This was my husband's 40th birthday and it was during our 17yr old son's spring break so we decided to take a cruise. We already knew it would be different compared to other cruises we have taken just because it was spring break. I also planned several excursions which I will go into detail later.
Embarkation in Miami was a pleasant surprise. We live in Florida north of Miami so we drove down that morning. It was very easy to find and dropping our luggage off to the porters was a breeze. Make sure you tip these guys! I always tip $1 per bag. We arrived at 10:30am and were on board and eating at 11:30am. I think getting there early was the key.
Cabins- We were on the Main deck towards the back of the ship. My husband and I had an ocean view #2450 and my son and his friend had an inside #2452. We were able to settle down in them at 1:30pm. Our luggage arrived soon after. The cabins are pretty spacious. Especially the ocean view. Our cabin steward Kitcha was great! Our cabins were always clean and ice buckets filled. He always smiled an greeted us in the hall. He was really good at making those cute towel animals.
The ship- Decor on the ship was patriotic and a lot of art honoring women from history in the labor and service field. Very colorful like all Carnival ships. Fun atmosphere and very clean. Everywhere we turned we saw the crew cleaning something. For the most part the crew were friendly but you could tell this was a challenging week for them. With so many kids on board things like the ice cream machine would run out before someone like my husband would have to tell them the machine was making a horrible noise cause it was running on empty. The pools and hot tubs were inidated with kids. Carnival's pools are pretty small to begin with so you can imagine the overflow. The slide was hardly open. Probably due to high winds. On sea days the deck was pretty full but we still found a place to park ourselves.
Food- The food in the buffet was average for any kind of buffet. The deli sandwhiches were my favorite! No process meats here. The fish and chips upstairs from Rosies was ok. A little greasy but still ok. We ate in the Washington dining room for dinners and the food was pretty good but we have had better. Our dining staff was efficient but never learned our names. Everything felt rushed. Beverage service in dining room was not good. If you have a soda card for some reason it takes forever to get a coke. I did pre-order a birthday cake for the hubby and they sang the birthday song and the cake was delicious! (chocolate 6inch $7.95) We did not eat at the specialty restaurant on this ship.
Entertainment- The only shows we went to was an ode to motown from a singer that boarded at one of the ports and the Carnival Legends show which was hilarious! We have to give kudos to "Big Tex" our cruise director. He was fun and quite the comedian. He is a really good cruise director. The promonade dance party was a lot of fun. The crew did line dances with passengers, the conga line and also had crew from the shows dress up in the jenre of the songs that were played. The band was great! Piano bar was dead, dead, dead! That guy was ummm...not good. The cigar club was not happening too much. The Eagles lounge we did not go to. The dance club was a joke. They used it for Camp Carnival a lot. At night the teens were trying to get in cause Club O2 wasn't doing anything fun for them. My son said for the most part it was pretty lame. Security had their hands full. The club was open to 18 and up after 11:30pm but some teens were in there with adults who couldn't tell how old they were. There were a lot of teens on this trip and they just mostly roamed the ship all hours of the night or hung out along the promonade.
Grand Cayman- we were tendered on the other side of the island cause of high winds and it was terrible. Cost for 4 people to get a taxi to the beach $24 ea way and the waves were rough. No snorkling, jet skiing or parasailing. We did not shop cause that would of cost more money to go downtown then get another taxi back to the temporary tender area. The water was calm on the other side which made it easy to snorkle in the small rocky water near the dock. The lines to get back on the ships were rediculous! About 1 1/2 hrs to get back on! Unorganized with no idea where any line started or ended. Guards did not help much there.
Roatan- Very nice cruise port. Plenty of shops, Fat Tuesdays and of course the beach area. But just so you know the water is only knee deep. You have to get a taxi to go to an actual beach area that was not man made. We did ziplining at Clip-N-Zip right near the port. It was AWESOME! $40pp with 11 zip lines.
Belize-Tender was about 15min. and you have to get a number for a tender. So if you have an early excursion that was not booked thru Carnival make sure you get to the Eagles lounge early for a number. We did the Cave Tubing with independent co. Cavetubing.bz. Only 8 people in our group and our tour guide Carlos was great! The drive there is about an hour and he gave us an informative tour along the way. Afterwards we ate authentic Belezian Chicken and rice and had rum punch at their covered outdoor dining area. They sang Happy Birthday and gave the hubby a free t-shirt. They were wonderful. We had so much fun!
Cozumel-We did the Xrail Jungle Buggy tour to Jade Caverns(Independent)Note***Make sure you ask if they are going by ship time or island time cause we were at the meeting place at 9:30am and were 2 hrs early! They did squeeze us in on the first tour. It was quite the excursion. Very muddy and dusty so make sure you bring a bandana or you can purchase one there for $2. 3 1/2 tour we drove the jungle go cart vehicle to Jade Caverns. Water was green and smelled like sulfer but it was beautiful. Watch out tho cause there are thousands of bats! Yes bats! Don't worry they are fruit bats which want nothing to do with people. Then we went to a dry cavern which was pretty neat. Our tour guides gave us the history of the area and were very knowlegeable. We had a lot of fun but my body was pretty sore the next day. Very bouncy ride. Teens loved it! They dropped us off at Margaritaville for a free margarita and we ended up eating there along with jumping in the ocean and snorkling right there. Hundreds of fish after they throw tortillas in the water. It was awesome
Disembarkation-You get a number which is called when it's your turn to get off the ship. Normally this is a smoothe process but for some reason customs held everyone up. Then the lines after you get your luggage were long. Just be prepared to wait. We didn't leave the port until 11:30am.
The Valor trip was fun and we met a lot of wonderful peeple including everyone from our Cruise Critic roll call especially Art and Wendy! You two rock on the dance floor! But after experiencing the amount of kids that were on board during spring break we have decided not to go during that time again. Don't get me wrong we like kids but just way to many to be able to relax. Not only were there a lot of teens but a lot of crying little ones. Carnival once again gave us a great vacation. We are looking forward to a future cruise on the Carnival Dream. Remember your cruise vacation is only as good as you let it be. I was not feeling well at the beginning or the end of the cruise but I still had a really good time. Happy Cruising!!!