June 22, 2003
We arrived at the Port of Tampa at 11 am and were on the ship by 11:30 am. We went to the Brasserie for lunch and then stopped by our cabin #R36 (outside stateroom) to drop off our carry-on luggage. We got to the cabin and it was already clean and ready. We met our cabin steward Jose, who was truly unbelievable. Our luggage arrived at the cabin by 3:00 pm. I cannot stress how easy the embarkation process was.
Ship décor and cleanliness:
The atrium was small and filled with neon lights..somewhat gaudy. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the other public areas of the ship. I could not find the filth that other reviewers have spoken of. The ship was spotless. As soon as passengers would get up from a table in the Brasserie, they would jump over and clean it up. There were busy crewmembers everywhere keeping the ship tidy.
Food and Beverages:
This is where I am utterly disappointed in the cruise. I speak for myself, as well as my entire family.BLAND! I only have my experience on RCCL Monarch of the Seas to compare this to, but what a difference! The Brasserie served the same breakfast items every morning.we were so sick of it by the end of the cruise. In the dining room there were not great entrees to choose from and I often walked away from the table dissatisfied. The 24-hour pizza parlor, on the other hand, served the best pizza. This is what my family survived on all week. Our waiters expressed to us that Carnival has really cut a lot of money out of the food budget.to the point that they find it difficult to recommend anything on the menu. The only dessert I recommend is the chocolate éclair cake.delicious.
We purchased some drink coupons prior to our cruise and they worked out great. I purchased 4 books for my husband and I. We used them all over the ship and never had a problem: lounges, poolside, and at dinner. I got the souvenir glass the first day and used the coupons to get refills of the daily special in the glass all week. My children drank the free drinks all week, but at the show nightly we would allow them the get a smoothie $3.50 or Shirley temple $1.50.
Our tablemates: Vic, Angie, Natasha, and Zach were truly the delight of our dining experience!
Grand Cayman - Captain Sterlin's Sting Ray Tour - wonderful time.much better than the ship's excursion.we could see them on the other side of the sand bar.very crowded.
Costa Maya - Basically it has a visitor's complex with a salt-water pool that has a volleyball net and a freshwater pool.that looked very nice. My husband and I walked over and did a little haggling with the local merchants, but didn't do any excursions. Our tablemates did the Maya ruins tour with the ship and loved it.
Cozumel - we did not have a scheduled tour planned.we were just going to go to a beach. However, as soon as we arrived in Cozumel, the skies opened up and let out rain like I've never seen in my life. So we did some souvenir buying at the pier shops and brought our children back to the ship. We headed back out to try and make it to Carlos and Charlie's but it was raining to hard. Instead we went to Fat Tuesdays right at the end of the pier. We had the best time. It is a crazy place with swings and hammocks, instead of chairs, that hang from the ceiling of this open-air, straw roof bar. We sat there for a while and watched the rain outside.
Belize - Reggie's Cave tubing. Had a blast! I highly recommend it over the ship's cave tubing tour. We were a group of 16, unlike the ship's tour with 100s. The ship's tour bus actually got stuck on the dirt road in the mud that lead you into the jungle. We went right around it in Reggie's van, while they sat there waiting for another bus to come and transfer passengers. He gives you a lot of the background of Belize while on the tour. It was very education for my children, as well as, a lot of fun!
Camp Carnival - Now this is where I think Carnival beats RCCL. The councilors were wonderful. My son Cody, age 7, went 4 times over the 7 days. Usually in the afternoon when he was tired of the sun and the pools, he would ask to go over. He loved it and the councilors seemed to love their jobs.
Entertainment - Very good. The only show I didn't see was the Broadway style show that the cruise ship performs. My older son and tablemates went and said it wasn't great.
Debarkation - Well, we were on the Riviera deck (brown luggage tags) and were the last passengers called off the ship. It really didn't take long though. I love to watch people and we just did a lot of that while waiting to leave. Unfortunately people began pulling out cigarettes and smoking in the areas designated for passengers to wait in. As a result, my family moved out of the area designated for us to the area close the exit. I only found the casino to be very smoky while the ship was at sea.
I hope you find my review helpful and if I've left something out feel free to e-mail me any questions at email@example.com. I took seven rolls of film so I can send you some pictures also.