Normally we cruise with our two children ages 6 and 8 but since we were celebrating our 10th Anniversary we went without the kids for some much needed quiet time.
Cabin- We booked the Ocean Suite as a gift to ourselves and we were not disappointed. The additional space to move around was wonderful and the extra closet space and makeup desk outside of the bathroom was amazing as well. Bathroom had a jucuzzi tub and double vanity. NOTE- the water is slightly yellow so I would not take a bath and after trying the first night switched to bottled water at dinner just in case. Our balcany had two chairs and a little table between as well as a lounge chair. Wonderful for nighttime relaxing and for watching our departure from the ports. We also ALWAYS book a cabin midship. We were tempted after listening to everyone go on about their cove balconies and wrap around aft balconies to go that route but since we dont like to feel the ship roll, we stuck with midship and by Thursday and Friday the ship was really rocking and we were glad we made the decision we did!!!
Embarkment- We flew into Orlando the same day as the cruise and used Executive VIP Limo- Mike Robinson to take us to the Port. www.executiveviplimousine.com or 321-505-0009. Mike was fantastic and reasonable. Only about $10 more per person to take a personal towncar than to take the Carnival bus with everyone else! We had him stop at the gas station to pick up 2 twelve packs of soda to carry on. Once at the port around 11:30am there was a huge line to check in. Luckily since we had a suite we were able to move to the VIP lines and that was super fast. What a luxury! Not one we would normally do but since we were celebrating.... We had lunch at the pasta bar since we knew this would be full later in the cruise. Wonderful meal but very slow! On Disney and RC their pasta section is much faster as they already have pasta ready and sauces ready that they quickly heat up for you. Not so on Carnival, they make it for you and bring it to your table and are very slow. This needs improvement.
Ship- The ship is suppose to be new but to be honest it looks refurbished. It is slightly hard to manuveur especially if you are on deck 3 and are trying to get from the back of the ship to the front. You have to go through the Crimson dining room and in the evenings they have it closed off. The Serenity deck has wonderful chairs and is very relaxing. The main pool is crowded but we rarely went there. It seems most of the time we were getting up, going to breakfast, off the boat for the port, back on the boat for a nap, getting ready for dinner, dinner, casino, show or comedy club. Slides looked wonderful but we didnt use them this time. It was one of the reasons we booked this ship since we loved them on the NCL Epic and they looked the same on this ship. The things we planned to do but didnt....
Onboard activities- on sea days we spent most of our time trying to explore the ship. We also met with our cruise critic roll call for a cabin crawl with an optional poker pick. As always, I love this part. It is wonderful to see the different types of rooms that are available. We also shopped a little for souvenirs for our kids and ate at the Steakhouse. DELICIOUS- WELL worth the $30 per person- so much so that we ate there twice! Our cruise critic group also met for a slot pull which was alot of fun. We each put in $10 per person and walked away with $6.50 each- it was alot of fun trying even though we walked away $3.50 poorer. The slots were VERY tight. I spent most of my time playing roulette. Love, love, love that table. I always pick a crowded table so it takes longer and is more exciting because someone (even if it is not me) is always winning. I did end up coming out even so that also made it more fun! On the first sea day we went to the cooking demonstration in the Steakhouse- free- and they give you samples and recipes- Yummy! Butch the cruise director is full of energy! Loved the Dancing in the Streets show. We only went to the Welcome Aboard show and Dancing in the Streets. The rest of the cruise we went to the comedy shows- they were fantastic and change comedians halfway through. Each comedian does family shows and adult shows and they are all different even if you go to the same comedian. Loved going to the bar/dance area next to the comedy club- The Show- wonderful latin music and dancing.
