Overall ship look and feel New and clean. These are two huge plus factors this ship has routing for it. The pools were warm not overly busy which surprised me, and the waterworks was fantastic. Two main waterslides and both had minimal line-ups.
The adults area is was on the top deck forward, which made reading near impossible... crazy wind! Good luck finding chairs to sit it, clearly this space is not large enough to accommodate the need. No adult only pool to relax by.
The pool deck was very over-crowded with lounge chairs and the set up is poor. You'll find people are squeezing in near impossible walk-spaces to get to their lounge chair. Towels are not readily available and will need to be "checked out" with your sail and sign card. As for the interior, the ship layout is pure chaos. The two main restaurants which are both two levels run the full width of the ship, meaning, you can pass by them! Since the shops, lounges and theatres also occupy these same decks, it requires passengers to go up levels walk thru stateroom areas and then back down/up to the desire area of the ship..... a ridiculous design and extra load /wait on the already high demand elevators. Leaving the ship on port days was also crazy... think.. 3600 passengers and everyone debarks though ONE.. yes ONE gangway!! People were nose to nose waiting 3 decks up. It was just a plain mess.
The decor of the ship is simple, but not what I would call simple elegant.. just simple. It looks almost unfinished.. and cold, some areas feel industrial. Cheap venetian blinds on common area portholes, and the dining room fixtures are embarrassingly cheap. The theatre is bench-style seating... which is not a huge issue, just again, a cut corner and way to squeeze more people in. This was never a problem though since entertainment was terrible. Will talk about that a bit later.
Before I forget.... the muster drill was so disorgizaed which can make you wonder... what if.
They started 45 minutes late, we were all waiting at our muster station for over an hour start to finish. They did not check off names of those who attended so many may not have. Also, since we met in the dining room I truly have no idea where our liveboat was located... in my eyes, this a huge problem. We should have a drill to where we would board. Simple.
Our stateroom was nice. Average size, plain, bare bones, no clock, no curtain between the bed and living area (a nice to have when you are travelling with children if you're wanting some privacy while getting dressed). We had an aft view balcony which offers a fabulous view, but we paid for an extended balcony and the balcony rail tilted on such an angle that truly our usable space was the same as any other balcony, it just cost more!! Our stateroom attendents were very pleasant, although I was surprised when on by day 2, they had not made my sons bed into a sofa during the day. When I asked if this could be done to give us some space he hesitated took a breath and said... Umm.. I guess we could do that, he made it clear it was extra work on his part. Other cruise lines I sailed with this was just a given.
Let me start by saying the quick grab lunch foods were great. Guys burger join albeit grossly greasy (literally shinny with grease) were quite good. The fries were excellent! The Indian cusine was yummy and the burritos although skimpy on the meat were quite tasty as well. The pizza could be good, but the cheese was almost non-existent and regardless of what the Carnival site tell you they are definitely NOT made to order... slices are plopped on plates and thrown to the next person in line. I am not sure the staff even looks up! I read they also serve Calzones, but these were not available on our cruise.
The 24 hour ice cream bar is a soft serve machine. No toppings available though, just the ice-cream.. a little plain. Had it once, but it was nothing to write home about.
The rest of the food, was blah.....
The breakfast buffet was barely editable. Really. I have no idea what they are adding or using for eggs, but the scrambled eggs taste like powder and gritty.. so gross!! The bacon has no flavour and is deep fried. The pancakes and waffles I think are cooked during the evening hours and then nuked -- because they are tough, soggy and flavourless, the syrup for the pancakes tastes watered down and the bagels and toast are hard as cement. Bananas were brown come the 3rd day and melon made up the rest of the fruit served. No fresh berries or pineapple served. The juices were definite punch and very sugary... orange juice tasted like Tang. The coffee was not bad and the hot chocolate was good.
I tried eating breakfast in the blush restaurant but didn't find it any better, except that I could order eggs -- which tasted fine.
The entire Lido buffet is never all open at the same time. Breakfast is served until 11 and then everything but pizza closes up until noon. At noon the burgers, Indian and burritos open but then close for the day at 2;30. You cannot get these items after lunch.
We tried the Mongolian wok which was really good, but had to wait for an HOUR in line to be served. We only did this once... although good food, was not worth an hour standing in a line up. Again, too many people and not enough staff was apparent.
Dinner in the main dining room were boring, portion sizes were small and the food was so --so at best. I ordered the tilapia one night and it was hard and dry. The lobster (which is only available one night) was undercooked. Food was served quickly, but luke warm when served. Gravy was clumpy and had skin....veggies were undercooked and bland... just not what I had expected. The chocolate melting cake was wonderful... and I ordered this for desert each night. We did try the Italian restaurant for dinner one night which was very tasty, that said, being a cruiser, it was no more tasty than what I previously enjoyed in main dining rooms with no-surcharge. Shows they are capable of serving good food, but you'll need to pay for it.
The kids club/family entertainment.
Ok, so here is where it falls apart for us.. the kids area and the customer service.
Firstly let me start by saying that Circle C which is for ages 12 -14 is just a small cave like room. Although Club 02 for the teens and Camp Carnival and large, this space is so small and dingy it's completely un-appealing. Perhaps on paper, Carnival can "check off" they have a young teen program, but in reality, this has no substance. I entered the room on three occasions. Two times, the room was completely vacant, door unlocked, but no councillors or children present.. no TVs or music playing and I'd say no lights but I think I already mentioned the dingy. The other time I entered the room was filled with young teens, half eaten pizzas on the floor, kids standing on the seats and carrying on, but no councillor present. I checked the itinerary since my son is 13, and there were no art programs or crafty things on the agenda... there were not movie times scheduled in the room, it was all sports and "hang out". I guess this is ok.. but for some kids, but when I am paying good money, some recreation would be nice.
We were not alone. The two other parents I met with children in this age group also had children that refused to enter the room. Also, there were no video games available for the kids to play... I understood why, when I saw they had an arcade which cost over a dollar a game to play. The entertainment/shows were horrible. Really really bad!! Since this was not an option for family fun, my son truly spend 80% of his time in our room.. Movies are available for "rent" so we purchased a couple of these and watched re-runs of the big bang theory we had on our ipad a gazillion times over.. sad. Oh, and I gave him 10.00 a day to spend in the arcade since there was virtually nothing else for his age group to do. We have sailed with Disney 3 times and are usually having to choose which of two or three things that are happening within the same time slot were are going to attend.. this time, there was NOTHING!! I visited guest services twice and tried to visit the Circle C staff (did I mention they were never there?) I received a lame apology but absolutely no suggestions on something for my son to do. I ended up going to the camp carnival desk and asked for some crafts -- which they wouldn't give me since they were already "done" the crafts for the day. She did give me some plain paper and FOUR pencil crayons for him to go back to the room and colour with.... Never ever again I kept re-enforcing my promise to my son, who was in tears many times throughout this voyage. He was so excited to cruise and was so hugely disappointed by what it had actually had to offer, it was almost embarrassing how many times... "if we were on Disney" came up in conversation.
I mention customer service because absolutely nothing was offered, suggested, extended by the staff when I came forward with the lack of activity and my son spending all the time in our room. Even a stateroom credit for movies would have been nice, but nada. When I got home from our cruise I realized when looking at my bank statements that they had charged me TWICE for our final bill of our onboard spend!! I called Carnival and am STILL waiting for this to be sorted out. They will not allow me to speak to the accounting department and I am basically at their will. So along with my already bad taste on their customer service this piles higher on the dissatisfaction scale.
We had warm weather, good ports a week off work and no chores, but these are all things we could have had anywhere. We will likely never choose Carnival again.