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Cruise Ratings
Sail Date: February 2005
Our first ever cruise was on the Elation, and it was very nice. We thought the ship was very elegant and the food mostly outstanding except for the steak dishes. The service was great in the dining room, and the housekeeping staff was ... Read More
Our first ever cruise was on the Elation, and it was very nice. We thought the ship was very elegant and the food mostly outstanding except for the steak dishes. The service was great in the dining room, and the housekeeping staff was very friendly. Our dinner companions were very nice people, but overall we were surprised by how much drinking there was on the Elation. It occurred to me that I'd rather have people drink to excess on a cruise ship than anyplace where driving might be involved, but it still was slightly eye-opening. People boarded the ship shouting "where're the drinks!" and people brought their umbrella-embellished beverages with them to the safety drill despite being told they weren't allowed to do so. The very funny and helpful cruise director warned passengers not to drink so much in Cozumel that they had to be brought back in wheelchairs. People laughed and thought she was kidding, but she wasn't! Besides the cruise director, the shopping expert, Kaylene, was so helpful and friendly, and the entertainment staff also made sure we had a lot of fun. Though the rockiness of the ship and noise and vibration made it difficult to sleep every night, I enjoyed the Elation thoroughly. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
First off we sailed two years ago and since then I know they did an "upgrade" on the ship as well as the itenirary has changed greatly. It now sails out of San Diego to the Mexican riviera, when we went, it sailed out of Port ... Read More
First off we sailed two years ago and since then I know they did an "upgrade" on the ship as well as the itenirary has changed greatly. It now sails out of San Diego to the Mexican riviera, when we went, it sailed out of Port Canaveral to the Bahamas. First off we drove down to the port (I hate to fly) and I also enjoy the scenery you miss when you fly. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in Cocoa Beach, just across from the ocean and just a couple minutes from the port- we could even see the ships from our room. On a side note- fabulous hotel for a low rate!! They even will let you park your car there and shuttle you over to the port for free. We did not take advantage of this opportunity and boy we should have. I didn't want to have to wait at the port for a ride as we were in a hurry to get back home (got a call on the way down our children whom we left back at home had fallen very ill). However I found out the hotel shuttle was there waiting even before passengers disembarked. Not to mention I dropped $60 to park at the port. All in all the parking for those who drive is very easy to get in and out of and is as close to the ship as you can get! A porter walked right up to us as we got our luggage out of our car and took care of it for us. We tipped him well since he was very nice, very helpful and carried it across the parking lot. Embarkation: VERY EASY at Canaveral. We stood in a line of about 75 people, got there early, until the doors opened (12:30pm) which was only about 10 minutes later. Once the doors opened, we were inside, through security, checked in at the desk with our sail and sign cards and had a photo taken and on the ship all within 15 minutes flat. We were told our room wouldn't be ready until about 1:30, however we just wanted to get a feel of where our room would be so we walked by right after getting on board and found it already for us. So we dropped off our backpack we took on with us and headed to the buffet. Food- Very good. I was quite surprised to find myself eating such great food during embarkation and before we even set sail! Before the sail off party my wife and I already had ate several things we never had before. The food was always visually stunning and tasted great. We hit the buffet everyday for lunch and breakfast. We also tried the pool side grill for breakfast once to see what it was like and found it was really just another smaller version of the lido deck buffet, but it did have made to order omelets. We ate in the dining room every night for dinner and were never let down. Our server was Cicero and he sure did a great job. By the end of the cruise- he had my wife laughing to the point she almost teared up. She ordered the melting chocolate cake every night- so on the final night, he didn't even give her a desert menu, just brought the cake straight out to her. All the food in the dining room was great, especially on formal night. We both had lobster and they also served filet minon. I never had had a minon, and was talking to another guy at our table when he mentioned, they allow you to order anything you want and as much as you want in the dining room- this I didn't know. So I asked the waiter and sure enough he brought me out a 2nd entree- the filet minon. As a side note- they'll do this for any course, so try a couple things if they both sound good. The only thing we didn't do was go to the dining room for breakfast and lunch. Another couple at our table went there each day for all meals and mentioned it was a great fresh breathe of air to go there instead of the bufett and most people didn't go to the dining room, also they said the food was 10 times better. This is something we are going to do on our next cruise. Entertainment- OKAY. The shows were very good, especially the midnight adult only shows- laughed till we cried! However they do a passenger talent show the night before our last and it's well worth skipping. I didn't shell out $2000 to see a bunch of people try to be the next Carribean Idol- god help them all. As far as at Sea Days, we only had one as we were on a shorter cruise. That day we spent mainly walking around trying to find something to do. This was one of the very few let downs- they scheduled many of the activites (ie: ice carving, galley tours, dance classes, ect) on port days!! This we didn't understand. But we still enjoyed the mini golf and relaxing on the lido deck. Activities- NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. The ship had several pools and a water slide- but we never could find when they were open. Night or day, the pools were always drained and closed. The two times (the evening of sail out, and the afternoon of the 3rd day) we saw them open, they were absolutely ran over by kids. There were so many kids in the pools that the ship actually stationed a crew member at the pool whom would then stop letting more in until so many got out. So needless to say we never got an opportunity to enjoy the pools, slide, or hot tubs. Every night we found all the bars/clubs empty. This was a shock as it was during spring break time, we figured the ship would be livlier, but that partying all took place on the lido deck by the pools. We aren't much for partying, but we left the kids at home to break out of our shell a bit. We did find one bar the final night that had a band doing rock and roll cover music- fantastic show!!! Our cruise director was awesome- very funny and always visable. There was a sidekick though that was a complete dork and annoying. The mini golf was fun, especially where it was located- on top of the ship with a view that is unimaginable! Cabin- Very surprised. We booked a ocean view room, as it was our first cruise as wanted to be able to see the ocean anytime day or night. We were quite surprised the size of the window- it was huge!!! Also the room was much larger than we thought it would be as we always heard the old stories of the tiny cabins on cruise ships- further from the truth. Also the tv played movies that weren't even out on dvd yet, which was nice late at night when we retired to the room- only suggestion: DON'T PLAY THE MOVIE "THE GURDIAN" about coast gurad divers rescuing people from sinking ships on a cruise!!! :) The movie was good though. Our housekeeper was very nice and attentive. He dazzled us with the famous animal towels of course and was always willing to do anything for us. Final Suggestions: GET INVOLVED! Look at the capers (daily newsletter) delivered to your room nightly, and go participate in all the activities/shows/parties that you can. Get to know the other people at your dining table and make friends quickly- do this at the sail out party. The friendlier you are and the more outgoing, the more fun you will have. We were seated with older couples and still had fun and found many things in common. We also ran into another couple at sail out and ended up meeting with them several times at a bar just to chit chat. And finally pack light! You will find that you won't wear half of what you bring. Other than the dining room, we wore a t-shirt and swim suit the entire time. Debarkaton- A NIGHTMARE! We sat in the show room from 7:30am until 10:00am waiting for our number to be called. We eventually gave up and just got in line as we noticed nobody hardly came in to announce the numbers and it was a complete mess. Waiting in line from deck 7 to get to deck 3 to get off and wait for customs as well. Once we got off the ship we waiting another 30 minutes to get out of the terminal. This was awful!!! I've heard much better and smoother debarkations at other ports- from what I can gather, this is pretty much a Port Canaveral problem. Also over the past 12 months, Carnival has imporoved their debarkation process and I've been told by fellow cruisers who've sailed just this year and report being off the ship by 8:30am. We are going to the Western Carribean in January and I hope that holds true. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
I cruised on CARNIVAL MIRCLE in August 2007 It was the best time I had on my first cruise. I cruised with my then 14 yr old daughter. I figured it would have been nice for her and I to spend some mom and daughter time together. I was wrong ... Read More
I cruised on CARNIVAL MIRCLE in August 2007 It was the best time I had on my first cruise. I cruised with my then 14 yr old daughter. I figured it would have been nice for her and I to spend some mom and daughter time together. I was wrong she discovered some friends on board and that was it for me...So, I found my own fun the ship had so much to offer. I played bingo, when we weren't at the ports, and even then she wanted to leave me...However, the ships interior was beautiful including my room I was upgraded to the 8th floor from the 4th floor to a balcony room I was delighted. I didn't know what to do at first when I recived the confirmation in my email that I was on the 8th floor in a blacony room, I thought they made a mistake I was gonna call them and mention that they did something wrong. My mom told me it was a upgrade, so don't worry about it well I was Happy. Ok once on board my daughter and I were starving so we went up to the lido deck and grabbed some lunch which was delicious. My ship left from NY, so once on board we had the pleasure of reading that I ship will be diverted due to the HURRICANE that is happening in the carribean, so we ended up going to Turks and caicos instead of Pureto Rico. I didn't care where we went as long as we were going and I was on the ship...The staff on board were wonderful they were so friendly and a pleasure to chit chat with. Overall I had a good time the ship was very clean, My cabin was fixed up everyday with clean towels available for my daughter and myself. I will be sure to take another cruise on carnival. THANK YOU CARNIVAL FOR A GREAT TIME. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2007
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the ... Read More
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the 1960's version of 'Dr. Dolittle' with Rex Harrison (after attending 6 yrs of vet med and dreaming of becoming a doctor since I was 5 and when the movie came out...I was about 7 and knew it would be a veterinarian because of it lol.) We drove from New Orleans to Miami to visit family before we fly to Puerto Rico to board. This went well enough but living in Vegas for a year...my first impression was that it was as gaudy as the casinos :P No matter. It was about the ports of call and although I felt like a kindergartener getting off a bus for a field trip...I was pleased by all the different places you could see in a 1 or 2 weeks on these things! As bikers, we are used to a lot of freedom so being cramped in what we called a sardine can and having to dine at the same place at a certain time didn't appeal to us. Nor having to come in from play at certain times but all in all...the trip to St. Lucia with its Pitons, Harley rentals in Guadeloupe, and the spice island of Grenada (which also had a vet med there) was worth it (we didn't care for the us virgin islands or other places...we are rain forest, hiking trails, waterfall buffs. I had a beach house anyway so laying on a beach wasn't a vacation to me at that time). I didn't cruise again until last year. Twice. Now it will be twice this year! I am gaining more knowledge on how to use the ship's facilities, book my own excursions if they are sold out or have nothing appealing, make sure we are in a large balcony at minimum, and dining alternatives (although the busy carpeting is an eye sore lol) and realizing the value of these types of vacations!!!! You can't stay at the holiday inn down the road and eat at fast food joints for these prices!! And really....although bikers will say that it is all about the journey....sometimes I'd prefer to dig the destinations :))))) All in all...I wish I did these cruises more when I was younger. I am partial to carnival because of the king bed and a bit larger rooms but would like to try other ships. I believe for the value though...I'll always be loyal to Carnival :) Looking back now that I am older and wiser now Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
My wife, a vet of cruise lines, and myself and our 2 kids[ ages 14,16] went thru a painless Embarkation, and we were on board ship in the hurricane-ravaged port of Galveston for Thanksgiving week. My first impressions were this- ... Read More
