We are a family of 4- me, husband, son (17, turned 18 on cruise), and daughter (14). We have cruised before, but this was our first time with Carnival, and we enjoyed it. We live in Ontario, so we were glad to get away from a cold and snowy winter! We had driven down to Fort Myers, FL, the previous week, then drove up to Tampa on the Sunday, to start our 2nd week of holidays. My husband parked the car, in the parking garage, for $98, after he dropped us off with the luggage. While we waited for him to return, there were alot of people already filing into the terminal/building at !0:50. There was just a sporadic line-up outside, but more of a line-up, further inside. Once on board, we ate at the Unicorn Cafe, then started touring the ship.
Stateroom: It was a bit larger than we thought it would be, and we enjoyed having the balcony to sit on, during the week. It made a difference, not having to leave the room to go out and get fresh air or to enjoy a sail-away. We also enjoyed our continental breakfasts out on it, and always stepped out on it before bed. We found it did get hot out there, on the port days, when the ship wasn't moving. Our attendant (Luki) kept our room very tidy, of course. I only saw/spoke to him on our first afternoon, but my family saw him other times. He did a good job moving all our things around our room, as he tidied, from my messy family! It was good seeing all the towel animals he made. The beds were very comfortable, with lots of pillows (we moved the extras elsewhere, at night). Since we had an Aft. Room, there was a bit of motion, especially more noticeable on the Sea Days, and when in bed. But...we liked that!! We all liked the movement, which got us to sleep faster (my son said he's never fallen asleep so fast!), and I enjoyed waking up, to a slow rocking motion, when arriving near to a destination. There was a bit of a hum, which was like a little 'white noise', but not really noticeable/not a bother.
Dining/Food: Some of us started with a Continental Breakfast, which you order the night before, to come around a certain time, the next morning. It was actually our wake-up call, most mornings! We always ate at the Unicorn Cafe/Lido Deck, for breakfast. Lots of selection, and covers most breakfast items you can think of. Drinks are: coffee, teas, hot chocolate, apple juice, orange juice, mango/passionfruit juice, and water. All of these are in dispensers throughout the food areas. Cartons of white and chocolate milk are available, on ice, over by the food items. We ate lunch in the Unicorn as well, and lots of variety, as well. The cold drinks changed from the above juices to lemonade and iced tea. The food was mainly good at the buffets, but some foods were bland. There are food choices at various stations. The stations are spread out, so we found it easiest to just stick to a couple of stations, instead of moving to different areas all the time. You have to go to a totally different area, to get the other food stations, and the outside grill area. All the stations are not close together! On the Lido deck you can find a table anywhere from the forward, outside pool areas, all the way into the inside eating areas, to the entrance to the aft., Serenity area (just for adults). So, plenty of tables to eat at!
The dinners we had in the Truffles Dining Room were quite good. We never sent any food back, or we would just leave a bit on our plate, usually due to fullness. We dined there every night. Lots of choices for different meats/fish entrees. One night I ordered an entree, but also wanted to try the lamb, so I asked for just the lamb from that entree, and not the whole 2nd meal, and they brought it on a separate plate. Sometimes we chose 2 different appetizers for the 'starter'. Great choices for dessert as well. My teenagers had the chocolate melting cake, except for 2 nights, and one of those nights was a birthday cake for our son, so we had chocolate cake that night, and it was really good (you can pre-order a cake for an occasion). Several birthdays occurring, as we heard at least 2 songs each night, and one night about 6 of them. We had bedtime snacks, up in the Lido area; pizza, ice cream/frozen yogurt, or deli sandwich. A couple of times, room service was called (20-30 min. wait), and the kids had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with extra items piled on the dinner sized plate! All that just before bed!! For any room service, you tip $1, or $2, at the time they bring it, as the 'pre-paid' tipping is for the other staff.
