We (wife and I are 57 yrs old) just returned on 11/11/12 from our 6th cruise. This was our 4th Carnival cruise and our first on the Legend. We chose it because we had never been to Honduras or Belize and we like Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Also because Tampa is an easy flight destination from where we live in the midwest. Because of bad fog the ship was late getting into port (not their fault) and we could not board until about 9 pm. Carnival sent us texts and emails all day keeping us up to date. Carnival also made the choice to credit our account $15 each for lunch and $25 each for supper and $11 each for gratuities because we could not get on ship until late the first day.
After getting on board, we went to our cabin and then we went and enjoyed a meal etc at the casual buffet on Lido deck then we went to our cabin and found our luggage was there and waited to be called for Muster station training. We actually had the Muster station training about 11:00 pm. Thenext morning our cabin steward introduced himself. He was a joy all week! Always smiling and willing to talk and very genuine. His name was Camelo Carmada on Deck 5 starboard (I think).
During the week we enjoyed the various shows at The Follies theater. The talent was extraordinary. Singing, dancing, comedy ventriloquist, etc. Also, the clean family comedy at the Firebird lounge was great. We tried bingo a couple times and once my wife was one of three people standing that only needed 1 number to win $750. Someone else won but we had fun. There was so much to do on board we didn't do everything (mini golf, ping pong, basketball, spa, gym, chess, board games, casino, etc etc etc) We did get use out of the hot tubs and pools.
We tried Truffles restaurant (resort casual /semi formal signature dining) for breakfast 2 times and for supper 4 times and ate the rest of our meals at the Unicorn Buffet or Unicorn Cafe/Deli (all on Lido deck-Casual dining) and usually tried to carry our plates out the back of Unicorn Buffet to Serenity area (21 and over) to eat. On our first night in Truffles we liked the head waiter so much we kept asking for him. We had "your time dining" in Truffles deck 3. Our waiters name was Kamal. On the first night we liked one of the desserts (Creme Brulee) so much we asked if it would be on the menu every night.
He said no it is not but if we tell him which nights we will be at supper he would have it specially made for us on that day. Sure enough he did. We had the Creme Brulee 4 times! On Thursday night we had an extra-ordinary formal night dining experience at the Golden Fleece Steakhouse (see menu here: http://www.carnival.com/onboard/cruise-food/~/media/CCLUS/Images/pdf/Steakhousemenupdf.ashx ). It costs $35 per person extra and is worth it. Every item all 4 of us had was very good. We had a waitress who was so very delightful. Her name was Dragana Jankar from Serbia (and I wish my 24 year old son could meet her). Constructive Suggestion: We only ate at this restaurant once because of the extra cost. We wish it was less expensive or that the menu items were priced or somehow included (reservations only) so we could have enjoyed it more often.
Most Carnival employees were friendly and were doing their jobs good and seemed to go out of their way to be helpful. We rented a jeep on Cozumel and went shopping in town, then went sight seeing and went to Coconuts for lunch on cliff on south side of island. Then we went to Mr Sanchos beach and snorkeled and relaxed on the beach. Note: when we arrived at Mr Sanchos a man told us it was $50 per person all inclusive. I knew from previous visits that it was optional and told him we just wanted to swim, snorkel, buy some food and refreshments, and relax for a couple hours. He said we could do that if we buy some refreshments and food and he let us in. The lounge chairs, umbrellas, swimming pool, rest rooms, and showers were no extra cost. The best snorkeling on Cozumel is still Chankanaab Park. There is a entry fee there.
At Belize we went Zip Lining and Crystal cave tubing. It was safe and fun, but because of the 90 minute bus ride each way we do not recommend it. However you do get to see how poor Belize is.
