This was our second cruise having taken RC first on a cruise of Alaska. This prompted a number of comparisons most of which were not favorable to Carnival. To be fair, we thought the cruise was good - just not great. It could also be that we're just not Carnival-type people.
Parking at EZ Cruise and the shuttle to the ship were excellent. You can save a few dollars by paying online for the parking. Even though they tell you to show up at 12:30, we got there at 11:30 and there was already quite a line. Given that, the line moved consistently and we were on board by 12:30. We brought a bottle of wine in our carry on and were not hassled about it. Others who tried to bring on more than one bottle per person were not so lucky and had their excess bottles stored until their return.
We tried most of the dining venues available. After waiting in the buffet line for breakfast for a few mornings, we went for the seating in the Monet dining room. This proved to be a much better choice as the food was prepared to order and it was a less chaotic atmosphere. The buffet lines moved slowly and we thought the action stations on RC were much more functional. All the folks we were seated with were pleasant conversationalists. For lunch, we mostly did the buffet line on the Lido deck and found the food to be okay. We tried the fish and chips and found them to be wanting. They use tilapia but it is too soft to hold up to the fryer and picks up the taste of the oil. Cod would be a much better choice. The grill offered burgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders all of which were okay. The Mongolian wok seemed to offer the best lunch or mid-afternoon meal as it was made to order. The dinner highlight was the Point Steakhouse. Everything was made to perfection. The corkage fee for our wine was $14 which seemed a bargain as their markup appears to be 3.75X retail. Again the main ding room was clearly a better choice than the buffet even though they mostly had the same food choices. Our assigned dining companions never showed up so we ate along each evening. The afternoon tea was most pleasant and had a number of good choices for tea, finger sandwiches, and desserts. For the most part, we found their desserts to be uninspired. The best dessert on the ship was a piece of carrot cake we bought at the coffee bar for $2.25. It was as good as any carrot cake we've even had and was clearly large enough to feed at least two people.
We had cabin 8359. It's a good location near an elevator bank and the laundromat. We had problems with one of the balcony partitions breaking loose 3 different times. We also had a problem with the shower drain clogging and causing a mess. The magnetic stripe reader on the safe is very sensitive and the safe will not open or close if there are any fingerprints on the stripe of the card you use. The cabin was was good but the balcony was very small. We found the bed to be hard. The television was about worthless and we're still clueless as to why they show 3 different local DENVER channels on a ship out of Texas.
Security is fairly high here likely due to the presence of many drugs on the island. We did the highlights and shopping tour. The first craft market we went to had four buildings with a number of small stalls. However, the merchandise seemed to be almost the same throughout the market. We also got to see the homes of the rich which is striking because there is much evident poverty here. On to Margaritaville for a short visit next. It's loud and if you're in you're twenties it looks like a fun place to be - just not our style these days. There was one final shopping stop but things were either much more than we wanted to spend or were not worth buying. Back on board, we had some people tell use that they went to one of the beaches where they were guarded by soldiers with automatic weapons. Doesn't sound like a carefree visit to us.
Grand Cayman is just wonderful. We did the island tour the highlight of which was the visit to the turtle farm and where you get to hold a turtle if you want. There's plenty of upscale shopping in downtown Georgetown. The people here are friendly, courteous, and well educated. They take pride in themselves and their country and the police don't even carry guns - a Carribean Mayberry! Some people were bummed out because the stingray excursion was cancelled due to rough weather the night before. This was understandable as this is the one thing that many people were looking forward to. The bad part was that Carnival seemed unprepared and had insufficient staff present to take care of these people in a timely manner. This caused considerable delay in getting to the tenders. While the Princess and RC tender loading areas are well marked, Carnival's is not and we had to ask someone where to go to get back to the ship.
Cozumel is probably a great stop for scuba, snorkeling or seeing Mayan ruins. Other than that, it just seemed like a giant tourist trap. We didn't see anything here that we wanted to buy. The one good thing is that the taxis are well organized and relatively inexpensive.