Disclaimer: This is our first vacation from work in 6 years, so having the time off to do this was a bonus in itself. This will give readers perspective of my optimism.
Fact: This vacation is as good as you're willing to make it. Go in with an open mind and a positive attitude and you should have fun. Yes, I was the the silly guy going around the ship high-fiving everyone (guests and staff alike) saying "Cruise time -- lets's celebrate!!"
Embarkation: Fortunately, we have friends who live near the port so paying the parking the outrageous $150.00 parking fee was not an issue as we parked in the garage in their house for free and were transported back & forth. The fee is a rip-off, but I paid for breakfast for their extended family and a generous gift card for their daughter's university graduation. Point being: I'd rather pay for a meal and time with my friends and something that could benefit a college graduate than waste the money on a "rented" 14 x 8 worthless space of concrete for 7 days. There's really no other choice for travelers driving in and I'm grateful for great friends offering to drive us. Also, there was no need to purchase the Faster to the Fun pass since checking in & getting our Sign & Sail cards went quickly. I would have fully regretted spending that extra money since we stayed in our window of 1:00 - 1:30 pm check in time.
Ship was in good condition and nothing seemed out of place. I even saw a worker dusting off the wrought iron vine decor in Gatsby Garden, a very quiet and underutilized place on the ship. My observation was, the vines were clean to begin with. Trust me, I checked the vines he hadn't touched yet and there was no dust, My next observation: they must be working hard to keep the rest of the ship clean which I found to be the case.
Cabin: Extended balcony cabin number 7195 & spotless. This cabin has a connecting door inside leading to cabin 7199. Since we did not know our neighbors, the door was really a wall to us. Extended dimensions on the balcony (10 x 6 as opposed to 10 x 4 standard size) was really a bonus as we invited friends for snacks and drinks before our dinner in the main dining room. Shout-out goes to our room steward Mayura (goes by "May") for keeping us stocked with extra towels and ice every day. I took the advice of one reviewer & put some bright yellow duck tape on my door so I could find it easily. Otherwise, all doors look the same.
Dining: Breakfast was Sea Day Brunch in the Main Dining Room, Decks 2 and 3 AFT part of the ship every day the ship was at Sea. Food was awesome!! Room Service on the days the ship was in port. Cereal & Pastries: can't go wrong there. Tipped $2 each delivery. Servers appreciated it. Dinner: the bomb!!! Food quality was beyond great. Out Wait team of Aristotle, Stanaporn (really, that's her name) & Eben performed better than the musical artists at Coachella. They remembered all of our names and my 2 scoops of chocolate ice cream with my dessert every night. They should open their own restaurant; they're that GOOD!
Lunch on the Lido Deck: Good overall .. Loved the omelets in the morning (worth the trip going there on room service days .. got to get there by 7:00 am when they open though), The Carving Station of turkey, pork or roast beef (whatever they were serving that day) was great. The grill of chicken tenders and Cheeseburgers were great also not to mention the deli of sandwiches made to order (the french fries get cold fast, but they're hot when served).. Note: I'm not a buffet person as I usually stay away from the trough atmosphere generally, but these were the dishes that I loved. The Chinese Food Lo Mein Noodles (Spring veggie rolls were great though) and Pizza: um, not so much, but who cares when 50 dishes can be good and only 2 not so good. There are choices!! After reading some of the reviews I can only conclude; people will be people and will always find something to bitch about.
Entertainment: The view off of our balcony during the day was entertaining enough as we spotted a whale and pods of dolphins. During the evening we would go to the First PG comedy show, then go directly to the Phantom Theater for the dance show, eat at our late 8:15 seating in the main dining room and go directly back to catch the last 2 R rated comedy shows. Yes, the comedians are equal opportunity offenders and if you get offended, THIS PLACE IS NOT FOR YOU! The Comedy Club manager Zee (she's hot on looks and personalty) was awesome and kept the moment real at all times. This nightly schedule never gave us the opportunity to see other entertainment like at the band at the Red Frog Pub or sing along with Scott at Sam's Piano Bar, but that was our choice!
Cabo San Lucas Excursions: Day 1 Sail & Snorkel Fiesta (do it!!) It's a Booze Cruise on the way back! Save the money on the pictures the boat tries to sell you. You're better off taking the pictures on the boat in front of the Arch with your cell phone camera. Finished the day going to Cabo Wabo (Sammy Hagar's place) for lunch. Fully recommend and worth the 15 minute walk each way! Day 2 Exclusive Resort Beach Getaway (do It!) You visit The Casa Dorada Resort. Get the amenities of a private beach (no vendors allowed on your side of the rope) a buffet brunch in the restaurant that overlooks the beach and an alcoholic drink. Plus the full use of the resorts 2 tier pool and jacuzzi is a plus. We chilled at the beach and pool & almost missed the brunch that ends at 11:30am. Claudia was a great hostess.
Puerto Vallarta: Shopped in the Galleria nearby .. no excursions that day.
Tipping: Did the prepaid tips. It was theirs to lose. Not only did the whole crew went above and beyond to keep their tips, I paid an extra $20 to each of the 3 of my wait staff and to my stateroom steward. I was at the guest services desk closing out my cash account where a lady was railing into the guest services associate about how bad her stateroom service was and wanted her and her husband's pre-paid tips back. I feel lucky that was not my experience.
Disembark: The day totally sucked only because it was the last day of the cruise. I wanted to stay, but reality set in. Had to go back to work. Leaving was flawless. We chose to tote all of our luggage, even the big suitcase that we had to check at embarkation. That is an option when there is just my wife & I with no kids. We were in the parking lot in 10 minutes waiting for our friends to pick us up after our deck was called to exit. Customs went smoothly.
I would sail Carnival again, but in a different area to experience different ports of call.
Extended balcony cabin number 7195 & spotless. This cabin has a connecting door inside leading to cabin 7199. Since we did not know our neighbors, the door was really a wall to us. Extended dimensions on the balcony (10 x 6 as opposed to 10 x 4 standard size) was really a bonus as we invited friends for snacks and drinks before our dinner in the main dining room. The room is spacious for 2 adults. This is a starboard cabin where you see sunsets on the way south to Mexico and sunrises (and lights of the cities in the distance at night) on the way back to Long Beach. Spent lots of time out there!! Mid ship and doesn't rock back and forth much. Shout-out goes to our room steward Mayura (goes by "May") for keeping us stocked with extra towels and ice every day. I took the advice of one reviewer & put some bright yellow duck tape on my door so I could find it easily. Otherwise, all doors look the same.
Sail & Snorkel Fiesta (do it!!) It's a Booze Cruise on the way back! Save the money on the pictures the boat tries to sell you. You're better off taking the pictures on the boat in front of the Arch with your cell phone camera. Finished the day going to Cabo Wabo (Sammy Hagar's place) for lunch. Fully recommend and worth the 15 minute walk each way!View All 74 Snorkeling Reviews