Let me start this review by saying the cruise was very enjoyable, the crew fantastic, and we had a wonderful time. The things I am pointing out that I noticed to be a distraction were very minor.
We took this particular cruise because it departed from Baltimore, (a one and a half hour drive)and it fit in with my wife's work schedule. After reading all of the reviews and some of the negative comments I was a little leary of what we had to look forward to.
The first thing I want to mention is the fact that the ship was late arriving at the port. We were notified ahead of time and adjusted our departure accordingly. However even with our delay it seemed we all arrived at the port at roughly the same time, making what could have been a very bad situation. This is where I have to commend the entire Port and Carnival Personnel. They took a very hectic situation and made it flow smoothly and we were through it all and on the ship within 2 hours of arrival.
Tired and rushed at this point and not in the best of spirits we got to our cabin to find the room ready so we were able to drop of our carry-on and go to dinner. Because of the delay in departing dinner was open seating, within minutes of arrival we were seated and our first real introduction to the Carnival attitude. Our Wait staff headed by Rossana (a true gem) greeted us as if we were old friends, the professional attitude and care was wonderful. They cheered us up in no time. I cannot emphasize enough how this effected our cruise experience.
Fortunately my family is not effected by motion sickness,so the fact that is was quite rough on the first two sea days did not hinder our enjoyment of the cruise. Knowing the time of year we expected this to a point. I say this as we did encounter some seasick passengers, and know many that sat in their rooms, the medical staff was kept quite busy too. The weather did not cooperate and was cloudy and cold most of the time outdoor activities were at a minimum. All that being said the staff had their hands full.
This is where I want to commend all the the staff we encountered, Cruise Director Eric, his assistant Gumby and all of the hosts did a wonderful job. I never saw them act in any manner other then happy to be there.
Our cabin was cramped with 4 adults sharing space, but closet space was more then adequate, our room Steward (Jono) did yeoman service in keeping our room spotless, while dodging all of the extra "stuff" we had in the room.
We ate breakfast in the Mermaid Grill, and in the dining room. The dining room was very nice the food good to excellent, the service very good and the food was delivered in a timely manner. Breakfast in the Grill was very similar to that in a good buffet restaurant. Had no real problems with layout or finding a table.
We also ate lunch at both the Grill and Dining room. I found the Deli Grill to be very good and like being able to get sandwiches made to order. I also like the daily variation in the menu for lunch. The dining room service and food was very good.
Now to bring us to the highlight of our day. Our evening dining experience was something we looked forward to each and every day. Our dining staff, head waiter Kwame, and the two Andi's made our meals a true experience, always cheerful, very attentive, and left you feeling you were royalty. I will say that the food quality and choice are not what they were on carnival years ago, but I was very satisfied overall.
I do have a little problem with the ships decor, (no not the nudes)in fact I like the art. My problem is with all of the art it makes the ship seem dark, along with the weather this could actually depress you.
I would like to commend the bartenders (specially addidta in Starry Nights) and all of the wait staff. I am also an ex-smoker, I will say that the smoke did not bother me.
This brings me to the one low spot of our cruise. I am a lover of the shows on most cruises and look forward to these shows, I also have some experience with the theatre, and my adult children are both Music majors. This being said my criticism is more then just a passing thought. I cannot say this more bluntly, the designers of the shows took money under false pretenses. The singers and dancers are very talented but are completely crippled by sorry material. Choreography is way to busy, dancers are rushing and wasting good moves, scenery and settings for the around the world show are rife with negative sterotypes. Classic Jazz number have their tempo's changed. (who could write or arrange it better then Ellington or G. Miller). I could go on but have gone on enough. Carnival really has to look at their shows.
I do want to say that we had a very enjoyable time, and want to thank involved in making this a most memorable experience. Will do this again very soon.