When a friend of ours suggested we join them on the cruise, I was excited. But, when I heard it was a Carnival ship, I was hesitant because I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about that cruise line.
Decided to go for it and I am SO happy that we did!
We live very close to Baltimore, so boarding was a breeze. I thought it would take a while to get onboard and into our stateroom, but we were on the ship in no time and checking the place out right away. I know that a lot of people have complained about the Renaissance theme being a bit much for family "viewing", but I actually got a kick out of it. Would I change some of the elevator door art? Maybe. A couple of the murals? Possibly, but as the week went by, I grew to appreciate it more as I studied more details and the overall flow of the look. It works.
Our room was very comfortable and I loved having an unobstructed view off the balcony. I loved getting room service in the morning, so I could sit on the balcony, enjoying my morning coffee. Then, off to walk the upper decks before too many people were up and about.
I was absolutely amazed by the memory power of everyone we dealt with onboard. Before we'd been there half a day, I was greeted by name by each of the people working on our deck and in the dining room. We did not have one single bad experience with anyone working onboard. My only complaints would be about some of the other passengers with attitudes of inflated self-entitlement, but even that was at a minimum.
Henry, our room steward, was there with a smile at all times, along with everyone else on our deck taking care of us (forgive me for not having/listing all names)
In the dining room, same story. We grew fond of everyone we saw every day- Tina, Joel, Prinam, etc. They anticipated every request, and with gracious style.
We spent a lot of time on the Lido deck, in and around Mermaid's Grill and got to know a few of the waiters there as well. Really enjoyed getting to know them and hearing about their lives from all over the world, it seemed. Aries was one of my favorite waiters- bonding over my birthday being onboard and me being an Aries :-) He was great fun and always smiled and laughed.
I just can't say enough about the staff. They felt like family by the time we left- we even got teary saying goodbye.
Thoroughly enjoyed the Ivory Lounge, where Roger played piano and most sang along. He was hilarious and had everyone laughing and cheering him on. Maya was the bartender there and she was very nice as well. She didn't make me feel bad the last night when I only ordered water. Early in the week, I'd get funny looks when I ordered water, but after having some drinks, they got used to me ordering that more than liquor most nights.
Entertainment was fun, casino was lively and food was plentiful and really good.
I had my birthday onboard and my friends treated me to an acupuncture session. Had never seen an acupuncturist before and was a bit hesitant doing so on a cruise ship for my first time, but it was actually very good. Jenny was the provider and she pinpointed my painful spot on my back right away. I only felt one needle out of 24 that she put in and honestly, it did help my pain immediately. She gave me some great information to take home with me and I now want to find one locally to see for another treatment.
I treated myself to massage and paid to have the longer session of stone/aromatherapy. Have to say, that may be the only disappointment for me. While it was very good, I didn't care for the up selling attempt for products to take home. It was expensive enough, so I would recommend if anyone were to book one, stick to the Swedish Massage and call it a day.
We had dinner in David's Steakhouse that night and it was well worth the extra fee. Food was absolutely upscale (though the shrimp cocktail could have had larger shrimp) and everything was delicious. Better be prepared and not eat much before going there because you will be very well fed and you must save room for dessert! Cheesecake lovers, you will be hard pressed to find a better, more plentiful piece of smooth and creamy cheesecake anywhere. I had the chocolate sampler and it was nothing short of divine.
We packed a lot more fun in on the ship as we scurried back up to Baltimore. Once we were called to disembark, the process was very smooth and we were home before 12:30.
Carnival, you converted me to a believer, and I would sail with you any time!