It had been at least 12 years since I had cruised with Carnival. I tried to keep an open mind when booking this cruise with two of my friends. (I personally prefer RCCL, but I am willing to try other lines.) This was my ninth cruise to date.
At the get go, we had a horrendous check-in process at the port of Miami. I believe this was due to a storm that dumped so much rain, that backyards instantly had pools and streets had duck ponds - although this was never confirmed by the ships crew. It took us over one and a half hours to completely board the ship. Normally after going through the security check, the personnel at the desk handle everything from documentation validity, account set-up, and room cards. This was handled at three different stations, the last being in the Atlantic dining room. As you can imagine, patience was wearing thin and tempers were flaring (mine included). I had opted to set up my account on a cash only basis. The ship only had two computer terminals available for this and one was being handled by a trainee. (Yes, there are still people who use cash - rather than debit or credit). Never once did any of the crew apologize for the inconvenience. The ship could also have had refreshments available along the line in the dining room. This could have helped, since many of us were quite hungry and thirsty by that time. The ship departure was then delayed, due to the back-ups at the airport because of the storm. But, this did not affect our itinerary - since our first day was at sea.
The weather and seas were great for most of the cruise. When there was inclement weather, the ship remained stable.
At two of the ports, we were the only ship there. That was nice and made the shopping areas and docks not so congestive. I'm sure that this was because the ship departed on a Sunday.
The shore tours that we booked were fun and I would heartily recommend them. At Costa Maya, we did the Dune Buggy tour. (Beware of the "pee pee" stop - it's a tourist trap!). In Grand Caymans, we did a tour of the island that stopped at the town of Hell, the Turtle Farm, and lastly Stingray City. The Turtle Farm is quite educational and not a "tourist trap". Stingray City is something to see and to participate in. In Jamaica, we did the Beach Break and Dunns River Falls. We had personal attention at the beach. You're assigned a guide and she brings you food & drinks throughout your stay. The falls is something you must see and participate in if able to. There is a guide is takes a movie and it was worth the price. (Beware of the market at the falls. The sales people are agressive and can get hostile.)
Overall, if you're a first time cruiser or a family on a budget - you'll get a nice cruise. But, I've experienced far better service and amenities from RCCL. The one thing that did concern me was the lack of virus prevention. Only in the public restrooms did I see evidence of this. (Tissues are provided to use to cover handles when opening the door(s) to exit. Hence, the little trash cans on the floors.) This is good, because I did see other passengers not wash their hands after using the facility. RCCL has sanitation stations everywhere, especially the entrances to any food venue.
CarriH added May 1, 2007 cruise on Carnival Victory to their profile.
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