Apologies for the long review. It is hard for me to cut back on detail.
We were four girls traveling, three from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale and one from Atlanta the day prior. We had two cabins, a mini-suite D619 which had three ... Read More
Apologies for the long review. It is hard for me to cut back on detail.
We were four girls traveling, three from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale and one from Atlanta the day prior. We had two cabins, a mini-suite D619 which had three and a Caribe Balcony C731 for me.
We flew from LA and stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Cruise and Airport Hotel. This hotel has an airport shuttle included along with breakfast buffet and shuttle to the cruise port included as well. The hotel was under construction so the lobby was moved along with the buffet. The room was good. The hotel is close to both the airport and hotel which made it very convenient for this trip. My friends are late risers while I am early. They did not want to get to the ship early; three of us are Platinum and could have enjoyed the Platinum Lounge. The hotel has four times for the departures: 10am, 11am, Noon and 1pm. We left for the ship on the 1:00 shuttle which left closer to 1:30pm. There is a sign-up sheet. Be sure to sign up as soon as possible since the good times fill up quickly.
We arrived at around 1:45pm at the port. Embarkation was a breeze. I had an extension cord in my carry-on which was found and confiscated. It was just a plain $2 power strip, no surge protection what so ever but they placed my name on a form so that I could collect it after the cruise. A photo was taken after the security check and we were on the ship. Since we got to the ship so late, we missed the dining room lunch and the rooms were available. We dropped off our carry-ons and headed downstairs. We had a light snack in the International Café. We enjoyed the Chicken Salad and a very nice Beet Salad. I signed up for the Ultimate Ship Tour at Passenger Services Desk. Soon after the muster drill began. We headed down to our Muster locations. After the drill I headed for sail away to my friends’ mini-suite. We sat on their balcony even though it was very hot and humid. It was great fun to celebrate together. We were celebrating our friend being cancer free along with her birthday. She had breast cancer last fall. One of the girls ordered the cabin birthday decorations. They were expensive but very fun and festive.
We had made reservations for the Crown Grill to celebrate her birthday. The Grill was amazing. We had steak and lobster. The service was spot on. I would recommend it to everyone. The food was so great!
I had breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room for most every meal. I highly recommend it. I am a foodie and the food was really good. I was worried after everything I had read. I love high tea but was only able to do it once. I ate dinner in the buffet once and it was surprisingly good. I did have little snacks here and there mostly fruit and a bit of desert. I ate at Planks with my Meet and Mingle neighbors. Planks was ok. Most likely would not eat there again but always want to experience everything I can so that I can make my own opinions. The International Café is always good. I really like their Muesli for breakfast along with a cup of fresh brewed coffee early in the morning. I then take it to a window seat and watch the ocean from the window nearby.
The ship does have some rust in areas. They were always painting and scraping somewhere. They changed the carpets in the hallways. I am used to some sort of color change but both sides were identical with gold/yellow background with white, black and gold swirls. The ship appears to be clean and fairly well maintained. I was worried due to the reviews. Most all of the crew were friendly, some were very friendly.
Day 2, Sunday morning was our Meet and Mingle sorted out by Bugsy43 at 10:00am in the Wheelhouse Bar. We were supposed to be in Skywalkers but somehow there was a double booking. We had about 21 people show up. It was too early for my three friends since the time change; it was 7am for us. We all introduced ourselves and talked about where we were from and how many cruises. We had about six people participate in a gift exchange. It was fun. People brought something that was from where they were from or something they thought another cruiser would like. There were two of the Ships Officers that spoke to us as well. One of the officers spoke of the changes they had made to the buffet in the last two weeks for the better. It appears that they must read Cruise Critic comments. I am not a buffet fan but ate there a couple of times. It was quite good (for a buffet). Normally I just get some fruit.
I ate in the dining room for most every meal. We had anytime dining which I am not a fan of but when traveling with others, you go with the flow or eat by yourself. We never really had to wait long since we normally ate around 7:30-8pm. The food was really good. If it was not to your taste, you ordered something else. We ordered several of the items when we could not choose just one. The butter dish was given with four butter balls, but we just asked for more when it was out. I love good bread and butter and was not disappointed.
Day 2 was a sea day, I had lunch with my new friends from the meet and mingle. I saw my neighbors around the ship more than my travel friends. I met up with travel partners later to lay out in the sun for a bit. There were lots of people enjoying the pools and was quite crowded.
