Just got off the ship, so wanted to give my review while its fresh in my mind. This is my third cruise, first with Carnival, and first with my family. I did my other 2 so many years ago, that its hard to remember for comparison.
We [me (38), husband (42) kids (7 and 7)] flew into Houston Hobby the nite before, rented a car, and stayed in a motel right by the airport, which proved to be a good decision. We got up the next morning, ate our complementary hotel breakfast, and headed down the single highway 45 minute drive to Galveston. Very Easy Drive. Had a little time left over, so went to see the seawall in Galveston. I have never been to Galveston, so I appreciated a little time to check it out.
First complaint: returning car at Enterprise in Galveston. Now I shouldn't complain, as the rates were very low, but they have one shuttle that holds no more than 10 people, and a sea of people waiting to get from the agency down to the ship terminal. The staff at Enterprise was very nice, however, and took some people over in their large cars. They said they go through this every Sunday, which proved to be the similar case on the way home. We got to Enterprise around 12:15, and the ship by 1:45.
Desembarkation: Hard for me to comment because dear husband is a Canadian citizen, and therefore, went to the "Non-U.S. Citizen" line, which was empty, walked right up to a check in person, and was on in less than 5 minutes.
We received our luggage around 5 p.m. that night, so I thought that went smoothly. Plus all that I smuggled on board came right to our cabin, so no complaints there.
Muster drill: Was very smooth. I read somewhere to bring bottled water, but we met in Cole Porter Lounge and just sat quietly in an air conditioned room. We were supposed to meet our cruise critic group right after, but only found one person. So if you arrange something like this, make sure you know what some one looks like or bring signs.
Room Steward: Great! He really kept the room cleaned, did so very quickly, kept our cooler full of ice, and made great towel animals that my kids loved.
Pool: TOO SMALL!!! The slide was pretty fun, but the line was slow. The pool was always too crowded to swim. The jacuzzi, full of kids. Plenty of chairs in the sun, although I prefer shade, which was minimal, but may have been the only shade person on board, so that always worked out.
Food: I give it a B+. We always ate dinner in the Inspiration Room, and most of the dishes were good, and the desserts were average. I think by the time you get in your fourth or fifth day, you have just eaten too much, and no food is appealing anymore. We only ate one lunch and one breakfast in the dining room, and didn't care too much for either. Tiffany's had good lunches, average breakfasts, but many choices. Pizza was good and their Caesar salad was really good. They kept running out of coffee at breakfast, which was a bit annoying. But you could go to the pool area right outside and get a cup. The poolside food was good too, if you want really casual food and good fries.
One note: We had the early dinner 5:45 seating. Didn't care too much for it cuz we'd have to start getting ready by 5, and miss all the evening activities, or rush after coming in from port. I kept it only cuz my kids ate with the camp at the same time, but would've preferred either the 6:15 seating in the other room, or the 8:00 p.m. seating. 8:30 for us would be too late.
Wait staff: Really enjoyed our waiter and head waiter. Nice guys. We were also seated in a table for 4, with just ourselves. Personally, I would have preferred a table with more people to meet, but with kids 3 nights, I think we did others a favor. Dear husband preferred just us alone, so he won. The staff at Tiffany's was always nice and helpful. The maitre'd--never saw him...that is until the last night when he was accepting tips. Big sore spot with me!!!
Drinks: Mixed drinks were good. I tried to stay with the special for the day in order to keep the bill down. Good selection of beer. No one ordered a soda, so can't comment on that.
Kids Camp: kudos to the kids camp!!!! My 7 year olds really enjoyed themselves at the camp. The counselors kept them entertained, and wanting to come back. The facilities were very nice. They ate dinner with the camp 4 nites, which gave husband and I some time to ourselves. I compliment the staff of the kids camp. However, I think that those kids over 10 did not spend much time in the camp cuz I kept seeing them running around all over the ship, which I will comment on later.
Fitness room: Nice, large, lots of equipment. All the machines in good working order and never too crowded. Just DO NOT go there in sandals, because they will make you go back and get gym shoes. No getting away with that, even to just lift weights. Didn't use the spa, so cannot comment on spa stuff.
Cabin: We had a 6D, upgraded from a 6A, ocean view, unobstructed, and cannot complain about the room. We fit a family of 4 in just fine, and the beds for the kids came down and was put back up by the steward. Didn't like my neighbors, however. One group smoked somewhere, cuz our halls and my room smelled, and the neighbors on either side of us had kids in the 10-13 age range that were screaming up and down the halls, slamming doors late at night. I even went out at one point and yelled at them. It worked for a minute. Luckily I brought earplugs, so I got some sleep.
