Myself, DH and DD arrived in Tampa on Saturday, Jan 3rd. We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott on E. Cass St. Nice hotel, $80.00 w/ AAA discount but they charged $12.00 to park our car overnight and there was no continental breakfast. Wouldn't stay there again. Day 1: We arrived at the Port of Tampa @ 11:00 am gave our bags to the porter with a tip of course and DH went to park the car in the parking garage. He was back in 15 minutes, we then showed our passports and fun pass and were directed toward the security area. Security asked us if we had any digestible liquids with us and I said no. We put our bags on the xray machine and wouldn't you know it they stopped on one of our bags and asked if it was ours. They then asked again if we had any digestible liquids and I immediately remembered the 2 bottles of wine!!! Security said no problem, they just have to make sure they have not been opened. Next time I will surely remember. They directed us to the counter to get our sign and said card. We were given #9 to board. We sat down and they started calling numbers. We were on the ship by 11:30 am!! We went straight to the Lido Deck to check out the view and then to our 1st of many trips to the buffet. We tried the french fries and onion rings and they were great. The rueben sandwich was just ok and the oriental food was fantastic. I ended up there every day for lunch. Off the our cabin, 1141 on Riviera deck forward @ 1:15. Standard Carnival room with king bed and pulldown for DD. We later asked our room steward to make up the couch for her which was so comfy. Baggage started arriving so the unpacking started. Everything was in it's place by time for Muster drill which lasted only 15 minutes. We didn't even have to put the life jackets on. Some passengers did, but we were told not to?? After muster we took the life jackets back to the cabin, asked the Steward to open the fridge. We had to remove the drinks that were in there and fill it with what we brought. It kept everything very cold the entire week. We headed out to explore the beautiful ship. The ship is easy to navigate. We loved the décor and didn't find it tacky or drab as some have said. We prefer it to the neon of other Carnival ships. Time for dinner in Truffles Dinning Room. We had requested late sitting, but were given open seating. We weren't too sure about it, but ended up loving it. I wish this was an option on all ships. We were seated at an 8 table top with Clive and Made as our waiters. They were very good and called us by name at every opportunity. The asparagus crème soup and tiger shrimp cocktail were very good. My DD has the ribs and said they were awesome. DD had the NY strip which was cooked how he likes it, medium rare, but it was a bit tough. I can't remember what I had for an entrée, but the chocolate melting cake was to die for. Myself and my DD had it every night. The show was @ 10:30 and was the Welcome Aboard Showtime. Our first towel animal tonight was a swan. The bed was hard to me and I didn't get a lot of sleep this first night. My DD and DH had no problem.
Day 2: Today was our first day at sea. We were up at 9:00 am and off to breakfast in Truffles for breakfast. I had the eggs benedict which were yummy, but a bit salty. After breakfast we decided to hit the deck for some sun. There were a few chair hogs, but we found 3 together on Deck 10 right above the main pool where the stage is located. The weather was perfect and the seas calm. I can't seem to remember lunch that day. Tonight was the first Cruise Elegant night. Myself and DD dressed in our formal gowns and DH in his tux. Off to have our pictures taken. We went to the Captain's Welcome Reception @ 7:15, had few drinks and some appetizers. We went to the Truffles dining room and asked for a booth to ourselves. We were accommodated immediately. Our waiters were Conrad and Charles. They are the best. We requested them every other night. Each of us had 2 lobster entrée's and of course the chocolate melting cake. After dinner we headed to The Follies Lounge for the main show @ 10:30. The show was called "Jazz Hot". Well it wasn't so hot. We have been on may cruises and this was one of the worst. I kept dozing off during the performance. Maybe I was just tired. The comedian, Thomas Brown, was funny and we stayed for his late night adult show and then it was off to bed. Tonight's towel animal was a puppy dog. So cute!!
Day 3: Today is Grand Cayman. We hit the Unicorn Café for some breakfast. It was just ok. We had a tour booked with Moby Dick to snorkel and go to Stingray City. We got off the tender and couldn't find Moby Dick Tours. It seems the tender docked at a different terminal and there were no signs for tours other than Carnival. We walked around quite a bit and I finally went outside the gate and over to the next tender terminal and there they were. I went back and got DD and DH and off we went. What a wonderful time we had. Nicholas was our boat captain and he shared a lot about himself and Grand Cayman. We snorkeled at the reef first. My underwater camera did not cooperate so I only got about 8 pics. Nicholas got in the water to feed and coax out a Moray eel. That thing was huge and my DD was near so Nicholas let her touch it. When I got back on the boat I was bummed because I wanted pics with the stingrays. Not to worry, they sell underwater cameras for $20.00. No flash, but it is reusable. We got in the water and all of a sudden here come the stingrays. It's really weird, but we weren't scared. We got to hold several and of course kissed them all for 7 years good luck. After the short ride back to the dock we headed out for some shopping. We found a store called T-Shirts, Souvenirs and More. It located on the second floor. They have free internet for 15 minutes and you can make a free 5 minute call to anyway in the US. I checked my work email and called the office to check in. Everything there is ok! Time to had back to the ship for some lunch in the Unicorn Café. I hit the oriental station and it was yummy. Can't remember what we had for dinner, but we sat at Conrad and Charles' table and I had the chocolate melting cake. Again they are the best. After dinner we headed to the Follies Lounge for the show. Tonight it was The Unbelievable Balance Act of Lubo and a comedian named Ronnie Bullard. Lubo was great and the comic was good too. We didn't stay up for the adult late night show. We were worn out from our day. Off to bed to find a Bunny Rabbit.
