2/28/09 - 3/7/09 Cruise Review:
I am a 26 year old female and I traveled with my 24 year old sister.
Embarkation: We are from NJ so we flew down to MIA on an early morning flight the day our cruise departed. We were lucky in that everything went smoothly and we were able to make it to the port early and with all of our luggage but in the future I would try to arrival in MIA a day early to allow for unexpected circumstances and also so we wouldn't be tired on the first day of our cruise from a long day of traveling.
We did not purchase the Carnival transfers as we had a friend who was able to give us a ride to the terminal. That worked out well and we arrived around 10:30 at the terminal. The check in process was fast and we quickly made it through the lines. We had to wait for about a half hour until they started boarding, which they did at about 11:30. We were then on the boat and up on the lido deck eating lunch by noon.
Stateroom: We were in room number 1435, which is the lowest category available, a 1A. We got a great deal on the room and it was spacious because it had bunk beds, which freed up a lot of floor space. The top bunk was a little annoying with the ladder but it was worth the savings and the extra floor pace. Storage was awesome; we had more room that we could possibly use. The bedding was comfortable and the bathroom also had ample storage and was a good size. Our steward was Roberto and he and his assistant were always friendly and usually were pretty responsive. I was slightly annoyed because I tipped them right off the bat and asked that they make sure we got fresh ice in the morning and evening and he only sometimes did this for us. We also only got towel animals on a few occasions whereas others seemed to get them every night. However, they did a fair job of keeping the room clean and in not inconveniencing us. We didn't spend much time in the room so it wasn't a big deal but the TV channel options were disappointing.
Food: In my opinion the food was only alright and we tired of eating the same things over and over. However, it should be noted that my sister and I are more basic eaters and aren't big on seafood, and food that we consider out of the ordinary. The Lido buffet had the same variety every morning and even though we tried to mix it up, we got sick of it fast. We went to the dining room for breakfast twice, which was nice, but it is still the same food, only you know it will be hot when you get it. The buffet was also the same variety for lunch and dinner as well with a small portion of it changing each day. We were pleased to find that during the times when we ate, we did not typically encounter long lines and if there was a line it moved fast. The deli was convenient and I did enjoy the Mexican station that was always available. The outdoor grill with chicken fingers and fries and burgers was good too. We did not try the fish and chips station b/c we are not big on seafood and the pizza was pretty tasteless. The ice-cream machines were nice but some toppings or even sprinkles would make a great addition. We did not try Harry's or room service but the room service menu looked very limited.
We ate our dinners in the dining room all but one night and we enjoyed the experience. Our head waiter was Rumulo and his assistant was Alfredo. They were great! Rumulo was very accommodating as my sister and I had special requests pretty much every night. Alfredo, his assistant, who told us he was being promoted to head waiter on the next sailing, was also outstanding. He was so friendly and warm and also very eager to please. We were seated with two other women who were traveling together and we really enjoyed their company however in the future I think I might request a larger table so that I might become acquainted with more people. We did the 8:15 seating and it was nice but the whole experience took about an hour and a half to two hours and I felt that it really killed our momentum to sit for so long and I felt that we missed out on a lot of activities. I think that next time I would opt for the earlier seating so that we can get dinner "out of the way" and proceed with partying and activities.
Casino: We spent quite a bit of time in the casino playing the slots and blackjack. I lost often but won often and basically ended up down $20 when all was said and done. I can't complain about that as it provided a lot of entertainment. The casino was also quite large compared with what I saw on NCL.
Pools: We enjoyed the pools (3!), hot tubs (often crowded), and water slide. The only thing that was a pain was that the chairs were all "reserved" by 8:30 in the morning. We had a hard time finding somewhere to sit during at sea days even though we were on the lido by 8:30 every day. We did see Carnival removing items from some chairs that people were holding but mostly the policy of not holding chairs for more then 40 minutes was not enforced.
Activities: The pool Olympics and hairy chest contest was hilarious. The guy who won the hairy chest contest really was the hairiest human I have ever seen! We played in the battle of the sex's game and stopped in for a few others which were entertaining. We won the scavenger hunt which was held the last at sea day, which was very exciting. We got our plastic ship trophy but it broke in my suitcase on the way home. ? Bingo was lame especially the $500 jackpot one they did by the pool as they don't tell you that they are only playing one game, whereas all the others you used your cards for multiple games so even though it was a waste of money, it was worth it for the entertainment and excitement.
I felt that the "Fun Crew" did a good job of getting everyone excited but thought they could have done more late night events. Steve the cruise director was kind of annoying. He made a lot of stupid jokes and I found him to be a bit obnoxious. However, it is clear that he loves his job and you have to give him props for that. Also, I was frustrated when they broadcasted his daily show by the pool. I really didn't want my relaxing time to be intruded upon by his silly show.
Shows: We really aren't big on shows. We went to one comedy performance which was quite good and the legends show on the final night was amusing and worth attending. We stopped in on a few of the dance performances but we find them to be a little silly and preferred to spend our time elsewhere. The lido deck band was very good and played often and the karaoke was entertaining too.
Cozumel: We had an awesome time in Cozumel. We went on a bar crawl www.cozumelbarhop.com and it was great. We stopped at 5 different bars, 4 of which were on the beach and I highly recommend this tour for all those who like to party. We did a little bit of shopping before we went on the bar crawl and found this port to be the cheapest in terms of souvenir shopping so pick stuff up here.
Grand Cayman: I wanted to snorkel but my sister was scared of the sting rays so we went to seven mile beach for the day. It was O.K. we got a ride there for 5 dollars offered to us as soon as we stepped off the boat. The ride back was $5 too and there were buses running all day. Once we got to the beach it was about $15 to rent a chair for the day (we didn't). They also didn't have any lockers where we went (by the Marriott hotel) so we couldn't lock up our stuff and go in the water, which was disappointing. Tendering off the boat was well organized and was quick and easy and was a short ride. My sister and I cheated and got our tender sticker then ran up and ate breakfast, which isn't really allowed but worked well b/c when we were done it was our turn to get off. We found the shopping here to be quite expensive.
Jamaica: We booked an excursion through Carnival in Jamaica and did the Dunns River Falls, Sky Explorer, and Bobsled combo. I highly recommend this. The Falls were amazing and the sky explorer was very cool and the bobsled was fun! My only complaint about the bobsled is that you only were able to do it once unless you purchased more tickets and I would have liked to ride a few times. We then walked around downtown and found the locals to be VERY aggressive, which was annoying but they backed off eventually if you just said no thank you. Shopping here wasn't very good either. Margaritaville looked fun but we didn't have time to stop there.
Debarkation: We chose to carry our own luggage off. The only thing that stunk about this option was that it was pretty much impossible to get an elevator to the 3rd floor and we ended up carrying all our luggage up 2 flights of stairs. However once we did so all the lines flowed smoothly. Since we had a late flight we had Thrifty pick us up from the cruise port and rented a car for the day for $40.
Overall we had a great time. Any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.