I booked this cruise looking for a chance to get away with the kids but knew I wanted to go in January when the deals are good and it is wintertime and cold here. I love that Carnival lets you bring your 2 year olds to the Camp Carnival and will change diapers. The kids had a great time.
Our cabin was on Deck 4 (Main Deck) on January 23rd, 2009 sailing. Our cabin was a outside room with french doors that open up to a obstructed view of the lifeboat/tender boat. I say tender boat as well because when you get to a port that they have to tender you to the dock, they lower these boats and you have a great view. I was not scared at all about the kids near the railing with the doors open. A little noise some night from the lifeboat rubbing against something but not bad at all. No noise what so ever from people walking past your room door. Great room steward we had. I left a list right in the beginning of what I needed and he had it all done by the first night after dinner.
Ship is going into drydock for two weeks in March in San Francisco. I am not sure what they will be doing to the ship other than just an update of carpets and general stuff that is worn. This doesn't mean that the ship looked bad in anyway possible. Even on a new ship you will see spots in the carpet.
I can't say enough about what a great family cruise this was. Two days at sea before you hit Acapulco which is not bad with kids aged 5 1/2 and 2 1/2.
We went to dinner every night in the Empire dining room which was incredible since I have never seen my 2 year old sit down at home for dinner for 2 hours every night. Calixto and Michael were our servers. Calixto likes to meow like a cat and Michael sure can dance. They brought us anything we needed and I even asked them one night if we could get served quicker that night so the kids could make it to Camp Carnival for a special event. They had us fed and out by the time everyone else was finishing up there salads and getting their main dish. Thank goodness, we had plenty of time to make it to the event with time to spare.
I have never been to Acapulco before and didn't want to do any excursions knowing that my 2 year old wouldn't last for how ever many hours the excursion was. We opted to walk off the boat and go to the nearest beach where we rented a umbrella and two lounge chairs for $7. I didn't even try to ask for less. I am sure you can, but who cares about $2. At that point I was just happy to find a nice place. There were some waves and I was worried about the undertow and the kids but no problem. This day there was little to worry about. I put my 2 year old in a floating ring that I brought with me and my 5 year old in wings and we went out past the breaking of the waves which came up a little higher than my knees. The 5 year old could stand up and not be under water. Every once in a while we would get a big swell and she would jump up and clear it.
Next day was Zihuatanejo. This is where they pulled the lifeboats/tender boats down to take us to the dock. I love this port. I have stayed here a couple of times in a great Villa and have always love this place. Makes me want to go back to rent again. We walked around a bit downtown. All shopping is very close to the dock within a couple of blocks. We went back toward to dock shopping area and hired the first cab we saw waiting. I told him we wanted to go to La Perla Restaurant on Playa de la Ropa. He said $4 one way for all 4 of us. Great price since I have read as low as $3. Of course Air Conditioning costs $10 more. Just roll down your windows and it feels perfect. Takes about 10 minutes which of course passes right by our Villa we stayed at. Oh how I miss Villa de la Rocca. Sorry, I was daydreaming. Back to the review. We rented another Umbrella and two lounge chairs and two chairs for maybe $10. I can't remember know. We did order food and drinks while we were there so I am not sure if you have to or not. Some places you have to pay for the rentals and order food or drink. Just a heads up. Surf here was a little bigger than Acapulco but still not bad for both kids. Here I just needed to hang on to them more. I have heard you need to be careful of small jellyfish, but we never had a problem and no one else I heard had a problem. Yummy food and drinks here. Lots to do and look at. Jet skis, Parasailing, Crocodiles down the beach in a roped off area. Fun, Fun, Fun in the sun for us. We had told our driver to come back at a certain time to pick us up. Sometimes they don't have any taxi's out here so they would have to call one for you. The only screw up here was that we were on ship time which is an hour later than local time. He came an hour earlier than we wanted but he said he wouldn't mind either waiting for us or coming back when we really wanted to leave. Nice guy. Back to the boat for more bingo and a nice nap.
Last port of call was Manzanillo. I have never been here before either. I hear it is very nice but we were pretty tired from the last two days in the sun so all we did was go into town to walk around. We were back to the shuttle bus after 1/2 hour. The shuttle bus is through carnival and costs $4 per person roundtrip. They didn't charge for the 2 year old which was nice. Air conditioning was at the back of the bus. One of the buses on the ride home smelled like urine. I have a young son and I know that smell very well. The walk to town is only 20 minutes which is not bad.
At all three ports we never had a bad time with people trying to sell us something. I just shook my head and my son loved to say no thank you for me.
I can't say enough for the time we spent on the ship. Club Carnival kept the kids happy after breakfast until lunch time and then we would always take them back after dinner until 10pm. They loved it, even the little one who would always say no kids club mama. I would have to say the food was good but not outstanding. Of course we paid very little for our 8 nights so I feel it was well worth it. Not very many kids on board since school is in. I think on average during the peak times for cruising they have 750 kids. We only had 100. I would recommend this cruise to anyone with or without kids. Hope you get a chance to try it. I would love to be on this ship again and can't wait to read what they do to it after March.