My wife, a vet of cruise lines, and myself and our 2 kids[ ages 14,16] went thru a painless Embarkation, and we were on board ship in the hurricane-ravaged port of Galveston for Thanksgiving week. My first impressions were this- clean,tight ship,populated by extremely friendly and helpful waitstaff.Small cabins,on the bargain deal,was expected. They served their purpose,as we spent most of our time outside of them enjoying the food,which was excellent,and the entertainment,which was better than expected. I am a performer,musician,with a national release,so I was especially scrutinizing on that level. The food was always ready when it was supposed to be, the dining experience in the upper scale areas was handled fluidly by a warm,friendly waitstaff,and did not disappoint. We hit the Port of Progresso,and went to see the Mayan ruins just outside of town, a mere 35 minute drive. Our guide, Jose, was a genial fellow,personable,well- knowledged about his Mayan ancestry,and the ruins were beautiful,and worth the short trip,which fueled our ambitions to explore more ruins deeper inside Mexico in a future vacation. Folks,if you are shopping, BUY HERE! Seriously cheaper prices than our following day stop, which was Cozumel.40-60% price differences on some items. Cheaper alcohol,especially. Hit the small city for best deals. Cozumel was beautiful,as expected...the merchants friendly,helpful,and almost too much.We did zip-line and scuba combos, the kids loved it. Island dining was a recommendation we followed up on ,and were not disappointed with. The 3 rd night on our cruise offered up the best star-gazing I have seen in years,spectacular in scope. some areas I will now point out on ship- the gym was populated by a smart staff, and it offered up needed exercise to combat the influx of calories. The shops had friendly,attractive staff,and were always willing to chat about their hometowns,countries. The casino staff was as good as Vegas, the ever-watchful eye made sure it was legit,legal,and respectful. Drunk idiots were escorted out quickly, thank heavens. My wife is a card sharp, and she spent many hours at the Casino, and loved it. The drinks were great,though,we don't drink to get drunk,but to appreciate. Last day it was sad to leave. It was quick,painless to go through customs. only negative comment would be directed to the paying clientele,some of whom were destined for the gaol. My experience overall was an emphatic Yes to wanting to do this again, we plan on hitting this at least once a year, but likely twice a year. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We have had a family cruise before on the Elation (our first one during the infamous Valentines day storm of 2007). We decided to do it again to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary year. Due to College and organized sports schedules, ... Read More
We have had a family cruise before on the Elation (our first one during the infamous Valentines day storm of 2007). We decided to do it again to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary year. Due to College and organized sports schedules, we needed to book it January 3rd and keep the younger kids out of school. We flew to Tampa a couple of days before due to the problems we almost encountered with delayed and cancelled flights the trip before. We were traveling with two adults, two 19 year olds, two 16 year olds, one 14 and one 12 year old. We cruised before, so we new what to do. We took a paid shuttle, reasonable price for the 9 of us $140.00, round trip from motel to port and then port to airport, with the number of us he gave us a deal! The porters took our luggage, and from past experience we did not tip the workers, as they are employees of the port and should not be tipped. We got to port fairly early so we could embark early, we wanted to enjoy ourselves every minute of this trip. We did the fun pass prior to traveling to Tampa, the passports were with the fun passes, etc. It took us about 10 minutes to register all 8 of us, my niece registered herself. We sat a few minutes, realized they were calling groups to load the boat, well, we entered the line and even though it was not our group, we left anyhow, they took us right on the ship. We entered the lido deck and had a buffet lunch with the other 5 family members we met there. You are allowed to bring a limited amount of your own drinks aboard, sealed,I believe one per adult, so we had 3 bottles of wine to enjoy over the next several days. We opened the first on the lido deck. The kids explored after lunch. We were able to enter our rooms about 130pm. Our luggage was there. My daughters one bag lost its tag along the way and we had to obtain it later in the day from the information desk. Of note, my mother in law was in a wheelchair due to her walking difficulty, the staff escorted her the entire embarking process and up to the lido deck. The kids went up to the lido deck, my husband and I took the tour of the ship at 2pm. Smitty, the fun ship team member was very funny and showed us the layout. He was very good at helping us understand the spacial layout on the ship between what is always found in what areas, aft, midship and forward. Before leaving port, we had the lifeboat drill, very informative, seemed however to drag on for a while, I think it was because there were people not following directions and that slowed the process down. Even a new bride and groom, in gowns and tux showed up like they were supposed to. What a site, a life vest on a gowned bride. What a memory! We were looking forward to our first dining room experience. We always book the early seating, as we like the evening shows and my husband and mother go to the casino. We ate in the Carnivale dining room, our waiter Sarwar from India, what a pleasant, professional and extremely friendly staff person. He was obviously very comfortable with what he was doing. My husband ordered several appetizers and entree's. We all sampled each others, as our family always does. The food was very delicious. I have read several review's stating that the food was horrible, I cannot understand why. My kids tried several things that were new to them, one my daughter really did not like, Sarwar got her the other entree. All you have to do is tell someone, and they make it very right. My sister in law has celiac's disease, she registered that on her fun pass and each night at the diningroom, the dietician came and had her order the next meals dinner and she tailored it to her dietary needs. My strong belief, if you take the efforts to communicate your needs, others will make the effort to accommodate. I am sure if someone is diabetic, the carb or calorie content can be calculated for you. I have found Carnival very accommodating to people with special needs. We had George the Greek as the Maitre d', he was entertaining, but you can tell he was very programmed after working in that field for over 40 years. We had 13 in our group, tables hold only about 8, therefore he placed an extra table on our table so we all could sit together. He has trained his staff in that dining room very well. The serving was very professional. Each time we saw either our waiter, assistant waiter, or George the Greek throughout our travels aboard ship, they all stopped, said hello and called us by name. This trip we ate breakfast in the diningroom a couple of mornings instead of the Brasserie buffet. That was enjoyable. The menu was the same each day, but if you wanted the service, and other items not included in the buffet, it was nice. The Brasserie buffet was also the same everyday, but it still had a large variety. We took in the Welcome Aboard show, that was okay, Not quite what I expected. We watched some of the comedians, some were good, some borderline, the shows were good, the Last night show, "Fiesta La Tina" I believe it was called, was fantastic. Over the 5 nights, we got to meet many people who fill many rolls. The cruise director, Filipe, was very nice, my husband spoke to him about getting a tour of the communications room, as he has a ham radio license, is an examiner, holds the highest license, is a civil air patrol and red cross volunteer, he really is interested in that stuff. Filipe said he would ask the captain, but it may not be possible due to the increase in homeland security. He followed up with us and stopped us in the hallways and called us by name the entire trip. My husband never got the tour, but at least we felt he made an effort to get one. We had two fun days at sea, nice weather on the first fun day at sea. We sat on the deck, relaxed, read, etc, most of the day. The Inspiration has the Serenity deck, we took in some of that too. Despite booking the trip during usual school time, the pool was a little too crowded. The hot tubs also. I found on Lido, the hot tubs were full of kids. The Serenity was better to get into. Both the lido and the serenity music was a little to loud. I however know we had a large amt of older clients this trip and I often heard them say it was too quiet. The day in Grand Cayman was beautiful! We did the reef and shipwreck snorkel. None of us have snorkeled before, our guides were funny, helpful and very encouraging, a fun time was had by all. They even provided a cooler of ice to keep our drinks we brought with us cold. We paid about $44 each and found it worth the trip, cannot wait to see the pictures. We walked about Grand Cayman and went back to the boat by midday. (8-2pm was the docked time). Although the food is safe on the islands, due to budgeting for our large group, we went cheap and ate on the ship whenever we could.As for Cozumel, we just walked around, shopped, hit Senor Frogs, (our group split up). Where we docked at port, it was a cab fare to Senor Frogs and the main shopping mall. $7.00, each way. The roads are horrible, bumpy and dangerous. I would not want to walk it. I stayed with my Mother and pushed the wheelchair. We often felt as though we were being harassed by the people at the stands in Cozumel. Everyone wanted the American money. We were off ship about 2 hours, that was all my Mother could stand. After a frozen margarita at a local spot, we all returned to the boat. Very easy process with the correct identification. The last fun day at sea was nice but cold, we had a spot of rain and winds, cleared me off the deck, I like the warmth! Overall, we met some very special staff. Our waiter was great, he spoke with us often. We give the cruise ship staff credit, they are away from their families for long periods of time and their friendliness does not reflect some element of sadness being so far away from their families. Everyone smiled and greeted. I always say thank you and hello as I roam around the ship. We had the opportunity to speak at length with a Dancer. He spoke of how the cruise line had strict rules, but none of them were unfair. They were allowed to go to the hot tubs on their off time. He said the staff is happy with how they are treated. I give the cruise line kudo's for providing a positive environment for their staff. They all do seem very happy, it is reflected everyday with their interaction with cruisers. Through both my cruises, I noticed that noone was competitive with each other, they all work as a family and team. Our rooms were immaculate, always picked up. I find it amazing that with our strange comings and goings how the steward and staff know when we leave our room, when to replace the towels and open the beds. We were very lucky, we were invited to the Captains Cocktail party, the previous cruiser cocktail party. Free drinks and food. They were nice. We wanted to win a free cruise, no such luck. I did win a free DelSol bag at one of the shopping informative sessions. The photographers were great. We had a wonderful photographer who took the pictures on formal night for the 13 of us, then split us in families. She did a great job. Thanks. I think the photographers should offer a discount on the pictures if ordered in a group. I had such a large group, if I was able to get the pictures I really wanted, it would cost about $500, who can afford that these days. Now for the not so positive comments.... There was too much drinking done on board. I know that is how the ship makes money, and some people have to have fun only when drinking. Not a great example for the kids. There were waiters everywhere asking if we want a drink, a simple no thank you worked. Sometimes if I was in a conversation, a hand up worked well. The pictures were taken all over the ship plus the ones we took. A little overwhelming at times. People like Bingo, I found bingo to be expensive and out of reach for me. The sales pitches throughout the ship make everything seem like gold. I never met my room steward, I would have liked to have met him. I met his assistant. My other family members had the steward knock on the door to introduce himself. We had the gratuity taken off two rooms as they were minor children. Perhaps that is why. Disembarking was horrible. NOT like our last time. The non-US citizens need to go through immigration first. That is US law. The people needed to follow those directions. It held up everyone else from leaving the ship. We did self assist as our flights were not going out until 6pm. We wanted to stay on the ship as long as we could. About 930am my husband had enough and wanted to leave. Empress disembarking floor was packed, and I as the last in my group could not get out of the elevator. I rode the elevator up and down about 4 times. I went up one floor, carried my suitcase down one flight and joined the rest of my group. I think if we were to wait until our zone was called to leave, it would have been better. I would avoid Cozumel and Grand Cayman if you want beach scene only, both you need to sign for excursions to take in a beach. Overall, you get out of a cruise what you put in. Research, read, learn before you go. Prepare and plan your days. Review the Carnival Capers daily events, circle the ones you want to do. Review the layout cards found at the information desk and plan how long it takes to get from your diningroom to the Paris Lounge, etc. Always speak up if you don't like something, they want everyone to leave very happy, they will go beyond the call of duty to make it that way. If you don't like the food, tell them, they will make it right. If you have allergies or special needs, they do not read minds. Communication is a necessary component in satisfaction. I cannot wait to go again!!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We are from Ohio, so the weather here in January can be a bit unpredictable. Instead of flying down the day of embarkment and risking missing our vacation, we flew down the day before and stayed the night in Tampa. We booked a room through ... Read More