Food- we were a little disappointed with the food. They just changed their menus and we were hoping for better. Breakfast- the eggs and bacon were awful but the fruit was very good. Some things were cold. I am not a huge breakfast eater anyway so it was not a big deal for me. I usually had yogurt and grits or fruit and a bagel with cream cheese. Lunch- loved the Tandoor and Pasta bar. Mongolian line was too long so never tried that. The trick to the Pasta bar was to go around 2:00 or so, less busy and that is about what time we came back from our excursions anyway to eat lunch. Dinner- we did anytime dining and never had a problem getting in. You could request the same waiter if you wanted. Sometimes tables would not be available with your waiter and you had to sit elsewhere but that didnt happen often. The biggest disappointment was that it took forever to get to the different courses. This happens on all ships but seemed longer for some reason this time. Main meals were OK but not great. If you ordered rice instead of potato they still gave you both and it just seemed wasteful as well as making you look like you were overindulging with tons of plates around you. Not that I didnt overindulge this trip anyway from time to time! Formal night meals were definitely better. Desert- lunchtime deserts were not good. Looked wonderful but very mediocre. Dinnertime deserts were fabulous! ESPECIALLY THE WARM CHOCOLATE MELTING CAKE!!!!!!!!!!
Drinks- the drinks were very good and if you bought their specialty drinks or spent more than $10 at a time, you could have your receipt stamped and take the receipt to the casino for a $5 match play. Loved the raspberry mojitos and the margaritas were good too.
Ports of Call- normally we do independent excursions because they are almost half the cost and they are smaller groups. Several of these ports are third world countries and it just breaks my heart that the local vendors cant come any closer to the ship. Most times you have to walk WAY out of the port area to get to their vans- especially in Roaton
Cozumel- we had not planned anything because we have been there several times and we were planning on staying onboard to do the slides. When we were out on our balcony my husband saw a submarine and wanted to do that so we booked it through the ship. That was a wonderful excursion and had fun seeing all kinds of fish along the reef in the shallow and deep areas. Also saw some stingray and turtle.
Belize- we planned a private excursion through cavetubing.bz and had a wonderful time. We were able to get the first tender out and quickly were sent on our way in their airconditioned van! We were the 2nd or 3rd group to get in the water making it much less crowded. By the time we were done, it was VERY crowded and the groups did not get to go through as many caves as we did since the water was rising. NOTE-all cavetubing companies use the SAME waterway so make your pick based on the equipment they use and the lunch because where they go is the same. We just did cavetubing but you can also do cavetubing and ziplining there. The water was kind of high so that made crossing the river to get to the start point a little difficult. Just mentioning for those with younger kids. The guides will help you across though. The hike is about 30-40 minutes to the start but they tell you about all the wildlife and plants that you see along the way. Since the water was higher, it also made you go faster. After the cavetubing we stopped for a fantastic lunch of chicken, rice and beans- best ever, and coleslaw that tasted sweet like KFC. Bought a couple souvenirs and off we went. Wonderful!!!
Roatan- we did a private excursion through South Shore Ziplining. We did alot of research on this online and their ziplines had one of the highest ratings along with Pirates. We picked this one because it did not go over flat land like the one closest to the ship yet wasnt the most advanced since my husband is a little afraid of heights. It was all high though and he loved it! Loved the views, unbelievable! The last line has views of the ocean- breathtaking! WORD OF CAUTION- they use independents to take you there and back. Loved South Shore location but pick their ziplining only and PRINT OUT their pricing before you leave and take it with you. They try to charge more if you dont have it. This is a very third world country and I think all companies try to do this. Also we had picked the zip and dip which was once you were done ziplining they would take you to a beach and then pick you up when you wanted to leave. This was an additional price from the option of just ziplining. You paid South Shore Ziplining for the excursion at their ziplining location. Once done, the driver they sent us with (independent) took us to a beach where they tried to charge us an additional $20. We were NOT happy with this and told the driver but got nowhere. We had him take us back to the ship. While it was a little irritating I still felt for the people and was glad to contribute a little extra.
Costa Maya- we made contact with Tropicante ahead of time and they set aside 2 lounge chairs and a little table and umbrella for us no charge. They serve food and drinks there at a VERY reasonable price and both are FANTASTIC! http://www.sandalsandskis.com/Tropicante.html Steve Uhl is the owner and very helpful- you can even make free calls to the US once there! Very pretty beach site!