Boarding at Vancouver was a breeze. As the length of the cruise was twelve nights additional supplies had to be taken on board that delayed departure but the time was easily made up.
Five full days at sea to start the cruise was going to be challenging and unsurprisingly the first two days were not warm so we looked to Carnival to entertain us during these days and they were found wanting. Perhaps the intention was to encourage bored passengers to the casino (more later) or the entertainment staff are just lazy (see later). The next three days were warm so the sun could be enjoyed and time did not drag.
The next seven days were spent in ports that were very interesting and a great experience. The ship over nighted twice in Maui and Honolulu and Carnival basically abandoned passengers that stayed on board those evenings by putting on minimal entertainment (a local dance group in Maui) and a singer in Honolulu. Such entertainment finished at 10-30pm and most of the bars were closed. In Honolulu there was plenty of off ship entertainment available to passengers but in Maui, the ship docked in a predominantly industrial area and there did not appear to be any nearby entertainment options. Many passengers felt this unsatisfactory.
Onto the entertainment staff. I have never encountered such a lazy bunch. On a twelve night cruise there were only three shows put on by them. During sea days they did a bit of bingo, some trivia and the mandatory hairy chest competition. As previously mentioned, on the overnights they basically abandoned passengers to hit the town partying.
During the cruise a lot of work was taking place on board to adapt the ship for Australia including adding beer taps to bars, providing Australian electrical power outlets, providing superior hot drink machines and constructing a barbecue area. This work was carried out in a discreet and thoughtful way and did not inconvenience passengers. Bonus points to Carnival for this!
Prior to the cruise the slots in the casinos had been replaced with brand new ones for the Australian market. All I and many passengers can say is be prepared to be robbed Australia in triple quick time! If the slots on board are typical of Australian ones I can't understand why any Aussie would ever participate in this form of gambling.
The Ship is eleven years old and is naturally dated by modern standards but is mechanically sound and clean and has been well maintained. Sending a ship to Australia is in cruise terms the first step to the breakers yard and I find that sad having cruised on it twice before with many fond memories.
I suspect Carnival have collected their laziest entertainment staff and dispatched them to Australia in the same way as Britain dispatched persons for bad behaviour in the eighteenth century. So if any Australians are reading this don't expect to be over entertained!
The bar staff, dining room staff and cabin attendants were all excellent. They worked extremely hard and always smiled (even if they did not feel like doing so). The Maitre D was annoying every evening with her announcements in a weird voice for "showtime" but that apart she did an excellent job organising the dining room and enquiring of passengers' well-being. I understand she will be transferring off the ship when it arrives in Sydney.
Despite the failings off the entertainment team this was a very enjoyable cruise with fascinating ports. Hawaii is a once in a lifetime experience for me because it is so damned far from anywhere!