This was our family's 7th Carnival cruise, 12th in total. It was myself, husband and our two youngest ages 22 and 20. It truly was a miracle this cruise ever happened. First, we booked with Cruise Value, which is no longer in business. But thank goodness our payments had been sent to Carnival so wasn't a problem. Then, my son and his girlfriend broke up a week before the cruise and she was booked to go with us. We were able to cancel her reservation 7 days prior to cruising so my son got 50% refunded. Third strike was when my husband announced he didn't think he'd be able to go because of work problems. He ended up working about 16 hours Friday and 8 Saturday and we were able to leave Sunday morning. The Friday prior to leaving we found out, through Cruise Critic only, that our entire itinerary had changed from Belize, Panama and Costa Rica to Costa Maya, Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. What a HUGE disappointment. The whole reason for booking the cruise was to go to the Panama Canal and white water raft in Costa Rica. Well, once over the disappointment, cancelled original shore excursions and worked on new ones. At this point, doubtful the entire cruise is going to happen. Well, the cruise happened and it was wonderful! Some specifics....
We left Auburn, AL (WAR EAGLE) Sunday morning to arrive in Orlando for some Giordano's pizza with family for dinner....then ventured on to Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the LaQuina in Hollywood on 26th Ave after hearing good reviews on Cruise Critic. Good decision. It was very nice and had a free shuttle in the morning at 11 a.m. to the port. Free parking for the duration of the cruise. Very nice hotel, good area, good parking facilities. You're on your own to get back to the hotel after the cruise. We got a taxi back to the hotel for $15. pp/$60. The cost of the hotel was about $60 also, so pretty much a wash if we paid parking at Ft. Lauderdale. For two people, it's a steal. Arrived at the port about 11:30 to some confusion and long line, but moved rapidly and we were on board about 12:30 lido deck. Lido food all week was Lido food. Not bad..all the usual stuff. Rooms were ready about 1:30 and we were happy with our location on deck 5 - rooms 5134/36. Our room steward, Godday, was very nice and thorough. Originally, booked an 8A guarantee and got an 8b. We did have some balcony door slammers -that was annoying, but...oh well..
Went to dinner at our 6 p.m. seating and had a booth for four. Our servers, Francisco and Ilena (sp?) were very nice and very competent. The food in the dining room was excellent the entire week. We only missed one evening to go to Nick and Nora's and I must say we enjoyed the dining room more. I, personally, did not think the food and/or service in Nick and Nora's was worth the $120. for the four of us. We found the dining room excellent. Apparently, I'm not the only one...as Nick and Nora's very seldom had more than four people in it whenever we peeked in or were in there...
Our Cruise Director, Brent (?) was pretty lame... First sea day, did the usual..laid around on deck..people watched...etc. NEVER a problem all week finding chairs in excellent locations. Of course, lots of people canceled after hearing the port changes so the ship was NOT full by any means. Was quite nice...not many lines for food, etc. Loved it. The slide on this ship is pretty crummy. I tried it twice and had to push myself down like a beached whale. You just "stick and stop". My husband went down nicely, but I found more people got "stuck" then didn't....
First port, Costa Maya - had never been....it was okay..would I want to go back...probably not. Kids loved the swim up bar pool. I don't think they got out until they had to and were a wrinkled mess :) They loved Costa Maya.
Second port, Cozumel - like most, had been there many times. Just took a taxi to Jimmy Buffett's and ate and people watched - some shopping. Kids went to Senor Frogs..need I say more...it was a fun day.
Third port, Belize. Had been there before and had a blast cave tubing. This time we booked Coral Breeze Banister Island, snorkel, manatee watch. Was great. Banister Island is beautiful, the snorkeling was great, but saw no manatees. Oh well. Was a very nice day.
Fourth port, Roatan. The kids went zip lining through Shore Trips. No problems. LOVED IT! My husband and I ziplined in St. Martin several years ago - once was enough. My husband and I went to Tabyana Beach. It is BEAUTIFUL! And...the snorkeling is absolutely amazing. GREAT DAY. What a beautiful beach.
Next two sea days...did the usual..relaxed, relaxed, relaxed. Disembarkation - had #20 for a normal disembarking - called about 9:15 - off the ship in 30 minutes or so, in a taxi to Laquinta.
The Beatles show was amazing - don't miss it! Generations show was very nice, also. Legends was a hoot as always. Other entertainment was so-so..... Didn't notice any rocking and rolling on the ship - handled the seas well. This cruise, we actually remembered to attend the Meet and Greets! Usually, we get so wound up and excited when we board, we forget all about it. Anyway, met some great folks and certainly enjoyed our visits! Thanks, Kaki, for arranging everything. Much appreciated! One meet and greet that was arranged was listed in the Capers, and we actually had some "bitchers" come to the room thinking they were there to complain and bitch about the cruise. There were some really mad folks on board due to the port schedule change. Such a shame to let that ruin your cruise. In this economy, we're all so blessed to be on a cruise ship where ever it goes. Anyway, it sure didn't ruin our cruise. It was absolutely one of the best. We're thinking about trying the same ship next year, same December week with the Belize, Panama, Costa Rica ports...we'll see. Hopefully, Carnival will get the ship back to ship shape. No complaints here - loved the cruise and always, looking forward to next years!!!