Let me start by saying that my husband and I are both busy professionals from Doylestown with 6, yes 6 children. Our goal on a Carnival cruise is to relax, have fun and not feel our ages (45 and 51). The things we enjoy most on the cruise are the shows, deck games and the comedy club. We like the dining options: dining room,buffet, pizza and fish and chips(located on deck 10 above aft pool). We prefer the Empress Deck 7 because it is between sleeping floors-quiet since we are early to sleep, early to rise. I like to be mid-ship to aft also due to feeling less movement of the ship. We also always have a balcony cabin. Every morning my husband went to the fitness center around 6:30-7 AM and I headed up the track with my i-pod. I can't even explain how wonderful it is to watch the sunrise over the ocean.
Dining room: Our dinner partners were another couple from PA, we enjoyed their company and did many things with them throughout our cruise. We only went to one of the formal night dinners, just did not feel like dressing up twice. Besides, we had our picture taken on the first formal night. It's OK to say "No" to the photographers, they are just doing their job ! It's also Ok to say "No, thanks" to the bar wait staff.. it's Ok, they are just doing their job also.
A show you cannot miss on this ship is Max Winfrey, comedian/juggler..his show is awesome ! Justin Illusion is also a great show. The Glory dancers are so-so, the Carnival Legends show the last night is also not to be missed.
The Ports of Call and Excursions: Cozumel, lots of shopping right there, just like most ports. We chose the all-inclusive Playa Mia Beach day. Fabulous ! $69.99 PP all you can eat, drink and play at the beach. They had a wonderful Mexican buffet and Oscar brought us our drinks all day. All of the facilities were very clean and there was a swimming pool. We are not big eaters at all, but the food was very good. I highly recommend this excursion.
Grand Cayman: Beautiful as always. Third time here for us, been there done that so we just headed right to Margaritaville for lunch and lots of fun. The boat tenders here took about an hour to get on the island because the Glory changed the itinerary, so we were not expected to be there on that day. Amazing that it only took an hour. It went very smoothly, patience is a virtue, and you are on vacation anyway, right ? We got back on the ship long before we had to and enjoyed the pool all to ourselves.
Roatan: My favorite, can't wait to go back next year. It was so beautiful ! We went on the Tabyana Beach excursion. They bus you to the West End of the island. You will see much poverty on the way there. Once you get to Tabyana..the rain forest meets the sea. We paid $34.99 pp for this one. This included the beautiful beach and facilities. Very, very nice.
Costa Maya: This was our little surprise. The original itineray was to go to Belize. There was an issue with tender boat operators and Carnival felt there was a safety issue. So we went to Costa Maya instead. Yea ! Yea ! Carnival, you should make a permanent change here, this was awesome ! It does not look like much from the pier, in fact we thought it looke like " South of the Border" along 95 in South Carolina from the ship. What a beautiful cruise port ! Complete with a swimming pool that is family friendly and free-of-charge ! Nice shops with authenitic Mexican souveniers and nice bars and restaurants. We really like watching the "swim with dolphins" excursion also, which was right there.
Some tips: Save your lounge chairs early on the lido deck on fun days at sea, everyone does it, so you snooze you lose. That's just the way it is. As for the smokers, hate them. Smoking is prohibited to the starboard side only on the lido deck, of course there are offenders. Tell the wait staff, they will enforce the rule, really. There are designated smoking areas and most of the smokers abide by the rules. Always remember you are on vacation, don't be in a hurry, don't be impatient and don't be rude. There are 3,000 people on the ship and quite frankly they do a pretty good job. The ship is spotless. There are 3 pools on the lido deck, this time of year, not alot of kids, not crowded. The water slide is fun, too. There is also miniature golf, basketball, movies on the lido screen (we watched Toy Story 3). There is bingo, trivia games, scavenger hunts and alway something going on. If we want peace and quiet, we go back to our cabin and sit out on our balcony. Don't get me wrong, we do enjoy the non-stop fun and the drink of the day is always enjoyed. The towel animals are the best. We had a different one very night and Novi our cabin steward took great care of us. Our cabin was spotless thanks to her. She gave us a big hug the day we left, she was great. Like I said, I have already re-booked this same cruise for next year since we loved it so much.
This ship and itinerary is a great value. The staff is very friendly and helpful. The cruise director, Jorge and company were comical, friendly and approachable. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and like I said last year, if you are cranky, don't bother booking! But, if I had to list my biggest complaints: There would be no smoking at all on the ship. There seemed to be a cut back in the wait staff, not that it was ridiculous, but just noted different from past years. That's it, I love Carnival and I tell everyone who asks me which cruise line I use.