This cruise was in celebration of our youngest son's high school graduation. There were 11 in our group, including my parents, brother's family and our three sons ages 17, 20 and 25. We have taken a cruise with the boys when each graduated from high school. We did the Destiny when the oldest graduated in 1997 and the Celebrity Millennium when the middle son graduated. My wife and I have taken a total of six cruises, three with Carnival. For the rest this was their first cruising experience. Overall we enjoyed the cruise but nothing about the ship or its amenities was memorable.
On the positive side, the ship was very clean and in apparently excellent condition. There were a great many dining options and the service was very good for the most part. We almost always found something to eat that appealed to the various members of our party. Some of the food was very good but we found the beef to be generally tough and tasteless. Our server did provide good recommendations on what were the better options for the evening. We ate the late seating in the Monet dining room and he would tell us what dishes went over well in the early seating. This can be very helpful information. Our balcony cabin was very nice and well maintained by the steward. Our sons had an inside cabin for three and this was a little crowded. We very much enjoyed the soft serve ice cream. My 7 year old nephew typically had eaten 4 or 5 cones by lunch.
On the negative side, the staff in the spa are incredibly rude and arrogant. I had a problem with one staff member the first day which set the tone for the week. I heard more complaints about the spa than anything else on the cruise. Apparently, the technical aspects of the services are good but the attitude and demeanor of the staff are deplorable. It was difficult just to get a key for a locker. The first show was pretty weak. We were surprised at how many cues were missed. I did not care for the cruise director, Steve. The best thing he did all week was stop talking and juggle. We did not meet our cabin steward until the last day. He never even came by and asked us about the minibar, which stayed locked all week. We got tired of the constant efforts to sell you something. It seems that Carnival is always pushing something which really got old.
In Montego Bay, we caught a shuttle for $4/person each way to Margaritaville. This was a big hit with our boys and my younger nephews. There were a lot of girls to keep the older boys entertained and plenty of water activity for the younger guys. The shuttle driver came back at one and picked up the ladies to do some shopping and dropped my parents off at the ship. We stayed till 3 and had a very enjoyable day.
In Grand Cayman, I booked a tour on the internet for snorkeling and Stingray City. This was a great value and we had a fabulous time. Our guide, Glen, even taught our boys how to catch a stingray. My parents waited till we got to Grand Cayman to book anything because they were concerned about the tender. As it turned out the seas were calm so the tender was not a problem. There were numerous vendors at the pier offering anything that was available on the ship at a much reduced rate. They took the two hour tour that included the Turtle Farm (not impressive), Hell and a tour of the island for $15/person. Inside tip, some of the best snorkeling was within walking distance of the ship at a place called Eden Rock. You can see it from the ship. The snorkeling is free and lockers, chairs etc are available for a fee. There were more large fish to be seen there than at either of the snorkeling stops on the tour.
It rained in Cozumel so we just caught a cab and did some shopping. It was a very dreary day and really hurt the tour companies. Our boys did the Carlos and Charlie's thing and like many others did not make it to dinner but did make it back on the ship with two minutes to spare...
I booked this cruise because it met most of the requirements that the members of our party had voiced. It was within driving distance of San Antonio on a large ship with a wide range of ages and activities. All of the boys found someone to hang out with and stayed pretty well occupied. There were many young people celebrating their graduation and a significant number of other teenagers. At times this made areas of the ship a little raucous. Security was very prevalent and overall did a good job of maintaining order.
Overall we enjoyed the cruise but will probably not cruise again with Carnival any time soon.