Service: We found the service on board pretty prompt, and in a friendly manner. Many of the 'front line' staff would usually smile, nod their head, or say hello, when we'd walk by (in the corridors, main areas and in the eating areas on Lido). We thought about how they did their jobs, day after day, week after week, for their 6 month stint, and wondered how they could do it!! They didn't look robotic, but doing their job the same way for so long, it could seem that way, especially the staff clearing the tables. There is no break for the food preparers, from one passenger 'load' leaving, to the next group coming on. We were leaving the terminal just before 10 am, with more people to follow behind us, and the next group of passengers were waiting in line, to enter the terminal!! Our waitress, in Truffles, said she usually worked 10 hrs. a day. The 'maitre d', never said hello to us, when we entered/exited the dining room, and we dined there the 7 nights. He always seemed to be facing another staff member, and chatting to her. He did speak every night, before dessert, wishing everyone a good meal, and to introduce the staff's song or dance.
Entertainment: We went to several different shows in the Follies Theatre (yes, as some have mentioned, get to the Theatre as early as you can, as some seating isn't as good, due to wide metal/brass posts, and the top part of glass panes, blocking the view- I had to sit lower or lean my head down to see properly), and enjoyed them mostly; the Jazz Hot, and the Big Easy shows were great, with all the song and dance, and the juggling show was quite funny! The Motown Show started off good, with that music, but then my husband and I felt it kind of 'died', when it went off track with the singer Marcus Anthony, trying to sing some country songs, for fun and also having couples come up on stage, at one part, to slow dance, and he danced with a lady from the audience, and kept having her squeeze his 'cheeks' and he would sing to her romantically, and it wasn't realistic, as he didn't know her. It wasn't funny after awhile. Did we really need to see these people slow dancing? He should have just stayed with the Motown sound. On the first night, we heard 2 comedians in Follies, at the Welcome Aboard Show, and they were good. On the 2nd night, our son went to the Firebird Lounge (a cozy, dark room, in the front of the ship, 1st level), to again hear the comedian he liked, Thomas Brown, but he said he wasn't as good as the 1st night. When my husband and I went the third night to hear him, we weren't as pleased either. We realized, the 1st night, he had a comedy 'routine', but the other nights, he got into a more laid back talk with the audience members, and without me going into detail, it really wasn't funny/comedy, it was just conversation (suchas, with a man about his dogs), which he likes to do, and people just laughed for the sake of it sometimes. It keeps it fresh for him, but it's not true comedy, with just a bit of giggles at times. He would sometimes have a pause, muttering words, until he could think of something, or somebody would say something, that he would 'go on'. Maybe the comedians do better during the X-rated shows (?) Maybe this is why some people rate some of the entertainment as 'fair' on the ship. My family also liked the ventriloquist show in 'Firebird', and later in the week we liked the Superstar Live show, where you could get up and sing with the Legend Band. On the last night, in the Follies, we saw the final show of 'Legends', where some guests had been chosen, and rehearsed thru' the week, to sing as certain entertainers. Some were really good, but I think the favourite was (by the laughter) Wee Jimmy, dressed up (I won't give it away), and his 'big' ending. It was great these guests took the time during their week, and got up in front of a big audience! Thru' the week on t.v, my kids enjoyed watching, The Morning Show, or Afternoon Show, with Wee Jimmy, Wheezy (asst. c.d.), and usually one other staff member with them. They enjoyed the call-in trivia time. My son called-in a couple of times with answers. It was entertaining at times, the way they carried on. W. J. likes to laugh alot and talk alot! Some people like him, some don't.
Ship Info: Some people have commented that they find the atmosphere/decorating of the ship, not to their taste. It looked good! We didn't care about the look, we weren't going to let any look/areas of the ship bother us, we were just glad to be on a ship and on a good holiday!! Some people said there was wear and tear, here and there. Why look for that?; it's not really noticeable, unless you look for it, I guess! Book on a newer ship, if you're going to wonder if an older ship might be getting worn! Our 4th level balcony glass, was just a bit 'unclear', from the sea spray, I guess, but they come around thru' the week, and clean it. Some of the elevator entrance areas are narrow, and harder to find, than another ship I was on, but we learned where to find them, after awhile. An area of the promenade was closed, due to high winds; no big deal. At the Avalon main pool, the whirlpool/spa needed repairs several times, my husband mentioned. We didn't use it anyway.. The doors on the ship are quite heavy/harder to open, probably so that the wind doesn't blow them open, I guess. One night my daughter and I tried to get back in a door off the promenade, and had a hard time opening it, due to the wind. She got in first, and it slammed shut behind her. Then she and a man had to open it again to get me in. We thought it funny tho'. Some people should be more considerate re. their balcony doors, as they are heavy too. We opened ours, and then held onto it until it was shut again. Neighbours of ours, used to let them close on their own and they bang shut, which is loud. This would occur anytime they would go out for their cigarettes;early morning, and late night. Some people have rests in the afternoon, after coming in from a port/before dinner, and the slamming door can be bothersome! It doesn't take much to hold it until it's shut.
