We've been on 6 cruises in the last 3 years, and being Canadian we pay extra in flight just to get here so we need a good deal! My parents however (who by the way come with us on every cruise) have been on 65 cruises!!! Snow bird Canadians who hop onto one whenever they can. They are actually going on a Royal Carribean one next month. They've been all over the world so I always get them to review my work on reviews, just in case I'm being too sassy.
Embarkation: Was a BREEZE!!! 10 minutes on the boat no waiting! I am very PROUD of Carnival for improving on this as our first time trip with the INSPIRATION ship was a nightmare getting on.
Stateroom: We had three back to back. R204/206/208 (outside window)Unfortunately no adjoining cabins (bummer) but if you have kids just ask to hear the dead bolt before bed. The room was I must say, far bigger than any other I have ever been in and the beds were not bad at all. The TV's however were pathetic!!! Walls were good though didn't hear any noise. TAKE NOTE: you would think you would want to be in the middle of the ship for less rocking BUT we found that this area was always the most crowded most rowdy and OMG! the smell!!!! If it wasn't smoke, it was any number of foul bodily smells (use your imagination here). I was sooo glad to be on the back of the boat. Also take note, NO blowdryer. NO refrigerator. BUT the shower was huge and we never had a problem with temp of water.
Dining: This was our first time using "Your time dining" in the Elation dining area. I liked it! Just show up and they get you a table. We found that one waiter loved my Dad so he always made sure we were in his area! Food was good. We're used to having the best in the dining room, and I'm a sucker for their flat iron steak and lobster night. They kind of left me flat on the deserts though and I ended up getting the melting cake (my favorite) every night as nothing else appealed to me. The food court area was always crowded! But you can always find a seat and they had many outside with great views!! The food was actually great for a food court! Get away from the ALL AMERICAN eatery and try the mediteranean fare and Mongolian WOK!!! That stuffed tomato was to die for and I want back for thirds! The sandwich station was great too! My girls always had ice cream no probs there.
Childrens clubs: I have had the younger kids ones in the past but this was the first time my girls were in two different areas in a while. Daughter #1 was in the teen 15-17yr club and she loved the freedom. Meghan was the team leader from Texas and was a great co-ordinator. She found all guys to hang around with being a double black belt (what a shocker she finds most girls to be catty and trampy)and my other daughter found some friends to hang with in her 12-14 group one from Japan (also double black belt but speaks Japanese). She also had a blast they have all new interactive games and the Group leader was from Ontario (Bailey)and was a riot! JJ loved her!
Spa Carnival: It's difficult to give a bad review for me. Since it was personal and doesn't always apply to everyone. My daughter got her nails done in the Fire and Ice. $55.00 (a rip off but it was her money) and they did a poor job, but that wasn't the worst of it. I gave a five dollar tip....the woman charged us twice!!!! I had to go to two different places and finally talk to the manager about getting charged twice just because the woman want double the tip. The manager gave a "brief" appology and we were mocked by the girls at the opposite counter which I broke into tears after and will never use the Spa facilties again.
The worst of the worst: The workout facilties. I'm a workout girl. And love to watch the ocean go by as I work out. But this was the worst workout facilty of any ship I have ever been on and my Mom being 65+ cruises said it was deplorable and they should be ashamed.
Entertainment: I only went two a few shows and they were quiet good. A little repetative in their moves (I used to dance competitively)but fun especially for a small ship! The actual interactive shows like MEN VS WOMEN were a blast!
Activities: Everyone wanted to play and the WOMEN WON no matter what the men say! She declared it a tie but we know btter! I did lots of Bingo, and we went to one of the nights for comedy. Above fair, it takes a while for the MacDonald guy to get going with his jokes.
Service: Okay we're getting into the more controversial element. I thought most of the employees on this ship were very good, from our amazing room steward (Suganga) to the entertainment director.
HOWEVER.....my big complaint has been one that STILL isn't taken care of from past ships. If you are not paying your wait staff enough money in the dining area during breakfast PLEASE take care of this!!! There was this one European gentleman my husband wanted to tell off. He was rude and aloof. Sorry to bother you about our complimentary specialty coffees but they are complimentary!! Most of the staff didn't want to be there and were generally angry looking individuals. Getting simple ketchup from them was a crime!
