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692 Carnival Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

Embarkation in Jacksonville was a nightmare. Carnival does not do the "herding" aspect of cruising well. As others have mentioned, the advanced age of the employees seemed to slow down the whole process. I'm no spring ... Read More
Embarkation in Jacksonville was a nightmare. Carnival does not do the "herding" aspect of cruising well. As others have mentioned, the advanced age of the employees seemed to slow down the whole process. I'm no spring chicken, but Carnival needs to reassess where these folks might be better utilized. Room- my first impression was the stinky, stale smoke smell that met my nose as I entered the room. I don't need anything fancy or even need a window in my room. But I don't want to smell old tobacco every time I come "home." On the plus side, the beds and pillows were really comfy, and our room dude was superb. The entire decor in this ship is shabby and dated, which includes the rooms. Carpet was worn and dirty. Dining- our waiter was great- very personable and attentive. Food was below so-so. If not for the chocolate melting cake, I would rate it horrible. The Lido deck buffet for breakfast had a great omelet making station, but it's a good thing I get up early before the "crowds" hit. On our last day, they had NO COFFEE until about 9am. The lines were usually quite long, and since there is no place to put your tray, they have to be left on the tables for the staff to clear. Except that they don't do it often. I cleared tables every day, breakfast and lunch, so that I would have a place to sit. It was literally the same food every meal, which got old even on this short cruise. They did have decent pizza and a sandwich bar, but again, the same old thing. Entertainment was the worst I ever experienced. The "comedian" was so bad that people were leaving like crazy. There was a juggler (ZZZZZ)... Lots of "singer/dancer" shows of really mediocre talent. I also got really jazzed about paying $20 for ONE GAME of bingo. Don't even get me started on their web site to try and register, etc. Numerous calls to Carnival only got us a "we know it's bad" answer. Maybe it's the old adage of "you get what you pay for", but there were a lot of folks on this cruise (one lady we talked to described them as "riff raff") who were just plain loud and rude. I'm going on a spring break cruise on Princess (another first), and I'm hoping for a much better experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was my first cruise, which brings me to my first lesson learned; cruising is about the cruise, not so much the destination... which is fine but it is a good thing to know. Embarkation was a breeze more or less, we spent maybe 30-45 ... Read More
This was my first cruise, which brings me to my first lesson learned; cruising is about the cruise, not so much the destination... which is fine but it is a good thing to know. Embarkation was a breeze more or less, we spent maybe 30-45 minutes or so in the process, got our Sign and Sail (some call 'em Drink and Drown) cards and were onboard and then up to our cabin far, far aft on E (Empress) deck. Good sized room with a view, nice TV and good sized bathroom. All clean and tidy. Met our room steward Anthony who gave us a quick lesson on using the air conditioning system. Affable fellow who we saw very few times afterwards but that was OK. Our room was always in good shape and we had everything we needed. Put our stuff away in the ample storage and off to Lido deck for a bite to eat. Lido deck, ahhh Lido deck; home of all things good and tasty. We sampled the buffet. I liked the port side one with the daily international selection. All evenings afterwards and breakfasts we took in the Sensation dining room with our group. The food on the Lido buffet was for the most part pretty good, about as good as buffet food can get I guess. However the best thing I found was the deli at the rear of the room. I ordered a salmon bagel (lox) one afternoon and I am not exaggerating when I say he put a half pound or more of smoked salmon slices on the sandwich. The dining room fare consisted of everything from escargot, chateaubriand, lobster, grouper, pasta... well, you get the point. The weather the entire trip was unusually cold and cloudy with a few bursts of rare sunshine. This being the case most of our enjoyment was had either dining or enjoying the entertainment. The shows in the Palace Room were always top notch and never failed to entertain. Our cruise director Jacques was funny and entertaining as well. The dance shows were great and the comics on par with any better Vegas show. Lesson 2: arrive early or you will probably end up behind the sound board with a bad view. I would definitely cruise again and despite the weather had a marvelous time. Because of the weather the seas were a bit rough and quite a few folks got seasick, which I am told is not so much of a problem on the Carnival's larger class of ships. I was fine the whole time onboard and actually suffered more trying get my land legs back. The food was definitely the high point. Our dining room waiters Frazier and Komang, well what can I say? They were the absolute best, we were actually a bit sad on the last evening to bid them goodbye. Debarkation was as easy or easier than boarding. We had our customs forms completed listing the 4 liters of rum purchased at the duty free ship store (man, that was a bargain) and were through in no time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Ok,so I know everyone has been waiting for this so here it goes! OK so it was bad, just let me tell you what they did to me! THEY MADE ME GET OFF THE SHIP!!!! Who cares that it was the end of my cruise, I did not want to hear that! So I ... Read More
Ok,so I know everyone has been waiting for this so here it goes! OK so it was bad, just let me tell you what they did to me! THEY MADE ME GET OFF THE SHIP!!!! Who cares that it was the end of my cruise, I did not want to hear that! So I sulked and got my bags and sadly got off of the ship. Although I thought about hiding out on the sun deck in hopes they would not find me.;) The ship was great, the food was good and we loved it. The new water slides are sooo much fun, we came back to the ship early on our port day so we pretty much had it to ourselves. They took very good care of us on the adults only deck, and no there were NO kids. They seemed to keep that in check. Our room was nice, a regular inside room.It seemed that the refurb had made a difference on the entire ship as far as the public areas go. The ship seemed very clean and like new. I have seen lots of pics of the ship before the refurb and it seems that it was a big update! Yes the main color is still purple but it is not like Barney did the decorating. Nothing was a loud color and I did not feel like I was on a vegas cruise ship not a carnival ship. As far as the lido deck goes, yes kids are allowed in the hot tubs there. And trust me they were full of them. Kinda looked like kid stew there were so many of them. But like I said, the serenity area was great and no kids allowed! Get the drink special card. I paid 26.00 for it,tip and all. You get five DOD on the card along with one DOD glass. You do save $ on the DOD,it was more expensive than before. We got to port in Nassau and got off of the ship soon after we were cleared. Our Yellow Bird trip was canceled because of lack of other people wanting free drinks. Can't understand why but oh well. We just walked around town And we ran into a surprise. We were walking down the sidewalk and almost ran over Steven Tyler, yes the Steven Tyler!!!! We walk into the store after him and after we could breathe and "Shopped" about 2ft away from him. OMG!!!!!! That was SO COOL! So we did not mind missing our Yellow Bird trip after that. Senor Frogs was, well Senor frogs. We had a blast. The last night there were plenty of things to do. We turned in early and enjoyed the rest it those great new Carnival beds. They are so comfy, we were out in about 5 min. after our heads hit the pillows. Disembarkation was a breeze. We put our 200lb suit case:) outside the night before and they called us down by groups. We were given zone numbers and it seemed like it went much faster than before. It went very smoothly. We were off the ship,very sadly, and quickly. Overall the trip was great, and the ship was GREAT!!! And I know you want to know about those add on balconies. After they were painted and finished they weren't so bad. Yes you can tell they were an add on, but the paint job did WONDERS!!! Some may not care for them but if you can get one, feel lucky. That add on balcony room could have been a window room!! So enjoy it!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Did not know what to expect, never been on the high seas before. My wife, teenage daughter and 24 other family members climbed on board for a 7 day cruise to San Juan, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. Seas were choppy and several members ... Read More
Did not know what to expect, never been on the high seas before. My wife, teenage daughter and 24 other family members climbed on board for a 7 day cruise to San Juan, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. Seas were choppy and several members were very very sick. The ship's infirmary was able to assist with pills and by the end of the cruise all was good. Ship is a little overdone in neon lighting but that's o.k. because the staff is the real gem here. Teenagers: We had 3-16 yo., 3-13 yo., and several pre-teens. They had a blast! The older teens got a flier on the first day of the cruise asking them to attend a "Teen Night" a the CO Club. I went with the kids to see what it was all about. Their host was a sweet young adult who was able to relate to the teens and keep them occupied in their own club at the top of the ship...no adults (or younger siblings) allowed. They enjoyed this VERY much and visited it every night. The also had the opportunity to meet other teens on the ship and have already "Face Booked" each other. We felt very safe. Adults: Several of us are 55+ and also enjoyed ourselves with the drink of the day, bingo, walking, sunning, music, eating, meeting other couples, playing games in the game room, and just conversing on the deck people watching. Several of us were 30+ and the same can be said here. The night life was great with plenty of other people to have fun with. Food If you like buffet's this is good for you. Personally, I don't. I found it to be loud, a little crowded, with too many kids...but they did look like they enjoyed it very much. I visited the Paris dinning room every day and this was a great relaxing experience for me and my wife. Sometimes we would make arrangements to sit with other family members and sometimes we sat with total strangers and enjoyed great conversation. Everyone was very friendly on this ship. The service in the Paris room is second to none. My family, 27 members, at every dinner all were treated with respect and full service. Yes, my wait staff is overworked but they never let you know it. Needless to say my family all looked forward to dinner because of the two waiters. The head waiter and his assistance remembered everything about what each person liked to drink, their names, and events spoken at each dinning experience. Would I go again on Carnival? Yes. But I would change a few things. First, I would get the state room with the balcony. While this did not matter to family members with kids the wife and I spent down time in our cabin and I think it would have been worth the extra money. I would look for a ship that has a seating area of something other then deck loungers We are not the type to lie down in the sun and bake. And, not to complain, but there were not enough of those. Many people camp out on these all day, leaving their towels "marking their territory" making it impossible to find a place to sit for an hour or two. Twice I had to tell the teenagers that there was no place to sit. Cabin was clean and all I had to do was stick my head out the door if I needed anything. It seems my cabin staff just walked the hall waiting to serve me, we loved it. I found this site because we are already looking to book our next cruise with Carnival. While I may look at one of their sister lines, I will stick with them. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Well we're off again these trips really are quite addictive and this is our third nude cruise and our second to the Caribbean. One of the things learned from a number of work trips across the pond is that arriving a few days early ... Read More