We are from Ohio, so the weather here in January can be a bit unpredictable. Instead of flying down the day of embarkment and risking missing our vacation, we flew down the day before and stayed the night in Tampa. We booked a room through Travelocity at the Days Inn East-Ybor city for about $80. The rates there are usually lower, but as it was the week before the super bowl, prices were up everywhere. It was about a 15 minute taxi ride to the hotel which was about $35. If you book this hotel, be advised that if you have an early flight in, they charge you $5 per half hour you arrive before their 4pm check in time. Also, it's not a horrible area and there is nothing but a gas station within walking distance, but they do have several take-out menus available. Day 1: We arrived at the port of Tampa around 10:30 am. Carnival will tell you that you should not show up until 12, but things will be much faster if you do. There is a little coffee shop that offers breakfast, so we grabbed some food and sat outside. Men will come around and offer to take your bags for you. It's not required, but do this! It's free (but they work hard, and carry your luggage around, so why not tip them?) and this also means that when other people are wheeling their luggage around the ship until the staterooms open at 1:30, you are able to explore! Embarkment was a breeze. Have your FunPass ready to go with your ID, and credit card if that's how you are setting up your sign and sail account. (I used cash, so when you get on the ship, go straight to information and set up your account while there is no line. They will say the purser's desk doesn't open until after dinner, but they were open immediately). We took a walk around the outside decks of the ship (we were the only ones on the upper deck!) and took some great pictures. Lunch was being served at the Lido buffet, which was decent (I would recommend going to the indoor buffets for food, everything served outdoors seemed to be the same temp. as everything else). When the staterooms opened at 1:30, we found our room and met our stewardess who's name I could never remember, but she was super sweet. (If you leave a tip the first day asking for ice, you will never be without it). We were seated in the Mardi Gras dining room for the 6:00 dinner. The only thing I regret about this dinner time was that we didn't get to see when we went under the bridge, but I wouldn't have changed the arrangement for the world. I'm not quite sure how the seating arrangements were made, but we were with all people our parent's ages, but we still had a great time. Vanburn "Spice" from Grenada was our headwaiter, and he was wonderful! He made jokes that completely went over the heads of the 3 other couples with us, but had tears rolling down our cheeks we were laughing so hard! Omar from Colombia was the assistant waiter, who was also outstanding. Sani, who brought us our drinks remembered our names and what we wanted to drink after only the first night. He also works the piano bar, and knew us then as well. He was FANTASTIC! There is not one bad thing I can say about the dining room food for the whole trip. The Melting chocolate cake is a must try. Don't ever complain about portion size or not liking your food. Just ask for more/something else. Nobody will question it, and they will bring you as much of whatever you want. There were several nights where we both got 2 appetizers, and my boyfriend got a second lobster on elegant night. You will never go hungry. That night, my boyfriend and I went to the 21 and older serenity deck and sat in the hot tub. I don't know whether people hadn't found it yet, or what, but we had the whole deck to ourselves and it was fantastic. We were exhausted and decided to call it an early night (9pm) but when I woke up and realized there was no clock in the room, I ended up wandering outside to see if it was light yet. I realized later that day that there is a channel that overlooks the bow, so from then on we left it on all night so I could see if the sun had started to come up yet. Day 2 (fun day at sea): The first full day at sea, there were a lot of fun things going on, there was a hairy chest contest which was hilarious, and Felipe, the cruise director (woo-hoo!), had a talk about the shore excursions available (hint: if you don't go to the talks, they play them repeatedly on the one channel if you decide you want to watch it). We competed in the adult putt-putt competition (my boyfriend would be disappointed if I didn't mention he came in 3rd of about 30) It was a blast! That evening was the captain's reception and formal dinner. We dressed up and had lobster, which was phenomenal, but as I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend had seconds... so rather small. This evening I also discovered that they sell punch cards for the drink of the day. You get 5 drinks (including 1 souvenir cup) for about $26. The drinks are $6.95 +gratuity otherwise. After dinner we went to see "Shout," which there was not enough seating for and we stood in the back. It didn't matter, because it was fun and we had a good time singing along and dancing in the back. Then we went to the R rated comedy show in the Candlelight lounge. He was really funny, and used a lot of crowd participation which was fun. Day 3 (Day in Grand Cayman): When I read these reviews before my trip, I never read about port days, because I already knew what I had planned. I'll explain this day because it was not as great as what I had planned, and is the ONLY thing I can find wrong with the cruise experience, and it WAS NOT Carnival's fault. We booked the "Discover Cayman: Stingray, turtle farm, and Hell tour" We got off the tender, and found out our group had already left (we were on time!) We got on a bus with another tour who took us to our group at the boat. The stingrays were fantastic, and I highly recommend this part! When we got off the boat, however, 12 of us didn't have a bus to get on. The bus driver forgot to pick us up. When he came for us, a woman asked for his name, and he said to call him "Goofy," she asked for the bus number and again he replied "Goofy". He told us we would only have 30 minutes at the turtle farm. (his guided tour during the ride was nice, and I did enjoy it) He set a time for us to meet at the bus and told us to leave our belongings on the bus because he would not be leaving. The turtle farm was great! You get to hold the babies and it is wonderful! We came out to meet "Goofy" and he was not there. We found someone from the same company who made up some excuse about "Goofy" and his personal life, but agreed to take us to Hell which is where "Goofy" would be waiting for us. Hell was nice, but there's not much more to say as we were getting very close to missing the last tender out of Grand Cayman at this point and I was in a full blown panic. We made it, but I was upset, so I talked to the people at the information desk, who were very concerned and understanding, and refunded 25% of our shore excursion cost. I hate complaining, but thought it should be mentioned. Dinner was great as usual, and every night after dinner when we came back to the room there was a different towel animal waiting for us. I fell in love with the manatee we received the first night and our stewardess taught me how to make him! I told her how much I loved Stingray city, and the final night she made me a stingray. While I'm on the topic of our stewardess, I'll mention that she came twice a day, everyday, and provided turndown service at night which was nice to come back to. The room had razors (which I forgot), toothpaste, antacids, soap, body wash, beach towels, and the softest robes EVER. It was wonderful. And our room, which was an inside room with a queen was very spacious. There was a fake window, which made it less claustrophobic for me. Day 4 (Day in Cozumel): We did the mini jeep and snorkel tour. It was fantastic, and I'd never be able to say enough how absolutely wonderful our tour guide Alvero (Al) and his driver Wally were. It was a perfect trip and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a (very safe) adventure. Such a beautiful tour! We made it back with two hours left, so we did some souvenir shopping and stopped at the Three Amigo's bar. We had lunch (very good) and 3 margaritas each (the best I've ever had) and it was under $60, which was reasonable for how much we drank. That night we went to the Carnival Colors deck party and had a great time dancing and cheering for the Blue team! We also went to the love and marriage game show which was a definite must see. Day 5 (Fun day at Sea): I don't think it ever made it out of the 50's on Friday. It rained steadily until about 4pm. I spent a good portion of the day on the Serenity deck in the hot tub with a family from Dallas, and a couple from Alaska. My boyfriend slept off his margaritas. We got lunch at the buffet (like we had done for breakfast and lunch all week, and it was good) and then went back to the room and watched "The Dark Knight" which was nice, because it's a recent movie. Dinner was fun, but sad to say goodbye to our wait staff and the other couples. It was still very cold after dinner, so we called it an early night. Day 6 (Debarkment): We did the self assist, and were off the boat by 8:15. Customs was a breeze, and we had purchased transfers through Carnival (hint: your boarding pass is in your FunPass documents) and were to the airport ready to head home by 9:00. All in all it was a fantastic vacation, and I couldn't have asked for a better last hoorah before I start my new job on Monday. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We are 3 in our family traveling on our first cruise from the UK, tired and a little bit jet lagged from our flights on the Saturday as we drove to the pier 4 our first site of Carnival Victory is seared into my memory I was overwhelmed ... Read More
We are 3 in our family traveling on our first cruise from the UK, tired and a little bit jet lagged from our flights on the Saturday as we drove to the pier 4 our first site of Carnival Victory is seared into my memory I was overwhelmed at the size of her and felt a lump in my throat as my little boy looked at me and said " wow Mum its beautiful" and I thought yes she is! embarkation was swift and we were on the ship within 25 mins and straight up to deck 9 the Lido rum punch in hand ( and no its not free) but who cares you are on your holidays. Our little boy was straight in the pool and so was I it was hot and the water all though a little on the green side was cool (they don't fill the main pool until the next day ) our first night was casual but we still made an effort when we got to our suite it was lovely lots of room separate dressing area our whirlpool bath did not work but we didn't even bother to say anything I was just in heaven. After dinner and muster drill which was very hot and after telling my son for the 15th time that we were not going to get a go in the life boats as part of the drill we set sail and it was very smooth you could not really feel it as we pulled out of San Juan and into the dark night everyone was dancing and having fun on the lido deck there was American football playing on the wide screen. Then the American effect began as we came to name it, people talk to you yes they do !! and you start talking back first it was our accent that drew them but by the end of the cruise we had met so many different people from all walks of life as well as one other British couple with a little boy our son's age, but it would not had mattered if we had not as we felt so comfortable every where we went, The crew can't do enough for you nothing is to much trouble. The Pacific dining room was a rush to get to every night after excursions so next time i would rather do an 8pm dinner instead of 6pm but it probably suited our son as he was always ready to eat after so much fun filled sun filled days!! we were tired because we tried to do so much, would we cruise again like a shot waking up early and coming out onto our balcony we saw dolphins and flying fish along side the ship one morning how can you beat that. I loved the glamour of formal nights we spent $300 on photos (my other half won on roulette so he was happy and our son was just happy and kept telling me he did not want to leave), but what great memories and nearly every one we saw had dressed up I am so glad we brought along the best of British black tie I got compliments on my dresses!! My other half looked handsome in his DJ my son looked lovely in his suit and it was just so romantic I loved it. My only small moan and it is small is that a lot of the bar staff do not not have very good English so making them understand your drinks was a bit of a pain but apart from that well done Carnival Victory !! and to all the Americans who made us feel so welcome thank you can't wait to do it again. PS the beds on this ship are fantastic my creaking back was in bliss !! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
This was my second cruise, and by far the more exotic. The main focus for us was the incredible itinerary, so it was surprising how noisy and drunk the passengers seemed to be. A large number rarely got off the boat, which amazed me, but ... Read More
This was my second cruise, and by far the more exotic. The main focus for us was the incredible itinerary, so it was surprising how noisy and drunk the passengers seemed to be. A large number rarely got off the boat, which amazed me, but we found that many of the passengers had taken the exact (or similar) cruise several times before. The ship seemed a little gaudy with expanses of emerald green glass and half-naked mermaids everywhere. The art was what my mother would call "questionable," although honestly, it was not an entirely unattractive ship. It was also very clean and orderly. The food was mostly delicious. I especially enjoyed the chilled soups and the desserts. Service in the dining room was fantastic, and it was obvious they made an effort to make sure we had a good time. The buffet restaurants on Carnival ships apparently aren't as good, but this one was serviceable, and there was something of a hidden, uncrowded area with a great view where passengers could get hot dogs or hamburgers. The cabin stewards were also friendly and helpful. We also had a minor maintenance issue, and it was resolved immediately. The room (on deck 6) was a little noisy as we could hear revelers until fairly late. Possibly they were people drinking one deck below as a lot of the bars are on deck 5. We didn't see anyone so drunk they needed to be brought onboard in a wheelchair (which happened on the Elation in 2005), but the cruise director's attitude was that there's no time for sleeping on this cruise, just party, party, party. After spending a full day in each port, we didn't have much energy left for partying, but that was fine. We enjoyed almost all of our Carnival-sponsored shore excursions, and found friendly people throughout the Caribbean. My mom said she would love to do this exact cruise again. I'm more interested in seeing places I've never been to before, so I'm tempted to lobby Carnival to send the Victory on cruises with totally different ports. Instead of hitting St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, and St. Kitts, it could call at Tortola, Martinique, Grenada, St. Vincent, Guadeloupe, and St. Maarten. That would be another fantastic cruise if a highly unlikely one. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We flew into Tampa from Pennsylvania. Had a fog delay and missed our connection in Detroit. This was a nightmare we have traveled on the day of the cruise before with no problems but not this time. We called the emergency travel delay ... Read More
We flew into Tampa from Pennsylvania. Had a fog delay and missed our connection in Detroit. This was a nightmare we have traveled on the day of the cruise before with no problems but not this time. We called the emergency travel delay number from Carnival and they were great as we didn't get to Tampa until 2:45pm and were the last guests on the ship. Missed the muster drill because of this but that wasn't such a bad thing. We had an inside cabin but we got an upgrade to a 4-F with an obstructed view of the life boats. We had a balcony door but no balcony. The cabin was big enough for the 4 of us, but it could have used more hangers in the closet, next time I will bring my own. Also the hair dryer is in a drawer and it is attached to the drawer so it was hard to use. I will also bring my own the next time. My husband wanted to use the gym but it seemed crowded most of the time and not much free weight equipment either. Our dining waiters were Ryan and Venera they were great very nice to our kids. Our stateroom person was Omar he was nice but didn't see alot of him. But my 18yr old liked to sleep late. They club 02 was ok but my 16yr old said the club on the Inspriation was better. The ship itself was nice and clean and very easy to get around. The entertainment was ok boring at most. Jen the cruise director was okay alittle annoying at times, but I have been on ships where the cruise director was great. We never had a problem getting a chair by the pool it was better in the adults only section but when its hot the pool deck gets really hot and also the stairs into the pool we hot. Getting off the ship was not bad we were one of last numbers to be called and we had breakfast and went back to our stateroom and stayed there until the stateroom attended asked us to leave. One thing we learned is that we will travel the day before as I said before we had a travel delay and it was very stressful as we were not sure that we were even going to make the cruise. Lesson learned. We didn't do any tours from the ship as they can be costly especially for 4 people. We are looking forward to our cruise on the new Carnival Dream in November. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Embarkation and Debarkation were very smooth we did "walk off" and liked that they did it by floor - made it fast and civilized... We were pleased with our balcony cabins - on the port side of ship forward on the Lido deck. ... Read More