Shore Excursion: Cozumel....this is our FAMILY FAVORITE! Always will be a favorite - nothing will top Paradise Beach. I will have my youtube videos up shortly. Paradise Beach is 12 from port and only a 2 dollar charge for the chairs each...and if you want the water toys it's an extra fee (all inclusive which was awesome -snorkel eqiupment-kayaks-water toys which are many!-floaters all included for 20 bucks a person well worth it if you have young energetic kids!! They will sleep like a log once back on the ship!!The food AMAZING!! Beach AMAZING!!! Service AMAZING!!! They even brought our 2-Mexican platter trays beach side to our loungers!!!!! It came to only $30.00 bucks and the four of us feasted on a variety of Mexican food!! We had other people looking over to us saying...ummm whatcha got there!!! We had drinks brought to us by friendly NOT pushy servers and when they brought our tally to us they had already included the tip (which is well deserved!!! don't you dare argue!!) was $90.00 and that included the food, a bucket of beer $16.00, two margaratias yard glass ($15.00 more expensive what can I say I loved them!), and drinks for the kids.
We like cozumel downtown but it has become quite pushy and some stores don't like you to touch stuff or they'll make you buy it if it falls to the ground like my husband when a shirt fell off the top pile. We had just purchased $30.00 worth of stuff and when he picked up the shirt to put it back the lady said you have to buy it now. He said politely ok...then refund me for all the things I just paid for and I'll buy the shirt. She recinded and allowed us to leave but I was really put off. There are some great deals but BEWARE!!! The taxi drivers take you all the way down to the end where they get a kick back for sending you into Diamonds International. DON'T go in!!!What a rip off place. We had to walk quite a distance to get to places that weren't over priced. When we started at the end Angie's hammock was being priced at $55.00. I told her forget it, don't be fooled. We walked further 45$ walked further and down one of the side streets...$35.00 I said not bad but really Angie....we got to Paradise beach and the man saw Angie getting her hair braided and asked what the lowest price of any item we saw in his shop...We said 35$ for the hammock....He said $25.00 we said DEAL!!!! It was colourful one seater and we have a stand for it already. She was thrilled, but learned a lesson from her Mommy. My husband had the same thing with Vanilla. The second largest bottle by the time we got to a side street went from $20.00 to $8.00. And Mexican vanilla is the best! I love shopping there, but beware they love to get unknowing vacationers.
Final day at Sea: We finally decided to spend some real time in Serenity Deck. It was wonderful! We showed up late at 11:45am and figured we weren't going to get anything but to our luck someone left not liking the wind, but we loved the hot sun out there and it got even better half and hour later! The view was fantastic the hot Tubs were SOOOOO HOT!!! So you won't be in long! It was two and half hours of heaven away from our teenagers.
The state of the ship: Another controversial subject it seems. Some people say it's run down....well it's an older ship. My parents have said it again and again...if you want a younger ship pay more!! I found it colourful and a happy place to be for the money we paid and my parents agreed. Problem is people love to nit-pick every little thing. Yes there were bumps along the way. Some of the poeple (that is patrons) on board were rude and obnoxius. Well it's the Holidays and it's a cheap trip. You're going to get all kinds on a trip like that, and believe me we did! There was one staff member last day at the stores who was absolutely the most rude employee of Carnival I have ever seen. He told a passenger to have another drink and bugger off. Mind you the customer was being obnoxious too, but NEVER should a member of Carnival cruise lines tell a passenger off like that no matter how much of an idiot he's being. He was removed a few minutes later by the manager and he made a joke and made everyone feel better, but the damage had been done it was our last day on the ship and there were great deals on merchandise and contests so the shops were full! That aside the ship is quite nice and it was never too full at any of the venues at least if you don't get there 5 minutes before the show. We still found a spot usually last minute BUT don't for the comedy skits!!
Debarkation: A nightmare, didn't get off until last and that was at 10:30 the latest I have EVER been off a ship before. A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to the piano playing woman who sat down and entertained us on Carnivals piano for an hour and half with Christmas Music. She was a hit and everyone sang along. I don't know your name but you and your husband were wonderful and you will be in my prayers of thanks for the next month!! Both my Dad and JJ needed assistance should have used that maybe would have been off sooner.
Would I return to this ship....hmmmmm maybe not during any holidays. The ship was fine, the food was fine and crew fairly great....but the type of "people" you get going on this ship during the holidays is rowdy and 800 of the 2100 passengers were kids! So be warned it was loud crying - loud screaming - Loud yells in hallways even at 3AM. I knew what we were getting into but I'm not sure I'll do a Holiday cruise again.
Would I go if it was off season....you bet!!! Slower crowd, less kids. Must be getting older can't stand bad parenting any more.