I must say I was disappointed with the lack of things to do and the quality of the food on board. I am going to try to leave as thorough of a review as possible since I really wish I had known what I know now before going. A word of caution though don't bother with reading the reviews on Carnival's actual website. I tried to leave my review there and listed my rating as 1 star. Every time I tried to submit the review, I kept getting an error saying I didn't have the rights to write on the server. Being a web designer and computer support person, something seemed fishy to me so I changed my review title to say, please ignore the stars, carnival won't let me leave 1 star. I then left my negative review but gave the review 5 stars and viola I could leave my review just fine. So they are controlling the amount of negative reviews you can leave on their site.
Getting onto the ship was a pretty painless process, but once on the ship finding your room and getting there was not a lot of fun. No one guided you on where to go and it was a cluster with people looming around the elevators not realizing there were more down the way and it taking over a half an hour just to get on an elevator as they are extremely slow. Also the setup for the main glass elevators near your entrance onto the ship is horrid. You can't tell what elevators are doing what. The area in front of the glass elevators doesn't allow you to see all the elevators at once and the elevators didn't make a noise when arriving so you didn't know if an elevator had even arrived without pacing up and down in front of all of them. This compacted with the fact that people that weren't in line were just coming in from other sides and cutting everyone off just made it a nightmare. We learned to avoid these elevators all together. The main painting scheme seems to be classic renaissance. Normally a nice theme, but when you have a bunch of kids and drunk people on a cruise it's not really the best idea in the world. Half of the walls in the elevators had people with their nipples scratched out or drawings of liquid shooting from breasts, which sort of kills the whole classiness idea and just makes everything looks trashy. The bathrooms were for the most part kept pretty clean. A warning though if you have someone that is not very strong or is feeble, someone should accompany them to the restroom. The doors an all the stalls are EXTREMELY heavy and hard to open. I think that was by far the biggest topic in every bathroom for the entire cruise. I don't know why it is, but they are super heavy. People kept thinking doors were locked when they weren't because of this. You can tell this ship has seen her better days. The carpeting is frayed and faded in a lot of places, and she could really use a facelift.
Once we managed to find our room I was in for the big shock of seeing just how tiny these rooms are. If you've never cruised before and you expected something close to what hotel rooms are like you are in for a big surprise. These rooms are tiny. We had 3 people to our room and barely had room to walk. The bathrooms are extremely dated, as well most of the decor is the be honest, but the bathrooms were miserable little holes. There is no bathtub, only a small shower stall with only one tiny soap holder in it to put things on. Have fun trying to shave those legs ladies. DON'T grab the bar for the shower controls either as my husband burnt his hand on it. I will say that generally the staff was very pleasant so that was a nice plus. Our room had a window so we could see the ocean, which was great. After talking to other passengers, I found out that the rooms that don't have windows are even smaller than ours so I guess I should be grateful for that. One guy said you open the door to your room you pretty much fall into bed. Our fridge/wet bar broke and had to be replaced. We also had feather pillows, which was horrible on my allergies, but super comfy. The TV situation was annoying. There are 2 channels that are simply shots of a beach, the same shot with just different music. There is 1 channel that is supposed to show you a view from the front of the ship, but the camera was faced in so you basically could only see the side of the ship and this wasn't fixed in the 7 days we were on the cruise. All of the regular stations are based out of Florida so even when you are going by North Carolina you can only see Florida news and whether. They have almost a constant infomercial going with the cruise shopping expert Wendy playing. We finally broke down and bought a movie out of boredom one day.
For us personally the entertainment was lacking. We found a lot of times we were scoping out the daily itinerary just trying to find anything to do. This is not what we expected on a cruise ship. The pools weren't useable for a few days of the trip due to bad weather and high winds. A few of the "shows" were actually sales pitches to buy jewelry on shore and in their shops. There was a lot of bingo to be played if you are into that. Not really our cup of tea. The comedy shows were great as were a lot of the staff run entertainment shows. The casino was a huge disappointment. It was small and if you are a non-smoker, you are out of luck because you will be a smoker while in this casino. There were actually more places to smoke than not and the ventilation was horrid so all the smoke was everywhere. There was literally one poker table that was electronic that sat 10 people. It was either completely empty or completely full with no place to sit. It was non-smoking however it was located about 5 feet from smoking tables on either side. There was only one craps table, which also was in the smoking section. There were two pool tables you had to pay to play. Didn't I already pay to get on the ship? They had several blackjack tournaments. My mom did one and said she wouldn't do another. There was only 1 blackjack table in the non-smoking area and I think there were 2 in the smoking area, which of course was back to back to the non so I'm not sure how many people they could really accommodate at once. The way you use money in the casino is strange also. You have a sign and sail card that you use for purchases while on the ship and it's also your room key. You can use this card to play at the poker and slot tables, but it doesn't just use the money off the card. You have to "move" the money from your sign and sail account, which is hooked up to your credit card, to your casino account. You can then play with the money there and have to go to the cage to have the money transferred back to use outside the casino. If you want to play poker you have to transfer money into a separate poker account only, which you can transfer from either your already existing money or your sign and sail card. You can't transfer poker money back to your casino account without going to the cashier and they have to do this on a special machine that kept having issues. This is a huge pain in the butt, especially on the last day at sea. You have until the casino closes to go to the cage and have your funds moved from your casino account and poker accounts back into your sign and sail account. There is no set time for the casino to close as they close whenever business gets slow. If you don't move the money we were told it takes several weeks to go back to your credit card. If you play other table games such as blackjack, you have to withdraw cash from your card to use at the table. Don't fall for the sneaky scheme they have going where if you want cash at the table they take the money off the card for you and charge you $1.50 for every $50 in cash you want. They did this to us then we found out if we had simply gone a few feet behind the table to the cage there would be no charge. To make it easier on yourself, bring some cash to game at tables if you are a table player.
