This was my 10th cruise but 8th cruise on Carnival. We travelled to New York two days earlier to spend some time in Manhattan. We got the best deal for airfare flying into JFK but it is further from Manhattan. We hired a town car service right there at the airport which probably cost us about $10.00 more than a taxi. Taxi fares from JFK are a flat $45.00 to Manhattan but you also have to pay the tolls. The traffic in New York is horrible so leave yourself plenty of time. It was quite humid while we were there so dress accordingly for a warm Fall. We took a cab to the pier which costs us about $25.00. We got detoured because of a parade. They are always having parades and street fairs on Saturday, so plan ahead. We stayed at the Marriott Coutyard at Midtown East and it was a nice hotel and I felt safe in that area of town. It is only two blocks from Park Avenue.
There was nothing spectacular about the ship. It is very similar to the Conquest. The public areas of the ship were standard. The buffet on the Lido deck, the shopping, casino, and bars on the Promenade deck.
The balcony room was very enjoyable. I really like the extra space the balcony offers and you can watch docking and undocking right there from your room. However we had a couple of technical issues in our room. We had to ask 4 times for a replacement remote for our TV because some buttons didn't work on ours. We had to ask 5 times to have our toilet fixed. Sometimes it would not flush and sometimes there was a 3 minute delay. Even though they have a hair dryer in the room, I recommend bringing your own. There's is not as strong as the normal ones you can buy in the stores. But if you also bring curling irons, etc, you only have one outlet. I brought one of those extender plugs that gave me three outlets. I have heard Carnival will confiscate surge protectors and I definitely would not pack your extender plug in your carry-on or they may take it. Put it in checked luggage.
We never had any issues with our room steward, in fact we hardly saw him.
Nothing spectacular about the food selections on the buffet, however, they are not labeling all of the individual dishes on the buffet. You have to guess. Also they have a station for make your own omelet or eggs to order. The eggs to order is false. I wanted fresh scrambled eggs instead of the ones on the buffet and they refused to make them and said it was omelets only.
The Steakhouse was very enjoyable. It was actually the best meal we had. I'm not sure it is really worth the $35 surcharge per person plus tip but if you book a reservation for the first night you get a free bottle of wine.
The Dining Room
The dining room - we had opted for the "your time" dining option this time. Slow service. The first couple of nights, our wait staff made no effort to call us by name. The last two nights, we were addressed by our names. Here is how the "your time" dining works if you have never tried it. You can go to the dining room anytime between 5:30-9:00. If you want to eat with just your group, they will accommodate you. However there may be a wait and they will offer a shared table. Or you can just ask right away to be seated at a share table. Now a lot of the tables for two are close enough to another table you can carry on a conversation with the other table if you feel like it.
The first night I ordered prime rib and it was just about cold. The food temperature got better throughout the week and by the last night, I had bacon mac and cheese and the temperature was like it just came out of the oven. One thing that I like about the menu is that they are offering some items every night as well as a new selections. You usually have about 10 starters to choose from, and 10 entrees. Whereas 5 of each are offered every night. They are also putting a "comfort food" selection on the menu which is really getting back to the basics and not all the fancy dishes they offer.
The shows consisted of Las Vegas style shows, that seem to be basically the same from cruise to cruise. We only attended one show and decided it was too boring to attend the second one. Out of the four adult comedians, 3 were really good.
The casino is a casino, however some of the dealers were nice and talkative. If you like to play Texas Hold Em, it is computerized.
The bars had a variety of music. They had a singer at the casino bar, a piano player in one bar (who was awful) and they had a couple of different groups alternating in the Bar Blue which were good. And don't forget the sports bar to watch a good game.
Same old stuff. Rip off Bingo and the Love and Marriage show ( the old honeymoon game) with the same questions they use on every cruise. They were having a lot of "guess this song" at the casino bar area and that was a bad place because it was a major walk way to go from one end of the floor to the other.
Post Cruise Excursion
You can't buy this online but a Manhattan tour was offered that included transfer to airport. We thought this was a good idea because our flight didn't leave until 5:10pm. We got off the ship at 9:00 and found our luggage quickly (you can also carry your own luggage off) and proceeded through customs and onto to our bus. The bus was supposed to leave at 9:30 and only have people going to JFK airport. But the bus was not full so they added six people for La Guardia airport. So you know what that means two airport stops and JFK would be last since the end of the tour was closer to La Guardia. But we didn't leave the terminal until 10:00. They were trying to find four more people that had purchased tickets. Well, those four people didn't follow the rules to meet the group at 8:45 on the ship. And the rest of us had to deal with the delay. When I purchased the excursion on the ship, I was told we would be at the airport at 1:00pm. We arrived at our terminal at JFK at 2:30 because of the other airport stop and the extra wait time at the beginning. And we only got there then because I complained to the tour guide that they were dropping off people first who had later flights. Don't waste the $90 per person on this excursion.
We did not purchase any other excursions on the ship. In Nova Scotia, it was raining, so we just walked around for a couple of hours. In New Brunswick, we purchased a boat tour to the reversing falls off the ship for $45 per person and it was worth it. This company has jet boats so they can get near the reversing falls whereas most of the boat tours you would buy on the ship, aren't allowed. In Portland we bought a ticket for the mail drop boat tour. This was real interesting seeing how stuff and people are transported to the little islands off of the mainland. This was only $15 but it is 3 hours. In Boston, you have to get some kind of transportation to downtown. It is too far to walk. We bought a ticket for a round trip shuttle which was $15 per person. I heard the trolley tour will pick you up at the ship terminal and drop you off at Quincy Market and then you can get back on the trolley later to go back to the ship. This might be something to investigate on the ship.
Overall I liked the itinerary but didn't feel like I had a special cruise experience.