My husband and I took our son, 18 and our nephew, 16 on this cruise to celebrate our son's graduation from high school. This was our 3rd cruise with Carnival.
First, we sailed out of Tampa. We have sailed out of Port Canaveral, Jacksonville, and Tampa. Tampa is by far the WORST port to sail from for us. We will stick with Jacksonville from now on, if possible. It was so confusing and stressful to get our luggage out of the car. It was crowded, hectic, and I was a nervous wreck by the time I parked the car, found my way back to my husband, and made it into the terminal.
I had read that when you take a case of water, you just have to put a preprinted tag on it and they will deliver it right to your room...WRONG! I had a heavy case of water and was told by the porter that he couldn't take it! I was surrounded by cars, exhaust, and then a bus pulled up! My choices were to 1)leave the water, 2)unpack one of my suitcases and try to fit it in there, or 3)lug it with us onto the ship and then keep up with it until we could get into our room! We decided to take it with us. To add insult to injury, when we went through security, the security guard opened the case of water (to check for alcohol smuggling) and then left it like that for us to try to balance along with our luggage!!! I can understand that they have to check for alcohol, but why put us through that and not even tape it back? I thought the attitude of most of the staff at the port was lacking and not very friendly.
My niece and her friend came in a separate car and when they got out of their car, the porters didn't even offer to take their luggage! They ended up bringing ALL of their suitcases with them onto the ship because they had never sailed before and didn't know the ropes. In all, I would say that the Tampa port was the most crowded, unorganized, stressful port we have visited.
Once we got inside, we drug our luggage and water to the check-in line. This part was much smoother and we didn't have to wait long at all before we were on the ship. We made our way inside and found a few seats and collapsed for a few minutes. We were all exhausted but quite excited.
We made our way to the Lido deck for some lunch. Average food. After the cruise, my husband and I were comparing notes and we both agreed that the food on this cruise was just O.K. We felt like the food on the Fascination and Sensation were much better overall.
We had your time dining. I thought this would work better for us because we like to eat around 7pm. The first night, we had a wonderful server, Gama. The only problem with your time dining is that you don't get the same server every night. I asked for Gama the second night, but we would have had to wait over an hour for her because we had 6 in our party and it was elegant night and everyone showed up for dinner. We opted for the first available the following 2 nights and were not as pleased with the service. On elegant night, my son had to wait about 10 minutes for his dessert. He thought they forgot him and we had our desserts and coffee finished before he got his. The staff was not rude, but Gama spoiled us the first night. She knew our names before we left and we did not get that same treatment from the other servers on the other nights.
I ate all of my meals in the dining room along with my 23 year old niece. We like the formality and enjoy taking our time eating. The boys (including hubby) chose to eat on the Lido deck for b'fast and lunch. They all agreed that the food was average.
I checked the boys into the O2 club as soon as we got there. They LOVE the club and my son is disappointed that next time we cruise, he won't be able to join in the fun and group feel of the O2 club because he will be in college and 18. Carnival really needs to have a space for those "inbetweeners" 18-21 who don't enjoy drinking or gambling, but like to be around kids their own age to socialize.
My husband and I thought the Lido deck was too loud and full of college partiers. We went to the Serenity deck but NEVER got a lounge chair. Carnival needs to make the Serenity deck area BIGGER with more lounge chairs. We did manage to grab a couple of chairs and went back and forth from the jacuzzi to our chairs. You have to get there pretty early to get a lounge chair, I would say before 9am.
My husband, niece, and I visited the piano bar one night. I had never been to one before and I'm not sure I want to go to another one. The piano player was very talented and very foul mouthed. His comments were filthy...not just a curse word here and there...but graphic sexual comments made to different women. My niece was scared to get up and leave because she was afraid he would say something to her. Needless to say, we didn't go back.
We did enjoy the guitar player who sang on the Promenade and in the atrium. He was very talented and we enjoyed listening to him.
Port: Cozumel was WONDERFUL!!! Much better than Nassau! We were pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness, friendliness, and overall experience of Cozumel. All of us had a fabulous time. We did not do any excursions...just shopped. Even the boys had a blast! We visited Carlos and Charlies where the atmosphere was loud, rowdy, and FUN!!! Even my husband got up and danced! We stayed in the main strip after some friendly advice from someone on the ship. There is plenty to do and see in Cozumel and I would love to go back (just not out of Tampa).
Our room was on the upper deck in the middle. I felt no motion the entire time we were on the ship. The seas were the calmest I have ever seen. Since I get seasick, I take Bonine and did not even take a pill the last night! Our room steward was the best we have had so far and the staff was always friendly and willing to help any way they could. I only called room service once for ice and it was delivered so quickly! The room was clean, as was the rest of the ship. The staff of every Carnival ship has always been friendly and accommodating.
They are always cleaning, painting, etc. on the ship and we actually had fun watching the guy repaint the letters on the ship. It took him 2 days to finish and when he was done, we all applauded.
Overall, we had a great time and will cruise again.