Well we're off again these trips really are quite addictive and this is our third nude cruise and our second to the Caribbean. One of the things learned from a number of work trips across the pond is that arriving a few days early lets you adjust to the new time zone. In our case it also let us spend a bit of time at Caliente a place that is arguably the premier nudist destination in the US if not the world with a warm tropical climate and balmy 7 degree temperatures. What! Yep we arrived during an "unseasonable" cold snap. Thankfully this only lasted a day or two longer so it was back to warm temperatures by Friday and some serious pool time catching up with our friends from previous cruises and those fellow travellers we'd meet on-line. Caliente is like any other resort in that it has all of the facilities you'd expect such as a number of pools, restaurants, bars with a drinks service for those who don't want to leave their spot by the pool, gym, gift shop, health Spa and the only thing resembling a dress code is a requirement to be nude by the pool. The other benefit of staying here was that as the cruise is a major draw for nudists the resort ran bus services to the pier on the day of departure so no messing around with shuttles or hire cars to get to the Carnival Legend, which was to be our home for the next week. Leaving Tampa on a ship of this size, massive at 86,000 tons, is a bit of a slow process as she makes her way down the narrow channel and out into Tampa Bay towards the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Passing under this bridge as the sun sinks below the horizon holds an interest for all on board as the ship clears it by a mere 1.5 meters, which in itself is impressive to see, more importantly though as soon as it is passed the harbor pilot leaves the ship taking with him the requirement for clothing and the serious business of nude cruising can begin. A few people have asked us what this cruising is like and to be honest it is a matter of personal preference. For us there is the simple luxury of getting out of bed when we're ready and knowing that breakfast will be waiting then coming back to find our bed made for us and the day ahead just to unwind by the pool or at one of the many workshops that are available ranging from couples massage to photography, with models supplied as required. Being that these are not you're standard cruises about 70% of the people on board have been on a previous BNT cruise so there is a fair bet you'll meet people you all ready know. Added to this the on-line forums that are available for those on the cruise mean that you'll have more chances to get to know your fellow travellers before you go, something that just doesn't happen with standard types of holidays. Of course there is also seeing new and different places such as Key West which while not so new to us is certainly different. As we where in town we had to do lunch, and margaritas of course, at the original incarnation of Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Other's from the cruise went to the "Garden of Eden" a clothing optional bar and pool in Duval St. Most of the time nudists there are out numbered 10 to one however, this time the shoe was on the other foot and the textiles were very nervous. Our second port of call for this trip was Montego Bay in Jamaica we decided to get a feel for the local culture by partaking in the Jamaican national sport of Bobsledding! Come on you must have seen the movie. Well while having no snow on the island may seem like a challenge this is soon overcome using steel rails and gravity added to this a chance to zipline down the mountain made it the must do for big kids like us. There was a bonus thrill ride here and it was difficult to work out which got us the most excited we're not sure if it the Bobsled, the zipline or the bus ride to Ocho Rios and back? It has to be said that these drivers play chicken at the professional level and sitting at the front of the bus where you can see all the action is not for the faint hearted. After such an exciting time we figured that we needed to slow down a bit so we watched the sunset from a catamaran as we sailed nude along the Jamaican coast sipping Champaign before returning to our "mother ship" and slipping off into a moonlit Caribbean Sea. Our final stop on this cruise was the island of Cozumel in Mexico which was the stop that initially sold us on this trip. Here we had the opportunity to have a look around some Mayan Ruins in Tulum Mexico. Tulum is the only Mayan city located on the coast and from this perspective is unique. While we've all heard of the Mayans and their amazing astronomical and mathematical abilities and their bloodthirsty nature to see their achievements close up is truly impressive. Our guide for the day was of Mayan decent and it was his knowledge and passion for his culture made for a very interesting day. On the island our ship was berthed next to another Carnival ship the "Conquest" and it wasn't to long before some of the passengers on board noticed that a few of the swimming costumes worn around the pool and spa on the aft deck of our ship seemed a little skimpier than those on their's. Once they realized that this was only a temporary aberration and that they'd be removed soon after sailing everyone on the ship had to get a look at the nudists. I can't say how many came to look but I'm sure I saw their ship list just a little. It's hard to say if this sort of "in your face" exposure to people who choose follow our lifestyle is good for us or not but I'm sure that these cruisers will be heading home with a few more memories than they'd counted on and more than one dinner conversation would have included the phrase "next time I want to be on that ship!". One word of advice on Cozumel, the Tequila is cheap and plentiful. Seven passengers from our ship failed to make it back prior to sailing so make sure you take a designated sheep dog to round up the stragglers. In what seemed like no time at all we were back in Tampa so with goodbyes said and a final night at Caliente we started the longer than usual trek back home with photos, memories and the thought that it's only thirteen months till our next one, two weeks to Hawaii (OK the real thought was where the hell is our luggage?). A few people have asked us how much these cruises cost and as with all things that depends on what options you take. The big ship cruises offered are by far the cheapest with prices starting from around $700 US per person up to $11,000 if you want the very top of the range suite. Now remember when you're looking at these prices they are in US dollars and you'll need to add the cost of airfares and accommodation before and after the cruises. Shopping around for cheap airfares and taking an inside room could see you doing a trip like this for less than $8,000. Care to join us and lift the Aussie head count? We'd love to see you there. If you have questions we can be contacted via our website http://vk2us.id.au/ Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was a charted cruise and our second time on the Legend. Our 5th cruise overall. Embarkation was a snap as was the trip to the Port. We had rented a car in Tampa to see relatives before the cruise and a shuttle was available free of ... Read More
This was a charted cruise and our second time on the Legend. Our 5th cruise overall. Embarkation was a snap as was the trip to the Port. We had rented a car in Tampa to see relatives before the cruise and a shuttle was available free of charge when we returned the car. The pre-registration we did on line before the cruise really made getting on the ship a lot faster. Having to print out our own luggage tags was a little bit of a pain. We were concerned that the paper tags would easily get torn off after dropping the luggage off at the dock. No worries, all OK after getting to the cabin. Our charter had 2100 people and while there was a line, it moved really fast and we made it up to the Lido deck for lunch in no time. Cabins were not available until 1:30 but the time flew by fast. The music had already started and the party was on. The cabin was very comfortable and clean. We had a balcony which is a must for this cruise. There is nothing better than having your morning coffee while we pull into a new port. The first thing we noticed about the Legend was that the everyday maintenance of the ship had slipped just a little. The seaspray was wiped away every third day instead of everyday as the last cruise. If you had never been on the Legend before, you would never had noticed the subtle changes. I guess it's just a sign of the times and Carnival isn't immune to cut backs. Dinner was the same. The waiters were given one more table to take care of and their assistants even more. The service was still great because these guys were hustling. I was very surprised that they were able to take time to talk with us and be social. We had dinner in the main room every night and ate in the buffet during the day. I can't complain at all about the food. It was always hot and very good. I'm a little spoiled and like my salmon with the bagels in the morning. It wasn't available in the buffet but with very little asking, some appeared for me. In all the ship was still beautiful and service what we expected even with the cut backs. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We had a group of 9 which cruised for 7 nights on the Carnival Conquest. The night before the cruise we all stayed at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston. The hotel was beautiful, it boasted wonderful accommodations at a reasonable price. It ... Read More
