Although the Lido was a buffet, it was much better than Royal Caribbean’s lido. There were tons of choices and although things ranged from passable to really good, you could always find things that were really good. If I had to eat here all week I could have founds things to keep me happy. Plus, there were always dinning room favorites such as shrimp cocktail and chocolate melting cakes to be had here. Also, I love the cookies they always have out.
Some selections were great (short ribs, prime rib, chilled bing cherry soup, shrimp cocktail, some pastas), some were good (lobster, shrimp, pastas), some were okay or not great. Desserts were very good for the most part – although we did get a little tired of the only chocolate selection being the chocolate melting cake (not that we didn’t like it alot). Don’t forget to order a cappuccino after dinner – they are fantastic and free. We did the early seating and really enjoyed our two tablemates. Our waiter was okay, but definitely not as good as the waiters I have had before on both Royal and Carnival (must be luck of the draw), our assistant waiter though was really good.
Fantastic! I can’t say enough about this place. Fantastic Lobster Bisque! We both got steaks but were toying with the idea of the 16 oz lobster tail, so I would recommend that if you want this to get the surf and turf or one of you get the tail and one of you get the 24 oz porter house. There was soooo much food we could not finish it and you would have plenty to go around. The chocolate tart dessert was fantastic. The service was amazing. We also had a lovely bottle of wine. If you are trying to celebrate something or just want to eat some amazing food – it is totally worth it!
Only used once but it was the same as the Lido – we just did not have to go get it. It was on time and the waiter was friendly.
Sushi – okay to good. Pizza – good. Teatime snacks – yummy!
Mixed Drinks were just okay for as expensive as they were – the foo foo drinks seemed most worth the money.
We purchased the base wine package and here is an area that I would either advise against buying a wine package, or at least upgrade to the more expensive package. A few selections were fine (i.e. Korbel brut & Fetzer Cab Sav). But the Shiraz and Beaujolais were crappolla. I would recommend either upgrading or bringing your own.
We were not crazy about the Review shows*, but I would encourage everyone to go the audience participation, the comedians, and the variety performers – they were really fun and John Heald did such a fantastic job – he really made our cruise memorable. He was funny without being cheesy, charming without being cocky. It was so fun to go to the shows that he led.
*The singers and dancers were good, just the shows were not my style – instead we loved going down to the firebird lounge and listening to the singers with the live band. We danced and just sat sometimes and enjoyed - it was a ton of fun! Also the karaoke and dance club were fun. There were tons of opportunities to listen to great live music!
Not technically a show, but we did make it to one of the three art auctions and it was SO much fun. We did not buy anything but they had some great deals and gave away a TON of stuff. Plus they really do a good job of describing the art and interacting with the audience. (They make you feel like they are happy you are there even if you are not going to drop big bucks on a fancy painting).
Also we did the Galley tour, which was really short, but still fun to do.
Ports of Call/Excursions:
Grand Cayman: We got off as soon as they would let us and took a tender in. We walked down to the Eden Rock Dive Center and waited for them to open (5 minutes) so we could rent a locker. These guys were super helpful. We geared up and headed out, careful with the entry as there are tons of small urchins off the stairs, we swam out and around for a few hours and saw tons of wild life and great coral formations. Saw a nurse shark chilling in the sand; saw several Tortugas, gorgeous corals, huge fish and crystal clear water. The current was a bit strong heading back in but we made it just fine. (I would recommend a vest even though we did not use ours, we were happy to have them). We then used the dive shop’s fresh water shower to clean our gear and us up. We sat in the sun for a while out behind the dive shop and changed into dry clothes. We asked the guy up front for a lunch recommendation and bough a t-shirt. We went to Guy Harvey’s for lunch and it was great! It wasn’t too expensive with drinks it ended up being around $30 with tip. We then shopped and I bought my 14 rum cakes and a Cohiba Maduro cigar from a Cuban shop. By then we caught a tender about twenty minutes before “the last tender time”. We were back to the ship!
We booked with Chellie through Eagle Ray Divers for a three- reef snorkel. She was very good about corresponding via email. We took a 5 min cab ride for $8 bucks to the marina. There were only four snorkelers and they put us on the boat with two divers. We went out to Palancar, but with the divers it was about an hour and half or more before we could get in the water. Their boat has seen better days but the crew was pretty good. Our snorkeling guide did a good job in the water but did not talk to us hardly at all during the 2+ hours we were slowly motoring to and from the snorkel sites. This is something they advertised – talking about the sites we were going to visit. However the sites were fantastic! Although the coral was not the best we have ever seen, the wildlife was awesome! We saw Nurse sharks and a huge Eagle Ray and some turtles, 2 large groupers, and some gorgeous coral. We were so slow that we did not get to make the third snorkeling site – kind of a bummer. Also, we were not sure where we were going for lunch (included) and with such a long boat ride out it was a little stressful thinking about if we were going to get back in time. Lunch was at the Money Bar and was very good. Afterwards we caught a 5 min cab ride back to the terminal where we had about an hour (so plenty of time) to shop and get a Margarita before walking back on the ship. Mixed emotions on this one – the crew was good - but the boat, the slow time to the water, and missing a snorkeling site were some pretty big negatives. We would probably look elsewhere next time for a snorkeling tour when in Cozumel. Note: The Dive Instructor chatted with the divers the whole time and the divers said that he was one of the best dive masters that they had ever dove with, so if you are a diver then you may not want to rule these guys out.
