First let me tell you that I was skeptical about cruising with Carnival. I've cruised twice with Royal Caribbean, and have been told throughout the years, that Carnival was not at all comparable, basically implored by others to stay away. Well my girlfriends brother and sister in law (who we travel with frequently) booked a carnival cruise, and asked us to join them, I kind of did not have a choice. Well, by the second day, I was already comparing Royal Caribbean and Carnival, and found both to be similar in so many ways, with even Carnival being a tad better in certain categories.
Food: Was just incredibly good. Breakfast and Lunch we had at the buffet. Now the lines do get ridiculously long, which I don't remember being so bad on Royal Caribbean, but what I found is if you didn't go for breakfast too early, or lunch too early, the lines simmered down, and the food was just as warm and fresh as before. I personally am just not that much into buffet food, though what I had was good, and my girl and family liked it, I much rather order a sandwich from the Deli. And the Deli sandwiches were top notch. I also ordered a cheeseburger, and again was also very good. As for Dinner, we had the early seating in the Posh Room. Some complaints I've read say that they do not offer you a full selection of food. I really do not know what these people are talking about. They have a full list of items, from Steak, to roasted Chicken, to cheeseburgers, ceaser salads, fruit cocktails, that are on the menu every day of your cruise. The daily menu, which does change from day to day, has had lobster tails, shrimp cocktail one night, grilled shrip another night, frog legs, duck, alligator, prime Rib, NY Strip Steak, Filet Mignon, Lasagna, pasta, etc. I really can't see how you can look at that menu and say that they don't offer you a selection. Dessert is just as good, and believe me when I tell you, you have to order the Chocolate Melting Cake. I had 2 a night, that's how good they were.
I like my coffee in the morning, and the free coffee was bearable. I'm not going to say great, but not terrible. If you like good coffee, go to the coffee bar and spend the $3.00 on a cup of better brewed coffee. I know it sounds kind of cruel that you are forced to buy a cup of coffee and not be able to drink what is offered for free, but the way i looked at it, I order a cup of starbucks every morning, whats the big deal. Espresso and Cappucino though was excellent.
Pool Area: Just as relaxing as can be. You have to get up there early if you want a chair, I suggest 8.00am you make your way up to Lido deck and mark your territory. If you wait until 11, your not going to get a seat by the pool, your going to have to settle for a seat on the upper levels, away from the pool. For some reason this pisses people off, but if you want a good seat you have to wake up early, i'm not sure why people find that so hard to understand. Pool is kind of small, but there are two in the main area, and another one in the adult area. The Movie Screen is really amazing, it's so nice to be on the deck eating your breakfast, drinking coffee and listening to the morning news. Nights are even better when you can sit outside and watch a movie.
Service: Excellent, excellent, excellent. Our room was on the forward side of the ship, all the way forward. The first day and 1/2 we never met our steward. Well Come day 2, we walked by him, and he immediately knew our names. (Just makes you feel good). He introduced himself, apologized for not seeing us sooner, just letting us know that our room is kind of hidden. WE of course didn't mind, but were just as glad to meet him. Everything is spotless, they are constantly cleaning.
Smoking: I am a smoker, and the rules are you are only allowed to smoke on the right side of the ship, and in selected bars and the casino, and if you have a balcony on your balcony. that's the rules, I respect that and I followed it. The rules weren't ridiculously stringent, it was fair and easy to follow.
Shows: Just top notch. I always liked the RC shows, but you know you walk away and say it was good but kind of cheesy. Carnival's shows aren't at all like that, it's a top notch performance with great dancing and singing. Again very impressive.
Kids: Yea their are kids on the ship, and they act like kids do, playing around having fun. I don't have children, and as a 30 year old male, like the adult quietness, but in all seriousness, it's not as bad as some people make it out to be. I watch them having fun and it makes me laugh in amusement. I never found it to be a bother, and honestly I don't think most people do. RC had kids also, as I'm sure most cruises do.
They keep you busy, they keep you eating, and they keep you happy. I really have to say that I would most certainly cruise with Carnival again.