We had a group of 9 which cruised for 7 nights on the Carnival Conquest. The night before the cruise we all stayed at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston. The hotel was beautiful, it boasted wonderful accommodations at a reasonable price. It is located across the street from the gulf and has beautiful views and grounds. We all highly recommend the Hotel Galvez. They provide a free transfer to the cruise as well as parking during the cruise if needed. Embarkation was quick and easy. We arrived at the ship at approximately 11:30am. Those of us in the VIP category were on the Lido deck enjoying the lunch buffet by 11:40am. The rest of the group (non-VIP's) was only about 20 min. behind us and had no complaints about the embarkation process. We were able to enter our room at 1:30pm. Our room was the basic suite and well worth the extra cost. It was located on deck 7, a quiet floor with rooms above and below. We have previously stayed on a higher deck with a swimming pool above us and will not recommend this. The suite had a huge balcony, lots of misc. storage cabinets, 3 closets filled with hangers, a couch, coffee table, bar, refrigerator, dressing area, bathroom with double sinks and a jacuzzi tub. The bed and bedding was extremely comfortable. We were very happy with all of the space and didn't have to trip over each other for a week. Take a travel clock for your room as ships do not typically provide these. The cabin steward was very accommodating and friendly during the entire trip. The Conquest recently was in dry dock and everything was immaculate throughout the ship. We didn't see any dirt, chipped paint, ripped carpet, etc. anywhere on the entire ship. We spent the first 2 days at sea but weren't able to be in the pool area because of the extremely high winds. We spent a lot of time in the casino these first 2 days. The casino is what you would expect in any casino, a variety of slots and table games. The cocktail service in the casino is awesome and extremely quick. I went to the wine tasting seminar at The Point which was informative and worth the $10. I utilized the spa services for a hot-stone massage and facial. Both services I highly-recommended, they do try and sell you spa products at the end of your service but you just have to tell them "No" and there is no pressure at all. Our entire group went for dinner at The Point one evening and we were all very satisfied with the high quality of the food, service and the modest extra cost. We were in the Renoir dining room each night and the food/service were all satisfactory. We can't find anything to complain about! Some of the culinary highlights were the eggs benedict, chateaubriand, prime rib, chocolate melting cake, surf/turf, all an A-plus! Even the pizza, hot dogs and mexican midnite buffet are recommended! Jamaica was a trashy, dirty destination but those in our group who did the zip-line/waterfalls excursion recommend it. Grand Cayman Islands are beautiful but there is a very high exchange rate. We went to the El Cozumeleno all-inclusive resort in Cozumel for a day pass. It was $50 per person for all food, drinks (including alcohol), beach, snorkeling, swimming, hot tubs, etc. This was well worth the price and only a short $9 taxi ride from the ship. This was our 3rd cruise and by far the most pleasurable. The Carnival Conquest is a beautiful ship which is well-maintained. The service is absolutely top-notch. We didn't have anything to complain about until debarkation. We attended the seminar and were told if you have a flight out the next day to take your airline itinerary to the purser's desk and you would get luggage tags which would allow you to leave the ship first in the morning. Although we did this the debarkation still began with the self-assists, which by the way consists of about 80% of the ship and took until 10am to complete. We almost missed our flight due to this misinformation. My only suggestion for Carnival would be to let all of the people with flights off the ship first, whether or not they are self-assist. All it takes is showing your airline itinerary to prove you are a flyer! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Second time to enjoy the Miracle. Picked this cruise because ports included Panama and Costa Rica. After purchase, Carnival sent a 4:00 a.m. email notifying us they were experiencing propulsion problems, were canceling these two ports, and ... Read More
Second time to enjoy the Miracle. Picked this cruise because ports included Panama and Costa Rica. After purchase, Carnival sent a 4:00 a.m. email notifying us they were experiencing propulsion problems, were canceling these two ports, and substituting two stops in Mexico. They weren't forthcoming enough to advise us that the contract terms gave us 24 hours to cancel our cruise, but it didn't really matter because we were with a group of friends, and because of schedules and flights already purchased, we decided to make the best of it. We understand some things are beyond Carnival's control, that cruising requires a certain amenability to change, but it did tick us off when they only compensated us for this change to a much shorter and less appealing itinerary by paying a $50 per cabin credit. Wow. Embarkation was worse than last time. Check out what it takes to use the VIP check-in. No line. FYI, in Cozumel there's a beach with nice chairs/umbrellas right beside the dock and shopping area. If you were on a limited budget or whatever, you could make a good day of it for free on that beach. Food and drinks were only a few steps away. We shopped and enjoyed lunch, but didn't know to bring our beach gear, and too lazy to return to the ship. At Costa Maya, we were favorably surprised. We expected a cruise-line manufactured strip mall full of tourist shopping. But it was a nice area in the middle of nowhere, and the shopping area including a wonderful pool surrounded by tables and a walk up bar in the pool. We visited Mayan ruins, but you could make a nice day out of hanging at the pool. Our snorkeling trip was canceled in Belize because of high winds. The tenders drop you off at a little tourist shopping village, and they seem quite intent on discouraging tourists from walking beyond this enclosed area. So-so shopping except for some of the really nice local crafts. Our snorkeling/stingray excursion was also cancelled in Grand Cayman due to winds, but we found a substitute snorkeling outing that included a quick look at a sunken ship. Nice port area and shopping. Aboard ship, some plusses and minuses. Staff is very friendly and attentive. Food was good, not especially exceptional in the dining room, but the noontime buffet seems better than most. We especially enjoyed the deli bar. Dining room was filled with cruisers who completely ignored formal night dress code. Of course, Carnival makes no enforcement effort; it's time to abandon the idea of formal nights. If you comply with Carnival's guidelines, you'll feel overdressed. A big plus for us where the wonderful showers in our cabins. Large wand shower heads with really great pressure. Made the daily shower a real treat. Plenty of hot, hot water, too. Big negative - we were seated at a table for 6 in the back of the dining room, at a window overlooking the rear of the boat. View was worthless; it was pitch dark. But there was a very annoying engine vibration in this area, and worst, the air conditioning seemed non existent. We didn't know of the problem until it was too late to switch tables, but if you're headed to the Miracle, you really should avoid this, if they've placed you here, by making a table switch upon arrival. Bottom line, we were disappointed to miss out on Panama and Costa Rica, but the positives of great friends and reasonably good weather always trump the negatives of changes in ports. We had a good time. It was the 4th cruise for this group of 6, and we get better and better at maximizing the experience. We'll be back onboard in a year or so, but likely on another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Aloha! We joined the cruise to the Western Caribbean and on the Carnival Valor because of an embroidery user group. There were about 60 of us in the group...from all different parts of the USA. We had classes on our days at sea and ... Read More
Aloha! We joined the cruise to the Western Caribbean and on the Carnival Valor because of an embroidery user group. There were about 60 of us in the group...from all different parts of the USA. We had classes on our days at sea and had dinner each night together. We personally didn't really choose the destinations or the ship because the group had already chosen that for us. It didn't really matter to us as we just wanted a good vacation and see different parts of the world. This was our 5th cruise, two to Alaska, Bahamas and the Mexican Riviera. PRE-CRUISE: It took us over 18 hours to get to Miami from Hawaii. We arrived a couple a days ahead of time to visit Miami and to get acclimated to the time changes. I went on Priceline and got a hotel for under a hundred at the Airport Holiday Inn. Miami hotels were priced quite high and I was happy to get one under $100. We got to the Holiday Inn and was very disappointed in the Hotel. The bed was the worst I have had in a hotel in years....I think the last time sleeping in a broken bed was in Taiwan. The best thing about the hotel was the free shuttle to the pier. I never really felt real safe in the hotel as the door next to our bottom floor room didn't lock and it was open for anyone to come into the hotel. The embarkation process was quick and pleasant. The Miami Pier's are new and very spacious. We arrived at the pier at 10:30 am. and I think we got on the ship at 12:00 noon. Of course the rooms were not ready till 1:30 p.m. Food on the 9th floor was hot and ready for us when we boarded. By 1:30 p.m. our room was ready and our bags arrived a few minutes later. Exploring the Valor was fun and it was quite a beautiful ship. It does take while to get used to the layout....especially heading to the Washington Dining room. The day we left Miami was Superbowl Sunday. The large screen TV was great and everyone had a big party around the ship. Leaving Miami was a blast. Five large cruise ships leaving all at the same time was an incredible sight to see. Watching people pass us on the road was half of the fun as they headed to South Beach. We purchased a soda card $44.00 w/ the tip for one person. My Sister and I purchased a card so we spent $88 on soda to start....We shouldn't have bought spent that kind of money but hey, we were on vacation. The carnival soda card is unlimited for the cruise. I don't think I ever drank so many Sprite Zero's in my life. We also brought in small bottles of water we put in our extra handcarry bag. It was a great idea to bring in some water on board before the trip. STATEROOM: Our room was on the 9th floor room 9274. We added a third person on our stateroom a month out so they changed our room to one that could accommodate three people. We ended up right next to the elevators. This room we thought would be noisy but in reality it was a great room. We were on the same floor as the pool and buffet....We never had to walk very far because the main elevators were right next to us. There were some noise from the outside but nothing that bothered us. The size of the room was fine for three adults...the balcony always a treat. Only problem....room to the right smoked cigarettes and the room to the left smoked cigars. We are non-smokers so we couldn't enjoy the