Our family of four has cruised before. This was our first Carnival Cruise. We have two boys, age 16 & 11.
CABINS/BEDS: The bed was so hard that I could hardly sleep my first night (tossing & turning). My 11 year old said his bunk was like sleeping on a board! I nicely asked our cabin steward (Elviro)if we could have a comforter to cushion the matress. He put an additional FOAM on both beds, which helped. (Thank you Elviro!) BTW...another passenger (male early 20's) was complaining about his bed, while we waited for the elevator. I gave him the tip about asking for foam cushion.
FOOD: Dining room food was pretty good. If you didn't like the daily specials, there was a basic menue available each day. Can't go wrong with steak.
BUFFET: On the Lido (deck 9) was very disappointing. If you have experienced other cruise lines (Holland America, Norwegian & NCL) you will be disappointed. Very limited with choices and staff had trouble keeping it stocked. I also heard other passengers complaining about the food choices.
GRILL: Offered burgers, hotdogs - picnic food if you didn't like regular buffet.
BURRITO BAR: Long line always - but pretty good
MONGOLIAN BAR: Long lines. Looked ok, but we didn't like it.
DESSERT BAR: Good and a lot of choices. Wide variety of fruit for healthy options too.
SALAD BAR: Pretty basic, but ok.
CAMP CARNIVAL FOR KIDS: My boys did not want to participate after we checked it out and they saw the planned activities. Example: my 11 year old had no interest in a drawing contest. The one thing he wanted to do "Laser Tag" was offered at Midnight!! Really? He was too tired by then! Shame on Carnival for that.
ACTIVITIES/DAILY ITINERARY: Very, very disappointing! Mostly geared for you to spend money. Examples: Bingo, $10 Madness Sale, Art of Collecting Seminar, Liquor Raffle, Shopping Show, Slot Tournament, Body Art (selling), Diamond & gemstone seminar, Master Mixologist, Intro to Acupuncture, Champagne Art Auction, Health seminars to sell you $600 products, such as Elemis; Martini Tasting (cost $17) and the list goes on!
SPORTS TRIVIA: This was our highlight and wished it was offered daily. Any kind of trivia.
SHOWS: They were very good. Justin Illusion magic and dance show was FANTASTIC and the best part of the trip. Comedy shows were good too. Good job Carnival!
CABIN STEWARD: Elviro (spelling?) was FANTASTIC! He called us by name all the time. His service was the best ever.
DINING STAFF: Lawrence was our best waiter (and his assistant). He saved our dining experience. Also, the Materdee talked with us and had a meeting with his staff regarding our concerns. He reminded them - "It's the little things that make an impact on passengers." Our first 2 days we had servers that were like robots. They were very slow with serving (cold food), not personable at all and we were left unattended often. We were really getting annoyed. Once I talked to someone about it, the Materdee called my cabin and then came to our dining table the 3rd night to make sure our experience had improved. And it DID IMPROVE. Then we were treated like royalty. I know we are NOT hard to please. I actually think I was put on a watch list or something. We were really impressed with the brief nightly dining room shows by waiters each night and how they call you by name. They have a cheat sheet, but who cares. It works.
PORTS: New Brunswick was kind of boring. Nova Scotia was very nice. We took city tours each day. My boys were very bored in New Brunswick though.
GUEST SERVICE: The blonde hair lady (I'll spare her name) was very very rude and needs to get another job. I used to be in Customer Service. Seriously...she talked over me. She was very very loud when speaking with ALL passengers. Everyone in line could hear what the passenger was there for. No privacy or discretion. She dismissed my concerns. On Captain's Night there were 500 people in the dining room line. I went over to ask why the line was so long and she could care less. I asked if the wait could be over an hour and she had NO IDEA! She could have explained that the dining room was not open yet and once they opened the line would move pretty quickly. I told her that there were many angry/annoyed people in line (No joke or exaggeration) and she said "Oh well, I've never had two people complain at once." There was another lady complaining about it too. Really, I would have liked to have spoken to her boss because she was awful!!
SPA: I got a 75 minute masage and facial. Very good.
CRUISE DIRECTOR: We never saw Josh! He was only at the shows or on the PA. Jason was funny and we saw him. Josh - you need to meet/greet your passengers!
OVERALL: You get what you pay for. This is a nice cruise and our overall experience was nice. 5 days was plenty. They need to improve daily itinerary and buffet service though. Add some personality to the waiters (Lawrence was good though), get rid of the blonde hair lady in guest service and you will have a 5 stars for the value.