Hi All - a little background about everyone who was sailing: Myself - 33(cruised twice before, once on Carnival and once on RCL), my Boyfriend - 34 (Never cruised before), My mom - 66 (cruised once before on RCL), My mom's friend, 77 (cruised numerous times).
First off, we are from NYC, and since I thought we could all use some time to unwind before we started our cruise vacation, I thought it was a good idea to drive to Port Canaveral, FL. My mom never did this drive before so I thought it would be fun (like the beginning of our adventure)! Well, it was! Drove 19 hours to FL and arrived one day before our cruise left Port Canaveral. Our ship left on Saturday, August 7th. I had booked us at the Radisson at the Port for the night before we left. The hotel had a package for free parking at the hotel (saving us $150 by not having to park at the Port) plus it offered a free shuttle for before and after the cruise. I had booked a King size suite in the hotel after reading reviews from other cruise critic reviewers and it turned out to work out well for us. The hotel was ok for the one night that we stayed there, if I was staying longer I would have booked another hotel, there were stains and cigarette burns on the pull out sofa bed (my bf and I slept there and my mom and her friend shared the King size bed in the suite), again, it was ok for the one night we stayed there. We were excited to get to the ship! We were about to embark on a 7 night cruise to the Western Exotic Caribbean (Ports visited: Cozumel, Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya).
We woke up, had breakfast in the hotel and checked out and got on the shuttle and headed to the port. Arrived at the Port and our luggage was unloaded from the shuttle and I found myself looking around for a sign(s) on which way to go! There was no one out there directing anyone, people were just standing around looking confused. I asked on of the luggage porters and he directed us to the entrance of the Port. Embarkation took us about 30 mins and we were inside by 1:30 p.m. We headed to our rooms, we had balcony cabins next to each other. We were on the 9th floor and it was a great location, a quick walk to the elevators at the rear or mid of the ship. We were assigned to the Lower Crimson Dining room for late dining, Our waiters were Arnold and Edsel....We can't say enough wonderful things about these two guys....they were great!!! We are still missing them and we've been back 3 days! LOL
I was worried after I read reviews about that awful sewer smell; I almost cancelled the cruise and re-booked on another one, but I had hoped it was fixed by the time we sailed...I did smell it in the hallway on the 9th floor before we departed on Saturday...it was lingering for a few hours in the hallway (nothing in our room thank god!), but after we started moving - the smell was gone and I never smelled it again the entire cruise. In no way did that brief smell affect our wonderful cruise!! Don't be scared!
Our room steward was Budi and he was phenomenal, again, we can't say enough great things about him! The service on the ship overall was terrific! One night the voicemail wasn't working on our phone, the light wouldn't go off and within 10 mins we had a technician up in our room and he had fixed it.
For a majority of the day time on the ship, we hung out a lot in the Adults Only Serenity area. It was relaxing and I didn't see any children or teens up there when we were there (as previously reported in some reviews that I read). It was located behind the slides but far enough away that it didn't bother us at all. We frequented the hot tubs all around the ship and found them to be a nice break after a day at the ports.
The public spaces were crowded, not more than any other cruise that I've been on - My only complaint were the pools. 2 pools for almost 4,000 guests are not nearly enough (especially since they are so small). There were always deck chairs available, you may have to go up to 11, 12, or 14 to find them, but they are available. We always could find one. We were in the hot tubs, there was always room for us! The food in the dining room was great. We went to the Chef's Art (Steakhouse for $30 pp) which was excellent! The Tandoori station was a favorite of my bf, the problem is that they are only open during certain hours during the day and during those times we were at port. We didn't try the pasta bar or the Mongolian or the burrito bar. We did try the deli and we thought it was ok. I guess we're spoiled cause we're from NYC and have wayyy better deli's here, but it was good for what they offered. We also had room service one day and it was good and arrived within 30 mins. We went to the Piano Bar one night and had fun. Every night we enjoyed walking out up on deck after dinner, so relaxing. We also hit up the casino a few nights - my mom won about $100 on the slots, other than that we lost! We had fun trying though!
The Ports (In no particular order): Belize: We only did one excursion, we booked it through Carnival and it was in the Port of Belize. We chose the Cave Tubing, a Fun Adventure. It was fun!! We really had a blast and would definitely do it again. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is traveling to Belize and meets the requirements listed on the excursion. My mom is 66 yrs old and she did this excursion and had a blast. It consists of an hour ride by air conditioned bus into the country, then 30-40 min hike through the jungle and then you get into an inner tube and float through two caves for about another 25 mins. Word of caution: The country of Belize is poor and just understand that if you are out on your own traveling around without a tour or guide, be careful. I've seen a lot of things living in NYC and I was not prepared for how many locale people surround the entrance to the tender boats asking you to buy their products. They will try to sell you anything, which is fine since they are poor and are trying to make money to survive, I get that and respect it but they can be pushy and almost harassing, so don't limit yourself by not exploring Belize but if you are going to explore the country without a tour, then just be careful, even our tour guide told us to be mindful of your purse and wallet!
Roatan: The most beautiful port we stopped at was Isla Roatan in Honduras. The water on the beach was so clear and pristine. We went to the locale beach right outside of where the cruise ship docked. Mahogany Bay was the beach. There was many more beaches that we could have went to on the island but we wanted to stay close to the ship since my bf wasn't feeling too good from the night before. We took a ride on the Magical Flying Chairs to get to the beach. It cost $10 for unlimited rides, Just the view from the chairs flying over the water was worth it. It was like a ski lift over water that drops you off at the beach. I took some great pics on this 5 min ride in the sky! I'm afraid of heights and I was able to suck it up and get on it on. If you go, it worth it just for the views!
Cozumel: I've been there before, it was ok. We jumped in a cab and went downtown to shop for some jewelry, my bf and my mom bought some jewelry. If you go there looking for a deal...look carefully and ALWAYS make sure you bargain. They will always start high and once you come start bargaining, believe me, they will come down to your price. We even walked out of the store after they didn't agree to the price we asked and they called us back into the store once we hit the street and agreed to our price. My bf bought me a blue topaz, opal, and white sapphire ring for $70... the original price was originally $400. So believe me, if you like something, bargain it down to what you would pay for it and then walk out...You'll be wearing the item within minutes! My mom's friend also tried it and it worked as well!
Costa Maya: This port is designed to attract the cruise ship folk. It seemed like all of the vendors here had doubled their prices from anything that we saw in Cozumel. We thought we'd wait till the last port (Costa Maya) to do our souvenir shopping for friends and family....boy we were stupid! This was the most expensive of all the ports! Word of advice, buy your souvenir's in Cozumel! You can make a deal with them plus you'll save $$$$! We walked around this port and within 2 hours we were back on the ship! There were some nice views by the beach area and they were also giving massages on the beach (didn't check to see how much they were). Next time we'll stay on the ship if they offer this as a port on another cruise - nothing great to see and very overpriced! Not worth the stop in my opinion!
Overall - WE REALLY ENJOYED OUR DREAM VACATION! The ship was elegant and the service on board was top notch! Our Balcony room was like heaven! We had more than enough room. I do prefer the shower doors like they have in the RCL bathrooms but the shower curtain worked out just fine. We took so many great pictures and have great memories. Don't worry about the smell...It lasted for maybe 20 mins before we left port - no big deal. Be careful in Belize and relax in Honduras, Bring your bargaining skills for Cozumel and do a quick walk through in Costa Maya!
Sorry for such a long review; I just wanted to make sure that I covered everything. If I missed anything or if you have a particular question, don't hesitate to ask. Happy Cruising!