balconies while they were out also. We never really got to know our steward but he did a great job keeping us happy. FOOD: The food at the Buffet was tasty and plentiful. We enjoyed eating and watching the scenery go by. The burgers were very good as well as the pizza at the pizza shop. We spent one night at the upscale restaurant. The atmosphere was great and the food delicious. The steaks were great and the lobster tail my wife had was gigantic! The $30.00 was worth the night. We were scheduled for the early seating at the Washington Dining Room. The group we were with chose the early time, I would have preferred the later dining time. Anyway, food at our table came slow every night. We had lots of friends around us so time went by fast. However, slow every night started to get old. It seemed like our waiter and assistant were working fast but the food seemed to come out slow. The tables next to us were normally finished eating before we even put in our Dessert order. One formal night a waitress passed our table and dropped an entire main dish on me. The plate broke and flew between my wife and I....glass was in all of our food. The waitress looked back and continued to walk to server her guest. Everyone was in shock...especially me that someone had just dumped a plate of food on me. No one came to our rescue for several minutes. I had glass on me and food up and down from my shoes to my suit pants. I really don't know why all of the waiter and waitresses paused to help us. Apparently this is a rare case but you got to take care of the customer. Well eventually help came and I got cleaned up and we all got new entrees. They paid for cleaning and a bottle of wine....only thing is our family doesn't drink wine...go figure. I normally get pretty mad at things like that but I wasn't going to let it reck my vacation....many in our group were quite upset at the lack of care for us when it happened. ENTERTAINMENT: They brought on three different comedians on this trip... two to many. I thought they were pretty boring. The Valor musicians and dancers were top notch as usual. Bingo is a rip off...go to vegas if you want to play real bingo. Casino was okay...if you are lucky you can win like most casinos....just too smokey. EXCURSIONS: We didn't plan on any shore excursions until we got on the cruise. At the Grand Caymans we went on the Hell tour, Turtle farm and Sting ray excursion. What a great side tour. We went to Hell and back (the town is Hell, GC) sent our post card home from Hell and got to see the Hell gas station , went to a large Turtle farm and got to hold turtles, then went on a 20 minute boat ride to a sand bar with tons of tame sting rays. I was able to hold the sting ray in my hands.....what a thrill! In Isla Roatan we took a local cab around the island. I think we paid about $35 for two hours. It was a fun place, the pier is brand new as tourism is just starting to develop on the island. Shopping was great along the shops just outside of the pier. In Belize we chose to visit Altun Ha Mayan Ruins and city tour. The bus ride was about an hour from town. The ruins were beautiful and majestic. It was worth the the time to see the ruins. The Cozumel port was so beautiful. New piers with a long walk way along the most beautiful blue water. We chose the ATV jungle adventure. Make sure you are ready to get bumpy and dirty. The cool part is that there were Mayan ruins along the ATV route so besides riding fun ATV's we also got to see some history. Several of our friends went on the mini jeep tours which they said was lots of fun. Post Cruise: We disembarked after another breakfast buffet and went to Alamo to pick up a car. Alamo's buses were picking us up at the pier to get our cars at the airport. Nice touch from Alamo. We left a few days after the cruise. We stayed at the Embassy Suites at the airport ... about $125 a night on priceline. What a difference in hotel from the Holiday in across the street. As a fun side trip we took a three hour road trip down to Key West. I always wanted to drive the long bridges....a good six hour round trip. It was totally worth the time. Conclusions: We had a great time with our embroidery friends. It was a great vacation and had a great time on the Valor. The last day at sea was the only day I felt over crowded. It seemed like everyone was either eating or on deck at the same time....with close to 3000 guest plus 1000 crew it was a lot of people walking around. Over all value was terrific and itinerary was incredible! Planning our next cruise..... Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Went on the Carnival Elation sailing and just returned...our trip was to celebrate our friends 50th birthday..there were 9 of us ladies looking for fun and had a good time. Please know that you get what you pay for.. this is not a luxury ... Read More
Went on the Carnival Elation sailing and just returned...our trip was to celebrate our friends 50th birthday..there were 9 of us ladies looking for fun and had a good time. Please know that you get what you pay for.. this is not a luxury cruise.. this is a good , cheap 4 day get away on an ok ship... the boat is older and a bit dated.. We booked this trip for approx 249 per person.. some got it cheaper based on when they paid.. this included a room on the bottom of the boat... we were floor r (the staff had the floor below...) and stayed in room 73 which had a window (nice size window not just a small round hole but good size for you to view... )The room was clean, small but ok...the only complaint was the shower which had poor water pressure and was a bit tricky to get the right temperature...(it tended to get very hot if anyone else flushed the toilet..) Some of our friends had a inside with no window they had bunk beds which gave them more room to walk around...both were acceptable. The cruise had a diverse passenger profile.. lots of groups like us celebrating something.. lots of families with kids.. older couples.. young couples...etc. A good group. There were two stops... which had to be changed due to the weather so our first day was out to sea.. I appreciate that the captain found us a spot outside of the rain and we saw sun!! Many people were seasick due to the waves... I never felt the boat to be choppy but I do not get seasick so perhaps I was just not aware or as sensitive. The boat was nice..again a bit dated... but nice .. also a bit tricky to navigate ..finally figured it out on our last day. The only comment I would make is the food was so so..we ate at the dining room ever night... for those who eat meat.. well , my friends loved their food ( steak was excellent as one put it..) but for those who did not our options were limited and not very good... for the price we paid it was not an issue for me.. I actually liked the breakfast buffet... the only issue is that people don't seem to follow lines so it got a bit tricky at times to get through.... If you want a cheap getaway I would recommend this....again, not lux at all but worth the money you pay... Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We arrived at The Clarion Hotel/Airport at 6:15p.m. from our home town, which was a 9 hour , 15 minute travel time. Our Hotel room had King, non-smoking accommodations. It was exceptionally clean with no signs of wear and tear. The bed had ... Read More
We arrived at The Clarion Hotel/Airport at 6:15p.m. from our home town, which was a 9 hour , 15 minute travel time. Our Hotel room had King, non-smoking accommodations. It was exceptionally clean with no signs of wear and tear. The bed had a down comfort with down pillows and high quality linens. Our night of rest before departure was very restful. We had breakfast with our group of Cruisers at the hotel in the dining room. The Hotel Staff had prepared a wonderful breakfast buffet. The meal was included in our package. Clarion Staff loaded our luggage into their van and carried our group to the port. We were all able to leave our vehicles parked at the Clarion for the 5 days of the Cruise for no additional charge. The Clarion driver of our van was exceptionally helpful and nice. The park and cruise package at the Clarion was 129.99. Embarkation was very smooth at the port. We arrived on the ship. The ship was extremely clean and all of the Staff helpful, cheerful and nice. We could not go to our Cabins until 1:30 p.m. We went to the Lido Deck and had our Lunch. The food was excellent on arrival with a great choice of different foods. We had wonderful fruits and different desserts to choose from in addition to sandwiches. After 1:30 p.m. we went to our Cabin and immediately met our Cabin Stewart , Kevin. He was very helpful, prompt and our Cabin was kept exceptionally clean everyday. The icebucket was always full of ice. We ordered coffee, fruit and pastries each morning between 6:00 and 6:15 a.m. from Room Service. Kevin was prompt in bringing this each morning. At night the towel animals were adorable and chocolates delicious. The Dining in the Sensation Dining Room was at 6:00. Shetty was our Server. He and his assistant were always fun and patient with our gang. We enjoyed them and especially the Appetizers and Desserts. The main course each night was disappointing to us. We had breakfast several mornings in the Sensation Dining room also and it was absolutely nothing special. Lido deck breakfasts was the exception. The food was always excellent there, whether it be breakfasts or lunches. ,meals from the steam tables, sandwiches, ice cream,Pizza, hotdogs,Hamburgers......the variety was awesome~! The activities were varied and fun. The last night we were told by the Captain , to our surprise , there were 300 children on board. They were well entertained by staff on this cruise because we did not know they were aboard! The excursion in Nassau was wonderful. On arrival to the island we were met by a Native named Lionel, who offered to take us on a 2 1/2 hour tour of the island. He charged each of us $20.00, which was well worth it. He took us about the Island and pointed out different areas of interest. These included Historical places, the Government buildings, different Neighborhoods, A wonderful Straw Market and Atlantis where we toured for about 45 minutes. We returned to the other markets and had plenty of time for shopping. Being on the Island of Nassau was a wonderful experience and fun. The next day was the beautiful Half Moon Cay. The aqua water was breathtaking, the island a picture that you will never forget. Clean, crisp, breathtaking! Everything you could wish for when you are at the Beach was available. Lounges, Water, Drinks, Food, Hammocks, Sun, Friends and Fellowship exceptional!!!The Tendering was constant the whole day with Polite, friendly, clean service! I can't say enough about how clean everything was and the Staff on the ship was constantly cleaning. The staff and crew exceptional in helpfulness, kindness and friendliness. You couldn't ask for any better service in anyway. The Entertainment was varied and fun. From the shows to Karaoke with Cristine. There also was wonderful Smooth sounds with Ed and beautiful piano music with Tirza. There was Bingo, Game Shows, Country Line Dancing, Trivia Marathon, Water Wars , Adult Ping Pong Tournament, and Sea feud. There was even Gospel Singing ,which was very good. If you thought this was a boring Cruise it was because you didn't check Your daily guide to FUN. On Sunday morning at 3:00a.m.,the second day of the Cruise, a fellow Cruiser had a Myocardial Infarction(heart attack) and we were temporarily detoured back to Port Canaveral for Disembarkation of this passenger. There was no delay in our itinerary. On The day of Disembarkation it was raining. The Carnival Crew had overhead covering to prevent the passengers from getting wet. At the terminal locating your luggage was extremely easy as you was given a Number. When that number was called, you Disembarked from the Ship. Our luggage was waiting for us at that number and there was no delay at all. Our Van from the Clarion was waiting on us and promptly and safely took us back to the Clarion to pick up our personal vehicles. We could hardly wait to get home to plan our next wonderful Carnival Cruise!!!Thanks Guys for making our Vacation unforgettable. We'll never forget it or you! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Background: We sailed on January 4th. We're veteran cruisers. We've sailed on 2 other Carnival ships, as well as Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. We'd done some reading ahead of time, so we were looking forward to sailing on ... Read More
