My husband and I have sailed this exact itinerary 2 other times, but we were excited to travel with our grandson Lawson who would be turning 4 during the cruise. First off, we are pretty young grandparents 45 & 51. We are from Iowa, and really looking forward to getting away from the sub-zero winter temperatures!
We arrived in Texas a week early to visit 3 different groups of friends who live in Texas. We drove (17 hrs total) and Lawson really did great on the long car ride. I had prepared lots of activities, movies, and I-pad games to keep him busy.
Finally the day to board arrived! We chose 1-1:30 check in and it went unbelievably fast. We carry everything on an off as far as luggage (we pack light), and were able to take everything directly to our cabin.
We had a deluxe ocean view room on the first floor. I highly recommend this type of cabin for families with small children as it has one regular bathroom, plus a second small bathroom with just a jr. tub and sink. The room was plenty big, with lots of closet space. Lawson’s favorite thing was the deep window sill where he could sit and watch the waves. Our room steward was Dewa, and he asked which service we would prefer. We chose evening, but in retrospect I would have chosen morning, as we were always out doing something in the morning, but several times the evening cleaning times were when we needed back in the cabin to change, take a nap, etc... But Dewa did a great job, and was very accommodating.
We chose our time dining because we weren’t sure when our grandson would be up for dinner from naps and such. It ended up working out great for our particular situation, but if we were traveling alone again, I would choose the late time. The first night dinner seemed chaotic, and service was very slow. The second night, we got seated in a section where Neil was the head waiter. We requested him every evening thereafter. He was attentive and funny, and went way out of his way to keep our grandson entertained, and happy. He also made a big deal out of Lawson’s birthday. One night when the waiters danced, he took Lawson up with him, and BOY did that little boy dance! I didn’t even know he had moves like that! The food was pretty good. I’m always happy to not have to cook or wash dishes, but it felt like the food quality had dropped a little from our other 2 cruises. There were a few extre wow things I loved, the mahi-mahi, the stuffed mushrooms, the pumpkin soup. I felt like the appetizers were better than the main courses most of the time.
As far as ports go, we had only done Carnival excursions before. This time, I did more research, and booked things online through private companies. In Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab park. We did not do the dolphin swim, as I though Lawson was not quite ready for that. Even though there were 4 other ships at port that day, it didn’t feel crowded, and we had no trouble finding loungers with an umbrella. The Snorkeling was amazing for being right off shore! We saw tons of fish, some stingrays, and a Giant Lobster! We walked around and saw the Crocodiles, on the way there were a few parrots and an iguana. The sea lion show was very good, and Lawson even got a kiss from a sea lion. In his words, “I just want to stay here forever!” The cab ride there and back was $12 each way for the three of us. Chankanaab was $21 each for DH and I, but I got a coupon online for $2 off each. The sign said 3 year olds were $12 , but when we told them his age, they said he was free! Well, hey, ok! I’d say it was the best thing we’ve done in Cozumel yet.
In Belize, we had booked through ShoreExcursioner the Shark/stingray alley, Hol Chan, Caye Caulker excursion. They subcontracted through Splash Wave tours in Belize. Let me tell you it was the most unorganized thing I’ve ever seen. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand about island time and all, but this was ridiculous! We got off on the first available tender, and they were there waiting for us, the we waited there for more people to show up, then they took us on a walk to a pop up tent they had set up to check everyone’s itineraries, take payments, and give people snorkel gear that didn’t bring their own. Then we waited, and waited, and waited some more. Turns out some of thier staff were back at the dock drumming up more business. So an hour and forty-five minutes after we arrived, we finally headed to the boats,.....where even though they had everyone’s itineraries, they had no idea who was going where! That took another 20 minuets and 3 boat changes to get straight! And I speak perfect Spanish, so language barrier was not the issue! Once on the boat we took about a 40 minute boat ride to what was supposed to be Hol Chan, but honestly, there were more fish to see in Cozumel. We snorkled there for about 45 minuets and then another 15 minute ride to Shark/ray alley. Now that was really cool and we got to snorkel with huge nurse sharks, a few ginormous stingrays, and the biggest sea turtle I’ve ever seen! The guides were really great about helping our grandson snorkel, but he couldn’t be talked into going into the water with the sharks. I think he was sorry later when he heard about the sea turtle. then about 15 minutes more on the boat to get to the island. I just feel like they wasted a lot of our time in waiting around that we could have been snorkeling or exploring the island. As it was, we had less than an hour on the island, and that included eating lunch. The cost for this excursion was $75 each, grandson was free, lunch was separate.
