by Jim Stinson
October 25, 2003
This review is for all those people who go "cheap." We didn't have a balcony, suite, or even window. We had an inside cabin on the first deck (Riviera Deck). We did this because it was inexpensive and the only cabins left on the ship.
This is my Seventh Cruise and the first on Carnival. After reading the reviews I was, to say the least, apprehensive. The ship is beautiful but still not quite as elegant as RCCL or Princess.
CABIN: I was in Cabin 1465, Riviera Deck, as far aft as you can go. This was the only real negative of the entire cruise. It is located next to the aft workspace and above the propellers. To be perfectly honest we booked late, cheap, and had a choice of aft or forward and decided that the ride would be better in the stern than bow. I believe that to be true, but I'll take a rougher ride next time over the noise level. It was really only bad on the first and last nights when we hit heavier seas and were traveling faster. The noise and vibration was very high. I heard that on the next deck up that they experienced the same problem. The most amazing thing is that our friends only 3 cabins farther forward experienced a significantly quieter ride, but I would not book aft of the aft elevator lobby. I suspect that since our cabin wall was against an aft work area we had a much higher noise level. Anyway, the cabin itself was nice. Large and decent storage. Steward was exceptional. We didn't experience any unusual odors, however, as other reviews have pointed out, around the midships, approximately cabin 1400 was a constant lingering of sewer odor. Don't know if it was in the cabins, but I don't know if I would take the chance.
DINING: Outstanding food and service. Service was as good as RCCL or Princess. I really enjoyed the food (too much) in the Dining Room. Buffet was ok. Not as good as Princess but still quite good. Loved the Pizza and the nightly Sushi Bar. All-in-all a great experience. Was not as impressed with the Supper Club as most were. I had great service and the food was great, but I also had that in the main dining room. Don't think I will pay the up charge again.
ENTERTAINMENT: Typical for a cruise ship. Great comedian, really liked the cruise director. Song and dance numbers were good. I am not a great judge of shipboard entertainment.
PORTS OF CALL: What can you say? Key West is always fun. Prices in Cozumel have really gone up and the good deals have disappeared. Too many cruise ships now. But still fun to wander and drink or sightsee. We did a snorkeling tour in Belize and it was wonderful. Went to Shark-Ray Alley. The reefs are gorgeous and lunch in San Pedro was great. Our guides were wonderful and we all really had a great time. Progresso is a poor, undeveloped town. We went into town, wandered around for about 30 minutes then sat on the beach under grass canopies and drank beer and talked. It was beautiful looking out on the water and we found it very relaxing. Some friends took a cab to Merida. It cost $50 for 4 and they spent time shopping. The cab driver stayed with them the whole time and they really felt it was an enjoyable time.
OVERALL: A great cruise. Except the cabin location (and I knew that would be the case), I really enjoyed the ship. It is a little "cut-up" and hard to get around, and it does seem to have a lingering smoking odor around. I can live with that. I just wish all you smokers would be a little more considerate and try not smoking in halls and lobbies. I would also like to see more no-smoking lounges. But again, it was fun. Although I am a loyal RCCL cruiser, I will not hesitate to cruise on Carnival. In fact I would like to try the Paradise since it is non-smoking. But I will do all I can to avoid the aft cabins lower deck, and again try to avoid the cabins from around 1389 through 1400 or so area. Other than that, have reasonable expectations and I think you will thoroughly enjoy the cruise.