Like many couples, my wife and I have busy schedules. Ours prevented us from taking a honeymoon immediately after our wedding (last November). We debated and debated our options- Dominican Republic All-Inclusive location, Hawaii, Costa Rica, etc. We initially didn't consider a cruise because I'm prone to getting sea-sick. But after talking to my wife's sister, we decided to look into cruise options. We decided to take our travel agent's advice and go with Carnival for the following reasons:
- Great dining options
- Reputation of good service and entertainment options
- Port location (didn't have to travel out of state)
- Liveliness of the guests
Carnival's web site clearly explained our dining, entertainment and beverage options as well as the shore excursions. I wasn't able to use the live chat option but the phone service agent I spoke to was not only helpful she really went above and beyond to explain options and to help us prepare for the trip.
Embarkation- I guess this is unavoidable but this process is a little bit like waiting in line for the Cars or Indiana Jones rides at Disneyland- it's best to get there early but you still will have to wait in line. Bring a jacket if you're cruising in the winter time because it's pretty chilly in the waiting area. You'll get your credential/room key at check-in. Once you get on the ship (after going through security) food is available on the Lido deck which is a good thing because most people are hungry by that point. Cabins are usually said to be ready an hour or two after embarkation. We'll go for the priority boarding option for our next cruise.
Room- the room was larger than expected and very comfortable. We had ample closet space, a nice bathroom with a standup shower, and an enlarged balcony/deck. Our room was 5131 which near the front of the ship, right above the emergency boats. The beds were decent but a little uneven- they were out of queen/king beds so they had to convert two twins to make a queen sized bed for us. There was a 24 inch flat screen tv with a few cable stations and fully stocked mini fridge which we didn't take advantage of. The room also featured a couch with a pullout bed.
Food- there is a little of everything on the ship- 24 hour pizza, a sandwich bar, 24hr ice cream, American food station, Asian food station, salad bar, desert bar and several coffee, tea and juice stations, breakfast buffets in the morning. Guests also have the option of going to brunch in Bacchus dining room (where dinner and tea times are also served). The brunch and dinner options were our favorite. My wife also liked the Asian buffet station. All of the options just listed are included in the cruise price. There are other dining options that are not included.
Entertainment- The entertainment was fine. The Heart and Soul concert and the couples game show were our favorite. The comedy club was also good. Karaoke was good but depending on the talent could get weird. The trivia games were good and there is really something for everyone but there is also a lot of down time so the cruise can be very restful. On that note there were a lot of kids on the cruise but this only added to the energy level of the cruise.
Port stops- our first stop was Cabo. The debarkation experience at the port was fine. We didn't do any of the excursions but did hire a pedi cab to take us on a tour. Cabo is a fine city but not a favorite of ours. Puerto Vallarto was awesome. Debarkation process was fine and the city itself was a little more lively and tourist friendly.
There are other elements of the cruise that I could write about but I'll end the post with a final note. We met some amazing people on the cruise and made some friends that I'm sure will be in our lives for a long time. The entire crew was awesome and we very much enjoyed getting to know some of their stories. A few specific shout outs- our waiter for dinner- Minor and his team- Jake, Alexander and Jason. Ankit, Stephen Chasney, Gavin and others.