This was our ( husband & I) first cruise. We are hooked and ready to go again.
We arrived in New Orleans on Friday. We were with another couple. We had booked rooms through Priceline for the Marriott hotel on Canal St. We got a really good price on the rooms, $55. a night, but the parking was $28. a night so that did bring the price of the room up. The hotel was very nice and in a convenient location. We took in some of the sights of NO on Friday and Saturday.
We arrived at the dock between 11:00 and 11:30 Sunday morning. It was already getting busy. We had to wait in line a while to park our car. We checked our baggage and waited in line to embark. It really didn't take too long considering how many people were already there waiting to get on the ship. We were on by about 12:30.
The ship is beautiful. The lobby where you enter is very nice with all the wood, glass, baby grand, staircase, etc. It makes a good first impression. We found the Lido deck and got something to eat and checked out the ship. Our rooms were ready when we went to find them about 1:30. We had booked guaranteed inside 4F and our room was on the Empress deck 7, toward the back of the ship. It was very convenient. We could get on the elevators by our room, go 2 floors up and be right by the pools and the buffet. A few floors down and we got off right at the entrance to the Monet dining room, which we were assigned to.
Our first 2 days at sea were spent just relaxing. There is a lot of chair saving which Carnival needs to do something about, but we just went up on the higher decks and got a chair. We didn't need to be by the pool. A couple of days at sea, we got up at 5:30AM. Ordered room service the night before and had coffee delivered. I wanted to walk my usual 2 miles and my husband wanted to see the sun rise. The walking - jogging track is on one of the top decks and it is beautiful up there early in the morning. When my phone rang the first morning at 5:30 with my wake-up call, I thought "what was I thinking," but after I got out on deck I was glad I did. Hardly anyone is up and it is quiet. You practically have the whole ship to yourself. We ate almost every meal in the dining room. We didn't care for the food at the buffet that much. It's like every cheap "all you can eat for $6.99" place around. We really enjoyed the food in the dining room. Since our children our grown and I still work, I have a lot of clothes and jewelry and enjoy dressing up. It was fun for us. Our waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful. They were very professional. They took wonderful care of us. We had a table for 4 with the other couple we were with. I think I would have enjoyed a big table so we could have socialized and met with others. If you are in the Monet dining room and have the good fortune of having Sorin and Diana as your waiters (both from Romania) tell them "Hi" from the Grayums.
We enjoyed both of the Las Vegas shows. The singers and dancers were very good and the costumes were lovely. We spent several evenings at the Karaoke bar. It was a lot of fun. There was a band in one of the bars that was very good. They were from the Phillipines. I can't recall the name of the band. Something with "Blood" in the title, I think. Saw one comediene who was funny. There was a lot more I wanted to do, but ran out of time.
In Jamaica, we took the Fiesta party boat tour. We went snorkeling, drank all the rum drinks we wanted. They dropped us off at Margeritaville. It was supposed to be for 20 minutes, but we weren't ready to leave so they picked us up about 3 or 4 hours later when they made their second tour of the day and took us back to the ship.
Grand Cayman: We took a taxi to a public beach for a while.
Cozumel: We rented a jeep. Went to a beach called Mr. Sanchos and drove around the island. The other side of the island is totally different. Very beautiful. I was a little nervous driving there as the drivers all drive crazy. I was relieved when we took the jeep back in one piece. We did a little shopping and returned to the ship. I wanted to go to Carlos and Charlies, but we didn't make it there.
I also did some shopping on the ship. I was surprised at how reasonably priced things were.
I thought our room was nice and had plenty of storage. The bed was a little uncomfortable, but I like a soft bed. Our room steward, Gregorio, also did an excellent job. Our room was always spotless, all the clean towels, beach towels, ice. Everthing was perfect. Between our room steward, our waiter and assistant waiter, and our wine steward (I"m sorry I can't remember his name) They all made our cruise a very special experience. All the personnel on the ship were friendly and did a good job of taking care of us. I really hated for the week to be over.
We had bad news. The other couple we were with got an emergency phone call to tell them her father had passed away. Even though we were driving home, I went down to the pursers desk and asked if there was anyway we could get off early Sunday morning so we could get an early start home due to the circumstances and they said "No problem". They gave us VIP tags and we were the first group off the ship. Trish wanted to get home as soon as possible because of her father.
I loved the Cruise and can't wait to go again. There was things I didn't have time to do. I think my whole family, 3 children and spouses and 8 grandchildren are going to plan a family cruise before long. My grandchildren range in age from 3 years to 18 years. It should be a blast.