The ship is beautiful. There was lots of entertainment. Our stateroom was comfortable. The food was delicious. The itinerary was amazing. This was definitely one of the best cruises I've ever been on!
The ship was very clean and beautifully decorated. It was easy to navigate once we learned that 5 and 9 went straight through. The ship is big, but nothing was too far away. The one disappointment was that the serenity area is near a pool and there were pool games and loud music...not at all the reading sanctuary I had expected.
Entertainment: I had planned to read a book on this cruise, but there was so much to do that I didn't get beyond chapter 6. Since we have been on 17 Carnival cruises we didn't have very high expectations for entertainment. We decided to pass on some the "routine" cruise things: bingo, hairy chest contest, dance classes, ice carving, art auction etc. Yet we were pleasantly surprised by the number of activities that were new or different. We totally enjoyed the murder mystery throughout the week. The Love and Marriage show was as funny as always. We enjoyed the singalong piano bar- and it wasn't smoke filled like so many piano bars are. The production shows were fantastic and I must applaud the costume designer for appropriately dressing the dancers to keep it family friendly. There were 4 comedians on-board and I thought they were all very good- especially Tommy Drake. There were lots of trivia games. We had a lot of fun at the slot tournament. It was nice to see that they set aside a time for card players. I attended an afternoon tea that was nice enough, but I miss when Carnival held these in a quiet lounge with live, soft music in a relaxing environment as they served tea and various snacks. They now are following Princess' lead with it in the dining room. I attended a seminar for acupuncture and there were several more seminars offered by the spa and gym staff. There were some new things on the FunTimes schedule that we didn't get to check out like the Mr and Ms Freedom contest and Pineapple Paradise. There was karaoke to a live band and I enjoyed the audience participation of the "legends" tryouts. There was always something fun available. The Cruise director, Brad, was excellent. He did something rather silly in the beginning but it set the tone of the cruise. We really did laugh together, talk together and eat together. The cruisers themselves on this ship really added to the overall "fun".
Stateroom: 1207- it was very comfortable and nicer than expected. We had plenty of closet and drawer space. We loved the 2 porthole windows. This room is listed as a bunk bed room, but we did not see any bunk beds in the ceiling. We had a regular bed and a couch made into a bed. There was as much space as in a regular interior room. We were quite pleased. We usually book a mid-ship balcony, but opted focus more on the ports than the room this time and it turned out quite well. It was also very quiet except for when we were porting. They noise just served as a reminder that we were almost there and it was time to look out the window.
Food and Drinks: We had My Time Dining in the Chic dining room. The flexibility was nice. I also liked that we could get a table for 2 each night. The waiters were friendly and helpful, but the time between courses was rather slow. The food was delicious no matter where we ate. We ate in the dining room a couple of times for both breakfast and lunch. We enjoyed room service, late night pizza, dinner one night on the Lido deck. We ate at the Fish and Chips restaurant, the Mongolian grill (slow), the taco bar and the late night snacks on the Promenade. The desserts on this cruise were amazing. I am not a chocolate lover, so I really appreciate the addition of white chocolate desserts, wonderful cheese cakes, flans, cakes and delicious chocolate chip cookies. We ate in the steakhouse- well worth the $30 charge. The filet mignon and yukon gold mashed potatoes were wonderful. I didn't find a dessert I liked for my birthday cake, but was pleasantly surprised at the staff's creativity to decorate a "Happy Birthday" plate with fruit and syrup. Also enjoyed the bar drinks. Dody became my "go to" bar staff in the show lounge. He introduced me to "monkey brains" the first night and each night he came up with unique drinks that I had never had before: a Twilight Zone and a Freedom Cruiser (the best drink I've ever had and fun to see- bright blue and bright green.
Spa: If you want a totally new look for your hair, go see Shanae. She was brave enough to give me a whole new style that looks and feels great. I also tried an acupuncture treatment for the ringing in my ear- a wasted $150, but at least it was a new experience. I also got a massage and wrap. The massage therapist used way too much oil to be therapeutic, but it was relaxing. The milk wrap was great leaving my skin silky soft even almost a week later.
Itinerary: We chose this cruise for the itinerary: Cozumel, Costa Rica and Panama. In Cozumel we had a lot of fun on the Cozumel Bar Hop (www.cozumelbarhop.com). I highly recommend this tour that visits the east side of the island even if you aren't a big drinker. The East side is beautiful. Costa Rica- not a place to wander out on your own. After our experience, I highly suggest booking a tour before you leave home. We booked an independent at the port and had to DEMAND to get back to the ship in time. The tour guide tried to convince the bus that when the cruise line says be on board at 3:30, that is the time to start. We arrived back from our 3-4 hour tour after 6 hours, leaving no time to shop for gifts in the port. There is a time change in Costa Rica and Cozumel. In Panama we had a very memorable experience with Port Promotions visiting a native Indian village and a stop at the Panama Canal observation platform. This was a truly a special day.
Overall, one of the best cruises I've ever been on!