We spent the night prior to boarding in New Orleans. Highly recommend this experience. The transportation to the hotel/port is a bit expensive, but providers are within $10 of each other. The next morning it was a $20 (including tip) to the port. The embarkation process was smooth with Carnival personnel stationed everywhere to give directions (a nice change from our last port). NOLA boards the VIFP card holders slightly differently than we have experienced before. First the wedding party (this is the same), then milestone and diamond and then platinum. We have not seen the diamond and platinum separated before and some platinum card holders were a bit upset.
The ship is going into dry dock on Jan. 29th, yet she still was clean and well maintained by the staff. Folks were always cleaning the stairways, hallways and chrome. Newcomers in our group who have sailed another cruise line remarked favorably on this. There was also some preliminary work for dry dock done on the balconies (sanding of rust spots and area primer added).
Our room steward, Linda was very attentive and asked if we want morning, evening or both room cleaning. She was already marking both before we could answer. She made sure we had robes and ice when we needed it. She gave us our new towel animal in the morning (a nice twist).
We were delayed in leaving because the loading was not done until almost 6PM. I am not sure why this happened. We did have a beautiful sunset for our sail-away.
Jase, the cruise director was energetic and humorous. His staff was always busy. The game "CLUE" was offered and while it was fun, I prefer the "Murder Mystery" that was offered before.
Sea days had "Oceanside BBQ" on the Lanai. This is very tasty. I do not know if this will still be available after dry dock since "Guy's BBQ is to be added to the dining offerings on this ship. The last day that was to have the "chocolate extravaganza". I somehow missed it or they didn't do it (it was scheduled).
Smoking was in the usual places on the starboard side of the ship...except on the Lanai where the had it on the port side. This was weird. We have managed to "train" ourselves to avoid the smoking areas, but were caught off guard on the Lanai. The casino did not do a good job of separating the smoking and non-smoking machines.
Montego Bay: We had planned to shop in the terminal building that was also had duty free shopping two years ago (our last visit there). But there is no longer any shopping in the terminal building and only some local vendors off to the side of the building. It would be wise to book a tour or use an authorized taxi.
Grand Cayman: We booked the Amphibious bus land & sea tour. It was all we had hoped, it is a big yellow bus that drives around town with a guide informing you about points of interest. Then it takes a turn onto a ramp into the Caribbean sea and becomes a boat. There are underwater cameras and you have a TV screen showing what you are "driving" over. Again your guide explains what you are seeing. The adventure is capped off with a 20-30 minute stay on seven mile beach.
Cozumel: Having visited here more than most places we decide to do another land and sea. but this time it was in two separate vehicles. We toured the Mayan Cacao Company where we learned about the making of chocolate. Yes, there were samples of both the raw product (no very tasty) and the completed delightful product. Items were for sale. We also visited a "tequileria" where we learned the process of making tequila. Samples were given and purchases were made. We the proceeded to the "semi-sub" which is submerged 4 feet with "windows" to view the coral formations and fish. The boat made sure both sides saw things by turning around when necessary. It was a bit rocky and some passengers had to go up-top. All in all a fun excursion.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Bring your own golf balls. The mini-golf is very popular and often there are clubs but no balls. I think they went to several cabins as souvenirs.