Elevators: OK. Most worked just fine, a little slow, but what do you expect. HOWEVER, the aft elevators over by the back dining rooms would not stop at floor 7. I kid you not, I would hold down the up button and watch each elevator as it went from 6 to 7 to 8 without stopping. I don't think we took it at all unless someone was getting off at our floor.
Overall staff: I only saw or met very friendly staff. Risa, the cruise director was good, and her assistant, the English (or Irish) girl (can't remember her name) was very funny. Didn't care for Mike's voice, esp. at the pool during the survivor game. Two hours of listening to him never stop yelling in the mike gave us such a headache. The picture people were ok, some better than others.
Entertainment: C-. Did not like the L.V. Review show the first formal night, comedians were ok. Must say I really didn't stay around for the other shows. Karoke never got much of a following and I felt sorry for the karoke director cuz she was the only one I saw singing. I heard she was new. I really liked the "Dirt Poets" which were a rock band that played in the R&J lounge. Didn't really listen to the Orchestra, sorry. And we liked the pool band, even though I read a lot of comments otherwise.
Activities: B-. Now I know you are on a cruise ship, so its hard to keep things lively, but too much Bingo!!! I liked some of the games they played in the Mikado lounge, but didn't care for a lot of the activities going on around the pool. I guess if you like games, you will enjoy that part. Only gambled a little and lost everytime, but watched a guy win $475 at craps the last night, so that was exciting. I liked the art auctions, even though I never purchased any. It seemed like they had good deals on the art. Auctioneer, however, ANNOYING!
Shore excursions: Did everything on our own so can't comment. We took a 20 minute taxi ride in Progresso to Dzibilichun, which I still cannot pronounce, but found it very intesting. They have a museum that is air conditioned, and some ruins that are not as grandiose as Chitchen-Itza. We didn't do it, but if you go, you really should purchase a guide. We took our kids, so going on our own, and quickly, was a good way for us. We stopped at the beach before getting back on the ship, and I must say I heard so many bad reviews of the beach in Progresso, that I was surprised at how nice they were. The were typical of any Mexican beach, but much cleaner. Yes, you were approached by people selling stuff, but hey, that is Mexico. By the way, if you are going to shop, do it here. Its much cheaper.
In Cozumel we rented a car and went to several beaches, including Dzul Ha for snorkeling and Paradise for the trampoline. The ocean water is so clear and the snorkeling fantastic. Best part of Paradise was going next door to S.F. to use their fresh water pool. All we did was buy a few drinks and they did not bat an eye. We also drove around the entire island to check out the other side. One comment: If you rent a car, be sure you know which dock you are coming in at, cuz there are two docks, at least 2 miles apart, and we had our car at the wrong dock.
Belize, we went on the Coralbreeze snorkeling tour. Loved swimming with the sharks and stingrays. And loved Caye Caulker. Didn't have enough time there however. Tender process was much better than I expected, and wished I hadn't stressed over getting up early to get a tender ticket. We got off and waited for the rest of the tour group, so we might as well have stayed on and slept in. Getting tender back was just as easy, and we made it back in plenty of time.
Two days at sea: Too long, sorry. Although I enjoyed the whole experience, I would have preferred more ports, and less time on the ship.
Freebies: Not many, so let me fill you in on what I know. Meeting the captain party on formal night. Make sure you go cuz they hand out free drinks. And several of the art auctions had free champagne. And good prices on art if you are into that. Wine and cheese party had good wine prices, and there is bloody mary's for cheap from 9-11 most mornings. There is always the special of the day, and if you don't get the souvenir glass, its very reasonable. My kids did not get the soda card, so they just drank juice, lemonade and punch. My kids love to complain, but never mentioned anything about not having a soda card so that worked out fine. I also read somewhere that kids can have a soda for free at dinner, but we never asked. We brought sodas in our cooler, so they drank those when they came to the room. Also brought bottled water, which I highly recommend, and a lot! You will need it for the ports.
Desembarkation. Again, we went with dear husband to go through customs early with non-U.S. citizens, which flowed well. If I had to do it again, I'd sleep in, and be the last to go through customs, cuz the line was always long, and everyone ended up getting off about the same time. Back to the car rental: Enterprise was sending half its customers on the shuttle back to the agency, and the other half to walk across the street and get your car in a parking lot. I did the latter, then went back to get the family and luggage, which was tough trying to get back to the dock. Very crowded. But we got out in plenty of time to make our flight. I guess I cannot complain too much about Enterprise except they need to have all their staff come in on Sundays and get another shuttle!
Overall, I'd give the ship a B+ and my experience an A-.