This was our second European cruise, the first being two years ago on Princess to the Baltics. We have sailed in the Caribbean with Carnival and in Alaska with Princess. The Carnival Breeze was the best ship of all 7 cruise ships...
The ship itself, while full with over 3000 guests, never felt crowded. We were able to get a dinner table with anytime dining without more than a 5 minute wait regardless of the time we came down for dinner. There was rarely a wait for the on board activities nor difficulty in finding seats for the comedians or Ovation theater shows. As one would expect, the ship is immaculate. It is very easy to navigate around the ship. The elevators were quite efficient, though we mostly took the stairs.
Our inside cabin mid ship on the 7th level was adequate for our purposes(once the air conditioning was fixed on the fourth day). The bathroom facilities were comparable to others we have used on ship. The tv was okay though most of the non ship channels came in and out at random times. The movies were quite old with very few newer movies and no first run movies. We would have appreciated ESPN in the room as it was available in the sports bar. The beds were firm but comfortable.
The food was the best we have encountered. We ate in the main dining room (Sapphire) 11/12 evenings and with only one or two exceptions found the meals quite satisfactory and superior to meals on other ships. We especially liked the Pasta Buffet for lunch in the specialty Italian restaurant. Guy's burgers were okay...a little disappointing though quite popular. The Lido Buffet was adequate and never seemed that crowded with the exception of a few mornings.
The service with one exception was superb. All the stewards and restaurant personnel were extremely efficient, professional, and friendly. As to be expected, some of the restaurant personnel were geographically challenged when trying to find the assigned seating, but that was quite minor. The restaurant servers were as good as any in a fine restaurant. The room stewards were just as efficient and professional. Our one complaint was the failure to fix our air conditioning after three complaints (2 to the room steward and one by phone to guest services). Thanks to Olga, on the fourth attempt we were able to thaw out. Carnival gave us a gracious credit for the inconvenience. We also had a cut phone line on the first night, but that was repaired on the second day. However, Carnival needs to add personnel to the Guest Services desk as they were overwhelmed and the waits were often interminable. One other quick note is the public areas can be quite cool regardless of the temperature outside.
The sports deck was amazing with a ropes course, full court basketball/soccer, miniature golf,water slides, etc. There was rarely a wait or difficulty utilizing. However, it was disappointing to our 17 year old that the court was closed after 5:30...We could not figure out any reason for this. The fitness center had plenty of machines available. Serenity (adults only area) was quite welcome and again the Jacuzzis were readily available though seating on sea days was problematic. The fifth floor Jacuzzis were the least busy. The 3D/4D theater was available after port excursions but at $8 per viewing per person we did not utilize.
The entertainment was better than any other cruise ship. Of particular note were the two entertainers, a singer/impressionist and pianist, who were only on the ship for two shows each. The production shows are significantly more sophisticated than those on other ships. The comedians were quite good(though the British ones require some knowledge of British slang). We particularly enjoyed the comedian from New Orleans. At this point, I need to signal out the John and Calvin shows. The two have a comedic chemistry that is reminiscent of some of the classic comedic duos(and I am not exaggerating).
The itinerary, which was a once in a season one(because it left from Venice and included Athens and Izmir) was terrific with the lone disappointment being the loss of 1 1/2 days of port calls. We lost a half day in Monaco (with which we had hoped to spend part of the day in Nice) and the full day in Marseilles (with which we had hoped to explore Aix en Provence). We did receive some credits for the loss of port time, but we were very disappointed at losing Nice and Provence. One other personal note, we could have done without Olbia and certainly would have appreciated a stop in Naples/Capri or an additional stop in Sicily as a preference.
At this point, I want to signal out what made the cruise even more spectacular...the Cruise Critic Members who participated in the roll calls. Through the roll call message boards we were able to meet a number of terrific people, many of whom organized the port excursions at significantly less cost than the Carnival ones. These Cruise Critic members are what made the cruise experience even more special...
Embarkation was a bit of a hassle as the computers went down and the wait was about one hour from arrival to boarding. The debarkation was not much better as most people apparently did not leave when there "number" was called, resulting in quite a cattle call at around 8:30 as well as a huge taxi line in Barcelona.
Overall, a great experience and I would highly recommend the Carnival Breeze experience.