Departing was the normal Carnival routine with a rather long line. We had no major trouble. Our room was ready when we got on the ship, which is always nice. No problems with our luggage, etc. Our beds were not fixed the way we wanted them and the mini bar was full. We asked to have the items removed from the mini bar and to have the twin beds made as a queen. This requests were not done the whole week. The beds were pushed together, but never made as a queen. Also, air conditioning in our room did not work well all week. It seemed to be worse at night, too. Every night, we woke up sweating.
The food was better than I remembered. Actually, I loved the desserts!! I had no problems with the buffet. Most people never realized that there was an omelet station by the pool area, which helped with the wait. The chocolate feast on the last day was great. I had forgotten about this from previous years. I personally like the fish'n'chips station and the sandwich station. The pizza and ice cream are always a big hit with the kids. The dining room food was better than I have given Carnival credit for in the past. My lobster was actually cooked right. However, the service is no where close to RCCL. We were in the Lincoln Dining Room, which must have been a "country mile" away from the kitchen. It took forever to get our food. The waiter's personality was dryer than my water glass, which was hard because my water glass remained very dry throughout the meals. Some of my food was cold, too. No attempt was made to get to know our names all week by our servers.
Camp Carnival was a major disappointment. We had two days planned not to take the kids with us on excursions. I made it clear each day that we were going to be gone a while due to our planned activities, and I was told that this was "fine." The second day our names were highlighted on their list when we returned, and we were told that we had left the kids too long. We had not exceeded the provided hours of operation and had discussed this prior to leaving the ship. We were also told that "little kids need to rest." Our kids are 6 1/2 and 9 years old and are use to going to school followed by at least 2 days of daycare each week. Our kids said that they were fine. I did not inconvenience Camp Carnival the rest of the week by forcing them take care of my children and do their job. It is amazing how things can be handled wrong and leave you with a very bad perception of one area. If things had been handled better, I don't believe that it would have been such an issue.
The stops were very good. Costa Maya is my favorite!!!! The kids love Costa Maya's beach and the pool area at the dock. We took the bus to the beach. We found our favs at El Faro restaurant, which fixed us up with beach chairs and salsa/chips for the price of a $10 bucket of beer. Their fish tacos are awesome, too. We got our $20 for 1 hour massages on the beach. We did some shopping, and they had awesome deals. In Belize, we went on a snorkel/beach trip. The water was a little rougher than I would have liked but it was pretty good. My parents did the cave tubing, which we have done in the past. We did not book through Carnival. In Cozumel, we rented a jeep and drove around the island. We stopped at Carlos and Charlie's on the beach and had some lunch. There was a huge line to board the ship when we returned that took over 30 minutes (this was the day with the Camp Carnival problem). The ship arrived late in Grand Cayman and the tendering was a mess. Once we got to land the time was more limited. So, we did not go to 7 mile beach as planned. We took the kids to Eden's Rock to snorkel for the first time. This snorkeling is great because you can see a ton of fish here and you can easily walk to it from the ship. We also shopped for jewelry. Carnival needs to work on the tender situation, because it was pure chaos.
They had new chairs on deck. We got out and got our chairs early to beat the crowd. The kids loved the waterslide this year. The deck time was great! The Cruise Director was pitiful. He made long announcements and repeated everything at least 3-4 times during the announcements. I felt better when he finally told us that he had only been doing the job for 2 weeks. The ship was clean and nice. The shows were the same as previous trips, but that didn't surprise me. The activities on board are no where close to RCCL. However, we had a good time with our family.