I would like to come back on this ship another time, but there are other places to see, and the Legend will probably be gone, by the time I would want to go back on her.
Disembarkation: Just a note, that I had not read on here before: all non U.S. residents must be cleared thru' Customs first, (to meet at 7:00 am in the Follies Theatre), before any passenger zone numbers for leaving the ship, could be called. Once that has been completed, then the zone numbers for self-assist are called, then the other zone numbers (for those who set out their luggage the night before). So, if you don't want to wait around too long in the morning, you may want to do self-assist, if you can manage to carry your bags thru' the ship, then the terminal!
Thanks to past C.C. reviewers, for their comments, hints and tips, as I read most of them, over the past year of waiting! It is beneficial to read about the ship and ports,(and on other sites as well) to know what is normal/usual, as some reviewers have seemed surprised or upset about certain things that have occurred, and may be standard on most ships, that they could have known about ahead of time. Message boards can give you info., or you can ask questions.
Ports: We found it quite hot, and somewhat humid at the ports, so we didn't have as much energy, to walk about! Probably because we had come from a colder, snowier winter than usual (?) If you didn't already know: For 'tendering' ports, the last tender back to the ship, leaves the port, 1 hour prior to the ship's departure time. For 'docking' ports, you have to be back on the ship ½ an hour prior to departure time. So you may want to get off the ship earlier in the day, since you have to be back by an earlier time than you thought.
Grand Cayman- We didn't get to do, what I had hoped to do. We were hoping to hire a taxi, to take us around the Island, for maybe a few hours. At first we were quoted a rate of $35. pp (4 of us), for 1.5 hrs., which wouldn't be long enough, as I wanted us to stop at certain places. She then gave a rate of, I think, $250 for 3 hours, but we declined. I really wanted to see Rum Point, but she said it would be about $50, one way, and we would have to get a different taxi back later, and pay that rate again. All the taxis we saw were vans, so maybe since there were only 4 of us, that's why she had to charge us the maximum rate, I don't know for sure tho'. So, my husband said we'll just catch a taxi tour, with a tour company, so we had a 2 hour tour, of different sites, including the Rum Factory, and Hell, which I really didn't care to see. We had an older lady driving the taxi, and it was hard to understand her at times, as she held the mic. right up to her mouth, so the words were muffled at times. We made out okay tho', and she spoke about different things along the way, especially all the places harmed by Hurricane Ivan, years ago. I would have rather gone to a section of 7 Mile Beach, instead of the tour, but my husband made a quick decision, for us to do something. We shopped after the tour, in Georgetown, but my husband was only interested in walking thru' stores, and not really browsing. He and son went back to the ship, and my daughter and I stayed a bit longer shopping, until the heat got to us, so we went back to the ship. I would have rated this higher if I enjoyed what I wanted to do. The Island is pretty, and we would go back if we could.