Day 4: Today is Cozumel. We slept in late since we couldn't leave the ship until 10:00. We have been here many times so we headed back to Paradise Beach. We grabbed a taxi for $13.00 for the 3 of us and off we went. When we got to PB we grabbed loungers on the 2nd row from the water. The water was beautiful and the weather was perfect. We ordered a bucket of Sol (they don't have Corona) and sat back at relaxed. After a while we ordered the buffalo wings, spicy and yummy, and the nachos w/chicken, also yummy. We relaxed some more and decided to head back to the pier. We shopped for a bit and bought a few t-shirts and went back on the ship. Dinner tonight was filet mignon, cooked a perfect medium rare and melted in our mouths. Dessert was again, chocolate melting cake. The show in the Follies lounge was a juggling act. We opted not to attend and went to the casino for a bit. My DD played the penny slots and had a blast. After a short walk on deck we headed to bed to find another towel animal. For the life of us we couldn't figure out what is was and forgot to ask our room steward.
Day 5: Today is Belize. We were up @ 6:30 am and had breakfast in the Unicorn Café. We went to the Follies Lounge around 7:50 am to get our tender ticket. We were on tender #2. If you have a Carnival excursion or an independent excursion take my advise and get there really early to get your ticket. We were lucky. We had scheduled cave tubing with Major Tom. We met him at the pier as be disembarked from the tender. There were 33 of us and we were taken to an air conditioned purple bus named "Barney". We had a 1 hour drive to the caves and it went really fast as the guides gave us a lot of information about Belize. They are really proud of their country. Once at the caves, we were outfitted with our headlamps, tube and life vest. The walk was about 45 minutes through the jungle, but was really easy. We stopped along the way for our guides to point out different trees, leaves, etc. He showed us a termite mound and asked if anyone wanted to eat some termites. Nobody volunteered so I a 48 year old woman said what the heck, I was the 1st to try them. They taste like mint. Then my DD and many others tried them. After a short while we came upon the river crossing. You had to hold onto a rope as you crossed so you wouldn't lose your balance and fall in the very cold water or "refreshing" as the guides liked to describe it. Once on the other side we saw that one of the guides had climbed up on this 25 or 30 foot cliff which was above the river. Right underneath the cliff was about 10 feet of water. He wanted to know if anyone would like to climb up and jump off into the water. Well, guess what, I a 48 year old woman once again did it first. Wow was it high and boy was that water cold. After me, many other took their turn. Back on the trail again and we soon reached the starting point of the caves. We entered the water, with life vest and head lamps on, were hooked feed to underarms of person in front of you. There were 8 of us hooked together with our own guide. Many times were would be "bottoms up". That is when the river would get really shallow. The caves were very dark and we were shown rock formations that resembled an alligator, eagle, Angel, Manatee and a jelly fish. Our guide was Mike and he was awesome. Other companies had many more tubers per guide. After the caves we boarded the bus and headed back to the ship. We stopped for a lunch of chicken, beans and rice. My DH said it was yummy. Me and my DD weren't hungry. This was a great excursion and I would use this company again. This was our 2nd visit to Belize so no shopping for us. Back to the ship and a rest before dinner with Conrad and Charles. Tonight we had to get a beeper and we waited for about 30 minutes, but that was our choice as we really wanted Conrad as our waiter. Rack of Lamb was on the menu and it was very yummy as well as the chocolate melting cake. The show tonight was Motown & More with Mark Anthony and the bathrobe deck party. We decided to skip them both and go back to watch the championship football game. The towel animal tonight was an elephant. More to come and hopefully pics if I can figure out how to post them.