At Roatan, Honduras we were supposed to do dolphin swim and snorkel, but it was changed because of murky water (no underwater visibility) because of weather the day before. They gave us a choice of full refund of dolphin encounter with partial refund which is what we did and greatly enjoyed it. On the 20 minute bus ride to Anthony's Key Resort we saw how poor the Island people are. Constructive Suggestion: At Grand Cayman we were scheduled for the Snuba excursion. It got cancelled because of murky water from the weather the previous day. This is the time we would have liked to have been told before getting off the ship about this cancellation. We waited in Follies theater for our excursion group to be called until 11:35 am, and all other people without excursions could get off ship at 10 am. So when we arrived on shore we were told it was cancelled. We would have wanted that 90 minutes back to enjoy Grand Cayman more. So we took a shuttle for $5 each way per person to Sea Grape beach (part of seven mile beach, but less wind) and while snorkeling there the water was crystal clear and we saw large schools (hundreds) of fish or many varieties and saw a small stingray and it was great at Sea Grape beach.
Except for the fog delaying the boarding the first day we had decent weather with sunshine and temps in the 80's. Ocean temps were around 80. In Roatan, Honduras there was morning rain and mostly cloudy with some sun all day. On the last day at sea coming back to Tampa through the Gulf of Mexico the wind was 45 mph out of the Northeast and I asked about the waves and I was told 15 to 16 ft waves. The weather was like this all day and into the night (over 14 hours), yet none of us got sick because of the stability of the Legend, and possibly because we were going into the wind and waves, and because we took Meclazine (non drowsy Dramamine or Bonine) that morning when we saw the weather. My wife is very susceptible to motion sickness and she had to lay down for a few hours in the afternoon on the Lido deck but she never got sick.
Constructive Suggestion: We had a balcony with obstructed view. That means the top of the lifeboat is even with the floor of the balcony and that was not a problem in any way. We had a good view of the ocean. However, the balcony is approximately 3 ft less wide then balconies on other floors. I wish that would have been made plain to me when I chose the cabin at booking. Also, cigarette smoke in the slightest amount makes my wife feel sick very quickly. Smokers in the cabin next to us used their balcony to smoke every morning and evening and for that reason we could not enjoy our balcony. I would like to see Carnival offer non smoking sections on balcony cabins. The only other thing about the cabin that I feel needs an upgrade is the TV. They need new flat panels with larger then 20" screens instead of the old 19" tv's.
Constructive Suggestion: The internet on this ship (the Legend) was soooo slow. I have purchased internet time on every cruise and I have never been this frustrated by such slow internet on other ships. I tried using the ships computers a couple times and I tried using my new laptop a couple times. It was a waste of my time. I ended up leaving about 60 minutes unused internet time on the account. The Legend needs to upgrade their equipment for speed and bandwidth. In fact, all the ships I have been on, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, were slow and need to upgrade their internet equipment. The Legend's internet was more then twice as slow as all others. I should have asked for a refund. It was useless.
One more thing. We flew into St Pete/Clearwater Airport on Allegiant Air 2 days before and flew out 1 day after the cruise. For about the same money as a shuttle to the port for 4 of us from our hotel in Clearwater I kept a rented car the whole time (rented from Tampa airport, returned to St Pete airport to save money) and parked it at Premier Parking with a free shuttle to Cruise Port. Having this rental car gave us a lot of freedom to go to beaches or other area attractions.
We arrived back at Tampa on time and had a decent debarkation experience.
Our Group of 8 have been back home from our cruise for less then a week now.. We had the time of our lives!! It was the very best cruise I ahve ever been on. The ship is beautiful. well kept. The food was good. A little bit of cutbacks to be expected. But all in all the food was Good! We were always full and satisfied. We have been to Cozumel and Grand Cayma many times. But we had the best time on these stops. Did some different excursions and had sooo much fun! The two stops that were new to us were Belize and Isla Roatan, Honduras.. Not real impressed with Belize.. But cant get enough of Roatan. It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Love it!! Carnivala nd Honduras have done the best job at the great place they put up there. The beach is wonderful. The shopping was so much fun. nice shops and easy to get to. our ages of our group are from 37yrs old to 63 yrs old. We all did things together and had a ball. I cantsay enough about how great the workers on the ship were. So friendly and always a great smile for us. Kirk... He is a blast. saw him many times out and about and always stopped to say hello to us all. He is soooo funny! kept us all laughing. We took a Go Jeep and Tequilla factory excursion and went through Carnival for that. We had the best guides. Ricardo and Carlos were sooo very good. Knew there business and gave us a fun time.my cabin steward was not the very best. but i talked to him and got things straightened away. he got better... There was nothing that could ruin our wonderful cruise but Carnival did the best job ever. This was my 7th cruise with Carnival. We are already looking for our next cruise itinerary. Cant say enough... Sooo muchhhhh funnnnnn! Great cruise was had by us all!