Background: We sailed on January 4th. We're veteran cruisers. We've sailed on 2 other Carnival ships, as well as Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. We'd done some reading ahead of time, so we were looking forward to sailing on one of Carnival's larger ships. It seems to us like Carnival went out of their way to make this cruise totally forgettable... Having cruised Carnival several times before, sailing out of both Florida and California, we knew that we could save time at embarkation if we got online and pre-registered for our "Fun Pass". In the past, this has always allowed us to move into a faster, shorter line. Not at Long Beach. At Long Beach, they simply don't care who you are or if you did your pre-registration like they asked you to. Everyone gets in the same line. Everyone. Oh, they tell you "It's for your benefit." Sure it is. Let's back up a step here... our taxi dropped us off at the terminal. We looked around no signage pointing the way, no clear indication as to where we should leave our luggage. We saw several families walking towards the ship area dragging all their luggage, so we thought, "Maybe they know where the heck they're going. Let's just follow them." We later found out that there was a place back by the dropoff to leave your luggage. A sign would have been helpful. OK, so now we enter the big white dome that once housed Howard Hughes' H-4 flying boat the "Spruce Goose". That's where we discover that it didn't matter if we had a FunPass or not they didn't care. OK, so that's 2 bad omens.... Our first reaction upon boarding the Pride was that the decor was dark, heavy, almost overbearing. Old-world Venice may be to some people's taste, but not ours. We much prefer the happy, colorful ships. We also noticed that everywhere you looked, the walls were covered with reproductions of Old Master paintings, primarily featuring naked women and naked cherubs, with the occasional naked guy thrown in for good measure. Don't get me wrong we've got nothing against nudes. Have several in our art collection at home. I'm completely a fan of naked chicks. However, this was a cruise with a significant amount of children... and I heard plenty of awkward questions being asked of shocked parents as families wandered the ship. And if you go up to the premium steak house at the top, there's a replica of Michelangelo's "David" in all of his naked glory watching you while you eat. Our cabin was fine pretty standard Carnival cabin. We met our cabin steward, and he seemed nice enough. I have sleep apnea and travel with a CPAP machine, and the way the bed was placed meant that I either needed an extension cord or needed to sleep backwards on the bed. Our steward arranged for an extension cord for me. Thanks. Then we went to dinner. I had to laugh when I read the other negative review by a cruiser who sat at Table 105 we sat at Table 105, second seating, and our experiences mirrored the other cruiser's exactly. Right off the bat, our servers appeared to be bored and disorganized. Nobody seemed to know exactly who we needed to talk to to order a beverage. Finally, we all got our orders in. That's when the fun began. In the past, we all received our courses in a well-choreographed manner. Plus the food has always been excellent. Let's put the emphasis on "in the past". Half of us got appetizers, half didn't. Then some of us got our salads, some of the appetizer no-shows finally showed up. The waiters then attempted to deliver our entrees. Not once did we all get A) What we ordered and B) At the same time. Often, we'd just give up and eat what they brought so we didn't starve. One girl was still waiting for her appetizer when the rest of us were finishing dessert. And the food was mostly cold and/or tasteless. We hoped it was simply first-night jitters, but it didn't improve at all the entire 7 days. In the past, we've considered the premium restaurants once in a while, since they're usually only $10 a person more, and you get very good food. Here, if you wanted to eat at David's, it was an extra $30 per person and from what we heard, you basically got the same food as the dining room. No thanks. Does anyone know why they killed the midnight food show and buffet? Nobody on the ship could explain it. On past Carnival cruises, the people at Camp Carnival did an excellent job creating a "shadow cruise" for the kids you really didn't see them until dinner time or debarkation. Not on the Pride. They were running everywhere, and the hot tubs out on the main deck pretty much ended up being jam-packed kiddie pools the entire cruise. I thought it was bad medical ju-ju to put an 6-year-old kid in a hot tub? The ports and the friends we were traveling with were the only saving graces on this cruise. Bad food, bad service, amateurish entertainment, oppressive decor.... We won't sail on the Pride again. In fact, we'll probably try NCL again for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Embarkation: We arrived in Miami the night before our cruise and stayed at the Hyatt Regency ($60/night on Priceline), which is only about two miles from the pier. We left the Hyatt at 11:30 for a short 5 minute taxi ride to the pier. I ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived in Miami the night before our cruise and stayed at the Hyatt Regency ($60/night on Priceline), which is only about two miles from the pier. We left the Hyatt at 11:30 for a short 5 minute taxi ride to the pier. I think it was about $13 including tip. We noticed a lack of porters and ended up carrying our bags over to the luggage drop-off area where a porter finally acknowledged us and added a second tag to our bags even though we had printed the Carnival luggage tags at home. We were inside and through security within 5 minutes and were checked in within 15 minutes of arriving at the pier. As expected, my $50 OBC shareholder benefit was applied to my account and with my blue sail & sign card in hand, I was ready to go. After a 15-20 minute wait in the terminal, they called our zone (Zone 15) and we proceeded up for our embarkation photo and were at the lido buffet by 12:15. Cabin: I was traveling with a group of friends but due to some last-minute changes, I ended up canceling the reservation I made back in March and re-booked approximately 10 days before the cruise. I booked category 6A guarantee and ended up with an upgrade to 6C, cabin U29. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to, but the cabin was a lot more spacious than I expected. The recent upgrades made as part of the Evolutions of Fun campaign really make the cabins feel almost brand new. Being located near the front of the ship, I noticed just a little more movement in my cabin than I did in other parts of the ship, but not significant enough to make me wish I had booked closer to the center of the ship. I really enjoyed having a window in the room, allowing the sun to wake me up each morning. My friends were in cabins U141, U145 and U151, so Carnival clearly made an effort to assign our groups cabins close together, with the exception of my last minute booking. Dining: Our group of 7 was assigned late seating in the Pride dining room, table 181. We were seated with another group of 3 girls, also in their mid-20's, who made dinner even more entertaining every night. Our waiters were Rex and Awayan. Rex's personality and quick-witted jokes kept us laughing every night. He started with Carnival 10 years ago as a dishwasher and has worked his way up to head waiter. Here is a quick review of the food: 1st Night: Appetizer - Shrimp Cocktail (5/5) Entree - Chicken a la Greque (5/5) Dessert - Warm Chocolate Melting Cake (4/5) 2nd Night (Formal Night): Appetizer - Shrimp Cocktail (5/5) Entree - Maine Lobster Tail (4/5) with Grilled Prawns (5/5) Dessert - Grand Marnier Souffle (1/5) 3rd Night: Appetizer - Fried Mozzarella on Mixed Greens (1/5) Entree - Sweet and Sour Shrimps (5+/5) Dessert - Tiramisu (5+/5) 4th Night: Appetizer - Crab Cake (5/5) and Shrimp Cocktail (5/5) Entree - Grilled Chicken Breast and Baked Potato (4/5) and Penne Mariscos (Penne with Shrimp and Scallops in Tomato Cream Sauce) (3/5) Dessert - Baked Alaska (3/5) Best Appetizer: Crab Cake Best Entree: Sweet and Sour Shrimps Best Dessert: Tiramisu We also tried breakfast in the dining room on our last sea day. The belgian waffles with stewed bananas (think bananas with caramel sauce) were amazing, and I heard plenty of compliments about the eggs benedict as well. I would have liked to have had breakfast in the dining room more often, but after staying up until 3:00am every night, getting up at 8:00am just didn't appeal to me. Lido / Horizon Buffet: We had lunch a few times at Horizons and the Lido buffet. The chicken entree on our embarkation day was good, as were the potatoes. I also tried the Mongolian Grill, but was disappointed as it didn't really have any flavor, just a burn from the szechwan sauce. I didn't try anything from the international buffet or the poolside grill, so I can't comment on those, except that the lines seemed long every day. Some of the desserts were wonderful, while others seemed a bit dried out. Definitely try some different things as the ones that appealed the least to me ended up being some of my favorites. NY Deli / 24-Hour Pizzeria: The deli station doubles as an omelette station in the morning and serves sandwiches from 11am to 11pm daily. I tried two different sandwiches during the cruise. The grilled turkey sandwich was decent, although it could have been grilled a little longer. They were essentially just pressing the sandwich with the grill and putting it on a plate, not leaving it on long enough to toast. The turkey wrap was a little disappointing and I would probably need 3 or 4 to fill me up. The 24-Hour Pizzeria was popular but never had more than 2 or 3 people in line. They do a great job of getting pizzas out quickly and each 12" pizza is sliced into quarters and served. I quickly got hooked on the mushroom and goat cheese pizza and probably had it 5 or 6 times during the cruise, including a 3am visit after the casino had closed. During off hours, they only have pepperoni and cheese pre-made and everything else comes out as an 8 or 9 inch pizza cooked to order in about 10 minutes. They also have Caesar Salad (and grilled chicken!) and Calzones available. Entertainment: One thing that the ship does not lack is activities. During the day they had different activities all day long on the lido deck stage as well as different tournaments in the casino, destination and shopping talks in the lounges and calypso music all day long. Every evening had a production or variety show in the two-story Dynasty lounge and two nights featured adults-only comedy shows in the Xanadu lounge. There was also a jazz band on the promenade, a pop band in one of the lounges, a piano bar, karaoke in the Xanadu lounge and the Illusions Disco, which was busy until 2-3am. Our cruise director was Skip Lyons, whose quick whit kept everyone well entertained. 