Embarkation and Debarkation were very smooth we did "walk off" and liked that they did it by floor - made it fast and civilized... We were pleased with our balcony cabins - on the port side of ship forward on the Lido deck. During a warmer time of year on this cruise I would choose starboard because you do get sun most of the day on the balcony. There was some motion but nothing unusual but we do not suffer from motion issues. It was quiet having cabins both above and below. The location on the Lido deck was excellent - no fighting for an elevator to get to pools, buffet, etc... Also there are self serve laundry facilities on this floor.Food was better than expected - we came in with low expectations and were pleased with the food. It's not Disney but we thought food was as good (though not as much selection) as what we have enjoyed on royal caribbean and the level of dining room service was also comparable to RC. Unlike others experiences the steaks we were served in the dining room were cooked to our order and tender and enjoyable. The buffet food was standard buffet fair, not the best, but much better than having to feed the family myself. I was impressed with the availability of good fresh fruit throughout the cruise. We did do the Emerald Dining Room for $60/couple. We were one of a few couples present the evening we did it. That meal on land would cost more than the $60 you pay but is not the wonderful deal that RC's upgraded dining is at $20/couple additional...The service was attentive but also not at the level of our dining experience on the RC Liberty of the Seas which was truly phenomenal. Camp Carnival was wonderful! The kids had a great time and I was very pleased with the variety of crafts and activities that they had planned. Having an 8 and 10 year old they were not in the same group which actually turned out to be a plus as they enjoyed each other more when they were not in camp. There were not that many kids on board as we sailed the first week that school was back in January - so I do wonder if it would be as fun when there are many more kids there during high season. We were pleased with our cabin and the overall cleanliness of the ship and cabins.. Seemed like a fair amount of effort was put into keeping things clean and disinfected. I liked that they had the hand sanitizers at the end of the buffet lines but would love it if they would make it more mandatory like on Disney. I heard one older man boasting to his friend - I don't use those and I don't wash my hands - and no I don't think he was joking around. We didn't do many activities but enjoyed the comedian, the marriage show, and another game show. We were disappointed that they only had one little sports bar showing the BCS National Championship. I do not understand how a ship built in 2003 cannot have big screen tvs. We asked at the pursers desk and spoke with one of the entertainment staff member but apparently the only "big screen" is in the amber palace where they do the evening shows. Even the sports bar just has a whole lot of smaller tv's - they also showed it on like an oldschool 42in tv at the casino bar and people were stacked 3 deep. We would have had a better viewing experience in our family room... The ship is smoky - smoking is allowed pretty much everywhere - the sports bar where our 10 year old would have liked to play sports trivia games available and watch sports on tv with Dad was also one of the cigar smoking areas so we stayed out. Overall the facilities did not seem well designed for a ship of it's size - it seemed like a rabbits warren of little bars which always seemed to be vacant. It would have been nice to have some larger more useable facilities like a good size sports pub... Also the pools are small - there are 3 and they are about the size of a good size FL resident backyard pool. Our kids didn't bother. And yes if you want a lounge chair get up early and go throw something down. We usually went to breakfast 7ish and there would already be many chairs with books etc marking that they were taken. Overall value - it was cheap and I think a very good value for the money. We actually had two cabins on this cruise but I think next time we agreed we would rather just have one cabin but go on a larger ship with more and better designed public spaces. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Valor Eastern Sailing Date 12-28 Pre-embarkation. Stayed at Embassy Suites near airport, booked over 6 months prior to cruise. Was hugely disappointed in the Embassy Suites and cannot honestly recommend it at all. Carpeting in the ... Read More
Valor Eastern Sailing Date 12-28 Pre-embarkation. Stayed at Embassy Suites near airport, booked over 6 months prior to cruise. Was hugely disappointed in the Embassy Suites and cannot honestly recommend it at all. Carpeting in the suite was filthy. After DD walked on the floor for about half an hour, the soles of her feet were nearly black. Turning off the shower made an LOUD hammering noise. Maintenance didn't seem concerned enough to come check it out. Was initially told, when booking this place, that parking for cruise patrons was free. It was not. Found out we would be charged 10 dollars per day. Was told that the shuttle to POM was free for guests. Nope. Add another 30, plus 30 for return trip from POM to retrieve car. Add in gratuities for bell service, and shuttles, the cost was more than parking at POM ($ 140). And, had we parked at POM, we could have been on the road much sooner. Embarkation. Easy as pie. Took about 40 minutes from drop off to entering the gangway. Porters were quick to offload the shuttled bags and take to drop off for Valor. Porters were grateful for tips. Embarked at 12:30 and headed to Rosies and Fish and Chips. Spent the afternoon showing DD (her first cruise) around the ship and orienting her as to where our cabin was, Camp Carnival, etc. Bags arrived by 2 and we went into cabin then. 90 days prior to cruise, we emailed Carnival for special dietary needs for DD, and to ensure refrigerator for her meds. At cabin, finally got into the minibar/fridge, but had no room because of soda's and beer. Removed beer and sodas and placed on counter top, used fridge for meds. Got charged for a bottle of water that mysteriously was unsealed. Note to self. Next time, have steward remove all items from fridge immediately. Cabin steward was ok. Previous Valor cruise, same itinerary, the steward was like Antonio, the butler in the movie, Mr. Deeds. Not in the sneaky-sneakiness department, although he always seemed to be in the hallways when we were coming in or going out. He was always there to help. This time, cabin was kept clean, etc and serviced efficiently. But, there seemed to be no desire to connect with us as guests, by the steward. Ship appearance. Immaculate. Was always being cleaned, polished. Dining: late seating, Washington ballroom. Food was excellent, and service was good. Vishnu and his assistant, Michael went to great lengths to keep the table happy. Table mates: Couple with their 8 yr old son from Fl, We three. DD made dinner most nights. After first night, we were joined by a delightful Mom and her precious daughter from Virginia. We had a extended family table by third night. Menu was good, portions were great. As previously mentioned, we notified CCL in advance of specific dietary needs for DD. Agnetha, in the DR gave us the next days menu's at dinner, so we could preorder for daughter. She went out of her way to make DD happy. Can't brag enough about how they extended themselves for DD. Rosies was always good. Fish and Chips excellent. Mongolian grill at lunch incredible, with Mr. Huang cooking. Deli..indescribably delicious. With as much meat as they put in sandwiches, I'm certain there's going to be a corned beef and pastrami shortage soon. Celebrated DW's birthday in Scarlett's. Food was good. Atmosphere felt crowded with tables placed too closely together and the place was never more than half full. Props to the Scarlett;s hostess for enduring a verbal blasting from 4 ill mannered people, complaining that they had been allowed to wear jeans in the supper club on the Liberty, that they were platinum cruisers, and wouldn't sail CCL again (I hope not, as they really showed their rear ends.) Older couple just being mouthy, younger couple with wife using language and tone that made me, (ex-military) embarrassed for the hostess. If you google the word "A** wipes", I'm fairly sure their picture will be found on the first page. Husband dressed in jeans and a biker shirt. Most definitely inappropriate for Scarlett's, or even the DR. FWIW, DW and I ride motorcycles, so it's not a case of class warfare, here. They were just showing no class at all. Ports of call Nassau....no excursion, just walked into town to see Pirates Museum and see old friend Captain Blah Blah, who is featured on the Nassau pirates excursion info on the cabin tv info channel. Took DD to straw market, also. Constantly yelled at by vendors to braid child's hair, buy this, buy that. St. Thomas. Excursion through CCL for parasailing. Met outside the ship dock area, got into boat, family of 5 and us 3. Our DD went up with both DW and me. We all had at least 12 minutes in the air. Boat named "Holy Chute"..great crew of two. They offer excellent photo's, as their camera is better than the one we had. They sell you the memory card. I recommend that they add a motion video component. Pics were GREAT. Shopped at Havensight. St. Martin. Excursion through CCL for around the island tour. Will not repeat. Dutch side is pretty, good shopping. French side seemed 3rd world as compared to Dutch side. Most shops were closed as it was January 1. 4 ships in port, so some shops open. Ship entertainment: Comedians were not really hot. Seemed like they had just gotten of the "who wants to be a comedian on a cruise ship" line. One was comical. None was gut splitting funny. Best non musical entertainment was Tejas, the dining room magician. Simply outstanding and mystifying card tricks. Musical was ok. Karaoke was fun. Karaoke singers selected for the "Legends" show were good. Stage shows are revealing their age and need revamping. Chris Jefferson was the CD, and kept things going. Special shout out to Amy, the Social Director who is simply, FABULOUS! Camp Carnival: great staff, and activities. DD's transition into a experienced cruiser made easy by the staff. DD made some good friends aboard. Disembarkation. Cattle call because people with higher numbers for debark came earlier than called for. We had # 11. Got up and went to breakfast, enjoyed leisurely breakfast in comfy seats. First time all cruise that deck chairs were available, and not taken over by chair hogs. Debarkation/customs/luggage took 15 minutes once you got off the ship. Customs was a breeze. Lindy Hop/Piano bar was advertised as no smoking. Don't believe it. Smoke and odor kept us out of there. Should consider 1 more port of call, in lieu of three sea days. Consider alternating between Nassau and San Juan, PR. Formal/elegant night. More tuxedoes than I thought, after reading the back and forth about denim and elegant nights. 2 formal nights on this itinerary. I wear tux, DW dresses accordingly. Tuxedoes garnered attention. Too many tshirts at dinner. Thankfully no wife beater shirts in DR. Scarlett's upholding their dress code-YAY!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
Background Info: I sailed with my wife and daughter. This was the 9th cruise for my wife and I (8 Carnival & 1 Royal Caribbean) and the 7th cruise for DD (all on Carnival). We have previously sailed on the following Carnival ships: ... Read More
Background Info: I sailed with my wife and daughter. This was the 9th cruise for my wife and I (8 Carnival & 1 Royal Caribbean) and the 7th cruise for DD (all on Carnival). We have previously sailed on the following Carnival ships: Triumph, Victory, Sensation, Glory, Valor, Liberty and the Legend. This was our 2nd cruise on the Legend. We also sailed on her last year. Pre-Cruise: We flew into Tampa International the day before as usual arriving around 10:30 a.m. We took the free shuttle to the Grand Hyatt hotel (about a 10 minute drive from the airport). I booked the room on Hotwire.com for $105 including taxes. We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to get in our room around Noon. The hotel was very nice and was certainly deserving of its 4 star status. Nice big bathroom for the ladies. I loved the workout facility. The treadmills were top notch and had a TV built in that you could connect your headphones. They also had a nice selection of weight machines and free weights. One drawback was that the hot tub was in the work out facility so it was extremely warm. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the International Mall. It is not a constant shuttle that goes to and from the mall. The shuttle runs 4 times per day each way departing the hotel at 10:15, 1:15, 4:15 and 7:15 and takes about 5-7 minutes. It picks up passengers for a return ride to the hotel when they drop off at the Mall. The International Mall is huge and has just about every store you can imagine. Our original plan was to have lunch at the Cheese Cake Factory (DW loves the Asian salad) but the wait was 45 minutes and we were already starving. We found a nice deli called TooJay's. It was pretty good but not outstanding considering the sandwiches were over $10. The next day we took a taxi to the cruise port (about a 20 minute ride and $35 w/tip). Normally it would have been around $25 but we had the driver stop at a liquor store on the way over to the port. FYI - liquor can be sold beginning at 11:00 am on Sundays. Embarkation: Extremely smooth! We arrived at the port around 11:30, checked in by Noon, eating and drinking by 12:15. Tampa is my favorite port to cruise from. Easy in/easy out. Ship: The ship's dEcor is darker than any of the Carnival ships in which we have sailed. There was quite a bit decorative woodwork throughout the ship. It almost had a gothic feel to it. Not my favorite but still very nice. The layout of the ship is very easy to maneuver. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on the Empress deck (#6244). We managed quite nicely with all three of us. It did not seem crowded at all. The cabin had a sofa bed rather than a bunk bed from the ceiling. DD much preferred the sofa bed since the bunk bed was very cold as it is right next to the air conditioning vent. The cabin was in the back of the ship but we did not notice any extra rockiness. Noise was never an issue since the decks above and below us were all cabins. The bathroom had a gift basket stocked with toothpaste and razors (both men and women). Natanya was our room steward and she did a fantastic job. We rarely saw her but had no complaints. Dining Room: We went with the Total Choice Dining option (open dining) in Truffles Restaurant. The results were mixed. We loved being able to eat dinner on our own schedule. It was especially nice on port days since we did not have to immediately jump in the shower as soon as we returned in order to make a 6:00 dinner seating. We were able to relax and take our time getting ready for dinner. It definitely reduced the stress level for all. What we did not love was the length of time it took to get through all of the dinner courses. A couple of nights we were in the dining room for an hour and 45 minutes. It seemed as if the wait staff was used to everyone eating at relatively the same time. Perhaps they are still working out the kinks. However, I would still not let this stop me from going with the Total Choice Dining in the future. I hope it spreads fleet wide. Something different in the dining room that I have never seen on before was a Table Artist. His name was Ram. He walked around the dining room performing magic tricks at various tables. He was there all week and he spreads himself around to make sure everyone gets a performance. The food was very good. As usual, the soups were outstanding. I loved the lobster bisque, cream of broccoli, pumpkin and mushroom soups especially. Not a big fan of the chilled soups (strawberry, cherry, peach...blech!) The lobster and filet mignon were definitely smaller than last year. In fact, each was paired with another protein as an entrEe'. The lobster was paired with shrimp and the filet was served with another type of beef (can't remember exactly what ...but it was good.) I also noticed that many of the entrEe's had the same side dishes with it on the same night (i.e., peas served with the fish, beef and chicken entrEe's). This probably saved Carnival a few bucks but it certainly did not detract from the overall dining room experience. One last comment......for the life of me I don't get all the rage about the chocolate melting cake. It tastes like an extremely under-baked brownie. DW loved it, though! Lido Deck: Service was excellent and the lines were not too bad even on sea days. I highly recommend the roasted turkey on a country roll (with Swiss of course). The chocolate buffet on the last sea day was disappointing, as usual. In my opinion, they sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. The pizza was a better than last year but still a little on the flimsy side. I like my pizza a little more crispy. Breakfast was the usual fare. Another cutback I noticed is that you no longer serve yourself for bacon, breakfast ham and bagels. You can have as much as you want but a Carnival employee will serve it to you. Probably a good idea as I have seen quite a bit of wasted food. We ate dinner in the dining room so I can't comment on that subject. The late night burger bar was fantastic. Entertainment: Improved from last year. The production shows were Take II and Jazz Hot. Take II was definitely the better of the two. Jazz Hot was mostly music from the 40's. If you are a Tommy Dorsey fan then you will love this show. The comedians were Happy Cole and Max Winfrey. I only saw Cole but he was pretty good. The best show of the week hands down was Incredible Motown Sounds of Marcus Anthony. He has a terrific voice and great personality. Nice thing about him is he show for the early and late performances. Do not miss his show. The Carnival Legends show was a hoot especially for this proud Daddy as my daughter performed! My wife and I really enjoyed going to Satchmo's Bar and listening to the Music Blitz. They played a nice mix of music ranging from CCR to the Beatles to Def Leppard. They were very entertaining. There was a country singer (Dewayne Spaw) that played at various bars throughout the cruise. I didn't see much of his show as I am not a country music fan but he had a nice crowd every time he performed. The karaoke in the Fire Bird Lounge was entertaining. Misty did a great job keeping the crowd going. Social!!!! (you'll get it if you go to karaoke) The cruise director was Jen Baxter was unspectacular. She told the same tired jokes as all the other CDs. Cozumel, Mexico: We went to Paradise Beach and did the each thing. It was a $13 taxi ride each way. They have all the amenities: food, drinks, beach toys, hair braiding, etc..... My recommendation is the guacamole. Get it with the tortilla chips for around $6. A bucket (5 beers) of Dos Equis cost $15. They also have a couple of laptops at the bar that you can use free of charge. They have a wristband you can buy for $10 to get access to the water trampoline and water rock climbing. Something to be aware of is they charge a 20% "service charge" for all credit card transactions. Plan to bring cash to save yourself self money. We also did some shopping at the pier. Belize: We did Belikin Brewery and City Tour. Coral Breeze Limited. We were the only ones on the tour. Cornell was our guide and was very knowledgeable about Belize City. It started out with a tour of the "nicer" part of Belize and then moved to the brewery. The actual tour of the brewery only took about 30 minutes but was very interesting. At the end of the tour, you are taken to the brewery bar (beautiful) and you have 45 minutes to drink as much as you can. The beer was cold, fresh and delicious. I tried all 5 types. They also have soda as it too is bottled at the plant. The tour concludes with lunch at the Wet Lizard restaurant at the port. Food was pretty good. (This is where you meet for the tour I the morning.) Cost was $66 pp. We did some shopping at with the locals behind the port. Don't worry it is safe. But be prepared to haggle. My wife bought a sterling silver bracelet for $20 that the vendor originally wanted $35. He told her that he would give her that deal but "do not tell anyone". DW and DD also bought designer purses in the port shopping area. I was told they were "a great deal". Grand Cayman: We took the taxi to Sea Grape Beach ($15 each way for all three of us). It was $6 for a beach chair and $5 for an umbrella. We hung out on the beach, swam and enjoyed some liquid refreshments. The food was good too. The jerk chicken is good but be warned it is SPICY. This is not the port to drink at as the beers were $5 each. No buckets, no specials. Mixed drinks were just as bad. A good day to give your liver a break! We have gone to Royal Palms in our previous trips to Grand Cayman but wanted to try Sea Grape. I would probably go back to Royal Palms in the future as Sea Grape really packed the chairs close together and the employee running the beach was a little on the surly side. She even tried telling us what direction we had to point our chairs in. Costa Maya, Mexico: I booked the Costa Maya Beach Break. The beach is Pez Quadro. The cost was $35 for 18 years and up, $20 for ages 12-17, free for 11 and under. It included chairs, a palapa for shaded and all you can drink. Food was extra but was pretty reasonable. We pre-booked the excursion and our chairs and palapa were ready when we arrived. I would recommend booking in advance especially if there is more than 1 ship in port that day. You may save yourself $5 by booking at the port........but why chance it?Francisco and his brother (sorry, forgot his name) took great care of us. They went out of their way to make sure we had a good time. The beers were cold and the tequila was tasty. Bathrooms were clean. I got a 1 hour massage for $20 ($25 w/tip) and it wonderful (thank you, Maria). Pez Quadro will be my destination the next time I am in Costa Maya. Disembarkation: Smooth, we were in no hurry since our flight was not until 7:00 pm. Miscellaneous: Overall it was a pretty smooth ride. It was a little rocky one night but that was it. The wind was pretty bad a couple of nights. There were not many kids on board for a President's week sailing. Room Service was good. I recommend the tuna salad on an English muffin and the pastrami on rye. They are really tasty at about 12:30 a.m. The room service menu has been greatly enhanced since we sailed last February. Nice! One tip for the men (especially if you are travelling with a couple of ladies in you cabin) - The men's locker room has a wonderful sauna and private showers that have 5 heads (one above and two on each of the left and right walls). These are normal sized showers...not the phone booths in the cabin. I would go over around 5:00 - 5:30 and sit in the sauna for 15 minutes, shower and shave and be back in the cabin ready for dinner in around 6:15 - 6:30. I just discovered this on my 8th Carnival cruise. One criticism - the tendering process leaving the ship was a mess. In Belize, they announced that you could come to the Follies Lounge and get tender tickets at 9:00 and did not hand them out until 9:30. In Grand Cayman, there was an insert in the Capers that said tender tickets would be given out at 9:30 in Satchmo's Bar. However, the back of the Capers said tender tickets would be available in the Follies lounge at 10:00. They were contradictory. And to top it off, they were both inaccurate. They were actually handed out in the Follies Lounge at 9:15. When I asked Mark (the asst cruise director) who was responsible for making sure the information given out was accurate and consistent his reply was "Not me....I'm not in charge of communications". It was a classic "it's not my job" attitude. This was the only real complaint I had of the entire staff. The gym had very nice equipment. It was busy at the beginning of the cruise but tapered off as the week went along. The cardio machines were busy. Cruise Critic Meet N' Greet: Our Roll Call set up a Meet n' Greet at the aft bar (Unicorn Bar) right after the muster drill. We had a maybe 10 or so people show up. It was nice to meet all of you. If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them either here or via e-mail at runningdad@comcast.net Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
Our cruise was really a nice pleasant cruise and the excursion where wonderful! The Dolphin Swim was absolutely Awesome. We had great people we shared dinner with every night! Tom and Tiffany, Tiffany's Mom and a work mate of ... Read More
Our cruise was really a nice pleasant cruise and the excursion where wonderful! The Dolphin Swim was absolutely Awesome. We had great people we shared dinner with every night! Tom and Tiffany, Tiffany's Mom and a work mate of Tiffany's Mom. We could not have asked for better people to share our meals with. We where stuck on the late dinner which was hard on my Mom who is 70. This was my first cruise and my mother's 3rd. cruise. We had the best food the chefs made the best foods and the desserts where out of this world. We also had a staff member on the Lido Buffet dinning named PI who took the time to learn our names and always greeted us by our names. PI was such a wonderful Staff Member always a smile and a greeting for us. We also enjoy an evening with Carol her daughter Lisa who we did the Mayan Ruins with them then enjoyed drinks out of the Coconut Monkeys. The beds were great and it was quiet on the cruise even though we had an adjoining room. We did have one Loud Mouth Braggart on the Cruise who bragged about winning "ANOTHER FREE CRUISE" in the raffle drawing. He did spoil things for others with his bragging and his big mouth! He really did create a hush in the crowd when he started bragging about winning "Another Cruise". I would say he spoiled it for a lot of people who bought tickets in that raffle! Disembarkation was the pits! We were on the Rivera Deck and the last ones to get off! So we stood the longest in line at customs! We selected Carnival because they go out of Galveston and Mother had cruised with them before. But the one trip on Carnival for me will likely be my last! They said fill out your surveys and get them turned in for the drawing for a "Free Cruise" just before we disembark from the cruise. Well they called my Name. I was so excited and I went to the desk on the main floor and waited to receive a STUPID PIECE OF PAPER to be in their "Monthly Drawing from all the Drawn Names". Needless say I never heard another thing! I had to tell the friends I had made on the Cruise who also where under the mistaken believe that you would Win a Cruise that I got a PIECE of paper for a "Chance" at a cruise. So beware and pay attention to what they say about the Survey and a "Chance to Win" a piece of paper! Carnival calls me four times a week and I decided to cruise with a different cruise line since they feel I am just a piece of paper! This has left a BAD TASTE in my MOUTH! Of course a call to Carnivals Customer Service was on no use either. But they love to call me four times a week to cruise with them again! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
This was my family's fifth cruise together, and we found it to be just as great as the other Carnival ships we've been on, if on a slightly smaller scale due to the Fantasy's physically smaller size. Embarkation was simple, ... Read More
This was my family's fifth cruise together, and we found it to be just as great as the other Carnival ships we've been on, if on a slightly smaller scale due to the Fantasy's physically smaller size. Embarkation was simple, or as simple as it gets when 3 thousand people board a ship. Me and my husband traveled with our three children, ages 6, 7, and 14. Camp Carnival was definitely something they enjoyed, and I know my teen even made a bunch of friends. The ship offered a lot of entertainment, with great Vegas style shows, that my whole family enjoyed. The kids participated in trivia and won several trophies. My husband and I visited the Cat's Lounge, a very odd sort of place in the sense of decor, seeing as everything was constructed from giant-sized cat-themed things. The music was great, and the place was packed most nights. Electricity disco seemed suited to a slightly younger crowd (20-30), but we enjoyed ourselves, being in the early forties ourselves. Great music and a fantastic bar. Fantastic bars all over the ship, actually. The forum lounge seemed a bit outdated, but we enjoyed karaoke there. The lido pool deck had one of those salt water pools I don't particularly enjoy, but it had a decent slide that my kids enjoyed. The hot tubs were ALWAYS full of unruly children, despite the fact that they had a separate hot tub. However, the adult hot tubs were watched pretty closely by the staff, so we were able to relax there. Windows on The Sea restaurant was spacious, with a great salad bar and mediocre food at best. It was also (To my husband and childrens' disappointment) the only place to get ice cream. This was a change from most Carnival ships, which have many ice cream stations. The smell, however, made windows on the sea unbearable. Switching subjects, the kids game room was slightly small, but had many games, including Wii, which is my kids' latest obsession. The Universe lounge had great views of the show, and I was very impressed. The dining was superb, as was the service, and my husband and I loved the exercise machines and Spa Carnival. Overall, the ship was great, especially for a first timer, but for experienced cruisers, like us, it's definitely not the best. Locations: Cozumel is our fave Mexican city next to Cancun, and for the first time, the ship stopped right next to a small resort, which gave us A FANTASTIC PRICE! $85 for a family of five, for unlimited food and drinks, and free hour of snorkel equipment! It had a private beach, pool, bar, hot tub, and restaurant! Unfortunately, I totally spaced on the name of the resort, but we could see the ship (and probably swim to it) from the resort. The food was AMAZING, and we loved it. Our best experience in Cozumel yet. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