Cozumel- After looking thru' some shops, at the Puerta Maya pier, we went to the taxi area, to get a cab to go downtown(El Centro). I told the driver, Carlos, I was also interested in having a tour of the Island later, and he told us he could start the tour now, with a stop for downtown shopping, and then over to the east side, to Mezcalitos Bar/Grill, to Playa Chen Rio, El Mirador, back to a western beach, then back to the port. The places on the east side were all the places I had read about, and wanted to stop at anyway. It would be about a 3 hr. tour for the 4 of us, for $25 pp. Great! After shopping for about 40 mins downtown, at a few different stores, we drove for abt. 20 mins, over to the east side, known as 'the wild side', and stopped at Mezcalitos first. They weren't open yet, but we wandered along the beach, and with me being a beachcomber, I kept wandering with my head down most of the time. On this coast, the waves come crashing in, so there is no swimming, as it is too dangerous, with rough surf, rip tides, and undertows occurring. This is a quieter side, with not alot of tourists around, but there were more people coming and going on this side, than what I thought there would be. There were people on mopeds, rental cars, and one or two large buses, with tours. When the bar opened, my husband got a beer and headed to the hammock to relax, as I kept puttering around. Later, we headed off and went along the scenic, coastal road, where we constantly viewed rows and rows of waves in the turquoise waters. My husband loves windy, rough water beaches, so the view was perfect for him, and he could enjoy seeing it all, without driving. I knew he would enjoy this tour, and he didn't know much about this side. Later, we stopped at Chen Rio, which does have a little area for swimming, but caution is still advised, I had read. Another beer, and we stayed for a bit, with the kids just getting their feet wet, to cool off, as it was hot, and then onto the next stop, El Mirador. A last beer, and my husband and kids wandered out onto a large rock, which juts out into the water, that looks out over the Sea, and a great spot to take pictures from; very picturesque. We later headed back to the west side, and our driver asked if we wanted to go into the Playa San Francisco Beach Club area, for 40 mins, but we had gotten out at the other beaches, and we felt ready to go back to the port. Besides, our 3 hours was almost done. We had enjoyed the tour, seeing the remote beauty of the 'other side', and our driver was good, mentioning different things along the route, or answering my questions. He also gave us a time frame for each stop, but if we wanted to change that, it was okay; (whatever we wanted), and if we wanted to stop elsewhere, he would accommodate us. There was no strict schedule, like a bus tour. There is no electricity on that side, and we noticed coolers of ice, for drinks. It can be more expensive to buy items/meals at the restaurants here, I've heard. At Chen Rio, for a can of Sprite, a bottle of Gatorade, and a can of Pringles chips, it cost me $10.00. We felt very safe, wherever we were on the Island! Back at the port (which is nice/new looking), we bought items in the stores, enjoyed a snack of nachos and drinks at Fat Tuesdays (which is right beside the pier), and enjoyed the view of the water and docked ships, and then we went back onto the ship. I would love to return here someday.
Belize City- after the long tender ride, we basically looked around at the shops, When my husband came upon the booth for a city tour, he decided to take the Calypso Train Tour, with the kids tagging along. I just wanted to stay inside the gated area, and shop more. It was a one hour tour, in an open air trolley, and they saw places suchas: the Caribbean shoreline, with the affluent homes, and several neighbourhoods of different districts, noting different building styles, and viewing some poor sections, re. buildings. They had a stop for a bottle of beer, for hubby to enjoy on the tour. Towards the end of the trip, they got off, to do some quick shopping at the Handicraft Centre, close to the Tourism Village. They went back to the ship shortly thereafter, while I stayed behind, as I didn't want to rush away yet. My husband said he thoroughly enjoyed the tour, and not being stuck in the tourism village. He said he would like to go back to see more of Belize, someday.
Roatan- after departing the ship, we took the kids quickly, to find the Clip and Zip, zip lining tour. They are located beyond the shopping area. The staff yell out occasionally to let the tourists know where they are located, because it is not too obvious. After the kids got 'hooked-up', they got in a truck to be taken up to the top of the mountain, to start their trek downward. It was a bit of a wild ride going up, they said. Some kids were in the back of the pick-up truck and had to be held onto, firmly. Our kids were glad they were in the passenger compartment! They had 13 stations to go down along. They thought it was good, but not an exhilarating thrill. They said the staff weren't speaking English, and seemed to be talking about certain tourists (?) My husband had walked along to the beach, to get us some lounge chairs in the shade, while the kids were 'zipping', and I went back into the port shopping area. There was nothing I needed/wanted so I went back to wait for the kids to arrive back and try to get some pictures. The shopping area was nice looking. We walked about 10-15 mins. in the heat, and we eventually met up with hubby. The beach area is very nice, lots of lounge chairs, soft white sand, and a large swimming area, that is 'roped-off' further out. There is a long dock to walk along too. There is a restaurant/bar, further back, where my husband kept going to get us drinks, to cool off. A staff member from the restaurant comes along too, by the lounge chairs, with a menu, to see if you want a drink/food, so that you don't have to leave the beach area. The restrooms are just back a bit, in a building, with 2 stores. I did think the beach area was going to be longer, and I had hoped to beachcomb, but there are signs, mentioning against picking up 'stuff', but it was 'all good' anyway. If I come here on another trip, I would probably do an island tour.