This was our 4th Carnival cruise for our family of 5...2 adults and 3 teenage girls. We went in with low expectations because of past cruises, but booked this one because of the value...5 of us for less than $4000! My husband and I had a balcony and the girls were in an inside across the hall. The Only negative about he rooms was that we were directly below Rosie's and could hear chairs and shoe clopping at late hours....Our TA specifically requested rooms NOT near public spaces and this is what we got....but since this was the only negative, we could live with it...but beware..all the 8300 and 8400 rooms are directly below active public spaces!
Carnival knows how to move hoards of people and embarkation in Miami was very smooth. We were on the ship within 30 minutes of getting to the port. The crowd was definitly family oriented, with lots of multi generation groups.
The food was a pleasant surprise. We ate in the Washington, early seating and Winston, our waiter was very professional. The overall service on the ship was very attentive. The dinner menu varied a bit each day and the presenation and quality were above average. We sailed NCL last year and found Valor's food better. Rosie's had a good assortment at the buffets with varied cuisines each day...and there was always the Deli and Asian windows available. Entertainment on the ship was also a pleasant surprise. The Carnival shows weren't as cheesy as other cruises and the comics on this cruise were very good...especially the laste adults only shows.
Our 13 y.o. enjoyed the Club Circle C and met quite a few other kids, which made her evenings more fun. They said there were over 1800 kids under the age of 18 on our cruise, but it never seemed over run with children. They do a good job of keeping the kids amused. Christinathe counselor from Club C was enthusiastic and fun.
We booked this cruise because of the ports and we weren't disappointed. We took a cab to 7 mile beach and rented kayaks in Grand Cayman. A lot cheaper than Carnival's package. In Roatan we went zip lining with Pirates of the Caribbean for $65 p.p. This operation took credit cards and Victor Bodden didn't. We had a great experience and he guides at Pirates were very professional. Beware...the monkey that's available at the end of the zipline is crazy and wound up biting my husband...This must be a regular occurence, since the owner whipped out his bottle of bactine !! Be careful of booking tours ahead of time since he ship's itinerary could change or the weather may not cooperate and then you have no recourse.
In Belize we wanted to go cave tubing with Tom, but the caves were not open because of excess rain the day before. We took a city tour and went to the Mayan ruins instead for $45 p.p.....probably could've negotiated better. Those who prepaid for cave tubing were stuck with the same tour as ours, but for more money. If you are comfortable bringing lots of cash, you can save the VISA processing fee at these places. Central America isn't set up for credit card transations just yet and they tack on a 5% service fee at some places.
Key West was very humid and hot and we would've liked to see Cozumel again...but the itinerary changed beacuse of the swine flu perceived problem.
The cruise director, Big Tex, did a great job of giving you all the necessary info without a lot of schtick..a very likable guy, compared to some of the past CDs we've had.
Overall, agreat vacation value...Don't know how Carnival does it for so inexpensively. Keep up the good work!