Day 3, Monday, we were in Grand Cayman. This is a tender port. I sorted a trip at the pier for a van tour for three hours for $20 USD. My friends did a different tour. I realized during this trip that I could travel alone and be fine. My tour stopped in Hell where I mailed a post card to my son. The post card arrived about ten days later. We next stopped at a rum cake store with a nice ocean area in the back that was so beautiful. We also stopped at the dolphin swim area (not included) for about 20 minutes. Then back to the port. I made friends with a man and his teenage son and walked a bit near the water with fish that were so amazingly beautiful. Grand Cayman is clean and felt very safe to me. The water is beautiful and sparking blues and greens.
Day 4, Tuesday, we were in Roatan, Honduras. We docked in Mahogany Bay. A port created by Carnival Corp. There was an interesting rusted sunken ship right outside my balcony door. I would have loved to explore it. I took many photos. We had booked a private tour with Victor Bodden to show us the sites. We had to walk quite a way outside of the port area to meet up with our guide. Since this was a Carnival port, the private tour companies have to pay a lot to get in there… We were shown the sites. We stopped at Mayan Eden Eco Park. One of our friends loves butterflies. They have a great butterfly exhibit, along with monkeys, parrots, and other animals. We got to hold and pose for photos with the animals. The guides are knowledgeable and answer all of your questions. We also went to Victor Bodden’s private park with even more animals along with sloths. We got to hold the sloths. They move almost in slow motion. If you have seen the DMV seen in Zootopia, they got it right. The sloths were so much fun, Highlight of this port. There was a medical emergency with someone needing transport to the airport home. We left about an hour late. We had to wait for the medical staff to return to the ship.
Day 5, Wednesday, we were in Belize City, Belize. This is a real tender port. The ships are about five miles from shore and the tender is about 20-30 minutes. We wanted to do the Cave Tubing tour. We found one at the port for $50 USD. It was a van ride of about 45 minutes to get to the tubing location. Once there, you are giving a left vest (which smelled of other people’s sweat), helmet (sweat here as well) with miners’ type light on it and a tube. You then have to carry all of this for about 15-35 minutes walking along a rain forest path, crossing the river three times. I had breakfast with a woman who went on it. Her Fitbit said one mile. They tell you 15 minutes but it was really closer to 30-35 minutes. Mostly level ground but hot and sticky. The tubing was amazing. There are two guides and pull you along. All of the tubes are connected like a train. Parts of the cave are shallow while the center section of the cave is about 55 feet deep and overhead about 20-30 feet. If you plan on doing this, bring a waterproof flash light. It can be difficult to see in parts. Once you are out of the cave system, you move slowly along the river. The guides are either pulling you through when it is shallow or swimming to move you through. This is a must see adventure. We all said that we would do it again. This port has the fake designer bags, purses, wallets, etc. I needed a carry-on bag to get my treasures home so I purchased a rolling fake Michael Kors bag. It worked to get the stuff home. The quality is not great but it worked.
Day 6, Thursday, we were in Cozumel, Mexico. The ships dock here. There were two other ships in port with us, both Carnival. I had booked the Dolphin Royal Swim. I walked around the port for about two hours since the early Dolphin tour was at 11:15am. I did not purchase anything until after my tour, I did not want to carry anything around with me since it was so hot and humid. The dolphin tour sorted us into groups of 8 and we took taxis to the park about 10 minutes down the road. My tour included the fancy better food at the restaurant and included drinks and adult beverages. I also purchased the photo package for $100 purchased from the park (not included). You put your stuff in the lockers which has everyone both male and female and has dressing rooms in the back with open air showers. The toilets are separate. The dolphins were great. We each got to do two rides. First, where you grab onto two dolphins dorsal or top fin and hold on for your life. They are very powerful, fast and were such fun. The second is where the dolphins push your feet until you are out of the water. You are in the water with them for about 30-45 minutes. The pens are in the ocean not a tank. The waves from the ocean are there and can sometimes move you about a bit. Once you are done, they have taxis sorted for your return at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm. Once I returned to the port, I purchased my treasures and returned to the ship. The Carnival ship next to us was leaving before us. Their captain honked the ship’s horn trying to get his passengers back on board. It was so funny to watch the late ones run for the ship. The captain even honked the horn for us as our passengers we remaking the horn signal with their arms. It was lots of entertainment for us on our balconies.
