My family (Wife, daughter, 10 & son, 13 ) and I set sail on Aug. 5, 2001. Embarkation as well as debarkation went rather quick and easy. The ship as a whole is impressive, to say the least. The rooms themselves were nothing to brag about. We had two rooms U19 & U23. Be prepared to spend lotsa $$$! It seems that wherever you go, on or off the ship, someone is selling you something, or expecting some form of gratuity. They even hold "information talks" in the Fantasia Lounge to tell you all the best places to spend more $$. I thought that was a little tacky. All the ports are smack-dab in the middle of duty free shopping.(I guess this is their way of helping the local economy).I wanted to see more picturesque sights, not spend my time and money in taxis.The ports themselves were OK. First stop Grand Cayman. It's a shame we couldn't spend more time there (only 5 hrs.). We took a tour to Stingray City to swim with the Stingrays. While I enjoyed it a lot, my daughter was petrified. The Mrs., as well as my son, could take it or leave it. We no sooner got back from the tour and were looking at 1 hour remaining. So the only thing left to do was shop. No real bargains here. Forget Tortuga Rum Shop,there are better deals in Cozumel. On to Cozumel, which we found a little disappointing. We did not do the Mayan Ruins because it was pricey and I was concerned my kids might lose interest. We headed over to La Ceiba Hotel for what was supposed to be great snorkeling. It was so-so. Their beach was man-made. They did have a nice bar you could swim up to. Tasty frozen drinks,authentic nachos n salsa. My son was oogling at all the women in thong bikinis(some even topless). From there, we took a taxi into town so we could check out the shopping. Every shop is trying to literally pull you in to their store to buy their goods. It gets annoying after a while. The stores recommended by CCL do not measure up to the deals I get back home. Don't rule out the side streets for great deals on T-shirts. My son picked up a framed painting cheap (only $15) that the locals create using spray paint and stencils. My daughter got her hair braided. Onto Panchos for lunch.This was one of the highlights for us. Great food,good portions,awesome drinks in a very authentic Mexican atmosphere. Not to mention a very fair price. Lastly, New Orleans. This time the ship dropped us off inside a shopping mall called Riverwalk. Bourbon Street is O.K. if you want to eat and drink, because aside from a couple of souvenir shops that's pretty much all there is. We were so full from breakfast on the ship we were not that hungry. It was very hot(97 degrees)so we did grab a couple of frozen drinks. We made our way down to the French Quarter(yes, more shopping) for some Cafe latte's and Bengeits at Cafe D'Monde. Fried dough with powdered sugar(overrated). All in all, we had a nice time. The ship does have great entertainment. The comedians are hillarious. The adults-only shows in the Polo Lounge are even funnier. Singer Diana LaSalla has such a great voice it makes you wonder why she has not been dicovered in the music business. The Cruise Director, Greg, was a bundle of energy, funny too! We dined in the Fantasy Dining Room. The Ecstasy Dining Room was nicer by far. The food was fantastic!I read in some revues the food was just O.K. Not true. If anything, the portions could have been bigger but all you have to do is ask your server (our server Bernie was GREAT)and they bring more of anything you want.The Casino is O.K. The slots are rigged, but people were winning at Blackjack. Don't waste your time or $$ playing Bingo unless it's for a free cruise. Any time you sit in the Fantasia Lounge try to sit in the first three rows off center isle because you stand to win prizes and audience participation is rewarded. Remember your vacation is anything you make it.Bon Voyage!
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