This year (4th cruise in 5 years) we went with the basement bargain Carnival so we could get a huge group of us (23 in all) on the boat, and in good rooms for cheap cheap cheap. However, in the end, it is not worth the frustration of watching the shoreline get slowly larger in the window 90 minutes after we were supposed to be on the beach.
Consistency was the theme on this cruise. Consistently late, that is.
Embarking was the typical zoo - and I am OK with that. It is a necessary in trying to get 3,000 on a boat safely. But this was the first time that I saw the electronic check-in. This is fine for myself and most of the people there, but I saw some people, over and over again try to swipe their passport through the credit card slot ......... saves on staff, slows down the process.
I have become the bin-dere, don-dat cruiser - meaning I do not participate in a lot of the activities and prefer to chill with an ipod, or go to the gym, and of course eat like it is the last meal on earth. I now use the cruise ships for transportation to various ports and have my fun on land/water/air. So one can see that when the ship arrives 2 hours late into port everyday for the four ports in a row, I would get quite upset.
Late for Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Cayman. How? most likely the same reason there were fewer staff at embarkation....money. The only time I noticed the ship going faster than 15 knots was on the way back to Miami ..... the one port we arrived at early.
Two tender ports on this trip, and we spent more than 90 minutes in the theatre waiting for our relatively low number to be called. It is a nice theatre .... but after 15 minutes of starring at the same portraits and listening to the same MC describe how the tenders work, it gets a little stuffy.
To add to the frustration of arriving 2 hours late to each port, we still had to be on the boat - back on time. This did not sink into some passengers as they were late (up to 75 minutes after scheduled departure) in returning to the ship....... and the captain said over the intercom "Remember, at Carnival, we will always wait for you." contradicting Jorge's warning on day one about always taking a camera to photograph the ship pulling away if you are late.
We booked our excursions privately. All were just awesome. I see no reason to book anything through the boat other than if you feel your wallet will be too heavy at the end of the trip.
Cozmel - 5 hour guided cab ride around the island - GLORIOUS !!!!
Belize - Cave Tubing - GLORIOUS !!!
Roatan - Horseback riding on the beach - GLORIOUS !!!!
Cayman - Snorkeling 500 feet from the ship for free - GLORIOUS !!!
Being rushed at every port because our excursion was cut 2 hours short - CANIVAL GLORY .... not GLORIOUS. No explanation from the crew other than that sometimes this happens.
Food - ranging from OK to very good. Food lines moved very slowly. Specialty windows (burrito, Mongolian grille, fish and chips) were open at very limited times - usually when the ship was at port. Still hard to cut a prime rib with a butter knife. Buffet had a "cafeteria" feel, where other ships' buffets have a "dining room" feel.
Room - great. Balcony.
Entertainment - saw two shows.
Juggler - very very good. Funny. Great raport with audience and "volunteers".
Illusionist - (I and many others left after 12 minutes worth)- could not stand him. many people complained. amatuer and very unpleasant to watch.
DEBARKATION - only 90 minutes late getting off the ship - no worries as we had an extra night in Miami.
IN GENERAL - Pretty much spoiled my appetite for crusing. Will most like do island hopping on small plane or rent a FIAT amd drive down a coast at my liesure. Better than being stranded for 8 hours total time ...... that what AIRPORTS are for.
IN SUMMARY - next time will spend more money and get on a better boat.