Just returned from our 7 day cruise to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel!
New Years Even Cruise. Dec 2010/ Jan 2011!
Our family profile: Family of 4. Parents are 40, 2 girls… ages 9 and 11
Comments, and my scoring (1-10, with 10 being highest)
The Ship: A ‘8’
- Overall, enjoyed the ship atmosphere, cleanliness, and layout. Each floor very clean, the staff was quick to pick-up the plates and maintenance seems up to par.
- We found seating room by the pool when needed, along with clean spaces in all the entertainment venues.
Activities: A ‘5’
- While activities were frequently offered, our family found the entertainment not to exciting. Seemed low-budget. Maybe because we are comparing to the Disney Cruise experience (see bottom).
- Limited to low budget comedian rotations, along with Carnival staff offering games. The Carnival theater dance crew did an great job on their performances! Great main theater performances!
Entertaining Kids: A ‘2’
- Simply, the kids did not have interest in the kids-quest, or activities. We signed up, tried numerous times, yet the kids preferred to hang out with adults or go back to the room.
- The routine each night was kids back to room, adults going to the late shows.
They loved the magician that visited the dining room, and performed each night at 11:00pm at the wine bar! Outstanding!
The Food: A ‘8’
- Breakfast: Suggest to go to the restaurants and order off the menu. See Tips below!
- Lunch: You have pizza pickup, buffet, or kids can easily pick-up hamburgers or hot-dogs.
- My favorite - Mongolian Stir Fry on the 9th floor, yet lines are 60 minutes long to place your order (REALLY!) given very popular. They only open 11:30 – 2:00pm.
- Make sure you find the custom sandwich line on the 9th floor. This was my second favorite.
- Dinner offerings: Really great! Lobster night was the best. Great rotation of options and great service by the staff. Staff will entertaining on their ‘dance night’ and get up on tables dancing to ‘Get Low, Low, Low’
Island Visits (note, we did not buy the overpriced Excusions offered by the ship(.
- Jamaica: When you get off the boat, at the terminal, buy the $15 all you can ride to the ‘hot spots’. All the customers are cruise ship customers, so you are not threatened. This worked out really well as we went shopping, to the beach, Margaritaville, and could jump on/ off the bus every 10 mins. We paid $5/ for the beach access with kids $2.50 each. This is a much cheaper option then the $60/ each shopping trip!
- Grand Cayman: We booked the Moby Dick Sting Ray excusion from the internet. Outstanding trip, and he’s the best service to do this!
- Cozumel: We did the Cozumel Parks - Chankanaab. Buy your tickets online and save a more! Outstanding and very relaxing. Spend the $100 for swimming with Dolphins. The kids loved it! Great sea lion show as well. Kick back and drink some Mexican beer!
Tips section - Here you go – my recommendations!
1) Departure - go early to board the boat ~ 10:00am. Went rather smooth, and you can start the partying sooner! Park at the nearby EZPark and reserve online for further discounts.
2) Eat Breakfast at the restaurants, and not at the buffet offering. The buffet was very crowded each day; you feel like cattle running through the ‘heard’.
3) Do Room Service on your island stops, and also your last day. It’s very crowded otherwise. Suggest to have deliverd 30min sooner given they are busy.
4) The BEDS. We found rather HARD and very uncomfortable. Ask for the bedding/ liner to be added. Was a big improvement, and slept much better!
5) Tipping. The $10/pp, per day or $280 was automatically added to the bill. While you may see this as negative, you can visit the service desk to change this amount, and redistribute to what you feel was better service. You just have to do this on the last night before departure.
If you have a choice for cruises and have young kids, go with Disney Cruise line. There is nothing to compare and outstanding across the board. We went on the Disney cruise in January 2010, and Carnival in December 2010. Disney is the highest bar to compare others against. Outstanding entertainment, much to do for the kids, and much high caliber entertainers.