For the record, I have apparently been banned from the Carnival blog site written by one of their cruise directors. No explanation was provided to me, but I imagine I was just a tad to honest. Anyway, my wife and I just recently got off 7 days on the Legend. About 48 hours after returning home my wife noticed on our bank account charges - $375, $425 for petrol purchases at a Texaco station in Mahogany Bay. The total, we hope, for these charges was about $1350. During our time "in port" there we never left the Carnival "compound."
We purchased the usual t-shirts and returned to the ship. Well, our bank was great although we had to take time away from work to go to the bank and sign the necessary affidavits and close the accounts. They returned the money to us. Another attempt to buy petrol at the same station for $325 thank goodness did not go through. We called Carnival and received a lukewarm response and was told it will be reported. As I said, I was not allowed post the problem on the Carnival blog. All we'relooking for at this point is an apology from Carnival and some indication that the guilty parties will be punished.
I have tried to get with Carnival Cruise line with no success. Every time I call, your staff just sends me on to someone else until someone on your staff hangs up on me. I would like someone from Carnival to cominsate me for not getting what I paid for before I have to deny the charges with my credit card company.
Let's start with I boarded in the Grand Cayman's because Delta Smiles Air did not get me to Tampa in time. Delay after Delay. I boarded and had to wait for some one to come get me. At the front desk I was handed my room key and was pointed in the direction of the room. Legend # 7260. I was not offered any help just a point ( 5 floors up ). I then looked at my reservation for dinner that I made and was confirmed for 6:00 PM. Carnival had on my card 8:45 PM. I told them this was a mistake and was told " No I was given a request and it was not granted " I had to go back tomy room and get my confirmation in writing and give them a copy. " My first excursion was canceled and I watched as several went off. I almost missed my second excursion because no one took my photo when I arrived and never told me they were to do so. Again I was pointed in the direction of the photo station, this time into a dead end.
The room rattled and squeaked and every time I called the front desk I was given no help and The front desk made it sound like it was my own fault and the fault of other guest. Next to the room was the staff service room and some would congregate and hide there. When the staff moved the service carts they would park them in front of my room and bang them into the wall outside. One day I was walking out to the balcony and just as I stepped out a staff member starting spraying the balcony and me. I ordered room service one morning and never got it. I was sent through Customs twice by Carnival, When it came time to get off I was told to do so after Customs cleared me but Carnival would not let me off. After about an hour some lady with Carnival said " everyone off and go for it ".
It was a mad house of and people were pushing and running. don't go to the Buffet after 7:30 AM and don't plan on eating something when you get back from land. The buffet shuts down most of the food and what is left is not eatable and the lines are around the boat. I had to tell the FD Manager to mark my room as " stay away " I told him I did not want any staff walking through my room, I did not want to see him or anyone associated with the boat again. I was not ever able to get any sleep from all the interruptions for the boat and it's staff. I do say the Restaurant manager Ken was the best of the staff. Every time he say me he knew my name. I will never step foot on a Carnival Cruise again and using the Delta Skymiles Cruise Department again " NEVER ". Every time I called the Cruise Department and Carnival Cruise I was given a recording, put on hold or given the " We cant help you " Statement or " you are on your own " or " Cancel - we will still charge you ".
Call me and I will fill you out on the other problems I have with this bunch of ......
