My husband and I cruised to the eastern Caribbean on December 2, 2012. This was a 6 day cruise out of Miami. Our cruise experience has been with Royal Caribbean (7), Celebrity (2), Norwegian (3), and Carnival (3). This was our first time on the Carnival Breeze. We were excited about this cruise because the ship was new and we had never been on a ship as new as this one. I got a little nervous after reading reviews that were not so good. Now I know that those reviews were very accurate. This cruise was a major disappointment.
All the ships we have been on prior to this one had the "wow factor" as soon as we boarded. This was not the case when we boarded the Breeze. I read that things were toned down a bit as far as the usual bright colors on other Carnival ships, but I think they went a bit too far on their toning down. The ship was very dull looking. There was nothing that sparkled on the ship. To me, it looked like the ship was built with saving money in mind. I cannot tell you that this ship was beautiful because in my opinion, it was not.
Air travel: This cruise was out of Miami and I have decided to never cruise out of Miami again. That airport was extremely crowded on the day we flew back home and we waited over an hour to get through security. They had one body scanner open and another one was not staffed that day. I will also never fly on American Airlines again. Two hour delay so they could fix a window on the plane!
Pre-cruise hotel: We stayed at the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel. I would not recommend staying there. I used my Sheraton reward points for the room and my bill was still $125. The food and drink prices are unbelievable. You can read my review of this hotel on a travel review website (TripAdvisor).
Embarking (getting on the ship): The sail departure time was 4 p.m., and we arrived at the dock at around 11:30 a.m. We spoke to folks who arrived at 9:30 a.m. and they did not board much earlier than we did. This ship had a different approach to letting people on board and I did not like it. You are given a section number and people are called to board in that order. They did not start calling the numbers until almost 12:00 p.m. and our section was called at about 12:30 p.m. My advice would be to arrive at around 11:30 a.m. and that reminds me to mention that although Carnival may send you a message telling you that you cannot board until a certain time, you can ignore their message because it means nothing. It is Carnival's way of attempting to control the numbers of people arriving at the same time.
Cabins: We were in balcony cabin #7275 and it very close to the forward elevators. Those elevators will take you to the buffet (called Market Place) on deck 10. When you get off the elevator on that deck, you will be at the Red Frog bar and Iguana Bar. The cabin was very plain and nothing worth mentioning. The ship was new so it was very clean and our cabin steward was friendly, helpful, and a hard worker. The bed was very comfortable and there is a flat screen television which got very few channels. However, there were movies you could pay to watch. The cabin was quiet for the most part, but in the early evening you can hear music from a few decks below. It was not annoying though.
Deck 5: This deck extends out beyond where the balcony cabins extend. Therefore, if you are in a balcony cabin on Deck 6, people can see you when you are sitting on your balcony. Actually, mid ship would be the worst because there is a hot tub on Deck 5 which extends out even further. From Deck 7, it was not too bad for us because our cabin was above a painted checker board so nobody was ever there. There are lounge chairs on Deck 5 though, so I would say that cabin balconies on Decks 6 and 7 are risky if you like your privacy.
Gratuities: You are able to check your expense balance from the cabin television and a few days into the cruise a $70 gratuity charge appeared for each of us. If you wish to give gratuities on your own at the end of the cruise, just go to Guest Services on Deck 4 and they will remove the charge upon request.
Market Place: The buffet on this ship is called Market Place on Deck 10. For some strange reason they were constantly washing the floors as people dined. The floor was slippery all the time and I had sneakers on. Another annoying thing was that when the tables were cleared, the person would stand at a table (even if you were eating there), collect plates from other tables and proceed to scrape them off into a pile. It was gross. I really do think that Carnival Breeze workers are on that ship as a punishment!
Buffet at breakfast: Breakfast was horrible! There was a very limited variety and please stay away from the scrambled eggs! I do believe they made them out of egg yolks only. Totally disgusting. If you want eggs, go to the omelet station where you can at least see that they use a whole egg and not just yolks! I must say that the sticky buns were very good. I wish they had them each day, but they did not.
Buffet at lunch and dinner: They did have some variety each day, but not much. Often times I ended up eating a salad and a hamburger from outside at Guy's Burgers. There was one section (near the Italian Restaurant entrance) that had a different type of food each day (French, Italian, Caribbean, etc.). The desserts were terrific! Overall, we were not impressed with the food and I previously thought Carnival had excellent food.
Specialty Restaurants: There is a steak house for an extra charge, but we did not go. There is also an Italian restaurant which costs $12 at dinner time and free at lunch time. At lunch the menu is limited to a pasta station.
Main Dining Room: We did not eat there. I don't like sitting through all the courses served. There were two formal nights on this cruise. The first one was on Day 2.
Casino: You earn points as you play and if you get to 1,000 points, you get $10. When you get to 1,500 points, they will give you a card that entitles you to free drinks while playing casino games for the rest of the cruise. At 2,000 points, you get another $10. I know all this because I did get all those points which means I spent a significant amount of time at the casino! On the first sea day, I won $800 which I slowly returned to the casino during the course of the cruise!
Staff on Board: On other cruises, there are always wait staff running around the pool deck to take your drink orders. On this cruise, we had to go the bar to get our own drinks. Again, not impressed. Time to mention the attitude of most of the workers we came in contact with. They did not seem happy at all. I can count on one hand the number of people working on that ship that had a smile on their faces. You would think that the Carnival Breeze was where they sent people to work as a punishment.
Cruise Activities and Shows: The cruise director, Butch, was a friendly and outgoing guy. There were not a lot of activities to do compared to other cruises we have been on. There were not nightly shows like on other ships either. They had 30 minute shows here and there. We saw the one called "The Brits" and it was lame. Don't bother with it. One thing I did notice was that there were not Bingo announcements constantly. There were Bingo games, but not like on other ships.
Ports of Call -- Grand Turk: Missed this port because it was too windy for the ship to safely dock. Although disappointing, that added another sea day to the cruise.
Falmouth, Jamaica: I never leave the ship when we go to Jamaica because I don't like being chased around to buy things. We stayed on the ship and enjoyed the pool area.
Nassau, Bahamas: Next time we go there, we will go to Atlantis. This time, we just walked around, window shopping. It was hot and humid. The taxi drivers approached as we walked along. Many offers to drive us to Atlantis for $4.
Disembarking (leaving the ship): Disembarking went smoothly. The only thing I did miss is being able to stay in the cabin until it was time to disembark. It was good that we were allowed to roam the ship though. You can carry your own bags and leave whenever you want. Otherwise you are assigned a number. There was a last call at 10:30 a.m. for everyone to be off the ship so plan your flight accordingly. Something different on this ship is that you do not look for your luggage in the terminal. You have to wait for it to arrive via a carousal (like at airport). It took longer this way.
Overall Cruise Comments: We will definitely cruise with Carnival again in the future, but will not cruise on the Carnival Breeze. My recommendation to readers of this review is to choose a different ship. Overall, the cruise experience itself was enjoyable, but I have never been on a cruise that I didn't think was that way! In my opinion, there is no such thing as a bad cruise!
If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to email me at d w 3 3 3 3 (at) yahoo (dot) com. No spaces between any letters or numbers in the email address.