Our overall experience was great! Now there are somethings I feel that Carnival can do better but first here is the good.
The ship was in excellent condition....very clean, the room Stewart was very attentive to us. The food was alright, not the best but certainly no the worst. I really liked the burgers on Lido deck by Guy Fieri where awesome! I think I had about 14 burgers. 2 a day.... My cholesterol probably went up 50 points but who cares, they were good. There are certain times the lines are crazy but if you wait, you can just walk right up an order. They have 4 different styles of burgers but you can also ask them to make it to your taste. I put some chili on mine...
Something I thought was great, was the ceviche. Carnival does not charge extra for the ceviche or the burgers or sushi which is nice, since all other cruise companies charge for these type of restaurants. They ceviche is located toward the rear of ship just above the Lido deck. It's called fish and chips. This is a hidden jewel that you must visit. Lines are never long since not everyone know it's there.
The buffet on Lido deck is alright; the breakfast is nothing to write about. The have powered eggs which taste like crap. Their french toast are good! That's all about that. Lunch is the same, nothing to be excited about on the buffet. This is where the burgers come into play....
Dinner at the dining room was not good either. Lobster night was the best but the lobsters were very small, luckily my waiter got my 4 lobsters which was awesome. They were very tasty, just small. One night they had shark fritters and alligator fritters, very good! You will get one good thing a night on the menu but Carnival needs to improve on the menu. Now there deserts were pretty good. I had a chocolate melting cake every night! DELICIOUS! Their Apple pie was good, cheesecake alright but that;s about it. They need to improve this also. Cappuccino was awesome every night and they don't charge extra which is nice.
SOmething I must talk about that really surprised me was the attitudes the dining hosts had. Usually they will bend over backwards to be very kind and helpful but the hosts in charge of the dining room on the Golden Olympian, 3rd floor were jerks, rude! FIrst off, we had a big group of 26 so I understand it's not the easiest thing to setup but don't be a jerk about it. Every time we had to deal with these folks it was like a mission. We were traveling with 10 kids and one night thy had the guts to say that they can sit the kids but we had to wait. So I asked how is that going to work when they finish and we are just starting, they just rolled their eyes at us. Carnival needs to get rid of the two people there.
One night, we arrive and suddenly a lady drops like a bag of rocks on the floor. I tell my friend who is a first responder to check her out because the host was telling everyone to clear the area but nobody was attending this lady. She laid there like a dead fish. When we approached to help he told us " well if you want to" can you believe this? He said that a medical team was on it's way, well for about 12 minutes later, one guy showed up. She now laid there for another 6 minutes until they finally picked her up like a stranded dolphin with sheets from a table. Meanwhile the host just stood there doing nothing. There is nobody in the dining area who knows CPR so pray that nothing happens to you during dinner. This host should be FIRED! Carnival needs to get the people to have basic CPR classes for all their employees.
Ok enough of that..... Here is what we did on the ports and they were all AWESOME! In Cozumel we met Daniel and Jorge who setup my group of 26 on a tour to Buccanos Bar & Grill. Listen to me when I say, you must go here! I am a big review guy and checked all over the net before our trip and never found this. This was a walk up and start talking tour. I'm so glad it worked out so I want to share with you. When you get off in Cozumel they are standing there with signs. We were able to get them for 20 dollars per person except two kids that were 6 and under, they were free. Snorkeling gear was all included also.
When we arrived, we were amazed how beautiful it was. It was a hotel which went bankrupt but they kept the beach club open. We arrived early so were able to get the best spot. It included lounge chairs and Tiki umbrellas for free. The beach was AWESOME! We went over to get the snorkel gear and jumped in. You can just walk into the beach and the reefs are right there. If you start where you pick up the gear, the current will bring you to the beach area. We started at the beach area and swam against the current so it wasn't bad. We had kids from 9-14 all swimming. There are so many fish.... The water goes to about 35 feet at the deepest point. Very easy to swim since they give you a vest if needed. This is a must do!
Belize... not a good experience since we had no plans. Our friends got off and hooked up with a snorkel tour and said it was nice, with no problems. We got off and tried to get a tour to take us to Bannister Island which I had heard was very nice for families. We spoke with many licensed guides which are in the port, which by the way, is surrounded by barb wire. Not a very nice looking place outside the port area. So we spoke with this younger looking lady who was trying to sell us all types of tours which were very expensive. So I mentioned we were interested in Bannister and she said that she knew someone who can get us there so she called this guy who I spoke to on the phone. He told me to walk to the end of the port and he would be there on a boat. When we got there he was standing on this huge boat with a sign. He told us to meet him outside the barb wire so I said ok. When we got there, we were surrounded by all the guys trying to sell us a package. We start talking to our guy and he says that for $30 per person he will take us there. At the same time, some guy comes screaming that he has no boat and that he trying to rip me off. These guys almost got into a fist fight. My guy told me to ignore him and tried to convince me but the other guy points over at some tourist that had been ripped off across the street so I ask my guy what the price is and he says $30. I then just walk away from both these two guys and go straight over to the tourist from Canada and ask what happened. They tell me that there is no boat and they had been ripped off. I turn around and told my group and said forget it! They followed me the entire way back to the port harassing me so make sure to book ahead of time in this port.
Roatan.... AWESOME! We booked with South Shore Zip Line and it was worth every penny! When you arrive on this port you have to walk out of the port area and up a hill then down outside the gates because they are an independent company so can't be on the port property. It's not a bad walk. We meet our guide there where she got us into 2 vans with A/C. We had booked the zip and dip tour which took us to the beach after. We had people who didn't want to zip so they took them to the beach for $15 per person with one drink included. The others where taken to the zipline first then to the beach.
The zipline line was incredible! You have 12 different ziplines and it's the most amazing experience. Everyone was great. When we all finished, we were taken to the beach " Fosters West Bay" nice place. They have a bar with food which was very good. My friends ordered some fresh fish and drinks. hey have shade along with lounge chairs which you have to pay for. The water is great and there is a pier which the kids jumped off from. There are people selling trinkets on the beach fro cheap. HIGHLIGHT WAS ZIPLINE!!
Grand Cayman..... You have to book with Captain Marvins! I found it online also and it was great. Captain Marvin is 96 years old and started this company back in the 70's. He doesn't work it anymore but was there to welcome you. His sons have taken over and do a fabulous job. You actually travel by A/C van to his house which has his boats there. When you arrive at the port which is beautiful, you walk outside and across the street to there location. From there they take you to the boat. We had the 2 stop which is Stingray City sandbar and then a snorkel trip to Coral Gardens. All equipment is included along with drinks(water, orange and grape). Boat is about 60 feet and a double decker with a lot of shade. Kids had a blast!
Now the things I feel Carnival needs to improve on is the Shows. They are pretty bad! You feel like you looking at a high school show. The guys are old, the girls where out of shape and all of them were out of sync. The props were very cheap! Comparing this to Royal and the Oasis who has Hairspray, Cirque style show and Ice skating show, which were unbelievable. Carnival needs to work on this... we were bored out of our minds during the shows. The best show was the guy who sings like Sinatra.
Our kids had a blast but there was nothing to do with our kids which are 6-11 at night because they are not allowed to go dancing in the clubs. Carnival needs to make a family night club so we can go dancing with our kids.
Karl with a "K" is the cruise director. He was great. There was plenty of fun going on everyday. The usual stuff, hairy man contest, beauty queen, dancing contest, etc....
All and all, I had a blast and so did my group. We are looking to plan our next cruise for next year. I hope that Carnival reads these suggestions and improves on these points so they can be more competitive with other cruise lines. I hope this helps with your decisions.
WHAT A BLAST!