This is our 9th Carnival cruise, 31st overall. Traveling with wife and her sister, we’re all 50’s. Found this ultra budget cruise a while ago and booked early saver. Cost for an inside was only $838 total each double cabin. We know we’re not getting all that some other lines offer, but the price was hard to ignore. The itinerary was good too. We’ll basically call this transportation to some of our favorite islands. Our pre cruise day started with our Southwest flight from Albany to Baltimore, then on to FLL. The flight attendant on the Baltimore to FLL leg was hilarious. Preflight:
“To enhance the attractiveness of your two male flight attendants, you can dim the lights’
“O2 mask: If you are unfortunate enough to be traveling with children we’re sorry, you’ve already suffered enough, but it’s time to pick your favorite”
“Now if you’ll all pay attention, paw around last nights garbage in the seat pocket in front of you for the placard”
“If you haven’t traveled in a car in the last 6 years, we’ll instruct you on how to fasten a seatbelt”
Our flight to FLL didn’t land until 12:45 so we brought sandwiches. Great not to have to go hunting for food when arriving at our hotel in Miami. Booked our shuttle there through SAS. We’ve used them before and are highly recommended on the forum. $15 pp plus tip for the ride. There is now an express lane from FLL to Miami, so it only takes about 30 minutes to get there at 70MPH most of the way. Didn’t appreciate the driver playing with his phone much of the way though.
We stayed at the Intercontinental. Been there many times and is no more (most of the time) expensive and much nicer than the Holiday Inn that you’ll hear some recommend here on CC. A 5 minute walk to Bayside and Walgreens (to buy soda and wine), it’s very convenient in location. Book it on Last minute travel. Call for best price. Stayed at the pool for a couple hrs. Nice 87 and party cloudy with nice breeze. Very nice. Later showered and walked to bayside. Very hungry now at 5:30, we headed for our traditional dinner at Hooters when we’re here in Bayside. Ate outside. Nice breeze and comfortable with that pitcher of beer and melted steak sandwich. On the way back after window shopping, we hit Walgreens for our soda and wine allotment.
Day 1 - Miami
We wake to a beautiful day. Right outside is Flugtag 2013, Red Bull’s platform boat jump competition. Looks like quite a big deal and a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately we’ll miss it as we’ll be on the ship by the time it starts at noon. Lots of loud music, venders, and competitors with their homemade flight contraption entries. Wish our cruise was a day later. We could have seen. Left the hotel for the Carnival Liberty at 10:30 for port. Against my better judgment, my wife talked me into booking FTTF at $50 per cabin for both cabins. We got in a separate line for FTTF and bypassed maybe 20 people in line. Got priority boarding. I’d say we got on board a half hr faster than we would have without it. We started boarding at 11:30 and went straight to out budget inside in deck 1 Riviera Deck. Dropped our carryons which was nice and off for lunch. Wife had food from Mongolian Wok, “Thai Barbeque” and didn’t like at all. Terrible salty. I had the top round meat from the carver and was good but couldn’t cut it with the non serrated knife they give you. We met up at fish and chips. Tends to be less crowded up there. Tried some deserts, but nothing I could say great or wow about. Wife like the mint choc cake and sister in law liked the caramel cheesecake. No one got the jello. Imagine that.
Back to the cabin to change into suits. Luggage had arrived at about 1PM. We went to Serenity where we found it very hot with little air movement. I decided to stay and wife and SIL went to explore the ship.
Muster is at 3:45 and went pretty fast. Went up on deck after for an hr or so and watched sail away. Back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. We booked anytime dining this cruise. Our first time ever doing this. We were seated at table 150 with one table between us and the window. Our waiters were very quiet but did their jobs ok. Chairs are very comfortable and seemed to be pretty new. For dinner, I had the shrimp cocktail and the Caesar Salad from the everyday menu. Wife had the salmon and was not good at all. For mains we had the Flat Iron Steak, Tiger Shrimp and the Beef brisket. All Ok, but nothing especially great. For desert, I had ice cream as nothing much appealed to me. Not new as Carnival’s menus continue to go down hill. Wife and SIL both had the Crème Brulee. Walked around a bit after dinner. Nothing going on until the welcome aboard show after 10PM. The ladies went to the hot tub and found they were not very warm. I went to the casino for some black jack. Sat there for over an hr and everyone at my table won. Back to the cabin around 10 to retire. Vacations are quite tiring. Blocked off the grate in the cabin door to eliminate outside noise. Still didn’t sleep well as you hear every door slam and every toilet around you flush.
