freely available and Marvin made sure everyone who wanted one or thought they may want one had a chance to get it. Everything we wanted to keep dry was locked in the van. We took only what we wanted to get wet and carried our tube. An innertube is light at first but trust me, after carrying it through the rain forest for a while, it gets heavy! The walk through the rain forest is very enlightening and fun until you are very tired. Marvin pointed out many trees that are useful and medicinal. He let us taste many things (leaves, fruit, etc.) and stuck his hand into a termite nest to get plenty of termites for us to take pictures. The ship guides did not stop during the rain forest walk according to our fellow passengers later. Other guides were stopping so obviously some guides stop, some don’t. Marvin was very good and I liked learning. We saw lizards, termites, a tarantula, oro pendulum birds and all types of other things. The size of the palm fronds amazed me. I wish there had been a few water fountains ! We passed a split in the path where Marvin later told me the ship tours and some others enter the river but we kept climbing.
After the walk, we arrived at the pool where we would enter the water. Marvin started it off by climbing up on some rocks and doing a nice flip into the water. We had waded through the water at the start of the walk so we knew it was cold but at this point, we were all ready for anything cool. Most of us got in carefully but pretty soon, most had climbed out to climb up on the rocks and do flips and somersaults back into the water. Many pictures were taken and it was very refreshing and welcome. Another group was coming up so we gathered our tubes and headlights and started floating.
Again, words cannot do it justice. The caves are beautiful and the float is very relaxing and refreshing. I feel bad for those who start their float lower in the river because they really did miss some beautiful things. You walk through one cave near the start (and we saw fruit bats!) then you float through 2 caves on the way down. You could count the 2 caves as more than 2 since there are breaks in them but I counted each one as a continuous cave. We saw the tour groups from the ship getting in at the lower cave then after that cave, they got out rather than continue to float further down the river. The further floating was fun but I got on the wrong side of a turn and ended up on some rocks, and bounced off a sharp root. That was not fun. I was also disappointed when I had a go back to recover my son, who was making himself go slowly and ended up blending with another group behind us, and Marvin did not wait on us or check on us. He was waiting at the very end but I wish he had shown some notice or concern when we got separated from the rest of our group and did not catch right back up. To be fair, several groups, including a large cruise ship group, had blended with ours so perhaps he did not notice. It is a minor thing but it did disappoint me.
After making it to the end, we carried our tubes the blessedly short distance back to the entrance and returned the tubes. We changed into dry clothes if we wanted and because time was running short to return to the ship, we decided to take our lunches with us on the van and eat as we rode back. The juice we got with the lunches was great. We also bought a Diet Coke (called Coca Cola Light) for each of us since we had worked up a good thirst but I would have loved more of that juice. The lunch included BBQ, beans and rice, BBQ beans, salad like coleslaw, a piece of fried plantain, terrific garlic bread and a huge banana nut bread muffin. It was included with our tour but was also available separately for $5. It was an uneventful ride back and a pleasant lunch for a group of tired people.
Back at the Belize port, there was a long line for the tenders. It was late in the day so such a line is to be expected. The line moved thankfully fast as the crew was loading the fast tenders as quickly as possible and sending them on their way. We were awfully glad we had late seating dinner since we all needed the nap we took at that point.
Thanks Marvin for a good time!
FUN DAYS AT SEA (MONDAY AND SATURDAY)
These were travel days while the ship is at sea and it is mostly on ship time. Sleeping, swimming in the pool, eating, spa, etc. are what was available and we did most of it (except the spa). Although the items on the ship in the Galleria are reasonably priced, the spa things seemed very expensive. I will also mention that we purchased a Fountain Fun Card that gave us free soft drinks during the cruise and I think that was a good thing. I was disappointed that there was no movie theatre, even though there were movies on TV that showed at different times. I prefer a movie theatre environment and on the one day they used one of the lounges as a movie theatre (showing LOTR 3), it was at noon on the Belize day so we did not get to see it.
Well, that is a report on our cruise trip. It was fun even though we were disappointed in some aspects. Highlights include Soto’s Stingray City tour, Belize Cave Tubing with Coral Breezes, taking supplies to the Majahual children, riding around in a golf cart in Costa Maya and, of course, the smiling and happy crew on the ship. Low points would include Paradise Beach (because of the massage problem and other things described above), the size of the cabin, the quality of the food and some of the less than pleasant Carnival personnel and policies (Cruise Director Steve and his sidekick Marcus were mainly annoying and I already discussed Carnival’s seemingly endless love of creating long, slow-moving lines). Would I cruise again? Definitely. Would I use Carnival? Probably not unless it was a lot cheaper than Disney. I will try to pass along of the most important lessons I learned about cruising.
IMPORTANT NOTES (based on things I wondered about and would like to have known)–
There is only one outlet. Bring a power strip. The outlet is a 3 prong so need for an adapter.
An over-the-door shoe hanger was VERY handy since it lets you use the back of the closet door for holding things that will fit into those pouches.
Fountain Fun cards for adults are approx $11 per day of the cruise (7 day for us) and then they will add on a charge for gratuities. Regular glasses of soda are $1 each so do your own math to see which is a better buy.
Soto’s Stingray tour in Grand Cayman is incredible and at $24 per person cannot be beat.
In Costa Maya, spend $15 and rent a golf cart rather than take a taxi. Visit Majahual and take some things to the children. You’ll be glad you did.
The packing lists available elsewhere on the boards are very helpful for listing things like clothes pins, highlighter, etc. Read them.
Be sure you bring a clock and hairdryer since there are none in your room.
Buy cheap underwater cameras at Wal-mart or similar stores rather than buy on the ship (twice as expensive) or at the start of tours (saw 3 times as much) and don’t buy a special underwater camera if you don’t already have one.
In Belize, all cave tubing tours go to the same place. Independent tours take you to more caves. Base your decision on price of the tour. I would use Coral Breezes again.
If you have a question, I would be happy to try to answer it. Just e-mail me directly at wtgjunk@NOSPAMhotmail.com (take out of the NOSPAM part which is there to slow down e-mail harvesting programs).
ENJOY YOUR CRUISE!