Day 7 was a sea day. I had signed up for the Ultimate Ship Tour which began at 8:15am. This is the second time I have done this tour and loved it even more the second time. We met in the piazza and left with one of the cruise director’s staff and a security officer and then went to the theatre and had a photo on the stage. The production manager, from the USA, spoke about how the stage moves etc. Also, that the performers can only see the first two rows where most people do not sit so it looks like no one is coming to their show. I made my friends sit in the second row, there were not happy but I explained why. We then went to the dressing rooms and one of the performers spoke of process of changing clothes. And how other crew like the electricians etc help them change into their next costume. Next was the medical center. There are two doctors, one for the passengers and other for the crew along with four nurses all trained to handle anything. We then went down to the lowest part of the ship below the waterline to the ship’s laundry. The supervisor showed us the many pieces of machinery used to wash and dry the towels, sheets, and passenger and crew laundry. There is a giant machine that dries, and folds the sheets. Sheets are feed into one side wet and come out the other dry and folded ready for the cabin steward to change your bedding. We then went to the Control Room. There were many computers and monitors with video of the areas of the engine room, and deck areas, etc. One of the Officers talked about the workings of the ship, the fuel consumption, the two different types of fuel used and where. A photo was taken with him and our group. We went to the galley to see how the food is prepared. One of the chefs gave us the tour and answered questions. There were non-alcoholic drinks and goodies for us. We went to the photography shop, and then the print shop where they have two presses to print up the Patters and other printed materials we receive in our cabins. Each area’s representative speaks and answers questions. It appears that they really love having passengers. You get to walk down the center of the ship down I-95 or M1 depending on the ship. There were many crew members who this was their last day. They were lined up for the HR office to get their last pay check etc. We went to the bridge. We met the Captain, had a photo taken with him. He left and one of the Officers showed us around. We spent about 20 minutes up there. We then went to Skywalkers for some Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. The cruise director staff member answered more questions. Another amazing tour behind the curtain. I brought my iPhone this time. They did allow photos in certain areas; you just needed to ask the person in charge of that area. Toward the end of the day, I received the “gifts” including five group photos taken in certain areas, a Princess waffle robe, princess apron, 8x10 photo frame, note pad with Caribbean Princess with my name (spelled wrong and never sorted)
Disembarkation was quick. We had a 10:55am flight back to LA so we were one of the first groups off of the ship handling our own luggage at 7am even though it said 7:30 in the paperwork. We flew off the ship. Customs was a quick look at my passport and I was done. There was a table setup for the confiscated items. I let them keep $2 power strip. We used the same shuttle company that was included with our hotel for $10 per person. We all had quite a bit of luggage so Lyft/Uber would not have work. I pack from zombie apocalypse to meeting the queen and all things in between. Three of us did the same with two large bags plus carr-on while one only had a small carry-on piece of luggage. Not sure how she did it. It was a quick trip to the airport and back home.
Cabin C731 Category BD – cabin was great for one person even two but not for more. I like things on the cold side. My cabin was a comfortable 68 degrees when set on the lowest setting. The cabin is 9 feet across by about 20+ feet deep. The balcony is 9ft by 9ft, half covered half open. There are two deck chairs, two foot stools and a regular table on the balcony so you could actually eat food at the table if you wanted. You can see the cabins above and below and they can see you when you are in the uncovered area. But no one can see you in the covered area. The bathroom is small. The shower has a curtain that can stick to you. Bring some clips to help weigh it down. There are two pumps in the shower attached to the wall with shampoo and body wash. I bring my own. The steward was not the best. I had to ask him to vacuum the cabin and later vacuum the balcony. I had to request the robe after not receiving it and ask for fresh ice several times. There were bits of paper or something on the floor of the cabin and the balcony. I have a bit of OCD and like things clean and tidy. The TVs are a VERY nice 42 inch flat panel with on demand movies, TV shows and even live TV channels for the news. There is a vacant HDMI port if you want to plug in your own device. There is one USA electrical outlet behind the TV to plug in your power strip, etc. There are two USA plugs in the desk area. The beds are very comfortable. These are the new Princess beds people have been talking about. The carpet was in good condition, not stained and no holes or wear patterns.
Cabin D619 – Mini-Suite Category MD – I did not stay in this room but can say that the temperature in this cabin was hot. It never really got below 78 degrees. My friends finally got a noisy fan in the cabin after many days of complaining. You could feel the temperature going up as you walked closer to the center of the ship in their hallway. The cabin itself was wonderful. Nice bathtub, couch and two TVs. Not sure how it would have worked with the sound since the TVs were right next to each other. The balcony is about 9 feet by 8 feet uncovered. No shade. It rained and the clothes drying on the chairs were wet instead of dry in the morning. I loved the size of the room but the temperature issues are a deal breaker for me. There were two chairs, two foot stools and a full table on the balcony. Since there were three people staying in the cabin, it made it difficult to access the balcony with the couch open into a bed. Read Less