This review is a little late but we sailed out of Tampa on the Inspiration in May 2008. This was my fourth cruise with Carnival and my father's first cruise. We decided to do the guy thing and leave the wives at home. We arrived at ... Read More
This review is a little late but we sailed out of Tampa on the Inspiration in May 2008. This was my fourth cruise with Carnival and my father's first cruise. We decided to do the guy thing and leave the wives at home. We arrived at the port around 1000 am and were on the ship around 1145 am. Embarkation was a breeze. The first thing we did was get a large hamburger on the lido deck and then off to explore the ship. I think at this point it started to sink in for my father what an awesome trip this would be. The evolution of fun upgrades were very nice on the ship. The water park is awesome as well as the serenity adults only area. The waterpark didn't take up as much room on the back of the deck as I thought it would. That usually is my favorite spot because the main pool gets so crowded. We were allowed to go directly to our room and drop off our carry on bags which was very nice. We didn't' get to do that on the Sensation so that was a nice touch. The boat drill was quick and painless and we set sail at 4:30 right on schedule. We had the early seating in the dining room so we missed going under the famous skyway bridge in Tampa Bay. The funnel only clears the bridge by several feet. It takes forever to get out of the Bay and into open water. I didn't realize that we would be finished with dinner before hitting the open sea!! The dining staff in the Mardi Gras dining room were fabulous. We had Torcado and Ricky who were lots of fun and very personal. We always had great food and great service. I wont ramble too long about the ship but it's all good. The crew members were the best yet. They all spoke to us and even talked with us when they had time. This was a far better experience than I had several years ago on the Glory. The cruise director Felipe did a good job. The ship was full and it never felt crowded. Grand Cayman was awesome. It takes a while to get off in Cayman because of the tenders but they do the best they can. We went to Margaritaville in both Grand Cayman and Cozumel and had a good time. If you want an awesome five day cruise you will not go wrong on the Inspiration. If you have already booked then you should look forward to it. I loved it so much and so did my father so we are going back in May 2009 on the Inspiration!!! My wife and brother are going with us this time!!! Just remember, Have fun!!! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
     This was the first time my family and I had taken a cruise (my husband and I are both 30 and we took our 9yr old son and 4yr old daughter). We decided to leave from Baltimore because we didn't have to fly. We drove there from ... Read More
     This was the first time my family and I had taken a cruise (my husband and I are both 30 and we took our 9yr old son and 4yr old daughter). We decided to leave from Baltimore because we didn't have to fly. We drove there from the Eastern Shore of MD. The Carnival Pride was a beautiful ship and our balcony stateroom was awesome. Although we had nothing to compare it to. However my mom and dad also went along with us on this trip. They have sailed with Carnival before on the Glory. They said that the staff, entertainment, and food on the Pride dwarfed in comparison. I myself was a little dissapointed in the friendliness of the staff. I have heard countless testamonials from other cruisers on how amazing the staff on Carnival's cruises are. However on the Pride you could definately tell that most of them were there just to do their job. There were a couple of exceptions though. Our room steward Gede was great. We also had a very friendly bar waiter- Taufik.      The entertainment on the Pride was good. The shows were excellent. Although if you are traveling with kids, keep in mind that the show "Vroom" has VERY skimpy outfits. I'm talking g-strings. My husband didn't mind but I was glad that my 9 year old son was at Camp Carnival. My son loved Camp Carnival. He spend most of his evenings there while we were just lounging around or catching a show. They offered a wide variety of activities to keep the kids entertained. My daughter did not want to go just out of her shyness. Plus, the camp is in the very front of the boat and when she did go the first day I think it was just a little too rough up there for her. I do not get motion sickness, but after visiting the ship's arcade with the kids one evening (also in the fwd part of the ship) I felt nauseated. The Pride also offered a lot of activities for adults. Do yourself a favor and catch the men's hairy chest competition if you have never seen it before. It was a riot! I also attended one of the bingo games on board. I thought the bingo was quite expensive. They play 1 game and it is $20 for a sheet with 3 cards on it. They also offer live music on the lido deck every day. The music was ok, I just wish they would put in a new sound system or fix the one they have. The music came across screechy and very LOUD. You could not hear the people at your own table talking to you.     On this cruise my family opted out of the formal dining. All of us just went to relax and we did not want to dress up. So, the only food I can comment on is what came out of the Mermaid Grille. The food was again....just okay. They offered a different meat selection every night. However, the side dishes remained the same for the most part. Lets just say I don't want to see steak fries or white rice for a while. The cheeseburgers and hotdogs poolside where really good. Just don't go there at lunch time and expect not to wait. The line wait was about 20-25mins long between noon and 1pm. If you have a sweet tooth, they offer an awesome dessert buffet during the lunch hours. I did find the lunch meal to be better than the dinner. Especially if you want different selections.     All in all this was a great cruise. My family needed a relaxing vacation and Carnival provided it! I will definately sail with Carnival again, but on a different ship. The Pride didn't show me anything I will CRAVE to see again. I guess they just need a little more time in their new port to get it together. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
Having cruised many times before and a lot on Carnival, we were ready for another great vacation. This was the first time on a ship of the Triumph's class, and we were cruising with a group of 8. The Carnival reservation staff was ... Read More
Having cruised many times before and a lot on Carnival, we were ready for another great vacation. This was the first time on a ship of the Triumph's class, and we were cruising with a group of 8. The Carnival reservation staff was very helpful with making all of the arrangements and getting us a dinner seating all together. They even got us cabins right next to each other. It was only too bad the experience didn't transfer to the ship! This was out first time departing from the Port of Miami. Since the cruise experience begins at the port, choosing your departure port can make or break your first impression. I recommend trying to find a cruise at any port in Florida EXCEPT Miami! Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, and Orlando are all great! The Port of Miami was disgusting! First of all, since the Port parking can be very expensive and we had to take 2 cars for our group, we elected to hire a limousine service. The cost was about the same as the parking fees for 2 vehicles, and we were all excited about dropping off in a Hummer Limo! When we arrived at the port, they would not let the limo drop us off with our bags like every other port we have cruised from. We were dropped off in the middle of the tour bus rows where we had to lug all of our bags about 100 yards to the entrance. We were suffocated with diesel exhaust as we gathered our belongings from the limo. No porter service was available where we were dropped off. Once we drug all of our bags to the entrance, we discovered that Carnival was late in opening the gates for ship boarding. Someone told us the ship had not been cleaned yet. This was a first for us. Anyway, we joined a long line forming down the sidewalk waiting to go inside. It was about 90 degrees in the blazing sun as we all stood there and began to sweat waiting to get inside the building. There were no facilities available outside, and we waited more than an hour! Carnival did absolutely nothing to accommodate passengers waiting in the hot sun, and they seemed to care less. Once inside, the port of Miami had the slowest boarding process we have ever experienced at any port. The port staff were rude and obnoxious. We also were pushed and shoved in the line by other passengers. I had never experienced anything like this before! Once we finally got on board and visited our staterooms, we discovered one of the rooms in our group had been decorated with Happy Birthday crepe paper all over the place. It was a nice touch, but nobody in our group had a birthday and we didn't order the decorations. Obviously, somebody else had paid for the decor and had nothing. Since the decorations were hanging everywhere, we asked the room steward to remove them. He only smiled and walked away, apparently he didn't speak english. We had to tear the stuff down ourselves. So far, we were not impressed with this cruise. We decided to go upstairs and get something to eat at the buffet, to our surprise, there was a long line forming all the way out the pool deck! I had never seen this before on a Carnival ship! We were soon learning that the monster ships really have all of the same amenities on the upper decks, but just have extra decks of rooms to jam more people on board. I immediately began to feel like there were way too many people on this ship!...The long lines persisted the entire cruise. Our dinner seating also was a disaster. Our group of 8 was placed at a table along the side of the dining room and was apparently the only route into the dining room for persons needing assistance. Every time another wheel chair came along the person sitting at the end of our table had to interrupt his meal and stand up so the wheel chair could pass. This was ridiculous, so we squeezed him along the side of the table. We still got our table bumped, drinks spilled, and knees jammed sitting at this table for 2 nights. The staff seemed to care less about our dining experience. We finally requested a table change only to get a very sarcastic remark from the Head Waiter. He insinuated that our group did not want to help with the assistance of disabled passengers, as if we were supposed to sacrifice our cruise experience. Why doesn't Carnival just make the aisles a little larger?? What a rude man! One morning at the buffet restaurant, our group tried to find a table to all sit together. Again, it seemed like there were too many people on the ship! When we found a large table and began to sit down, a man ran over and told us he was "saving" the table for his group. We had never seen anything like this before on any cruise ship! The man insisted, and began to shout and act like a fool in front of everyone. I had never seen anyone behave in this fashion on a cruise ship before. Our group found another table. These types of things seemed to go on the entire week long cruise, ranging from dining room problems to pool side crowds, etc. I felt like we bought a discount cruise and were joined by low class slobs that had zero manners! Immediately after arriving back home I contacted Carnival to express my disgust with the entire cruise experience. I also advised Carnival that we were return customers and had cruised Carnival many times before. They didn't care, and only made excuses for the port and everything else that went wrong. They offered $100 of onboard credit if we decided to cruise with Carnival again, but they then issued a time limit on when we must book the cruise in order to use the credit! What a joke! I told them to keep their $100 bucks and that I would not cruise Carnival again. They sent the $100 voucher in the mail anyway! We have not cruised on Carnival again, and will never do so. Carnival lost good customers and they don't even care! We have now switched to Royal Caribbean and find their level of service much more accommodating. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
Got to Tampa it was a little crowded, but the lines moved quickly. We recommend valet parking, you won't miss the extra $15 when you are going on a cruise. And just walking on the ship is way more convenient When we got in it was so ... Read More
Got to Tampa it was a little crowded, but the lines moved quickly. We recommend valet parking, you won't miss the extra $15 when you are going on a cruise. And just walking on the ship is way more convenient When we got in it was so awesome! We went to the lobby (if you have been on the legend, you would know what I mean) the base of the lobby looked like a flower. The ship is still very new looking and very clean. Our room wasn't ready when we got there, but not unexpected since we got there a bit early. The cabin steward was cleaning when we got there and had a chance to meet him. Good time to slip a couple of bucks his way to ensure his best efforts. Don't know if it made a difference, but our service was excellent the entire trip. After the required lifeboat drill, we spent the rest of the evening exploring the ship. As mentioned above, its a grand ship. I like the theme better than some of the other Carnival Ship, less Vegas, more elegance. It still has the requisite amount of neon, but more tasteful than some of the other ships we've been on. I would have to say the food was the low point. It wasn't bad, but several dishes were overcooked, or just weren't perfected yet. They said they just changed the menu and this might have been the reason for the inconsistency. One exception was the supper club. If you go on the Legend, the supper club is a must. Its the best $30/person you can spend. A brief word on the the shore excursions. We booked the (almost) sub ride in Grand Cayman, the cave tubing in Belize, the snorkeling in Honduras (Roatan Island) and finally the Tulum Ruins in Cozumel Mexico. I would have to say the cave tubing in Belize was the most fun. Its quite a hike, but well worth it. The others were all very well organized, regardless of debarkation (dock or tender). One word of caution, if you do use a tender, use whatever sea sickness med or remedy you prefer. These boats are not as stable as the large cruise ships. (Olivia) The Camp Carnival was great 6-8's will watch moves, play games, video games, build stuff and they will put a poster was up for making stuff animals it was awesome! Snack before waiting in line 1.50$ Valid Parking 15$ Buying another Snack 3.50$ Seeing your child's face when you walk in ... Priceless Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
