November 27, 2008
This was absolutely the best family vacation we have been on including Disney World. Just about everything above should have been a 100+ but the directions said that almost no one gets a 100. Embarkation was a breeze. We got there early and got on the ship at 11:30 or maybe earlier. Went to our cabin and changed into our swimsuits. The restaurant was open as was the grill and the pizza bar. Pools open and bars were open. So get there early and you will have the ship to yourself for several hours.
All the food from the formal dining room to the Suns and Sea to the grills and sushi bars was out of this world. All the soft serve ice cream you could can eat. The pizza bar is open 24 hrs but there's usually a grill or something else open as well. Albe our main dining room waiter was the best. The first night my daughter asked for chocolate milk and he had it ready and waiting the rest of the cruise. He served it in her wine glass calling her a princess. Boy she loved that. Wherever we were, whenever we were, and whatever we asked for it was gotten for us right away. I asked a busboy for chocolate milk in the Sun & Sea restaurant and he brought me two.
We ordered room service all the time. It was at our door in 10 minutes or less. Faster than I could go get it myself. They have a huge variety of room service food. We usually ordered coffee and desert or coffee and breakfast and sat on our balcony and watched the world go by. By all means go for the balcony room. It is worth the extra. It really was private. We only heard folks on their balconies once or twice. The ship is ultra quiet and we seldom felt it move except for when it got real windy one night, but not enough to even come close to making us sick. Our room steward Ducan was great. He always cleaned the room immaculately and of course made the greatest towel creations.
Every time we passed a crewman they spoke to us no matter where we were. They were constantly cleaning and shining the rails and the glass. Carnival has really done a great job and has a great product. We have sailed RC and I thought Carnival was for the younger crowd but they have a great family product and really cater more to families. They had some great children's programs. We did not do it because we spent our time as a family.
Cozumel: You have to try snorkeling. The water is crystal clear and very interesting. Go to Chakanab Park. A $10.00 taxi fare for 4. The park has an admission price but if you are doing the dolphin swim the admission is paid for. DO THE DOLPHIN swim. Do it at Chakanab. It will be a thrill of a lifetime. I think my wife enjoyed it more than the kids. We did the dolphin swim, the middle priced one. It included numerous times touching the dolphin. You get to ride on its belly while holding its fins and it pushes you on a boogie board. Then you will spend some time just goofing around with it. Book it on the Internet. You will save a ton if you do it yourself rather than going through the cruise line. There is nothing to it. If you just walk up to the gate it is $100.00. We booked on the net and it was 330.00 for all four, which includes park admission. I think if you went through the cruise line it was $160.00 per person. And if you do it yourself you will be in a smaller group, so you will get more time with the dolphin. 12 is the usual group size. We had us 4 and one other. We went to the dolphin swim as soon as the boat docked so go early before the other folks get there and crowd the swim.
We then rented snorkel gear at the local beach. There are several shops that are all supposed to have price controls and rent for the same price but go to the 3rd shop from the dolphin area and go to the counter and bargain with the guys. We got ours for less than half price. If they do not want to bargain go to the next but do it quietly as they are more apt to bargain if the other vendor does not hear them.
Do the self disembarkation. we were off the ship, through customs and in a taxi in 5 minutes, no joke. As fast as we could walk with our suitcases and kids we were off the ship. When they called the first zone, GO because they want to get everyone off the ship as fast as possible to get it ready for the next group.
Carnival did a great job and we had the vacation of a lifetime. Now is the time to go. They are making some great deals right now with the economy down. We looked into the exact cruise package 1.5 years ago and it would have cost us $4,000. We got this cruise AND air for $3,000. They upgraded us from a window room to a balcony before we left for nothing AND put $230 on our sail and sea card. That's money!! Get the balcony, get everywhere early to avoid the crowds, book all shore excursions before you leave on your own and have a ball. We did!!