September 2014 - Carnival Sunshine to Caribbean - Western
We booked this cruise because we saw the "documentary" on the Destiny's renovation into the Sunshine last year while on the Carnival Valor. We were intrigued by the Sports Deck (and we never even ended up going back there once) and the Serenity Deck (loved, loved, loved it!).
Embarkation - We flew down to Miami from Ohio because two of our cabin mates live in South Florida. We arrived Friday evening and then drove to the port Saturday morning. From Weston, FL, it took us about three hours. There was a bit of traffic when we arrived at the port around Noon. We unloaded our bags at bag drop-off and then parked the car. We had to wait for two friends who were arriving on a shuttle from Orlando. Once everyone was at the port, we proceeded through the line around 12:45 p.m. We were on the ship no later than 1:15p.m. We carried on an entire carry-on size suitcase of mixers and 24 bottles of water. Security didn't say a peep about our luggage or the water. Easy peasy. We were told the rooms would be ready at 1:30 p.m. We went straight to our cabin to drop off half the mixers and then went to the other room to drop off the rest. Both cabins had pre-ordered liquor through Bon Voyage and bottles were waiting for us when we opened the cabin doors. We opted to indulge in a couple adult beverages before heading to lunch on Lido.
Lido - I did notice a sewer smell on the starboard side heading into the Lido Marketplace as you passed Guy's Burgers and the drink station. It wasn't so powerful I felt nauseated, but I did smell it rather consistently through the cruise. So I either walked through the port side or I walked very fast. LOL. The space to walk in that area is narrower than on other ships. The sewer smell was occasionally present on Deck 5 as you walked past the Shake Shack/Java Blue Café. Speaking of the Shake Shack – I had the Vanilla Caramel Bourbon one…delish!
A few opted for Guy's Burgers, a couple went to the Deli with the others finding something on the buffet. We sat in the back of the ship by the Havana Bar/Ji Ji's/Cucina del Capitano. There was a lot of extra space available back there in the mornings and lunch. At night, only the center section and extreme back area are available for public seating as the sides are reserved for Ji Ji's and Cucina del Capitano.
Went back to the cabin and waited for muster drill. Because we were hanging out in our friend's spa cabin, we did muster drill in the comfort of the Liquid Lounge. :) After muster, back to our cabin to continue our sail away celebrations.
We opted for the Lido buffet for dinner the first night. There were plenty of choices to choose from. We called it an early night as we were all exhausted from traveling.
First Sea Day - We slept in and woke up about 8:30. Grabbed breakfast on Lido and then tried to find seating on the Serenity Deck. Most of the chairs were occupied by the time we got up there, certainly there wasn't five chairs together. We did manage to find two together and then three adjacent, so that worked out on the top deck. It was a bit overcast, so it wasn't so much a sun day. Dinner was our first elegant night. We did our tour of various photo backdrops and then headed to the Late Seating for dinner in the MDR. We had Michael in the Upper Sunrise Dining Room was great! Every time we saw him working his tail off on the Lido deck during the day, he always had a smile on his face and addressed us by name.
Monday - Cozumel. We made recommendations at Nachi Cocum on the basis of a couple of friends' reviews. It did not disappoint! It was a quick cab ride there. For six people it is $32/one way plus tip. Cab fares are well advertised. The resort was small, clean and the drinks were free flowing! The Carnival Glory was in port as well as a Disney vessel. There were a few people already at the resort when we arrived. We grabbed our chairs by the pool and let the day start. We opted to do the Banana Boat. What fun! It was $15/pp and our jet ski driver tried to pitch us off the banana, but we four ladies held on! Victory! When we wanted to leave, we told our attendant and he called a cab. It was there within 10 minutes. Highly recommend Nachi Cocum!
