October 4, 2010
We were very excited about the cruise and our destination, Mexico. We were looking forward to lively clubs, all you can eat quality food, quality seafood, quiet adult time, culture, tacos in mexico and courteous staff.
We boarded early, had a buffet lunch with all of our luggage in tow because the rooms do not open until 1:30... Tiffany's looked very nice, though the stained glass is fake and falling apart. I skipped to salad, and found that the salad area had hardly any variety. I saw my husband got a burger and went to find them... I got a burger and was in the bathroom within 20 minutes from the fat in the burger. There was no fresh seafood on the buffets like we thought there would be, usually strange concoctions that I tried and never liked. My husband and I are foodies but we are not exactly picky either. If we are going to eat, we want it to be decent quality... the buffet food to me was horrible. Even the desserts. They have free soft serve but it was the icy kind of stuff, not creamy. The only time we were pleased with the food is if we went to the dining room we were assigned. The attitude of the wait staff during the day was very curt and off-putting. But in the evenings we were assigned to a table, waiter and server that were top class and the food was wonderful. Go out of your comfort zone in the dining room. But don't even bother with the buffet food... horrible.
The novelty of the boat wore off quickly. Its nice in the mornings or late late evenings when most are in bed or at dinner, but otherwise parents let their kids run around screaming and bumping in to people, so they got a vacation from them but they terrorized other people... apparently there is a fall break now that attributed to there being so many children on board... we find children unpleasant because their parents do not make them behave... on a cruise ship, this is multiplied 100 times. So we did not get away from screaming kids like we had hoped. And unless you like LAME shows, tacky American culture, gambling and drinking, there is nothing to do on the ship. We thought there would be more of a night life on board and more to do than just sun bath (burn and get cancer) and swim in a pool that is fool of screaming children. The only safe place we found was the Serenity deck which was adult only; no bar or live music, just two hot tubs and a bunch of lounge chairs. This was on the back of the boat, so it was very small. We enjoyed the hot tubs at night while everyone else was at dinner. But then that made us sleepy and after seeing the lineup for "entertainment" we just went back to our room and watched on of the daily movies.
We thought there would be more culture on the ship, but instead we got American cover bands as music, burgers and fries... the closest you will get to culture is talking to the crew; I think only four or five were American, the rest were from all over the world, but they are working 70 hour weeks and waiting on you hand and foot with a master servant kind of relationship... we felt very distant from them which we are not used to and it made us feel like total heels. My husband and I are very humble down to earth people, so being made to feel like we were not on the same level as the crew was very demoralizing for us. Especially since they were the only variety in culture on the ship, which is what we were looking forward to.
There were very few people in our age group (25-30) on the ship, so the night life was not existent. We would walk by the clubs after dinner and they were dead. The only things going were the cover band, the lame shows in the Mikado and Cole Porter lounge, and the casino... we had already spent enough money on the cruise itself, we did not have money to gamble.
The highlight was Mexico. Skip Cozumel, overrated. The beaches are not as nice and too expensive. Carnival charged us $40 per ticket to go to Playa del Mia and when we got there, they did have the "free" open bar (we just paid $40!) but nothing else was available that was detailed with the excursion, no water sports, nothing. Apparently a storm came close by and murkied things up and made it so they had to put all the water sports equipment up. So we paid $40 to fight with people on the beach over lounge chairs in the shade (no umbrellas it was too windy)... very disappointed. My husband literally tried to drink $40 worth from the bar to compensate for our loss. So skip Cozumel... even if the water sports are available... save your money for Calica instead. Prettier beaches and water and they do not heckle you as much in the shops and streets but you still get good deals. We went to Playa del Carmen and paid $20 for two lounge chairs with a huge corona umbrella and that was for as long as we wanted to be there. Beautiful sand and water, and we were treated to a Mexican man and his music. He was not walking arounf with an entire mariachi band; just himself, dressed in a long sleeve flannel shirt, dark blue jeans and black tennis shoes and his guitar. No tacky Mexican production or costume. Very genuine and the music was beautiful. He sang Coo Coo Roo Koo Coo for us and had we have been rich I would have given him a $100 tip. It was special and beautiful. Then we walked to the man a few feet behind us and ordered tacos from a restaurant a few feet from the beach. They were wonderful! Real tacos, not gringo tacos. And fresh guacamole that tasted like mine. And black refried beans. We were tickled with our trip to Calica. If we can ever go back I will find that man and give him a bigger tip, no song required. But we will not go via cruise ship.
We got back on the boat and left the culture. We got a view jems that we would not have gotten if we had not have gone, like the man singning for us on video and we got to see the sun set over the water from the dining room on the boat. But if we ever go back to Mexico, we will stay there, not on a boat. You can still do it and be safe; just don't go to Tijuana.
For the money we spent to have a room and food on the boat, we could have stayed home and done things we enjoyed and taken in still more culture. And we could have made real tacos at home. We could have had a shopping spree and still had a lot of money left over. We could have played pool, gone to wine tastings, bought our own liquor and drank more (we couldn't afford to drink on the boat; imagine 5 full days of ordering drinks at a bar...). We could have gone to a concert, a 5 star restaurant for the first time... We really regret going, there are so many better things we could have spent the money on and we would have enjoyed oursleves more. Instead we were trapped on an out dated boat with lots of children and lots of 70-80+ people, with nothing that entertained us... bored to tears.
Let me put it this way. If you like variety, spice, culture, freedom, good food, good music, dancing, and intellectual stimulation, a carnival cruise may not be for you.