After flight delays and a rush to the port we were the last few guests to arrive. We were warmly received and were on the ship within 10 minutes. Our steward had decorated our stateroom with birthday banners and decorations hanging from ... Read More
After flight delays and a rush to the port we were the last few guests to arrive. We were warmly received and were on the ship within 10 minutes. Our steward had decorated our stateroom with birthday banners and decorations hanging from the ceiling and walls. I also had a birthday gift including a picture frame and carnival pin. They also brought me a birthday cake at dinner. Note that my mom had pre-ordered and paid for the birthday surprises. The pool deck and all surrounding areas were completely packed already and this became a regular occurrence throughout the cruise. On sea days there was always entertainment on the pool deck and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It's important to get a chair early before they are all claimed. The pools are nice and less crowded than the hot tubs. I never went in the hot tubs because they were always full. The exercise room and spa had fantastic views. There were windows everywhere with a great view of the ocean as we cruised. The gym was crowded at some times but was clean and had good equipment. The spa was relaxing and the service was great. They offered spa deals every day so don't book everything on the first or second days. The shows every evening in the theater were very entertaining and I went to them every night after dinner. It's important to get there early to get a good view as well. By the end of the day I was always exhausted so I never went to the dance clubs but they looked like fun passing by. During the day there were talks on board about shopping at each port and information sessions about jewelry and other goods. The talks were informative but drawn out and I imagined myself by the pool instead of listening to what shops offered what goods. The free jewelry they used to lure us there was cheap and disappointing. Being outside during the day enjoying the entertainment on the pool deck was way more fun. The food was plentiful and could be found all over the ship. The buffets at lunchtime and the grill on the pool deck were always packed with long lines. I learned to have a snack just before lunch and have lunch after the rush. The Mongolian bbq was awesome. I always looked forward to dinner in the Olympian dining room. The food and service was outstanding. The menu had plenty of options (only a couple for vegetarians) and it was an all-you-can-eat gourmet dinner. There were main courses that were available every day in addition to the daily specials. The desserts were especially delicious. After dinner they brought coffee and tea with dessert. I ordered Earl Grey the first night and our server automatically brought it every night after. Having the same servers every night was great and we got to know them all very well. We were seated at a large table with 10 other guests who we chilled with for the duration of the cruise. We spent time with them during the day and went to shows together after dinner. We became a very diverse and fun family. The ship was well kept and clean. The decor was fun and interesting. The service was great! The beds, blankets and pillows are incredible. I looked forward to going to sleep and there's a reason they sell the blankets on board. If I had money to spare I would definitely buy one. Overall the ship was huge and there was more than enough to keep us busy. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
We (Me, my Wife, my Son, his wife and my 2 grand daughters ages 14 and 6) had a great 5 day cruise on the Ecstasy to the Bahamas. Our cabin was E60 and E28. The cabins was nice the Cabin steward was good. The ship was clean and the crew ... Read More
We (Me, my Wife, my Son, his wife and my 2 grand daughters ages 14 and 6) had a great 5 day cruise on the Ecstasy to the Bahamas. Our cabin was E60 and E28. The cabins was nice the Cabin steward was good. The ship was clean and the crew was very friendly and seems to be a very happy ship. Entertainment: We saw the comedy club for 4 shows 2 regular and 2 x rated. They were ok but the late shows were the same as the early shows with a few cuss words. There was a show the Blues Brothers that was fantastic, The Cruise Director Chris stared in it and he was great. He is very entertaining and held the audience. In my 10 Cruises he is the first one to make a difference in my Cruise. The show The Brits were very entertaining, We never did catch the Motown show. Food: We ate in the MDR Windstar we had anytime dinning but manage to have the same wait staff for all our dinners. The food was excellent. Our wait staff was outstanding Robert, Armnando and Fernando were Great the service was outstanding, they really made over my granddaughter. The Ports: This is where this cruise lets you down. I knew this when I booked it . We like the ship and wanted to enjoy what the ship had to offer. First port was Freeport it is a quiet island which offers to little to cruisers. We had book the glass bottom boat but they cancel it because there were only 8 people booked. We walked along the shops at the port and returned. My wife and I rested on deck reading the Grandkids enjoyed the pool and the slides. They had a great time. The second Port was Nassau. I have been here about 5 or 6 times it has more than Freeport but is a dirty nasty place the first thing you face venders trying to sell you junk, they will use anything they can including threats to harm you. Once past them there are stores most of them are honest and above board but don't go much more than 2 or three blocks from the port. On one cruise that stopped there c'ruisers have gotten robbed so stay close to the ship. The straw market offers a lot of stuff but never pay the price asked for it is all marked up very high. They will haggle on every item. Most items you see there will have 4 or 5 sellers of the same item so shop around. My son having been there before refused to get off the ship so we stayed on board. The 3rd port was Half Moon Cay. This is heaven on earth my first stop here and we loved it. We rented a cabana it was beautiful the beach was wonderful the lunch was prepared by the ships dinning staff with Hot dogs, Hamburgers and most of the items offered at the ships grill. The water was a pretty blue we all had a great time. The last day was a sea day which we did the same an in the first port. A very good cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
Our 2008 Family Cruise included my wife and I, our 3 kids 19, 16 and 13, my wifes sister and husband and replacing the 19 YO girlfriend was one of his 19 YO friends for his 1st cruise. We flew down on 8/10/2008, the day before and ... Read More
Our 2008 Family Cruise included my wife and I, our 3 kids 19, 16 and 13, my wifes sister and husband and replacing the 19 YO girlfriend was one of his 19 YO friends for his 1st cruise. We flew down on 8/10/2008, the day before and stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown. We flew Jet Blue into Fort Lauderdale which which was fine and visited the Miami Seaquarium on the way to the hotel. The Seaquarium was fun, we enjoyed the whale and Flipper shows while dodging the rain and lightening. After the shows we headed off to the hotel for check in. The hotel was fine for what we needed and we walked to Bayside for dinner and shopping. We used Top Shuttle for our transportation and everything was good. Sunday morning we had breakfast and arranged with the hotel for transportation to the port, this was included in our hotel package. We were picked up at 10:30 and arrived at the port and heading into the terminal just before 11. We waited in the Empress Deck line until the windows opened at 11, we were 3rd in line. After a quick check in, we sat waiting for the ship to be available, this happened at 11:45 and after they let 2 wedding parties onboard, all others were able to board. We went right to the food and at this time the lines were short, about 1/1:30 the lines were very long. The ship was great and looked to be in great shape, everyone was off and running. The adults had one thing to do because we were placed in 2 different dining rooms for dinner and you cannot have a Family Cruise in 2 locations. We were told to go to the Pride dining room at 1:30. We had Pride 107 and the SIL/BIL were in the Spirit dining room. We did not wait until 1:30 as we saw the doors open at 1 and went in, we were helped right away and an empty table for 8 was found at a window in the Spirit dining room, this was perfect for us and made our cruise. Diner was great all week and we loved our waiter and his asst. We had connecting staterooms which we good but seemed smaller than others that we have had, luckily we are not there enough to care so all was good with that. The 13 and 16 YO's went to kids club the first night or 2, the 16 YO met friends and she was set for the week, the 13 YO did meet some kids but the 12-14 YO group needs some help big time, they have a way to go to make it interesting. Service in the rooms was efficient but not great, the room was clean and we had towel animals but that was it. Activities on the ship are a direct result of the cruise director. Jorge was a great speaker and he is probably the funniest CD I have seen but the activities were lacking. The bingo was all over the place, some of the game shows etc were available for only early dinner people, there were times where nothing was scheduled and other things scheduled at the same time, it was chappy at best and did not flow well. We enjoyed the shows, all of them, it takes a talent to dance on a moving ship. Stops and excursions. We love Grand Turk, planned on sitting on the beach and at the pool and that is what we did, I did take a nice walk to the right of the pier, the older boys did the flowrider, it was good but needs better organization there. Half Moon Cay is our favorite all time stop, we love this beach, we sat on the beach and played in the water, I took a nice walk all the way down the beach, the boys played volleyball and did the jet skis, it is a great place that I will go back to many times. Nassau, the 3 older kids wento to Blackbeards Cay to snorkel and had a great time, I took my 13 YO to the Hilton and rented a boat and tooled around for awhile with him, he liked that a lot. In the afternoon we shopped a bit. On the last day, we did not have flights until 5:00 so we planned on taking our time getting off the ship. We sat around until after our # had been called but when it got to be 10:30 or so everyone wanted to leave so we headed off with still plenty of people on the ship. Getting off and going through customs was painless and we were in Fort Lauderdale just about noon. In summary, this was our 6th cruise and it was a blast. Our new cruiser had the time of his life and is currently talking his family into going on a cruise. He lived at the ping pong table, the pool and anywhere else he could be in just his bathing suit. He actually liked the Strawberry Bisque soup so much that they brought him 8 bowls if you can believe that. Great ship, great cruise and the best stops. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
Monday - Arrival The Port at Miami is owned by Carnival Cruise lines, so it's state of the art - they have a lot of their people working there - getting on board was really fast and really easy - their people are great at getting ... Read More
Monday - Arrival The Port at Miami is owned by Carnival Cruise lines, so it's state of the art - they have a lot of their people working there - getting on board was really fast and really easy - their people are great at getting people in and out as quickly as possible so you can get on the ship. Even though boarding time was 12:00 pm, the rooms weren't actually ready until 1:30 (or so their letter said) - we got on at around 1:00 pm and went to our room anyways, it was done, although I know some people were waiting around the lobby for their rooms to finish. Our family of 5 got 2 rooms - the first cruise with Carnival last summer, the 5 of us got one room because we had no idea how small or big the room was going to be. The rooms are a nice size (considering you're on a boat with thousands of other people) and as 5 people in 1 room, there were 2 bunk beds and 1 cot right in the middle, so basically there was nowhere to walk. But they only pull out the cot at nighttime during their turn down service, so it's not always there in your way. Depending on how much time you spend in your room, it wasn't that big of a deal for us. This time, we had 2 rooms for the 5 in our family - it was MUCH more comfortable. Originally we had one room for the 5 of us because it's about 500-600 more expensive for 2 rooms, but then a few days before we were going to leave, Carnival upgraded us to 2 rooms right next door to one another! So ask your travel planner to notify you if that is a possibility, they try to accommodate as best they can. My parents had their own room next door and us three kids got our own room - 2 single beds and one pulled down "bunk" bed. It was plenty of room for the three of us. They upgraded the tvs from our last ship, so they were flat screen about 20" and they play different movies (on rerun) every day on cruise, so that was nice - and they were recent movies, too, not old ones. You also get regular cable channels so you can watch the news, and even MTV. In the bathroom, they provided body wash, shampoo, razors for girls and guys (bic), and toothpaste if you need it. There are also plenty of towels so you don't need to bring your own. We just spent our time walking around the ship, it's considerably smaller than our first one (Carnival Victory), so it's pretty easy to navigate yourself around the ship since there aren't that many places to go. The water "park" is BEAUTIFUL - it's new! - and it includes a tube water slide that swirls around (and gets to be pretty fast, actually) and two water slides that go straight down, as well as some cute fountains that spray water for the smaller kids. I would recommend going on these if you come back early or leave later at one of the stops because there are always tons of small children running around there and lines can get long. They close at 5, though, so if you're planning on going when you get back early from one of the stops, keep that in mind - my sister and I were only able to go on the slide about 4-5 times before they told us it was closing. The sun decks are really nice, there's an adult serenity deck where children aren't allowed so it's more peaceful up there than by the pool. The pool is small and there is only one and there is a jacuzzi (two maybe? I forget). They had a couple of activities, nothing amazing. We had our dinner time at 8pm (the late seating) - and the staff was wonderful, as always, our waiter did magic tricks for us every night. We shared a table with another family, if you don't want to do this make sure you let your vacation planner KNOW otherwise you won't have an option. Our