by Larry Young (AKA Sandman)
May 4, 2003
My wife and I drove down to Florida from South Carolina. We decided to stay overnight at the Best Western in Brooksville, Fla. The next morning we drove to Tampa to the Channelside 2 Port.
We arrived there around 10:30 a.m. We could not board the ship until 11:30. We are notoriously early!! Better early than late! Embarkation process was approximately 1 hour and was very smooth and uneventful.
Our rooms were not prepared for us when we boarded, so of course we headed for food! We headed for the Lido deck. We decided to get something simple to start with. Just burgers and fries. Nothing fancy but very tasty. Our rooms were available at 1:30. After the drive and nourishment we were ready for a nap! We took a little snooze.
We had the early (5:15) seating for dinner in the Carnival dining room. We met our waiter, Leonardo, as soon as we were seated. He hailed from the Philipines. His assistant was Vera. She hailed from South Africa. They were wonderful! They are such an asset to the cruise line. We really enjoyed their service. Our food was brought to us promptly and was perfect. The temp was just right and cooked to our expectations. We could find no fault in the food or service at all. Our dinner mates Sam and Veronica from Detroit, Wayne and Lynn from Santa Barbara were a pleasure to dine with.
We ate breakfast every morning on the Lido deck. To us, we had the best variety here. My wife loved the fresh fruits and croissants for breakfast. Yum! To our surprise, many people ate ice cream and pizza for breakfast. We never noticed a dirty table or any dirty dishes left around. It was as if they had an "eye in the sky" looking for dirty objects!!
Our room steward Orlando and his assistant kept our room immaculate. We even "caught" them a few times cleaning the bathrooms and disinfecting everything. What a comfort to know that we were in such a clean room. Especially with all of these scares about viruses now.
One of the places we visited included Grand Cayman Islands. My wife is a tad bit disabled right now due to a knee injury. She was unable to disembark on Tenders. I went to Sting Ray City alone. It was an amazing experience. One I wish I could have shared with her. Captain Marvin's Sting Ray City is awesome. I booked this personally. I would recommend it highly! What a thrill!! The Captain and crew were top notch. This was a once in a lifetime experience.
We could not go to Costa Maya. The wind was blowing 35 miles an hour and the seas were turbulent with 16 foot seas. What a bummer! I really wanted to experience this port. My wife would have been able to go also because of the foot pier. The ship rerouted to Cozumel. We had to dock at a different pier because of other ships arriving earlier. We arrived their around 3:15 p.m.
We docked and we shopped to our hearts content! We had to be back at 5:15 to eat dinner so we didn't shop long. One thing we found interesting in Cozumel was the free shots of Tequila. Every store was trying to get you to come in so the offered Tequila shots as an incentive. BEWARE!! This was a woman's shopping paradise. My wife was thrilled to find such great prices. Bartering was a hoot! These people expect you to barter. Don't be shy about it. NEVER pay full price! Chankanaab Park was great.
We visited Balize. The distance on Tenders was around 6 1/2 to 7 miles. Allow at least 45 minutes each way. I did not take a tour at this port. I only shopped and browsed around alone. My wife was unable to go with me into this port due to the Tenders. Balize is a very poor country. The shopping areas did not belie this fact. The hour time difference from ship's time and port time created havoc for those who did partake of the tours. Their were alot of latecomers!!
Much too soon we realized our journey was coming to an end. We had seen some fabulous things and had some wonderful experiences. We met some wonderful people from all over the world. Most of the people we met were not "virgin" cruisers. Part of the cruise experience is meeting others.
We were a 2 hours late coming back into port in Tampa. Debarkation process was appr. 1 1/2 hour process. No biggie!
We recommend this cruise to any and all.