We are a group of 6 women, ranging in age from 40-52. We flew into Fort Lauderdale and stayed at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites which offered a free shuttle from the airport and free hot breakfast. I highly recommend this hotel as the people are very nice and accomodating. It was a little cramped with 6 girls in one room but we made do. Breakfast in the morning was plentiful and the food was hot. We had arranged for the SAS shuttle to pick us up and take us to the Port of Miami. They arrived at about 11:10 am and we were on our way!
Embarkation: Took some time but a fairly easy and organized process, probably took an hour from when we arrived to when we entered the ship at 12:40. Went up to lido with our carry-ons for lunch which included fish and chips and reubens. The reuben was very good, not greasy like most I have had.
Cabins: Our cabin was an inside cabin on Verandah deck, midship, and we liked how close it was to the Lido deck. I was concerned after reading some reviews that I would be awoken by the scraping of deck chairs at 3am but we heard nothing. Our room stewards were wonderful and called us by name from day one. I was surprised to find we even had an ice man that checked to see if we needed more ice periodically!
Activities: The activities always seem to be the same with Carnival but we didn't care and tried to be involved with as many as possible anyway.
Dining: I ate in the Platinum diningroom every night. The 6 of us were given a table at the back of the ship with wonderful panoramic views. Our wait staff, Roger, Carl and Alex were wonderful (compared to my last wait staff on Freedom which were very subpar). I can honestly say that every meal I had there was excellent! I also tried the burrito bar, the grill, and the deli....all excellent. The only thing I tried and wasn't very fond of was the Mongolian Wok. The sauces just didn't appeal to me. I didn't frequent the buffet for lunch but breakfasts there were typical of a buffet. Not bad for a quick meal but not mouth-watering either.
Ports: We just did ship excursions because we had some newbies who were nervous of getting left by the ship. Cozumel: Dolphin Swim and Ride with Lunch. Great experience to be with such amazing animals and lunch was very good too. Belize: Goff's Caye Snorkelling. Water was crystal clear and we saw a lot of fish. The chicken kebabs were good as well. I did not tender into Belize but my sister and friend did and they were not impressed. They said there were fences up and guards standing by. Roatan: Pirates, Birds and Monkeys of the Caribbean. What a beautiful place! Our favorite stop on the whole trip and playing with monkeys was fun. Grand Caymen: Caymen Pirate Encounter. All I can say here is endless rum punch (and we took advantage of it). I was happy with our choice of excursions, no regrets! One more thing, getting off of the ship at each port was very organized. On tender days, it took some time but I was still impressed at how easy it went.
Entertainment: My only complaint this entire cruise is all of the smoking that is allowed. Why can't they have a smoke-free piano bar? We went in there one night and it was so bad, we just couldn't go in there again. The piano player Peter is just okay...no comparison to Ron Pass! The comedy shows ranged from okay to very good depending on the night. The shows in the main showroom were the same as always. I was a little disappointed with the Justin Illusion show. I thought it would be more about illusions and less about dancing. Oh well, worth seeing once I guess. There were 2 magicians who came around to the tables during dinner and they were very talented and enjoyable. The cruise director Jorge is hilarious. It is too bad he is retiring from the business.
Debarkation: We were in group 7 since we wanted to debark early to get back to Fort Lauderdale for the flight home. It was the quickest, easiest debarkation I have ever had. Very organized. Customs was a breeze as well. The SAS shuttle picked us up and returned us to Ft. Lauderdale airport.
In conclusion, we had a great time and I am already trying to figure out when we can all do it again!