by Lynne Davies
August 28, 2004
First let me start by saying that I have spent a considerable amount of time prior to this cruise researching this itinerary, and I picked up lots of tips, so I hope you find this review informative and helpful.
We went out of Port Canaveral, stayed at the Raddison at the Port 2 nights prior to the cruise. If you rent a car, it is cheaper than purchasing the Carnival shuttle from Orlando and if you rent with Budget, you can walk to it from the Raddison Hotel. Drop it off the morning of the cruise and walk back to the hotel. They have a complimentary shuttle to the cruise ship.
We had a balcony guarantee and did not get an upgrade, but did get a good room on the Upper Deck, room 6232. Room had plenty of room. We travelled with our 16 year old son and our 19 year old daughter.
The ships itinerary went to Belize, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Progresso. Here is the port information.
I never book any tours through the cruise ship, way too expensive and if you do some research, you can save a bundle. The cave tubing was the main tour in Belize. We booked before we left with Action Belize. I had gone to a travel show in Toronto and picked up the Belize tourism book. Action Belize was in the book, so I went to their web site. They had the exact same cruise that Carnival was offering but it was $49 per person, not $89. The good thing about this was, that we were in a group of 8, not 100 so we had a personal tour. It took so long for the Carnival tour to get their shoes, tubes, wait for everyone, we were finished before they got started and we had a great tour guide named Roberto. After the tour we went for a nice Mexican lunch, cost $5 and $1 per beer. We had enough time to do some shopping and then back on the ship. Not a lot to buy in Belize, they have some nice wood carvings, but that's about it. Here is the contact name for Action Belize email@example.com.
There are a lot of nice shops right at the pier in Costa Maya. Just outside the main entrance you can rent a golf cart and drive into the town. We did this and had a blast. The rental was only $12 per hour, and we took it for 3 hours. We went through the main town and pulled in on the beach where we were served and we able to use their chairs and umbrellas, as long as we purchased food/beverages from them. The same beach was used by Carnival for $89 all inclusive. Imagine if 4 of you booked the all inclusive beach break tour , which would be almost $400 U.S. for 4 of you. We paid $36 for the golf cart and the beers were only $1 each. We didn't even spend $70 for the 4 of us for the entire day. Do these tours yourself.
We visited Cozumel twice, because Hurricaine Francis was hitting the U.S. and we were suppose to be back in Port Canaveral on the Saturday but we didn't get back until the Tuesday, so we ended up going to Cozumel twice.
The first time, you can rent a car right at the port $40 per day and you can drive the entire island, stopping where you want. Beaches all over the place, ruins, restaurants etc. Take a few hours and enjoy the entire island. Four of you can fit in one car for $40. Again, Carnival had tours of the island for $149 each.
When we went back, we went to Playa Mia and paid the all inclusive rate. It was $35 and you could eat and drink free all day. The beaches are all public. This beach has horse back riding and done buggies available for $20 each. Carnival wanted $89 to horse back ride. Our kids went riding and had a blast. You can also go to Mr. Sanches or Sanfranciso Beach. You can use their facilities, as long as you purchase food/beverages from them.
On each stop, we purchased beer and brought it back on the ship and put it in our fridge in the room. They will ask you to check your liquor when you come back on ship, but just go straight to the elevator and bypass the lady who checks the liquor in, we were not stopped once. This will save a lot on your liquor bill.
This is a very poor village and not much to do. They have the longest pier and you are bussed from the cruise ship. The best shopping is here, great prices and nice items. There is a market right outside where you are dropped off. You can catch the town double decker bus here for $2 and see the town of Progress. Then you can walk to Corona Beach where you can use the facilities. There is a 711 that sells coolers, beer and pop very cheap. I brought back litre bottles of pop for the kids to save on the $3 per glass pop charge on the ship. We spent the day on the beach.
One thing you should do at every port, bring some fruit from the morning buffet and some packets of cereal. You always run into children, dogs or cats that are hungry. I have some boxed cereal to an old lady on the beach, an apple and a bottle of pepsi, and she cried and blessed me for 10 minutes. They are very poor. The dogs are so skinny. We ended up buying 4 packets of hot dogs and fed the dogs on the beach. It makes you feel so good to hand over an apple or a pastry from the ship. They are so thankful for anything they get.
Our cruise director, John from England was amazing. He made our cruise. He did a wonderful job keeping us informed of the hurricaine. It was nice to get an extra 4 days for nothing. When we were going back to Port Canaveral, we were told that the port was damaged and that we had to go to Miami. Carnival looked after everyone arranging buses back to Orlando airport and Port Canaveral at their cost. They didn't have to do this, as it was not their fault a hurricaine came through.
The entertainment was good. The two broadway shows were excellent and the late night comedians were hilarious.
The casino didn't pay out much at all. I put in $20 and didn't even get a cherry most nights, but others were winning, just the luck of the draw I guess.
The food was amazing. You can order 2 entrees if you want. When you see lobster and steak and you can't decide, order both. The portions are small enough that you won't look like pig.
We never had to wait for chairs outside, always plenty available. Take the time to eat your breakfast and lunch in the dining room as the food is so much nicer than the buffet. At night near the pizza station, they do steak and onion buns and they are good. There is a deli that does great deli sandwiches also. Room service is free, menu listed in the room, so it's nice to order a pot of tea or coffee and some sweets to your room.
We had the late sitting at 8:30 and liked that. The early seating at 6:00 p.m. was too early. When you are in port, you would have to rush back to change in time for dinner. Plus, eating later will make you not want the buffet at 12:00, and that's a good thing.
There is laundry on the ship, take quarters with you, no change machines in the laundry room. Also, bring some laundry soap and fabric sheets with you, save you buying them on the ship.
We brought 2 large bottles of wine with us to dinner, and they did not charge us a corkage fee. It was on our table chilled every night for dinner and it lasted in 5 nights.
The cruise lines makes their money from you on tours and drinks. If you go on the internet and search your port and things to do, you can save a lot of money. Of course you shouldn't go off in the jungles along with a tour company you don't know, but if you read reviews that are safe and well known, you'll be fine. We've travelled all over Mexico and it is very safe and the people are very friendly.
You can offer a driver $50 for the day and he'll be your private taxi driver and wait for you. That's a lot cheaper than booking tours.
This is our 6th cruise, all with Carnival. I would book Carnival again., they really know how to look after you. I felt that the service was lacking a bit on this ship, but maybe they were getting fed up with the extended stay of everyone. In other cruises, the wait staff have made an effort to talk to the kids, but they didn't do this on this trip.
If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org