1st Night: Welcome Aboard Show 2nd Night: Living in America - Las Vegas style musical (4/5) and midnight adult comedy show with Oscar Collazos (4/5). 3rd Night: Balancing act and family-friendly comedy (3/5) 4th Night: Christmas Musical at 5:00pm (3/5), Shout! - Branson style 50's musical (3/5), late-night adult comedy show with Ronnie Bullard (5/5) Crowds: Even though our sailing was sold out, we rarely noticed crowds on the ship. There are so many different activities going on that everyone had something different to do. The only times we ever noticed crowds were at lunchtime at the lido buffet and during the last night of the cruise for the adults-only comedy show, which was standing room only. This could be because the first adults-only comedian did two shows, while the second only performed once. Although the lido deck was always busy around the pool in the afternoon, we never had a problem getting groups of chairs up on the Waterworks deck or on the other side of the lido deck stage. On embarkation day, we were also able to sit out on a deserted Serenity Deck. By the last at-sea day every single chair was occupied on the Serenity Deck. According the the cruise director there were 518 children onboard. I don't know where they hid all the children, because we hardly ever saw them. The only time they ever came out was when Camp Carnival brought all of the kids to the Dynasty Lounge on the last day of the cruise so that they could sing christmas carols as part of the Christmas show and to see Santa. Key West: We got off the ship at Mole Pier around 8:45am and took the Conch Train to Mallory Square. After reviewing our maps, we decided that we would walk from Mallory Square to the Southernmost Point (about 1.5-2 miles) and explore the shops along the way. Two of our friends were booked on the Fury snorkeling excursion for $39, and we agreed to meet up with them back on the ship. We stopped at two different bakeries and picked up some croissants and a piece of chocolate covered frozen key lime pie (YUM!). We had fun exploring and taking pictures. On the way back the girls decided to stop at a nail salon on Duval Street for manicures and pedicures, leaving the guys to head to Sloppy Joe's for some drinks and Sloppy Fries. After the girls were finished with their pampering, we headed back to Mallory Square around 12:45 and hopped on a Conch Train back to the pier with no wait. Cozumel: We docked at Punta Langosta pier and were off the ship by 1:30. Two of the girls in our group that were sharing an inside room forgot to set their alarms, so we agreed to meet up with them in an hour at the entrance to the pier. The rest of us spent the first hour shopping outside of Punta Langosta, where I picked up a small bottle of Mexican Vanilla for $4 and two t-shirts for $10. We then met up with the other two girls and took two taxis ($16 each) to Mr. Sancho's. Mr. Sancho's is about 15 minutes from the pier and is a beautiful beach/restaurant/bar complex that is quieter than some of the other beaches in Cozumel. The entire complex is really clean and also had a nice pool next to the restaurant. We relaxed on the beach for about 3 hours and enjoyed some drinks from the bar. The two girls that did not go snorkeling in Key West decided they wanted to try it, so they went snorkeling in a small boat with just the two of them and a guide ($30). They said that they enjoyed it and were able to see a lot of fish around the reefs. As the sun was starting to go down and the beach was closing, we decided to head to Margaritaville for some drinks and a free calimari appetizer. Watching the sunset from their dock was beautiful, but two margaritas and a beer were not worth $30. After Margaritaville, we made a quick stop at the Mega (think Mexican Wal-Mart) to pick up some Mexican candy (Milch = YUM!) for my 6 year old cousin and Coca-Cola, which is still made with real sugar in Mexico. I love Mexican soda as it does not have an aftertaste like the stuff made with corn syrup in the United States. Debarkation: We arrived as scheduled in Miami around 7:30am. They announced that the various officials would be making their way onboard for our inspection and after clearance they would begin debarkation. Our group agreed to meet for breakfast in the Horizon Grill area at 8:30. We were easily able to have breakfast and still sat around for about 45 minutes before they called for self-assist. I was the only one that chose to do zone debarkation, mainly because I was by myself with two suitcases, a backpack and a box of liquor from the duty free store. I was assigned zone 16 and made it off the ship around 10:45, only about 10 minutes after the self-assist was called for our deck. My bags were waiting for me on the carousel and it only took 2 or 3 minutes to clear customs and immigration where they didn't even question the four bottles of liquor I was carrying. I guess they are more concerned about getting everyone through quickly than collecting a few dollars duty on my extra bottles of liquor. Overall everything moved smoothly and I had no problem getting a taxi back to the Hyatt to pick up my car. Overall Impressions: Overall I loved my first cruise and was very happy with the Imagination. As I said earlier, the refurbishments really show and most areas of the ship seem almost brand new. The only things that date the ship are the purple and red colors of the atrium and the theming of the dining rooms. This was an off-season sailing in mid-December and there was a nice mix of age groups with the majority of passengers being mid-20's through late-40's. Both Key West and Cozumel had plenty of activities to keep us entertained and I would love to spend more time in both ports in the future. I would gladly sail on Carnival and the Imagination again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Getting to Ft. Lauderdale: We live in Tampa, so we had a 250+ mile drive ahead of us. Most of us rented cars (from Tampa Int Airport) the day before, we met up at a local gas station and made sure everyone had gas, snacks and everything ... Read More
Getting to Ft. Lauderdale: We live in Tampa, so we had a 250+ mile drive ahead of us. Most of us rented cars (from Tampa Int Airport) the day before, we met up at a local gas station and made sure everyone had gas, snacks and everything we needed before hitting the road. We were on the road and on our way to our cruise around 5:30am! The drive was quick and easy, not much traffic since it was Sunday morning! We arrived in the Ft. Lauderdale area about 10am. The port was a mess, there were 6 ships in port and it was CROWDED! Most of us opted to drop our luggage, the kids & older family members off at the port while we returned the cars. All of the rental car agencies were packed! Once the cars were returned we hopped on a shuttle that quickly took us back to the port. By the time we all returned to the port it was about 11:00am. Embarkation: The line moved fairly quickly but it was mass confusion. We were a wedding group and were suppose to have priority boarding so that we would have time to prepare for the wedding. That didn't happen and every person we talked to gave us a different answer. Our group ended up being separated and no one knew what was going on or where the rest of the wedding party was. Eventually we all boarded around 11:45a and met up at our rooms, which were available to us early, for the wedding. Cabin & Room Steward: We were in cabin M4104, our family had rooms M4102, M4101 & M4103 as well. These were located all the way forward near the stairs, elevators and right near the entrance to the Phantom lounge, we literally walked out of our cabin, took a few steps and we were in the theater! I loved this location! We were worried about noise and such but that was never an issue and it was really nice to be so close to our cabins after a long day and show at the theater! I don't recall the name of our cabin Steward, he was OK. The room was kept tidy and clean. Our only complaint was that our cabin was HOT the entire cruise, maintenance came and did something but the air never got very cold. Pursers Desk, Photo Gallery & Staff: This is where we were really unimpressed...the Pursers staff were not very knowledgeable. A few of us should have had on board credits but they were not in our accounts, they were clueless about the whole thing but the ships group coordinator contacted Carnival for us. The issue was not resolved until about a week after or return and they refunded the money to my credit card. I was just happy to get my money (it was over $200)! The photo gallery staff is another area lacking. I tend to be very picky when it comes to photos, comes with being a photographer I guess, and was shocked to see the awful wedding photos they presented my cousin with! Almost every photo in the album was bad, even basic photo techniques were lacking and even the focus was just not there! The posed, studio work was a bit better though. On one occasion while looking through my stack of images from the week trying to decide on which pictures I was going to buy, one of the staff accused me of photographing the actual pictures. I had my camera next to me on the table, I was shocked to be accused of something like that. I told her how I felt and showed her it would be quite impossible to photograph pictures with my lens cap on!! She never apologized and it still irks me, I highly value copyright laws since I make a portion of my income from photography. I would never violate that. That wasn't the only run in with them though, at another time I was with my cousin who was asking questions about buying the video that runs continuously in the cabins and the guy behind the counter kept making snide comments & rolling his eyes to his buddy. I surely hope these workers are removed from the ships because they are AWFUL!! Food & Dining: We had the late seating for dinner, which is perfect for us. Our group was seated at 6 tables of 6 all near each other like we had requested. Our wait staff was very friendly, service was a bit slow but it was ok. The food was great, I ate some sort of steak every night...and each and every one was perfect!! The buffet food was always good, I loved the lido deck burgers & the sandwiches! We only ordered room service once, for a quick snack. It came fairly quickly and was