I gave a cruise to my son and his wife for his 30th birthday. We had gone on a cruise last year for my daughter in law's 30th. I let him pick the cruise within reason. Since he picked Carnival I was able to afford a balcony room for him and my sister and I had one across the hall.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before and stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott beach property. We both had rooms with a direct ocean view (son had a corner room with both city and ocean). The hotel was gorgeous, floor to ceiling windows. It right across from the beach and in the middle of everything.We went to Gump's Shrimp Co restaurant next door and had a great time. The service was especially good. We walked the beach area. There were tons of places to eat and drink within a block or two. We ordered pizza delivery for supper and went bed early since we had been up since 4am. My son and daughter in law went out for breakfast down the block and were not too impressed with the food or the pricing.
We got a taxi to take us to the port. It is only about a 5 minute drive. The hotel did not offer a shuttle. Were in line about 10:45. The door opened at 11am. We quickly got through the line and were sitting eating on the lido deck about 11:45. This is the best part of my cruise...sitting in the warm air, listing to the music, eating a hot dog with ice cream for dessert, knowing I have 8 days ahead of me.
We went to our room at 1:30 and our luggage arrived about 4pm. We had the first seating at dinner. Our last cruise had a terrible wait staff so we were kind of nervous about what this cruise would bring. We shouldn't have given it a thought. We had "Mirro" as our waiter(sorry for the spelling of the name) He was an absolute doll. He was so cute I wanted to take him home! He gave the best service...friendly, funny and efficient. He also had great dance moves! His assistant (Ruey)was also good although he needs more dance lessens. They both made an effort to speak to us when they saw us on the lido deck for lunch/ breakfast. They made our trip so much more enjoyable.
There has been allot written about Wee Jimmie so I didn't know how I would like him. I thought he was funny and handled the audiences well. His assistants did an ok job. My sister, daughter in law and I participated in the digital camera scavenger hunt.It was the most fun we had. We lost but created lots to laugh about. I also played, Win, Lose or Draw and had fun. Again, my team lost.
We did go to most of the shows. The productions with the dancers were ok but too long and too much of the same. we didn't go to the Beatles one because the others we attended were boring.
We did enjoy the two comedians we saw. The best show was the "Newly Wed" type game hosted by Wee Jimmie. They were better than the paid performers. We also all went to the karaoke one night and had a a good time.
My sister had her teeth whiten and was satisfied with the service. I had an acupuncture done for a hip pain problem when the price was reduce toward the end of the cruise. It did relieve some of the discomfort.
Debarkation was very efficient and not stressful at all. Since our plane did not leave until 3:30, we took advantage of an everglades tour. Once we picked up our luggage, we got on the bus and proceeded to the Everglades. We had about an hour tour on an air boat(very, very loud)and saw some birds and a couple of alligators. They then took us back to the airport. It was worth the $50.
It was a great cruise. The ship was clean and new. Our only major complaint was the lido deck filled up and sometimes there were no lounge chairs available and I don't think the ship was totally full. The theater also was too small when only one show was on for the night.Decor was fine with us. Food was better than we had on a previous Carnival Cruise. Lobster tail one night, prime rib two nights, strip steak once. They could use some better desserts but have to say the tiramisu was the best ever. Will definitely go Carnival again but would like to try either Princess or Holland America. I also think we may like the smaller ships a little better (2000 people size) Definitely would recommend this ship.