Day 2 - At Sea
Up late this morning and didn’t eat until 8:30. Breakfast on Lido is nothing to get exited about. Back to Serenity for a good seat. Sunny with some clouds and nice.
For lunch we had a burger from Guys. Very good. Carnival does this right. Wish other lines (RCL) had this free.
Caught up on sleep between 3 and 4:30 then up to get dressed for elegant night. We people watched on the promenade for awhile and had a drink. $1 off. A big beef I have about this area as well as deck 3 atrium is that the photographers are pretty much permanently set up and block seats. Many seats probably have never been sat on. To dinner at 6:15 and were seated in a booth. We need to start asking for better as we don’t think booths are comfortable. For appetizer, 2 of us had the stuffed mushrooms and thought good. All good
For main, ladies had lobster shrimp plate. Good. I reluctantly ordered the prime rib. I keep telling myself not to as it just is not the same as it was a few years ago and am usually disappointed. Seems a medium rare prime rib looks to me like a ham steak on ships lately. And it’s not very good. Where are the lamb chops and NY Strip that we had last cruise??? Found out we aren’t getting it this one. Desert consisted of Cherries Jubilee,
Apple Puff Pastry, and me ice cream again.
The main production show tonight is “Wonderful World”. Not up to professional standards IMO. The singers did not sing well together and many dancers were out of balance much of the time. Some parts good, but much not. Checked out the comedian at 10. Happy Cole was a riot. Bed by midnight. Woke up at 2 AM to a very heated argument in the cabin next door. Didn’t recognize the language, but it was clear to me and the guy yelling that the female screwed up.
Day 3 - Cozumel
Up at 7 for breakfast. Still dark out as we are far west and did not change ship’s time. We docked soon after. We got off ASAP and decided to go to Chakanaab Park. Cab was $11 for 3 and entry was $19pp with coupon that you can print out ahead of time. For that you get chair, pool, sea lion show, dolphin exhibition (no pictures allowed as they sell the ones they take of you), view crocodiles, botanical garden, snorkeling area. Rentals available. You can also swim with the dolphins. Cost by ship excursion was $128 which included transportation and entry. There will be a zip line opening in November 2013. The pool was very nice with swim up bar. $2.50 beers. The beach was disappointing. Couldn’t be more than 30 ft and was in like a little bay, not on the ocean. Wife and SIL walked through the botanical gardens. Had around 30 or so replicas of ruins and gods. Got very hot in the pm there. Back to the ship at 3PM. $11 taxi again for 3. Had an ice cream to hold us till dinner. Got ready and to deck 5 promenade for happy hr and to people watch. Casual dinner tonight. We asked and received table 124 to get a window. Waiter was Christina. Liked her as well as anyone, so we continued to request the table for the rest of the cruise and luckily was always available. I had the flat iron steak and did not like this time. Was a little tough and not hot. Wife and SIL both had the Seafood Penne and liked. For desert wife tried the diet lemon cake. BAD. I had the strawberry cheesecake. Not to great either. SIL ordered the fig desert and liked. Walked around for awhile after dinner. Nothing of interest happening. Went to Happy Cole’s adult comedy at 10 and we liked a lot. 10:45 now and hungry. We head to Lido and find no buffet, only the pizza and grill to be open. The Mexican Fiesta was going on but zero food. On RCL they put out quite a spread at their deck parties.
