Arrived in FLL on Saturday, a day early. Stayed at the Hampton Inn North, which was crazy when we got there around 1pm. Turned out they had 9 ships in port that day and there shuttle was running an hour late. They do shuttle you from the airport and to the pier (and also to restaurants nearby if you choose). Winn Dixie right across the street so we could load up on alcohol and soft drinks. (On a side note - this is the first time in 14 cruises that the alcohol I checked with my luggage did not all show up. Some items were held until the end of the cruise. In my case one bag was checked but the other two were not). We were wondering if it was a new procedure or because it was spring break and we had a lot of college kids on board). Hotel stay overall was nice and staff fantastic.
We are Carnival Platinum so embarkation was a snap. Were in our room by 1:30, but they luggage arrived much later (around 4). I guess because they were checking so many of them. Balcony cabin was nice and Stewart friendly and efficient. Stayed on upper deck midship, so it was one flight of stairs to the Casino ?. Muster drill changed and you no longer have to bring your life jacket. It was a joke though, because it was so crowded and with everyone talking you could not hear the instructions if you wanted to. Many college students on spring break started early. Big screed TV and sports bar let us all see the NCAA games. There was a group of over 70 Ohio State students on board, so for a fellow buckeye fan it was fun to here the OH....IO cheers chants throughout the cruise.
Late seating at the Posh, and had one of the best waiters I have had in a while. Very accommodating and prompt. In the prior 2 cruises, I had not been pleased with the service because it seemed as though that they had increased the number of tables one waiter has. This was not the case here. Food was good, not gourmet, but tasty and hot.
Lido dining was not that impressive. Deli and hamburgers were great. On one of the ships we sailed that had a large salad bar apart from the other buffets and that was so much nicer. This set up was not as nice, and harder to maneuver if you just wanted something lite.
Didn't make many of the shows, but one thing I did notice if that your newsletter is no longer Carnival Capers, I think it is now Carnival Fun. It just seemed that there was not as much going on as on prior cruises. At least it was not well publicized.
The night of the captain's dinner they did not have free drinks, but instead had a free on the last night of the cruise. Most of the bars seemed too smoky. A few of the lady cocktail servers I had were the best ever. Remembered both my name and folio # (which was probably dangerous)..
Ports - Key West rained in the morning but cleared up in the afternoon. Had a leisurely day walking Duval Street. Grand Cayman we took a cab to the Royal Palms and had a great day at the beach. Chair rentals $7 and umbrella $10, but I nice stretch of beach with bar and restaurant. Jamaica - kids did Dunns river Falls and we baby sat. Hear stories of some who tried to walk to the beach near port and were harassed by women and men and even cussed at. Very unpleasant and potentially dangerous. If you do not have an excursion booked in Ocho Rios, I would stay on the ship.
Overall with was our 11th cruise on Carnival and it met and sometimes exceeded our expectations