If you're looking for an honest and reliable review...you're reading the right one. We booked this cruise 3 weeks out having found out that there were no good cabins available for Alaska, but we still wanted to cruise for our vacation (we've cruised 12 times previously). I spent about 6 hours reading and looking at all the possible options, and although we haven't sailed on Carnival in over 20 years (choosing to sail on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Silver Seas), we were a bit worried about what we've heard and read about Carnival. Boy were we wrong!
Carnival Breeze was every bit as wonderful as any cruise we've taken in the past. (Aside from Silver Seas, with is at the highest end of the cruising world...and you pay for that luxury!) Let me begin by telling you that we're from San Diego, so had to fly to Houston. So, now we have to get to Galveston. I looked into renting a car, keeping it in Galveston while we were on the cruise and then driving back to Houston. Bad idea...far too expensive. We choose to use Lyft, just $87.00 (and I gave our driver a great tip). This was far less expensive then opting for the Carnival Shuttle. Let me point out here that we never fly in the "day of," as that is far too risky, always the day or evening before. We arrived in Galveston around 4:00 pm and wanted to explore Galveston, so we jumped on their Summer Time "Free" Trolley and...drum roll please, we never got off. Honestly, in my opinion, there is nothing to see in Galveston. Moody Mansion (not really very impressive) which we saw when we got back. My suggestion is to get a hotel, if you're arriving the day before the cruise, most places are only a $5.00 - $8.00 Uber or Lyft ride to the port. We stayed (unfortunately) at the County Inn and Suites...I don't recommend it.
Now, let's get to the fun part of my review!
We arrived at the port at 11:30. First savings tip - No need to pay for their "Faster to the Fun" that Carnival offers. Although the line was somewhat long, it moved very quickly and we were in the waiting room waiting to board in just 25 minutes. Once there, it only took 15 minutes for our boarding group to be called and "snap," we were on the ship and heading to the Lido deck for lunch! Really, it was not big deal and not worth the $69.00 they charged to get on the ship quicker!!! Save your money and spend it on other things.
The other thing we noticed quickly is how everyone was carrying 12 packs of soft drinks to bring onboard. We were surprised that they allowed that. Live and learn. So, if you're a soda drinker, feel free to bring 12 packs on board. But, no water was allowed. Go Figure!!! And, there are refrigerators in every cabin.
Here's another tip. Tip the luggage porter a few extra dollars if he'll put on an "expedite" tag on your luggage. Flash some cash and I'm sure he'll do it! Make sure he puts it on before he leaves with your luggage. I paid him $15.00 for two bags and when we got to our room at 1:30, the luggage was already at the door. How cool is that? Otherwise it could be a few more hours before you get your luggage. We unpacked and were ready to start our cruise vacation.
We had a balcony cabin mid-ship (8280), kind of surprising they had one available since we basically booked "last minute" and we were very surprised how light and comfortable it was, with plenty of space for everything. By the way, the mattress was "very" comfortable! Note - it was just myself and my wife traveling. You may want to bring some extra hangers as there are not many in the room, we did. Tip, you cannot bring on a travel iron, so don't try, they x-ray the luggage and confiscated ours until an hour before we disembarked. I understand, they are dangerous. Hint, if you pull the TV out there is extra space to put stuff there. Found that out on the last day. But, you must bring a power strip if you have a lot of electronics to recharge every day. No outlet in the bathroom, only one outlet with two plugs on the desk. There is a hair dryer in the desk drawer, but we didn't use it, as we had our own. There is also an easy to use safe (passport, cash, jewelry).
But again, as I said, more storage then you can image, at least for two people and there's room under the bed for the empty suitcases. We had a balcony which we always like, but if you're the type of person who is going to be by the pool and busy all the time, why spend the extra money. All the rooms we peeked in on, including the inside cabins, looked fine.
Before I continue further, I'd recommend that you'll want to bring a tumbler (for your ice tea, lemonade or water, that's all they offer for free, of course coffee and tea is also available) as the cups they offer are very small (8 oz). Everyone on board brings 'em. And you'll want a lanyard that you can hang around your neck (you can get them on Amazon) for your room key. Everyone on board seems to have those as well. Plus you can get some that will also hold your cell phone. Also, if you have a spare frequent flyer card or a plastic card like it (not a credit card) bring it, as you'll need your cabin key or a similar card as above to keep the lights on in the room.
Mike Pack, our cruise director, and his entire staff did a great job...and honestly they work their butts off 16 hours a day. Way to go Mike!