good! Entertainment: I've mentioned in other reviews, I'm not really into the shows they have, so take my opinion with a grain of salt:)! The shows are well done, and seem good, everyone looks like they enjoy them. They are just not cup of tea, although the Beatles tribute was kind of fun, my kids really liked it!! I always look forward to the adult comedy shows, but on this particular cruise our comedian was just ok. We had a few laughs but nothing really stands out about his performance. The Christmas show they do was cute, my daughter participated and had a lot of fun singing on stage. Of course the highlight for the kids was when Santa arrives and he even brought small gifts for each kid, that was a nice touch! The grandparents were brought to tears and I took many pictures I will cherish forever! Ports of call: St Maarten nice place to see, we did an island tour. We saw all the highlights and stopped a few times to buy souvenirs at a little flea market. Be leery when shopping, we would ask a price, they would tell us the amount then when we went to pay they would switch the price and try to keep our change. The locals here were friendly enough although all they wanted was our money; we weren't overly impressed with this port. St Lucia stay on board the ship or book an excursion! We made the mistake of hiring a driver to take us to a local beach. He promised paradise, but we were dropped off at a tiny spot of beach between resorts and were harassed all day! We had to pay to rent the chairs & umbrellas, the price kept changing and we had to practically beg them for our change back. The locals here were RIDICULOUS!! I mean I have been to quite a few ports and seen the beggars but they just don't give up here!! ALL day it was a continuous stream of people trying to sell us something. We could not relax for one minute and finally some of us had had it. One guy tried selling my cousins' wife a necklace, they agreed on a price, she gave him the money but he wanted more. So she gave him the necklace back and he threatened to call the police because she would not buy the necklace!!! It turned into a fiasco with a few of our guys about to fight with them, luckily we were able to calm our guys down and we left. But never in my life have I seen such rude people. If they want tourists to come and buy from them they should treat us with some respect! And it wasn't just us, there were many people complaining about this island once we got back on board, One couple were on a snorkel excursion and the locals were in boats trying to sell them stuff while they were trying to enjoy their excursion!! I will never set foot on that island again! St. Kitts BEAUTIFUL Island and nice people everywhere we went. This was by far our favorite island of the 3!! We took an island tour with Royston; he was excellent, very friendly and knowledgeable! We paid about $20 per person (half for kids) and spent about 4 hours touring the island. We were able to see a bit of everything and even stopped for drinks and snacks! The Ship Overall: This was our first time on the Miracle, it's a beautiful ship and in great condition! The layout was quite easy to master and I liked the decor. I was especially fond of the Mad Hatter's Lounge...that is an Alice in Wonderland lovers dream come true!! There were lots of places to relax and have quiet time which is nice. I don't know all the details or technical info...but there was something wrong with the stabilizers while we were sailing. There was mention that the ship was only using one engine and there were propulsion issues? I don't know much about that, but I do know that was the rockiest cruise I have ever been on. We were going side to side all the time, at one point the water was coming over the sides of the pool! Lots of people were feeling queasy and swaying all over the place while walking...it made people watching quite fun actually!! But everyone still seemed to enjoy themselves, which is good! So, that about sums it up. We had a great time, even though there were quite a few let downs, but that won't change our feelings towards cruising. I guess every cruise can't be perfect right, lol?!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Having never been a cruise, I did not know what to expect from beginning to end. I found the entire process fascinating. Embarkation: The first experience memorable experience was getting on the ship itself. At the port in Miami your ... Read More
Having never been a cruise, I did not know what to expect from beginning to end. I found the entire process fascinating. Embarkation: The first experience memorable experience was getting on the ship itself. At the port in Miami your luggage is taken outside and tagged for the cruise ship to be delivered to your room before 6:00 pm. Once inside, we were required to go through security checks and then stand in line to receive our sign and sail card. This card is similar to a credit card that you use while you are on the cruise ship. I was completely naive concerning the additional expenses you encounter on a cruise, but I was educated very quickly. After I received my sign and sail card, I entered the ship, the Carnival Valor, which I though was simply beautiful. The ships corridors are richly decorated with themed paintings, all the ships interior had gold and wood accents, and I thought the ship was very clean and had an air of elegance. The departure from Miami port was amazing. All the cruise ships were in a line slowly sailing along the Miami beach coastline. I was able to take some breathtaking photos since the day was very clear, even though I was cruising in December. Dining: The ship's staff started immediately with entertainment by the poolside and of course lunch was already waiting for us on the Lido deck. My first disappointment was the decor of the casual dining room. It was a mishmash of lime green and other colors that didn't quite contrast. The cups were short plastic and I felt like a kid every time I had to get something to drink in one of these "mini" cups. The wait staff walked around selling overpriced drinks in plastic carnival branded cups, but that was the extent of their service. There was no person that walked around to actual assist you with anything, every thing was completely buffet style and self service. The view in the dining areas was gorgeous and although the ship was full there was adequate seating. The food quality was passable, but food was certainly aplenty. The coffee on the ship, the "free" coffee was completely atrocious and I found myself paying for coffee towards the middle of the cruise. For the most part I enjoyed the dining experience, the variety was excellent, the desserts were fantastic, and the food tasted fresh and had good presentation. I found the formal dining disappointing. I ate in the Washington dining room and I thought the quality of the food was poor. After ordering the meal, it took forever to come and when it did come, it was cold. I don't remember eating anything that was suppose to be hot, hot. If it was supposed to be hot, like soup, it was moderately room temperature at best, cold at worst. The wait staff was cordial and friendly, but the food was not quality and it just didn't taste very good. By the middle of the cruse, we opted to always take our meals on the Lido deck. In addition, at the end of the cruise you have to tip everyone including the Maitre'D who didn't do anything except visit the tables and say, "Hello, My name is Pablo and I'm your Maitre'D." I don't mind tipping the wait staff, but I felt like everybody had their hand out for something. Cabin: I did a virtual tour of the stateroom before I got on the ship and my room looked exactly like the one on Carnival's website. I was in a room with a widow, the level below those with a balcony. The window was large enough for me to sit in and look out at the water on the second floor of the ship. The view was fantastic. In retrospect, I think it would be worth the extra money to have a balcony view, but I was very satisfied with my view from the window. The room was large enough to walk around comfortably. It was clean and the cleaning staff took pride in making sure that we had plenty of clean towels and sheets. There was a TV, a safe and a mini bar (which remained locked even the sodas were $3.25). There was plenty of closet space and storage space. The couch even had extra pull out drawers, which was a bonus. Good lighting, pleasant decor, I was very pleased with my room and didn't mind spending time sleeping or relaxing. As a part of the service they charge you a mandatory fee of $70 for the cleaning staff. You can adjust to pay more if you're especially pleased with the service, but it will be charged to your sign and sail card by the middle of the cruise. I didn't particularly care for that. I think all those amenities should be included in the cruise price. Essential cabin amenity: A power strip. The room hand only one 110v outlet located near the middle of the room. I had a laptop, phone, video player, battery charger, curling iron, mp3 player and I was sharing a room with another person who had just as much electrical equipment. We had to trade off charging items and that was really a pain. Entertainment: Well it's a "Fun" ship so there was plenty of partying going on. I didn't really see anything that was excessive. For the most part, I was in my cabin by 10:00 pm and most of the clubbers were just leaving to go to one of the many bars or lounges on the ship. One thing I didn't like was to get to the Internet Cafe you had to go through the cigar bar. I hated that since I don't smoke and I think cigar/cigarette smoke is awful smelling. I literally had to hold my breath to get to the Internet Cafe. The variety shows were colorful, but the talent on the cruise was like bad "High School Musical." I mean bad, bad, off, off broadway. The comedians were not funny, with the exception of one guy, and the juggler kept dropping things. The Ivanhoe theater was a nice place to sit and enjoy entertainment, but I would have like it better if they just played movies there instead of the cheesy variety shows. I did enjoy Movies by the Sea and I found the festive spirit on the ship refreshing. Shore Excursions: Okay, I'm not cheap but I'm not rich either, and the shore excursions were just flat out over priced. I paid $40 (which didn't include snorkeling that was $75) for a day at the beach on the Roatan Island excursion, when I could have just given the driver $10 bucks and paid $10 for the snorkel equipment right on the beach. Most excursions can be negotiated by someone on the outside of the ship for at least half of what the ship offers. So my next cruise I want be paying for any shore excursions! But the excursion locations were beautiful. I enjoyed Grand Caymans, Cozumel, Roatan Island, but I didn't care at all for Belize. Belize is a dirty little city and I felt like I was surrounded by hustlers. Overall: I LOVED the cruise. I cannot describe what an incredible experience it was to be on a cruise ship. It was such smooth sailing. It's so economical too. Going to several different places instead of staying at one place and one hotel. The shore visits were long enough to enjoy the day and then get back to the ship for a hearty meal and rest before the evening activities. I recommend cruising to anyone who really wants to just enjoy a genuine carefree vacation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
