First let me say THANK YOU to everyone here for all the help, advice and tips. I was a newbie, but I felt better informed and prepared than some of the seasoned cruisers! Second, this may be a long review so get ready! :rolleyes:
We flew out of Milwaukee at 6:15am on Saturday. I was very nervous about flying down the same day we sailed, but it worked out great. I think next time we will go a day early though. I don't think my nerves could handle it again! We had a connecting flight in Memphis and landed in Tampa at 11:55am. Caught a cab to the pier (2 people, 4 pieces checked luggage, 2 carry-on = $21.00 with tip). When we got out of the cab we were greeted by a porter. He found our cabin number (V10, an awesome upgrade! We had booked a 6A GTY. Of course I knew already because of the Kelly Method! :D) and we tipped him a buck a bag. Off we went to the line that leads into the terminal. I think it must've been about 12:45am. When we reached the first Carnival rep. we were directed to the Skippers Club check in. Nothing fancy, just a nice short line. We met a couple there that had no idea they had been upgraded! Of course as soon as they told me the cabin number I pulled out my deck plan and showed them the Cat. 12 they would be enjoying! I don't think they believed me until they saw the cabin! Boy, were they happy! After checking in and getting our S&S cards we went right to the ship. We were on board at 1:15pm. Time for a drink!!
This was our first cruise so we spent a lot of time gawking at the ship as we made our way to our cabin. We weren't expecting to see the guy video taping the pax as we boarded. We soon noticed him everywhere on the cruise and we would then watch the replay of the travelog on our TV in the cabin. Very fun. If you see him, be sure to wave! We didn't buy the video, but in hind sight I wish we would have. Sigh...
Our cabin was fantastic! Lots of room, lots of closet space. I had brought extra hangers and they came in handy. The balcony was small, but very cool to have. I loved sitting out there and watching the ocean and the people. I even saw schools of flying fish. The room steward was great. I wish we could've tipped him even more. Worth every penny. The room was always clean but we never saw him do it!
We had late seating for dinner (8:30pm). I think this worked out great for us. We never felt rushed in the ports (at least not because of our dinner time). The only drawback was we never made it to the midnight buffets! We were too full! Not to mention the late night comedy started at the same time. So I can't comment on that part, but our dinners were SUPERB!! Seafood Newburg, New York strip steak, Lobster, fish, quail, pasta, shrimp, escargo, Grand Mariner Souffle!!! YUM!!!! So many choices. It was always hot and fresh. Some of the best food I have ever eaten! The staff was wonderful. The only complaint I had was the drink waitress. We never saw her until the last night. But, I had read about that so we knew to expect it. that's ok, we drank our water (need to ingest something other than Pina Coladas and Miami Vices at some point, right?! :D) Our tablemates were fantastic. Hi Rick and Janice, Hi Bill and Diane! After dinner we all would hang out and go to shows together. Miss them already. :( We had a table for 10, but only 6 of us showed up every night. We never saw the other couples. We never ate breakfast or lunch in the dining room so I can't comment on it, sorry. We loved the made to order omolettes on the Lido deck buffet. Lots of choices, scrambled eggs, hash rounds, pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, cereals, bagels, taost, fruit and of course ice cream! That was a very popular dispenser after breakfast! Lunch menu always offered hot dogs, fries, burgers, salads. Other items varied. Fish fingers, chicken strips, pasta, etc. (One tip I learned here that was nice to know, the lines at the buffet are always shorter outside the dining room. Same food!) Inside the Seaview Grill (way to the back, by the pizza grill) at lunch they had a table set up with different things for lunch each day. One day it was crepes, the next Ceaser (sp.?) salad and other things I can't remember. We never had trouble finding a clean place to sit and eat. The pizza was good, not incredible but not bad. Always hot.
The shows were very good. We saw "Hey Mambo" and enjoyed it. The dancers are all really good. We saw 3 comedians, and 2 of them were VERY funny! We laughed out loud for an hour! Maurice Jovan was one and I just can't think of the other guy. The third guy was so bad we never went to see his midnight show.