first trip we sat at our own table and while it's nice to meet other families, it can get awkward and you aren't able to relax as much because you feel like you need to have a conversation with them. It depends on what kind of personality you are though and what kind of vacation you're looking for. They had shows at night, the shows are nice - nothing amazing - but fun, colorful, and loud all the same. Our cruise director, George (Jorge), was AMAZINGLY WONDERFULLY FANTASTIC - so funny, he used to be a stand up comedian, and if you go to show only for him, it's worth it. Oh and don't let them fool you when you are arriving to check in, you don't HAVE TO check your luggage - but they tell you that so that you'll tip them. We didn't have to the first time, but then this time they confused us by telling us we had to - then later on we saw people carrying on their own luggage onto the ship. Tuesday - Day at Sea Nothing special. Look below for past carnival cruisers. They had activities throughout the day. My family loves their steam and sauna in the spa carnival so we went there usually before dinner and then showered in the spa because the stalls are bigger so it's more comfortable. This steam and sauna room was different from our first cruise - it was about half a size smaller and there were no windows looking out into the ocean. But it was fine, nonetheless, not many people used it so it was peaceful. If you're traveling with children, a good way to save money on soda (which is extra) is to buy your child a fountain card (I think it's about 10-15 less than adults) and they can get endless amounts of fountain drinks, so you can all just share. We did that with our family and it worked fine. They have sushi bar night every night for an hour, a ping pong table, the Carnival Spa which has a spa/steam/sauna room, a small gym, some fitness classes (which you have to pay for - usually $10 per class), some "free" consultation classes about weight less and what not but they usually try to sell you some product and it gets annoying. For people who want to use the spa, the first day of the cruise you can enter a raffle for free spa services - I would recommend that, they give away some fantastic things! it takes some time out of your day to go and put your name in, then you have to go back at the designated time for the drawing - if you aren't there then you don't get it. But they gave away maybe 15 spa services for free. So it was pretty nice. Wednesday - Grand Turks This is the smaller of the Bahama islands, there's actually not much to do or see there but if you do want to do some sightseeing, I would go with something from Carnival because the taxi drivers there charge about $35 per person for a tour of the island and I think you can get something cheaper through Carnival excursions. I would do an excursion this day - one of the snorkeling or scuba diving, apparently there is a lot to see (we didn't do anything this day) - we did take a taxi into "town" but there wasn't anything great to see and we were charged $5 per person for the small ride one way and then another $5 per person on the way back. It's a very poor, developing area - a lot of run down houses, etc. but there is very very little crime - so no need to be worried. The people there are very friendly. Some of the past reviews said you can go and find a scuba rental area on your own - if you are to do this - you NEED to take a taxi there, there isn't anywhere (at least from what we saw and tried to look for) ON the beach where you're docked to look for somewhere to rent equipment from if you don't want to go through Carnival. There is one famous location, if you want to go scuba/snorkeling, you should just go up to the taxi drivers and ask them to take you there - I forgot what it's called, but they all know what it is because there is only one major company on the island who provides it. It was a nice beach, a lot of seaweed so it was kinda gross. If you hate sun, make SURE you rent one of those clam shells because there is NO shade and it gets HOT. You're going to be spending the next few days in the sun so don't try to get too much at once. You'll end up getting sick of it. Or worse, burnt. Thursday - Half Moon Cay If you were to choose one day to be a beach day - THIS IS IT. The water and the sand is GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS - when you look up pictures of the "Bahamas" or you imagine vacationing in the "Bahamas" this is what it looks like. Perfect soft sand and crystal clear turquoise water. Like out of a dream. I would do an excursion this day, too, only because you can only spend SO much time just lying on the beach doing nothing. We did snorkeling - it was $50.00... the water was rough and it was hard to swim around and see things when you were trying to fight so hard to not get washed away, but the coral was beautiful - there wasn't a LOT to see but we've never been snorkeling before so it was still fun for us. NOT GOOD for people who aren't good swimmers. My youngest sister flipped out after 5 minutes - what a waste of money. I would consider doing a scuba diving, I honestly think it looks better and more comfortable than snorkeling did. Although it was fun, I probably won't do it again because it was just too difficult to get around and you never know what conditions the waters are going to be. You only get 45 minutes out in the actual water swimming around to look at things, the ride there and back is about 20 minutes each way. When we got back, we ate at the BBQ on the pavilion on the island (Carnival owns this island, so it's uninhabited except for a few people they keep there, I guess). BRING SHOES when you go to the pavilion - the sand is scorching hot, as is the cement floors of the Pavilion. You'll burn the bottom of your feet. After that we just played around in the water and then went back onto the ship early because it was just too much sun. HERE is where you will also want a clam shell if you can't stand being in the sun for too long - there is no shade ANYWHERE here. But get it fast because you need to rent it and they go REALLY fast. Friday - Nassau Wednesday - This day my sisters and I woke up early to do the Dolphin Excursion - if you've never done it before I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS EXCURSION. It's expensive... about $200 a person - but definitely definitely worth it as a one time experience. AND YOU NEED TO BOOK IT FAST - either before your trip or the day you get ONTO the boat - the tickets for these excursions go REALLY REALLY fast. If you don't make it, call a few days through the next few days - sometimes spaces open up or get they are able to secure more tickets, so ask that they call you if that happens. We were too late to buy ours but out of luck the fifth time I stood in line, I found out that they had JUST gotten some extra tickets so I was able to go with my sisters and it was a WONDERFUL adventure. It really is about 4 hours, the way they say it in the pamphlet. When you go, though, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT TIME THE BOAT IS COMING BACK because we almost missed it and if you miss it, you'll need to wait another 2 hours to get on the next boat and you'll basically waste your entire day. After the dolphin excursion, you can walk around that facility and they have sea lions and giant turtles they're training as well, so that's pretty fun to see. They will take pictures and video for you, so you don't need to bring a video camera. Also, if there is someone in your family who doesn't want to do it but wants to just go and watch - you can ask if they can go to observe. I'm not sure if you need to pay for it, but I did see a family where the mother just went to observe. After we got back to Nassau from the excursion, we bargained with a taxi driver and he was able to give our family a 2.5 hour tour for $20 per person. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS. He showed us around the entire island, talked about their lifestyle and lives and jobs and people, he stopped at a few places and gave us time to get out, take pictures, walk around, etc. He was really great! We had him drop us off at the Atlantis - without a wristband which they use to distinguish hotel guests from outsiders or you can purchase one from carnival for $150 per person or from Atlantis front desk for $105 per person (but they give out a limited number) you basically can't see much of the resort because everywhere good takes a wristband. But there still are things to see and I think it was still nice to go and see what it was like. The food there is REALLY expensive. Half a sandwich and a bag of chips at the resort was $10. The people on the island eat "Conch" as one of their main sources of food, and I hear it's delicious the way they cook it - unfortunately we didn't have enough time to try it but I wish we had. On the taxi ride, we saw markets of people selling conch on the side of the roads in little stands. Saturday - Departure I would recommend self embarkation. It's not hard, it's really fast, and you can get out before everybody else. We did this last time too, no problems at all. Note for Past Carnival Cruisers: The shows are basically the same except for the comedians they bring in; The activities are basically the same too - they don't really change all that much (I tried to ask our vacation planner this since this was our second cruise and I didn't want it to be exactly the same but he wasn't straight with answering my question) - but most of the activities you were involved with or saw on your schedule the first time, will most likely be there again. It seems as though nothing really changed except for the stops we were going to and the size of the ship (and maybe a few upgrades in terms of how the ship looked and some amenities - it was little more modern); the food on the bigger cruise ships is also MUCH better - so the bigger the ship, the better the food. This ship was smaller compared to our first trip, so the food wasn't as great which was a disappointment since we were really looking forward to that. 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Sail Date: August 2008
To start the embarkation process was fast and easy. We were traveling with our kids ages 5 & 10. Once on board our staterooms we ready and we were anxious to start our vacation. To sum up the highlights of the cruise: Margi Gras dining ... Read More
To start the embarkation process was fast and easy. We were traveling with our kids ages 5 & 10. Once on board our staterooms we ready and we were anxious to start our vacation. To sum up the highlights of the cruise: Margi Gras dining room with George The Greek is fantastic. We really enjoyed his service, he has exceeded our expectations. he was the maitre'd in in this dining room and on other cruises we haven't even so much as greeted the maitre'd, so this was different. My kids loved Camp Carnival, I recommend it, they have activities all throughout the day for them and fairly inexpensive at night. The ports were Grand Cayman and Cozumel. I strongly suggest doing excursions on your own, the ship was over charging at least 30 to $60 pp on some tours. Very safe in cayman to go off on your own and cozumel was surprisingly reliable with taxi service. The shows in the paris lounge were on par with other cruises. Comedy shows were just okay nothing to brag about. My only complaint is that the pool is too small for 2,000 people. Most times we could not find a chair. Serenity area is over rated nothing there but a hot tub. This was our 5th cruise and I have to say we had no complaints on the food, whereas on some we have had to skip meals for nonsatisfaction. Everything was always cleaned and organized. As I said better than expected and if I could I would probably go on this ship again except I don;t like repeating ships :-) I strongly recommend for people with kids, plenty of them running around having fun. Lots of families with children on board. I wouldn't do this ship without kids, I would choose another. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
First Carnival cruise - Jubilee - about 15 years ago. This was a Panama Canal (part way in) to near the Equator...NO AIR CONDITIONING!!! No, it didn't break down on our cruise; it actually broke on the cruise before ours. Of ... Read More
First Carnival cruise - Jubilee - about 15 years ago. This was a Panama Canal (part way in) to near the Equator...NO AIR CONDITIONING!!! No, it didn't break down on our cruise; it actually broke on the cruise before ours. Of course, they didn't bother to tell any of the passengers who were boarding for the next trip...nor did they try to fix the A/C. Heaven help you if you were a diabetic...the only sugar reduced dessert was yellow cake. Every night they did change the frosting to another color and they gave it a different name (i.e., pink was strawberry; yellow was lemon; green was mint, etc., etc.). Okay, this was an old ship even at that time but it was always very dirty (perhaps, it was also too uncomfortable for the crew to keep things shipshape (no pun intended). After this cruise, my husband and I swore we would never sail with Carnival again. So much for swearing...move forward about 15 years... Our second (and, without a doubt our very last, forever, no way) cruise was on the Splendor. It was a brand new ship with only two voyages before ours. It was cruising out of Dover, England and would be visiting Northern Europe/Baltic ports. Our brother and sister-in-law talked us into joining them on this trip. Although we were very hesitant to go on this cruise, we decided we would give Carnival another try. I mean a brand new ship - how bad could itt be? Pretty bad, if you want my opinion. . We were on the Spa deck (10) in a handicap room (at the very front of the ship - there are two locations on board the ship for handicap access rooms (the very front or the very back (right next to the crew's metal stairway!). The doorways to these cabins have a wall opposite them making maneuverability difficult if you're using a motorized scooter. They door to the room does open automatically to let you get in when you put your card in the slot (we didn't know about this feature until we were five days into the trip because the door was not functioning when we got on the ship). One problem with that was that the door automatically closed whether you were in the room or in the doorway...smash!!!!!!!!!!! goes the door into your scooter, leg, etc. . Food was alright (nothing special). The desserts (sugar-free) were the same as on our first cruise... The food court was very disorganized and at some points on the line you actually had to reach across food to get to other food (yuck!). . The Styrofoam carvings were - well - there! Ugly - if they didn't want to do fruit carvings or ice carvings... okay, but Styrofoam with plastic flowers just didn't meet our standards. . Shore excursions - who knows! If you were unable to walk well or couldn't climb steps - you needn't bother to book any tours. You can get off the ship and ride your scooter or wheelchair up and down the dock - but, don't expect to go sightseeing. I could go on and on, but I won't. I would like to add one bit of information though, 10 years prior to this cruise we went on the Royal Princess to the same ports (with the exception of Germany) and it was FABULOUS!!! Read Less
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