Even though this was our 5th cruise, it was the best in terms of value for our dollar and the quality of the crew and ship. We like eastern Caribbean cruises with balcony cabins but decided to try this cruise since it was such a great deal. What a good decision. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves thanks to a delightful crew, a clean, modern ship, good food, perfect weather and water in Cozumel, and a new cabin that we'll be booking again!
Thanks to tips on this site, we tried the 'best kept secret' cabins on the bow of the ship which were technically an inside cabin (price and description) but had windows looking out to the bow. We loved, loved, loved this cabin and my hubby, who has always been a "balcony snob" said he liked it better (more room and a big "almost private" balcony just steps outside our cabin).
The food was good (but not spectacular) on the Lido deck (although we continue to love the 24 hour freshly baked pizza and the ice cream/yogurt, very good in the Paris dining room, and we really enjoyed the espresso shop (priced lower than Starbucks and their desserts were incredibly and very affordable at just over $2 for items that should be over $10 each!).
The crew was incredible throughout the cruise and, unexpectedly, at the end of the cruise which was extended due to heavy fog in Galveston. We were supposed to disembark at about 9 a.m. and ended up not getting off until close to 9 p.m. But it wasn't a hassle at all, but turned out like an extra free (and utterly delightful) "Day at Sea." They kept us updated constantly, allowed us to keep our cabins for the entirety of the delay, opened all the bars and food sources, kept the pools open, had live music all over and generally "restarted" the cruise for us all even though they needed to turn the ship extra quickly upon it's return to port and even though they could have been doing all of that for us for very little time (which didn't turn out to be the case with a 12 hour extension).
I suspect that on other cruise lines, we'd have had to leave our cabins so they could clean them, and would have required us to hang out somewhere on the ship with our luggage. Not at all -- Carnival could not have handled this situation with more style, grace or customer-oriented service. I am sold on Carnival in a way that I never thought I would be. Exceptional service and customer focus. A wonderful trip that I highly recommend (and am thinking of rebooking within 90 days to enjoy the same crew again!).
I'm not a big Mexico fan, preferring the Eastern Caribbean but I must admit that we loved our stop this time. Usually, the water was stirred up from weather but this time it was crystal clear and the weather was post card perfect! We booked (independently, not through Carnival) the four of us for a day at Nachi Cocum and it was well worth the $55 to spend the day at what was essentially a private beach. We could hear (thankfully, from a distance) the Carnival folks at a busy, and crowded "private beach" next door, but it was "spring break" crazy over there and our private little spot was like we were in the midst of a Corona commercial. Caveat: the entry to this place resembles what might be a terrorist training camp, but once you get through the junk front, the beach and pool area are delightful. Felt safe and very comfortable (no having to watch your stuff like a hawk!), enjoyed all the food and drinks we wanted (included in the price), etc. It as a $15 taxi ride (for four of us) each way. A delightful day in Cozumel. We'll do that excursion again for sure.
We were told by others that Progresso wasn't even worth getting off the ship, and after a long bus ride (Mexico style) down a long industrial looking pier, and being dropped into a flea market style place, I was thinking we should have stayed on the ship. However, we wandered through the market, where we hit a street. We could see that there was water to the right, so we followed the sidewalk out to what turned into an okay area. We found some chairs under a palapa and it was beach space for the restaurant across the street. The waiters run across the street, bringing you whatever you want, so we ordered drinks and chips & salsa and it was well worth the ability to lounge in a premium space and enjoy the beach. Total bill for three big premium margaritas and two beers and chips and guacamole, was $35. Not bad ...
Caveat: Keep your kids and things close and be prepared to be hounded by locals selling you everything from massages to hammocks. And ask for the price of a song before you say yes. One song ended up costing us $5. Yikes. We forgot to ask FIRST. It's an okay stop, but I suspect we'll stay on the ship next time. But if you've never experienced Progresso, and you're okay on your own in the midst of uncertain areas, go for it. Or maybe book a cruise-line excursion. Some fellow cruisers did some Carnival Mayan tour and they loved it!
All in all a wonderful cruise that was an amazing bargain, to boot! :)