About us - we are a couple in our forties and we were cruising with my husband's parents. My father-in- law was celebrating his 70th birthday. We have traveled all over the world and enjoy a casual, fun and active vacation.
0) Pre-cruise - stayed at the Embassy Suites in Miami. We were happy with the hotel. Spacious rooms and they include breakfast and a $10 shuttle to the port. We left the hotel around noon for the port.
1) Embarkation Day (Miami) - the process was much faster than the previous year - we were on the ship in about 20 minutes and our rooms were ready by 1:30 - right after we had lunch and welcome drinks. This time we decided to stay on the Lido deck towards the bow and were very pleased with this location. It was nice to be close to the elevators, very helpful when traveling with seniors. It is not a good area of the ship if you get seasick because you feel more of the "motion of the ocean" in this location, especially in November when the seas are a bit rough. If you don't get seasick, it is a very convenient place to be and worth the price of the upgraded room. We had flexible dining in the Lincoln dining room and had very good service on the first night. We did a pub crawl and ended up spending most of this night in the sports bar watching Sunday night football. I was happy, the Steelers won!
2) Day at Sea - it was chilly and rainy this day, we only got about an hour of pool time for the brief period that we had a glimpse of sun. I tried the burrito bar for lunch and it was pretty good. There were a number of different types of activities available for different interests during the day - everything from health lectures to trivia games and dance classes. They even had a murder mystery! At night we attended the Captain's celebration. We saw the "Nightclub Express" show, it was OK and then both comedians who were VERY funny! After the comedy show, we stopped by the Piano Bar - Brad put on a good show, lots of fun!
3) Grand Cayman - no wait, it was an unexpected day at sea. Due to bad weather, we were unable to go to Grand Cayman...the waves were too high and no tender boats were allowed to go. We were a bit disappointed because we were planning to swim with stingrays. Carnival did reimburse everyone for port charges and pre-booked excursions. The cruise director, Goose and his team did a good job of putting together some extra activities. They were able to keep the adults only pool area open in the bad weather --- because there is a retractable roof. At lunch, I tried the Mongolian Wok, it was a good lunch choice. We spent some time in the game room playing video games and air hockey. This also ended up being a good casino day...I was a few hundred bucks ahead by the end of the day. We went to hear the salsa band at Paris Hot - they were good and saw the Marriage Show which was quite funny.
4) Mahogany Bay, Roatan Honduras - My detailed port activity reviews are shown below. Because we were unable to stop in Grand Cayman, they gave us some extra time in Roatan. It was nice to have some time to walk around, shop and explore before the tours began. Due to high waves, my husband's scuba excursion was cancelled. Luckily, I went back to the ship to drop off my shopping bags before my excursion and saw the message about the change. I was able to rebook a different excursion for him so he could swim with dolphins. The excursion desk folks were very helpful in finding a good alternative for him on short notice. The day started out cloudy but cleared up in the late morning - good thing because I had a beach excursion planned. All four of us had a great day with each of us doing our own thing. We had steakhouse reservations at Scarlett's that night. This was an awesome experience. The steaks, appetizers and deserts were outstanding. The restaurant had a nice atmosphere and they took really good care of us. I highly recommend including a dinner here on any itinerary. After dinner, we went to see the latin band again in the casino. They were really good.
5) Belize - my detailed port activity reviews are shown below. This was a beautiful, sunny day. My in laws stayed on the ship to hang out by the pool. My husband and I took excursions. My husband and I were not in the mood to dress up so I had pizza and he had a sub for dinner. My in laws, decided to get dressed up for the second formal night. They enjoyed the "Far from Over" show and the piano music in the lobby. My husband and I saw two comedy shows with two different comedians --- they were hilarious...so funny, in fact, that I went back to see them a second time on the last night. They did different material each time. One other tip - after midnight, the piano bar is a riot.
6) Cozumel - my detailed port activity reviews are shown below. This was another spectacular day for all. The shopping was great and there were so many tour choices that everyone could find something of interest to do. I believe that this as the night when we had the REALLY good mushroom soup in the Lincoln dining room. If you see it on the menu, get it! We went with my in laws to see a Motown singer in the theater and he was very good, he really got the crowd engaged. We also attended the mega deck party and had a blast...it starts with a DJ and dancing and then a band comes on to play. The entertainment staff did a great job of putting on a fun party. The accompanying buffet was just OK.
7) Day at Sea - it rained all morning but cleared up a bit in the afternoon so we got a little pool time. It was a quiet and relatively uneventful day. Had a great final meal in the Lincoln dining room - loved the bacon mac & cheese - comfort food at its finest! My husband was worn out and opted not to do anything in the evening after dinner. I went to both comedy shows and they were outstanding -- absolutely hilarious!!! I also did a bit of gambling and cashed in my chips - I came out ahead, not a bad deal. They had a bathrobe bash at the Lindy Hop piano bar after the final comedy show ended at midnight. I wanted to attend but was too tired...it appeared that people were having a good time
8) Disembarkation --- our last cruise was very smooth, this one was REALLY ugly. Someone got the bright idea that there was a need to do a crew safety drill while people were getting ready to get off the ship. This became problematic because they were making safety drill announcements at the same time as they were calling numbers to disembark --- creating confusion. I recognize the importance of safety and certainly want the crew to be well trained but does this have to happen right when folks are trying to get off the ship?
The immigration lines were atrocious and I think it may have taken us two hours between picking up our luggage and getting through the lines. The port staff seemed to be overwhelmed and not especially helpful. I was told that there were extra security precautions being taken because the ship went to Belize. I also overheard several people working at the port saying that they've never seen such chaos in the port of Miami. This was a sharp contrast to our very efficient embarkation process. Word of advice - if you are taking a cruise to an area with drug or terrorist problems, expect that extra time will be needed to disembark and get through security - don't book a morning flight.