We returned today from our New Year's Eve cruise to the Western Carribean. We have mixed emotions about this cruise. Our port of embarkation was New Orleans. The staff at this port was very good. We arrived at the port at 11:30 A.M. for a 12:30 P.M. embaration. There was already line. Our wait was about 20 minutes to check in and we promptly boarded at 12:30. This was the last thing that Carnival seemed to be on time for. We were delayed leaving the port by approximately 2 hours, due to flight delays from other passengers. The overall feeling of my family and myself is that Carnival does a good job; but for our next cruise, we will probably try a different cruise line.
FUN AT SEA
Our first 2 days were billed as "Fun at Sea". While we know Carnival does not control the weather, the seas were quite rough with the shops selling out of SeaBand bracelets. The weather was also very cool. This limited the amount of time you felt like spending on the deck. Carnival tried to compensate by increasing the amount of indoor activities. (Bingo, game shows, scavenger hunts, etc.)
We arrived in Jamaica early Wednesday morning to rain.() Our excursion was the Rosehall Great House, home of the infamous Annie Palmer the White Witch. This excursion was great the tour very entertaining especially after the the free sample of the "Witches Brew". After this we got 30 minutes to shop at the tourist district. We bought some Blue Mountain Coffee. We then moved a straw market the deals were very good here. We bought several items and paid the price we wanted.
The highlight of our ports was Grand Caymen. We went to seven mile beach and soaked up some of the rarest thing on the cruise. The Sun. We enjoyed lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (we carried our 16 year old daughter, so this was a mandatory stop). We also walked the streets, this is the PLACE FOR ME. I may sell my house and move here permantly.()
The one drag was the lines for the tenders to and from the dock and the short time in port 7 hours.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN/COZUMEL
This was also a beautiful day! We had originally signed up for the Beach/Cancun excursion but at the recommendation of the Cruise Director we changed to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. I enjoyed this but the ride is quite long and there were some hidden cost, Video Camera Tax and Trolly Cost. Our tour guide "Nacho" was very entertaining but also push alot of items for sale at the ruins. After this tour we had to take a 45 minute Tender ride from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel. When we got to Cozumel it was a wonderful place! The problem was we only had about an hour before we were due back to the ship.
We recommend that you use the ship excursions in Jamaica but for the other two ports, go it alone. Except for maybe Sting Ray City, our dinner partners did this and seemed to really enjoy it.
The ship is in very good shape only showing some wear in so public areas, Our cabin U-89 was fantastic with a private balcony. This was great for morning coffee and wonderful sunsets without having to go too far.
The Cruise Director
Brett Alan was funny and very entertaining, he puts on a decent Magic Show. The other social staff were also very funny "Shiney", The assistant cruise director does alot.
Our Cabin Steward
"Iskandar" was absolutely fantastic providing perfect service with a smile and the room was always clean. He also left us a suprise each night, I'll post pictures of these.
Our Waiter, "Sewand" was also very professional and made the dinner presentations something to look forward to.
Our assistant waiter "Ketut" was always on the spot and left you wanting nothing.
The food was pobably the biggest disapointment, The quality and selection varied from day to day in the main dining room and the Lido deck restuarant had decent food but the service was lacking.
Carnival does a good job, we are satisfied but not estatic about our vacation partly due to the weather but also our choices for the shore excursions were not the best.