My wife and I took advantage of a group deal and booked a Nov 16th 7-day cruise out of Galveston. We talked to some of our friends and they invited their friends. Soon, our group of ten began discussing early seating, excursions, things to ... Read More
My wife and I took advantage of a group deal and booked a Nov 16th 7-day cruise out of Galveston. We talked to some of our friends and they invited their friends. Soon, our group of ten began discussing early seating, excursions, things to pack for, and all that. Since my wife and I were the only experienced cruisers, I took it upon myself to keep everyone in our little group informed of the finer details about the Conquest and the 3 ports of call. By mid Oct., we received a spreadsheet from the organizers of the cruise. Our group had swelled to 130 people! On Saturday, Nov. 1, we attended our first briefing in Houston and received our tickets. Out of the entire group, only a handful of people had cruised before, and none have done it on the Conquest, so it seemed. My emails about the ports of call and various local excursions and operators generated much interest. By the way, much of my information was gleaned from none other than the Cruise Critic. Cruise day. Four of us drove down to Galveston. Determined not to repeat our bad experience at the EZ Parking lot last year, I decided on the Port of Galveston parking lot. Last Nov., the EZ parking lot kept the cruisers waiting in the cold on wet pavement for an hour while their shuttle vans went around the lot jumping dead batteries. And once they were done, the 2 little shuttles quickly filled up because all those luggage would take up at least half the space leaving only enough space for 5-6 passengers per van leaving a long line of upset cruisers waiting some more. Well, not any more. After dropping the wives and luggage off at the terminal around 11:00 AM, my friend and I drove to the POG lot where big shuttles were lined up and waiting for us. In no time, we rejoined our dear wives. The line moved quickly, with everything filled out beforehand, embarkation went effortlessly. We were on board by 12:00 PM. With jaws hanging and eyes bulging, our friends walked slowly to take in the sights. I shepherded our party to the Lido deck for lunch. I noticed that the variety of the buffet seemed to have shrunk down a bit. Then I noticed that Sur Mer was not even open; it was open on the first day last year. It became evident then that Carnival tried to institute cost-cutting measures in tight economy. On top of that, Carnival did not ease off on the fuel surcharge. But I understand business. Carnival has to make a profit. Cruise fares are low relative to what we are getting. They have to push their drink-of-the days, the endless photo stations and intrusive photographers at the dinner tables, the casino, the Carnival-sponsored excursions in order to bulk up the bottom line.... With this mindset, I was fully at peace about the whole "dog-and-pony," if you will. Besides, Carnival gave our large group a $100/cabin on-board credit! The most important thing about cruising is to relax, have peace, enjoy company, let your hair down, appreciate the vastness and mysteries of God's creation. My wife and I had an Ocean View on deck two at the stern. It rocked a bit. And the propeller underneath us generated a muffled noise. We went to the purser's desk to ask for ear plugs for my dear wife on the second day. The officer asked her what the problem was, and she told him. At dinner time, the Maitre'd approached our table and asked for us. Surprised, we raised our hands. He told us that the purser's desk had asked him to offer us a bottle of wine and proceeded to ask for our preference. Stunned, I gave him my preference of white wine. Our head waiter came and uncorked it and poured a little for me. Nodding my approval, I asked him to pour it for everyone at our table of ten. Quietly, I slipped him a tip. Lo and behold, the next evening, as we sat down to dinner, a leggy, dark and beautiful assistant Maitre'd appeared at our table. Another bottle of wine was offered to us! Our entire table of ten erupted in an astonishing amazement. We could not believe it. A minor incidence of asking for ear plugs has generated a ton of attention from the ship's staff. Again, I slipped a tip to our waiter for pouring for everyone. Our friends quipped that another bottle, and I'd have to borrow some cash from them.... In addition to the ship-provided activities, our very thoughtful group organizers rented various club rooms for our own group activities, karaoke, folk dance, sing-along, etc. I have nothing but gratefulness for our organizers - what a wonderful bunch of guys and gals to spend a relaxing vacation with! Food in Monet was good as usual; better if you asked the head waiter for his recommendations each time. There was so much good food that half way through the cruise, we toned down our intake. And as usual we'd spend our breakfast and lunch in the casual Cezanne for the variety of food stations and more relaxed atmosphere and longer hours. Room stewards are as always attentive and polite. Overall, my impression is that Carnival's service has kicked up a notch. Everyone seemed more eager to please than before. Again, I think the tight economy might have something to do with it. Works for me, that's for sure. I had advised our group to take the Carnival-sponsored excursions for Jamaica because of some reported unfortunate incidences. Turned out, we made it all the way to Montego Bay but were denied entry because of rough seas. O, well. The ship turned around for Georgetown, Grand Cayman. No one seemed overly upset. More fun activities were implemented on a dime. Hats off to our wonderful group organizers (Hey, you wanna join our group if we cruised again next time?) From the reports I heard, all the ones in our big group did some excursions and had great fun in Grand Cayman. Stingray City tour was #1 hands down. We did the Turtle Farm and city tour with some of our friends and had a good time. Cozumel. O, Coz, you're my favorite. Going to Coz is like visiting old friends. Folks here are laid back and easy-going. Sure they want to sell you stuff. And they don't mind you haggle. They want to have some fun too. For some reason, time always seems to slow down for me here. We went to Mr. Sancho's Beach Resort for Mexican Cooking Class and relaxation afterwards. It was fun while we cooked and enjoyed the fruit of our labor. Then we piled into a taxi that took us back to downtown San Miguel for some laid-back shopping. I loved strolling down the beach-front boulevard, especially the town square, taking in all the lazy sunshine, gentle surf, fragrant air, sound of seagulls, and Royal Poinciana in full bloom. The bright red Poinciana reminded me of my childhood in Taiwan - so many fond memories.... O, that someone would come up with a way of bottling all these things so I can take them with me! One thing different at Grand Cayman and Coz: Conquest no longer docked right smack downtown like it used to. In Grand Cayman we used to be able to tender ashore and be in the heart of Georgetown. Not anymore; we tendered in the middle of nowhere, but were picked up by Captain Marvin's, our excursion operator, and taken to town 15 minutes away. Coming back to Conquest was a nightmare. An enormous line meandering and twisting in the lot waiting to board the tenders back to ship. We must have waited for over an hour before boarding our tender for the ship. In Cozumel, Conquest docked at Carnival's newly constructed pier about 4 miles from downtown San Miguel. The old pier at the heart of downtown seemed to be used by some freight liner. I truly missed getting off the ship/tender and walking right into the heart of town in both ports. Debarkation was the smoothest ever. The four of us ate early breakfast at Lido and went down to the theater with our luggage for debarkation; we were out in an hour, arriving home by 10:30 AM. Conquest is going into dry dock in Jan. for a facelift. New paint, new carpet, new flat-screen TVs, and a giant movie screen on Lido for movie-under-the-stars are on order. Conquest will also alternate between Western Caribbean and the Bahamas next year with 10 trips scheduled for Bahamas including Key West, Freeport and Nassau. Dear wife and I are watching for any news that might come from our group organizers. Hopefully, there will be a reunion cruise for our old and new friends we made in this memorable trip. Maybe you wanna join our next group cruise too, eh? Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Embarkation Wonderful. We arrived at the terminal a little later than expected, but still early. The scheduled boarding time was 1:00 pm, but they let us board an hour earlier! When we entered the ship(I say we because I was traveling with ... Read More
Embarkation Wonderful. We arrived at the terminal a little later than expected, but still early. The scheduled boarding time was 1:00 pm, but they let us board an hour earlier! When we entered the ship(I say we because I was traveling with a group)I was truly astonished. The atrium was so big and nice. I could just imagine myself resting on the soft couches drinking a soda, looking at the ocean. Stateroom I was in an interior stateroom with my younger brother and cousin. Even though it was small, the room was nice. it wasn't beautiful, but it was satisfying. we weren't in the room that much anyway, so it hardly mattered. Food The food was very good. i have been on 5 Carnival Carnival cruises, and this was the one with the best food. The dining room was elegant and fun. Our waiter Chris was the best person ever. Immediately after our last dinner aboard the ship we asked what ship he would be on next. The lido deck was beautiful, and i believe that it was better laid out than the Conquest class ships. The buffets had NO lines whatsoever. Absolutely none. Entertainment I was a kid at the time of the cruise(11 to be exact)and me,my cousin and my little brothers main source of entertainment was the arcade. Before i was on the Miracle, i had been on the Valor, and i was a little disappointed by the Miracles arcade. There were not many games, it was hard to find and it was placed at the very front of the ship. If you were to look at a picture of the Miracle, you would see round windows, then the bow of the ship. Those windows are in the arcade. You could feel the ship going up and down, resulting in the arcade being a less popular place among kids. This had to be the worst part of the cruise. I was 11, so i had to go to Camp Carnival. It was boring and i did not like it, so my parents said i did not have to go. there were many lounges and public rooms, so you are set for whatever you may like, but personally i loved the atrium. it was linked to most of the public rooms, and it had perfect views of the ocean. Debarkation a very sad process because i did not want to leave that ship. it was very quick though. I hated this part, of course because i didn't want to leave. Service The staff was very kind and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
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