First - Tender tickets: They said you could not get Tender tickets until 9:30 am if you are not on a Carnival tour. But, if you just go to the follies when they dock they will give you a ticket. We went around 8:15 AM and they had already been giving out tickets for 20 minutes. We took the tender in and it was a long one but the tender boat was speedy. We got dropped off and walked 1 minute down the dock to the Hammerhead Sports desk. We had booked with Coral Breezes for the Snorkeling and Caye Caulker Trip. They told us we had about 30-40 minutes and we paid our balance and walked around the shops. The Fine Arts Store (look for the sign with arrows) was great and I wish we had more time to shop there. They have lovely wooden crafts and local art with decent prices. We met up at Hammerhead and since we had our gear we were ready to get on the boat. We hopped on and were buzzing quickly and bumpily to Caye Caulker to drop off the non –snorkelers. There were about 8 or 9 snorkelers and we had three guides in the water. The first stop was the Coral Gardens and here we found the healthiest and most beautiful coral we have ever seen. The guides were also really good and we got to be here for almost an hour. Next we went to the stingray stop and the guides put out fish for sting rays, we jumped in and swam with them, but I eventually had to put some fins on to keep up with the current. The stingrays were really fun to swim with and came up to be petted. Then we hopped back on the boat to Caye Caulker. What a gorgeous and quiet place. We ate lunch at The Sports Bar and Grill and headed back to the Boat. They were working a bit on one of the two engines, which was a little disconcerting, but nonetheless in a few minutes we were off. About half way back one of the two engines gave way and we operating slowly on one. One of the guides immediately called and had them send another boat to get us. About 15-20 minutes of going with just one engine the boat met us and we all successfully transferred to the other boat and were back on the dock in 10 or 15 minutes. We actually got back at 3:45 and the last tender was at 4pm, so we were back no problem, but usually you would have another 20-30 minutes to shop so that was a little disappointing – but hey they did a great job handling and resolving the problem. They were so apologetic and did a great job keeping us calm and told us if we missed the tender it would be on them to get us back and not to worry. They even emailed us apologizing and credited our deposit back to us as an apology. I would without a doubt, hands down recommend this tour to anyone who loves to snorkel – it was fantastic, the guides were the best I have ever had, and the coral – breathtaking!
We had a Best of Roatan from Victor Bodden and got Ismael as our guide – he drove us around and gave us some island highlights and took us to a souvenir shop for about an hour before taking us to the beach we requested, Half Moon Bay, by the restaurant side. He then got out and showed us where the freshwater shower, bathroom, and entry were and pointed out the reef and how to get to the wall. He also introduced us to a waiter that would take our drink orders. The shore snorkeling here was really good; the coral was not as good as Belize, but still better than pretty much anywhere else. It was a really easy site to snorkel (not too shallow, not too deep) and we were blessed with great water clarity and incredibly calm conditions – even out at the wall. We saw lots of cool marine life too. Afterwards we cleaned up with the shower and changed and had lunch at the restaurant – I had the Butterfly Honey Grilled Lobster and it was large and delicious. We also had some local beers, which were great. We stayed until the last minute here – it was so peaceful and nice. It rained off and on and more snorkelers showed up for tours. Then we pulled our stuff together and Ismael took us back to where the ship was docked (stopping for picture opportunities along the way). We paid him and tipped him and walked into the touristy dock area and bought a small painting, we wanted the large one but did not have enough cash on us and did not want to risk running to an ATM, so alas maybe next time. We would recommend Victor Bodden to anyone who wants to see the island and be catered to. They will literally take you wherever you would like to go whenever, just tell them. We loved Half Moon beach and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in snorkeling there. If you are just interested in snorkeling you could probably take a cab there, but it was nice to have the guide taking such great care of us and making sure everything went as planned.
Getting off the ship was even easier and quicker – around 8:20am John announced for everyone to leave his or her stateroom. We were in the Atlantis lounge waiting by then after having breakfast in the dinning room. We were the last group called and we had our luggage and were through customs and had purchased Aquarium tickets at the cruise terminal ($4 cheaper) by 9:30am. The aquarium held our luggage for free. We toured the aquarium and then went to lunch at Oishi (Japanese), which was very good; we then took a cab to the airport. Tampa rocks – best port we have ever done! Everything is very close and there is a lot going on down town.