L.C. and Sunshine - First, let me tell you the trip was amazing...you will not be disappointed. You need to know a few things first though. We are from Canada. Our first day was very long. There are a lot of lines to go through and if you can just wrap your head around the fact that it is for your own safety, you'll be fine. We had to clear US customs and that was the longest wait of all. We were ready to leave our kids there! Then we had to wait for a bus to take us from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami...no big deal it was warm and we just snacked. Getting on to the ship was another line, but it went fairly fast and they knew what they were doing. Canadians...be prepared, you must hand over your passport at the beginning of the cruise and you get it back at the end. The real bummer is that you only get a US stamp on it and not for the islands you visit
If I had to complain about anything (and it's hard because the trip was perfect), I would complain that we were only at a table for 4 with our own children. We really wanted to sit with another family and they couldn't rearrange as the ship was completely sold out. No big deal.
They call these ships "fun ships" for a very good reason. You could be busy from sun up to sun down. On sea days you would be smart to reserve your lawn chair by the pool early. There are signs everywhere that say you can't do this, but everyone does. Put your towel, a shoe, a book whatever....no one will touch your stuff. There is calypso music going on most of the day. There is a huge water slide and 4 pools and 7 hot tubs. The hot tubs are not really hot, but very nice (freshwater). The pools are all salt water (take goggles as the salt bothered my eyes). There are activities (games shows, excursion reviews, bingo etc.) in the Rome Lounge. Very worthwhile. John Heald is the Cruise Director and Wee Jimmy is his side kick....amazing entertainers. You will howl! You can also just lay on a pool chair and read a book. You choose how busy to be or not to be.
Formal nights are formal. You are expected to dress up. My husband and son do not own a suit. They wore a nice pair of slacks and shirt with a collar. We saw everything from tuxes and sequend (sp??) dresses to similar to us. My daughter and I always wore a dress (2 formal nights). Shorts are not allowed in the dining room (with the exception of one night and it is the first night as your luggage may not get to your room for the first several hours). But don't worry, it does come. We tried to eat in the dining room (you will be assigned to London or Paris) as often as possible. We tried lobster, caviar, sushi, escargot, red snapper. The meals are exceptional!
We booked a cabin 4A (bottom price) and really hoped for an upgrade. We didn't get one and if we had to do it all over again we would do the same thing. You are not in your cabin hardly ever. We pushed the two beds together and had a king and the kids each had a bunk. The room was nice and dark and we slept like babies. Cabins are small...so don't be surprised. Our room steward was amazing! He was from Columbia and named Nelson. He treated us very well. At the end we gave him a separate tip as we didn't realize that most of the staff do not make a wage, they depend on tips and he certainly earned his. The beds were very comfortable and each guest got 2 pillows. Fresh sheets each day. Sheets turned down at night with chocolate on pillow. NOTE: Do not lose your Carnival pool towel .... you will be charged $22.00 per towel.
In Cozumel you have a long time in port. We took a cab and went to Forum shopping area downtown. My daughter had her hair braided. Take your own comb. Don't forget to barter. She got the price down from $40.00 to $20.00. My son bartered sunglasses from $28.00 to $8.00.
We then took a cab to a beach (taxi drivers are nuts....no seatbelts....120 km). The beach was wonderful. My son hunted and finally found a 2 foot iguana! Incredible.
Do not drink the water here!!! We took a large bottle of water from the ship (cost $3.00 US, but then we kept it and refilled it for each island). It would be smart to take refillable water bottles from home..I forgot to do this).
Didn't hear of anyone that took the Mayan Ruins tour, but I think it would be very nice.
Grand Cayman - this was amazing. There are over 900 banks on this island. We did the Coral Reef and Stingray tour. Absolutely amazing! We swam with the stingrays some of which were over 10 feet long. You get to hold them too. Take your cameras. Then we went snorkelling over a reef. It was a lovely 3 hour tour. Then we went to the beach and swam. This is the only island that you have to take a tender to shore (ferry).
Jamaica - they recommend that you take an organized tour here. We didn't but I wish we had. We wandered the streets and markets. It was a bit scary, but we enjoyed ourselves and the kids were educated. The Jamaicans really depend on tourism and really want to sell your their goods. Just be firm and say no. If you are interested, don't plan on escaping soon.
Things to bring...take lots of little baggies (sandwich baggies). You can either take food from the buffet to the islands for snacks...muffins, bagels etc. or use to fill with ice for a cooler. Take photo id (over and above your passport...a drivers licence). We took a copy of our passports and credit cards before we left...just in case. There are safes in your room as well - n/c. Take more than 1 bathing suit. Take lots of sunscreen. Take more than you would use at home. The sun is much stronger. We took 2 way radios but found that they didn't work well. Take an extra bag for your souvenirs. We were struggling at the end to fit them in. Take lots of $1.00 bills for tipping. Tipping is expected on the tarmac at the ship (the men that carry your bags to your cabin....well worth it...would be a shame if your luggage didn't make it to your room. $2.00 per bag is common. I took a backpack to carry towels, etc. on the islands. Take gravel....just in case. I only needed it one night (Thursday) as we were in rough seas leaving from Jamaica. Make sure you pack your bathing suit and atleast one outfit in your carry on. You will most likely not see your luggage for a while on the first day. When it comes it is left in the hallway outside your cabin. This was a bit of a surprise. We also made sure that we had all medication on us and not in our luggage.
The weather was perfect - 80's to 90's each day...not a drop of rain! We star gazed on night. The sun sets around 6:30 at night. Bring a sweatshirt to wear if you plan to go on deck in the evening.
The shows in the Rome Lounge are exceptional. Plan to take these in too.
Anyhow, I could go on and on. To sum it all up...we didn't want to come home. It was absolutely perfect.
If I can answer anything else, just let me know.