This was my 8th cruise and my 3rd with Carnival. I was traveling with my sister and her daughter, my niece who is 9. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before our cruise departure date. We stayed at the Best Western Plus Cruise/Airport.
We arrived very early in the morning after a red-eye flight and they had our room ready by about 12:00 pm, which I thought was great since check in was really at 3:00pm. It is a good place to stay for one night, staff was very nice and helpful. Van to Port Everglades is $8 per person, be sure to make a reservation when checking in. Embarkation day was pretty painless really. We got there about 11:10 and were on board about an hour later having lunch on the Lido Deck. We got into our cabin (1051) by 1:30, luggage arrived by 2:30.
First stop was Cozumel, and we did the Dolphin Swim booked through Carnival. It's a bit pricey, but we all enjoyed it immensely and I would recommend it especially if you have kids.
Next stop was Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. I have been to Costa Rica 6 times and have been to the Caribbean side two times before. It's not the nicest port, but there is a lot to do in the surrounding areas. We did the Sloth Sanctuary (for my niece of course) and it was okay. Not the best, but it was nice to know we were helping out a good cause there. The baby sloths were adorable! The weather in Limon is almost always cloudy/rainy, and the day we were there did not differ. November begins the rainy season. They have two seasons on the Caribbean side...Rainy and less rainy!
We then went on to Panama where we did the Embrera Indian tour. It was pretty cool, but not quite what I had imagined. Again, Colon is not a nice port, but you are only going through the city to get to the other destinations. Not sure if the Indians we visited actually live there or not. Seems like it was more of a little "village" set up just for this tour. But, still good for the kids to see and experience.
DINING AND ON-BOARD EXPERIENCE:
The crew on board was stellar! Everyone was so helpful and kind. We ate in the Posh dining room every night but one. My sister and I ate in the Sun King Steakhouse one night which was absolutely divine!! Bring an appetite because the food portions are very large. We couldn't finish and had to take our cheesecake to go! Ha! We saw some individual pax who could be described as, "ugly Americans" and that was disappointing. But, they were the minority, thank goodness. As on every cruise, you see all kinds of people. But that's what makes it fun! My niece went to Camp Carnival, which she likes. We sailed on the Splendor last year when she was 8 and she was in a different age group where they did a lot more crafts and things. Since she is 9 now, she was in the next age group where they do more games and movies, etc. She had more fun before. But while she was there in CC, my sister and I took advantage and went to the gym. My only gripe about the gym is the windows in front of the treadmills are mirrored, so you can't view the sea like on other ships. Went to most of the shows, pretty good overall. The R rated comedy shows were all just okay too, but not for the easily offended! I did find myself laughing a lot however. And as others have mentioned before, I did see people in their robes wondering about the ship. Come on people!!! Leave the robes in the cabin!!! We did hit some very rough seas, but that doesn't bother me. It was so windy though, they had to close the upper deck several times and distribute barf bags!
Disembarking was a bit crowded and probably the worst part of the whole cruise experience. But we were able to secure a van ride in no time after exiting the terminal. Overall, the 8 day cruise was great and would do it again in a heartbeat. I especially loved the 4 sea days! Carnival does a good job and the crew is absolutely awesome!!