Port of Embarkation:Tampa, Florida
Ports of Call: Belize City, Belize; Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Getting to the port in Tampa was fairly easy, with plenty of signs as you got closer to it. There was barely any traffic, and it was easy to understand where to go. We boarded around 10:00 A.M , so we could spend a full day on the ship before it leaves. Though, because the port is in the middle of a shopping and entertainment area (Channelside), and right next to the Florida Aquarium; when those two places are crowded, it may be hard to find where to go. When we arrived (literally right next to the ship) we were helped quickly by porters to get out luggage in. As you entered, there was a passport, I-D, and ticket check (first of many). Then you were shown to either an elevator or escalator up to the 2nd floor. On the second floor we had to wait for about 15 minutes to be checked, scanned, bags scanned, etc. Then we quickly when to a desk to sign in and get our cruise cards. After a few spots for pictures (already???)we walked across the gangplank with no wait at all. Extra Notes: 1) Tampa is a very small port, so its easy not to get lost. 2) There is a Carnival (near Channelside) port, and an other cruises port, which are very far apart. Make sure you go to the right port before parking and heading in.
As we entered the main lobby I was amazed at the size of it. You could see up many floors (9, I think), and there was a giant painting (stories, and stories, and stories high), and it was elaborately detailed. There was nothing tacky about, based on other reviews of Carnival. It was very elegant and nice. What surprised me, though , was the lack of shops and restaurants in the lobby itself. Normally, when you enter a cruise ship lobby, you can see several boutiques, along with bars and cafes. But, on this ship none of that was there, just a lot of chairs, desks, and one small bar. After one question, the service was great, and I got a great first impression of the ship.
We had a very nice inside staterooms in the front of the ship with two twin beds pushed together to make a queen. We also brought an air mattress to accommodate us.When we met the stateroom attendant-who politely introduced himself and asked our names- we told him of the air mattress and our situation. When we came back later, the room was re-arranged to two twin beds with a (fully made with sheets, comforters, etc.) air mattress. Our room was now perfect for us. The room was a great size, plenty of room for 3 people. It was nicely decorated with a new-looking TV, plenty of closet space, and a full bathroom. We were in the front of the ship and surprisingly never had bad rocking and engine noises. Overall, our room was very great, along with the service of our stateroom-attendant.
Main Buffet (Unicorn Court): In the buffet,there was plenty of seating (so much that a person could get lost, literally, it happened to us)There were plenty of stations, but they were spread out across the buffet, so you could never get your food in one place. Also, right out the door to the pool deck there was a burgers and hot dogs station to get other food. The food was fair,some good and some bad. I never had a really bad experience (dry, obviously fake scrambled eggs like other cruises) and had plenty of good experiences. I would give the food there and 8 out of 10.Main Dining Room:
In the main dining room, we were smack dab in the middle of the dining room, in the open space between the 1st deck and 2nd. Our service was good, they smiled at us and were polite. They weren't anything special though like funny, or really interacted with us. the food was mainly good there through out the week, except some stale bread occasionally. At the end of each meal the waiters would sing and dance and every body would join in. it was a great dining experience.
The Golden Fleece (extra-fee steak house):
What can I say about it except great? Our experience here was wonderful,we had delicious food, polite service, and a great atmosphere. The deserts were hard to get away from, and the steak was cooked to perfection. If you were to ask for a fork they would bring it on a platter and almost serve it to you. I have nothing bad to say about this restaurant.
Main Theater: In the theater, the size was good. The production (Carnival's musicals) weren't great (as usual). The other entertainment (comedians, musicians, etc.) was okay but not amazing.
Through out the ship, there was always a type of trivia game to play, which kept me entertained. These games were always fun and worth my time.
The pool competitions (belly flop, hairy chest) were fun to watch on the sea days.
Overall, the cruise was a great cruise. I would give it a 9 out of 10!