Sorry it took me a week to get to this but here goes. This was my 24th Carnival cruise and I cruised with my husband and another couple. We are all in our 50s.
Pre-cruise we stayed at the Holiday Inn on Sheridan Street in Fort Lauderdale and left our car parked there while we were gone. They provide a shuttle to and from the port. From our room we could see the port and the cruise ships in the distance. We shuttled to the port around 11:15am. Being Platinum cruisers, we did VIP check-in and were onboard by noon.
We had an inside cabin on the Main Deck (2361) which was midship and very close to the elevators and laundry room. The cabin was a standard Carnival cabin with amble storage cabin. My only complaint was it wasn't as cool as we would have liked it in the cabin...even after talking to the purser's desk. It didn't ruin our cruise though.
Dining- We had early dining in the Posh Dining room (aft) and it was a booth for the four of us. Wait staff was efficient and enjoyable. Some food items were very good and others were missing... I will cover those later. We ate every dinner in the dining room except one. I like Eggs Benedict so we had breakfast in the dining room three morning also. Lunch was always in the buffet or on deck.
Nightlife- We honestly didn't attend many shows but heard through others that most were good. The Welcome Aboard show with comedian Eddie Capone was hilarious. We also enjoyed his late night show the next night. We spend most evenings in Karaoke-where there were some of the most talented and enjoyable singers I have ever heard on a cruise. This was in evidence at the Guest Talent show the last night. Made some donations to the casino but the slots weren't good to us. The deck party was a blast with an enthusiastic staff and crowd up there. Nightly movies on the big screen Seaside Theatre were great. Some of the movie shown were Star Trek, Taking of Pelham123, and Up. I fail to see why Carnival insists on charging $1.50 for popcorn during the movies though. It seems like an insignificant amount especially since you can get some pizza or ice cream for free.
Shore Days Cozumel- We have been to Cozumel many times and wanted to just relax this cruise. So, we took a taxi ($13)to San Francisco Beach and did just that. Super nice employees set up chairs, umbrella and table for us. All they ask is that you spend $10 in food/drink. Not a problem since we spent about 5 hours there and $25 on beer, soda and Nachos. It was a perfect beach day and very relaxing. There is also a pool there but I am not sure if it is saltwater or fresh. Clean bathrooms/changing rooms too. Parasailing, sailing, jet skiis, banana boats, glass bottom boats and snorkeling trips are available for a fee.
Costa Rica-We could sleep in this morning as it was a late port of call (10am). Short pier with shops at the end. Unfortunately, these shops were built under a tent like structure and are not air conditioned. It was a very hot day and not pleasant for shopping. We had booked Tour 2 with Oscar Brown and were met by his sister Catherine. She was a great guide and added much to our day. We traveled in a 12 passenger mini bus which was a bit cramped with three to a seat. Initially, the air worked great but later when we were climbing hills-not so well. It didn't ruin our day. First we went to the Delmonte Banana Plantation where we had a tour narrated by Catherine. Several stops along the road were made-one to the home of a man with a wild sloth that you cold hold and take pictures. Another stop was to see a baby Howler Monkey which climbed aboard the van and several bottle fed him. The most interesting stop was to a fruit stand where Catherine explained local fruits and then cut some up for everyone to try. (bananas, water apples, mango, papaya,pineapples) We tipped the stand owner and were off to Jungle Breezes for zip lining-about a 20 minute ride. Several in our group were horseback riding so they were dropped off at the bottom of the mountain and rode up. (they did not seem to enjoy this trip and the young girl expressed that she was terrified on the way up). We climbed on a rugged one lane dirt road -tough climb but a lot of credit goes to our experienced driver. Those who were zip lining signed waivers and were outfitted with their gear. Catherine made sure the group stayed together and and then stood with those of us who were not going to observe. The observation deck is very close to one of the platforms and a great place to take some good pictures. There were 13 platforms with employees on each one to assist. Some sections seemed to move a lot faster than others. The guys enjoyed the zip lining (even with their sore arms). There were restrooms and a restaurant at the bottom and those that wanted to eat could. Lunch is not included in this tour. On the way back we stopped at a beach for an hour. It was a beautiful beach with large waves but we did not feel like taking the time to change into our suits and swim. There was a local restaurant at the beach also. We had asked to be back to the pier by 3:30 and we were. It was an interesting and fun day with this tour company.
Panama-Up early today (6am) for an early port call. We were doing a tour with Mario and had to meet them at 7:40am. Lots of people getting off the ship at the same time for various tours this morning so have some patience. We did the Panama Canal and Beach Day Tour CL003. We did not want to spend a hot day in the city and figured this would be a great blend. Same kind of small mini buses with great air conditioning which was needed since it was well into the 90s that day. Our guide Elio narrated our ride through Color to the locks-about 20 mins. We were lucky as there were ships going both ways through the locks so we were able to see the complete process which was fascinating. I would have liked to have stayed longer there but after 45 minutes we were on the way to Playa Langosta Beach-about a 45 minute ride. Water, beer and soda were available on the bus and at the beach. They provided us with small bamboo huts with picnic tables under them for the day. Mario's staff set up a bar and a small local lunch at no additional cost. (plantains and seabass). They were also very attentive to make sure all was well with us. There was an employee who kept locking the restroom and trying to charge $1.50 per use! Tour staff continuously had to unlock them. The beach was dark sand with no rocks and the water was perfect! We were returned to the ship at 2:30pm and had a great day. The ship set sail at 4pm.
Sea days-plenty of activities and/or relaxing. I happen to like sea days the best! Deck chairs seemed easy to get on this ship as long as you were out there by about 9:30am. The Serenity Deck is beautiful but very very windy. On the Freedom this deck is at the front of the ship where on the Fantasy Class ships it is on the back. I think that has a LOT to do with the wind. The large cabana style chairs seemed to be camped all day by the same people and there aren't that many.
A note about the pools-the Seaside theatre screen placement shades the main pool most of the time keeping it from warming up. There is a pool up a deck towards the slide which is smaller but sunny and warm. We went to Formal Tea each afternoon at 3:30pm which was held in the Posh dining room-I just love tea but miss it being held in a smaller more intimate lounge. On many ships it is held in the cigar lounge so this IS better than that! The Missing (but not important to us) Chocolates on your pillows, sundried tomato rolls, midnight buffets (there is a small buffet set up on Promenade deck in Sushi bar area late night with salads, fruits, desserts),free drinks at the captains party (replaced by $1 discount on drinks) The Missed (important to us) A dance band in a lounge (Music Boardwalk was a great band but they only played outside of the casino in a very busy area...never in a lounge) 70s Disco-was closed nightly from 8-10 to adults. It was supposed to be a teen time but there were never any in there that we saw. Mongolian Grill and Fish and Chips were only open during lunch (11-3:30pm). Never during dinner. We really enjoyed the Mongolian grill..a great addition to the buffet area.
All in all, we had a great cruise. The little things didn't bother us. What was more important was to be together with good friends and out on the seas relaxing. I will be happy to answer any questions that I can.