Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers
Carnival Cruise Lines

by Peachhaze
Western Caribbean
August 24, 2003

Background: This was my first cruise for my daughter (age 8) and me. My husband and others in the group have all cruised before. We picked this itinerary because of four port calls and it was a seven-day cruise. We flew in on the same flight Carnival would have booked if we went through them. We booked our flights and saved over $100 per person. We paid $20 per person through Carnival for a roundtrip shuttle to the pier.

Embarkation: We were treated like cattle. The lines moved swiftly, but it felt like Disney World. Prepare to wait at least an hour. Very organized, problem was 90% of the cruisers showed up around 2:00 p.m. for a 4 p.m. departure.

The Ship: The ship was very clean. Really large. Had problems locating our dining room (Carnivale). When it says 8th floor, that is really only accessible from one end of the ship. That was strange. Teenagers were everywhere.

Cabins: The cabins were nice. I thought they were small until I heard about other cruise ships. Our steward, Orlando, kept the room clean. He was outstanding. We had an Oceanside view. It was cool waking up and looking at a port when you fell asleep at sea.

Food: The food was good in the dining rooms on most nights. Feel free to ask for two of something in the formal dining rooms such as lobster or a double helping of shrimp. The serving size is as if you are in a 5-star restaurant, not the local Sizzler. If you want Sizzler, the lido deck had two great buffets for lunch and dinner daily. Also, a 24-hour pizza bar, which my daughter constantly consumed. One of the buffet lines has snackbar food (hamburger, hotdog, etc..,) but very good and the other had regular Golden Corral buffet menus. Our waiter was very knowledgeable and so was his assistant. The entertainment during dinner was great. Also, Carnival has a soft drink card that you can purchase for $20 (all-you-can-drink). We knew we would drink $60 of soda in one week, there we chose to just purchase a soda when we wanted one. Can to less than $20 dollars on our final tab.

Entertainment: The shows were just okay, meaning the first Las Vegas style show was awful and the second one was great which averages out to okay. Our friends camped out every night in the karaoke bar. They had a great time. The casino was pretty good and they even had a slots tournament. My mom won $60 one night and a lady next to her won over $500 while playing slots. There is not a lot of entertainment for teenagers though. Most onboard grew tired of the video arcade after the first night. Then marched over the boat like gangs. The teen disco didn't seem too popular. Bingo was extremely popular and I'm not a bingo player. I enjoyed it both nights. Packed house. The comedians they hired sucked horribly. They were not funny. Seemed like Atlantic City rejects.

Grand Cayman -You have to catch a tender from the boat. The port is too small for a cruise ship. It was the best stop for me. We went to Stingray City and snorkeled on the Uncle Marvin's tour. We booked online in advance. It was great. The boat only has about 15-20 people on it and was very personable. The crew and staff were very nice. I highly recommend him. I even booked the wrong time and they emailed me w/ the correct time for our ship. Just remember, Grand Cayman is an hour behind us. The cruise-sponsored tour boat came up behind us in Stingray City w/ hundreds of people jumping in the water like discarded cattle. Bought a video for $50. It was pricey, but well worth it. Just one of those vacation expenses. My parents took the ship-sponsored tour of the city and Hell. They thoroughly enjoyed the tour. My husband and I would like to fly back later to vacation for a week.

Costa Maya - Cruise ships created this port. It was a nice spot. We didn't do anything but shop and hung on the beach. There was nothing really to do except snorkel. The beach was nice, but the water was extremely rocky. Bring beach shoes and a towel. Those w/out didn't stay in the water too long. We rented beach chairs, but my husband bought some drinks at a bar on the beach, so we moved to a table. This was the most relaxing port out of all of them. When shopping, we bargained down everything we bought. There was entertainment in the amphitheater in the center of the shopping area. That was nice.

Cozumel - It rained most of the day and was extremely cloudy the rest. We caught a taxi to Chankanaab Park for $10, but some rented scooters. It was nice. Had a nice beach, no rocks and the beach chairs were free. We ate at a restaurant in the park hoping to experience authentic Mexican food. It was really gross. Nothing likes the Mexican food at home. My daughter (8 yrs old) did the dolphin encounter at Dolphin Discovery. We booked online in advance. She loved it and it provided great photo ops. Pics were expensive as well as the video, but we just couldn't resist buying the pic of her kissing a dolphin. Others in my group shopped or did a ship-sponsored tour of Cozumel. There is plenty of shopping to do there. Also, we stopped at some bar on the pier for some really good drinks and music.

Belize -Don't know why this is a port call. Plenty of shopping, but nothing else. Plenty of snorkeling. No really nice beaches to hang out on. We took a ship excursion of a tour of Belize City. The city is extremely poor. It was terrible. If you shop anywhere, stop by the pharmacy at the pier. The pharmacist used to work for Wal-mart and sells meds that require a prescription in the U.S. over the counter. She hawks them like a "snake oil salesman." My family bought some stuff.

Debarkation: We slept in and got to breakfast late. They wanted everyone in a different meeting area on the ship to clean for the next cruise. We sat for over two hours waiting because for customs and not Carnival (at least that is what they told us). Debarkation was extremely smooth after our group was called. We waited until last and our luggage was easier to pick out. We rode the Carnival shuttle back to the airport and got home very safe.

Overall, it was a great cruise. I would like to try another cruise line such as Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. The port calls, excursions and ship were great.