Being the cruise junkies we are, we talked ourselves into doing a 3-night on Carnival, which has an overnight in Nassau, following a 4-night trip to Key West. We thought it would be fun to have a vacation after a vacation of sorts. We knew that there was good possibility that this was going to be a party cruise for most and it was. Since we went into it knowing this we were prepared for it and had a great cruise experience. We're 40 with two kids 10 & 8, all seasoned cruisers and we don't cruise to party anymore, lol.
Embarkation was super smooth. Arrived at port around 10:30, on by 11:30 lunch in Horizon Grill right away. Rooms were ready by around 1:30, some earlier. We took a last minute inside cabin on deck 7, Empress deck, room E33, they were ready by 1:30.
Hadn't been on Carnival in a few years, the safety drill had changed quite a bit. No life vests, all show up in a designated area for safety instructions and then are walked by staff to your life boat. It was longer than any drill I've had on any ship. Part of it was due to the lack of people paying attention though,(the partying mode). Very loud, not quieting down when asked, it delayed things quite a bit, but they were having fun, lol.
The food overall was as expected, they have a newer menu since our last Carnival Cruise on the Legend in Sept. of '08. I think it's a bit less fancy then it used to be, not necessarily a bad thing. They have an everyday side to the menu, then the changing side, including one item that is called, Didya ever, like Did you ever try... with items that people may not be accustomed to but would like to try, they were a shrimp dish, alligator and sushi on our trip. They also have one comfort food item every night as well, like beef brisket and mash for example.
In the Horizon Grill, lots of variety, salads, the grill (burgers, chicken fingers, hot dogs), the Mongolian BBQ, near Grill (you choose your noodles, veggies, they take your bowl and add your choice of meat (beef/chicken/shrimp, one day (pork, chicken, mussels, etc.) then choose a sauce (Schezwan, most spicy, Thai BBQ, little spicy OR black bean, not spicy) They cook it all together and serve it up:-).
Inside the Horizon was the Deli (Hot and Cold Sammies, long line), Pizza (24 hours) also served Caesar Salad, a themed line, first day Italian, 2nd was Caribbean, 3rd had to be American with more fried chicken, and a dessert table too.
On this cruise elegant night was the 2nd evening. We docked overnight in Nassau tonight. I would say about 10% actually dressed close to formal, others in simple dress & slacks and many in day clothes, just in case you were curious. I didn't think the dress would be followed on a 3-night and was correct which was nice for a change, especially on such a short cruise. They served Maine Lobster and Prime Rib tonight.
The Waterworks area is were we spent most of the time, our kids, well and my dh, loved it! One big tall twisty slide and two side by side racers. The pool area on Lido deck is very small and was always packed, and I mean packed, well on sea day anyway. Not so much on port day which is when we took a dip in the hot tub. Sea day the pool area is loud, packed and non-stop party. So if that's what you're looking for, it's here:-). We sat at the bar down there for about 45 minutes, in the corner watching the action. High energy, fun to witness. Tried Carnival's new home-brew Red Frog, liked it a lot. Kids got virgin fancy drinks, pina/strawberry and our daughter tried the banana split smoothie, no one liked it, the bartender made her something else, no problem.
We loved the bartender at the bar above the Spirit Dining Room, Ronald I think. He remembered us and what we had and asked if wanted our 'usual' right when we sat down when he saw us the 2nd time. Very cool! Nice guy.
***TiPPing NOte*** We like to tip above the added 15% for good service and on the receipts there is no tip line, so we asked. You can still add it there and re-total, then sign. The 15% already added goes into a pool for all bartenders at that bar, the extra addons go directly to that bartender!
Oh, we got Anytime Dining, worked out fine for folks like us arriving between 6:45 and 7:15, but at around 7:30 the line started forming and by 8 it wrapped around the atrium with a long wait. I spoke to staff member and she said this always happened on the 3-night, to arrive by 7 for no wait.
Couple of things that threw me:
At dinner there was a family with the father and son rocking out with an I-Pod, both plugged in, the table next to us broke out a moderately loud battery operated dancing stuffed chihuahua to entertain her toddler. Did this twice. The cabin next to ours had a full on party in it the first night around 2am, must have been several cabins conjoining in one. Very load singing, pounding on something to the beat, thought they'd come through the walls, VERY loud, luckily it only lasted about 15 minutes or so. Just enough to wake the dead. The next night it was much earlier, but they were fighting, really fighting, knocking into the hallway walls right outside our door. One or two others trying to pull it apart. Nuts! Nothing on night 3:-).
The beds though, the most comfy on any cruise, wish we could have slept in them peacefully. I do love the cabin space on Carnival. We had a balcony stateroom recently on the Jewel of the Seas (RCCL) that was so much smaller than our inside on this ship.
Overall it was a good time, it is what you make of it after all and it was a cruise:-).
Debarkation was smooth too. Chose to eat in dining room, took our time and were off by 9:45.