Our last cruise was back in 2012; a lot of Carnival procedures and policies have changed since then (FTTF, Sail & Sign Cards at room, Sea Day Brunch), so we weren't really sure what to expect this cruise. We chose this particular ... Read More
Our last cruise was back in 2012; a lot of Carnival procedures and policies have changed since then (FTTF, Sail & Sign Cards at room, Sea Day Brunch), so we weren't really sure what to expect this cruise. We chose this particular cruise because we were able to celebrate Christmas at home with the family, but allowed us to do a cruise while the kids were still out on break. This cruise, I was traveling with my DH, DD (16), and my DS (14).
We live about 3 1/2 hours away from New Orleans, so we decided to drive to port the morning of the cruise. Since the Saints had a 12 pm game, we got on the road around 3:40 am, hoping to get into the port area before the tailgaters arrived. We were engulfed in fog thick as pea soup as we drove. We arrived in the Crescent City by 8 am. After driving around a couple of side streets, we found some parking and ate breakfast at Mother's. There were some Saints fans out and walking about, festooned in fan garb. We exchanged some compulsary "Who Dat"s. Then, headed to the parking garage at the terminal. The cost is $140, but was worth the price for us. The garage opened around 9:30. We learned from one of the Carnival staff to wait until 10:30 am to go downstairs and get in line. Around 10:45 am, they started calling Priority boarding, wedding parties, and FTTF. Our boarding pass listed a boarding time of 12 pm - 12:30 pm, but we were on the ship before 11:30 am.
The hubs and I had 1:30 pm Couples Massages scheduled. There is no better way to kick off a vacation than spending 75 minutes de-stressing. Our cabin was located on the Spa Deck (12202), and we took advantage of the multiple times throughout the cruise. We'd head to the Thalassotherapy Pool after a long day of walking around in port or on the ship. We took advantage of the Thermal Suites. Between my DH and I, we had 5 massages, a pedicure, and a facial. We love the Spa!!
Our embarkation massage completed just in time to run to the room to grab our S&S cards, see our luggage had arrived, grab the kids (who were eating and scouting the ship while we were in the spa) and then head to our Muster Station. They scan our cards now (also a new procedure since our last cruise), so they know if you aren't there (and call you out).
Our cabin was clean and was easily able to accomodate 4 people. The beds were a little hard for our liking. We really enjoyed sitting out on the balcony each day. The balcony was not covered, so during sail aways, we got to enjoy conversations with people up on deck 14. Deck 12 is nice and quiet. There were no loud neighbors. The foot traffic was minimal. The seas were rocking our entire cruise, and we could really feel it from our room. We were prepared with chewable Bonnie, so seasickness was kept at bey.
We had an early dining time in the Scarlett Dining Room. My biggest complaint on the ship is that our room was located on the most forward part of the ship and we had to travel to the furthest point in the back of the ship to access the dining room. The dining room's location wasn't easy for us to access, and I felt like I was in the Maze Runner each time we went to the dining room -- down 8 flights in the elevator closest to our room. Walk all the way to the back of the ships and then go down the last set of stairs you can find. Everyday for 7 days. I'd pass the windows for the Crimson Dining room and give my pouty face. Why couldn't we have eaten here? We had no issues with our wait staff. Our table was tucked in the back, far away from the entertainment. I felt like all the waiters who didn't know the routine were stuck in front of us. Of the 5 near us, not a single one had the same dance moves.
Entertainment on the ship was consistent. Our Cruise Director, Ryan Rose, was full of energy and really tried to engage the guests. He was very personable, friendly, and funny. The performers were good at dancing, but all but one was really pitchy. Despite this, we watched all of the performances. America Rocks was our favorite. The least favorite was the Motown revue. The singers lacked the soulfulness needed to execute these songs. The deck parties were fun. As always, the Hairy Chest Competition was entertaining. We never made it to a Dive-In Movie, since the times for the movies we were interested in conflicted with our dining time. For this reason, we also missed out on the family friendly Punchliner shows. The family oriented ones conflicted with the main shows based on our dinner time. I might be willing to try YTD for this reason alone (we've always had Early Dining).
All of our wait staff and cabin stewards were friendly and worked hard to ensure my family had a great vacation. Our favorite place was the Alchemy Bar. Maria, Manol, and Suri made the best drinks on the ship. I really liked the Cucumber Sunrise. The least friendly staff were the ladies working in the specialty coffee shop. My husband and I both had the Cheers package. He is an early riser, but I am not. His biggest complaint about the specialty coffee bar was he could not get a coffee for both of us at the same. He had to wait 5 minutes. This made no sense to him.
Our ports of call were to Roatan, Honduras; Belize; and Cozumel. In Roatan, we used a highly recommended private tour operator, Victor Bodden, and created a customizable tour for our family. We visited his sloth and monkey farm (all of us REALLY loved this). My daughter zip lined at the adjacent Mayan Jungle Canopy. Her smiles on the zip line are priceless. There was a guide on the line in front of her, taking pictures along the way. They were available for purchase for a very reasonable price and were waiting in my inbox when we arrived home. After this, we headed to the chocolate factory (it was nothing special); the rum factory, where you could taste samples of the rum and rum cake -- the banana cake was quite tasty; and a stop to the Stone Cameo Factory. OMG! I loved this place. The work was amazing and the prices are reasonable. In Belize, we did Carnival's Lamani excursion. This involved an hour bus ride in an air-conditioned charter bus and a 1/2 hour speed boat ride to the ruins site. The guides were entertaining and the trip went by quickly. We stopped for lunch on the way back and were returned to port 30 minutes prior to the last ferry departure. We had been to Cozumel several times previously, so we had no plans in this port. We walked off the ship, stopped at Pancho's for lunch (good food!), did a little shopping, and then enjoyed the rest of the day on the ship.
The kids never went to the planned activities for their ages, so I cannot review either of the teen clubs. My kids did spend copious amounts of time in the arcade, playing putt-putt, eating ice cream, and ordering pizza.What else does a teenager need?
Would we do this cruise again? Absolutely. Read Less