[phone number deleted for safety]
Crosby @ aCharlestonHome . com
CARNIVAL LEGEND: July 18th – 25th 2010
This is my second cruise on the LEGEND in the last 9 months and sixth Carnival Cruise overall; I sailed on her in October 2009 for my 50th Birthday. This time it was just my Wife and I. Most, if not everything was identical to my original LEGEND experience, with the minor exception of the itinerary change switching the order of going to Roatan before Belize. Other than that the other alterations would have to be the different excursions we did this time around so I shall elaborate further below.
Embarkation Day What else can I say, this is my 4th cruise out of the Port of Tampa and they certainly have their act together. After our initial check-in and receiving our respective sail and sign cards we were onboard and sitting on the Lido Deck enjoying lunch by 11:30 AM. I had originally booking an ocean view cabin several months earlier and was hoping that the upgrade fairy would call, however they never did as the cruise was sold out. Be that as it may, we spent very little time in our cabinso it really made little difference in the end with the sole exception of saving some $$$. Our cabin Stewart YOSSI was terrific and was able to scrounge up two “original style” past guest pins for us although I did buy one of the newer (larger) pins in the gift shop.
Fun Day At Sea #1 Aside from the usual FDAS activities and such, the day was filled with great food activities, and entertainment. We were scheduled for the early/main seating for dinner and found ourselves on the lower level of Truffles Restaurant at a table for two. We really wanted to sit at another larger table with other guests and after contacting KEN the Maitre’D we ended up at a table for six on the lower/main level.
Grand Cayman Our first Port of Call (POC) was Grand Cayman and we were able to tender right into Georgetown in a matter of minutes. Based on the advise of others we chose to walk down to EDEN ROCK and snorkel for….wait for it…..FREE!!! We have our own snorkel gear so this was a pretty good money $aving alternative. After that we walked around town and went to Diamond International and Tanzanite International where you could redeem a coupon issued onboard for a free bracelet and charm. We also took advantage of the FREE samples of rum and rum cake and bought some cakes from BLACK BEARDS rum cake stand, which is located inside the open-air market area. It was a pretty good deal, buy 6-mini-cakes for $30 and get a large one FREE!
Cozumel This was our 4th visit to Cozumel and we wanted to do something different. In the past three visits, we elected to go on the Fury Catamaran Snorkel/Beach Party excursion. Why a 3rd time? Because it Rocks! However this time, and also based on the advise of others we chose to go to the NACHI COCUM beach resort. This was a short 10-minute ($15) taxi ride from Puerta Maya. We spent a few hours there enjoying the crystal clear beach water, fresh water pool, the 4-course lunch, and unlimited booze. All in all a great day!
Isla Roatan This was our second visit to Roatan and although we were really impressed with our previous trip to Tabyana Beach, we wanted to try out Mahogany Bay. Carnival did a great job here. The beach itself is truly MAGNIFICIENT indeed with clean white sand and its refreshing turquoise water. We used the chairlift over and back and were supplied with two chairs, two rafts, and a turtle cover for the chairs. Truly a great beach!!!
Belize This was our second visit to Belize and this time we chose to go cave tubing. Once again based on the advise of others we opted to go with cave-tubing.com and were not disappointed one bit. The “Masters of the Caves” were all incredibly professional and courteous. The lead guide – MYLES and his crew went all out to make sure we were safe, well-informed, and brought back to the port well before the last tender departed.
Fun Day At Sea #2 Our FDAS #2 was spent poolside for most of the day enjoying the sights & sounds and of course plenty of fun. Once thing to add here that is not necessarily associated with FDAS activities but rather all cruise long is the great level of spectacular entertainment, food, and activities that you can enjoy and participate in. I will not go into detail here except to say all was top notch!!
Debarkation Self-assist is the way to go. Fast, efficient, and generally hassle free and the Port of Tampa once again demonstrated that they have their act together. All in all, this was yet another incredible Carnival Cruise experience that I am looking forward to repeating once again next November 2010 on the INSPIRATION.
