Ship was well run, clean, and the decor did not bother me like I had heard beforehand. I did find some things that bothered others not a problem sometimes and other times things that others raved about I didn't like. Either I had unique experiences or I have unique desires, or there have been changes made by Carnival. Noted in specific comments.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
After reading hundreds of reviews before our trip, one thing everyone agreed on was the high quality of the Golden Fleece (additional $30 cost) restaurant. And many people did not care for the food on board at the other areas. We were quite the opposite. I found the food everywhere so varied and high quality (with exceptions of course, but few), that I did not find the Steakhouse worth the extra price of admission. In fact, the lobster I had there was about the worst I've ever had - completely tasteless. Everything else was find, but bottom line is that the general restaurant and even the buffets always had many things that I liked. This was one of our two brightest points of our trip (the other one being the entertainment at the main shows).
3 out of 5
The 4 stars here is an average. Of the shows, the dancers and orchestra were awesome. Costumes, choreography and theme was a lot of fun and very professional, entertaining. Of the other entertainment, however, I was disappointed with the exception of the 2 piece calypso/reggae group (Song Machine?). They were a lot of fun to listen to. The other entertainers, didn't. The activities were mostly a bust. Things like trivia, sodoku, chess had so few people turn out that they really didn't happen. Bingo seemed to have a few people, as did things like the art auction, etc. A lot of things I did not attend. Carnival is not to blame for most of it, I suppose, but it seems that there should be a bit more thought put into activities so they would attract more people. One of the activities (golf challenge) failed because no ship's person showed up. This was a rarity however.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
I'm not one who seeks to have relationships with staff and, to their credit, I think the staff will respond according. What I want is good service and friendly attitude. With nearly no exception, this is exactly what I received. The cruise direction must be an improvement from the previous one, because, while being energetic he was not grating whatsoever and not intrusive to the time on board.
5 out of 5
I see no advantage to the cruiser in mega-ships. This ship, which large, but not behemoth, seemed a good size. Despite over 2000 passengers, there was ALWAYS places to go where one could have quiet and near solitude. And, rarely did crowds get too overwhelming except perhaps days at sea trying to find a deck chair - but we always found 2 in the sun without much problem.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Definitely a change from the last cruise I had years ago. The stateroom was very large (Riviera Deck window room). It was well appointed with hair dryer, comfortable queen sized bed, nice sofa, large window, bathrobes, shampoo, shower gel, an always full ice bucket, PLENTY of storage and VERY nice sound proofing. The only thing I was upset about was the PRESENCE of nice, large, fluffy beach towels. If I was told they were furnished, I missed it, so had to drag 2 of our own which took half a suitcase!
We did the Stingray City Safari. While, "once was enough", it was a lot of fun and gave us some time to see the island and swim in the water and enjoy the stingrays. Had a good time. Port itself was fine. Had a drink and a snack - but I can't remember the name. Worst part of this was getting back on the boat. There were 4 security checks to get back aboard - that seems a bit much.
As far as ports, I have my biggest complaint here. We spent from 8 to 3 here (but "be back on board by 2:15"). What an absolutely gorgeous place. People around us - and us - did not stop raving. So, why then, such a short time? Why Carnival insists on stopping at Belize and does not increase the time at Roatan is beyond me and everyone with whom I spoke. Carnival has developed a pier and port completely for themselves (I think that is the case, anyway). Brand new with a decent number of stores. Fun shopping. Then just off from there is the private Carnival beach that words cannot describe. Just a lovely island and a lovely port area. My wife went zip-lining at a non-Carnival place - Pirates of the Caribbean (or some such name). She had a blast. However, by the time of her return we did not have much time to get to West End which we have heard such good things about. Also, what amounted to a 5 mile cab ride was $35 each. Seemed over-priced by a long shot.
I confess that I was somewhat influenced by the pretty much unanimous reviews before I went that this is a bad stop. We had decided to not do any activities and stay on the boat. We did get off and shop a bit. Within the "compound". Ate at a restaurant there (Wet Lizard?), was pretty good and decent local beer.
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