Went on this cruise in early November, 2012 with my husband and his family. We had a blast, though we did have some seasickness in our group despite remedies due to rough sailing on the heels of Hurricaine Sandy. Aside from that, here is the best and the worst of what we experienced:
Top 10 Pro's:
#10 The shows. Vrooom! and, especially, Around the World were incredibly entertaining.
#9 Midnight Mexican Buffet. Homemade tortilla chips and the best salsas I have ever tasted! Well worth skipping dinner and staying up late! No Tums needed, either!
#8 Chocolate Extravaganza. Need I say more?
#7 The meals in the dining room. Top notch quality, taste and presentation. And you can order as much as you like!
#6 Punchliners. The comedians in the club were beyond funny, but stay away if you're easily offended! Levi, the MC, did a great job of corralling a herd of minors that snuck in to a late show. There's a family-friendly show earlier in the night.
#5 Captain Stumpy and his crew for the Reef & Rays at Grand Turk. Very informative and helpful to wimps and all levels of snorkelers. We swam with sharks--yeah, sharks--in addition to the stingrays! Afterwards, they cleaned all the equipment in full view of our presence.
#4 David's Steakhouse. Well worth the additional $35/person charge for dinner, especially if you have a special occasion in your party. Impeccable service and even better food...I've had dreams about my filet mignon!
#3 Half Moon Cay. One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen!
#2 The Chef's Table dinner. If you're a foodie (as you can tell I am!), this is a MUST-DO! An additional per person charge of $75, but well worth the money and time (3 1/2 hrs). Includes a seven course meal plus hors d'ouvres and champagne during a tour of the galley and unlimited wine and a sort-of "halftime" entertainment! Vivek, the chef, is a GENIUS!
#1 The staff! These people work endlessly and tirelessly so you want for nothing, and they genuinely are happy to know and to serve you. Special thank you to Claudio and Volodymyr from the Normandie dining room!! Kirk, the Cruise Director, was very entertaining and did a fabulous job!
Top 10 Con's:
#10 Debarkation! We hated it all being over! Aside from the following 9 things--several of them admittedly liveable--we would have loved to have stayed on ship for another go around!
#9 The photographer at the Reef & Rays excursion in Grand Turk. Toward the end, one of the stingrays was getting obviously stressed from all the handling and started thrashing. When I commented on it, she told me no, it was because it was so heavy. I don't know of anyone who is that much of an idiot and I didn't appreciate being treated as such.
#8 Weather reports. Or lack thereof. Unless I missed something, the captain only came overhead with a weather report three out of our seven days. We had some pretty rough seas following Hurricaine Sandy, so this would have been helpful to know, and the reports provided through the television were only updated at 9am and 4pm, providing not much more than air and water temperature adn wind speed. This was also a big complaint we had about the Sensation a few years ago.
#7 Food on the Lido deck. Aside from the Midnight Mexican Buffet, the Deli and the Chocolate Extravaganza, the buffets on the Lido deck were a bit disappointing. Breakfast wasn't bad, except the scrambled eggs were obviously powdered--very dry, tasteless and sandy in texture. Fresh eggs and omelettes are available to order, though. At lunchtime, meats were a bit dry and sides not involving tomatoes were flavorless.
#6 The decor. If you're a fan of Michelangelo, you'll love it. If you have small children or are easily offended, you won't. The general decor includes LOTS of male and female nudity everywhere. So much so that there really should be a disclaimer about it on the website. And then there's Beauties, the dismembered body dance club that includes glass tables made of a human torso... never saw anyone in there--I wonder why?! The dead butterflies on the wall in the stairway to Butterflies are in bad taste, as well as the obviously-designed-by-a-first-grader-lighted butterflies on the ceiling. At least they weren't nude...
#5 The best live music was held in the cigar bar! Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the band but this group of Asian men were an audible dead ringer for Journey and could belt out "Sweet Child 'O Mine" every bit as well as Axl Rose--yeah, they're that good! The only problem was that the only place they could be enjoyed was in the stifling Cigar Bar! You could practically chew on the smoke, even outside it!
#4 Samantha. "A member of the entertainment staff and one of the very few Americans on board, from New York." How do we know this? Because she told us every event she ran, every day. She ran events like a dictator and openly complained about Carnival to the passengers--very unprofessional! CONSTANTLY made comments about New York--if it's so wonderful, go back there and stop annoying us!
#3 The Maintenance on Half Moon Cay. This is obviously not a priority on this beautiful island, and it became a safety hazard! More than one toilet actually wobbled and shifted on its trap and several faucet knobs came off in my hand. Soap dispensers were full, but would not give up the soap. A blade fell off of a ceiling fan in the Captain Morgan Pirate Ship bar, missing my head by inches!
#2 Having to traverse from Aft, where the dining room was located, to Forward, where the majority of the evening entertainment was located, through the smoke-filled casino. The only way to get around it was to go up to another level on one end and back down on the other--or hold your breath for a few minutes. At least it was expected in the cigar bar. We were shocked that there was not a better ventilation system. This would be #1 if it weren't for
#1 Anthony, the Cruise Shopping Expert. Very bad attitude and a compulsive liar! Not only did he tell us Carnival did away with the Chocolate Extravaganza when we asked about it (he likened it to the Running of the Bulls), he told everyone to return to the ship in Freeport between 2 & 2:30--the ship departed at 1:30! We ran into many people who believed him and we had to tell them to be back before 1. He was also not able to give us emergency contact information when we asked for it at Freeport. This guy desperately needs to be unemployed!
Overall, a very enjoyable cruise, would do it all over again!