We flew into Tampa a day early and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn (next to airport). We were very pleased with the hotel, room, staff, etc. We arrived on Sunday at the terminal around noon. Check in and boarding was very organized and quick. Upon boarding the ship we headed straight to the pool deck to have the delicious cheeseburgers and fries(this was our 4th cruise with Carnival). We booked a balcony room and our cabin steward Saimon did a great job keeping our room clean and we loved the towel animals that greeted us each evening. We were so happy to find out that Carnival had changed the rule of wearing your life jacket to the lifeboat drill to now having to wear it. THANK YOU CARNIVAL! We were booked for early seating in the dining room and can honestly say every time we ate in the dining room the food tasted better and better. The last evening (Sat)my husband and friends ordered prime rib and they could cut it with a fork. It was cooked just they way they had ordered it.
The sea was a little roughdue to the Haiti earthquake. Sailing back to Tampa at the end of the week the sea had calmed somewhat. Monday - Sea Day. Enjoyed participating in the Trivia games and PIP made the games even more fun with his enthusiasm (lasted all week!)
Tuesday - Grand Cayman. We had visited this island once before so we just walked around to the different stores. No tours. Wednesday - Cozumel. We always enjoy this stop. Yes, the people know how to pressure sell, but all one has to do is walk away if you don't want anything. I finally purchased a Tanzanite necklace for a very reasonable price. No tours.
Thursday - Belize. We were not impressed. BUT - we did not take any tours of the island so don't judge this island, by my review. The port shopping was awful and there were armed guards all around. We were told by Carnival not to leave the "compound." And we didn't.
Friday - Roatan - We loved this island. Due to rough seas we had to stop at the old port, but we didn't know the difference as we had never been to the new port. We booked the island tour (3 1/2 hrs) through Carnival and would definately recommend it. The island is very beautiful and lush. We learned much about the people of the island, the history, etc. Shopping wasn't that great if that is what you are interested in. This was our favorite stop.
Saturday - sea day. Again, participated in the Trivia games and enjoyed just relaxing.
Sunday - we were off the ship by 8:30 a.m. and to the airport by 9:00 a.m.
We enjoyed this cruise very much. The ship was very clean and well maintained. Every show that was offered was very entertaining. The Carnival dancers and singers were awesome. The comedians were so funny (loved Thomas Brown)and always enjoy the very last night when people from the ship perform.
Jen, the Cruise Director was just o.k.
If you want a fun cruise for a decent price than I recommend you book this cruise. You won't be sorry!
VIFP card # 22739435
My wife and I booked a trip for our 20th anniversary using a promotion that we received from the casino on a prior Carnival cruise. We upgraded the offer to a suite and the wife tried to pay the balance of the cruise at the time of booking, but the person she was talking to said it was customary to only pay a deposit and that the card would automatically be billed when the due date came.
On May 28th my credit card information was hacked, and card had to be cancelled and a new one was reissued. Obviously when the next payment was due, it was not processed. We were not notified when this happened and never received any notification phone calls or texts until an email was sent out, on June 22nd. This email said that we had two days to respond or our reservation would be terminated.
Ironically, we were on another Carnival cruise when it was sent and we did not receive it until this morning, June 26th. The wife immediately called Carnival and was told it was too late to still receive the offer.They informed her that an email was sent out on June 10th, but they were having issues with their emails and maybe that is why she didn't receive it. When asked why a phone call was not placed, she was told that was not normal procedure, although we have been contacted by the cruise line many times before for multiple reasons.
However, we could still have the room for an additional fee...almost $4000. I would almost understand it if they already re-booked the room, but they have not. she has talked to absolutely everyone that she could, and has gotten nowhere. We love traveling on Carnival, but this issue has left a very bad impression on us and we obviously are very upset.
All we are asking for is the room we were offered for the price we agreed to. The suite is still available, I do not understand why this is so complicated. After all, we were using their service at the time they sent us the notification, which is why we couldn't immediately respond.
