by Jenn W
March 20, 2005
Precruise: We flew into FLL 3-19 and stayed at the Radisson for $100 on Priceline in FLL for one night. Rented a car from Budget at FLL airport and returned to Sheraton Biscyane in Miami and then paid $8 for the taxi to the pier. The car return was very slow, but for $42 total intermediate size car, no drop off charge it worked for us. Embarkation: From the time we arrived at 12:45pm we were on the boat 1:40pm.
Overall: We were pleasantly pleased with the boat. It was mostly non smoking except for a few designated areas. The décor was gaudy but it was to be expected. Service, food, etc were better than I expected. It was not rowdy at all, especially for how many passengers were on board. Easter week was full. Never felt it was too crowded. One issue that always arises on every cruise is the saving of chairs and we found to get a prime location you had to get up pretty early. They never seemed to run out of chairs, but the location was no ideal to say the least.
Room: We were on the main deck in the front of the boat 2218. There was a huge amount of noise when the boat docked and vibration. We paid for an inside guarantee and I wish I would have paid a bit more to be in a more quiet area. The room was well organized and we had space underneath the bed to store the suitcases. Our cabin steward removed a spare chair for us since we had the crib in the room and wanted more space. It was a proper rolling crib with metal bars, not a pack and play. Our 2 year old could have climbed out if she chose since the sides were low.
Camp Carnival: This is the primary reason we sailed Carnival at all. Our daughter is 2 years old and we wanted to have dinners alone, etc. The first night we signed her up and picked up the pager. She went almost every day and loved it! Even though it was Easter week the counselors had everything in control and provided quality care and fun activities. Never seemed to be too many kids. They were quite strict about the rules/protocol. The adult who checks the child in has to be the one who signs out. Also, you can't sign the child in unless you have the pager. The 2nd day my hubby stayed at dinner while I tried checking her in, but they refused since I wasn't carrying the pager. I told them that my hubby had it and I was just going back down there for dinner, but they refused. Also, they do change diapers. You were supposed to bring a labeled diaper bag with wipes, diapers and a change of clothes just in case. The after hours care was just watching a movie and laying down. The kids were not allowed to play in the main room but instead watched movies. Cost was $6 per hour after 10pm. They never paged us at any time and changed her diapers without us asking, I had expected to be paged and have to do it myself so that was a pleasant surprise. My only gripe was that most people must not have provided the wipes so mine seemed to be disappearing at an alarming rate and I was worried I would run out : ) In Belize she spent 6-7 hours in the kids club and no problems, they took her to lunch, etc. Note that Camp Carnival is closed certain times of the day, consider this when you make your dining arrangements. We requested late seating and our dinner was at 8:30pm, but since we were on West Coast time no problem. If we weren't I would have definitely chosen the early sitting. Here are the links to the weekly schedule for Camp Carnival (sorry I scanned each page separately):
Food: Last at sea day had a chocolate buffet at Rosie's which we enjoyed. Loved Rosie's and ate there every lunch. The Asian food and deli were my favorites. I am a little picky about roast beef don't like a lot of fat or overprocessed and was pleasantly surprised. The selections in the main dining room were just right for us. They were smaller portions, but you could try everything and had many courses. Quality of the food was much better than my last Carnival trip and exceeded my expectations. They brought my daughter's food quickly and were willing to do anything. They were extremely friendly and thoughtful towards her.
Roatan: We docked here and although the boat arrives at 7am, it is 6am local time. We didn't get off until 8am and negotiated a taxi for $60 for the whole day. He didn't speak much English, but with my rusty Spanish we had no issues. We went to the new Canopy tour, Palmetto Bay. My hubby went on the 20 ziplines for $45 and was thrilled. I waited at the bottom with my daughter and we went for a little walk to see everyone flying above us. No clue of their official opening time, but we arrived there around 8:30 am and there were other groups already going (7:30 local time). That took about 1 hour 45(1 hour 10 was in the trees, other was forms, suiting up, explanation, etc) and then we went to the Iguana Farm for $5 a person, no charge for my daughter and fed them. Also, saw the monkeys and fish. Not worth going out of your way for, but definitely worth it if you are close by, very novel. Then, we drove to the other side for the beach. Went to a free beach West Bay, no problems with sand fleas. There were fresh water showers and services of all sorts if you liked. Didn't snorkel, but those who did raved about it.
As a side note, there are 2 canopy tours, one associated with Tabyana Beach and that is only open to people who book through the cruise line or when you get to Tabyana Beach. If you travel with Carnival you should do Palmetto instead since it is open to anyone at this time. They are under negotiations with Carnival and that may affect things. We tried beforehand to get info/reservations about the canopy before we left with little luck so wanted to share our experience with you all.
Belize: Booked the boat's tour of Altun Ha and River Wallace. Normally we don't do the cruise ships thing but we were leaving our daughter on board that day and wanted to make sure we were back in time. There seemed to not be much to do at the port unless you booked something. Asked for room service the night before and they delivered a tasty roast beef and brie on baguette which I ate on the way. Altun Ha ruins were nice and the tour guide ok. Loved that there weren't extra "shopping" stops, it was all pretty much a tour except for a quick lunch break. The River Wallace boat ride was fun, we saw monkeys, manatees, etc. Sit in the front if you don't want to get wet. The people in the back got splashed. Also, make sure you have your sunscreen on as there is no cover. There were nice flush toilets at Altun Ha, and some flush ones at the restaurant before you board the boat, but no water to buy anywhere. Make sure you carry some if you want it.
Cozumel: Boat docks at Puerta Maya. Went to Paradise Beach for the day. $12 per taxi and fit 4 adults and 1 child in each way. Nice hammocks, free admission. It was something like $5 to buy an activity bracelet for kayaks, bouncy iceberg, etc. A bargain, but we just sat making sand castles and looking at the parrots. Free chairs and shade, very nice. They had massages on the beach which I didn't use, but wish I did. nice toilets, showers, drinks, palm trees etc. Ordered their guacamole/chips and nachos which were surprisingly good. From there you can walk to a few other places which have restaurants, birds, shopping, etc.
Grand Caymen: it was a zoo! Too many boats there for the day and had to be pushy in order to get a taxi, very annoying. Went to Sea Grapes beach for the day. Beautiful sand and nice water. There were flush toilets and a fresh water shower to use. Collective taxi for $4 per person each way and they crammed as many people as possible.
The End: We self disembarked around 7:45am and it worked out wonderfully. Just be a US citizen and carry your own luggage and off you go. None of that trying to leave your luggage out the night before! Highly recommend it. My hubby paid $16 on the ship so he could take the transfer to FLL airport. He made it for an 11:30am flight no problem. Will definitely do Carnival again especially with children.