This was my wife's (48 yr old) 11th and my (50 yr old) 12th cruise -- several on Carnival and Royal Caribbean and one each on Disney and Celebrity. We took our 21 year old daughter along and it is her third cruise -- two Carnivals and ne Disney. We had sworn off Carnival after many years of service and food quality going down, but one evening we found this cruise and since it was a newer ship, we figured we would give it a chance and we are sure glad we did. On a scale of 1 -- 10, I would rate the overall cruise an 8.5 out of 10. Here goes:
Cabin: Room Stewards were amazing. We had a Spa Balcony, room 12044 and we were very concerned about noise after reading many of the reviews. Turns out, there was nothing to be concerned about. A few of the earlier reviews suggested this cabin would have noise from both the Waterworks Park and the slamming hallway door right across from the room door. Neither of which were concerns. The room is nicely appointed and I am glad Carnival laid off their outlandish colors for the Spa rooms. They were light green, with three nice pictures, etc. The shower has a nice ledge that kept most if not all of the water in the shower. The bathroom is nicely laid out and the room had plenty of storage for three adults. Balcony is a standard sized balcony with two chairs and a table. One day I wish the cruise lines would deepen the balcony by a couple of feet so those of us larger than 5 feet can stretch out. Only complaint -- the couch was turned into a bed from the moment we got on the ship until the moment we got off. I am used to it being turned down into a bed each night and the way it was left no room for sitting if you decided to read in the room, etc. By the way -- internet worked fine in the room.
Food: We are foodies and were extremely concerned about the food quality as it has really went down over the last few years on Carnival -- REALLY DOWN. We had read about the specialty restaurants (Italian and Steakhouse) so we made reservations for two nights in each. $12.00 surcharge per person in the Italian and $35.00 per person in the Steakhouse. WORTH EVERY PENNY. The food and service was amazing! We ate one evening dinner on the Lido Buffet -- not good, not bad -- just average and two meals in the main dining room. The two meals in the main dining room were much improved over previous years and all three of us came away quite satisfied. For lunch there are tons of choices and all were good. Breakfast had plenty of omelet and cook to order lines and we never waited more than just a few minutes. Day one though I lost track of my mind and tried the scrambled eggs -- come on Carnival -- throw out the frickin powdered eggs -- GROSS! Bar drinks are fairly expensive and three adults drinking can run up a fairly high bills - $2,500 to be exact. Red Frog Pub is outstanding in every way -- try the Grouper Fingers and the Red Frog Ale. Both are amazing. I gained 12 pounds on this cruise so lots of work on cardio over the next few weeks to get it off. On the last four or five Carnival Cruises -- I actually lost weight. One service complaint -- the breakfast service in the main dining room is TERRIBLY SLOW. Food was great -- service was slow. Try the Punchliner Brunch on sea days -- just don't expect to get done in under an one and a half.
Spa: One nice thing about the Spa room was free access to the heated seats, stream rooms and thermal pool for two adults. Bad thing -- if you have three adults -- you get to shell out $150.00 for a third Spa Package. We each had some treatments, etc. They really need to stop the over selling of products at the end. Thank goodness my daughter has a head on her shoulder as they tried to sell her over $500.00 worth of face products after a facial and even had the audacity to ask her if the products were too high for her budget. Avoid at ALL costs the men's facial and shave. Unlike the Art of Shaving, they use a standard four blade razor and not a straight razor -- simply a rip off and of course -- you get the heavy sales pitch. Spa gets and A for facilities and an C- for service -- mainly because of the over selling and the barber.
Public areas -- outstanding in every way. Expected to be standing in long lines, etc. We stood in NO lines. Carnival has done an outstanding job with this. We saw a few comedy shows and the Illusionist show --absolutely amazing and NOT to be missed.
Overall -- very good and will go back. We were pleasantly surprised and hope the service has improved fleet wide as we are going on an older Carnival Ship out of Galveston with some friends in December mainly to play cards and get away.