Day 4 - Belize
Up at 7:15. Wife and I slept a bit better. No fighting next door but still toilets flushing and doors slamming all night. Ate at Lido and by the time we finished our relaxing breakfast we were arriving in Belize. Have FTTF so we went to guest services and within 5 minutes we were escorted to deck 0 and first in line for the next tender. Tender travel time is 20 minutes to make the 5 mile water ride. Beautiful and sunny and HOT! Shopped in the local area off the ship for a couple hours. Bought a couple souvenirs. Back to the ship around 12:30. Had another Guys Burger, best lunch on the ship IMO. Wife and SIL went off looking for other stuff to eat. Found a nice quit, cool, place to lay out. I immediately rested my eyes. DW said there was a singer near the pool, “Grant” that was good. We had pre dinner drinks on deck 5 promenade, more people watching For casual dinner tonight I got the Filet mignon and DW the Red Snapper combo. Mine was ok. Hers was over done. For desert we all got raspberry crème cake. Pretty good After dinner we walked around outside on deck 3. Happened to see a small boat screaming towards the ship from a very small island with lighthouse not too far away. The boat picked up a man and zoomed off somewhere else on the other side of the ship. Would love to know what that was about. The show tonight was Christopher Alan Graves and the Liberty singers, dancers, and band doing a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. We went even though we knew we probably wouldn’t care for it. We’re late 50’s and not even close to being the age that this show is intended for. We were right. 10 minutes in we left. After 31 cruises, I’ve never seen such a poorly attended main show. You could have walked in 5 minutes after the show began and still had your pick of seats, even in the front rows. Bad Carnival, Bad! We tried the hot tubs later. Of course the few that were open were not much more that luke warm. The ladies stayed a little while and I took off to get back dressed and headed for the casino. Won a few dollars and called it a night.
Day 5 - Mahogany Bay Roatan
Met for breakfast at 7 and quickly got ready to get off the ship. We grabbed a taxi for the very bumpy ride to West Bay Beach. Roads are full of holes. $30pp round trip in a taxi. $10pp for beach access and a chair. We’ve been here before and found the beach to be very nice. Water is very clear and warm. The girls walked the beach to the left as far as they could go to a large rock wall. Here iguanas ruled. Took tons of pictures. Lots of fish in the water that swam right up to you. I stayed put and watched our stuff. Stayed 9:30 till 1. Our driver (stayed with us) took us on a smoother road on the ride back, but was quite long, about 50 minutes. This island as with many in the Caribbean are very poor. You either have it or you don’t. Not much in between as far as we saw. Ride back was beautiful but trash all over along the water. Too bad no one cares what their home looks like. We shopped for 30 minutes at the port until we had to get on for departure soon after. My SIL makes it a point in most ports to hunt for $2 beers and found a place to buy. Success for her. On board we took a nap before dinner. A drink and more people watching on deck 5 promenade. More photographers taking up seating space here. In fact if you look at the seating in back of them, it looks like to be never sat in. Off to dinner as soon as MTD opened at 5:45. We’ve been requesting table 124 and got it again. Nice window table view and a decent waiter. Tonight DW had the Shark - Langostino Puffs and the Spinach & Portabella Salad. Thought it was very good. Also SIL got the smoked duck and caramelized orange appetizer. Tasty. I had the Caesar salad and breaded shrimp. Just ok. For main I had the flat Iron. Had good luck with that in the past, but this one was plain bad. Rest of us got the seafood newburg, mussels, scallops, shrimp and lobster sauce with saffron rice. All good. For desert, poor pickings again. I had chocolate ice cream and ladies both had tiramisu. Decide to go to Lido to see what we could have had there. Same menu, but with more choices. More deserts too. Afterwards we went outside to see sunset at 7:35. Then to deck 3 lobby to hear the unknown singing duo that play there much of the time in the evenings throughout the cruise. We had see the female before on last springs Freedom cruise. Liked her a lot. Very good singer and personable. The 9PM show was Mark Maverick, a comedy hypnotist act. We had seen the same type show with another performer a few months earlier on the Freedom. I guess we were spoiled with that one as this one was not nearly as good. Hit the sack early tonight.
Day 6 - Grand Cayman
Breakfast on Lido at 8 and looking forward to Grand Cayman, one of our favorite stops in the Western Caribbean. We arrived a little early, around 9:30. Went to guest relations and they quickly escorted all the FTTF people down to the tender area on deck 0 where we quickly boarded for the 5-10 minute ride. Took a van taxi to seven mile beach. Cost was different for the 3 places the taxi was going. The closest was $4, but you had to pay $2 to get beach access from this hotel. The second (Sea Grapes) and third were $5, but no cost to get to the beach. We opted for the second as did most others. We walked down the beach a little ways and found ourselves away from the crowds and almost alone except for the occasional beach walker. Found a great shade tree in front of Harbour Heights Hotel that I thought we’d used in the past. The ladies swam some and looked for sea glass while I sat and watched the sights. Very hot today, even in the shade. Stayed until 3:30 and then took taxi back. The girls were in the mood for a nice cold alcoholic appetizer before getting ready for Formal Dinner, so we headed up to the outdoor bars on the pool deck. Showered and ready for alcoholic appetizer part 2 before dinner, we headed for deck 5 to people watch. Wife had a Chambord Champaign Cocktail and said it was the best she ever had. I watched it being made the second time. They mashed up and strained fruit in with it. Sure wish I knew exactly what they did. Should have asked. Headed for dinner at 6:30 and were very lucky to get same ocean view table 124 and server. Appetizers were seafood platter, shrimp, smoked salmon. Escargot was very good. For main we all ordered the Chateaubriand. Best dinner of the cruise. Desert included backed Alaska, Chocolate Amaretto Cake, and Ice cream. After dinner we headed straight to Punchliners to see 2 new comedians. Jason Blanchard and Sheila Kay, both good. After that we went to the main show “Just Rock” and thought it was very good. Then after the show we went to Jason Blanchard’s adult show at 10. Very funny. Busy night on the ship. Can’t say it’s like this very often. We were tired and turned in by 11.