The ports were fun. We did Stingray City, booked on- line in advance with Nativeway. They did a great job. We met Sharon at the dock right when she said she would be there. We took a bus to the marina, boarded a boat with Capt. Dean and first mate Sheldon and took off. First stop was snorkeling at Coral Gardens (not really a reef, but some corals, lots of fish. Water here was deep, about 12 feet. I used a life vest and did fine) then on to SRC. WOW....Those stingrays are HUGE! They are every where! Very tame. The water was about 3 1/2 feet deep. We all got a chance to hold them and feed and pet them. Lots of photo opps so don't forget the underwater cameras. We were only in Grand Cayman from 8am to 2pm, so after the stingrays all we could do was get in line to wait for a tender. The last one left at 1:15pm so the wait was very long. It was a shame we couldn't see more of the island. Be careful walking around the downtown area. Traffic was NUTS! Lots of cars and lots of tourists not paying attention. It is very congested.
Cozumel was fun. We went horseback riding through Buena Vista. Bus ride to the ranch was about 20 minutes. Our guide Aldo was a riot. He basically did a stand up routine the entire bus trip! :D The horses are in good shape and I know mine liked to run! Too fast! I have never been on a "trail ride" like this one and I have the bruises to prove it! :eek: This was not a slow walk along the trail. This was flat out galloping! For most of the trail! WOW It was a great time! On the other hand people that took the afternoon ride said the opposite. Well, they had a good time, but no galloping at all, so I guess it depends on the guide? After that we went to Playa sol. $28.50 pp through the ship. All drinks, non-motorized water toys (kayaks, paddle boats) and beach. We got there kind of late, like 3ish so we didn't get to do much. Did some snorkeling, not great but good. Lots of fish. Water was warm and very clear. Drinks were potent! My DH told the BT to go easy on the tequila for me and he said what's a margaritta with out tequila!? And then he poured it on! ;) Another tip...don't try to kayak for the first time after tequila. We thought we would kayak out to the big iceberg thing, climb that, slide into the water, how cool! Yeah, right! LOL First I dumped the kayak losing an oar, then lost Dh's sunglasses! Now try to climb this 3 story iceberg! HA! Couldn't even get out of the water! So we decided to go back to town and shop. Caught a cab (did you know that 141 kilometers per hour equals 90 miles an hour! Holy cow!! Look out for the chickens!!) and as we tried to enter the pier DH discovers he has lost his S&S card. Total panic on my part! Thankfully I have his DL in my bag! No problems getting back on...whew! Picked up new card and just had enough time to shop quickly and get back on board.
OK, this is getting long! Let me say we had a GREAT time and we will do it again as soon as possible. We were never bored. You can do as much or as little as you want. You can eat as much or as little as you want (I lost 2 lbs. without trying. I didn't deny myself anything either. We did take the stairs a lot and I never had room for too much food!) The staff was wonderful. Everyone we met was helpful and had a smile. The activities directors and cruise director (Lenny) are all great. They get everyone involved and make sure everyone has fun.
Some things I learned were.... that it gets very windy on the open decks.
There aren't enough ash trays.
There aren't enough signs pointing out the smoking sections (sides).
Need more hooks in the cabins. No where to hang wet suits, etc..
Save room for desserts!
We bought drink coupons and I think we may have drank more because of it! Next time we'll try without them.
Hammocks cannot be used as a carry-on. Almost cost us $80 to get it home on the airline!
If you take your luggage down to the infirmary to weigh it, you will get lots of funny looks. Just tell them you asked to get off and they said no!
I know I have seen this before, but it bears repeating...pack half the clothes you think you need and twice the money!!
And finally the most important thing I learned was...... CRUISING IS FUN!!!!!!!! :D
Comming back to reality....BITES!!!!!!!! :(
If anyone has any questions feel free to ask or e- mail me CelticD1@hotmail.com I have posted pics at Webshots.com, http://community.webshots.com/user/celticd1 Thanks again for all the help and I hope this helps someone else! Debbie :cool: