This was our first time to cruise Carnival Cruise Lines in quite a long time (maybe 10 years). We were surprised to find out we had qualified to become platinum cruisers (with 11 cruises in our history). We sailed out of Galveston because we live in the Houston, TX area and this was very convenient and cost effective for us. We received an email to let us know that the ship was coming in late because it had to take a different route due to a hurricane out in the gulf. We were then text-ed to let us know that embarkment was not going to be until 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. We arrived at the terminal at about 2:30 p.m. and were able to drop off our luggage with a porter. I was surprised to see passengers still debarking at this time. My husband unloaded his scooter and waited with our carry-ons until I parked the car at the Lighthouse covered parking lot which was a few blocks down the road. I learned about this lot from other cruisers on the Cruise Critic website. It was $50 if you pre-book on-line. I got right on the bus and back to the ship terminal in a matter of minutes.
We got inside the terminal and were directed to a special embarkment desk for Platinum Cruisers. We got to bypass the lines and were given our sail and sign cards from this area. We got a sign that said we were "VIP's" which allowed us to bypass all the other passengers in the terminal until we got to the gangway for the ship. This was really nice. I really felt bad for the other passengers though because they were only starting to allow them on the ship when we arrived and I'm sure some had been sitting there for hours. I did notice they had juice, water and tea plus bags of chips in the terminal if you were hungry. It was still a long wait (maybe half an hour) before we got on the ship. The rooms were all ready by the time they let the people on the ship so you could drop off your carry ons if you wanted to. Our room was on the Lido deck which was very convenient. We went over and had lunch at around 3:30 p.m. I was starving. We had early dinner but I ate so much at lunch, we never made it to dinner.
We were in "modified' inside handicapped room 9286 on the lido deck. I was used to Carnival's rooms being a lot larger on their older ships; especially handicapped rooms. The room was attractive but wow was it small. The bathroom was huge. It had a shower seat, many bars to hold onto; and, I believe the toilet was a little higher. The entire floor was flat so that one could roll right into the shower if needed. The goodie bowl contained a ladies' razor, some Suave skin lotion and a sample size of tooth paste. Of course, there is a dispenser on the shower wall that has shampoo and liquid soap in it. We brought a transport chair as well as my husband's scooter and stored it in the shower. You walk into the room and to the left is the bed with just enough room to walk around it. Straight ahead is a small desk with a mini refrigerator under one side of the desk (empty) and a vanity backless stool with trash can under it beneath other side of desk. There were 5 drawers on the right of the desk. The first drawer contains the hair dryer which is permanently attached to the drawer. It worked pretty well and cord was long so you could take dryer with you into bathroom. If you close the door to the room, behind the door, is the closet. One side of the closet was for hanging clothes (with 10 permanent hangers in it) and the other side had 4 large shelves in it. It was adequate for storage as long as you have soft-sided luggage that fits under the bed. We pulled the scooter into the room and the only place to put it was in front of the bed and desk and you needed to leap over it to reach the bathroom (that's not going to happen).
Thank goodness, they told us we could keep the scooter out in the hallway the whole time and didn't need to bring it in. There is no couch or even a chair with a back in the room. This was a little uncomfortable because the only place you could sit was in your bed. There was absolutely no place for entertaining or even putting down a food tray. The TV was tilted in a position that you could just make it out from the bed. The room was on full air conditioning the whole time but seemed a bit warm. It was not terrible but we would have liked it a bit cooler. We did bring a desk oscillating fan which we could not have lived without. The room was pretty quiet for the most part. Our friends in 9285 (the modified cabin on opposite side of ship) said they heard music some of the night but we didn't. The bed was comfortable. It was a little firm but I like it that way. It was very dark also. Don't forget your multiple plug adaptors, night light and extension cords. There is only one 220 outlet in the whole cabin. From this we had to plug in two CPAP's, our fan, the night light and charge my husband's scooter and cell phones. We didn't blow any fuses or anything, thank goodness. We did love being on this deck for the convenience of being able to get to the deck at any time and the food. Our room steward was great and even went above and beyond to make up our room late when my husband wanted to sleep.
I thought the food and choices were just fine. There was always something to eat that should please everyone. We ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck and had early seating dinner at 6:00 p.m. at a window-side table in the Monet Restaurant. The breakfast basics were the same every day but they always changed it up a little by having french toast one day, blueberry pancakes another, banana walnut pancakes another, etc. They also had chicken and cheese mini quesadillas or mini egg and cheese taco's etc. They had an omelet station also which would make you eggs any way you wanted them. The omelet station outside on the pool deck was the one with the least line. The basics were always fruit, cold cereals, hot cereals, grits, plain scrambled eggs, cold cuts, cheese, some kind of sausage, ham, bacon and pastries. The coffee was very good. I personally don't like the flavor of Nestea as iced tea but that is what all cruise ships seem to offer. The desserts were much better than I remembered. They always looked much better than they tasted but I found quite a few tasty desserts this time. The fish and chips place was great. They have octopus and shrimp ceviche which was delicious. Their crab and zucchini fritters were good as was the batter coated fish. The pizza was pretty good. The deli was great for sandwiches. The hot dogs were great; hamburgers OK. There was always a lunch salad bar available which was good along with different country dishes. I didn't try the Mongolian stir-fry or the sushi. On Saturday at lunch time (the last day on the way back) they have this chocolate buffet with all kinds of chocolate cakes, a chocolate fountain with fruit, marshmallows and lots of stuff to dip in it. For dinner it was nice to have "every day" options in case you didn't like the choices for the day. Every day you could get fruit cocktail, fried chicken, steak, etc. They also offered a "comfort food selection" such as meat loaf, pot roast, etc. Sometimes I ordered two appetizers and one day I even ordered two entrees. The food was presented very nicely. The wait staff was great and a lot of fun. They offered this chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream every day and I got that three times, it was so good. It like eating hot fudge pieces dipped in ice cream. The last night we ate at the steak house "The Point". The additional charge went up to $30 per person (from $25 that was listed on Carnival website) which is kind of high but it was a wonderful experience. They do have a dress code and you must wear long pants to this restaurant . It is a great culinary experience though. It is a great place for a romantic dinner. The food is just gorgeous the way it is presented and the service is impeccable. I ordered 3 appetizers. I got the French onion soup (it was just okay), the crab cake (was okay but needed more sauce), and the shrimp cocktail (huge shrimp in a champagne dish with garnishments and the cocktail sauce was delicious). I then ordered the surf and turf which is a small fillet mignon and two lobster tails. The fillet melted in your mouth and the lobster was succulent and sweet. The finale was their chocolate sampler which gave you four different glass ramekins filled with different chocolate desserts. It was everything you could hope for in a dessert. It is definitely worth going to this restaurant, at least once.
The only excursion we took was to the Appleton Estate Rum Factory in Jamaica. This was listed as an "easy" excursion but was anything but easy. It was a two hour bus ride up there and a two hour ride back. I believe the description says an hour each up and back. This place is nice but it is too far from the ship for a day excursion so they must have hired race car drivers with maniacal streaks in them as the bus drivers. The entire road is a series of hair pin curves on a non-stop roller coaster. You had to hang on for dear life to the handle in front of your seat while the driver drove 90 mph (at least it seemed that way) up this mountain. He would honk his horn as he went around curves and we barely missed at least a dozen cars coming around those corners by half an inch. Thank goodness I took a seasick pill before this trip (took another one half way up there) as any one prone to motion sickness would be sick as a dog. Many other people were sick. We stopped at the half way point to get "ginger berries" which is what they call ginger ale to settle stomachs. There was no way you could enjoy the country itself and it was impossible to take pictures because he was going so fast. At the Rum Factory we took a tour of the plant which was pretty interesting. There is even a sign that says if you feel sick, don't go in the distillery because the fermentation smell is horrible and you will really get sick. You got to sample molasses and pure sugar fluids taken directly from the sugar cane. Once inside, they had a buffet set up consisting of chicken (not jerk), beans and rice, salad and rum cake. The food was okay. You then got to sample all of the rums and could take as much of them as you wanted. You needed this to make yourself get back into the bus with this driver. If I had taken a child with me on this tour, I would have made them take me back immediately or hired a cab to take me back. The cliffs had no railings and I could picture them not finding our bodies for months after flipping the bus into one of these ravines. I realize some excursions do incur some risks, but this really was an accident waiting to happen. I was told that all Jamaicans drive like this after I returned. I certainly hope not.
Played the one and two cent slot machines in the casino and lost my money but played for a couple of hours at least. Went to two of the production shows. Although I usually enjoy these shows, they kind of bored me. The dancers and singers were good enough and the costumes were very nice but the shows themselves could be better. We did love watching movies with the free popcorn outside on the Lido deck. I was surprised to see they didn't have any Art Shows; especially since the theme of the ship is all about art.
The Platinum Club members were able to disembark first and a porter found our luggage. We were out and on our way home a little after 9:30 a.m. Increased security was apparent due to it being 9/11. They did take two passengers off in hand cuffs. I bet they might of had drugs in their bags.
All in all, we had a great time. Definitely, the clientele on the ship was a fun, party type crowd. There was a lot of cigarette smoking going on which could be annoying to non-smokers. There was plenty to do on board between game shows, shopping, etc. I always say that a cruise is what you make of it! Go and have fun!