Sailed on Carnival Legend 3/21/10 NEVER AGAIN!! Food on the ship was horrible, need lots of improvement. Steaks were tough, rolls so hard could bounce of walls,soups were watery, my Bean soup looked like dish water with a few carrots floating around. Food lacked any flavor like eating carboard. Limited menu selections. Dining staff was pushy in forcing selections on you and getting you to buy bottles of wine. Head waiter would stand behind you as you ate. Unicorn cafe had poor buffet service,had to hunt around for items. Food was average here also with limited selection, staff did not offer to help handicapped with trays just let you manage the best you could. Tables were not cleaned up immediately. Saw staff walk by tables needing cleaning and did not bother to do anything.
Cabin was not what we booked complained to customer service desk and was told they could do nothing about it,must speak directly to Carnival. Extremely gaudy interior. Ship entertainment could be improved same basic program night after night, review, comedian or juggler. Could not anchor in Grand Caymen, told because of weather, later heard Carnival had dispute withport on fees. Since we were shorted a port Carnival gave a big $20 credit to our on board acct whoopee!! I feel they could have done better than that.
The overall vibe was lets get as nuch money out of you as possible, for poor service. The only good part of the cruise was our room steward Bagus, he went out of his way to see to our needs. He kept our cabin in tip top shape. Overall I feel crusing was better when staff had to work for their tips! Now that they are taken up front their attitude is why bother.
Hampton Inn Ybor City: Very nice hotel. Parking was extra but only 45.00 compared to almost 100.00 at the pier. The hotel parking garage is difficult to find if you don't know your way around. There are lots of one way streets downtown and also there was construction that made it a little more comfusing. We would stay there again if we sail from Tampa.
Embarkment day Tampa: We had no problems with embarkment. It went pretty smooth. Our shuttle didn't pick us up until after 11:00, but we were on board and eating lunch by 12:15. Not to bad. We were able to get into the cabin around 1:30. It was really awesome going under the Skyway Bridge, especially at night.
Sea day: There is always lots to do on a sea day but we just took it easy and relaxed around the ship and in the cabin. We did go to the show, The Big Easy, that night and really enjoyed it. The singers and dancers were awesome.
Grand Caymen: Tendering in was really easy and it didn't take us very long at all. The only issue was peoplethat had an excursion was suppose to have priority getting off but there were people cutting across the rope to get in the same line which made it very crowded.I don't know why people can't follow directions. We did the Turles, Turtles and more turles Delux tour. We saw LOTS of turles. Included in the excursion was a trip to Hell which was very interesting. The show in Follies that night was Lubo, a guy that balanced everything on his head. Very good. Also there was a comedy show by Ronnie Bullard. Very good and clean. He also did an adult show later that night that we did not go to.
Cozumel: We did the Cozumel Hightlights and Shopping tour here. One of our stops was Discover Mexico which has scale models of Mexican landmarks. This is an awesome place. Very informative guide and great place to visit. We visited the Tequila factory and was able to sample several kinds of tequila. My favorite was the cream flavor. We shopped a little. The vendors are VERY pushy in Cozumel and I just did not care for that. I was ready to get back onboard the ship. We did not attend any shows that night.
Belize: The excursion we had planned for Belize was cancelled for some reason and we did not try to do anything. We tendered in to port and shopped a bit. We had a drink at The Wet Lizard. There really is not much to do right there in port. We were back onboard within a few hours. We crashed early that night. No shows for us.
Isle of Roaton: In Roatan we did the Pirates, Monkeys and Parrots tour at Gumbalima Park. We really enjoyed this excursion the best.We were able to hold the parrots and spider monkeys. This was my favorite of all the ports. It really is beautiful with it's beaches and mountains. Not much at the pier as far shopping. We were suppose to dock at the new pier but that was changed at and we docked at the other one.
Sea day: Today was a relaxing day for us. We did do the cancer walk at 2:00 and that was fun. Quiet a few people participated.