Tuesday - Belize. We opted to do our own thing this day. Some tendered into port, others stayed on the ship. This was the Chef's Table night. If you have the chance, you should do it! The ability to see the galley in action. To have a reception with the chef, with various appetizers was truly wonderful! I still remember every bite. While I may not have been crazy about every dish, I tried everything! The wine is free flowing so if you like a basic white and a basic red, you are in luck! It was four different appetizers in the galley and then we went to see the Pastry Chef and learned how to make the famous Chocolate Melting Cake. Very cool. After that, they escorted us out of the galley. Many of my friends thought that was it and we were done. I knew we were still in store for deliciousness! A seven course meal waited for us in a reserved room in the Steakhouse. If you are a foodie, the Chef’s Table is a must! We were beyond full by the time the sixth course came…never mind we still had the dessert course! It was a highlight of the trip!
Wednesday – Roatan. We had decided to stay on the ship here too. The port has changed so much since I was here last in 2008. Had I known about the beach area, I might have opted to go there, but as it was, I was happy to procure our seats in front of the waterfall pool on the first level of the Serenity Deck. The pool was fresh water, which was a nice surprise. The last time I went into a cruise pool, it was salt water. It was a hot day, so the proximity to the pool came in quite handy. It is a small pool itself, but it does have a “beach entry” surrounding it so you can sit/lay there with a bit of water on you to cool off.
Thursday – Costa Maya. This was a new port. We signed up to the Catamaran through Carnival. We had to be on the pier by 7:30 a.m. (ugh), but we made it by 7:45 and were still able to get on the bus. The catamaran was smaller than I had been on previously, but it was nice just the same. The bad news was that there wasn’t any wind this day, so we couldn’t sail. So after everyone had snorkeled (I didn’t but my friends said it was some of the best snorkeling they’d done), we had to motor it back to the pier. As such, we were back on the ship by 11:15 a.m. So we grabbed breakfast (it was being served until 12) and then found a couple of chairs to get some more sun. It was another hot day, so we didn’t last too long out there.
Friday – Sea Day. We took over two couch areas on the top level of the Serenity Deck this morning (there were five of us) and had a relaxing morning at sea! That area was under an air conditioning unit of some sort, because it had cool air blowing. So cool that I was actually cold and had to cover up with a towel! It was some of the best napping I did all cruise! LOL. We made reservations for the Steakhouse this night and while it was delicious as always, after our experience at Chef’s Table it was a bit of a letdown. That and their stupid corkage fee. The bottles were opened in our cabin and yet they were going to charge $10 to pour a $5 bottle of wine. We declined their service and just drank our wine after leaving the Steakhouse. (And I don’t want to get into an argument on the corkage fee…it was my understanding it was for “opening” the wine…) This day was also International Talk Like a Pirate Day and while the decorations were sparse and the activites limited, one of my friends had gone to her local Halloween store and procured several items for us to be pirates. We had a good laugh taking pictures with our pirate gear.
Saturday – Disembarkation. Why is it that even if you didn’t buy one souvenir, your luggage is always heavier on the way home? I’m convinced because all the fun you had is woven into your clothing! LOL We elected to do self-assist with our luggage. We met our friends for breakfast at 8 a.m. and by 9:00 a.m. we had our luggage with us in Ocean Plaza on Deck 5, waiting to be called. It was organized, but a slow process. We didn’t get off ship until a little before 10 a.m. We finally passed through customs at 10:14 a.m. (I know because I looked at the time and 10/14 is my birthday). No problems with customs, got the luggage to the car and away we were!
Overall, we had a great time and as with anything, it is what you make of it and who you were with. I was lucky to be traveling with two of my oldest friends since 6th grade and my two newest besties and one of their husbands.
Cabin review -
This is where the renovation failed. We were four adult women in a balcony cabin. The upper bed was a full sized bed that lowered from the ceiling, but the third bed was a "fold out" from the couch and it was not full length. The balcony cabins that fit four are made for travelers with small children, not anyone over 5'4.
The shower, however was an A+. It was a larger shower than the standard corner. I could have sat down and extended my legs fully on the floor. It was nice night hitting the sides of the wall at every turn.
Made was our room steward and he was awesome!