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Age: 50


Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Jubilee

Sailing Date: May 18th, 2002

Itinerary: Tampa-Cayman-Cozumel

Our first cruise. Having read positive and negative reviews of this ship, we were open for anything. First positive was roomy cabin size. Had an outside cabin middle front of ship on a middle level deck-noisy neighbors but otherwise comfortable. The dining room service was far and above the best part of the cruise. Our Romanian waiter, Vio, could not have been more efficient or personable. He attended to our every whim with dignity, intelligence and charm. Joseph, his assistant, was also attentive and remembered our slightest preferences.

We learned from another passenger that the dining room staff make a very, very low wage and depend on tips for most of their income. It seems a shame that Carnival doesn't pay such outstanding staff what they deserve, especially considering the 14 hour days, 7 days a week, and the months they spend away from their families. Our waiter more than earned the extra tip money we were pleased to leave for him.

The dining room food was mostly terrific with varied choices. Some selections turned out to be mediocre, but whenever we listened to our waiter's good advice, we were pleased with the results. Buffets were generally uninspired and we avoided the steam-table Lido deck food most of the time. We were very pleased with our dining table companions. We learned this seating selection is planned in advance. Not sure what the formula was, but it worked for us. 3 friendly and well-mannered other couples with whom we shared pleasant conversation. Considering some of the discourtesy evident in some other passengers, we were quite grateful for the folks at our table.

Carnival couldn't choose the weather and we spent most of our 5 days looking at clouds. Would have appreciated more interesting entertainment while at sea. Hairy chest contests on a smoky, tattoo-intensive deck and survivor games are not our kind of diversion and we don't enjoy gambling. The theater was empty of activity much of the time and a feature film shown there would have been a nice way to spend a rainy afternoon at sea.

The staff were generally friendly, but there were a few who seemed aloof and irritated, especially lobby staff. Endless promotional intercom announcements were also a problem-'infomercials' at sea.

We didn't take any of the pricey excursion packages. Brought our own snorkel equipment. Took a $10 taxi from the pier to Chankanaab National Park on Cozumel and spent the afternoon snorkeling in paradise. We found it easy to find other passengers to share cab fare. In Cayman, you can walk to the right off the tender boat pier and in a couple of minutes be at Eden's rock. Small lockers for rent at a little beach hut there with an orange roof. If time is limited, you can snorkel right there off the road where beautiful fish abound. We chose to stroll around the lovely residential area, so didn't have time to explore any other beaches.

We might consider cruising on the Jubilee again, but would rather try the smoke-free Paradise. One more suggestion-pack a six-pack of plastic water bottles and/or sodas if you'd like something to drink in your room or on shore. Too expensive to buy on board.


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