General ship review: The Legend is a beautiful ship and very easy to get around on. Our cabin was on the 4th deck and the dining room just one deck down. Lido was up 5 decks. We took the stairs all but a few times. We did not eat in the dining room but twice by our choice. We either had late lunches or just pizza or salad most days. We did dine in there two nights and was very pleased with the service and the food. Excellent in all ways.Also, we chose the anytime dining which was perfect for us. We were able to get a table for just the two of us which we prefer. The only food issue we had was really just a lack of different venues during the evening hours. You could always get pizza and salad. The deli was not open past 6:30 I believeand the the Bistro was only open from 6:00 to 9:30. But, we did not starve. We enjoyed the ice cream many times and had pizza several times.The ship was spotless. It's hard to believe they can keep a ship with so many people on board so clean. We did go to the Legends show the last night and was actually disappointed in it. The talents were not good and most of them didn't know the words or messed up very bad. But, that made it funny in a way.
I do believe Diamonds International pays Carnival to push their shops. Everything was Diamonds International Diamonds International, etc, etc. No, we did not even shop at one.
Disembarkment: Our embarkment code was 16 so we were almost one of the last ones off the ship. There was an issue that kept us from even starting until almost 8:30. They kept calling for several people over and over, I don't know if this held us up or not. Didn't matter to us, we were not in a hurry. We finally left the ship at almost 10:00.
I would go on the Legend again without a second thought. I was beautiful and we absolutley enjoyed the whole cruise. We did as much or as little we wanted to do. The weather was perfect to make the cruise perfect. What an awesome time.
50th Halloween Birthday Cruise October 25th – November 1st 2009
This was my 5th and longest (7-Day) Carnival cruise and perhaps the best of all time. This was chiefly due to the length of being onboard for 7 incredible days, but also for the fact that I literally sailed into the age of 50 on Halloween. For this cruise my Wife Susan and I were also joined by my parents to celebrate the BIG Five-O.
Embarkation Day What else can I say, this is my 3rd cruise out of the Port of Tampa and they certainly have their act together. After our initial check-in and receiving our respective sail and sign cards we were onboard and sitting on the Lido Deck enjoying lunch by 11:30 AM. For this particular cruise I opted to upgrade to an extended balcony suite after originally booking an ocean view cabin around a year earlier. This was an incredibly wise choice as my Wife and I have never booked a balcony before and we really enjoyed the freedom of just unlocking the door and walking outdoors to enjoy the ocean from beyond the view of a cabinwindow. Our cabin (8163 Panorama Deck) was quite spacious and as usual our cabin steward (Antonio) kept the cabin incredibly clean, comfortable and well stocked with ice.
Fun Day At Sea #1 Aside from the usual FDAS activities and such, the day was filled with great food activities, and entertainment. Of note however, I should mention that we were scheduled for the early/main seating for dinner and found ourselves on the upper level of Truffles Restaurant. The upper level just seemed to be more of an extended offshoot of the main dining floor and at time we felt somewhat separated from the entertainment and regular dining room activities and atmosphere. In addition, we found ourselves at a table for 4, actually a booth that made it seem we were simply eating at a diner ala Denny's. We requested a new table, wishing to sit at one of the larger round tables with a few couples rather than just family who we see all the time. We ended up at rectangular table and were joined by just one other couple that by coincidence were practically neighbors from home. Nice couple mind you, but it's always nice to sit with people who don't live in the same zip code as you do.
Grand Cayman Our first Port of Call (POC) was Grand Cayman and we were able to tender right into Georgetown in a matter of minutes. Of the four POC's, Grand Cayman was the only one that we did not book an excursion. We walked around town and went to Diamond International and Tanzanite International where you could redeem a coupon issued onboard for a free bracelet and charm. While there we inquired about a few bracelets and such that didn't seem all that grandiose (that's code for something you could also get at Sears) and were startled to find the retail price was more that $16,000 bucks! Once again, something that I could purchase at Sears for just a few hundred dollars. Needless to say we didn't buy anything but we did have a good laugh. Before getting back onboard we came upon a small shop nearby the tender entrance that sold bottles/cans of beer for just $1.25 and also…drum roll…gave out nearly a limitless samples of rum and rum-soaked-cake. This was the find of the day as we, as did most everyone, avail themselves to the hospitality of the rum shop. Truly a great free excursion for one and all!!