Food wise you primarily have 2 options, one being the Normandie Restaurant and the other being the 9th floor Lido deck. The Normandie is where you will have your assigned dinnertime if you picked one. They represent themselves as being upscale dining even having cruise elegant dinners twice while you are on board, but it's not what I would define as upscale dining. Some of the food was good, some decent, and some really bad. Food comes out in mass and cannot be customized. You get the meals exactly as prepared. However you can add additional food, you just can't take away from a meal or change the food itself. Like if they are serving chicken with mashed potatoes, but you want to sub French fries for the mashed potatoes, they will leave the mashed potatoes on your tray and then give you a side of French fries. Stay away from the fried chicken and the lasagna. The fried chicken actually smelled bad and the lasagna was greasy. The cream of mushroom soup was also very oily. The crab cake wasn't lump but was good and my husband loved the strawberry soup. The 9th floor food area can best be described as subpar cafeteria food. There are several buffet stations setup such as a pizza station, chinese, Italian, deli, etc. Most of the stations are opened for the majority of the day. Late night, only the pizza station and the ice cream station are available. The food was blah. Nothing was great, but some of it was tolerable. You couldn't even get a real grill cheese. They simply put cheese between 2 slices of bread and stuck it in a Panini machine. And not once were we able to get hot French fries. Another dinner option you have, if you feel like paying $35 a person, is to dine at David's Steakhouse. We decided to try this option for my husband's birthday and it was a huge waste of money. This place is supposed to be the best dining possible and when I asked to have mac and cheese because I saw it was a side dish on one of the entrees I was told I couldn't have it. When I asked why I was told it was because they make it in advance and already have it plated to be put on with the entree on the menu so they would have to take apart the already plated entree to give it to me. When I expressed shock at this the server agreed to ask the chef what could be done and eventually they did give me the mac and cheese. I wish they hadn't because it was greasy and you could tell it had been reheated. I can't believe in a "fine dining" atmosphere they are making the food ahead of time and reheating it instead of making it to order, especially when you are paying extra to eat there. Also for $35 extra a person, you would think maybe you could get a free soda, but nope, they charged us for the only soda we got and then also charged us gratuity for the soda too without telling us we would be paying for it. I got the lobster bisque and no joke; there were NO lobster pieces in it at all. Two of us got filet mignon and it was edible, but not the best we've had by far. The other person we ate with got a strip and was happy with it after he doused it in peppercorn sauce. The cheesecake for dessert was good, but the chocolate sampler was gross. Half the ice cream was melted before it even got to the table and the combination of flavors was unappealing. I honestly don't feel that dining at David's was worth paying any extra. The food wasn't much, if any, better than dining at the Normandie.
Grand Turk- the locals were not a friendly group of people here at all. Most seemed grumpy and extremely curt in just trying to get money out of people with little care about making people happy. The only exception we encountered were the staff on our semi sub excursion. They were incredible. The beach itself had the rockiest ocean floor I have ever encountered. Literally rocks of all sizes big and small everywhere. You were lucky to find sand when in the water. I kept stubbing my toes on them. The water was pretty clear and there were some fish swimming around.
Half Moon Cay- gorgeous beach with the whitest sand that was very fine and sticky with water that was a beautiful clear blue. Since this is Carnival's island there wasn't much excitement in trying to shop there, as it seemed like the prices matched what we would spend on the ship and the merchandise seemed generic. My husband was supposed to go on a snorkeling tour, but the boat's engine died and he didn't get to go so no report on the snorkeling possible. They have a lunchtime BBQ provided by Carnival on the island, which is nice. The food was nothing to write home about, but it was food.
Freeport- this is the beach to do all your shopping. Be warned that you will need to spend $5 each way to get to their shopping or beach areas by bus since they aren't located near the dock. I didn't get to the beach here so I can't review the actual beach, but was told by many that it was the best beach of the 3 places