Day 7 - At Sea
Last days are always a bit depressing. The end to a warm Caribbean vacation and then back north (NYS) where fall has a foothold with the chills. The ladies got up early to see sunrise (over rated IMO) and I slept until 8 when they came and made me go to breakfast. Then to Serenity for the day. We took turns going to get food for lunch and bringing back to our seats. I had another Guys Burger, Fries, etc. Wife had tossed salad, cole slaw, and fish (not hot). We didn’t like the chocolate buffet much. The first time on Carnival it all looks good, but you don’t eat everything because it’s really not that great. All Carnival cruises serve the exact same thing at this buffet. By 2PM, not much air movement in Serenity so we moved to deck 3 were there was a good breeze with nice chairs and not crowded. Wife and sister in law watched the flying fish near the ship for a long time. Carnival scheduled the Love and Marriage show at 2:30. Who comes inside on a beautiful day to sit for an hr to watch that? We enjoy it, but were not willing to give up the great afternoon for it. Could have been done on one of the nights when there was little else to do. We left at 4 to get ready for the farewell (or whatever the call it now) cocktail party at 5 to 5:45 that Carnival puts on. Carnival doesn’t have 2 parties like in the past. Used to have a welcome back and a farewell party sometime during the cruise. Now just 1. These parties are very good. Carnival does this right. The drinks keep coming out and you can order anything you want that isn’t on the tray. Had my fill of whiskey sours as did my SIL. Wife liked the rum punches on the tray. Not watered down at all. Also some appetizers were served around. Then to dinner. Got our table again. Appetizer were crab cake for me. For main I got the fried shrimp which was ok. SIL got the prime rib which I would normally order, but it’s just not very good the last several years. She liked it though. My wife had all appetizers for the meal. Crab cakes, Caesar salad, springs rolls, and shrimp cocktail. For desert Grand Marnier, souffle, cappuccino cake or pie, and ice cream. After diner we headed to see the same comedians as last night. Had family friendly acts and were ok. Back to the cabin around 9 to finish packing and get the luggage outside to be picked up. Wife went to sleep and I went to donate to the casino. I was way too far ahead and felt bad. Cashed out and asleep by midnight.
Day 8 - Miami
Breakfast on lido at 7. Found that we had no bill for our charges under or near the door. They don’t give it anymore I found out. Is that a little more cutting back than you could imagine???? You had to go to guest relations to get it. There are machines that you can do this on your own, but really backed up as everyone was doing the same thing. Luckily our FTTF came in handy and I was able to get our bills quickly in the priority line. We were called early at around 7:30 am because we had FTTF, but we’re in no hurry as our flight was not until almost 2PM. We finally made our way off the ship and customs was mobbed. Took at least half an hr to get through it after retrieving luggage. Out to the curb around 8:45 and called SAS, our transportation to Ft Lauderdale Airport. The van pulled up to load us pretty quickly and then more waiting. We’ve never had this happen before with this company. Had to circle the streets until another couple made their way off and called the driver for pick up. Glad we were not on an early flight. Made it to the airport by around 9:45 for our flight to Albany.
Comedians doing multiple and different shows
Prettier than most Carnival ships
Casino let me win
Poor shows for the most part
No Welcome Aboard party
Hot Tubs and pools have very limited hrs. None open all night. None open before 8AM. Hot tubs rarely warm enough (100 degrees is ideal to us)
Photographers along promenade won’t let you walk by with asking you to have your picture taken. Get’s old REALLY fast
Email me your question and comments
Joslinm1 at hotmail.com