Cozumel This was my 3rd visit to Cozumel and like before, my Wife and I elected to go on the Fury Catamaran Snorkel/Beach Party excursion. Why a 3rd time? Because it Rocks! For an incredibly low excursion rate you sail on a well crewed catamaran, have the opportunity to snorkel in some of the cleanest and fish friendly environments, get to kayak and hang out along a private beach and of course are provided with FREE beer and margarita's. Sure we went through the shopping village for a bit before returning to the comfort of the ship but after a while the shops just seem to be a bit mundane, more like window dressing for tourists and that's just fine but getting out on an excursion, such as the Fury, is really why I go to Cozumel.
Belize This was my first visit to Belize which is touted to be "Un-Belize-able" per se, and to a certain degree it is. I say this somewhat tongue and cheek as Belize is just one of those places where despite the Disney-esque attempt in staging a friendly little port (ala fake movie sets) Belize really is an unfortunate example of what third-world-poverty is all about. My recommendation is to never wander outside of the "relative" safety and security of the fenced area where the tenders come ashore. Anything just a foot or two beyond the gate is quite reminiscent of a sea of crack dealers looking to make a sale; or knock you over the head. I came to this conclusion AFTER going out on our excursion to mountain bike through the rainforest. Had I known a bit more of what types of areas we would have to travel through (for no less than 30-minutes) I most likely would have stayed onboard and enjoyed the ship. Belize is a nation of 330,000 people and has a grand total of six traffic lights in the entire "country" in which only 5 work.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed our excursion that included mountain biking through the rainforest and seeing the live habitat filled with monkeys, flora, and termites that you could "sample" if you wished. I passed. After the bike-hike we were treated to a swim at a beautiful pool and provided with a lunch of local cuisine; chicken not termites. Should I ever find myself going back to Belize I may venture out on another excursion, but then again, they don't serve termites on the Lido deck so I may as well stay onboard.
Isla Roatan Roatan was our fourth and final POC and we scheduled an excursion to Tabyana Beach. This time my Wife and I were joined by my folks. Tabyana Beach is around a 25-30 minute "school bus" ride away from the port. Somewhat reminiscent of Belize (economically speaking), but filled with twists and turns going up and down through some mountainous areas. The beach itself is truly MAGNIFICIENT indeed with clean white sand and its refreshing turquoise water. We brought our snorkel gear along a quickly found another fish-filled reef just off the shoreline. If you're a beach/snorkel fan then Tabyana Beach is not to be missed!
Fun "50" Day At Sea #2 - Halloween Fun Day at Sea #2 was Halloween and of course my 50th Birthday. I have always enjoyed celebrating my birthday on Halloween as it makes the experience of just getting older and transforms it into a truly party like atmosphere filled with candy and costumes. My wife and I brought costumes of course and found ourselves being selected for the Halloween Costume Contest onboard later on that night. I dressed as a prisoner wearing a black and white striped convict costume accented by a Hannibal Lector mask while my wife dressed as "Officer Hottie" (Badge # 38-DD). She is the reason why we were selected to participate in the contest, but despite our antics a couple dressed as Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty ended up winning. Either way, Halloween, and turning 50 was a great and Fun Day at Sea.
Debarkation Self-assist is the way to go. Fast, efficient, and generally hassle free and the Port of Tampa once again demonstrated that they have their act together. All in all, this was yet another incredible Carnival Cruise experience that I am looking forward to repeating once again next July 2010. In the interim my Wife and I will be going back to Hawaii to rediscover its beauty and perhaps recapture some more pleasant memories that although will not be on a Carnival Fun Ship will be just as rewarding – Aloha!