Let's talk about food. If you're a gourmet diner, what the heck are you doing on a cruise ship? My wife and I found the food in main dining room great, although we're not overly picky eaters. They offer some unique foods that I tried, like frogs legs...not bad. We chose "Anytime Dining" and we never had to wait for a table. My suggestion is to do anytime dining so that you're not locked into having to be there at a certain time. The general buffet on the Lido Deck has lots of food stations, but can be slow and quite busy, especially the first day for lunch, when it's the only area open for food. Be patient, there's no rush, you're on vacation. Don't get trapped by the first few stations, keep working your way to the back of the ship and you'll discover more stations with different variety of foods. Looks all around first and then decide where to put on the feed bag. Of course, there is pizza 24/7 and just follow any kid (6 - 12 years old) and they'll lead you right to the ice cream machines (also 24/7).
Now, aside from the dining room and the Lido Buffet you're going to go "gaga" for Guy's Burgers on the pool deck as well as Guy's Pig and Anchor. Guy's Burgers serve over 2,000 burger a day and if you're a burger fan...well let me say this, bet you can't eat just one. I had three on this cruise....so good. He uses a special blend of meat and there is a toppings bar with bacon, grilled onions, lettuce,, pickles, tomatoes, etc. to top your burger. And it comes with fries! Guy's Pig and Anchor is also wonderful with all kinds of bar-b-que offerings. On board you'll also find a taco bar (street tacos) as well as burritos.
We did not opt for the upcharge specialty restaurants (Italian, Sushi and Steak) as it didn't seem important or necessary. Wait until you get on board to decide as there was always seating and reservations available.
If you sail, and are assigned to dine in the Sapphire Dining Room, see if you can ask for Cvetelina (from Bulgaria) and Emi's area. Both so sweet and very, very attentive servers.
Entertainment - There is so much going on that you'll find yourself carefully checking the schedules to decide what you want to do. The big production shows I'd rate a 7+ out of 10. Not the big Broadway Shows we've seen on other cruise lines, but for 45 minutes of entertainment, not too shabby. Although I have to say, they did stop a couple of the shows in the middle with technical issues, but the way they use the digital screen as a background was most unique. On our cruise you didn't have to get there 30 minutes before to get a seat, and there always seemed to be seats available down front. And always seats in the balcony.
There's also great entertainment going on in every corner of the ship. Worse performer was the guy at the piano at the 88 Keys Bar...zero personality for a piano bar.
We love comedy, which takes place every night in the Limelight Lounge. Now this fills to capacity 10 minutes before the show begins, so if you want to get close, you'll have to get there early and line up (30 minutes before the show begins, doors open 15 minutes before). We saw both the PG shows and the 18+ shows. Kind of disappointed in the 18+ adult shows as they mainly talk to people in the audience, while I prefer an act or at least a routine. But we did laugh hard and enjoyed it. The sets are just 30 minutes long...then they clear the room, you have to line up again to see the next performer.
If you go on Carnival, be sure to download the Carnival Hub app, it provides a map and deck plans of the entire ship, "what's happening now and today" and you can even look at your photos (there must be 20 photographers everywhere to take you portraits). The Hub app is free!
There is mini-golf, a ropes course, two giant water slides, ping pong, outdoor pool tables and tons of things to do on board. Shopping sales every day (of course!). And if it's peace and quite (why are you sailing on Carnival) there are some quieter areas on the Serenity Deck.
Note - because the Breeze sails out of Houston, 75% of the guest are from Texas, another 10% - 15% from Louisiana and Oklahoma and the rest from other parts of the country, not many from overseas as they generally said out of Florida or the west coast. We met lots of nice people.
Okay, I've covered a ton so far, so let's move on the shore excursions. I rarely book via the cruise lines, as you can always find better deals on line or on shore. In Rotan, we hired a private driver for $40.00 for three hours. We've snorkeled, played with dolphins, etc, etc. on so many previous cruises, so we just wanted to see a bit of this island. But, let me be real honest, not much to see in Roatan, Honduras. Carnival offers their "Mahogany Beach," just a 7 minutes walk from the ship. If you want to spend time on beach (for free) this is the place. The water is warm and they have lots of bars and places to eat (extra charge), and also places to rent beach toys. Lots of lounge chairs and for a extra fee clam shell loungers for two. Carnival offers a chair lift ride to get you to and from...but it's $14.95 per adult (you can ride all day) and $7.95 for kids. Not necessary. As you come out of the first building, that you have to walk though, if you make a hard U-turn to the right you'll find a nature trail (look for the small sign or just ask someone) that takes you right to the beach. It's a pleasant 5 minute walk with misters if it's hot and places to sit (well done Carnival). Mahogany Bay was leased by Carnival for $32,000,000 for twenty years and they've done a very nice job with this port and the area. Clean and a wide variety of shopping right off the ship.
