Brace yourself- It's long. We enjoyed the detailed reviews so here's mine!
Just got back on Sunday from the 5/20 sailing and we had a great time. We're pretty simple and don't need much to be happy on vacation.
We were checking reviews constantly before our sailing and so many of them filled with "complaints" that were just silly to be honest. Example: "The ship is old, worn"- oh please. It holds thousands of people every week! It looks great, everything works, nothing is broken or unsafe. It's FINE! :)
Little things really shouldn't make or break your VACATION..
Anyways!- First off, this was my 7th cruise and my partner's 5/6th one and our first time buying Faster to the Fun (FTTF) and although prices have gone up for it, we HIGHLY recommend it. We mostly got it to get OFF the ship ASAP(this came in handy, more on that later) but getting ON was an absolute BREEZE. It took us 30min from the time we arrived (10:15am) at the port to check in our bags, go through security, check in at the desk and receive our Sail & Sign cards and finally be seated to board (10:45am). Boarding started at exactly 11:30am for FTTF holders and our cabin (5174) was actually READY when we boarded!!! (It's also a FTTF perk) (cleaning was rushed to meet this deadline as I'll mention later.)
Once we dropped off our things, we headed to the Lido deck to grab some lunch and our first drink.
The drinks are OK for the most part but frozen drinks are horrible (aka WEAK) without a floater. We also bought the Cheers package for the first time and although we might just pay as we go next time, it was really nice not having to worry about the bill and just enjoy some drinks and try some news ones too. (We had about 50 drinks each during 7 days but it was mostly because we felt we had to at least break even.) The place to really maximize your Cheers package- but also where to enjoy the BEST drinks in general- is at The Alchemy Bar!!! OUR FAVORITE. Lucian and Yuliya (might be misspelled) ARE AWESOMEEEEE. All of the drinks are good and unique but Cucumber Sunrise was my go to. My Partner enjoyed Forty is the New Twenty and The Youthful and Bold Beritini. (I think he enjoyed the 2nd one best)
The food was pretty good (Lido, Pizza Pirate-24 hour Pizza, Chopsticks-hello Lo Mein and Fried Rice!) and Deli were our go-tos. Shout out to the Tuna Sandwich at the Deli! (Get it toasted!) We ate at the Lido for all of our meals except the second Elegant Night where we ate at the Main Dining Room. (Crab Cake, Stuffed Mushrooms, Mushroom pasta, Teriyaki Salmon and Filet Mignon were SOOO SOO good!)
Sushi on board is extra but we had it about 2-3x during our sailing- we thoroughly enjoyed it! (They close at 11pm- be sure to order well before then, we got denied at 10:45p.)
We went to the Punchliner just once and wished we went more but just got caught up during the other show times.
Side note: We were only interested in the Rated R showings only since we do enjoy adult humor and such but Manny Oliveira was just crude and not very funny. 90% of his stand up was picking at audience members, making fun of their ethnicities and super disrespectful towards husbands/wives with jokes involving taking the wives back to his cabin.
We had actually read reviews about him prior to our sailing but wanted to see for ourselves how bad it was and---it was bad. I'm not sure how Carnival has kept him around for so long to be honest.
Red Frog was our planned place to be prior to our sailing but only ended up going once during Karaoke. Music there overall was more towards 40s/50s/60s crowd. It was usually very busy at night and the crowd seemed to really enjoy it. The younger crowd seemed to be there more so for the games available.
The only thing I did miss from past ships is the Dive-In Movies at the Pool and more entertainment (shows, games at the lido deck and such)
There's NO big screen at the pool. They had 2 movie nights on our sailing and they were held at the theatre. We didn't join.
Staff weren't overly nice like on some other ships I've been on but they weren't rude and were very pleasant. We actually had one of our phones drop in water and were giving some dry rice to place it in to dry out. (side note: didn't work and had to get a new phone.)
Our Cabin Steward was just ok. We didn't meet him until the second night for some reason and we never had beach towels in our room (others did) and we had to check them out ourselves each time. Cabin wasn't tidy when we first got on and still had traces of the passengers before us. Our bed was made everyday and trash was taken out and that's about it. I don't know if I've been spoiled in the past but I've had my clothes folded and placed on the vanity or chair before, but whatever mess we made, we came back to. I didn't mind, just an observation.
Serenity Area had nice cabana-type beds that we got to use when we stayed on the ship during our Belize port. It was packed all the other days, as expected. Coconut Martini was a great try!
I heard the Mega Deck party was cancelled due to rain but "Serenity Nights" continued as the Serenity bar is covered.
Frankenstein Nightclub had Top 40/80s/90s/Motown theme nights.
Disembarking was not perfect but better for us than it was for those who weren't Diamond/Platinum/FTTF.
As FTTF holders, we could choose to disembark at 6:15am or 7:30am, we chose 6:15am. Sat in the dining room until 7:15am (not ideal but stuff happens, we were patient. They had coffee, juice, pastries for us waiting so that was nice.) We were in the Uber by 7:41am, and on our way to Orlando by 8:00am.(Got home at 9:30am)
I was a part of a Facebook Group for my sailing and while I was almost home around 8:30/9am, some were still on board waiting to get off. I'm not sure what held them up but I'm glad that wasn't the case for us.
FTTF is the way to go! I will purchase from now on until I reach Platinum.
Cozumel- The initial plan was Mr. Sanchos but were too late to make reservations (book early!) so we went to Paradise Beach instead. Met a couple (Hi Chris and Charlotte!) and rode a taxi there and back with them. $15 for the 4 of us each way.
$3 admission includes access to the beach, pool, chairs and umbrella.
Belize- stayed on the ship
Roatan/Mahogany Bay, Honduras- Little French Key! Favorite excursion. "Swam (see: held in water for a few moments while pictures were taken) with a Jaguar, Esther.
Grand Cayman- RAIN. Got off the ship to get souvenirs and got back on. (Priority Tender boarding TO the port with FTTF)
Thanks for sticking it out and hope you've enjoyed my review. Remember: Vacation is what you make it! Have fun!!
Advice: One life boat covers 3 cabins, pick the middle cabin for best view. 5174 is not in the middle and has the front of the lifeboat in the front that is has a higher "top" than the rest. see pic
First time sailing out of Tampa. Check in bags on first floor with porters, then go to second floor to go through security and check in desk. Super quick.
Beautiful clear water. Animal sanctuary. $8 rum runner. Swam with Jaguar.View All 78 Little French Key Reviews