Now Roatan, ah, Roatan will probably always be my favorite port. I have never had a bad time in Roatan, but this was the best ever! We booked the zip-n-dip tour through Victor Bodden and it was amazing! I emailed for info, he got right back to me with detailed information and didn’t ask for any deposit up front. We met his team right where they said they’d be, and everyone was friendly and helpful. We were taken in a nice van within 10 minutes of arriving by a great. driver. He took us straight to the zip line where other guides were ready to take us zip lining. They were great with our grandson, made us feel very comfortable and boy were thier zip lines fun. I’ve been zip lining like 5 times, and this was the best!they let you do any tricks you felt comfortable with, and didn’t push those who didn’t want to. There were i’m thinking, 15 or so lines, and by the last few our GS was going by himself! He had a blast! Next they took us through the monkey and sloth area. Very clean, and the animals seemed well cared for. There were more than just monkeys and sloths. There were parrots, deer, barramundi, and more. It was very nice we cot to hold monkeys, and sloths (so cute!) , and a parrot sat on our heads.. Then we left there and went to West bay beach. It is just yards up the beach from where Carnival excursions go. Even though it was sprinkling, our GS had a blast here, we could hardly get him out of the water! We had been to this beach twice before on Carnival excursions, and had gotten amazing massages right there at the “Carnival beach” So I knew they were great massages at a great price. We checked around there at Bananarama where we were, but the massages being offered there just didn’t look as good as what we had gotten before, and the prices were higher. So we walked down to the Carnival beach, talked to a security guard and got in to see Maidi who had given us massages the other two times! score! I knew she was good. We each got a half hour massage for $25 each, and let me tell you, this girl may be short, but she has some powerful hands! Best $25 ever spent! Some day I’m coming just to Roatan for a week!
Back on the ship, our GS loved the waterslides. He was bummed that he couldn’t ride the big ones (you have to be 42”, he is 40” , but he has something to look forward to. He played in the little kids area for hours! On some of the cooler days we checked out the hot tubs, nice and warm.
Although he only spent a total of about 5 hours in Camp Ocean, he really enjoyed it. On his birthday. we did a scavenger hunt, and when we returned, the entire staff had prepared a hand made card, a string backpack, a large stuffed monkey, and some candy for a surprise for him! It really made his day! In the dining room that night for supper, Neil brought him out a little cake with a candle, and our whole section sang Happy Birthday to him. We had brought some of those little blowers that unroll when you blow them, and Lawson handed them out to a few people around us. One lady even had a blower fight with him, it was awesome!
For debarkation, we ran into thick fog and were delayed for hours. Honestly I felt sorry for the staff as now instead a of a little break, they had to deal with HUNDREDS of grumpy people that misses thier flights. We were driving, so no real biggie, but everyone was just sitting around the public areas with all thier luggage, so not a lot of fun. But we got more fee food, and it wasn’t terrible. All in all a great “adventure “.
Nice cabin, very clean. Picture window was great. Second bathroom with tub was perfect for a little one. The tub wouldn’t hold water at first, but after calling the room steward, a handyman came and replaced the stopper within 10 minutes.
Later embarkation worked well for us. No waiting.
booked the regular non dolphin day. great value, lots to do. Incredible from shore snorkeling!View All 256 Chankanaab National Park Tour Reviews
The most disorganized hot mess ever. Several people left and forfeited thier money because it just got ridiculous after a while. No one had a clue what was going on. The snorkeling ended up being good but so much of our time was wasted.View All 21 Caye Caulker Reviews
Sharks and stingrays part was great. We even saw a giant sea turtleView All 48 Shark & Stingray Encounter Reviews
Good snorkeling, Not long enoughView All 204 Snorkeling Reviews
Great beach, great massages, great driverView All 460 Beach Reviews
best zip line ever!!View All 193 Ziplining Reviews
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