My husband and I went on this cruise as a combined birthday/anniversary present to ourselves. We have previously sailed on Norwegian three years ago. We were initially reluctant to try Carnival because we had read some not so great reviews, but the price was too good to pass up and we decided to have a good time no matter what. Well we didn't have to try very hard- this cruise was amazing and we loved every minute of it.
We went from the terminal on to the ship in about 20 minutes total. The lines were broken up according to stateroom category and it did not take us long to check in. Security check in was similarly easy. Once on board we had our picture taken and were directed to the Lido deck for lunch. We arrived on board at about 12:30pm and our rooms were ready within one hour. Lunch was pretty crowded and it took us a little while to find a table and get food, but I think that is to be expected considering that everyone getting on the ship was be directed to lunch.
Thanks to some other reviews on this website we found out that we could get a porthole room for about the same price as an interior room. We booked a room on the Riviera deck close to the front of the ship. We were very happy with the price we paid for this room. The portholes let in a good bit of natural light and we were able to see out of them. What we didn't realize is how much bigger this room was going to be than the more expensive ocean-view rooms. There was probably a good 5 feet of space on each side of our bed, which allowed us plenty of room to walk around. Actually the room was large enough that they could have provided a small sofa or chair. The bathroom was a good size. The only complaint I had about our room was that our bed was not super comfortable and the mattress was a little thin. We were worried about being so close to the front of the ship and how much movement we would feel. You could definitely feel the movement, but it was pretty easy to adjust to and no different than anywhere else on the boat. We brought Dramamine just in case, but never used it. Now, I will say that we did hear and feel a good bit of noise and movement when we docked, but we were awake by that time so it didn't bother us too much.
The food on this cruise was amazing, far better than what we had on our previous Norwegian cruise. We chose the our time dining for the dining room. We only went to eat in the dining room twice and both times we went right at 6pm. The first night we were seated at a table for two and the second night they seated us with another couple. The food in the dining room was pretty good and the chocolate melting cake was delicious. We didn't really care for eating with other people and once we found out that they served most of the same food on the buffet we mostly stuck to eating there. The food available at the buffet in Tiffany's for breakfast, lunch and dinner was delicious. There were a couple of not so good dishes, but there was always plenty to choose from and also a salad bar. The grill on the lido deck had three stations for lunch: the grill, the rotisserie, and the Mongolian wok station. The chicken tenders and burgers were delicious and the wok station was also very good. The pizza was delicious and available 24 hours a day. There was also a deli, but we never had a chance to try it. There was also sushi available most days around dinner time. I didn't try it but husband loved it and they also had the sushi available at the buffet most days. On the second day of our cruise we realized that they also have late night buffets and the Mexican one was very good.
Entertainment and Drinks
We only went to one show, which was one of the adults only comedy shows. It was pretty funny. This was also the only time we had any drinks on board. They were fairly pricy, $7.25 for my daiquiri and $8.75 for my husband's mixed drink plus gratuity; however they were very good. We also spent some time in the casino, of course we never won, but it was a fun way to pass the time.
This was one of our favorite parts of the cruise. We spent a lot of time outside on this adults only deck just relaxing a reading. It was generally pretty easy to find a space and the crew did a great job of keeping the deck clean. Our only real complaint was that this is a non-smoking deck and several times people were smoking on the deck. The crew did a good job of asking them to stop, but some people just have an issue with following the rules.
Our only port on this trip was Cozumel. We had previously been here with Norwegian and did the swimming with the stingrays shore excursion, which we highly recommend. This time we opted for the beginners scuba diving. After filling out a short medical questionnaire we went by taxi to Sand Dollar Sports. We had a short, maybe 20 minute basic scuba class. After that we rented a locker for $2 to put our stuff in. We were taken down to the beach in groups of 4 with a guide. We were surprised at how heavy the tanks and weights were and it was somewhat difficult to get into the water. Once we were in the water we both had some trouble with the change in pressure and it hurt our ears, so we weren't able to go down as far as others were. After about 30 minutes of scuba diving we hung around on the beach and had some food and a drink. After that we purchased our pictures (2 of them for $20) and then took a paid taxi back to the dock. We were docked at the international terminal. After getting back we did a little shopping.
We chose self disembarkation because we were zone 25, and would have been on the ship forever waiting for them to call that. We were on the Riveria deck, so our deck was called last. We had plenty of time to have breakfast and gather all of our things from our room. Once our deck was called we were able to get off the ship pretty quickly and going through customs was very easy. It probably took about 30 minutes to get off the ship out to our car.
Overall this was a great experience and we definitely hope to do it again in the near future. We were pleasantly surprised at the food, service and overall experience we received on Carnival and found it better than our previous Norwegian cruise. We will definitely return to Carnival in the future.