Next stop Belize. We've been to Belize once before and that time we did the cave tubing and zip lining. This time we took a 90 minute city tour...hmmmm. Remember this is a 3rd world country, not a lot to see unless your into proverty. There are lots of tour operators on shore that will accommodate you with all kinds of tours and activities, so again, you don't necessarily need to book via the cruise line or in advance. We found very friendly people in Terminal Four who can offer you anything you'd like to do. You do have to take a ferry from the ship and if you want to be first off you have to pick up a ferry ticket, each person needs there own, starting at 7:30 am. Ugh! Details are on board or ask me.
But, for Cozumel's excursion, we did book through Carnival, and it's the best and most unique cruise excursion I've ever been on. Rio Secreto, Rivera Maya (Amazing Secret River), you can Google and also check Google Images. Price was $122.00 per person, but worth it. For this you have to be on the dock at 8:00 am and you'll take a 35 minute ferry ride to Playa del Carmen on the mainland. From there they'll load you into small vans for the 30 minute ride to the secret river. This was discovered in 2006 and they've turned it into an amazing destination. You'll spend 90 minutes walking, wading and swimming in this river and get an amazing geology lesson from your guide. You've never seen anything more spectacular (stalagmites and stalactites). And, they supply everything, although if you have water shoes I'd suggest you bring them as yours will fit better and more snug than theirs. Just bring your swim suit and dry clothes! They'll supply a wet suit, a safety vest, towels to dry off and they have free lockers. Warning, they don't allow cameras, partially because they want to sell you the photos that a professional photographer takes who goes with each small group (10 - 12 max), but also because it's hard to take pictures while carefully climbing and swimming in the river. Plus, the professional has extra flash units placed in the cave so that the pictures he takes are really stunning! Here's the catch, they'll show you the photos at the end of your adventure and the price is $25.00 for one or $99.00 for all of them. Plus, they'll include photos of the cave and the wildlife in the area. What the heck, we opted for all the pictures as did most which they put on a flash drive for you and you take them with you. Personally, we'll worth the money. I've included one or two with this review. After your trip in the river (by the way, you'll be 60 feet underground...but I never felt claustrophobic, wide open areas in the cave/river) they serve a wonderful lunch...all included in the price. When you're done, back in the van and there's still time for shopping before the ferry heads back to the ship, I'm not a shopper but my wife is! LOL. Again, this is my top pick of any excursion I've ever done in the Caribbean!
Three days at sea on this Western Caribbean route, which was great, as there is so much to do aboard the ship!
Finally, all good things must come to an end, including this one. Here is another tip, you can pack your bags the night before, but no need to put them out in the hall that night. In the morning, leave your bags in your room, go down for breakfast, and then return to your room, grab your bags, and go down to the third deck and simply walk off the ship with your luggage. If you see your room steward, and you should, just tell him you'll be back after breakfast to grab your bags, they're used to that. They don't check numbers, which they'll leave in your room the night before and you don't need to wait to be called. I've done this on every cruise I've been on without an issue. Trust me, no one will be checking your number! Also, if you find the elevators packed with passengers with luggage on the way down on Debarkation day, do what I do, press the up button and ride the elevator up, those elevators are empty going up, and then back down to deck three. It works every time, especially if your cabin is on a lower deck (5 - 11).
Last tip - I did purchase the social media package for my cell phone, pre-cruise. I used the What's App application to communicate with the folks back home and people at my office. Make sure that everyone you want to stay in contact with downloads the app and test it before you leave home. it worked great, slow at times, but it got the job done. When you attach pictures or receive pictures it does slow it down, but they eventually get through. Sometimes it disconnects when you turn off you phone, but anyone in the photo area can teach you the ropes on how to use it and/or reconnect and I also found anyone who works in the shops can also help get reconnected. Remember you have to have your cell phone in the Airplane mode. I didn't need the headache of e-mail so I didn't opt for that (besides it's more expensive and I'm on "vacation" so work can wait). There is also a "chat" option you can get if you want, to communicate with others on board, but we just used the What's App to do that.
Finally, while I know this was a bit long, I wanted to provide you with as much information as possible...and wrote this as if I was reading it and what I'd want to know. I hope you have found this valuable. If you have any other questions and care to e-mail me, I'll try to answer for you. Just put "Cruise Question" in the subject line. You can write to me at Bert@BRMarketing com
I was impressed with Carnival Breeze and had a wonderful vacation and I hope you do too if you select this ship! Read Less