Day 6 Today is Roatan. We were up and 7:30 with breakfast in the Unicorn Cafe. Don't berate for me this, but we took apples, bananas, pears and croissants off the ship for snacks. We booked a tour with Victor Bodden. Tex was our driver and he was awesome. He spoke very good english and gave us a lot of information about the Island. He took us to his house, which sits just across from where the dolphin excursions go. We were able to see the people interacting with the dolphins and saw them perform many tricks. It was great. We then went to Victor's house to try our hand at ziplining at the Mayan Jungle Canopy. We were the only people there. They suited us up in the harness and gloves, gave us instructions and we were off. We had our own private guide. There were 12 zips and 2 suspension bridges, double cables. OMG, this was fantastic. I was very apprehensive at first, but once I did the first zip, I was hooked!! I felt very safe the entire time. All three of us did the crazy monkey. You flip upside down as you zip. It is wild and a lot of fun. I would do it again tomorrow if I had the chance. After we zipped, we went to visit the monkeys. They are so cute and this was the highlight of DD's trip. Be careful and to not actually hold them, 'cause they will bite. After this we drove to a small village that was kind of touristy. This was the area for nightlife for visitors. We then went to a beach. I can't remember the name, but it was beautiful. The beach had white powdery sand and the water was beautiful. We stayed there for a bit, swam in the water and then headed back to the pier area for some shopping. Throughout the day we stopped for photos of some of the most beautiful place I have ever been. It is unspoiled by the "tourist traps". I'm sure it won't be for long. The people of Roatan are very poor. The children came up to us asking us to buy a bracelet for $1.00 and the vendors kept asking us to buy from them. A polite "no thank you" was sufficient. The people are very friendly and not pushy at all. We bought a beautiful mahogany bowl, some mahogany pens and a small hand painted canvas. On the way back to the ship a little girl asked us to buy a bracelet, instead we gave her all of the fruit and croissants we had taken off the ship. She was very appreciative and said she would share with her sister. UGH! Break my heart. It was time to go back to the ship for lunch. Tonight was 2nd cruise elegant night. We dressed for dinner and headed to our favorite waiters. Can't remember what we had for dinner?? But for dessert, you guessed it, chocolate melting cake, not just one, but two. After dinner it was off to the follies lounge for the show. It was called Take II. It was much better than the first one. After the show we walked around the ship and up on deck and then if was off to bed to find a towel monkey hanging from the ceiling.
Day 7 - Day at sea
We slept in late and had breakfast in Truffles dining room. Eggs benedict again, but it wasn't quite as good as the first time. We went back to the cabin, put on our swimsuits and headed to the deck for our last day in the sun. It was a beautiful day and we just relaxed. We had lunch in the Truffles dining room, but I wasn't happy with my selection. So off to the oriental buffet station for me. It was yummy. After more time in the sun, we headed down to pack and get ready for dinner. At dinner we were somewhat subdued. Conrad, our waiter, asked us why we were so quiet because every other night we talked and laughed a lot. Not sure if it was the sadness of it being our last night, or if we were just plain tuckered out. After dinner we went to the Follies Lounge for the final show called Carnival Legends. Passengers had auditioned throughout the week to portray a popular singer and actually sing one of their songs. It was a riot. Some were really good and some were really bad!! It was a good show. After the show, we headed to the cabin to pack the final stuff and put the luggage in the hall. No towel animal tonight.
Disembark day- Today we were up by 7:30 and having breakfast in the Truffles dining room. We were given luggage tag #18. We waited on the lido deck for our number to be called. We were off the ship, through customs and on the road back to South Carolina by 9:45 am. Quickest and painless disembarkation I have ever been through.
To sum it up 1 - 10, 10 being the best: Ship - 10, She is well laid out and easy to navigate. The decor is beautiful and ornate with lots of crystal vases and many elevators. We rarely waited on an elevator. Some parts of the ship were very cold and some were very hot. Food - 9, The food was excellent. It was always hot and cooked to order. If we wanted a 2nd entree, no problem. Even the food in the Unicorn Cafe was hot and tasty, especially the oriental station. (PS: I am not oriental!!) Entertainment - 7, Not so good in this ares, there is room for improvement. We really like to go to the shows, and weren't very impressed. Waiters - 10+, Awesome waiters. Conrad and Charles were the best. Always called us by name. Coffee was served just before dessert and my cup was never empty. Bar servers - 10, they were very friendly and quick with service. The bar waiters were always around in the dining room and we had our pre-dinner drink delivered to out table every night. Cabin steward - 9, we rarely saw him, but our room was always clean and the ice bucket and cooler full of ice. Cabin - 10, very roomy, lots of closet and drawer space. There were 3 adults in our room and we never felt cramped. The fridge kept our drinks very cold. Beds - 8, not as comfortable as I remember, however the duvet (sp?) was awesome. DD's sofa bed was much more comfortable that our king bed. Sun Deck -10, plenty of lounge chairs and they were very comfortable. We never had trouble find 3 together. Purser - 10, very helpful and always polite. Jaccuzies - 6, Always crowded and overly chlorinated. Follies Lounge- 10, large and very beautiful. The lower level was cooler, but the seating was uncomfortable. We preferred the upper level which were chairs. Photo gallery -8, congested at times, but photos were easy to find. The photos were very good. We had a 16X20 canvas done of our DD. Awesome.
We loved this ship and would sail on it again.